The Religion Of Islam vol.1
- Belief in the Apostles of God
The fourth article of the Islamic creed is faith in all the Apostles of God. A Moslem must believe, that the Merciful Creator sent in divers ages certain messengers or apostles, to reclaim mankind from infidelity and superstition, and to teach them the religion and laws of God and to give them good tidings and admonitions. The number of these apostles is given as 313. Twenty-five of them must be remembered, since their names are distinctly given in the Koran; but it is not necessary to learn them by heart. The following are the names according to chronological order: -
Adam, Noah, Houd (Heber), Saleh (Methuselah) Lot, Abraham, Ishmail, Isaac, Jacob, Shu’aib (Jethro) Haroun (Aaron), Moses, David, Solomon, Ayoub (Job), Zulkifl (Isaiah), Younis (Jonah), Ilias, Alyas’aa (Elisha), Zacharias, Yahia (John the Baptist), Jesus and Mohammed.
If a Moslem is asked about anyone of these men, he must confess his belief, that he was an apostle of God.
Moslems must also believe, that the apostles of God were truthful faithful and intelligent, and that they delivered in full God’s message to their respective people. A Moslem must further believe that all apostles of God were, by their prophetic characteristics free from (1) telling lies, (2) committing unlawful deeds, (3) stupidity, laziness or cowardice (4) concealing any part of the message they were ordered to deliver.
The apostles of God were subject to the same human wants as the rest of mankind such as eating, drinking, sleeping, marrying, etc., they were also liable to ordinary but not disgusting maladies etc.
Since the nature, as well as the story, of Jesus Christ were matters of dispute between Christians and Moslems, I must give a summary of the Moslems’ belief in this respect, according to the teachings of the Koran and the interpretations of the Prophet.
Moslems hold, that Jesus Christ was the blessed Apostle of God who was sent to reclaim the people of Israel. He was a spirit from God, His messenger. His servant and prophet, illustrious in this world and in the next. He was miraculously born of the Virgin Mary. The Jews having spoken ill of Mary and charged her with unchastity, Jesus Christ, speaking in the cradle, vindicated his mother’s honour. Jesus performed miracles by God’s power; giving life to a clay figure of a bird, healing the blind, curing the leper, quickening the dead, and causing a table of food to be brought down from Heaven. He was sent by God, to confirm the law of Moses and to preach the Gospel to the people of Israel. He proclaimed his mission by many manifest signs, being confirmed by the Holy Spirit. He foretold the advent of another apostle to succeed him, named Periclete or Ahmed. The Jews intended to crucify Jesus, but God saved him from the plot, took him up to Heaven, and stamped his likeness on a treacherous Jew who was apprehended and crucified in his stead. It is the constant doctrine of the Moslems, that it was not Jesus who underwent crucifixion but someone else, resembling him in shape namely, Judas, who agreed with the Jews, to betray Jesus for some pieces of silver, and led those who were sent to take him. After the crucifixion of the wicked Judas, and the taking up of Jesus into Heaven, Christ, the Apostle of God, was sent down again to the earth, to comfort his mother and devoted disciples, and to tell them, how the Jews were deceived; and he was taken up a second time to Heaven.
“It is supported by several”, writes Mr. G. Sale that this story was an original invention of Mohammed’s; but they are certainly mistaken; for several sectaries held the same opinion, long before his time. The Basilidans, in the very beginning of Christianity, denied, that Christ himself suffered, but that Simon the Cyrenean was crucified in his place. The Cerinthians, before them, and the Corporatians next (to name no more of those who affirmed Jesus to have been a mere man) did believe the same thing; that it was not himself, but one of his followers very like him, that was crucified. Photius tells us, that he read a book entitled ‘ The Journey of The Apostles,’ relating the acts of Peter, John, Andrew, Thomas and Paul; and among other things contained therein, this was one, that Christ was not crucified, but another in his stead and that therefore, he laughed at his crucifiers, or those who thought they had crucified him.” 
St. Barnabas relates this part of Jesus Christ’s history with circumstances approximating to the Islamic view. “In that Gospel it is related, that the moment the Jews were going to apprehend Jesus in the garden, he was lifted up to heaven, by the ministry of four angels; that he will not die, till the end of the world, and that it was Judas who was crucified in his stead; God having permitted that traitor, to appear so like his master, in the eyes of the Jews, that they took and delivered him to Pilate. That this resemblance was so great, that it deceived the Virgin Mary and the disciples themselves; but that Jesus Christ afterwards obtained leave of God to go and comfort them. That Barnabas having then asked him, why the divine goodness had suffered the mother and disciples of so holy a prophet, to believe, even for one moment, that he had died in so ignominious a manner. Jesus returned the following answer. ‘O Barnabas, believe me, that every sin, however small, is punished by God with great torment, because God is offended by sin. My mother therefore, and faithful disciples, having loved me with a mixture of earthly love, the Just God has been pleased, to punish this love with their present grief, that they might not be punished for it hereafter in the flames of hell. And as for me, though I have myself been blameless in the world, yet other men having called me God and the son of God; therefore God, that I might not be mocked by the devils on the Day of Judgment, has been pleased, that in this world I should be mocked by men with the death of Judas, making every body believe that I died upon the cross. And hence it is, that this mocking is to continue till the coming of Ahmed, and messenger of God; who, coming into the world, will undeceive everyone who shall believe in the law of God from this error.” 
The Moslems are also taught, that after Jesus had left this earth, his disciples disputed among themselves concerning his nature, some calling him God and others the son of God. They believe that he will come again into the world, will slay Antichrist, and will reign as a just king for many years, marry and have children die.
The following are a variety of translated passages of the Koran bearing on the story of Jesus Christ, and the disputed nature and life of the Great Teacher of Christianity:
(1) Promised to Mary
(a) “And when the angels said: O Mary verily, God hath chosen thee and hath purified thee, and hath raised thee above all other women of the world: O Mary, be, therefore, devout towards thy Lord and prostrate thyself and bow down in worship with those devotes who bow down to Him”
(b)“And when the angel said: O Mary, verily, God sendeth thee good tidings; thou shalt bear a word from Him whose name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary and who will be illustrious in this world and in the next, and one of those men who are honoured with approach to the presence of God; and he shall speak to men alike when in the cradle and when he is grown up; and he shall be one of the most righteous: she said: O my Lord, shall I have a son, since a man hath not touched me? The angel said: Thus God will create what He will; when He decreeth a thing. He only saith ‘ Be’ and ‘it is’. He (God) shall teach him the scripture and wisdom and the law and the Gospel; and He shall appoint him and apostle to the children of Israel, and he shall say to them: Verily, I come unto you with a sign from your Lord, for I will make before you out of clay, as it were the figure of a bird; then I will breathe into it, and it shall become an animated bird, by the will of God; and I will heal the blind and the leper, by the will of God, and I will raise the dead, by the will of God; and I will tell you what ye eat and what ye store up in your houses. Verily, this will be a sign to you, if ye believe. And I will come to confirm the law which was revealed before me, and to allow unto you as lawful, part of what hath been forbidden you; therefore, fear God and obey me. Verily God is my Lord and your Lord: therefore serve Him. This is the right way. But Jesus perceiving their unbelief, said: who of you will assist towards the way to God? The disciples said: We are your helpers towards the way to God: we do believe in God, and do thou bear witness, we are true believers. O Lord, we believe in what Thou hast sent down, and have followed Thy apostle; write us down, then with those who bear witness (of his message).
(2) Birth of Jesus
(a) “And make mention in the ‘Word’, of Mary when she retired from her family eastward, and drew a veil upon her to conceal herself from them; and We sent our spirit (Gabriel) to her, and he appeared to her in the form of a perfect man. She said: ‘ I fly for refuge from thee to the Most Merciful. If thou fearest Him’. He said: ‘I am the messenger of thy Lord, that I may bestow on thee a purified son.” She Said: “ How shall I have a son when man hath never touched me, and I was never unchaste? He said: ‘So shall it be. Thy Lord hath said, it is a simple thing with Him, and that He will make him a sign to mankind, and a mercy from Him: This is a thing already decreed.’ Wherefore she conceived him; and she retired aside with him (in her womb) to a distant place, and the throes came upon her near the trunk of a palm-tree (She said) ‘Would to God, I had died before this, and had become as one lost in oblivion. And he who was below her (namely the newly born babe) came to her, saying, ‘ Be not grieved. Thy Lord hath provided for thee a rivulet at thy feet; and do thou shake the trunk of the palm–tree towards thee: it will drop fresh ripe dates to eat. Therefore, eat and drink and cheer thyself; and shouldst thou see any human being, say: Verily, I have vowed a fast to the Most Merciful, wherefore I will by no means speak to a human being this day. So she came with the babe to her people. And they said to her, O Mary thou hast committed a grave thing. O sister of Aaron , thy father was not a bad man, nor was thy mother unchasted. And she made a sign to him (the infant). They said” ‘how shall we speak to him who is an infant in the cradle? He said ‘ Verily, I am the servant of God: He hath given me the Book (The Gospel), and He hath appointed me a prophet. And He hath made me blessed, whosesoever I may be and hath commanded me, to pray to him and to give alms. As long as I live; and hath made me dutiful towards my mother; and He hath not made me cruel or wicked. The peace of God was on me the day I was born, and it will be on me the day I shall die and the day I shall be raised again to life.’ This was Jesus, the son of Mary, the word of truth, concerning whom they dispute.
(b)“Verily the case of Jesus with God is the same as that of Adam. He created him (Adam) out of the dust, and then said to him ‘ Be’, and he was. This is the truth form thy Lord; be not therefore, one of those who dispute.”
One of the Miracles of Jesus
Remember when the disciples said. ‘O Jesus, son of Mary, is thy Lord able to send down to us a table of provisions from heaven? He said: ‘Fear God, if ye be true believers’. They said: “We desire to eat therefrom, and to have our hearts assured, and to know that thou hast indeed spoken truth to us, and to be witnesses thereof.” Jesus, the son of Mary, said ‘O God, our Lord send down a table to us from heaven, that the day of its descent become a recurring festival to us, to the first of us and to the, last of us, and a sign from Thee; and do Thou provide food for us, for Thou art the best provider’. God said: ‘ Verily, I will cause it to descend unto you; but whosoever among you shall disbelieve hereafter, I will surely punish him with more severe a punishment than I will punish any other of my creatures.
The Mission of Jesus
(a) We formerly sent our apostles with evident signs and miracles, and We sent down with them the Scriptures and the balance, that men might observe justice.” “And We caused Jesus, the son of Mary to succeed them, and We gave him the Gospel: and We put in the ears of those who followed him, compassion and mercy: but as to the monastic life, they invented it themselves: We did not prescribe it to them; they did it out of design to please God, yet this they did not properly observe. And We gave to such of them as believed, their reward: but many of them were evil doers.”
(b) also caused Jesus, the son of Mary to follow the footsteps of the Prophets, to confirm the Law which was sent down before him; and We gave him the Gospel, containing guidance and light, and confirming the preceding word and a direction and admonition unto those who fear God: so that they who have received the Gospel might judge, according to what God hath revealed therein. And those will not judge, according to what God hath revealed, they are certainly transgressors.:
(c) Some of the apostles We have endowed more than others. Those, to whom God hath spoken, He hath raised to the loftiest position. And to Jesus, the son of Mary, We gave manifest signs, and We strengthened him with the Holy Spirit. And if God had pleased, they who come after them, would not have wrangled, after the clear signs had reached them. But into disputes they fell: some of them believed, and some were infidels: yet, if God had pleased, they would not have wrangled: but God doth what He will.”
(d) “And Jesus, the son of Mary, said: “O children of Israel. Verily I am God’s apostle to you who came to confirm the law which was given before, me, and to announce an apostle who shall come after me whose name shall be Ahmed. But when he (Ahmed) presented himself with clear signs of his mission, they said: ‘This is manifest sorcery.’ Jesus said to them: ‘ I come to attest the law which was revealed before me, and to allow you part of that which had been forbidden you; and I come to you with a sign from your Lord; therefore, fear God and obey me; verily, God is my Lord and you Lord; therefore, worship Him; this is the right way.”
Jesus not Crucified
(a) “The Jews were cursed for their unbelief and for their having spoken a grievous calumny against Mary and for their saying: “Verily we have slain Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, the apostle of God’; yet they slew him not, and crucified him not, but he was represented to them by one in his likeness, and verily, they who disputed about him, were in doubt, concerning this matter: they had no sure knowledge thereof, but followed only an uncertain opinion.They (the Jews) did not really kill him; but God took him up to Himself and God is Mighty and Wise.”
Jesus and the Divinity
(a) “He (Jesus) is no other than a servant of God whom We favoured, and set forth as an instance (of divine power) to the children of Israel; and if We pleased, verily. We could have even produced angels from yourselves to succeed you on earth.”
(b)“And when Jesus came with manifest signs, he said: “Now I am come to you with wisdom, and to explain to you part of those things, about which you disagree; therefore fear God, and obey me. Verily God is my Lord and your Lord; wherefore worship ye Him: this is the right path. But the different parties fell into disputes among themselves , but woe to those who thus transgressed because of the punishment of a grievous day.”
(c) “The Jews say: “Ezra is the son of God: and the Christians say, Christ is the son of God. This is their saying with their mouths, following the example of those who misbelieved before them May God resist them. How are they infatuated! They take their priests and their monks for their Lord, besides God, and (take) Christ, the son of Mary, (for their; lord besides God), although they are commanded to worship one Deity only: There is no Deity but He (the true God); far be those from Him whom they associate (with God).”
The Trinity Condemned
(a) “They are surely infidels who say, ‘Verily, God is Christ the son of Mary; since Christ said, O ye children of Israel, worship God, my Lord and your Lord; whoever, shall associate aught with Him, God shall forbid him paradise, and his habitation shall be hell fire; and the ungodly shall have none to help them. They are certainly infidels who say, God is the third of three, for there is no Deity, but God alone. And if they do not desist from what they, say, a painful torment shall surely be inflicted upon those who misbelieved among them. Will they not turn unto God, and ask His pardon? Since God is Gracious and Merciful. Christ, the son of Mary, is no more than apostle: Other apostles preceded him, and his mother was a true believer: they both used to eat food (as all other creatures of God). Behold, how we declare unto them the signs (of God’s unity); and then behold, how they turn aside (from the right path). Say (O Mohammed, unto them) will ye worship, besides God that which can cause you neither harm nor profit? God heareth (every thing) and seeth (every thing). Say, O ye who have received the Scriptures, exceed not the just bounds in your religion, by speaking beside the truth, neither follow the desires of people who have heretofore erred, and who have seduced many, and have gone astray from the right path,”
(b)“O ye who have received the Scriptures, exceed not the just bounds in your religion, neither say of God otherwise than the truth. Verily Christ, the son of Mary, was the apostle, and His Word which He conveyed to Mary, and a Spirit coming from Him. Believe, therefore, in God and His apostles, and say not: ‘There are three (Deities’ desist: it will be better for you. God is the only Deity. Far be it from Him, that He should have a son; unto Him belongeth whatever is in heaven and on earth; and God is the best Protector. Christ doth not proudly disdain to be a servant to God”
(c) “It beseemeth not a man that God should give the Scripture and the wisdom and the gift of prophecy to him, and that then he should say to the people ‘Be ye worshippers of me, as well as of God,’ but rather, Be ye perfect in thing pertaining to God, since ye know the Scriptures, and have studied deeply.”
(d) “And when God shall say (namely unto Jesus on the Day of Judgment), O Jesus son of Mary, hast thou said unto the people: “Take me and my mother for two deities, beside God? He shall answer, Glory be to Thee, it is not for me, to say that which I ought not in truth; if I had said it, Thou wouldst surely have known it: Thou knowest what is in me but I know not what is in Thee; for Thou art the knower of all secrets I have not spoken to them otherwise, than thou didst command me. I said to them: Worship God, my Lord and your Lord; and I was a witness against them as long as I stayed amongst them; but when Thou causest me to die. Thou hast been the Watcher over them, as thou art the Watcher over all things. If thou punish them, they are surely thy servants, and if thou forgive them, thou art the Almighty and the All–wise.”
() See G. Sale’s Translation of the Koran, chap. III, p. 38 (F. Warne & Co, London)
() See G. Sale’s Prelim. Discourse.
() Mr. Sale rightly comments this phrase, “ O sister of Aaron” as follows: Several Christians writers think, the Koran stands convicted of a manifest falsehood in this particular, but I am afraid, the Moslems may avoid the charge, as they do, by several answers. Some say, the virgin Mary had really a brother named Aaron, who had the same father, but a different mother; other suppose Aaron, the brother of Moses, is here meant, but say , Mary is called his sister, either because she was of the levitical race ( as by her being related Elizabeth, it should seem she was) or by way of comparison with her, and conspicuous for his good or bad qualities, and that they likened her to him, either by way of condemnation or reproach. See Sale’s Translation of the Koran.
() For some maintained, that he was justly and really crucified: some insisted, that it was Jesus who suffered, but another, but another resembled him in the face … some said, he was taken up to heaven, and others, that his manhood only suffered, and that his godhead ascended into heaven.
() Either referring to the Jews in the time of Jesus who opposed his doctrine, or to the Christians since, who have fallen into various opinions concerning him; some making him to be God, others the son of God, and others one of the persons of the trinity etc.