The Gospel According to Islam

Chapter 1     Chapter 8    Chapter 15     Chapter 22     


Chapter 2     Chapter 9     Chapter 16    Chapter 23        
    

Chapter 3     Chapter 10    Chapter 17    Chapter 24        

    
Chapter 4     Chapter 11    Chapter 18    Chapter 25          
    

Chapter 5     Chapter 12     Chapter 19   Chapter 26        


Chapter 6     Chapter 13     Chapter 20   Chapter 27


Chapter 7     Chapter 14     Chapter 21

 

INTRODUCTION



A Gospel is the life story of Jesus told in a way so as to bring out its significance for faith and history. It is necessarily revelatory and prophetic since it assesses the significance of Jesus not only for past history but also for the future. A Gospel is, therefore, different from a historian's "life of Jesus."

The book before you is a Gospel. It is written in the light of the revelation of God made to the prophet Muhammad.

In the Qur`an, the collection of revelatory messages received by Muhammad, there are ninety-three verses that refer to Jesus. Directly or indirectly, these verses have something to say about almost every aspect of the story of Jesus-his family, birth, and childhood, the nature of his person and his various traditional titles, his miracles and message, the Jews' rejection of him and his death and exaltation, and the significance of his work for the Jewish history and for the history of the world at large. In this way, the Qur`an provides a fairly complete outline of the life and work of Jesus.

This outline is supplemented in this book by some background material (derived mostly from the New Testament and sometimes transformed according to the Qur`anic revelation) to form a Gospel of approximately the size of Mark. This, in turn, is supplemented by extensive notes to further explain, support, and enhance the picture of Jesus painted in the Gospel text. References to various source passages, mainly from the

Qur`an and the New Testament, are also provided. It is hoped that the work as a whole will present the Qur`anic Jesus active in his own time and place and among his own people.

During the writing of the book, the results and debates of the modem critical research into the New Testament were constantly kept in mind.

As we said earlier, this book is offered as a new Gospel, a Muslim equivalent of, and alternative to, the existing Gospels. But is a new Gospel justified in the twentieth century? The answer is undoubtedly, yes. Today, with twenty centuries of history after Jesus and generations of critical research before us, we are in a much better position to assess the significance of Jesus' work and, therefore, to write a Gospel than were the ancient New Testament writers. The Gospels coming down to us from the earliest centuries are indispensable for any assessment of the significance of Jesus, but they do not themselves provide the best assessment. The very fact that there are four canonical gospels that contradict each other on almost every point (and an ever-growing recognition of this fact among the Christians of this century) demands a second coming of Gospels. (Perhaps, the return of Jesus, if it has any meaning at all after its continuing and long delay, means just such a second coming of Gospels and rediscovery of Jesus.) But we better not look for new Gospels from any schools of New Testament scholarship. The work of such schools is essentially negative in nature: they can show the inadequacy of an existing Gospel but cannot offer one of their own. A Gospel, as we said earlier, is not a historical but a revelatory work and must spring from revelation. The ninety-three verses of the Qur`an about Jesus offer a revelatory basis for a new Gospel.

I request my Christian reader not to dismiss the Gospel before him as just another reflection on his religion by an outsider. Islam is not completely an outsider to Christianity: it belongs to the same Semitic religious tradition to which Judaism and Christianity belong. More than that, Muslims recognize Jesus as the Christ, as one anointed by God for a certain role; in modern times, this qualifies them as Christians. For, with the variety of ways Christians understand their religion today, to be a Christian can hardly mean anything too different than to believe in a merciful God and in Jesus as the Christ in some sense and to want to make devotion to God and love of fellow man as the most basic guiding principle in life, and in this sense, any Muslim will love to be called a Christian. (It is true that Muslims firmly deny the trinity of God and divinity of Jesus, on which Christianity tended to insist after the fourth century, but it should be remembered that many millions of those who are today called Christians also have private or public reservations about these dogmas.) Conversely, a Christian would also like to call himself a Muslim, for this designation means one who commits himself to God. Of course, there are some very fundamental differences between Christians and Muslims, but these differences are not too much more serious than those that exist between various Christian churches. Take, for example, the most basic difference between the two groups, namely, the one concerning the person of Muhammad. Muslims believe Muhammad to be a messenger of God to all mankind, while most Christians would perhaps deny it. But this difference is not too much more serious than the one between those Christians who believe that pope infallibly speaks the word of God and those who deny it.

I would therefore request my Christian reader to read this book, at the very least, as he would read a book written by an author who belongs to a church different from his own, Protestant, Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox, as the case may be. If its point of view may look somewhat stranger to him than the views of Christian origin, it is only because there has been much less communication between Muslims and Christians than between various Christian churches.

 

 

Christianity