Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Jesus’ Deity from an Islamic Perspective – Pt. 2

Jesus as the Great and Exalted One

Sam Shamoun

We continue from where we left.

The Quran says that Allah is the knower of all things and is the most great, the one who is highly exalted:

the Knower of the Unseen and the Visible, the Most Great, the High-Exalted. It makes no difference whether you keep secret what you say or voice it out loud, whether you hide in the night or go out in the day.” S. 13:9-10 Aisha Bewley

Here is how another translation renders the last part of the first sentence:

“… the Great One, the One far above anything that is or could ever be!” Muhammad Asad

He is also the one whom others worship and call upon, since this is the only true or acceptable worship in his sight:

The call of truth is made to Him alone. Those they call upon apart from Him do not respond to them at all. It is like someone stretching out his cupped hands towards water to convey it to his mouth: it will never get there. The call of the kuffar only goes astray. Everyone in heaven and earth prostrates to Allah willingly or unwillingly, as do their shadows in the morning and the evening. S. 13:14-15 Bewley

Here is another version of v. 14:

The only true prayer is to Him: those they pray to besides Him give them no answer any more than water reaches the mouth of someone who simply stretches out his hands for it – it cannot do so: the prayers of the disbelievers are all in vain. Abdel Haleem 

And of v. 15:

Whosoever is in the heavens and on earth bows to God in submission with a will or perforce, as do their shadows in the morning and evening. Ahmed Ali

According to the NT, Jesus is the Son of God who is called great,

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”” Luke 1:32-33

Being the great High Priest and Shepherd who oversees his flock,

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:19-22

“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21

Who is also the Son of Man that came with power and great glory to judge the inhabitants of Jerusalem:

“And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth HIS angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together HIS elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” Matthew 24:30-31

In fact, Christ is so great that he is not only greater than Abraham, Solomon and Jonah,

“‘Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death.’ The Jews said to Him, ‘Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, “If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.” Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be? Jesus answered, ‘If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.’ So the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’ Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.” John 8:51-59

“The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.” Matthew 12:41-42

He is also greater than the very temple of God,

“But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here.” Matthew 12:6

Which was the one place where God’s presence dwelt in a special and unique manner!

 And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it.” Matthew 23:21

Now contrast this with Muhammad who censured anyone that would make him out to be greater than Jonah:

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:

The Prophet said, "One should not say that I am better than Jonah (i.e. Yunus) bin Matta." So, he mentioned his father Matta. The Prophet mentioned the night of his Ascension and said, "The prophet Moses was brown, a tall person as if from the people of the tribe of Shanu'a. Jesus was a curly-haired man of moderate height." He also mentioned Malik, the gate-keeper of the (Hell) Fire, and Ad-Dajjal. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 608)

Christ is further described as the One whom God has highly exalted far above every creature:

God exalted this man to His right hand as ruler and Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 5:31 Holman Christian Standard Version (HCSB)

As such, all creation is in subjection to the Son whether willingly or unwillingly, whether they realize it or not:

“… These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:19b-23

“Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.” 1 Peter 3:21-22

Moreover, every creature is expected to bow down in submission to Christ in recognition of his exalted status as the sovereign Lord of all creation:

“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

In this particular text, Christ is depicted as receiving the worship which the OT says all creation must render unto to Yahweh in recognition of the fact that he alone is God who saves:

“Declare and set forth your case; Indeed, let them consult together. Who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the Lord? And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me. Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.” Isaiah 45:21-23

In fact, Christ himself says that the Father expects everyone to honor the Son in the same way they honor him:

“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son EVEN AS they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” John 5:22-23

He even goes as far as to inform his followers that they can actually call upon him, promising them that he will personally do whatever they ask him for (provided it is in line with God’s will):

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask IN MY NAME, that WILL I DO, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ASK ME anything IN MY NAME, I WILL DO IT.” John 14:12-14

Jesus explains that the reason why his disciples will end up doing a far greater number of works than he had done while he was on earth, is because he will return to the Father. And once Christ is there in the Father’s heavenly presence, he will then personally do all the works that his followers ask him to do.

To say that this claim is astonishing would be a wild understatement since the only way that Christ can hear and answer every prayer which his followers offer up to him and in his name, is if Christ is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent. However, these are traits which only God possesses, and which he does not confer upon any creature. This therefore proves that the historical Jesus did in fact claim to be God since he ascribed to himself unique functions and characteristics, which Islam itself recognizes belong to God alone.

This brings us to the next point. The inspired Christian Scriptures further attest that Jesus is the all-knowing One, being the Son who knows what is the hearts and minds of every person:

“And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?’ Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, ‘Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven”; or to say, “Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.’ And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this.’” Mark 2:5-10 – cf. Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 4:4-5

“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.” John 2:23-25

“‘These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.  I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.’ His disciples said, ‘Lo, now You are speaking plainly and are not using a figure of speech. Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe?’” John 16:25-31

“He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’” John 21:17

“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this: ‘I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first… and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.’” Revelation 2:18-19, 23b – cf. 22:12, 20; Matthew 16:27

In the above passage, the risen Lord speaks of his knowledge and ability to recompense every single individual for what s/he has thought and done in the same way that the following OT reference describes Yahweh as the One who judges the desires and actions of everyone:

“I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:10 – cf. 11:20; 29:23; 1 Kings 8:39; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalm 44:21; 62:12; 103:2-4; Proverbs 24:12; Isaiah 40:10-11; 43:25; 62:11; Daniel 9:9; Micah 7:18-19

Hence, the NT describes Jesus as the Great and highly Exalted One, he knows everything and everyone, and whom every creature must worship and submit to as Lord. According to the Quran, this is a status and honor which only belongs to God.

So much for Islam’s assertion that Jesus and his followers were Muslims.

Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptural quotations taken from the New American Standard Version of the Holy Bible (NASB).

Further Reading