Courtesy of www.masjidtucson.org
Mel Gibson’s movie "The Passion of the Christ" has prompted many to ask questions about the life, death, and message of Jesus.
Jesus Christ was a messenger of God (4:171). His birth, his life, and his death were all miraculous. I have not seen the movie that’s stirring up such controversy so I cannot comment on the movie itself. I have heard several people comment that a movie about Jesus should concentrate on his life and his message rather than his death, and I wholeheartedly agree. The message he delivered was to worship God ALONE, the same message delivered by all the messengers—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Muhammad, and so many others.
The disciples were well aware of the message. When Jesus asked them who supported him, they replied that they supported God.
O you who believe, be God’s supporters, like the disciples of Jesus, son of Mary. When he said to them, "Who are my supporters towards God," they said, "We are God’s supporters." Thus, a group from the Children of Israel believed, and another group disbelieved. We helped those who believed against their enemy, until they won. (61:14)
The Quran, God’s final scripture to the world, is full of beautiful passages about the birth and life of Jesus. He was different from other messengers because his birth was a miracle. Mary was a righteous,
virtuous woman and God gave her the news of her pregnancy.
She said, "How can I have a son, when no man has touched me; I have never been unchaste." He said, "Thus said your Lord, “It is easy for Me. We will render him a sign for the people, and mercy from us. This is a predestined matter.""(19:20-1)
The story of Jesus’ birth is told in several places in the Quran. The most detailed is in Sura 19, verses 22-35, which includes the fact that Jesus spoke as an infant to reassure his mother and her family that he was a messenger. (The infant spoke and) said, "I am a servant of God. He has given me the scripture, and has appointed me a prophet.”(19:30)
The section concludes with God’s promise that this is the truth.
That was Jesus, the son of Mary, and this is the truth of this matter, about which they continue to doubt. It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, “Be,” and it is. (19:34-5)
The life and ministry of Jesus is also recounted throughout the Quran. In one place, God is telling us what He will say when Jesus comes before Him on the Day of Resurrection:
God will say, "O Jesus, son of Mary, remember My blessings upon you and your mother. I supported you with the Holy Spirit, to enable you to speak to the people from the crib, as well as an adult. I taught you the scripture, wisdom, the Torah, and the Gospel. Recall that you created from clay the shape of a bird by My leave, then blew into it, and it became a live bird by My leave. You healed the blind and the leprous by My leave, and revived the dead by My leave. Recall that I protected you from the Children of Israel who wanted to hurt you, despite the profound miracles you had shown them. The disbelievers among them said, ‘This is obviously magic.’ Recall that I inspired the disciples: ‘You shall believe in Me and My messenger.’ They said, ‘We have believed, and bear witness that we are submitters.’”(5:110-1)
What about his death—the crucifixion and the suffering? This also is covered well in the Quran. Does it make sense that a righteous, devoted, blessed servant of God would be allowed to suffer so cruelly prior to his death? Would God permit so much agony?
The entire process was part of God’s grand plan, and everyone involved had a part to play for his own salvation or damnation. The men who inflicted such punishment are responsible for the pain they caused, and for each of them it was a test for his own soul. The people who watched and either stood by passively or cheered the suffering will have to account for their actions before God. But what of Jesus? Was he beaten, tortured and nailed to a cross to die slowly and horribly?
In fact his death was an illusion. God rescued Jesus’ soul and saved him from feeling the physical pain that was inflicted on the body. This is God’s mercy toward his righteous servants. They go directly to God to enjoy Paradise.
The Quran makes it clear that the people are mistaken in their version of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
And for claiming that they killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of God. In fact, they never killed him, they never crucified him—they were made to think that they did. All factions who are disputing in this matter are full of doubt concerning this issue. They possess no knowledge; they only conjecture. For certain, they never killed him. Instead, God raised him to Him; God is Almighty, Most Wise. (4:157-8)
We understand from this verse that “Jesus, the real person, the soul,
was raised in the same manner as in the death of any righteous person. Subsequently, his enemies arrested, tortured, and crucified his living, but empty, body.”
Passion has many meanings. Jesus had a passion for delivering the true message of God, to worship Him alone. He pursued his mission passionately. He was wise and faithful and devoted. This was his passion. He tried to preach to people who were either oblivious to his message or actively fighting against it because it would undermine their position of authority. He was ridiculed, persecuted and ultimately arrested simply for telling people to worship God alone.
When Jesus went with the proofs, he said, "I bring to you wisdom, and to clarify some of the matters in which you dispute. You shall reverence God and obey me. God is my Lord and your Lord, you shall worship Him alone. This is the right path.” The opponents disputed among themselves. Woe to those who transgress from the retribution of a painful day. (43:63-5)
With regard to his “suffering,” God makes it clear that it didn’t happen the way people think. He says, “For certain, they never killed him. Instead, God raised him to Him” (as it is clearly stated in verses 4:157-158.)
There is no suffering with God, only eternal bliss. We don’t need to feel sorry for Jesus and his “passion.” We can rejoice in his salvation. And if we follow his message—his true message to worship God ALONE—we can join him with God in Paradise.