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Islam's Jesus

Zeki Saritoprak

Publication Year: 2014

Jesus is a central figure in the Qur’an, the Hadith, and other Islamic literature, and plays an important role in Islamic eschatology. In this tradition, at the end days Jesus will descend from heaven to bring peace and justice to the earth. Islam’s Jesus takes a bold yet candid look at the highly charged topic of Jesus’s place in Islam, exploring some of the religion’s least understood aspects.

Originally from Turkey, Zeki Saritoprak is a scholar of Islamic theology who teaches at an American Catholic university and is heavily engaged in interfaith dialogue. In this book, he examines diverse traditions and makes clear the reality of pluralism in the history of Islamic religious scholarship. Saritoprak thoughtfully argues that Jesus is essential to both Muslims and Christians, forging an excellent opportunity for communication between the adherents of two religions who together constitute more than half of the earth’s population.

Published by: University Press of Florida

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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Note on Transliteration

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pp. ix-x

In this work, I have avoided the specialized language of academia as much as possible. I have limited the use of diacritics, with a few exceptions. The only diacritics used are the ‘ayn and the hamza. Underdots and other diacritics have been removed. Instead of having a separate glossary, Arabic words have been italicized and explained within the text...

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pp. xi-xvi

After September 11, 2001, the world, particularly the Western world, witnessed a tremendous rise in interest in Islamic studies, including works about what Muslims believe and practice. This book explores one of the most important themes of Islamic theology: Jesus and his role in this tradition. Not many people in the West comprehend how Jesus is understood by Muslims generally, nor do they understand the role of Jesus in the Qur’an...

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1. Jesus as God’s Messenger in the Qur’an

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pp. 1-21

One of the most important aspects of the Qur’an is the inclusiveness of its message. It does not limit the story of salvation to the emergence and later development of Islam; instead, it takes the story back to the beginning of humanity, the time of Adam, the first prophet of God in Islam. The chain that started with Adam continued through many prophets and ended with Muhammad, who is the final Prophet and confirms the absolute truthfulness of all prophetic messages. One of the links in this chain is Jesus, a possessor of steadfastness and one of the most important of God’s prophets in Islam...

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2. A Qur’anic Perspective on the Eschatological Role of Jesus

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pp. 22-37

Before delving into the details of the Qur’anic verses that deal with Jesus’s messianic role, it is appropriate to briefly introduce the terminology used in Islamic theology when discussing Jesus’s eschatological role. The most commonly used Islamic term for Jesus’s return (or the Second Coming, as it is known in the Christian tradition) is “nuzul ‘Isa,” which can be translated as “the descent of Jesus.” This refers to Jesus’s descent from heaven to earth to fulfill his mission...

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3. Islamic Eschatology and Jesus as a Sign of the Hour

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pp. 38-54

Jesus is an important figure in Islam’s apocalyptic eschatology. This chapter situates the knowledge of future events in Islamic theology and the place of Jesus among these eschatological events as one of the signs of the Final Hour of human history foretold by the Prophet of Islam. It is important to examine the eschatological scenarios in which Jesus figures so prominently in order to understand the “eschatological Jesus” within Islam...

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4. The Hadith and Jesus’s Eschatological Descent

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pp. 55-70

The Qur’an does not directly refer to Jesus’s eschatological descent per se, but there are verses that hint at it; in the preceding chapter I cited at least four of them. The Hadith, or the sayings of the Prophet, give detailed accounts of the descent of Jesus and shape Muslims’ belief about Jesus’s eschatological descent. Many Muslim historians and biographers who were well versed in the Islamic science of Hadith spoke of Jesus...

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5. Speculations about Jesus’s Return

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pp. 71-83

The examples from the Hadith genre of Jesus’s eschatological descent presented in the previous chapter now lead us to an examination of the details Muslim scholars and theologians have elaborated on. These elaborations have brought out important and common themes in the Hadith that have played important roles in shaping the Muslim understanding of Jesus and his place in Islam...

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6. The Mahdi and Jesus as Allies against al-Dajjal (the Antichrist)

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pp. 84-99

In Islamic eschatological literature, there are several important figures. Perhaps the most important of these are Jesus, the Antichrist, and the Mahdi. These three figures are closely related. Although a book could be written about any of these three individually, our focus is Jesus, so it is appropriate to discuss Jesus’s relationship with the other two figures. Since the idea of the Mahdi has an especial importance in the Shi‘ite tradition, I found it useful to include the Shi‘ite theological perspective on Jesus’s return in this chapter...

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7. Literalist Approaches to Jesus’s Eschatological Role in Islamic Theology

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pp. 100-111

After the era of the Prophet, questions concerning certain theological themes developed among Islamic scholars. Encounters with adherents of the religious traditions that were already present in the Arabian Peninsula and in what is today called the Middle East encouraged Muslim scholars and theologians to develop a comprehensive theology that would be able to respond to questions posed by members of neighboring religions...

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8. Symbolic, Allegorical, and Other Interpretive Approaches to Jesus’s Eschatological Role

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pp. 112-133

Some Muslim theologians see the descent of Jesus in figurative and allegorical terms. In doing so they employ what I call the interpretive approach. This style of analysis is grounded in the methodological principles of Islamic theology and law and is compatible with the teachings of the Qur’an.1 Within the methodologies of Qur’anic commentary and Hadith criticism there is a fundamental concept known as mutawatir, which can be translated as “recurrently transmitted chain of narration.”...

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9. Jesus’s Descent and Theologies of Muslim-Christian Cooperation

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pp. 134-156

So far I have examined various Islamic theological understandings of Jesus’s eschatological role and Islam’s rich theological engagement with Jesus. This chapter will explore this theology in light of its implications for Muslim-Christian cooperation, pluralism, and world peace. In this regard, the focus of this chapter is twofold: it first highlights the textual aspects of the Islamic approach to interreligious dialogue and then addresses the praxis of dialogue between Christians and Muslims...

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pp. 157-163

There is a great need in the West to better understand the place of Jesus in Islam, particularly his eschatological role. Jesus’s descent from heaven, his personality, and his eschatological role have been vibrant themes in Islamic theology throughout history. This book has explored the place of Jesus in the Islamic eschatological vision and has elaborated on the Qur’anic Jesus because of his importance to Islamic faith...

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Appendix 1. Fethullah Gülen on Jesus and Interfaith Dialogue

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pp. 164-175

In order to better understand and explain the messianic mission attributed to Jesus in the relevant sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, we should consider the following event: After the victory of Badr (624), and since no divine commandment had been revealed about how prisoners of war should be treated, the Prophet of Islam consulted with his companions on this question, as he always did when there was no specific divine commandment...

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Appendix 2. Excerpts from Muhammed Hamdi Yazir

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pp. 176-182

And the angels said, “O Mary, God gives good news to you with a word from him whose name is Jesus the Messiah, son of Mary, who is honorable in both this world and the afterlife, and at the same time he is among the closest to Allah. He will talk to people from his cradle and when he is an adult, and he will be among the righteous.”...


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pp. 183-184


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pp. 185-202


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pp. 203-214


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pp. 215-222

About the Author

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E-ISBN-13: 9780813048949
E-ISBN-10: 081304894X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813049403

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2014

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Jesus Christ -- In the Qurʼan.
  • Jesus Christ -- Islamic interpretations.
  • Qurʼan -- Relation to the Bible.
  • Islam -- Relations -- Christianity.
  • Christianity and other religions -- Islam.
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