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Cairo ; Ulaymī, Mujīr al-Dīn Abū l-Yaman Abd al-Ra mān b. Mu ammad, al-Uns al-jalīl bi-tārīkh al-Quds wa-l-Khalīl, Amman , i, -; Wāsi ī, Mu ammad b. A mad, Fa ā il al- bayt al-muqaddas, ed. I. Hasson, Jerusalem ; Zamakhsharī, Kashshāf; al-Zu aylī, Wahba, al- Tafsīr al-wajīz wa-ma ahu asbāb al-nuzūl wa-qawā id al-tartīl alā hāmish al-Qur ān al-karīm, Damascus . Secondary: H. Busse, Bāb i a. Qur ān : and the entry into Jerusalem, in  (), -; id., Jerusalem in the story of Mu ammad’s night journey and ascension, in   (), -; C. Gilliot, Coran , Isrā , , dans la recherche occidentale. De la critique des tradi- tions du Coran comme texte, in M.A. Amir- Moezzi (ed.), Le voyage intiatique en terre d’Islam. Ascensions célestes et itinéraires spirituels, Paris , -; I. Hasson, The Muslim view of Jerusalem. The Qur ān and adīth, in J. Prawer and H. Ben-Shammai (eds.), The history of Jerusalem. The early Muslim period. -, New York , -; A. Kaplony, The Haram of Jerusalem -. Temple, Friday Mosque, area of spiritual power, Stuttgart ; A. Neuwirth, From the Sacred Mosque to the Remote Temple. Sūrat al- Isrā between text and commentary, in J.D. McAuliffe, B.D. Walfish and J.W. Goering (eds.), With reverence for the word. Medieval scriptural exegesis in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, New York , -; Paret, Kommentar; Speyer, Erzählungen.

    

performed by divine permission (see ); and states that God raised him into his presence. It probably also alludes

to his future return. It denies, however,

that he was divine (as noted, one of his qur ānic identifications is as the “son of

Mary”; see below for further discussion of this title) and attaches no significance to the cross. As traditionally interpreted by Muslims, it also denies that he was cruci- fied (see ).

Inventory of the qur ānic Jesus material The relevant passages are listed here in chronological order in accordance with Nöldeke’s classification (see     ). For the sake of compari- son, the order implied by the headings of the standard Egyptian edition of the Qur ān is also given (see Robinson, Discov- ering, -). For example N  E  indi-

cates that according to Nöldeke the sūra in question was the fifty-eighth revealed but that it was the forty-fourth according to the standard Egyptian edition: :-, - (N  E ); :-, -(N  E ); : (N  E );


see ; 

:- (N  E ); :- (N 



); :- (N  E ); :,

-, - (N  E ); :-,


- (N  E ); :-(N  E );


:-, -, - (N  E );

The first-century Jewish teacher and won-

:- (N  E ); :- (N 

der worker believed by Christians to be the


); :,  (N  E ); :-,

Son of God, he is named in the Qur ān as

-, -, - (N  E );

one of the prophets before Mu ammad

:- (N  E ).

who came with a scripture (see ;   ; 

There is widespread agreement that the first six passages cited above (i.e. those

 ). The qur ānic form of Jesus’ name is Īsā. It is attested twenty-five times, often in the form Īsā b. Maryam,

down to and including :-) were revealed in Mecca and the others in Medina. The chronological order, however,

Jesus son of Mary. The Qur ān asserts that


only approximate and some of the ear-

he was a prophet and gives him the unique

lier sūras have almost certainly been

title “the Messiah” (see ). It

revised. The dating of the passages in 

affirms his virginal conception (see ;


particularly problematic. There is a tra-

 ); cites miracles which he

dition that the Muslims who emigrated to

    

Abyssinia (q.v.) recited part of this s ū ra to the Negus (Ibn Is āq -Guillaume, -) which would make it quite early (see ). In any case, the reference in : to an angel (q.v.), ‘our spirit,’ appearing in visible form strongly suggests that the s ū ra is Meccan. Moreover, : implies that the Prophet’s audience had already heard an extensive revelation about “the son of Mary” and : probably alludes to a specific element in this particular version of his story (cf.

:-). :-, however, which has

a different rhyme from the rest of the s ū ra (see       ), was almost certainly added later

and the references to “the book” (:, , , etc.) are probably late Meccan or early Medinan.

The name Īsā, its origin and significance The name “Jesus” ( Īsā ) occurs twenty-five times: nine times by itself (:; :, , , ; :; :; :; :) and six- teen times in conjunction with one or more other names or titles (:, ; :;

:, ; :, , , , , ; :; :; :; :, ). It was probably absent from the original version of

:- and it is not found in s ū ras 

or , but it is attested in the other twelve

s ū ras listed above.

The qur ān ic spelling of Jesus’ name is strikingly different from any currently used by Christians. The English form “Jesus” is derived from the Latin Iesus which in turn

is based on the Greek Iēsous. It is generally

held, however, that because Jesus was a Palestinian Jew, his original name must have been Hebrew and that the Greek

Iēsous represents the Hebrew Yēshūa which

is an abbreviated form of Y e hōshūa (or

Y e hōshua ). The original meaning of Y e hō- shūa was “Yahweh helps” but it was popu- larly understood to mean, “Yahweh saves.” When the New Testament was translated


from Greek into Syriac, Iēsous was ren- dered Yēshū , although Syriac-speaking Nestorian Christians called him Ishu . After the rise of Islam, the gospels (q.v.) were eventually translated from Syriac into Ara- bic and Yeshū was rendered Yasū , which is what Arab Christians call Jesus to this day. The grounds for thinking that Jesus’ orig- inal name was Yeshua are: ) The Hebrew scriptures mention several people called Y e hōshūa , Y e hōshua or Yēshūa , including Moses’ successor Joshua son of N ū n whose name is spelled in all three ways. In the Septuagint, these names are almost invari- ably rendered as Iēsous (Brown et al., Hebrew and English lexicon, ). ) By the first century, only the short form Yēshūa was in use. ) The New Testament refers to Moses’ successor, Joshua, in Acts : and Hebrews :, and in both instances it gives his name in Greek as Iēsous. ) According to Matthew :, an angel told Joseph in a dream that Mary would have a son, and added “Thou shalt call his name Jesus for it is he who shall save his people from their sins.” As there is no play-on-words in the Greek, Matthew’s readers were presum- ably familiar with the original Hebrew name and its etymology. Western scholars, because of their con- viction that Jesus’ authentic Hebrew name is Yēshūa , have been puzzled by the Qur ān ’s reference to him as Īsā . They have offered a number of explanations for this apparent anomaly. One suggestion is that y-sh- , the Hebrew consonants of Yēshūa , have been reversed for some cryp- tic reason to give -s-y, the Arabic conso- nants of Īsā . Those who favor this view note that in ancient Mesopotamia certain divine names were written in one way and pronounced in another; for example EN-ZU was read ZU-EN (Michaud, Jésus, ). Scarcely more plausible is the sugges- tion that the Jews called Jesus “Esau” (Hebrew Esaw) out of hatred and that


Mu ammad learned this name from them not realizing that it was an insult (see   ;    ). Admittedly, in Arabic Esau is usually written Īsū and this might have been changed into Īsā in order to assimi- late it to other qur ānic names ending in -ā. There is no evidence, however, that the Jews have ever called Jesus Esau. Moreover, the Qur ān criticizes them for insulting Jesus’ mother (:), and Mu ammad’s many Christian acquaintances would surely have corrected him if he had unwit- tingly adopted a Jewish insult against Jesus himself. A third suggestion is that Jesus’ name has been altered deliberately to assimilate it to Mūsā (Moses, q.v.), with whom he is sometimes paired. There may be other examples of this phenomenon in the Qur ān, for instance, Saul (q.v.) and Goliath (q.v.) are called ālūt and Jālūt, Aaron (q.v.) and Korah (q.v.) are called Hārūn and Qārūn. A fourth suggestion is that, already before the rise of Islam, Christians in Arabia may have coined the name Īsā from one of the Syriac forms Yeshū or Ishū . Arabic often employs an ini- tial ayn in words borrowed from Aramaic or Syriac and the dropping of the final Hebrew ayin is evidenced in the form Yisho of the “köktürkish” Manichaean fragments from Turfan ( Jefferey, For. vocab., ; see  ). Although there is no irrefutable evidence that the name Īsā was in use in pre- Islamic times (see -     ), there was a monastery in Syria which may have been known as the Īsāniyya as early as  .. (Min- gana, Syriac influence, ; see     ;   ). While many Muslim scholars entertain the possibility that the qur ānic form of Jesus’ name reflects the usage of certain Christians in Mu ammad’s milieu, others

    

maintain that Īsā was, in fact, the original form of Jesus’ name. Sarwat Anis al- Assiouty ( Jésus, -) champions this view. Among the arguments which he adduces, the following merit consideration:

) If Jesus’ original name had been Yēshūa , the final ayin would have been retained in Aramaic sources which men- tion him. In the Talmud, however, he is called Yēshū. ) In Matthew :, the angel states that it

is Jesus himself, not Yahweh, who will save

his people. Thus, far from supporting the derivation of Iesous from Yeshua , this bibli-

cal verse militates against it. ) Josephus used the Greek name Iēsous to denote three people mentioned in the Bible whose Hebrew names were not Yēshūa ,

Y e hōshūa or Y e hōshua . They were Saul’s son Yishwī (Anglicized as “Ishvi” in the RSV of

I Samuel :), the Levite Abīshūa (men-

tioned in I Chronicles :, etc.) and Yish- wah the son of Asher (Anglicized as “Ishva” in the RSV of Genesis :). ) Around the middle of the second cen- tury, Justin Martyr penned his famous Dia- logue with Trypho the Jew. Justin, a Christian who wrote in Greek and knew no Hebrew, argued at length that the Old Testament story of Joshua should be interpreted typo- logically as referring to Jesus. Under his influence, most Christians subsequently assumed that Jesus’ Hebrew name must have been the same as Joshua’s. ) Jesus’ name should be derived ulti- mately from the Hebrew verb āsā, “to do,” which also means “to bring about” in the sense of effecting a deliverance. This ety- mology would make better sense of Mat- thew : than the assumption that his Hebrew name was Yēshūa . Moreover, in the first centuries of the Christian era, Nabatean pilgrims inscribed the name s on rocks in the region of Sinai, and the name is also found in inscriptions in south- ern Arabia and the region between Syria

    

(q.v.) and Jordan (see     ). None of al-Assiouty’s arguments is deci- sive and some of them are unsound. The Talmudic Yēshū may be a deliberate defor- mation of Jesus’ name to ensure that his memory would be blotted out. Matthew : should be read in conjunction with Matthew :, where Jesus is identified as Emmanuel, “God with us”; from the evan- gelist’s viewpoint, therefore, it would have been entirely appropriate for his name to mean “Yahweh saves.” Although Josephus furnishes important evidence for the wide variety of Hebrew names represented in Greek by Iēsous, it is noteworthy that none of these names begins with an ayin. Justin Martyr elaborated the Joshua Jesus typol- ogy but he did not invent it; it was already implicit in Hebrews :. It is true that the Hebrew verb āsā, “to do,” can mean “to bring about” in the sense of effecting a deliverance. In biblical passages where it has this latter meaning, however, the sub- ject is invariably Yahweh (Brown et al., Hebrew and English lexicon, ). Moreover, as the verb is not Aramaic and is not cer- tainly found in south Semitic languages (ibid., ) it is not relevant to the interpre- tation of the pre-Islamic inscriptions which the author mentions. According to al-R ā ghib al-I fah ā n ī (fl. fifth eleventh cent.), some authorities took Īsā to be an Arabic name and derived it from ays, “a stallion’s urine” ( Jefferey, For. vocab., ). As urine was used to bleach clothes, this bizarre suggestion probably arose among interpreters who were famil- iar with the tradition that Jesus’ disciples were fullers. The Lisān al- Arab mentions two other Arabic derivations: from ayas, “a reddish whiteness,” or from aws, the verbal noun of awasa, “to roam about.” The for- mer should perhaps be explained in the

light of the ad ī th (

   


 ) in which the Prophet describes Jesus as “ruddy (a mar) as if he had just come from the bath.” The latter is proba- bly linked with attempts to derive Jesus’ title al-Masī from masa a, “to pace” or “to survey.” abā abā ī (d. ) favors a tradi- tion which derives Īsa from ya īsh, “he lives,” because the name of Zechariah’s (q.v.) son, Ya y ā ( John; see   ), likewise has this meaning, and because in the two births are an- nounced in similar fashion. Nevertheless, several classical philologists thought that Īsā was a Hebrew or Syriac name that had been Arabicized and this view was endorsed by a number of classical com- mentators (for a recent analysis in which a misreading of the unpointed Arabic is sug- gested, see Bellamy, Textual criticism, ; see  ;  ;     ). By way of conclusion, it is worth sum- marizing the salient features of the debate about the origins of the qur ā nic form of Jesus’ name. It is not certain that Jesus’ original name was Yēshūa . The view that it was, and that it connoted that he was the Savior, cannot be traced back to earlier than around  .., the time when He- brews and Matthew were written. In any case, Īsā , the qur ān ic form of his name, has no such connotations. The attempts to derive that form from an Arabic root are, however, far-fetched and show, if anything, that it had no obvious associations for the native speaker of Arabic. It is just possible that Īsā was actually Jesus’ original name, although it seems more likely that it is an Arabicized form of the name current among Syriac-speaking Christians as was recognized by a number of classical authorities. This Arabicized form may be pre-Islamic but there is no compelling evi- dence that it is. Nor are there grounds for thinking that its purpose is polemical.


References to Jesus as “the son of Mary” and “the Messiah” The expression “the son of Mary” is attested twenty-three times. By itself, it occurs in only two Meccan verses: : and :. In the other instances, which are all Medinan, it is invariably preceded by “Jesus,” “the Messiah” or “the Messiah Jesus.” An Arabic name (ism) is often followed by a familial attribution (nasab), “the son of X.” Moreover, the nasab may also be employed in isolation. Thus as regards its position, form and employment, “the son of Mary” resembles a nasab. In a nasab, however, X is normally the name of the person’s father. Very occasionally, one encounters a nasab in which X denotes the person’s mother; for example, “the son of the Byzantine woman,” “the son of the blue-eyed woman,” or “the son of the daughter of al- A azz ” (Schimmel, Islamic names, ). Note, however, that in these examples X is not the mother’s name but a nasab indicating her place of origin, a nick- name drawing attention to one of her dis- tinguishing features or her own nasab. This last type of nasab is employed when the maternal family is more distinguished than the paternal line: for instance the A azz in the above-mentioned example was a vizier. Because there is no exact parallel to the expression “the son of Mary,” its origin and significance are disputed. It is attested only once in the New Testament, in Mark :, where Jesus’ townsfolk say, “Is not this the carpenter the son of Mary?” Some interpreters think this biblical passage merely implies that Mary was a widow whereas others detect an insult: a hint that Jesus was perhaps illegitimate. Neither explanation suits the qur ā nic context because Joseph is not mentioned in the Qur ān , and among the Arabs an illegiti- mate child was called Ibn Abīhi , “son of

    

his father.” Nor need it be supposed that the Qur ān imitated the usage of the Ethi- opic church ( pace Bishop, The son of Mary) for it is unlikely that Ethiopian Christians called Jesus “the son of Mary” (Parrinder, Jesus, -) and although the Qur ān contains a number of Ethiopic loan words they occur mostly in Medinan s ū ras. In the opinion of the present writer, during the Meccan period the expression was used merely for ease of reference. Bearing in mind that in the earliest refer- ence to Jesus (:-) the principal character was Mary, with Jesus figuring as her unnamed child, the brief allusions to Jesus as Mary’s son in the subsequent reve- lations concerning Jesus (those in  and ) are entirely understandable. In the Medinan period, however, many of the revelations about Jesus were concerned with countering Christian claims about him. Hence, the expression “the son of Mary” took on polemical overtones; it was an implicit reminder that Jesus is not the son of God as the Christians allege (also, some suggest implausibly a reflection of Trinitarian doctrines with Mary as the mother of God; see ). The classical commentators do not distinguish between the Meccan and Medinan usage. They interpret the expression as a counter-thrust to Christian claims but also regard it as an honorific title because of the high status that the Qur ān ascribes to Mary (see     ; ). The term “the Messiah” (al- Masī ) is attested eleven times and is found only in Medinan revelations. It occurs by itself three times; followed by “the son of Mary” five times; and followed by “Jesus the son of Mary” three times. There can be little doubt that it is derived ultimately from the Hebrew Māshīa , which means “anointed” or “Messiah.” In ancient Israel, kings and priests were consecrated by anointing their

    

heads with oil. After the Babylonian exile, there arose in some circles expectations of a future ideal Davidic ruler, God’s anointed par excellence, an eschatological figure who would usher in an age of peace. Whereas the Jews maintain that this Mes- siah is yet to come, Christians claim that Jesus had this God-given role and that he was wrongly killed but will return in glory. In the Greek New Testament, Messias, the Hellenized transliteration of the Hebrew word, occurs only twice ( John :; :). The New Testament writers showed a marked preference for the literal Greek translation Christos, “Christ.” According to one tradition, Jesus was instituted as the Messiah when God anointed (echrisen) him with the Holy Spirit at his baptism (Acts :; cf. Luke :-; :-). He is, how- ever, frequently referred to as Iēsous Christos, “Jesus Christ,” or Christos Iēsous, “Christ Jesus,” almost as if Christos were an addi- tional name rather than a title. Arabic lexicographers regarded al-Masī as a laqab, or nickname, and attempted to give it an Arabic etymology. Al-Fīrūzabādī (d.  ) claimed to have heard no less than fifty-six explanations of this sort (Lane, ). Only those most frequently encountered in the classical commentaries will be mentioned here. It was widely held that it was derived from the verb masa a, which occurs five times in the Qur ān: four times in instructions on performing ablu- tions by “wiping” various parts of the body with water (:) or clean earth (:; :; see   ;  ) and once in a reference to Solomon’s (q.v.) “stroking” his horses (:). Most of those who took this line thought that masī was an adjective with the force of a passive participle and meant “touched” or “anointed.” They variously suggested that Jesus was given this nick- name because he was touched by Gabriel’s (q.v.) wing at birth to protect him from


Satan (see ); because he was anointed with oil, as were all the prophets; or be- cause he was anointed with God’s blessing (q.v.; cf. :). Others held that masī was an adjective with the force of an active participle. They claimed that he was given the nickname because he laid hands on the sick and healed them (see   ); or because he washed men from their faults and sins (see ,   ). This last explanation was generally frowned on because the Qur ān insists on individual responsibility and denies that a person can count on anyone but God to save him (:; :; see ; ;   - ; ). Finally, there were those who maintained that although masī had the force of an active participle it was derived not from masa a but from a, a verb meaning to travel about in the cause of religion (:; see ) and hence to be devout (:; :; see also ). They alleged that Jesus received this nickname because of his itinerant life- style (see further Arnaldez, Jésus fils de Marie, -). The explanation why the lexicographers exercised such ingenuity in trying to account for the qur ānic term, and why they put forward such diverse explanations, is that a laqab may be bestowed for a whole range of reasons. There are laqabs that are honorific titles but there are others that merely indicate a person’s trade or physical characteristics so as to help identify him. Despite the prima facie plausibility of the etymologies mentioned above, however, it should be noted that those which seem to indicate qualities that Jesus shared with other prophets do not do justice to the fact that he alone is called al-Masī in the Qur ān. It seems likely that the first hearers of the revelations would have been aware that al-Masī was a dignified title which the Christians held was uniquely applica-


ble to Jesus. Nevertheless, the qur ān ic title does not have precisely the same connota- tions as “Messiah” or “Christ” in the New Testament. Several of the New Testament writers stressed that Jesus was the Davidic Messiah, and two of them furnished gene- alogies tracing his “descent” from David through Joseph, despite the fact that they apparently believed in the virginal concep- tion (Matthew :-, Luke :-). In the Qur ān , on the other hand, the link between Jesus and David (q.v.) is tenuous (:); Mary’s betrothal to Joseph is not mentioned; and what is stressed is Jesus’ descent from Adam (see   ) via Noah (q.v.), Abraham (q.v.), Imrān (q.v.) and Mary (:-).

Jesus’ conception and infancy and the description of him as “word” and “spirit” In  God recounts that, while Mary was in seclusion, he sent his spirit to her in the form of a man who announced that, despite being a virgin, she would conceive a boy-child by divine decree (:-); that she conceived and withdrew to a remote place where her labor pains drove her in despair to the trunk of a palm tree (:-; see  ); that after she had given birth, her baby told her to refresh herself from the ripe dates and a stream which God had miraculously pro- vided (:-); and that when she returned to her people he spoke up in her defense (:-). includes a similar account of the annunciation (:-), although here God’s agent is described as “the angels.” and both allude to Jesus’ speaking in the cradle (:; :). In the biblical version of the annuncia- tion, God’s agent is named as Gabriel rather than the spirit (q.v.; Luke :). Some Christians, however, may have regarded them as identical on the basis of Tatian’s gospel harmony, the Diatesseron, in which Luke’s account of the annunciation

    

is followed immediately by Matthew’s

report of how Mary was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. The miracle of the palm tree and the stream is mentioned in the Latin Gospel of pseudo-Matthew; and, according to the Arabic infancy gospel Jesus spoke while still a child in the cradle. Although these two apocryphal writings post-date the rise of Islam, Christians in Mu ammad’s audience were probably familiar with the episodes to which they refer. The Qur ān ’s reference to Mary’s labor pains, on the other hand, may have been intended to counter the Christian belief in Jesus’ divinity and Mary’s perpe- tual virginity. Most commentators identify the spirit who was sent to Mary as Gabriel, on the grounds that both designations appear to be used interchangeably elsewhere for the revelatory angel (:; :; :; see   ). Gerock (Versuch, -) claims that the Qur ān regards Gabriel as Jesus’ father. This inter- pretation can be ruled out because the Qur ān defends Mary against the charge of unchastity (:; see ), although some of the classical commenta- tors suggest that the effect of Gabriel’s sudden appearance in human form was to arouse Mary’s desire, as in an erotic dream, and thereby facilitate the descent of the maternal fluid into her womb (Robin- son, Christ, , ). In :, God states that he set the son of Mary and his mother as a sign (see ) and that he sheltered them on a hill- top “where there was both a cool place and

a spring” ( dhāti qarārin wa- ma ī nin). The sug- gestion made by some Christian authors that this is an allusion to the assumption of Mary which allegedly took place on a hill in Ephesus, is wide of the mark. The verse seems rather to refer back to the circum- stances surrounding Jesus’ birth, which were mentioned in  where Mary was

    

instructed to drink from a stream that appeared miraculously (:-; see   ). There is even a verbal echo of the infant Jesus’ words to her, “refresh yourself,” literally “cool your eye” ( qarrī aynan , :). Other verses in

 deny that God has taken a son

(:) and warn against appealing to

another deity beside him (:). It is clear therefore that neither Jesus nor Mary is to be regarded as a divine being. To- gether, however, they constitute a “sign:” probably a reference to the virginal con- ception, which, like the miraculous cre- ation (q.v.) of the first man, points to God’s power to raise the dead (compare

:-; see    ;

       ). :-alludes to Mary and her son without naming them. Here, too, they are said to constitute a sign. The only new ele- ment is God’s statement that she “guarded her chastity ( farjah ā , literally, her opening) so we breathed into her ( fīhā ) of our spirit” (:). An almost identical statement occurs in :, the only difference being that there God says that he breathed “into it” ( fīhi ), “it” presumably being Mary’s farj. In both instances, the probable reference is to God’s creating life in her womb without her having sexual intercourse. Similar lan- guage is used elsewhere to describe how he gave life to the first man (:; :;

:). Some of the classical commenta- tors, however, assumed that “our spirit” in

: and : denoted Gabriel, as in

:. They therefore reasoned that

Mary literally “guarded her opening” from Gabriel on the specific occasion of the annunciation and debated whether the ref- erence was to her vulva (the usual meaning of farj) or to an aperture in her clothing. They cited reports alleging that she con- ceived after he blew up her skirt, down the


neck of her chemise, into her sleeve or into her mouth (Robinson, Fakhr al-Dīn, ). There are two Medinan verses which clearly state that Jesus is God’s word (see   ), namely : and :. Moreover, it is sometimes held that : and : (a Medinan passage in ) also imply this. As the context of these verses is Jesus’ conception, birth and infancy, it is appropriate to discuss them at this point. Christian apologists often argue that they echo the teaching of John’s Gospel, which states that God’s divine Word (logos), which was with him in the beginning and through whom he created all things, became flesh in Jesus Christ ( John :-). We shall see, however, that although the Qur ān calls Jesus “a word from God” it does not endorse the orthodox Christian view that he was the incarnation of a pre-existent divine hypostasis. : recalls that the angels announced to Zechariah the good news (q.v.) of the forthcoming birth of John, who would “confirm the truth of a word from God.” Arabic does not distinguish between upper and lower case letters, but as kalima lacks the definite article it should probably be rendered “word” rather than “Word.” The classical commentators generally assumed that the “word” in question was Jesus. They cited a number of traditions in sup- port of this, including one from Ibn Abbās, which relates how John bowed down in reverence before Jesus when they were both babes in their mothers’ wombs. Although some of the early philologists argued that in this context kalima denotes a “book” or “scripture,” the traditional inter- pretation is preferable in view of :, which recalls how the angels told Mary:

“God announces to you good news of a word from him; his name will be the Mes- siah Jesus son of Mary….” Here kalima clearly refers to Jesus and, as the annuncia-


tion to Mary is the structural homologue of the earlier annunciation to Zechariah, it

seems likely that kalima refers to Jesus there as well. Nevertheless, it should be noted that, whereas kalima is a feminine noun, the pronominal suffix attached to “name” is masculine. Thus the name “the Messiah Jesus son of Mary” is attributed to the male person indicated by the word, rather than to the word itself. Elsewhere in the Qur ān kalima usually denotes a divine decree, and this seems also to be the case here. The classical commentators argued convincingly that Jesus is called a “word” primarily because, as was also the case with Adam, God brought him into exist- ence merely by uttering the command “Be!” as is stated a few verses later in : (see ).

: is more overtly polemical. The

People of the Book (q.v.) are ordered not to exaggerate in their religion and to speak nothing except the truth about God. The Messiah Jesus son of Mary was only God’s envoy (see ) and “his word which he cast unto Mary” and a spirit from

him. Here, Jesus and the “word” are even more closely associated because the verb “cast” is followed by the redundant femi- nine object pronoun. Nevertheless, as there is no suggestion that Jesus was God’s sole envoy and, as “spirit” is indefinite, “his word” should probably be construed as “a word of his,” without any implication of uniqueness. In any case, the polemical con- text and the insistence that Jesus is only an envoy, word and spirit, should caution Christian apologists from interpreting kalima in the light of orthodox Christian logos theology.

: contains the word qawl, which

can mean either “word” or “statement.” Two of the seven readers (see     ), Ā im in K ū fa and Ibn Ā mir in Damascus, vocalized the crucial expres-

    

sion as qawla l- aqqi, giving qawl an accusa- tive ending. This is the reading found in Flügel’s text and in the standard Egyptian edition of the Qur ān , which are the basis of most English translations. If it is accepted, the expression introduces an exclamation and the verse should be ren- dered: “That is Jesus son of Mary state- ment of the truth concerning which they are in doubt!” In which case, “statement of the truth” simply refers to the previous story and has no bearing on the qur ān ic teaching about Jesus as a word from God. The other five readers, however, favored qawlu l- aqqi, with qawl in the nominative. This reading, which may well be the more original, can be construed in two ways:

either as the predicate of a sentence whose subject has been omitted, namely “[It is] a statement of the truth” or as a nominal phrase in apposition to Jesus, namely “Word of Truth.” In view of the fact that this verse is part of a highly polemical Medinan addition to the s ū ra and that the next verse denies that God has taken a son, the former interpretation seems the more probable. The understanding of Jesus as God’s word in the minimalist sense that he was brought into existence by God’s command is in line with the teaching of the Nestorian Christians (O’Shaugnessy, Word, ) as is the Qur ān ’s stress on the similarity of the virginal conception and the creation of Adam (Robinson, Christ, -). The state- ment that he was both a word and a “spirit” ( ) from God (:) is more difficult to interpret in view of the range of meanings ascribed to spirit in the Qur ān . It may, however, reflect a thought-world akin to that of Psalm :, where God’s creative word and breath (Hebrew rūach) are treated as synonyms because an utter- ance is invariably accompanied by out- breathing.

    

His status and mission The Qur ān emphatically denies that Jesus was God, a subsidiary deity or the son of God (e.g. :, , ; :; see -   ). He was merely a “servant” (q.v.) of God (:; :; :) and was required to pray and to pay alms (zak ā t, :; see ; ). He and his mother needed to eat food (:; see   ) and God could destroy them both if he wished (:). He was nonetheless a “mercy (q.v.) from God” (:), a “prophet” ( nabī , :) and an “envoy” ( rasūl , :, ; :; :, :), “eminent” in this world and the hereafter (see ) and “one of those brought near” (:). Although Jesus was a sign for humanity as

a whole (:), his specific mission was to the Children of Israel (q.v.; e.g. :; :). God taught him the Torah (q.v.) and the Gospel (:; :) and sup- ported him with the Holy Spirit (:, ; :) possibly an allusion to his baptism (q.v.) but most commentators assume that the reference is to Gabriel. Jesus attested the truth of what was in the Torah (:; :; :); made lawful some of the things that were forbidden to the Children of Israel in his day (:; see   ; ); clarified some of the things that they dis- agreed about (:); and urged them to worship God alone (e.g. :). Like David before him, he cursed those of his people who disbelieved (:). He is credited with a number of miracles including creating birds from clay; healing

a blind person and a leper; raising the

dead; and telling the Children of Israel what they ate and what they stored in their

houses (:; :). The miracle of the birds is mentioned in the apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Thomas, and the healings and resuscitations correspond to those nar- rated in the canonical gospels. From the


qur ānic perspective, however, none of these miracles implies that he possessed divine status or supernatural power; they were simply God-given signs of the authenticity of his mission, “clear proofs” which the unbelievers nevertheless dis- missed as sorcery (:; :; see ;   ). A further miracle attributed to Jesus is that, at the request of his disciples, he asked God to send down “a table (q.v.) spread with food” (:-). The Arabic word translated by this phrase is m ā ida . The lexicographers derived it from the verb māda , “to feed,” but it is probably an Ethiopic loanword for it resembles the term used by Abyssinian Christians to denote the eucharistic table. Moreover, as Jesus speaks of the table as a “festival” for his disciples, there can be little doubt that the episode describes the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper; but, in ac- cordance with traditional Christian typol- ogy, it appears to have conflated the Last Supper with the gospel feeding miracles and the Hebrew Bible story of how God sent down manna to the Israelites in the wilderness. Although the Qur ān seems at this point to acknowledge the legitimacy of a specifically Christian ritual that origi- nated with Jesus, the next verse makes clear that Jesus did not instruct people to worship him and his mother (:). Moreover, the ritual is not linked with Jesus’ atoning death. On the contrary, as God punishes whom he wills and forgives whom he wills, there can be no question of the participants enjoying a special sta- tus or gaining immunity from punish- ment (:, ; see   ). The Qur ān recognizes that God granted special favors to some of the envoys who preceded Mu ammad, in the case of Jesus by supporting him with the Holy Spirit and enabling him to perform miracles


(:). Moreover, it singles out Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus as prophets with whom God established a strong cove- nant (q.v.; :; compare :). It urges the Muslims, however, to believe in all of God’s envoys and not make a distinction between them (:, ; :; :) because they all taught essentially the same religion. Thus Jesus’ name also fig- ures in more extensive lists of messengers (:; :-). From the qur ānic perspective, like the other envoys, Jesus was a precursor of Mu ammad. This is underscored in three ways. First, Jesus and Mu ammad are depicted as having had similar experi- ences. For instance, both were sent as a “mercy,” both needed to eat food, both had “helpers” ( an ār , see ;   ) and both were suspected of sorcery (Robinson, Christ, -; see ; ; ). Second, God informs Mu ammad that he has inspired him in the same way as he inspired his predecessors including Jesus (:; :). Third, Jesus is said to have foretold the coming of an envoy called A mad (:), the heavenly name of Mu ammad.

The plot to kill him, his exaltation and future descent According to Islamic tradition, when the Jews sought to kill Jesus, God outwitted them by projecting his likeness onto some- one else whom they mistakenly crucified. Meanwhile, he caused Jesus to ascend to the second or third heaven (see   ), where he is still alive. Jesus will return to kill the Antichrist (q.v.), and after a forty-year reign of peace he will even- tually die and be buried in Medina (see ). On the day of resurrection (q.v.), he will be a witness against the unbe- lieving People of the Book. It is question- able whether the qur ānic data provides

    

sufficiently solid foundations to bear the weight of this construction. In  the child Jesus speaks of the day of his birth, the day he will die, and the day he will be raised alive (:). From the similar statement about John (:), and from subsequent verses that deal with eschatology (:-, ), it has been inferred that Jesus will be raised alive at the general resurrection. There is not the slightest hint, however, that his death also lies in the future. On the contrary, given only this sūra, the assumption would be that it already lay in the past like John’s.  includes the cryptic assertion that “he” or “it” (the pronominal suffix - hu could mean either) is “knowledge for the hour” (:). The classical commenta- tors mention three traditional interpreta- tions: (i) Jesus’ future descent is a portent which will signal that the hour is approach- ing, (ii) the Qur ān imparts knowledge con- cerning the resurrection and judgment (see  ), and (iii) Jesus’ raising of the dead by divine permission brings knowledge that God has the power to raise the dead (Robinson, Christ, -). Instead of ilm , “knowledge,” Ibn Abbās (d. ca.  ), Qatāda (d. ca.  ), and al- a āk (d.  ) allegedly read alam , “sign, distinguishing mark,” which would strengthen the case for the first interpreta- tion, whereas Ubayy (see    ) allegedly read dhikr, “reminder,” which would seem to lend weight to the second (see     :   ). As Jesus is the subject of verse  and verse , it is probably he, rather than the Qur ān, who is the subject of verse . Additionally, in view of the predominant concern with eschatology in verses -, it seems likely that verse  alludes to Jesus’ future descent rather than to his miracu- lous raising of the dead. Nevertheless, there is nothing to indicate that his future

    

descent requires him to have been spared death on the cross. contains two consecutive verses which have a bearing on this topic. First there is a reference to Jesus’ unbelieving opponents, “And they plotted and God plotted, and God is the best of plotters” (:). This is followed by a statement about what God said to him, “When God said, ‘Jesus, I am going to receive you and raise you to myself…’ ” (:). Muslim commentators usually assume that both verses refer to the same incident, namely the Jews’ plot against Jesus’ life and God’s counter-plot to rescue him by having them crucify a look- alike substitute. Although there may be a close link between the two verses, the stac- cato nature of much qur ānic narrative should be a caution against supposing that this is necessarily the case. Therefore each verse will be considered in turn. The verb makara, “to plot, plan or scheme,” and its derivatives, occur in thir- teen sūras spanning Nöldeke’s second and third Meccan periods, and in and which are Medinan. When human beings are the subject of this verb, they are usu- ally unbelievers who plot against specific envoys of God including Noah (:), āli (q.v.; :), Moses (:), and Mu ammad (:; :), or against God’s signs (:) thereby hindering others from believing (:). When God is the subject of the verb, the reference is invariably to his counter-plot, but the emphasis may be on his rescue of the envoy (:; see ), the imme- diate punishment of the unbelievers (:, : f.; see   ;  ), the recording of their misdeeds (:; see    ) or their even- tual punishment in the hereafter (:). Hence, in : the unbelievers’ plot could have been an attempt on Jesus’


life either the final plot to kill him or

one which took place earlier in his ministry (see :, compare Luke : and John :) or an attempt to subvert his mes- sage. God’s counter-plot could have entailed his rescue of Jesus, but it might equally well have been his punishment of the Jews by destroying Jerusalem (q.v.), or his preservation of Jesus’ monotheistic teaching. It is true that Noah, āli and Moses were all rescued by God and that the Qur ān warns against thinking that he would fail his envoys (:), which seems to strengthen the case for thinking that

: implies that Jesus was delivered

from death. On the other hand, the same sūra explicitly mentions the possibility of Mu ammad dying or being killed (:) and states that the Muslims who were killed at U ud (see   ; ;  ) are not dead but “alive with their lord” (:). Thus Jesus’ death, ostensibly at the hands of his enemies, cannot be ruled out on the basis of :. The interpretation of : hinges on the meaning of the present participle of the verb tawaffā (Robinson, Christ, -), which was rendered above as “going to receive.” The finite verb is attested twenty- two times and the imperative three times. When God is the subject it can mean to receive souls in their sleep (q.v.; :;

:) but it more frequently means “cause to die.” As this latter meaning is attested in

: and as the Qur ān uses the verb in

other sūras when speaking about Mu am- mad’s death (:; :; :), there is

a prima facie case for construing God’s words to Jesus to mean that he was going to cause him to die and raise him into his presence. Most of the classical commenta- tors, however, took them to mean that he would cause Jesus to sleep and to ascend in that condition or that he would snatch him


alive from the earth. The minority, who conceded that the participle does mean “cause to die,” nevertheless denied that Jesus was crucified. Some of them argued that the order of the verbs is inverted for stylistic reasons and that, although God has already caused Jesus to ascend, his death still lies in the future. Others held that God caused him to die a normal death, while his substitute was being cruci- fied, and that he then caused him to ascend. In , the Jews are criticized for boasting that they killed Jesus (:-). The inter- pretation of this passage poses a number of problems (Robinson, Christ, -, -, -). First, there is the statement, “They did not kill him or crucify him.” Tradition- ally, Muslim interpreters have held that this is a categorical denial of Jesus’ death by crucifixion. It may simply mean, however, that although the Jews thought that they had killed Jesus, Muslims should not think of him as dead because, from the qur ānic perspective, he is alive with God like the martyrs of U ud (:, see above; see ). The second problem centers on the clause wa- lākin shubbiha lahum (:). Most of the classical commentators under- stood it to mean “but he [i.e. the person whom they killed] was made to resemble [ Jesus] for them.” In support of this they cited traditional accounts of how God pro- jected Jesus’ likeness (Arabic shibh) onto someone else. These accounts, however, are unreliable for they differ over the iden- tity of the person in question, some saying that he was a loyal disciple of Jesus who volunteered to die in his place, others that he was Judas Iscariot or one of the men sent to arrest Jesus. The non-standard interpretation that regards the verb as impersonal and construes the clause as “but it was made to seem like that to them”

    

avoids the need to identify any person onto whom Jesus’ identity was projected. A third problem is posed by the words “God raised him to himself ” (:). The verb is rafa a (compare the use of the parti- ciple rāfi in the similar context in :). The classical commentators invariably took it to mean that God caused Jesus to ascend bodily into the second or third heaven where Mu ammad allegedly saw him on the night of the mi r ā j (see - ). It is arguable, however, that it is simply a graphic way of saying that God honored him, for elsewhere the same verb is used to denote God’s raising envoys in rank (e.g. :), his exalting Mu am- mad’s reputation (:) and the ascent of good works into his presence (:; see  ). The final problem is the ambiguity of the words “his death” in :. The classical commentators mentioned two principal interpretations: either it refers to the death of each individual Jew and Christian, because immediately before their death they will recognize the truth about Jesus, or it refers to Jesus’ death, because he is still alive and all the People of the Book will believe in him when he descends to kill the Antichrist. A good case can be made for the former interpretation on syntactical grounds, for the whole sentence constitutes an oath used as a threat (see       ). Moreover, the reading “their death,” which is attributed to Ubayy, supports this interpretation. Owing to the influence of the adīths about Jesus’ future descent, however, the view that the verse referred to Jesus’ death gained widespread support. The assertion that Jesus will be a witness against the People of the Book (:) is unproblematic and accords with the qur ānic teaching that God will raise a wit- ness against every community (:).

    

In :  , Jesus says to God, “I was a wit- ness over them while I dwelt among them, and when you received me you were the watcher over them.” The word rendered ‘you received’ is the fi rst person plural per- fect of tawaffā, a verb whose meaning was discussed earlier in connection with : . It most probably refers here to Jesus’ death or rapture before his exaltation, which already lies in the past. As the statement occurs, however, in a conversation that will take place on the last day, it is just con- ceivable that it refers to Jesus’ future death after his descent to kill the Antichrist. From the above analysis, it should be obvious that the qur ān ic teaching about Jesus’ death is not entirely clear-cut. Three things, however, may be said with certainty. First, the Qur ān attaches no salvifi c im- portance to his death. Second, it does not mention his resurrection on the third day and has no need of it as proof of God’s power to raise the dead. Third, although the Jews thought that they had killed Jesus, from God’s viewpoint they did not kill or crucify him. Beyond this is the realm of speculation. The classical commentators generally began with the questionable premise that :  - contains an unam- biguous denial of Jesus’ death by crucifix- ion. They found confi rmation of this in the existence of traditional reports about a look-alike substitute and ad ī ths about Jesus’ future descent. Then they inter- preted the other qur ān ic references to Jesus’ death in the light of their under- standing of this one passage. If, however, the other passages are examined without presupposition and :  - is then inter- preted in the light of them, it can be read as a denial of the ultimate reality of Jesus’ death rather than a categorical denial that he died. The traditional reports about the crucifi xion of a look-alike substitute proba- bly originated in circles in contact with


Gnostic Christians. They may also owe something to early Sh ī ī speculation about the fate of the Im ā ms (see  ;      ).


Neal Robinson

Primary (in addition to the classical commen- taries on the verses mentioned above): Ibn Is ā q-


Secondary: Abd al-Tafahum (= K. Cragg), The Qur ān and Holy Communion, in  (  ),

 -  ; G.C. Anawati, Ī s ā , in  , iv,  - ;

T. Andrae, Der Ursprung des Islams und das Christen-

tum, Uppsala  ; R. Arnaldez, Jésus dans la pensée musulmane, Paris  ; id., Jésus fils de Marie prophète de l’Islam, Paris  ; S.A. al-Assiouty, Jésus le non-Juif, Paris  ; M.M. Ayoub, The Qur ān and its interpreters. ii. The House of Imrān, Albany  ; id., Towards an Islamic Chris- tology. I: An image of Jesus in early Shii Muslim literature, in   (  ),  -  ; II: The death of Jesus, reality or delusion, in   (  ),  -  ; R. Bell, The origin of Islam in its Christian environment, London  ; J. Bellamy, Textual criticism of the Koran, in   (  ), - ; E.E.F. Bishop, The son of Mary, in   (  ),  -  ; J. Bowman, The debt of Islam to monophysite Syrian Christian ity, in Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift  (  - ),  -  ; F. Brown, S.R. Driver and C.A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English lexicon of the Old Testament, Oxford  (repr. with corrections  ); K. Cragg, Jesus and the Muslim. An exploration, London  ; E.E. Elder, The crucifi xion in the Qur ān , in   (  ),  -  ; G.F. Gerock, Versuch einer Darstellung der Christologie des Koran, Hamburg  ; E. Gräf, Zu den christlichen Einflüssen im Koran, in J.F. Thiel (ed.), al-Bahit. Festschrift J. Henninger zum . Geburtstag am . Mai , Bonn  ,  -  ; H. Grégoire, Mahomet et le Monophysisme, in Mélanges Charles Diehl. i. Histoire, Paris  ,  -  ; J. Hämeen-Anttila, Jeesus. Allahin Profeetta, Helsinki  ; M. Hayek, Le Christ de l’Islam, Paris  ; id., L’origine des termes Īsā al-Mas ī ( Jesus Christ) dans le

Coran, in L’orient chrétien (  ),  -  ,  -  ;

E. Hennecke, New Testament apocrypha, vols.,

London  , i; J. Henninger, Spuren christlicher Glaubenswahrheiten im Koran, Schöneck  ; Jefferey, For. vocab.; Lane; G. Lüling, Über den Ur-Qur ān. Ansätze zur Rekonstruktion vorislamischer christlicher Strophenlieder im Qur ān, Erlangen  ; D.B. MacDonald, The development of the idea


of the Spirit in Islam, in  (  ),  -  ; M.M. Manneval, La christologie du Coran, Toulouse  ; L. Massignon, Le Christ dans les Évangiles selon Ghaz ā l ī , in  (  ),  -  ; McAuliffe, Qur ā nic, esp.  -  (chap. ); H. Michaud, Jésus selon le Coran, Neuchâtel  ; A. Mingana, Syriac infl uence on the style of the Kur an, in Bulletin of the John Rylands Library,  ,  -  ; J. Nurbakhsh, Jesus in the eyes of the Sufis, London  ; Th.J. O’Shaughnessy, Word of God in the Qur ā n, Rome  ; G. Parrinder, Jesus in the Qur ā n, London  ; H. Räisänen, Das Koranische Jesusbild, Helsinki  ; id., The portrait of Jesus in the Qur ān . Refl ections of a biblical scholar, in   (  ),  -  ; G. Risse, Gott ist Christus, der Sohn der Maria: Ein Studie zum Christusbild im Koran, Bonn  ; N. Robinson, Abd al-Razz ā q al-Q ā sh ā n ī ’s comments on Sura  , in Islamo- christiana  (  ),  -  ; id., Christ in Islam and Christianity, Albany  ; id., Christian and Muslim perspectives on Jesus in the Qur ān , in A. Linzey and P. Wexler (eds.), Fundamentalism and tolerance. An agenda for theology and society, London  ,  -  ,  - ; id., Covenant, communal boundaries and forgiveness in S ū rat al-M ā ida, in Journal of qur a nic studies (forthcoming); id., Creating birds from clay. A miracle of Jesus in the Qur ān and in classical Muslim exegesis, in   (  ), -  ; id., Discovering the Qur ā n. A contemporary approach to a veiled text, London  ; id., Fakhr al-D ī n al-R ā z ī and the virginal con- ception, in Islamochristiana  (  ), -  ; id., Hands outstretched. Towards a re-reading of S ū rat al-M ā ida, in Journal of qur a nic studies (  ), - ; id., Jesus and Mary in the Qur ān . Some neglected affi nities, in Religion  (  ),  -  ; id., The qur ā nic Jesus, the Jesus of history, and the myth of God incarnate, in V.S. Sugirtharaja, Frances Young Festschrift (forth- coming); id., The structure and interpretation of S ū rat al-Mu min ū n, in Journal of qur a nic studies (  ), -; J. Robson, Christ in Islam, London  ; M.P. Roncaglia, Éléments Ébionites et Elkésaïtes dans le Coran, in Proche orient chrétien  (  ),  -  ;  = The Bible, revised standard ver- sion, London  ; E. Sayous, Jésus-Christ d’après Mahomet, Paris and Leipzig  ; C. Schedl, Muhammad und Jesus, Vienna  ; A. Schimmel, Islamic names, Edinburgh  ; id., Jesus und Maria in der Islamischen Mystik, Munich  ; O.H. Schumann, Der Christus der Muslime, Gütersloh  ; J.S. Trimingham, Christianity among the Arabs in pre-Islamic times, London  ; R.C. Zaehner, At sundry times, London  ; A.H.M. Zahniser, The forms of tawaff ā in the Qur ān . A con- tribution to Christian-Muslim dialogue, in   (  ),  -  ; S.M. Zwemer, The Moslem Christ, Edinburgh  .

   

  

      

Jewels and Gems see 

 

Jews and Judaism

Terminology The Arabic term denoting “Jews” is yah ū d, which occurs seven times in the Qur ā n. The form d also denotes the same and appears in this sense three times. The sin- gular, yah ū d ī , occurs once. From yah ū d h ū d was derived the secondary verb h ā da, which means “to be a Jew Jewish.” “Those who were Jews” (h ā d ū ) is mentioned ten times. This verb appears once with the comple- mentary il ā ( :  ), in which case it denotes “to return to.” It is put into the mouth of Moses (q.v.), who says to God:

“We have returned (hudn ā ) to you.” Obvi- ously, this is a play on yah ū d, on behalf of whom Moses is speaking here (see Paret, Kommentar, ad :  ). Outside the Qur ā n the transitive hawwada is used in the sense of “he made him a Jew.” The form yah ū- diyya, which denotes “Judaism,” or “the Jewish religion,” is also non-qur ā nic (cf. Lane, s.v. h-w-d ). In addition to yah ū d and its derivatives, the Qur ā n addresses the Jews as “Children of Israel” (q.v.), which alludes to their ancestral origin. Some- times the Christians (see    ), too, are included in this designation. The Jews are called by this appellation to imply that the fate of the old Children of Israel is continued through their descendants. Apart from the ethnic designations, the Qur ā n addresses the Jews as “People of the Book” (q.v.). This is a religious evaluation of them, and refers to the fact that they had prophets sent to them with revealed scriptures (see ;    ). The Jews are not the only community with a revealed book. :  mentions two par-