There are many verses in the Quran about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ (PBUH). Muslims just like Christians revere Jesus, and some even believe that he is more honored among Muslims. They assert Jesus’ holiness and the fact that he was miraculously conceived in the womb of his virgin mother, Saint Mary.
It is also agreed in the religion of Islam that Jesus was supported by some miracles to prove that he was a Messenger of God. However, there are some different beliefs that Muslims have about the nature and life occurrences of this noble Messenger, which are as follows:
Jesus Christ was a human born of a virgin mother. As the last in the line of Jewish prophets, he was sent to guide the Children of Israel with a new scripture. According to the Quran, Jesus was no more than a messenger just like the previous messengers of God who had a worldly life like all the other creatures:
“Indeed the case of Jesus with Allah is like the case of Adam: He created him from dust, then said to him, ‘Be,’ and he was” (3:59).
Quran also affirms that Jesus was the Word of God but not because of an incarnation whereby his flesh became Divine, rather because his spirit was refined to such an extent that it became a mirror that reflected Divinity:
“When the angels said, ‘O Mary, Allah gives you the good news of a Word from Him whose name is Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, distinguished in the world and the Hereafter and one of those brought near [to Allah]” (3:45).
Just as the creation of Adam and Eve who were born without a human mother or a human father, the miraculous birth of Jesus does not grant him a higher status to be God or a part of Him. Therefore, Jesus, like the other earthly humans, lives a temporary life and dies:
“Peace to me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I am raised alive” (19:33).
It is also stated in the Holy Quran that Jesus and his mother would eat daily food, which is a typical human act that cannot be attributed to God:
“The Messiah, son of Mary, is but an apostle. Certainly, [other] apostles have passed before him, and his mother was a truthful one. Both of them would eat food...” (5:75)
“He [God] neither begets, nor was begotten” (112:3)
As mentioned earlier, the Quran states that Jesus was a prophet. Prophets are certainly the best humans God has chosen to receive His revelation to guide humankind; they deserve our greatest honors, but not our worship. Jesus Christ was not different in this respect, neither was he God’s assistant in creating and governing the world:
“It is not for Allah to take a son. Immaculate is He!” (19:35)
“O People of the Book! Do not exceed the bounds in your religion, and do not attribute anything to Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only an apostle of Allah, and His Word that He cast toward Mary and a spirit from Him. So have faith in Allah and His apostles, and do not say, ‘[God is] a trinity.’ Relinquish [such a creed]! That is better for you. Allah is but the One God. He is far too immaculate to have any son...” (4:171).
So, God alone suffices to rule and supervise the whole universe and all humans’ affairs.
Not only did Jesus affirm the scriptures revealed before him, but he also prophesied the arrival of the last messenger of God after him, i.e., prophet Muhammad (PBUH):
“When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and He will declare to you what is to come” (John, 16:13)
This is also mentioned in the Quran:
“And when Jesus son of Mary said, ‘O Children of Israel! Indeed, I am the apostle of Allah to you, to confirm what is before me of the Torah, and to give the good news of an apostle who will come after me, whose name is Ahmad” (61:6)
Jesus himself never claimed to be God incarnate or the son of God; he declared to be a human being and a servant of God, who was advised to worship Him:
“He said, ‘Indeed I am a servant of Allah! He has given me the Book and made me a prophet” (19:30).
“He has made me blessed, wherever I may be, and He has enjoined me to [maintain] the prayer and to [pay] the zakat as long as I live” (19:31)
And when he invited children of Israel to worship Allah, he said Allah is his Lord too and believed he was like the other children of Israel before God.
“[And Jesus said,] ‘Indeed Allah is my Lord and your Lord. So worship Him. This is a straight path’” (19:36)
He strongly forbade association of partners with Allah, saying:
“… ‘O Children of Israel! Worship Allah, my Lord, and your Lord. Indeed, whoever ascribes partners to Allah, Allah shall forbid him [entry into] paradise, and his refuge shall be the Fire, and the wrongdoers will not have any helpers’” (5:72).
Moreover, the Holy Quran says that Jesus himself denied having any qualities of divinity or being elevated to the status of God:
“And when Allah will say, ‘O Jesus son of Mary! Was it you who said to the people, ‘‘Take my mother and me for gods besides Allah’’?’ He will say, ‘Immaculate are You! It does not behoove me to say what I have no right to [say]…” (5:116).
Miracles are seals of a divine mission. All prophets were granted miracles to prove the integrity of their message. These miracles were not performed of the prophets’ own accord or under their power; rather, they were all manifest in their hands by God’s will and permission. Jesus was no exception; the Quran says:
“When Allah will say, O Jesus son of Mary, remember My blessing upon you and upon your mother, when I strengthened you with the Holy Spirit, so you would speak to the people in the cradle and in adulthood, and when I taught you the Book and wisdom, the Torah and the Evangel, and when you would create from clay the form of a bird, with My leave, and you would breathe into it and it would become a bird, with My leave; and you would heal the blind and the leper, with My leave, and you would raise the dead, with My leave;…” (5:110)
It is clarified in the Quran that Jesus was not crucified, but instead, he was raised to the heaven by God:
“and for their saying, ‘We killed the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the apostle of Allah’—though they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but so it was made to appear to them. Indeed, those who differ concerning him are surely in doubt about him: they do not have any knowledge of that beyond following conjectures, and certainly, they did not kill him. Indeed, Allah raised him up toward Himself…” (4: 157,158)
Finally, Muslims believe that after Jesus’ departure from the earth, his teachings were distorted. But with the advent of Islam, six centuries later, the truth about Jesus Christ and his teachings were revived and preserved in the last divine book of revelation, the holy Quran. Nowadays, Muslims follow the consistent message brought by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) as well as all the other holy prophets including Jesus; their lifestyle is more in tune with what Jesus practiced in life, and they highly respect him.
Muslims also hold that Jesus is alive in the same mortal body and at the time during the appearance of Imam Mahdi (AS) he will return to earth, and they will both fill the world with blessings and happiness.
Every year on the 20th of Safar, the second month in Hijri Calendar, a huge number of people from all over the world, Muslim or even non-Muslim, gather in Iraq to take part in a symbolic walk. People of Iraq for months before this day, eagerly prepare themselves to welcome the visitor of Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine. They find it a great honor to serve those who are participating in this event and are paying a visit to Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine. Iraq on this period becomes the site of the purest and most humane manifestations.
But, one might wonder what is the reason behind all these efforts? Why would someone walk a long distance, bearing all the difficulties on his/her way, to reach a shrine? What is it that drives this huge number of people here?
In what follows, you will find out about Arbaeen and the ceremonial walk on this day.
Arbaeen is the Arabic word for forty, and it marks the 20th of Safar, the fortieth day after Imam Hussain’s (AS) martyrdom on the day of Ashura, who was martyred in the event of Karbala along with his companions in the cruelest and most inhumane way possible.
After the event of Karbala, Imam Hussain’s (AS) family including his sister Lady Zainab (AS) and his son Imam Sajjad (AS), were taken as prisoners to Sham (Damascus) to Yazid’s court. Imam Hussain’s (AS) head was also sent to Yazid’s court along with his family .
According to some historical accounts , some of the members of Imam Hussain’s (AS) family after being released from the bondage of Yazid forces, returned to Karbala from Sham (Today’s Damascus) to visit Imam Hussain’s (AS) grave. Also, some believe that Imam Hussain’s (AS) head which was taken to Sham by Yazid’s army was brought back to Karbala on this day and buried with his body  & .
But these are not the only reasons behind the commemoration of Arbaeen every year. Visiting Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine is one of the recommended deeds at any time of the year, especially in Arbaeen [i]. Also, Imam Baqer (AS) enumerates the several benefits of this action. These include the increase in wealth, acceptance of prayers by Allah, longer life, and pardoning of the sins .
But, why would visiting Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine be of such importance? It is not where we are visiting, but who we are visiting and what he taught us that makes this action so worthy of attention. In fact, in paying a visit to Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine, we try to remind ourselves of these two messages:
1. To never surrender to injustice and oppression, as Imam Hussain (AS) did not yield to the tyrant of his time.
2. To always be eager in improving and reforming ourselves and our society, as Imam Hussain (AS) answered people’s call for improvement and did his best to help them, despite the fact that his will remained unfulfilled due to his enemies’ deception.
Now, we can better understand the Prophet’s (AS) conviction that Imam Hussain’s (AS) personality would forever guide the humanity toward everlasting peace and success. And ignoring the values he emphasized would cause eternal distress and calamity .
Visiting Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine is more recommended on some occasions, especially Arbaeen which could be because of the history of this day. Yet, this does not mean that this action cannot be done on any other days of the year.
But, this is not the only reason for this huge number of people to gather together on this day. In fact, they are all driven by the lasting message that Imam Hussain (AS) left for us through his courageous and rightful movement. That is the urge to stand against injustice, oppression and to strive in the way of improving their situation socially or individually. Arbaeen walk is where people reunite to commemorate these lessons of Imam Hussain’s (AS) revolution together.
The journey on foot from Najaf to Karbala which is called Arbaeen walk takes almost three days. But, everything is ready for those who want to take part in this life-changing walk. Many camps (Mawkib) are prepared on this way by people voluntarily which provide free food and accommodations for the respected pilgrims of Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine.
Muslim or non-Muslim, a large number of people take part on this journey. According to the Independent: “Nusayyef al-Khattabi, who heads the Karbala provincial council, said he expected the total number of visitors over several days to range ‘between 17 million and 20 million’” .
While Arbaeen Walk is one of the greatest Muslim gatherings, it is not an obligatory ritual. In other words, it cannot be considered as one of the practical principles of Islam (e.g., prayer (Salat), fasting (Sawm), Khums, Hajj, etc.) which a Muslim is required to perform. Participating in this journey is totally up to your choice, decision, and interest. Yet, Arba’een walk is a recommended ritual which carries many spiritual benefits for the one who takes part in it.
Anyone, from any nationality, religion or any age, can join this walk. This is a gathering of those who respect humanity and peace, are after making changes for the better and do not surrender to injustice. As Imam Hussain (AS) believed being free-spirited and honest is what guarantees human dignity . So, as long as you believe in these values, you are most welcomed on this journey.
It only takes your decision. And you might need to prepare some necessary things to carry with you in this walk. Also, it is better to be both physically and spiritually ready for this experience. Since, like many other life-changing experiences, it has its own hardships and challenges.
Note that the walk starts three days before Arba’een so that you will reach Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine on Karbala on this day. So, you should start your journey from the 17th of Safar and finish it on 20th.
While visiting Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine on Arba’een is a recommended deed, what matters most is to be aware of the philosophy behind this action. Imam Hussain’s (AS) universal and all-encompassing message, is not limited to an especial location or a specific time .
We can declare our commitment to Imam Hussain’s (AS) cause anywhere and at any time. So, if you couldn't manage to take part in Arba’een’s ceremony, there are some actions that would help you benefit from this occasion spiritually, such as reciting the Ziarat al-Arba’en or Ziarat al-Ashura. The least you can do is to send your peace and salutations to Imam Hussain (AS) wherever you may be:
Peace be upon Hussain (AS) and Ali ib al-Hussain and Hussain’s children and Hussain’s companions 
[i] Imam Hassan al-Askari (AS) told in a hadith that, among the signs of a faithful person, is visiting Imam Hussain’s (AS) shrine .
- for more information see Salam Islam’s ebook: 40 Points about Imam Hussain (AS) and the Event of Karbala
- Ibn Tawus, 'Ali b. Musa, Al-Luhuf 'ala qatla l-tufuf, Uswi, Qom, 1414 AH.
- Al-Biruni, Abu Rayhan, The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries, p.331.
- Qazi al-Tabataii, Muhammad Ali, A Research on the first Arba’een of the Leader of Martyrs (Imam Hussain (AS)), vol.3, p.304.
- Mustadrak al-Wasail, vol.10, p.239.
- Hashim al Bahrani, Al-Burhan Fi Tafsir al-Quran, vol.3, p.232.
- Shaykh Tusi, Tahdhib al-Ahkam , vol.6, p.52.
- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 45, p.49.
- Mustadrak al-Wasail, vol.10, p.309.
- Ziarat al-Ashura
When Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was writing letters to the Heads of neighboring states, he referred to Jesus Christ (PBUH) as the messenger of Allah and then invited them to Islam. In his letter to Nagaci, the king of Ethiopia, he wrote:
“… He, the King, the Holy peace insured dominant, and I bear witness that Jesus son of Mary, the Spirit of Allah and his speech was delivered to the Virgin Mary the good bunker. Allah created Jesus from his soul, just as he created Adam with his hand, and I invite you and your soldiers to Allah Almighty, has reached and advised receive my advice, and peace be upon those who follow guidance”.
Insisting on the fact that he knew Jesus (PBUH) and that he was the son of Mary, he wanted them to know that Islam is no different from true Christianity. The Quran, on the other hand, insists on this and reveals the fact that his name was stated before in the holy books:
"Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them. So they who have believed in him, honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him - it is those who will be the successful." (7:157)
But is that true?
Here we are going to discuss some of those verses and words.
“I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.”(18:18)
Al-Samawal Al-Maghribi was a Jewish mathematician who converted to Islam and had interpretations of the verses of the Old and New Testament. He interprets this verse as referring to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). The description given in this verse about the future prophet is referring to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) since it’s similar to the description given before about the children of Esau (Jesus). There is another verse that is referring to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in his point of view:
"The Lord came from Sinai, and dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came from the midst of ten thousand holy ones; At His right hand there was flashing lightning for them.” (33:2)
Al-Maghribi states that in this verse, Mount Sinai refers to Moses, Mount Seir refers to Jesus, and Mount Paren refers to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). 
This chapter is shared between the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. In verses 1 to 4 of this chapter, we read:
“Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. "He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street. "A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. "He will not be disheartened or crushed Until He has established justice in the earth; And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.” (42:1-5)
According to the verses above, a prophet was coming from the children of Qedar, the second son of Ishmael , and also the nomadic Arab tribe, which was known as the most significant organized Arab tribe . He is also sent to the same tribe to guide them on the right path. The other point about the prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH&HP) mentioned in this verse is that his religion was universal, willing to stand against gods and goddesses. Everyone waited for his coming, and different tribes would follow him.
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. “ (14:16-17)
Muslims’ interpretation of this verse states that the two words meaning comforter and famous, were used interchangeably and Jesus in prophesying the coming of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP).  They also relate these verses to a verse of the Quran about Jesus Christ, telling his people about the coming of the next prophet:
“And [mention] when Jesus, the son of Mary, said, "O children of Israel, indeed I am the messenger of Allah to you confirming what came before me of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmad." But when he came to them with clear evidence, they said, "This is obvious magic.” (61:6)
According to this verse, the name Ahmad is given for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), and it means the praised one. According to the translations of the holy bible, the word periklutos means the celebrated or praised one means Ahmad. The word is repeated in John 14, John 15 and 16.
According to the verses above, the coming of Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was prophesied by the former prophets. And many Jews and Christians were aware of the coming of a new prophet. However, many of them rejected his invitation. Why?
You will find out in the next article.
- al-Maghribi, Al-Samawal; Confutation of the Jews (in Arabic). Syria: Dar Al Qalam, 1989, 75-77
- Besharat Ahdein
- Stearns and Langer, 2001, p. 41.
- Zepp, Ira G. A Muslim Primer: Beginner's Guide to Islam. Vol. 1. University of Arkansas Press, 2000, 50-51