|A Comparative View of the Lives of Jesus and the Holy Prophet (according to a Muslim)|
|Muhammad||Jesus Christ||Comments by ABCOG|
|1. The Holy Prophet is a historical personage.||1. Jesus' personality is shrouded in mystery.||Muhammad's life is well-documented (571-632 A.D.). Though much of our knowledge depends on traditional accounts and biographies (Ibn Ishaq).
Christians and essentially all historians agree that someone called "Jesus" was a preacher from Galilee, and lived from about 4 B.C. to about 31 A.D. The Qur'an accepts his historicity, "The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah ... So believe in Allah and His messengers" (4:An-Nisa:171)
|2. More than eleven thousand persons have testified to his life and work.||2. There is absolutely no contemporary evidence as to his life and work.||Muhammad entered Mecca with 10,000 followers, Jan. 11, 630 A.D., after his exile in Medinah. This is documented by contemporary sources.
According to the "Acts of the Apostles", a contemporary source, 120 of the disciples of Jesus assembled immediately after his death. The Apostle Paul, in his letters, claimed to have seen Jesus, and also to have met many of his immediate disciples. Other New Testament authors also claim to have seen Jesus, or to have spoken to those who had.
|3. He gave a complete book to his followers which he declared was revealed to him by Allah and embodied in itself a perfect code of life.||3. He did not give a book of any description to his followers, and left the matter of religion entirely to their discretion.||The Qur'an depends on one man.
For Jesus, the Book was already in existence. It is now known as the "Old Testament". It is composed of the work of many authors. The New Testament was written after the death of Jesus, and also comprises the writings of many authors. The Qur'an and the New Testament express opposite approaches to religion: the "letter of the Law" vs. "the spirit of the Law".
|4. He gave an entirely new dispensation to the world.||4. He laid no claim to any such exalted position for himself; but told his followers to follow the same old Mosaic dispensation.||Muhammad's teaching was new to the Arabs, but he does not claim his dispensation is "entirely new", for it goes back to Abraham (2:Al-Baqarah:136).
What Jesus proclaimed was how to see beyond the letter of the Mosaic Law into the nature of God and the life of the Spirit to which He is calling us. Jesus is reported to have made many claims, e.g., to be "the way, the truth and the life".
|5. He taught the fundamental principles of his religion in unambiguous language and in unequivocal terms: hence no dispute over them or no controversy about them in the Muslim world during all these 13 centuries.||5. He knew nothing about the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Logos, the Transubstantiation, the Atonement, or the Mariolatry or the elaborate ritual of the Roman Church or the dogma of the infallibility of the Pope.||There are different Muslim "denominations", e.g., Sufism, but generally there is intolerance for divergent viewpoints. But there are aspects of popular Islam today which Muhammad would probably disagree with, e.g., the celebration of his birthday, Mawlid, and his veneration in branches of Sufism.
Jesus did not know of developments within Christianity after his time, and would probably disagree with many of them.
|6. The Holy Prophet is a human being just like ourselves and as such he can command our allegiance and our love.||6. Jesus is perfect man plus perfect god and as such his personality has become quite an enigma. We cannot feel drawn towards him as he is not one of us; he belongs to quite a different species and as such he cannot serve as model for us.||Anyone, Muhammad, Jesus and even Batman can be a role model. But what sort of role model? Muhammad lived a life of aggressive evangelism. Jesus lived a life of quiet service. Jesus was "tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin." We are to "walk as he walked."|
|7. He can inspire confidence in us by his achievements.||7. Nothing of that sort, as we are apt to attribute all his achievements to his divinity and this element is lacking in us.||Muhammad's early failure and later conspicuous success are evident.
On the physical plane, Jesus was a failure. On the spiritual plane a conspicuous success. He came to enable us to receive that spark of the divine that is lacking in us.
|8. He is the greatest exemplar for human beings. For twenty three long years, he lived and worked amongst us as an ordinary mortal and during this period he displayed so many phases of his humanity and so varied aspects of his sweet personality that men in all walks of life - from kings and rulers down to the man in the street - each one can find a definite pattern for his guidance in life.
("the Ideal Character of the prophet." M. S. Chaudry)
|8. He has absolutely no such beauty or excellence to his credit. He lived for barely three years and died ignominiously on the cross.||It is difficult to know what Muhammad was really like, for his life is surrounded with sympathetic legends. But obviously he has a certain physical appeal, or none would follow him.
Jesus indeed had "no form or comeliness that we should desire him." His appeal is at the spiritual, not physical, level.
|9. The Qur'an gives this exalted position to the Prophet. Allah says, "Verily, in the life of the Messenger of Allah there is a noble uswa (model) for you."||9. Jesus makes no such claim.||The skeptic would note that, since Muhammad transmitted the Qur'an, his remarks about himself might be self-serving.
The New Testament makes many claims about the exalted position of Jesus. Jesus himself is careful to give all glory to God.
|10. The Holy Prophet "is the most successful of all the religious personalities of the world" (vide Encyc. Brit., Art. MUHAMMAD).||10. Jesus left his work unfinished owing to his sudden arrest and crucifixion (as believed and preached by the Christian Church).||Muhammad launched a highly successful international religion.
Jesus calls his church "a little flock". Jesus continues his work today: "Lo! I am with you even to the end of the world."
|11. The Holy Prophet gave a perfect code of life to his followers.||11. Jesus left some portion of his teachings to be imparted by the Paraclete vide John 14:16.||Muhammad didn't follow his own code exactly, e.g., wives.
Christianity is a religion of continuing divine revelation in which we are expected to "grow in grace and knowledge."
|12. The Holy Prophet wrought a mighty revolution and made the Arabs master of the then civilized world.||12. Jesus could not free his people from the yoke of the Romans.||The Arab empire was vast, but where is it now?
Jesus proclaimed a Kingdom, "not of this world." Yet Christianity conquered the Roman Empire.
|Based on: Yousuf Saleem Chishti (1970) What is Christianity: Being a Critical Examination of Fundamental Doctrines of the Christian Faith. Karachi, Pakistan: World Federation of Islamic Missions Islamic Centre|
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