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What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam What is This? A guide to a wide variety of general questions asked by those looking to learn more about Muslim culture and the Islamic world.

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What do Muslims believe about Mary and Jesus?

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a prominent figure in Islam and the only woman mentioned by name in the Quran. The Quran upholds Mary as one of the four perfect examples of womanhood (66:12). An entire chapter, Surah 19, is dedicated to her and her history. Mary is mentioned more times in the Quran than in the entire New Testament, and more biographical information about her is contained in the Quran than in the New Testament.

The Quranic account of Mary includes the pregnancy of her mother Anna, Mary's birth, the annunciations of the coming births of John the Baptist and Jesus, and affirmation of the virgin conception and birth of Jesus: “[Remember] her who preserved her chastity, into whom We breathed a life from Us, and made her and her son a token for mankind” (21:91). The Quran teaches that Mary is to be revered because she completely submitted herself to God's will, even though it meant that her own family would accuse her of unchastity when it was discovered that she was pregnant (19:16–21). The Quran also records Jesus as an infant verbally defending Mary's innocence (19:27–34).

Jesus is an important figure in the Quran. No one can be a Muslim unless he or she believes in the prophethood of Jesus. Like Christians, Muslims believe in the virgin conception of Jesus by God's Spirit. The Quran also records some of Jesus' miracles, including giving sight to the blind, healing lepers, raising the dead, and breathing life into clay birds (5:110). This last miracle is not recorded in the canonical New Testament but does appear in the noncanonical Gospel of Thomas. The Quran also reports Jesus' proclamation of the need to worship God as the only God and his own status as a witness to God (5:116–17).

Muslim and Christian beliefs about Jesus differ in two areas. First, although Muslims believe in the virgin conception and birth of Jesus through an act of God's Spirit, they do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God. They believe that he is one of the long line of righteous prophets and second only to Muhammad in importance (Quran 6:83–87). For Muslims, the Christian doctrine of the Trinity represents a form of polytheism, affirming belief in three gods rather than one God alone (Quran 4:171, 5:17, 5:72–77).

Second, Muslims do not believe in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus (Quran 4:157–58). They believe that, although it appeared that Jesus was crucified, instead God took Jesus to Himself in a manner similar to what happened to Elijah (Quran 3:55, 4:157–589). Muslims do not believe in the Christian doctrine of Original Sin, so there is no theological need for the all-atoning sacrifice of Jesus through his crucifixion and resurrection. Muslims further believe that each of us will be held accountable before God for our own actions and thus responsible for our own salvation. Therefore, we will not be able to rely upon anyone else, not even Jesus or Muhammad, to save us from our sins.

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