Prophet ‘Isa (as) (also known as Jesus) is the penultimate messenger of Allah (swt), sent around 570 years before the last and final Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (saw). He is, of course, an important figure in Islam, mentioned in the Qur’an several times. This article will set out seven things about ‘Isa (as) which all Muslims should know!
Before we begin, we’d like to mention a few of the titles ‘Isa (as) is given in the Qur’an:
- Al-Masih: This is his most famous title - it means ‘The Messiah’. When ‘Isa (as) touched or wiped (in Arabic, masaha) those afflicted with an illness, they would be healed by Allah’s permission. [Tafsir Ibn Kathir]
- Ruh: This means he was ‘a spirit’ from Allah. [Qur’an, 21:91]
- ‘Abdullah’ and ‘Mubarak’: He was ‘a servant of Allah’ and ‘blessed’. [Qur’an, 19:30-31]
- ‘Ayah’ and ‘Rahmah’: He was ‘a sign’ and ‘a mercy’. [Qur’an, 19:21]
- ‘Kalimah’ and ‘Wajeeh’: He was ‘a word’ from Allah and ‘highly honoured’. [Qur’an, 3:45]
- Ul-ul-’Azm: Five messengers were called ‘those of determination’ - Nuh (as), Ibrahim (as), Musa (as), Isa (as), and of course their leader and our leader (Sayyid), Muhammad (saw). [Qur’an, 46:35]
- Ibn Maryam: This means the son of Maryam (as), also known as Mary. Like Prophet Adam (as), ‘Isa (as) had no father. Moreover, his mother’s high standing with Allah is well-known - she has an entire Surah named after her in the Qur’an and she was visited and addressed by the Angel Jibril (as):
Now that we’ve covered his titles and some of his characteristics, let’s have a look at some very important aspects of Prophet ‘Isa’s (as) life!
1. He was born under a date palm tree by a freshwater stream
Regarding his miraculous birth, Allah says:
‘So she (Maryam (as)) conceived him and withdrew with him to a remote place. Then the pains of labour drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She cried, “Alas! I wish I had died before this, and was a thing long forgotten!” So a voice (either ‘Isa (as) or Jibril (as)) reassured her from below her, “Do not grieve! Your Lord has provided a stream at your feet. And shake the trunk of this palm tree towards you, it will drop fresh, ripe dates upon you. So eat and drink, and put your heart at ease. But if you see any of the people, say, ‘I have vowed silence to the Most Compassionate, so I am not talking to anyone today’”’. [The Noble Qur’an, 19:22-26]
This passage clearly indicates that Maryam (as) was alone when she gave birth to the Prophet ‘Isa (as). She was under a date palm tree by a freshwater stream - not in a stable accompanied by Joseph the carpenter, as mentioned in the Christian nativity account.
We also know that she was in the valley of Bethlehem, some six miles south of Jerusalem.
‘Isa (as) was, uniquely, not touched by the Devil at his birth:
2. He was born in spring or summer time
Undoubtedly, much of the western Christian world believes that the Prophet ‘Isa (as) was born on 25th December. Muslim scholars have said that he was most likely born in spring or summer, based upon the previously mentioned ayah:
‘And shake the trunk of this palm tree towards you, it will drop fresh, ripe dates (rutaban janiyyan) upon you’. [The Noble Qur’an, 19:25]
The Arabic word rutab in this ayah means ‘fresh, ripe dates’ and is further emphasised by the Arabic adjective janiyy, which indicates fruit ready for picking or picked at the right time, i.e. ripe. This is unlikely to have taken place in the winter but rather in the spring or summer. And Allah knows best.
Whether it was spring or summer time, his birth is a true miraculous blessing from Allah. The Prophet ‘Isa (as) proclaims:
3. He was sent to guide the Children of Israel
In the Noble Qur’an, ‘Isa (as) addresses the Israelites as ‘Ya Bani Israeel’ - ‘O Children of Israel’.
Israel was a title of the Prophet Ya’qub (as), who had 12 sons from which the 12 tribes of Israel originate from. The Prophet Yusuf (as) is the most prominent of the twelve sons.
Unlike previous prophets, ‘Isa (as) did not refer to them as ‘Ya Qawmi’ or ‘my people’ - because he was born without a father and therefore, technically, they were not his ‘people’. His specifying ‘Children of Israel’ also indicates that he came to guide them and not the whole of humanity.
Guidance for the whole of humanity is a mission is reserved for the Messenger of Allah (saw) alone:
4. The Prophet Muhammad (saw) visited his birthplace
On Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj, the miraculous Night Journey and Ascension, the Angel Jibril (as) instructed the Prophet (saw) to dismount Buraq and pray in certain locations between Makkah and Al-Quds (Jerusalem).
Among these locations was Bethlehem, where ‘Isa (as) was born. In Arabic, this is called Bayt Lahm, literally ‘the house of meat’.
Later that night, the Prophet (saw) led all the prophets - including ‘Isa (as) - in prayer in the Blessed Masjid Al-Aqsa.
Angel Jibril (as) then ascended with the Prophet (saw) from the Dome of the Rock through the seven layers of the sky. At the second layer, the Prophet (saw) met ‘Isa (as) once more, along with ‘Isa’s cousin Yahya (as). SubhanAllah, they greeted him by saying, ‘Welcome, O pious prophet and pious brother!’ [Bukhari]
(For further details of this miraculous night journey, please refer to our article).
5. He will appear in Damascus in his second coming
Allah declares the second coming of the Prophet ‘Isa (as) as an ’Ilm, a sign that announces the Day of Judgement is close:
Allah describes the Prophet ‘Isa (as) as speaking to people in Al-Mahd and Kahlan. [The Noble Qur’an, 3:46 and 5:110]
Al-Mahd means cradle (i.e. Isa (as) spoke at 40 days old, as his mother cradled him in her arms).
Kahlan means the age of maturity, around 30 to 50 lunar years old. Some scholars say this shows that the Prophet ‘Isa (as) will continue calling people to Allah until he is 30-33 lunar years of age. It also alludes to his second coming, where he will descend at aged 30-33 once more.
There are many hadith which refer to the return of ‘Isa (as):
‘‘Isa, son of Maryam (as), will descend at the white minaret in the eastern side of Damascus, wearing two garments lightly dyed with saffron and placing his hands on the wings of two Angels. When he would lower his head, there would fall beads of perspiration from his head, and when he would raise it up, beads like pearls would scatter from it’. [Muslim]
‘The Hour will not be established until the son of Maryam descends amongst you as a just ruler; he will break the cross, kill the pigs, and abolish the Jizyah tax. Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it (as charitable gifts)’. [Bukhari]
‘Isa (as) will also pray in Masjid Al-Aqsa, behind Imam Mahdi:
‘‘Isa the son of Maryam (as) would then descend, and their (the Muslims’) commander (Imam Mahdi) would invite him to come and lead them in prayer, but he would say, “No, indeed some of you are commanders over each other as Allah’s honour for this Ummah”’. [Muslim]
Thereafter, the Prophet ‘Isa (as) ‘would then search for him (the Dajjal) until he would catch hold of him at the gate of Ludd (a village near Jerusalem) and would kill him’. [Muslim]
Thus, 'Isa (as) is not only a significant figure in history - he also has an important role to play in the future.
6. He will be buried next to the Messenger of Allah (saw) in Madinah
We know that all the prophets (as) took an oath with Allah to believe in and aid their leader, the Messenger of Allah (saw):
‘Remember when Allah took a covenant with the Prophets, (saying), “Now that I have given you the Book and wisdom and then if there comes to you a Messenger (the Prophet (saw)) confirming what you have, you must believe in him and support him. Do you affirm this covenant and accept this commitment?” They said, “Yes, we confirm.” He (Allah) said, “Then bear witness, and I will be with you among the witnesses”’. [The Noble Qur’an, 3:81]
The Prophet ‘Isa (as) also clearly foretold the coming of the Prophet Muhammad (saw):
‘And (remember) when ‘Isa the son of Maryam [as] said, “O Children of Israel! I am truly Allah’s Messenger to you, confirming the Torah which came before me, and giving good news of a Messenger who will come after me whose name will be Ahmad [saw]”’. [The Noble Qur’an, 61:6]
What is unfortunately less-known is that the Prophet ‘Isa (as) will eventually be buried next to the Prophet (saw) in Madinah:
On the authority of 'Abdullah bin Salam (ra) who said, ‘The description of Muhammad [saw] is written in the Tawrah and ‘Isa ibn Maryam [as] will be buried by him’. (One of the narrators) Abu Mawdud [ra] said, ‘There is a place for a grave left in the house’. [Tirmidhi]
Muslim scholars have beautifully indicated that the last action of the Prophet ’Isa (as) will be sending peace and blessings upon the Messenger of Allah (saw) at his final resting place in Madinah.
‘Isa (as) will then be buried by his side, as the divine rule is that Prophets are buried where they pass away:
‘Aishah (ra) said, ‘When the Messenger of Allah (saw) died, they disagreed over where to bury him. So Abu Bakr [ra] said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say something which I have not forgotten, he [saw] said, ‘Allah does not take (the life of) a Prophet except at the location in which He loves him to be buried in’”. So they buried him at the spot of his bed [in the house of ‘Aishah (ra)]’. [Tirmidhi]
7. The people of Paradise will have his age
Allah categorically states that the Prophet ‘Isa (as) was neither killed nor crucified but raised into the heavens:
‘And for their (Children of Israel) saying, “Indeed, we killed the Messiah, ‘Isa, son of Maryam, the Messenger of Allah [as].” But they neither killed nor crucified him but it was only made to appear to them as so. Even those who argue for this (crucifixion) are in doubt. They have no knowledge of it whatsoever, only making assumptions. They certainly did not kill him. Rather, Allah raised him up to Himself. And Allah is Almighty, All-Wise’. [The Noble Qur’an, 4:157-158]
Scholars mention that the age of the Prophet ‘Isa (as) when he was raised was around 30-33 lunar years of age. It is very interesting to note that this is the age of the people of Paradise:
The people of Paradise will also resemble the Prophet Adam (as) in his height: ‘All of them will look alike and will resemble their father Adam (in stature), sixty cubits tall’. [Bukhari]
Scholars have also indicated that the people of Paradise will have the incredible beauty of the Prophet Yusuf (as). After Al-Isra Wal-Mi’raj, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, ‘I saw Yusuf (as) who had been given half of (world) beauty. He welcomed me and prayed for my well-being’. [Muslim]
We pray that Allah makes us, our families and loved ones from the people of Paradise, amin!
We hope this article was of benefit for you. Please do share this article with friends and family, as the Prophet (saw) said, ‘Whoever guides someone to goodness will have a reward like one who did it’. [Muslim]