The concept of the Messiah holds profound significance in various religious traditions, including Islam. In Islamic theology, the Messiah, known as the “Masih” in Arabic, plays a crucial role in the eschatological beliefs of Muslims. The concept of the Messiah in Islam is deeply rooted in the Quran and Hadith (sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad), providing insight into the belief system and the role of the promised deliverer in the Islamic faith.
The Quranic Revelation and the Messiah
The Quran, the holy scripture of Islam, is the primary source of guidance for Muslims. It contains numerous references to the Messiah, providing insights into his identity and significance. One of the most prominent references to the Messiah in the Quran is in Surah Al-Imran (Chapter 3), where Maryam (Mary), the mother of Jesus, is mentioned as one of the most esteemed women in the history of Islam. The Quran narrates the miraculous birth of Jesus (Isa) and refers to him as the Messiah:
"[Mention] when the angels said, 'O Mary, indeed Allah gives you good tidings of a word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary - distinguished in this world and the Hereafter and among those brought near [to Allah].'" (Quran 3:45)
According to Islamic belief, Jesus (Isa) was born to Mary (Maryam) as a result of divine intervention, with no human father, making his birth a miraculous event.
Attributes and Role of the Messiah in Islam
In Islam, the Messiah, Jesus (Isa), is considered a prophet and a messenger of God. He is highly revered and is believed to possess several extraordinary attributes, distinguishing him from other prophets. Some of the notable attributes of the Messiah in Islam include:
- The Word of God: As mentioned in the Quran, Jesus is referred to as “a word from Him [God].” This highlights his unique status and divine origin, emphasizing his role as a chosen prophet.
- Miracle Worker: According to Islamic tradition, Jesus performed numerous miracles, such as healing the blind, curing the lepers, and even raising the dead, all through the permission and power of Allah.
- The Virgin Birth: Islamic theology upholds the belief in the virgin birth of Jesus. It is considered a sign of God’s infinite power and a testament to Jesus’ exalted position among the prophets.
- Messiah and His Mission: The title of “Masih” (Messiah) denotes Jesus’ role as an anointed one, chosen by God for a specific mission. He was sent to the Children of Israel to convey the message of monotheism and to invite them to the path of righteousness.
Proclaimer of the Last Prophet: Islamic tradition portrays Jesus as foretelling the coming of the final prophet, Muhammad, thus establishing a link between the Abrahamic prophets and affirming the continuity of divine guidance.
Ascension to Heaven: According to Islamic belief, Jesus was not crucified but rather ascended to heaven, known as the “Isra and Mi’raj.” This event is a crucial aspect of the Islamic narrative concerning the end of Jesus’ earthly life.
Eschatological Significance of the Messiah
In Islamic eschatology, the Messiah, Jesus (Isa), holds a pivotal role in the events preceding the Day of Judgment. Islamic tradition holds that he will return to Earth in the latter days as a just and righteous ruler, heralding a period of peace and justice. His return, known as the “Second Coming” or “The Descent” (Arabic: Al-Nuzul), will be accompanied by various significant events:
- Defeat of the False Messiah (Dajjal): Before Jesus’ return, the false messianic figure known as the Dajjal will emerge, spreading chaos and deception. Jesus, upon his descent, will confront and defeat the Dajjal, restoring justice and truth.
- End of Wars and Strife: Upon his return, Jesus will bring an era of peace, abolishing wars, conflicts, and oppression. He will establish justice and equity, ensuring harmony among people.
- Affirmation of Islam: Jesus’ return is believed to affirm Islam as the final and true religion, refuting any distortions or misrepresentations that might have arisen over time.
- Unity of Believers: The return of Jesus is anticipated to bring together all true believers from different faiths, fostering a united community devoted to monotheism and submission to God.
The concept of the Messiah in Islam revolves around the exalted figure of Jesus (Isa), a highly revered prophet and messenger of God. His miraculous birth, prophethood, and eventual return as the Messiah are integral components of Islamic theology and eschatology. The story of Jesus serves as a testament to God’s infinite power, His divine plan, and the continuity of divine guidance throughout human history. For Muslims, the Messiah represents hope, justice, and the promise of a peaceful future, where righteousness prevails over evil.
Who is the Messiah in Islam?
It is Jesus (known as Isa in Arabic), a revered prophet and a significant figure in Islamic theology. He is considered one of the greatest messengers of God, alongside other prophets like Muhammad, Moses, and Abraham.
What is the significance of the Messiah in Islam?
The Messiah, Isa, is highly esteemed in Islam for his miraculous birth to the Virgin Mary (Maryam in Arabic) and his role as a prophet. His teachings emphasize monotheism, compassion, and moral conduct, aligning with the core principles of Islam.
How is the Messiah different in Islam compared to Christianity?
While Christianity regards Jesus as the literal son of God and the Savior, Islam views him as a prophet and messenger of God, not divine. Muslims believe in the Oneness of God (Tawhid) and reject the concept of the Trinity, which is central to Christian beliefs.
Did the Messiah perform miracles in Islam?
Yes, according to Islamic tradition, Isa (Jesus) performed numerous miracles by the will of God. These miracles include healing the sick, raising the dead, and creating a bird from clay and breathing life into it.
Is the return of the Messiah prophesied in Islam?
Yes, Islamic tradition foretells the return of Isa (Jesus) as a significant event preceding the Day of Judgment (Qiyamah). He will return to Earth as a just ruler and a leader, breaking the cross, and affirming the truth of Islam.