Copyright © 1996 by M. Anderson. All rights reserved.
The commentators who reflected on the person of Christ found themselves expressing their wonder in absolute terms. They felt no exaggeration in describing him with the loftiest possible descriptions. They found it very natural to crown him with such a rainbow of glory.
The Qur'an states that Jesus is like Adam:
... the likeness of Jesus, in God's sight, is as Adam's likeness. 
Baidawi also refers to this likeness. Amongst the various explanations he gives of Jesus' title 'the Word of God', he says that Jesus is called the word of God because:
he is like Adam without a father, so he is like the unprecedented wonders of the original creations (Al-bid'iyat) which is the world of the bidding [of God, or God's affairs], or he is like the Book of God. 
Jesus is like Adam in two ways: first, he had no earthly father; and second, he was in the original state of creation, as Adam had been before he disobeyed God (that is, Jesus was born sinless and lived a sinless life). On the other hand, Jesus is not like Adam in that he restores and creates, whereas Adam through his actions was the cause of humankind's downfall and expulsion from Paradise. As the following Hadith states:
The Prophet Moses is disputing and taking exception to Adam saying, 'O Adam, you are our father yet you failed us,' that is, 'You made us fall in disappointment, which is deprivation (and brought us out of Paradise); that is, you were the cause of our expulsion from the place of bliss and permanence, to the place of misery and ruin.' 
Baidawi says that, unlike Adam, Jesus 'used to raise dead bodies and dead hearts to life'  and in the course of explaining the expression 'confirmed by the Holy Spirit' which was continuous, Jesus was continuously confirmed
... by the words by which religion lives, the human soul has eternal life and cleanses [people] from sins. 
Also, Razi says that 'by him God brought people to life out of deception, just as man lives by the spirit'. 
Thus, unlike Adam who by his disobedience brought misery to humanity, Jesus brought dead people back to life and immortality and hope to dead hearts. Jesus was like Adam when Adam was in the original perfect state, and unlike Adam, who failed the human race, because he was the instrument of life, hope and immortality.
In Baidawi's comments on the Qur'an, 3: 39 quoted above, he says that Jesus is called the Word of God because 'he is like the Book of God'.  How is Jesus like the Book of God?
First, Jesus and the Book of God have the same effect on people's lives. Razi states:
He was the cause of people's spiritual life in their religion. 
Both Jesus and the Book of God have the power to transform lives. Jesus was confirmed with 'the words by which the human soul lives eternally, and cleanses from sins.'  Thus Jesus is the Book of God in a human form, cleansing people from their sins, and imparting eternal life.
Second, both are called 'spirit'. Razi states:
God, describing the Qur'an, said: 'Even so We have revealed to thee a Spirit of Our bidding.' 
This title was given only to Jesus, Gabriel the head of the angelic powers and the Qur'an. Razi, in the above quotation, equates Jesus with the Qur'an as the cause of spiritual effects on people's lives because both were given one and the same title of spirit.
Third, both Jesus and the Book of God belong to the world of God's bidding, for as Baidawi says:
He [Jesus] is like the unprecedented wonders of the original creations (al-bid'iyat) which is the world of the bidding [of God, or God's affairs] or he is like the Book of God. 
The world of God's bidding includes the Qur'an. It is thus described:
Even so, We have revealed to thee a Spirit of Our bidding. Thou knewest not what the Book was, nor belief. 
The Qur'an describes the Spirit of God thus:
They will question thee concerning the Spirit. Say the 'Spirit is of the bidding of my Lord.' 
It is not surprising, then, that Baidawi mentions that Jesus is like the Book of God straight after stating that Jesus belongs to the world of God's bidding.
It is interesting to note that the same word (alqa) which is used to describe the coming of the Qur'an is also used to describe the coming of Jesus. Of the Qur'an we read:
Thou didst not hope that the Book should be cast (yolqa) unto thee, except it be as a mercy from thy Lord; so be thou not a partisan of the unbelievers. 
Of Jesus the Qur'an says:
The Messiah, Jesus Son of Mary, was only the Messenger of God, and His Word that He committed (alqaha) to Mary, and a Spirit from Him. 
It is not surprising, then, that Razi did not hesitate to say that Jesus is the Word of Truth. For while commenting on the statement, 'That is Jesus, Son of Mary, in word of truth, concerning which they are doubting' (Q. 19: 34), he said:
... Jesus himself is the Word of Truth because 'the Truth' is the name of God. So there is no difference between saying Jesus is the word of God and saying Jesus is the word of Truth. 
Thus, just as the Book of God is the truth concerning God, Jesus is the Word of Truth concerning God.
Finally, concerning the Word of God the Qur'an states that 'God's word is uppermost'.  Jesus too is now uppermost, for as the Qur'an states:
God raised him [Jesus] up to Him ... 
Is there any higher uppermost than being raised up to God Himself? So Jesus and the Book of God are alike in that both are life-giving, both are called spirit, both belong to the world of God's bidding and both are uppermost. It cannot be said of Abraham or Moses or any other prophet that they are like the Book of God. The commentators who contemplated the different facets of the character of Jesus did not find it difficult to state that Jesus is like the Book of God. In fact this likeness fits Jesus so naturally.
Jesus is also like Gabriel, the angel of inspiration, the bringer of the Book of God to the prophets. The points of similarity between Jesus and Gabriel are the same as those mentioned of the similarities between Jesus and the Book of God mentioned earlier.
As we noted in the previous section, both Jesus and the Book of God belong to the world of God's bidding. And so does Gabriel. Also, Jesus and Gabriel are called spirit, and their effect on human souls is so vital that without them people have no life, as is clear from the following statements made by Razi. Regarding Jesus being called the Spirit of God, Razi says:
... because by him, God brought people to life out of deception, just as man lives by the spirit... 
And elsewhere he says of Gabriel:
Just as the spirit is the cause of man's life, so Gabriel ... is the cause of life to the hearts, by the knowledge he imparts. 
It is clear from this that the names of Jesus and Gabriel could be exchanged without any change in the meaning of the two quotations.
This interchangeability is also evident in Baidawi's comment on the confirming of Jesus with the Holy Spirit: '... "by the Holy Spirit" meaning Gabriel, or the spirit of Jesus ...'  Baidawi shows no distinction between the confirmation being that of the spirit of Jesus or of Gabriel. If there was a difference, Baidawi would not have placed them alongside each other as he has.
Razi likewise places the spirit of Jesus alongside Gabriel. Commenting on the Qur'an, 16:2 ('He sends down the angels with the Spirit of His command'), he says that what is meant by the Spirit is:
'Inspiration', that is, the Word of God ... Calling the 'Inspiration' Spirit is very suitable and appropriate, and what strengthens that [interpretation] is that the word spirit was given in description of Gabriel ... in the Qur'an, 26:193 ('Brought down by the Faithful Spirit') and in description of Jesus in the Qur'an 4: 170, and this description is a good one because due to the existence of both of them, life of the heart and guidance and knowledge (of God) resulted. 
Thus Razi says that Jesus and Gabriel have the same effect on people's hearts.
Jesus and Gabriel are also the same because both were messengers to the prop hets, or the prophets to the prophets. Jesus was the object of Yehia's (John the Baptist's) faith. Jesus was honoured by Yehia, who bowed to him while he was still in the womb. We are told that Yehia was the first to believe that Jesus is the word of God. Jesus did not bow to Yehia, but the opposite happened. Jesus was a prophet to Yehia the prophet. In this Jesus is like Gabriel, the prophet to the prophets. It is no wonder that all the prophets under Divine inspiration spoke of his coming.
While Jesus and Gabriel are alike, Jesus has an added distinction. It is stated by Baidawi, that Jesus was 'called spirit because he used to raise dead bodies and dead hearts to life.' Jesus did not do this metaphorically; he actually did it in time and space. Baidawi says:
'By the holy spirit' meaning Gabriel, or the spirit of Jesus ... or the Majestic Name which Jesus used to raise the dead. 
Even though Baidawi does not make a distinction between Gabriel, the spirit of Jesus and the Name of God, I would like to do so for this reason: the raising of the dead is a divine power and hence it is appropriate to ascribe it to God, but not to Gabriel. And so the most appropriate rendering of the title 'the Holy Spirit' is the 'Majestic Name of God', or the 'Spirit of Jesus'.
It is this distinction that made Qasemi, a later commentator, see the title 'the Holy Spirit' as referring to the spirit of Jesus and not to Gabriel. He said:
... by the Holy Spirit ... is the pure spirit which God breathed into him and distinguished him from others that He created, for the most High said 'And Spirit from Him' and he, by the Spirit, had the added distinction of having raised many people from the dead. 
Nowhere in the Qur'an are we told that Gabriel was given the power to bring dead people back to life. As we have seen previously, this was given only to Jesus. This seems to be the most appropriate interpretation of the confirming of Jesus with the Holy Spirit of Jesus, because the powers of creating and raising the dead belong to God alone and not to Gabriel.
Jesus is therefore like Adam, an unprecedented wonder and he is like the Book of God in that he is alive even today. He is also like Gabriel, the bringer of the Book of God, and like the Name of God that raised the dead. This indeed is an impressive array of qualities.
Similarities between Gabriel and Jesus are striking and numerous. Let us consider one of these. In his comment on the Qur'an, 16:2 quoted above, Razi equates Jesus and Gabriel (the Holy Spirit), for both are the cause of 'life of the heart and guidance and knowledge [of God]' in people. Once more we can see the oneness of the Holy Spirit and Jesus.
This is a unique position that Jesus occupied, as is further indicated by the Qur'anic verse:
And we gave to Moses the Book, and after him sent succeeding Messengers; and we gave Jesus Son of Mary the clear signs, and confirmed him with the Holy Spirit. 
Razi rightly observes about this verse that:
The Exclusive allotment of Gabriel [in the Qur'anic text it is the Holy Spirit, not Gabriel] to Jesus is a most distinguishing characteristic, so that not a single prophet of the prophets was thus distinguished. 
According to the above statement, the angels who bear the Throne are superior to the prophets, and Gabriel is superior to them.
As we have also seen before, Jesus is the only prophet who did not sin and hence did not ask for forgiveness, but possessed a spirit that
... was holy, high, heavenly, shining intensely with Divine lights, and of great proximity to the spirits of the angels. 
According to this statement, Jesus was pure and his spirit was very similar to the spirits of the angels. But that is not all, Jesus is superior to all the prophets, as stated previously, but more significantly, his spirit was also interchangeable with Gabriel, the most superior of all the angels.
The commentators felt that the expression 'confirmed with the Holy Spirit' regarding Jesus is of great importance. In commenting on the Qur'an, 5: 113, Baidawi said of this expression:
... 'with the Holy Spirit' may mean 'with Gabriel', or the spirit of Jesus, or with the words by which religion lives, or with the words by which the human soul lives eternally, and cleanses [people] from sins, or the Majestic Name by which Jesus used to raise the dead. 
Razi sees this as being 'a most distinguishing characteristic, so that not a single prophet of the prophets was thus distinguished'. 
Commentators have considered this expression to be of great significance. They believed this confirming to be as powerful as God's Name, by which the dead can be raised, or the words that proceed out of the mouth of Jesus, which have the power to cleanse people from their sin and to impart eternal life. Commentators considered this distinguishing characteristic to be exclusively Jesus'. Other prophets had power only to warn people from the consequences of sin, but not to cleanse people from their sins and give them eternal life. Jesus was the only prophet who had these powers.
The task of Gabriel is believed have been to pass the message of God to other prophets, and then return to attend to the Throne of God, but the task of Gabriel to Jesus was a continuous presence. There with Jesus all the time was the presence of the chief of the angels who is in charge of the angels around the Throne of God the most high, who are engaged in continuous praise and worship. It is not strange then that the commentators moved from defining the confirming of the Holy Spirit as Gabriel, to 'the words by which religion lives, or 'with the words' by which the human soul lives eternally, and cleanses (people) from sins, or the Majestic Name by which Jesus raised the dead'  being continuously at the disposal of Jesus.
Thus, according to the commentators, the words of Jesus are powerful enough to give life, both eternal and physical, and to cleanse people from their sins. This power belongs exclusively to Jesus. How can that be, when this power is strictly Divine?  Ibn 'Araby answered this question when he spoke of the confusion of the spectators on their seeing the divine action of raising the dead by a man.
Razi tells the following story about Jesus' disciples:
The disciples of Jesus were twelve in number. This is how they believed in him ... Jesus came across a group of fishermen, amongst them Simion, Jacob and John the son of Zabadi. Jesus ... said to them: 'Now you catch fish, but if you follow me you will catch people for eternal life.' So they asked a miracle of him. Simion had been trying all night to catch fish but caught nothing. Jesus commanded him to throw his net again, and this time they caught so many fish that the net was about to tear. They asked for help from a nearby ship, and both ships were filled with fish. So they believed in him. 
Christ's claim to be able to catch people for eternal life was a great claim indeed. The disciples wanted proof that if they followed him they would catch people for eternal life. Baidawi said that Jesus had the words that impart eternal life. Because the giving of eternal life and the raising of the dead are divine powers, the disciples must have been confused as to how a mere man could perform these acts. So, they wanted Jesus to prove to them that he was capable of doing just that. The followers of Jesus did not ask for proof that he is a prophet; rather, they wanted proof of his power to give eternal life.
Thus we can conclude that Jesus did raise people from the dead, that he is able to cleanse people from sins and that he gives people eternal life. This indeed is the miracle of miracles.
Only two people, according to the Qur'an, were given their names by God before their birth. They were Yehia and Isa (Jesus). Of Isa the Qur'an says:
The angels said, 'Mary, God gives thee good tidings of a Word from Him whose name is Messiah, Isa, Son of Mary ...' 
It is worth noting two things about the name 'Isa'. First, Qasemi, in his commentary entitled Mahasen at-Ta'aweel, says:
The name Isa is an Arabic form, from a Greek word, which means saviour, and it is equivalent to Joshua in Hebrew. 
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, he must have spoken her language, which was a form of Hebrew. Second, that name was given to Jesus by God before his birth. It was not given to him by human beings but by God, whose words are not like people's words. The Qur'an describes the words of God thus:
Perfect are the words of thy Lord in truthfulness and justice; no man can change His words. 
God speaks the truth, and guides on the way. 
God speaks without exaggeration, only with exactness and perfection. Christ was given the name Jesus by the All-knowing God. His name was as much 'Jesus' as it was 'Son of Mary'.
This name given to him by God means 'saviour'. In what way is Jesus a saviour? Is he a saviour because he will rid the world of the false Christ? Or is there another dimension to his salvation?
Suyuti relates the following story:
When Jesus and Yehia would come to a village, Jesus would seek the sinners of the village while Yehia would go to the virtuous people of the village. So Yehia asked him: 'Why do you seek the sinful people?' Jesus answered: 'I am a physician, I came only to heal the sick.' 
What this story is telling us is that Jesus came to heal the people that were sick from sin and to give them life. He came to save those who are victims of the assaults of Satan. This healing was so complete that he was 'called spirit because he used to raise dead bodies and dead hearts to life.' 
What kind of life did Jesus give to the sinners he saved? When Razi relates the story of how Jesus came across the group of fishermen including Simion, Jacob and John, he tells us that Jesus said to them, 'Now you catch fish, but if you follow me you will catch people for eternal life'.
Jesus is God's appointed saviour. When he was on earth he saved people from their sins. His lifting to be with God does not stop his saving activities. He is God's mighty arm that saves people eternally, especially those who are sick from sins.
One of the names given to Jesus in the Qur'an is 'the Christ'.  Here are a number of meanings of 'Christ' given by various scholars:
The Christ means the blessed one. 
He was called the Christ because whoever was sick and Jesus stroked him by His hand must be cured of his sickness. 
He was called the Christ because He surveyed the earth and did not remain in one place. 
He was called the Christ because He used to anoint the heads of the orphans for God. 
He was called the Christ because He was anointed with that which made him pure from sins. 
He was called the Christ because He was anointed with pure blessed oil used only for anointing prophets. 
He was called the Christ because He was anointed by the wing of the angel Gabriel and was protected from the touch of Satan. 
Beauty is an anointing, and so beauty was manifested on him. 
He was called the Christ because he surveyed the earth, in other words, He can travel through the whole length of it in a short time. Or because, when He came out of His mothers womb, He was already anointed with oil. 
... Christ meaning the king. Or Christ meaning 'the righteous' 
In the above statements the word 'anoint' is the one most frequently used. It refers to Jesus as being anointed or anointing others.
Because of the various meanings of the name 'Christ', we need to look at the original meaning of the word. It is a Hebrew word and not Arabic, as is Gabriel. Baidawi confirms this when he says that 'the word 'Christ' (al-Masih) is originally a Hebrew word (Mashih)'. 
Qasemi looked at the original meaning of the name 'Christ'. He had this to say:
The original meaning of the title is this: according to their revealed law, whoever the Imam (the religious leader) anoints with the holy ointment, becomes pure, worthy for the kingdom and knowledge and the high degrees of sainthood, and blessed. So the Most High God has indicated, by that title, that Jesus, is in a state of continuous blessedness which results from such anointing, even though he was not anointed. 
Qasemi's uses the word 'anoint' in a similar fashion to the commentators quoted above. However, he adds that this anointing makes the anointed person worthy of being a king, equipped with knowledge and the high degree of sainthood so that he can rule in righteousness. Qasemi then goes on to apply that meaning to Jesus, saying that the title was given to Jesus by God, and that Jesus is in a continuous state of blessedness, even though he was not anointed by anyone.
Qasemi's explanation is supported by two of the meanings given by Razi, that is, that the 'Christ means the king or the righteous,'  and that 'When He came out of His mother's womb, He was already anointed with oil.'  Thus, Jesus is the righteous king, even though he was not anointed by any person, but was born already anointed.
We now need to ask 'Who anointed Jesus?' If he was not anointed by men, it must have been God the Most High who anointed him., who also gave Jesus the title 'Christ' before he was even born. He is the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the Christ of God. Christ was anointed by God to be king. He was born a king by divine appointment. He is the living king, for when one is anointed by a mortal, both the anointed and the anointee pass away; but the one whom the eternal living God anoints, he is king forever, he is alive with God.
Even though Jesus was an anointed king, his life was characterised by material poverty. Razi says:
He was called Zakiya, although he did not own anything from this world. But if you see someone in the market who owns nothing, you class him as a miserable person. For he who is Zaky is the one who has money, but God says he was Zakiya, for poverty was his way of life, and his riches were wisdom and the Book. 
What Razi means is that Jesus was poor in worldly possessions yet he was rich in God.
Suyuti tells us that Christ was
'born beside a donkey stable and the angels were encompassing him,' 
'He had no house to sleep in,' 
but 'spent the night where evening found him.' 
He was a poor and humble king; not born in a palace, not even in a house, but where animals were kept. He was a king who did not even seek the comfort of a house in which to sleep by night. The only property he had was 'the clothes he wore over his skin.'  He was a king who came to seek those who were rejected by society. And so he 'kept company with the weak and the poor.' 
What is the difference between the poverty of Jesus and the poverty of the rest of the world? The main difference is this: When a poor man has an opportunity to accumulate some wealth, he will do that with all his power. Jesus, however, had all the opportunities in the world, yet he put them all aside. He did not even store food for the next day, for as he said:
Every day comes with its sustenance. 
In the heart of every poor person there is room for the wealth of this world in some measure. In the heart of Jesus, however, there was room only for God and the poor people of this world. What a wonderful image this is of Christ. Even though he had the knowledge of the unseen and could 'have acquired much good',  he chose poverty. He chose to suffer with the lowest of society.
No one was poor like him, and no one was rich in God like him.
Regarding the character of Jesus, Suyuti states that Jesus said:
Ask me (so that you may learn of me), for my heart is gentle and my spirit is humble. 
Although he was a king and his influence and power were unparalleled, he did not loose his humility. In him power and gentleness were not in conflict, majesty and humility were in harmony.
Jesus was a poor and humble king, but his kingdom was built on the strongest foundation, that is, love. Suyuti relates God saying to Jesus:
I endowed you with loving the poor and having mercy on them. You love them and they love you. They will be satisfied to have you as their spiritual guide and leader, and you will be happy to have them as your companions and followers. 
Jesus' followers obeyed him out of the highest of motives: love, which is free from fear of punishment and allows people to keep their dignity.
Jesus called his followers to a life of perfection. He also called his chosen people to be a light to other people, saying:
If you want to be God's chosen people and a light to mankind, forgive those who unjustly treat you, and seek those who do not seek you, and be kind to those who injure you, and lend those who will not pay you back. 
Because God is merciful, His chosen people are likewise called to show mercy, so that they might exemplify the Qur'anic description of those 'who avert evil with good'.  In keeping with this description, Razi related the following incident:
A man called Shaqiq Ibn Ibrahim Al-Balthami disguised himself and went to another man called 'Abd Allah Al-Mubarak, who asked: 'Where did you come from?'
'From Balkh', he said.
'Do you know Shaqiq?' he asked.
'Yes,' he answered.
'How do you describe his followers?' he asked.
Shaqiq said: 'If they are refused something they become patient and if they get given something they show gratitude.'
Abd Allah then said: 'This is how our dogs react.'
Shaqiq then exclaimed: 'How then should those who are perfect react?'
Abd Allah said: 'Those (perfect people), when refused (something), they are thankful, and when given (something) they prefer others to have it.' 
Jesus' kingdom is a kingdom that conquers by love, mercy and by averting evil with good. Jesus is the personification of this kingdom. He is the highest example for people to follow. In the Qur'an, we read that Jesus was given by Mohammad as an example:
... when the Son of Mary is cited as an example, behold, thy people turn away from it and say, 'What, are our gods better or he?' 
Commenting on that verse Mugahed and Qatada said:
the people of Quraysh said that Mohammad wants us to worship Jesus as the Christians do. 
Jesus' example was so highly regarded that the unbelievers in Quraysh asked: '... are our gods better or he?' Jesus' example required a response from the people of Quraysh, who saw him as a threat to their own gods. His example forces people to decide, either to hide behind their false gods or to worship the true and only God. Jesus' example brings to the surface either our best or our worst, because he is the highest example.
Various commentators tell us that Jesus started preaching his message at the age of thirty,  and that he was lifted up to heaven when he was thirty-three-and-half years old.  That means that his public mission lasted only three-and-half years. During those three-and-a-half years Jesus did not only raise people from the dead, he also searched people's souls and became the very touchstone of their deepest spiritual experience.  Although he was a man of gentle heart and a humble spirit,  he was immovable.  In spite of the many miracles he performed, and the many benefits he brought to the masses, he was opposed more vehemently then any other prophet had ever been.
'Abbas al-'Aqqad, a modern Egyptian scholar, has said that:
the opposition which confronted Jesus [was] ... the most implacable of any experienced by the prophets of God; more intense in its range and quality than the resistance of other days to other messengers. 
This opposition was determined to do away with Jesus no matter what the cost.
The author of the City of Wrong, Dr. Kamel Husain, tells us that the Jewish leaders schemed to kill Jesus, and adds that the mere desire to kill him was sufficient to make their act as the most extreme iniquity ever perpetrated in the whole of history:
It was Friday that day, but quite unlike any other day: a day when mankind went grievously astray, so far astray that they reached the extreme of iniquity. 
And a few lines later, he adds:
... in this desire of theirs, lay the supreme tragedy of humanity. 
Dr. Husain later says:
Thus was accomplished the greatest of the crimes of history - the crime of the condemnation of Christ to crucifixion. 
Dr. Husain says that the attempt to kill Christ was the greatest crime in history. Many prophets also suffered much at the hands of the unbelievers, yet 'Abbas al-'Aqqad singles out Christ as the one who was resisted most. Other martyrs also suffered gruesome deaths, yet even the thought of killing Christ outweighs these in the magnitude of its wickedness.
Christ was rejected by the people of Quraysh who chose to worship their idols. Christ was rejected by most of the Jews of his time; from them he met the greatest resistance ever. Christ is still being resisted in spite of all God's attestations to who he is.
If you would like to ask further questions, obtain a hard copy of this series of booklets or for any other reason you are welcome to contact M. Anderson via firstname.lastname@example.org.