Does the Muslim have the right to follow Isa Al-Masih [Jesus Christ]?

Jamila -Algeria

Thank you, Jamila, for your question. It is an important question because a growing number of people from your religious background are wondering the same thing! Can people outside the Christian community also be followers of Isa Al-Masih?

As people of the Islamic community become more educated and are able to read for themselves the religious scriptures of the monotheistic faiths, they are beginning to realize that not everything in their traditions regarding Isa Al-Masih is accurate.

They are discovering for themselves that even according to the Qur'an, Isa Al-Masih is far more than just an ordinary prophet. They read that he is Allah's Word and a Spirit from Allah (Surat-un Nisa, 4:171); that he is a pure son born of a virgin (Surat-u Maryam, 19:19,20); that he had the power to open blind eyes, heal leprosy, raise the dead, and even create (Surat-u Ali Imran, 3:49); and that he was raised up to Allah Himself (Surat-u Ali Imran, 3:55). They also read that he is the Sign of the Hour (Surat-ul Zukhruf, 43:61), that his mother is the only woman in the Qur'an mentioned by name (Surat-u Maryam, 19:16) and that he is in the nearest company to Allah where he is honored in the hereafter as he was on earth (Surat-u Ali Imran, 3:45). All these things cause people to be attracted to him! And like you, they want to know if they have a right to embrace his splendor, or if that privilege is open only to the members of the Christian community.

First of all, it is extremely critical to know that Isa Al-Masih is not merely a national prophet as some would have us believe. Instead, he is a universal messenger whom Allah sent down to the world as His Word. Indeed he is a Sign unto humankind and a mercy from Him who is the Merciful One, the Compassionate One (Surat-u Maryam, 19:21). Allah's mercy is for all people and so Isa, the Word of Allah, is to be made available for everyone! That is why Isa Al-Masih said to his close companions:

All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations (Injil, Matthew 28:19).

…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Injil, Acts 1:8).

The injil or the good news about Isa Al-Masih descending upon humankind as Allah's mercy was to be proclaimed openly to people of all communities. This injil or the Gospel was to be made available to everyone. We see this even reflected in the Qur'an:

And remember Allah took a covenant from the People of the Book, to make it known and clear to mankind, and not to hide it (Surat-u Ali Imran 3:187).

It is clear that Allah does not limit His mercy to any particular nation or religious community. It is extended to all those who reach out in faith and obedience. Allah's desire is to bless everyone. This was clearly revealed in his promise to Prophet Abraham [Ibrahim] of the ancient past. Allah said to him:

Through your offspring, all nations on earth will be blessed (Tawrat, Genesis 22:18).

No doubt this is what the Qur'an refers to when it admonishes the reader to remember the lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob [Ibrahim, Ishaq and Yaqub].

And commemorate Our servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, possessors of power and vision. Verily We did choose them for a special (purpose)-proclaiming the message of the hereafter. They were in Our sight truly of the company of the elect and the good (Surat-us Sad, 38:45-47).

The Gospel bears clear witness that the offspring of the lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through whom the whole world is to be blessed is the Anointed One, Isa Al-Masih, son of Mary! And so Isa Al-Masih is for everyone. His power and blessings are for those who reach up to him in faith and follow him wholeheartedly. But you may still wonder whether a Muslim can follow him!

At this point, notice how the Qur'an describes the followers of Isa Al-Masih:

When Jesus found unbelief on their part, he said, "Who will be my helpers to (the work of) God?" Said the disciples: "We are Allah's helpers; we believe in Allah, and do thou bear witness that we are muslims. Our Lord! We believe in what Thou hast revealed and we follow the messenger [Isa]. Then write us down among those who bear witness" (Surat-u Ali Imran, 3:52,53).

This verse clearly reveals that the followers of Isa Al-Masih were indeed muslims! Here we need to remind ourselves of the literal meaning of the word muslim. A muslim is a person who finds peace by surrendering to the will of Allah, the Almighty One. And so in the literal sense, because these individuals embraced the divine principle that peace can only come by complete submission to Allah's will, they are referred to as muslims. That should answer the question, "Does a Muslim have the right to follow Christ?" If an individual truly submits to the will of Allah, then he or she would be expected to follow Isa Al-Masih. Remember that Isa Al-Masih is a Sign unto humankind, and the people of Allah, the Almighty One, are obligated to embrace His Signs!

Relative to this discussion, some people believe that the community of followers of Al-Masih came to an end when the one whom they regard as the last and final prophet appeared. However, the community of Isa's followers continues to flourish worldwide and will prevail to the end of time. This idea is reflected by the Qur'an:

Said the disciples [of Isa]: "We are Allah's helpers!" Then a portion of the Children of Israel believed, and a portion disbelieved. But We gave power to those who believed against their enemies, and they became the ones that prevailed ( Surat-us Saff, 61:14).

Behold! Allah said: "O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme. I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith to the Day of Resurrection" (Surat-u Ali Imran, 3:55).

Isa Al-Masih is still alive today, in the very presence of Allah, the Almighty One. And because he still lives, he continues to protect his people and intercede on their behalf. As more and more Muslim people come to see the light of the Holy Scriptures, they will realize that, yes indeed, if they embrace the mission of Isa Al-Masih, then they too can embrace the right to become his followers and partake of his wonderful blessings.

 

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