The irony with Islam and its relationship with Christianity and Judaism is that, it agrees on the one hand with Christianity that Jesus is the Messiah over against Judaism, which denies Jesus is the Messiah. However, Islam agrees with the Jews that Jesus was not the Son of God over against Christianity.
Muslims believe Jesus was the Messiah, but then agree with Judaism in trying to eradicate the messianic prophecies that point to Jesus as the Messiah!
As I noted before, the Qur’an never defines what “Messiah” means which demonstrates that Muhammad simply appropriated that title to Jesus as he heard Arab Christians use it as we would use “Jesus Christ”.
There is no indication in the Qur’an that Muhammad even knew what “Messiah” or its Greek equivalent “Christ” meant. Yet the Qur’an claims to be clear in its explanation of its contents, “We have sent down to thee the Book explaining all things” (Q 16:89; Yusuf Ali). If this is so, why is Messiah never defined?
What is strange however is that in the Qur’an 4:157 where it records the denial of the crucifixion and death of Jesus, it has the Jews claim that Jesus was the Messiah,
“And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger – they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain” (Pickthall; italics mine).
We know the “their” is referring to the Jews because in verses 154-156 of surah 4 the Jews are the intended referents. In Q 4:154 (cf. Q 2:63; 7:171) we have the story of Allah raising the mountain over the heads of the Jews and threatening to crush them if they do not keep the Sabbath according to the covenant Allah made with them. This story of course is nothing new as the Jews of Medina would have known about it as it is found in the Babylonian Talmud (Tractate Avodah Zarah 2b-3a), centuries before Muhammad, and the Jews of Medina would have relayed the story to Muhammad.
In Q 4:155 it speaks of the Jews slaying the prophets and being disbelievers except for a few. Then in Q 4:156 it mentions the Jews “speaking against Mary [the mother of Jesus] a tremendous calumny” (Pickthall). Where in the Qur’an does it mention this “tremendous calumny” against Mary? Nowhere. But scandalous statements are made against Mary (and Jesus) in the Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 106a,b; Shabbath 104b; Yebamoth 49b) including charges of adultery and licentiousness, which again Muhammad would have heard from the Jews of Medina.
In Q 4:157 we have a strange confession of the Jews that they slew “the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary”. While it would be understandable for the Jews to have said we slew the false Messiah Jesus, they do not according to the Qur’an. Which Jew in his / her right mind would have knowingly killed their Messiah, the King and Redeemer of Israel? Some Qur’anic translators have noted this peculiarity in the wording of the Qur’an to the point that they have tried to change the sense of 4:157 to mean that the Jews made this claim “in boast”. Notice of all the translations below of Q 4:157, they all correctly translate the verse but Yusuf Ali and Hilali-Khan insert the phrase “in boast” which I have highlighted in bold below.
|Pickthall||And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger – they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain.|
|Yusuf Ali||That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Apostle of God”; – but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-|
|Hilali-Khan||And because of their saying (in boast), “We killed Messiah ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah,” – but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of ‘Iesa (Jesus) was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not [i.e. ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)]:|
|Shakir||And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the apostle of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure.|
|Sher Ali||And for their saying, `We did slay the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of ALLAH;’ whereas they slew him not, nor did they bring about his death upon the cross, but he was made to appear to them like one crucified; and those who differ therein are certainly in a state of doubt about it; they have no certain knowledge thereof, but only pursue a conjecture; and they did not arrive at a certainty concerning it.|
|Khalifa||And for claiming that they killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of GOD. In fact, they never killed him, they never crucified him – they were made to think that they did. All factions who are disputing in this matter are full of doubt concerning this issue. They possess no knowledge; they only conjecture. For certain, they never killed him.|
|Arberry||and for their saying, ‘We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the Messenger of God’ — yet they did not slay him, neither crucified him, only a likeness of that was shown to them. Those who are at variance concerning him surely are in doubt regarding him; they have no knowledge of him, except the following of surmise; and they slew him not of a certainty — no indeed;|
|Palmer||and for their saying, ‘Verily, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, the apostle of God’…. but they did not kill him, and they did not crucify him, but a similitude was made for them. And verily, those who differ about him are in doubt concerning him; they have no knowledge concerning him, but only follow an opinion. They did not kill him, for sure!|
|Rodwell||And for their saying, “Verily we have slain the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, an Apostle of God.” Yet they slew him not, and they crucified him not, but they had only his likeness. And they who differed about him were in doubt concerning him: No sure knowledge had they about him, but followed only an opinion, and they did not really slay him,|
|Sale||and have said, verily we have slain Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the apostle of God; yet they slew him not, neither crucified him, but he was represented [by one] in his likeness; and verily they who disagreed concerning him, were in a doubt as to this [matter], and had no [sure] knowledge thereof, but followed only an [uncertain] opinion. They did not really kill him;|
Why was the word “in boast” added by Yusuf Ali and Hilali-Khan? Obviously because these two translators saw a problem that you and I see. Which Jew with full knowledge would have killed their Messiah? None. However, if the Jews wanted to mock Jesus as a false Messiah they would have boasted with sarcasm much like the Roman soldiers who mocked Jesus as King by crowning Him with a crown of thorns, placing a robe on Him, and giving Him a reed as a mock scepter (Mark 15:17-19; Matthew 27:28-30; John 19:2-4). To add the word “in boast” is to add to the Qur’an words that are not in the original Arabic text which Muslims always tell us is the true and authentic Qur’an. Are these translators guilty of corrupting the text of the Qur’an? The Qur’an claims to be “clear” as we see in Q 11:1, “Alif Lam Ra. A Bookwhose verses are set clear, and then distinguished, from One All-wise, All-aware” (Arberry; italics mine). Did you notice the Arabic letters at the beginning of this verse, “alif”, “lam”, and “ra”? What do they mean? Hilali-Khan states about these letters, “These letters are one of the miracles of the Qur’an and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings”. This is an incredible statement as these letters appear in the same verse that says the verses of the Qur’an are “clear” and yet the meaning of these Arabic letters are ….unclear! You will also notice that the translator Khalifa in his translation above tries to avoid the problem by not translating the quote of the Jews in the first person plural as the Arabic has it, “we” killed, slew, have slain Jesus the Messiah. Khalifa translates the phrase as a reference to the Jews in the third person plural, “And for claiming that they killed the Messiah, Jesus (italics mine)”. Notice the quote by the Jews in the first person plural is missing. Is Khalifa guilty of corrupting the Arabic text of the Qur’an here?
One of the reasons that Q 4:157 claims the Jews slew their Messiah knowingly is most likely due to the fact that Muhammad merely assumed that “Messiah” (al-Masih in Arabic) was simply another name or title for Jesus and that Muhammad was completely and utterly unaware of the doctrine of the Messiah in the Old Testament much less the Talmud including its ramifications. The ‘redeemer’ aspect of the Messiah in Judaism was completely unknown to Muhammad. He clearly did not understand the Jewish doctrine of the Messiah, and even much worse, he did not understand the New Testament understanding of Jesus the Messiah. As a result, Islam presents a Jesus who is completely foreign to the historical Jesus and has reduced Him to a copy cat of Muhammad. As a result Islam has given Muslims “another Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4).