Jesus Christ Supplanted by Muhammad
Whatever favourable Muslim critics may say about the honourable place Christ has among the prophets, his portrait is a sad caricature; Muslims know extremely little about Him and think about Him still less. He has no place in their hearts or in their lives. He has been eclipsed by Muhammad.
All the prophets have not only been succeeded but supplanted by Muhammad; he is at once the sealer and concealer of all former revelations. Muhammad is always in the foreground, and Jesus Christ, in spite of His lofty titles and the honour given to Him in the Quran, is in the background.
Christ is grouped with the other prophets: with Lot, Alexander the Great, Ishmael, Moses, Abraham and Adam. We cannot forget this fact when we try to form a conception of the Muslim Christ. It is because of this perception of Christ that Islam presents difficulties offered by no other religion in the work of missions. The sin and guilt of the Muslim world is that they give Christ’s glory to another, that is Muhammad.
No Muslim prays to Muhammad, but every Muslim prays for him in endless repetition daily. In spite of statements in the Quran to the contrary, most Muslims believe that he will be the only intercessor on the day of judgement. The books of devotion used everywhere are proof of this statement. God favoured him above creatures; he dwells in the highest heaven, and is several degrees above Jesus in honour and station.
Muhammad holds the keys of heaven and hell; no Muslim, however bad his character, will perish finally; no unbeliever, however good his life, can be saved except through Muhammad. Islam denies the need of Christ as mediator, only to substitute Muhammad as a mediator, without an incarnation, without atonement and without demand for a change of character. One has only to question the Muslim masses, or to read tradition in proof of these statements.
1. Pre-existence is ascribed to Muhammad and his genealogy is traced through Abraham to Adam, as is the case of Jesus Christ. An angel announced Muhammad’s conception and birth and the name which he was going to receive. Muhammad like Jesus, was lost in his childhood and found again, and at the age of twelve he took a special journey.
2. After the commencement of his public ministry Muhammad like Jesus, passed through a remarkable ordeal of satanic temptation. He, like Jesus Christ, had enemies of his own household, and he was recognised by spirits from the unseen world more readily than by those to whom he was sent. The demons knew Jesus; the jinn accepted Islam at the hands of Muhammad.
3. The Transfiguration of Jesus is surpassed by the story of Muhammad’s ascent into heaven, where he had personal communion with all the previous prophets, and leaving Jesus far below in the second heaven, himself mounted to the seventh, where, according to Muslim tradition, he ate and drank with God.
4. As a parody of the Lord’s Supper, one tradition is said to have sanctioned the drinking of his own blood. When Malik bin Sinan sucked his wounds, swallowing the blood, the prophet exclaimed, “Any one whose blood touches mine, the fire of hell shall not destroy.”
5. The miracles of Jesus Christ, even the fantastic miracles given by Muslim Tradition, shrink into insignificance compared with the miracles ascribed to Muhammad by tradition. Feeding a hungry multitude with a handful of dates, opening the eyes of the blind, healing the sick, turning barren lands into fruitful fields, and raising the dead, all these and many other things are attributed to Muhammad.
6. In his death as well as his life Muhammad is made to resemble Jesus Christ. His death was foretold; it was not avoidable, but freely accepted by him; he died a martyr’s death, and his sufferings were meritorious, taking away sin and helping those who believe in him to enter paradise.
It is recorded on the testimony of Ali that three days after his Excellency’s funeral there came an Arab, who threw himself down upon the prince’s grave, and took a handful of earth from it, casting it on his own head, and then called out, ‘O Apostle of God, thou hast spoken it from God, and we have received it from thee, and it is derived from those who came down to thee, that noble verse, “And if they have darkened their souls, let them come unto thee!” I have brought darkness on my soul: but I am come to thee as a confounded, bewildered sinner, that thou mayest ask pardon for me of the Most High. ‘Then there came forth a voice from that Excellency’s tomb, saying three times, ‘Thou hast been pardoned, thou hast been pardoned.” (Koelle – Muhammad and Mohammedanism page 373). There are numerous traditions of his character in all the later biographies of Muhammad – see for example Insan ul-Ayan, Dakaik ul-Akbar or Kasus ul-Anbiya).
Islam is indeed the only anti-Christian religion. This world faith joins issue with everything that is vital in the Christian religion, because it joins issue in its attitude toward the Christ. In this respect, all schools of Muslim thought are practically the same. They differ in ritual and tradition; in interpretations, broad and narrow; whether Shia or Sunni, Wahabis or others, their position as regards the Christ is practically the same.
Christianity gladly admits the strength of theism as a basis of unity between Islam and Christianity. We assert as strongly as do all Muslims that there is only one God, but because there is only one God there can only be one Gospel and one Christ. Dr. James Denney wrote:
The main question for Islam today is not how much nearer have you come to Christian ethics and civilisation in attempting to reform the old system, but rather “What do you think of Christ?”