Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Does the Quran really deny

That a person can bear the sins of another? – Part 2

Sam Shamoun

We continue our discussion.

Jesus is absolutely sinless and holy

According to the Islamic sources, Jesus was perfectly righteous and pure even from conception:

He said: I am only a messenger of thy Lord, that I may bestow on thee a faultless son (ghulaman zakiyyan). Q. 19:19

Here a few more translations which help bring out the intended meaning of ghulaman zakiyyan:

a holy son.” Y. Ali
a boy most pure.” Arberry
a righteous son.” Hilali-Khan

Muhammad himself bore witness that not only was Jesus protected from Satan from his birth:

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “When any human being is born. Satan touches him at both sides of the body with his two fingers, except Jesus, the son of Mary, whom Satan tried to touch but failed, for he touched the placenta-cover instead.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 506; *)

But that Christ is also the only prophet/messenger who will not confess to committing any sin on the day of resurrection:

“They will go to 'Isa and say, 'O 'Isa! You are the Messenger of Allah and His Word which He cast to Maryam and a spirit from Him. You spoke to people while in the cradle. Intercede with your Lord on our behalf. Do you not see what we are suffering?' 'Isa will say, 'My Lord is angry today with such anger as has never existed before nor will again,' AND HE DID NOT MENTION A SIN. 'O my soul! My soul! My soul! Go to someone else. Go to Muhammad.' (Bewley, The Sahih al-Bukhari, 68. Book of Tafsir; *; bold and capital emphasis ours)

In light of this, doesn’t it make more sense that he, not Muhammad, would be given the right to intercede for others seeing that he is absolutely pure whereas the latter was a sinner who was uncertain of his ultimate destiny?

Now as far as the Holy Bible is concerned, Christ is more than qualified to bear our burdens since he is more than a perfect man. He is also the divine Son of God who came to save his people from their sins:

“She will bear a son, and you shall call him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba, Father!' So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” Galatians 4:4-5

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst.” 1 Timothy 1:15

In fact, the OT prophets themselves testified that this is one of the main reasons why God would send his Messiah into the world.

For instance, the prophet Isaiah, nearly eight centuries before the birth of our Lord, prophesied by the Spirit of Christ within him,

“Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.” 1 Peter 1:10-12 – cf. Matthew 10:16-17; Luke 10:23-24; 24:25-27; 24:44-47; Acts 3:19-26; 10:43; 13:27-37; 26:22-23; Romans 1:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

That the Messiah, whom he identifies as the Servant and Arm of Yahweh, comes to bear our transgressions and to give up his life as a guilt offering:

“Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their face he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, AND HE SHALL BEAR THEIR INIQUITIES. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; YET HE BORE THE SIN OF MANY, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:1-12

The NT picks up on this theme and proclaims Christ as the fulfillment of these promises:

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:21-25 – cf. Luke 22:37; Acts 8:30-35

Hence, Christ alone is qualified to bear our iniquities since he alone is perfectly righteous and pure, being the divine Son of God in the flesh:

“but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.” Hebrews 7:24-28

“how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” Hebrews 9:14 – cf. 4:15; Mark 1:24; John 6:69; 7:18; 8:29, 46; Acts 3:14-15; 7:52; 22:14; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 1:18-19; 3:18; 1 John 2:1-2; 3:3, 5, 7

Moreover, since the Quran nowhere denies the possibility of someone who is absolutely sinless bearing the sins of others, Muslims therefore cannot object to the doctrine of vicarious atonement.(1) The only real reason they would have for rejecting Christ’s substitutionary death is because the Muslim scripture denies the crucifixion of Jesus. But that is a subject for another article.

Unless noted otherwise, all Quranic quotations taken from the English version of Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall.

Related Articles

The Perfect Man
How Can One Man Pay for the Sins of Another?
Jesus and Muhammad: Two Prophets for a Lost World?
   V. The Power of Intercession
   VI. Jesus as a Righteous Servant and Intercessor
Jesus Trumps Muhammad Again! Pt. 1, Pt. 2
Islam and Doctrine of Original Sin
Revisiting the Shirk of Adam and Eve
Islam’s Divine Insurance Scam
Reexamining Islam’s Divine Insurance Scam [Part 1], [Part 2]
Exposing More of Zawadi’s Dishonesty and Inconsistencies


(1) But even here the Quran contradicts itself since there are certain passages which say that sinners will share in the burden of others. The hadiths go further by claiming that Allah will ransom Muslims from hell by punishing disbelieving Jews and Christians in hell for their sins. For more on these topics we recommend the following articles and rebuttals:

Who Suffers the Consequence of Sins according to the Qur'an?
Who suffers loss if Muhammad was wrong?
Islam’s Doctrine of Substitutionary Atonement And the Ransoming of Sinners
Islam and the Punishment of the Innocent: A Response to MENJ’s Proposed Harmonization of a Quranic Contradiction