Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Islam Testifies that Jesus is the Messiah for the Whole World

Sam Shamoun

Muslim dawagandist Paul Bilal Williams recently blogged an image contrasting the similarities and differences between the Christian and Islamic conceptions of God, titled On Jesus.

One of the contrasts included in the image is the assertion that Christianity claims that Jesus is the Messiah for the whole world, whereas Islam teaches that he was the Messiah for the Jews only.

The image is a clear indication that Williams hasn’t bothered to engage in any serious critical and in-depth analysis of the primary sources of Islam, as he claims to have done for Christianity. It also demonstrates that he is willing to simply accept whatever assertion a particular authority makes, so long as it agrees with his presuppositions concerning the supposed divine origin of his faith, and/or supports his prejudices against Biblical Christianity. It further illustrates his blatant inconsistency since it shows his willingness to apply arguments against Christianity that he doesn’t dare bring up against Islam, even though these same criticisms can be leveled more forcefully against his faith to prove that Muhammad was a false prophet.

Take, for instance, the assertion that Jesus is the Messiah only for the Jews. The way this is worded leaves one with the impression that Jesus is not the only Messiah there is, but that he is the only Messiah the Jews will ever have. This leaves open the possibility that there will be other Messiahs, or at least one other, which will be sent to other nations.

The problem, however, is that the Quran knows of only one Messiah, namely Jesus:

When the angels said, 'Mary, God gives thee good tidings of a Word from Him whose name is Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary; high honoured shall he be in this world and the next, near stationed to God. S. 3:45 Arberry – cf. Q. 4:157, 171-172; 5:17, 72, 75; 9:30-31

The fact is that Jesus is the only one who bears this title throughout the Quran and hadith literature.

This brings me to the second problem that Williams faces. The Muslim scripture is equally clear that Allah intended for Jesus to be a sign and mercy for the entire human race:

He said: "So (it will be), your Lord said: 'That is easy for Me (Allah): And (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind and a mercy from Us (Allah) (ayatan lil’nnasi wa’rahmatan minna), and it is a matter (already) decreed, (by Allah).'" S. 19:21 Hilali-Khan

Here is another version of this same text:

He said, "Your Lord says, ‘that is easy for Me, and We wish to appoint him as a sign to humanity and a mercy from Us, it is a matter decreed.’" Bilal Muhammad

The Quran also goes as far as to say that Allah even made Jesus’ mother a sign for all mankind as well:

And she who was chaste, therefore We breathed into her (something) of Our Spirit and made her and her son a token for (all) peoples (ayatan lil’AAalameena). S. 21:91 Pickthall

The Islamic scripture further states that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was sent down as guidance for all humanity, not just for the Jews:

It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) Before this, as a guide to mankind (hudan lil’nnasi), and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong). Then those who reject Faith in the Signs of God will suffer the severest penalty, and God is Exalted in Might, Lord of Retribution. S. 3:3-4 Y. Ali

It becomes crystal clear in light of such passages that Jesus wasn’t the Messiah for the Jews only. Rather, the author(s) and/or editors of the Quran believed that Jesus was meant to be the Messiah for the entire world.

Williams cannot object to this interpretation since the Quran employs the very same language to describe Muhammad’s supposed universal mission:

We sent thee not save as a mercy for the peoples (lil’AAalameena). S. 21:107 Pickthall


Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an, as a guide to mankind (hudan lil’nnasi), also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). S. 2:185 Y. Ali

What this shows is that the Quran explicitly testifies that Jesus and Muhammad were to be a mercy from Allah for the entire human race, and that the Islamic deity intended for the respective Scriptures of both to be a divine guidance for all of mankind.

The Islamic traditions also confirm that Jesus’ mission was universal in scope. For instance, according to the oldest extant Muslim biographer on Muhammad’s life, Jesus commissioned his disciples to preach the Gospel to the entire world:

Yazid b. Abu Habib al-Misri told me that he found a document in which was a memorandum (T. the names) of those the apostle sent to the countries and kings of the Arabs and non-Arabs and what he said to his companions when he sent them. I sent it to Muhammad b. Shihab al-Zuhri (T. with a trusty countryman of his) and he recognized it. It contained the statement that the apostle went out with his companions and said: ‘God has sent me as a mercy to all men, so take a message from me, God have mercy on you. Do not hang back from me as the disciples hung back from Jesus son of Mary.’ They asked how they had hung back and he said, ‘He called them to a task similar to that which I have called you. Those who had to go on a short journey were pleased and accepted; those who had a long journey before them were displeased and refused to go, and Jesus complained of them to God. (T. From that very night) every one of them was able to speak the language of the people to whom he was sent.’ (T. Jesus said ‘This is a thing which God has determined that you should do, so go.’)

Those whom Jesus son of Mary sent, both disciples and those who came after them, in the land were: Peter the disciple AND PAUL WITH HIM, (Paul belonged to the followers and was not a disciples) to Rome. Andrew and Matthew to the land of the cannibals; Thomas to the land of Babel, which is in the land of the east; Philip to Carthage which is Africa; John to Ephesus the city of the young men of the cave; James to Jerusalem which is Aelia the city of the sanctuary; Bartholomew TO ARABIA WHICH IS THE LAND OF THE HIJAZ; Simon to the land of the Berbers; Judah who was not one of the disciples was put in place of Judas. (The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, Seventeenth Impression 2004], p. 653; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Ibn Kathir, a leading medieval Muslim scholar and commentator, says that Jesus’ disciples were sent to invite both Jews and Greeks to Islam (sic!):

Allah the Exalted orders His faithful servants to be Allah's supporters at all times, in all their statements and actions, sacrificing their selves and wealth. Allah orders them to accept His and His Messenger's call, just as the disciples said to Prophet `Isa when he said

(Who are my helpers (in the cause) of Allah) meaning, `who will support me in conveying the Message of Allah, the Exalted and Most Honored?'…

(The Hawariyyun said:) in reference to the followers of `Isa…

(We are Allah's helpers) meaning, `we will support you with regards to the Message you have been sent with and will help you convey it.' Whereby, `Isa sent the disciples to the various areas of Ash-Sham to call THE GREEKS and the Israelites to Islam. Similarly, during the days of Hajj, Allah's Messenger used to ask…

<<Who will support me in conveying the Message of my Lord Verily, the Quraysh have prevented me from conveying the Message of my Lord.>> Allah the Exalted and Most Honored raised Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj to support the Prophet. They were the residents of Al-Madinah who gave the pledge to him and supported him, vowing to protect him from mankind and the Jinns if he migrated to them. When he migrated to them with his Companions, they fulfilled their vow to Allah. This is the reason why Allah and His Messenger called them, Al-Ansar, the Supporters. The name became synonymous with them… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 61:14; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Thus, the evidence is quite clear that Jesus is the Messiah for the entire world, not just for the Jews.

However, the problems for Williams are just starting.

What does the Jews for Judaism Organization have to say?

Anyone who has spent some time perusing Williams’ blog will soon discover William’s utter fascination for the arguments of the Jewish anti-missionary organization called Jews for Judaism.

Here are just some of the many youtube clips and articles from the Jews for Judaism website, which a person will find posted on Williams’ own blog:

In light of Williams’ fascination with this anti-Christian organization and their so-called responses to Christianity, one would think that Williams would also be eager to accept and endorse their view concerning the nature and work of the Messiah.

Here is what this organization has to say about Yahweh’s Anointed One:

The Jewish tradition of "The Messiah" has its foundation in numerous biblical references, and understands "The Messiah" to be a human being - without any overtone of deity or divinity - who will bring about certain changes in the world and fulfill certain criteria before he can be acknowledged as "The Messiah"…

He must be a member of the tribe of Judah - "The staff shall not depart from Judah, nor the sceptre from between his feet..." (Genesis 49:10)

To be a member of the tribe of Judah, the person must have a biological father who is a member of the tribe of Judah

He must rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem - "...and I will set my sanctuary in their midst forever and my tabernacle shall be with them.." (Ezekiel 37:26 - 27)

At last check, there is NO Temple in Jerusalem. And worse, it was shortly after Jesus died that the Temple was DESTROYED! Just the opposite of this prophecy!

He will rule at a time of world-wide peace - "...they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore." (Micah 4:3)

Have you seen a newspaper lately? Are we living in a state of complete world peace? Has there ever been peace since the time of Jesus?

He will rule at a time when the Jewish people will observe G-d's commandments - "My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow My ordinances and be careful to observe My statutes." (Ezekiel 37:24)

The Torah is the Jewish guide to life, and its commandments are the ones referred to here. Do all Jews observe all the commandments? Christianity, in fact, often discourages observance of the commandments in Torah, in complete opposition to this prophecy.

He will rule at a time when all people will come to acknowledge and serve one G-d - "And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, says the L-rd" (Isaiah 66:23)

there are still millions if not billions of people in the world today who adhere to paganistic and polytheistic religions. It is clear that we have not yet seen this period of human history unfold…

If an individual fails to fulfill even one of these conditions, then he cannot be "The Messiah." A careful analysis of these criteria shows us that to date, no one has fulfilled every condition.

Certainly NOT Jesus. (Messiah: The Criteria; underline emphasis ours)

According to this anti-Christian site, Jesus is a false Messiah since he failed to fulfill the OT messianic prophecies. These anti-missionaries claim that the Messiah will have a biological father, will rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, will cause all people to worship the one true God, command them to observe the Torah, and usher in universal peace. All these things imply that the Messiah will not be sent just for the Jews but also for the whole world. According to them, none of these things apply to Jesus.

And yet the Islamic sources deny that the Messiah will be or accomplish all these things!

Islam actually affirms that Jesus is the Messiah, and that he was conceived and born supernaturally from his blessed virgin mother, and therefore had no biological father (cf. Q. 3:45-49; 19:16-21). Islam also denies that Jesus as the Messiah will rebuild the temple, and further claims that Jesus came to abrogate certain precepts and commands found in the Torah:

And I have come confirming that which was before me of the Taurat (Torah), and to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden to you, and I have come to you with a proof from your Lord. So fear Allah and obey me. S. 3:50 Hilali-Khan

Thus, as far as William’s favorite anti-Christian Jewish organization is concerned, Muhammad stands condemned as a false prophet for teaching such things about the Messiah!

Now the only honest thing left for Williams to do is to turn his back on Islam, much like he did to Christianity, since the same criticisms which he appeals to in order to debunk the Christian faith end up proving that Islam is a false religion and Muhammad a false prophet.

However, we won’t be holding our breath for Williams to prove to his readers that he is consistent by abandoning Islam, even though this is the only choice he really has.

Recommended Resources

In light of Paul Williams’ rather unhealthy and inconsistent fixation with anything and everything that is anti-Christian in nature, such as appealing to Jewish anti-missionaries whose chief aim is to prove that Jesus is a false Messiah, we have posted a series of links to articles, books, and clips which thoroughly refute and expose the desperate polemics and Biblical distortions made by these anti-Christian Jewish missionaries at the end of the following article.

Here are a few more resources for good measure:

We also recommend the following books:

We strongly encourage every committed Christian and serious student of the Holy Bible to get a hold of all the books, and to study all the articles and clips that we have listed, since this will better equip them to know what the issues are and how to provide a throughout refutation to these Jews who desperately want to keep people from embracing God’s only true Messiah and beloved Son, the Lord Jesus.


(1) To see just how desperate the anti-missionary interpretation that Isaiah 53 is referring to the nation of Israel who suffers for the sins of the Gentile nations who have oppressed them truly is, here is an excerpt taken from what is considered to be the standard reference work on the various Jewish interpretations of this specific text:

“The interpretation was received by most subsequent commentators. It would indeed have been a strange exception to the language of the prophets, and of Isaiah himself, who, in this later part of his book too, upbraids his people with their wickednessk, their neglect of Godl, their dullness and blindnessm, hypocrisyn, idolatries and disobedience0, and who tells them, ‘p Your iniquities have separated between you and your God’it would have been a strange contradiction had he, in the midst of this, described them as God’s righteous servant, who should bear the sins of all the world besides; (Christians and Mohammedans, as they say, Edom and Ishmael;) and that we, when converted upon their prosperity and our own overthrow, at the coming of their Messiah, should own that they suffer in our stead, the just for the unjust, and atoned for us. It is strangely contrary to their solution of other prophecies, or of the disappointment of their own expectations, which point to an earlier coming of the Messiah during the time of the Second Temple, viz, that his coming was delayed by their sins, that he would come if they repentedq.”

k xliii. 24, l. 1, lvii. 3-13, lix. 2-15, lxiii. 17, lxiv. 5, 6 [Heb., 6, 7 Eng.]

l xliii. 22, 23, lxv. 3, 7, 11, lxvi. 17.

m xlii. 19, 20, lvi. 10-12.

n xlviii. 1, 2, lvii. 3-5, lxi. 8, lxv. 5, lxvi. 3.

o xlviii. 18, 19, lxv. 2, lxvi 4.

p lix. 2.

q ‘For OUR INIQUITIES, WHICH HAVE BEEN MANY, those of the years have passed, which have passed (Sanhedrin, Chelek, fol. 97, col. 1, l. ult.) ‘For OUR INIQUITIES the Messiah came not at the end of the 4000 years’ (Rashi, ibid.; Martini, ff. 315, 316; Abodah Zara, fol. 9, col. 1 med.) In Edzardi, Abodah Zara, pp. 65, 66, and 244, 246. (The “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, translated by Samuel R. Driver and Adolf Neubauer, with an introduction by Edward B. Pusey [Hermon Press, New York 1877, Reprinted in 1969], Introduction to the English Translation, pp. xlv-xlvi; bold and capital emphasis ours)

In order to appreciate the point being made here, it must be kept in mind that Isaiah clearly says that Yahweh’s Servant is not only righteous, but that he also has done no violence or committed any deceit:

“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 bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand; he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:9-11

And yet all throughout the book of Isaiah, Israel is depicted as a godless, wicked nation whose sins have caused God to turn against them. Here are a few of the main texts from Isaiah which state this quite explicitly:

“The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzzi'ah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezeki'ah, kings of Judah. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken: ‘Sons have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master's crib; but Israel does not know, my people does not understand.’ Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, sons who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. Why will you still be smitten, that you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and bleeding wounds; they are not pressed out, or bound up, or softened with oil. Your country lies desolate, your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence aliens devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by aliens. And the daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city. If the LORD of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomor'rah. Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomor'rah! ‘What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of he-goats. ‘When you come to appear before me, who requires of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and sabbath and the calling of assemblies--I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:1-17

“And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!’ Then flew one of the seraphim to me, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven.’” Isaiah 6:5-7

“Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob; but you have been weary of me, O Israel! You have not brought me your sheep for burnt offerings, or honored me with your sacrifices. I have not burdened you with offerings, or wearied you with frankincense. You have not bought me sweet cane with money, or satisfied me with the fat of your sacrifices. But you have burdened me with your sins, you have wearied me with your iniquities. I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. Put me in remembrance, let us argue together; set forth your case, that you may be proved right. Your first father sinned, and your mediators transgressed against me. Therefore I profaned the princes of the sanctuary, I delivered Jacob to utter destruction and Israel to reviling.” Isaiah 43:22-28

“Hear, you deaf; and look, you blind, that you may see! Who is blind but my servant, or deaf as my messenger whom I send? Who is blind as my dedicated one, or blind as the servant of the LORD? He sees many things, but does not observe them; his ears are open, but he does not hear.” Isaiah 42:18-20

“Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you so that he does not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue mutters wickedness. No one enters suit justly, no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity. They hatch adders' eggs, they weave the spider's web; he who eats their eggs dies, and from one which is crushed a viper is hatched. Their webs will not serve as clothing; men will not cover themselves with what they make. Their works are works of iniquity, and deeds of violence are in their hands. Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, desolation and destruction are in their highways. The way of peace they know not, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked, no one who goes in them knows peace. Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we look for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope for the wall like the blind, we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among those in full vigor we are like dead men. We all growl like bears, we moan and moan like doves; we look for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and we know our iniquities: transgressing, and denying the LORD, and turning away from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words. Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth has fallen in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. The LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intervene; then his own arm brought him victory, and his righteousness upheld him.” Isaiah 59:1-16

“Thou meetest him that joyfully works righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways. Behold, thou wast angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved? We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one that calls upon thy name, that bestirs himself to take hold of thee; for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast delivered us into the hand of our iniquities. Yet, O LORD, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou art our potter; we are all the work of thy hand. Be not exceedingly angry, O LORD, and remember not iniquity for ever. Behold, consider, we are all thy people.” Isaiah 64:5-9

“I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’ to a nation that did not call on my name. I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and burning incense upon bricks; who sit in tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels; who say, ‘Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am set apart from you.’ These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all the day. Behold, it is written before me: ‘I will not keep silent, but I will repay, yea, I will repay into their bosom their iniquities and their fathers' iniquities together, says the LORD; because they burned incense upon the mountains and reviled me upon the hills, I will measure into their bosom payment for their former doings.’” Isaiah 65:1-7

“He who slaughters an ox is like him who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like him who breaks a dog's neck; he who presents a cereal offering, like him who offers swine's blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like him who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations; I also will choose affliction for them, and bring their fears upon them; because, when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes, and chose that in which I did not delight.” Isaiah 66:3-4

Finally, according to the prophet Jeremiah, Israel’s sufferings do not result in the salvation of the Gentiles but in their destruction!

“Then fear not, O Jacob my servant, says the LORD, nor be dismayed, O Israel; for lo, I will save you from afar, and your offspring from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease, and none shall make him afraid. For I am with you to save you, says the LORD; I will make a full end of all the nations among whom I scattered you, but of you I will not make a full end. I will chasten you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.” Jeremiah 30:10-11

“But fear not, O Jacob my servant, nor be dismayed, O Israel; for lo, I will save you from afar, and your offspring from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease, and none shall make him afraid. Fear not, O Jacob my servant, says the LORD, for I am with you. I will make a full end of all the nations to which I have driven you, but of you I will not make a full end. I will chasten you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished." Jeremiah 46:27-28

Notice how these verses explicitly say that God punished Israel for the sins which they committed. This obviously means that they were not suffering for the transgressions of the nations as a means of making atonement for them.

So much for the assertion that the nation of Israel is the Suffering Servant spoken of in Isaiah 52:13-15 and 53:1-12.