The Nature of Jesus 2

Such men have been chosen to represent God in every way, they see through Him, hear through Him, walk, grasp, think, love ... their every faculty has been captured and they have shackled themselves to the 'robe of His Majesty'. "My God I have fixed the fingers of my love to the ends of thy cords ... My God these are the reins of my soul-I have bound them with the ties of Thy will."(1)

One who has achieved this proximity to God is known in Islamic terminology as 'Insaan al-Kamil' or the perfect (or perfected) man. It is in this context that Jesus must be viewed. He is called in the Qur'an, a sign (ayat) of God. The Prophets of God are generally all given this designation. They are all (from Adam to Muhammad) signposts marking the path to God, each one addressing both the universal nature of man and the specific contingencies of his time.

Jesus is a signpost who links man back to his original ancestor (Adam). The Qur'an says: "The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: 'Be' and he was." (2) So in the very act of his creation, a link is forged with the origins of mankind. The Qur'an also says of Jesus that: "The Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, is the apostle of God, and His Word, which He projected unto Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him" (3)

The "Word" is God's creative Word (with which He also created Adam), the "Spirit" is the Divine Spirit (which he also breathed into Adam). Thus Jesus is created according to the mould of Adam - but he is as Adam was before the fall from Paradise, before Adam was put into this world, where God's presence is veiled and must be sought through signs. Thus Jesus, from the moment of his miraculous conception to the time he is taken up to God, is one who was "Insaan al-Kamil".

He has seen with the perfection of his inner eye the secrets of this Universe. When he tells man of Paradise he has seen it, when he talks of God he knows Him. His every word is spoken from knowledge. He sees and hears and moves through God. The Spirit of Allah is his guide. Furthermore, he is an apostle of God, that is, one charged by God to provide guidance for mankind and to bring man towards the path of perfection and salvation - and to be a sign which hints at the heights to which man is capable of rising.

It is a fundamental principle in Islam that one who is not guided cannot guide. Thus Jesus is a fully realized man and an apostle of God. Jesus thus becomes, in Islam, a symbol (or sign) of the immense potential that exists within man's fundamental nature. The Prophet's of God are sent to guide man and to show man how to actualize this potential within him.

But even one who actualizes this potential and attains a type of union with God, does not become God. God remains God. The Qur'an rejects with absolute vehemence the insinuation that Jesus is God or the son of God. It says of those who make such assertions that: "Indeed ye have put forth a thing most monstrous! As if the skies are ready to burst, the earth to split asunder, and the mountains to fall down in utter ruin." (4)

The reason for such a strong rejection is that those who put forth such claims have fundamentally misunderstood the basic nature of God, His creation, and the miraculous nature with which He created man. God's aim is to uplift man, to redeem him through the unique nature with which he created man. In the above quote from the Qur'an, the heavens (skies), the earth, and the mountains are reacting to the attribution of divinity to Jesus. This is because before the creation of Adam, the Divine "Trust" was offered to these creations of God and they refused to undertake the responsibility. Man, however, undertook the responsibility.

"We did indeed offer the Trust to the Heavens and the Earth and the Mountains; but they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof: But man undertook it...." (5) Conferring divinity upon any of God's servants or creatures, even one as exalted as Jesus, is characterized as the most violent and disgraceful betrayal of this Trust which God bestowed upon man.

Jesus and the unique method of his creation, his "perfected" status, and his apostleship to God, combine to create, within the Islamic context, a picture of a man who was both a servant and a friend (awliya) of God. He is also seen as a man who was a sign, a symbol granted to mankind by God, and a guide who awakens man to his nature, potential and relation to God. "A 'spirit of God': of no other.... His relation towards his Lord is such, That he acts through it in superior and inferior worlds. God purified his body and elevated him in spirit, And made of him the symbol of His act of creation." (6)

Bibliography

1. The Quran

2. Ali ibn Abi Talib. Supplications. London; Mohammadi Trust.

3. Chittick, William. Article, 'The Concept of Human Perfection.' from, The World & I. New York; News World Communications. Feb. 1991.

4. Muhyi-d-Din Ibn Arabi. The Wisdom of The Prophets. Gloucestershire; Beshara Publications.

5. Mulla Sadra. Morris, James (translation). Wisdom of the Throne.

6. Princeton; Princeton University Press. 1981.

7. Shaykh al-Mufid. Kitab al-Irshaad. Iran; Ansariya Publication.

8. Zayn al Abideen. Psalms Of Islam. London; Mohammadi Trust. 1988.

9. Irshaad & Atiya Hussain (1993)

NOTES:

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1. (Ali ibn Abi Talib. Supplications. London; Mohammadi Trust. pgs. 10 & 12)

2. (The Qur'an. Ch. 3 V. 59)

3. (The Qur'an. Ch. 4 V. 170)

4. (The Qur'an. Ch. 19 V. 88)

5. (The Qur'an. Ch. 33 V. 72, 73)

6. (Muhyi-d-Din Ibn Arabi. The Wisdom of The Prophets. Gloucestershire; Beshara Publications. pg. 68)