Thoughts from Jonathan
Did Jesus say 'I am a Muslim'?
Did Jesus say 'I am a Muslim'?
I recently received a request to respond to a pro-Islamic YouTube clip claiming that Jesus said: “I am a Muslim." The clip is by Imran Ibn Mansur. Refer to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2m_56PZ4Ko&app=desktop, and it seems to be part of a series called Da’wah Man. In the clip Imran is speaking to two young men.
This blog post looks at the first 36 seconds of the clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2m_56PZ4Ko&app=desktop. I have italicised those words spoken or written in the video. In my response, when I quote the Bible it is from the English version called the New American Standard Bible (NASB).
Imran states that in the clip:
a) Jesus said I submit my will to the will of the Father…
Presumably Imran is referring to the words of Jesus recorded in John 5:30, (see below).
b) A few seconds later, Imran states that the word Muslim means I submit my will to the will of God. A Muslim is someone who submits his or her will to the will of God
Here it is worth noting that a Muslim is someone who follows the religion of Islam, as started but Muhammad who was born in about 570 AD. He started the religion when he was about 40 years old.
c) Then Imran says that if you were translate that verse in the Bible where Jesus says that I submit my will to the will of the Father, in Arabic, it would say that I am a muslim. Literally that’s what it would say, I am a Muslim. Do you follow me?
There are a number of ways to respond to this series of statements. Here are four:
1) Logic in understanding Jesus' words
Jesus said a number of things about himself, such as:
I am the way, the truth and the light, no one comes to the Father but through me. John 14:6 in English and Hebrew
Imagine that someone starts up a new religion in Malaysia in October 2014, and calls their religion Mohajit (Hindi for charming) and it’s followers Jalan.
This would be a reasonable word to chose for the followers as the word jalan in their national language (Bahasa malaysia) has several meanings, including: a way for travel as in a literal road or a literal path, and can even mean a road or path in a metaphorical sense, such as the path for life.
Given the above scenario, would it be reasonable for one of the Jalan to claim that Jesus was saying that he was a follower of the religion called Mohajit? A religion that started about 2000 years after he spoke the words recorded in John 14:6. Or would it be reasonable to conclude that Jesus expected his followers should start following a religion called Mohajit 2000 years after he was crucified? Of course not. Using the same line of logic, it is not reasonable to conclude that Jesus expected his followers should start following a religion called Islam nearly 600 years after he was crucified simply because they called their followers Muslim. This is especially unreasonable when Islam is so radically different to what Jesus taught.
2) Consistency in choosing Jesus' words
In the YouTube video, Imran was building his argument on a verse found in the New Testament part of the Bible. It appears that this verse is from the Gospel of John, chapter 5, verse 30. It is interesting that Imran obviously believes these words to be a true record of what Jesus said, as otherwise he would not be basing his argument on these words.
As this same book of the Bible records Jesus saying "I am the way, the truth and the light, no one comes to the Father but through me" (John 14:6), and as there is no valid reason based on the preserved ancient copies of the New Testament for accepting John 5: 30 as authentic while at the same time rejecting John 14:6, then Imran should be also saying on his video that all Muslims should start loving and following the words of Jesus as they are recorded in the New Testament. To learn more about how accurately the New Testament has been copied over the centuries before and after Muhammad was born, then read my book Echoes of Jesus: Does the New Testament Reflect What He Said?
Similarly, as Jesus is recorded in John 11:25 as stating that: 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” then Imran should also be saying in his video clip that all Muslims should start following Jesus if they want to have certainty about being resurrected and going to heaven. This is particularly so as the sacred books of Islam (called the hadith) teach that even Muhammad stated that his good deeds were not enough to get him into Paradise. Here is a quote from one of the hadith:
Narrated Abu huraira: I heard Allah’s apostle [i.e. Muhammad] saying “The good deeds of any person will not make him enter Paradise. (i.e., None can enter Paradise through his good deeds.) They (the Prophet’s companions) said, ‘Not even you, O Allah’s apostle?’ He said, “Not even myself, unless Allah bestows his favor and mercy on me.” Bukhari, Book 7, Vol. 70 Hadith 577; words enclosed in ( ) are in the original hyperlink.
3) The God of the Bible is different to the God of Islam
Imran’s argument is based on the idea that the God Jesus referred to is the same as the God of Islam who is called Allah. Although Islam teaches this idea in their most sacred book called the Qur’an (also spelt Quran), it is actually not true. For example, the God of the Bible is recorded as expecting that we should not sin, for example we can read in the New Testament book 1 Peter 1:15-16 that:
… but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16 in English and Urdu
This is very different to Allah, who demands his followers to do sinful acts. This teaching is recorded in the Islamic hadith called Muslim, book 37, Hadith 6622, which states:
'Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) having said: By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if you were not to commit sin, Allah would sweep you out of existence and He would replace (you by) those people who would commit sin and seek forgiveness from Allah, and He would have pardoned them.' Words enclosed in ( ) are in the original hyperlink.
4) Did Jesus say 'I submit'
I am unable to find any English version of the Bible that records Jesus’ saying that: 'I submit my will to the will of the Father.' The closest words of Jesus I can find are:
I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. John 5:30 in English and Spanish
The next closest I can find is Jesus saying:
For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. John 6:38 in English and Arabic
In fact I could not find any verse in the New Testament where it records Jesus speaking the words 'I submit'. I checked the following English translations of the Bible: NASB, NKJV, KJV, NIV, NRSV, RSV, NET, or ESV. Therefore the foundation for Imran’s argument, namely that: Jesus said I submit my will to the will of the Father appears to be non-existent.
The above paragraphs largely deals with the topic of Jesus' relationship with God. But how can we have a relationship with God? Is it possible for us living in Iran or Australia in the 21st century to become God's children?
Here is how Jesus responded when one of his disciples asked how Jesus will make himself known to them in the future:
Jesus answered and said to him 'If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.' John 14:23 in English and Farsi (Persian)
As Jesus is making it clear that we can share our our house – that is our everyday lives – with God if we obey his teaching, then the next question is; What did he teach? The best way to answer this question is to read the New Testament part of the Bible, where it faithfully records all that Jesus said and did. But for now, here is one of my most favourite sayings from Jesus' lips:
For even the Son of Man [Jesus speaking about himself in the third person] did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45
It follows that if we ask him to be our ransom, we can be bought back by God; in other words we can be forgiven. That is how I and millions of other people around the world have started their jouney with Jesus.