The Return of Prophet Jesus
Carter, Caleb. The Return of Prophet Jesus. Imam Mahdi Association of Marjaeya | Reflections Magazine Article's Page

The life of Jesus Christ is a topic of intense interest and discussion in today's world, especially within the field of religious studies. While many of these discussions take place within a Christian context, the increase in interest in Islamic studies has caused many non-Muslims to inquire as to what Islam says about such a personality. Islam has offered its own unique perspective on Prophet Jesus, ranging from his birth to his return with Imam Mahdi (the 12th and final Imam). This article will attempt to address a few issues regarding the Islamic perspective on Prophet Jesus that are of interest to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Although not a concept agreed upon by all Christians, Original Sin is nonetheless widely held by most Christians as being the inherent sinfulness of human nature on account of the sin Adam committed in the Garden of Eden. This doctrine has raised a lot of discussion, leading many Muslims and non-Muslims to ask whether Islam also accepts such a philosophy. While Islam does regard human nature as easily tempted and prone to sinning before it has been strengthened and cultivated through obedience to God, there is no Islamic equivalent to Original Sin.

In the Qur’an, God says He has created man on the nature of monotheism1 and given his or her soul an inherent understanding of good and evil2, and hence “one who purifies it is felicitous.”3 Therefore, if man is tainted by sin, it is on account of his or her own actions rather than the sin of Adam. According to a well-known hadith (prophetic tradition), “one who repents from sin is like one who has not sinned.”4 If we understand sin as a knowing disobedience of a command of God, then Islam certainly believes that man is born without sin, and even if sins are committed, one can repent and reach a state of purity.

When hearing that Islam regards Jesus as an exalted Prophet, many Christians are curious as to exactly what Islam says about him. Does Islam agree that Jesus is God incarnate and the sole provider of salvation? If not, then how does Islam regard these views? How does Islam reconcile the belief in monotheism with the widely held Christian belief of the divinity of Christ?

The Qur’an employs several methods for refuting the belief that Jesus is God incarnate, and answers several other issues which may have lead to the conclusion that Jesus was not human. The Qur’an deals with each issue in a unique manner, either refuting the belief or explaining its truth in a way that maintains the concept of tawhid (monotheism) instead of compromising it.

In the Qur’an, God explains the miraculous birth of Jesus in a manner that does not take away from its extraordinary nature, but maintains its reality as something completely under the power and will of God. In this way, the birth of Jesus is an example of the unlimited power of God over His creation, rather than the Christian belief that it was an instance of God’s entrance into His creation.

The Qur’an then describes what occurs after the birth. When Prophet Jesus is born and the people of Maryam (Virgin Mary) speak harshly against her, she looks to Jesus to speak to them, although he is just an infant. His very first words on this earth are, “Indeed I am a slave of God.”5 Right away, his miraculous existence proves not that he is God, but rather that his unique situation is from God, and is an instance of God’s unlimited will and power. The birth of Jesus is a sign of God, rather than a Divine incarnation. From the start, Jesus lays the foundation for his entire mission, clarifying that all his actions are the will of God and must be attributed to God and not himself.

Another important issue which the Qur’an addresses in relation to the life of Jesus is in verse 49 of Chapter Aale Imran where God speaks about the miracles of His prophet. Many people came to be convinced of the divinity of Jesus because they believed his miracles were far more extraordinary and amazing than those of past prophets. From among these miracles which the Qur’an mentions, are that Jesus shaped clay and transformed it into a bird, healed those who were sick, and brought the dead back to life. In verse 49, Jesus explains that these miracles are from God and a sign of God’s Divinity, and not his own doing. He says simply that these events took place “by the leave of God,” or in other words, with Divine permission. The Qur’an does not deny that Jesus performed these amazing miracles, but rather explains that they took place through God’s unlimited creative power. Without this divine permission, Jesus would not have been able to perform any miracles.

Another belief regarding Jesus that is held by both Muslims and Christians is that of his return to the earth for the sake of redeeming humanity and spreading justice to a degree that has never been seen before. The details about the exact nature of this return are different however, primarily because Islam views Jesus as a prophet rather than an incarnation of God.

In addition, Islam regards Jesus as just one part of an overall plan, while Christianity centers its view of the world's final days on only him. According to Islam, Jesus will be a close companion of Imam Mahdi (the 12th and final Imam) and will even pray behind him. According to ahadith (prophetic traditions), Imam Mahdi will offer Prophet Jesus the role of leading the prayer, but Jesus will refuse, saying “I have been raised as a minister, not as a commander.”6 Therefore, while Jesus has attained an incredibly sublime rank in the eyes of God, he is nonetheless a follower and servant of Ahlul Bayt (the family of the Prophet).

The position of Prophet Jesus before God is so high that the commentator of the Qu’ran Allamah Tabatabai devotes a section in his commentary tafsir al-Mizan to the rank of Prophet Jesus. He notes that Prophet Jesus has been described with twenty-two different characteristics, including the Messiah, the Word and Spirit of God, which are uniquely his and not given to any other Prophet. He was also the Prophet who announced the coming of Prophet Mohammad, as he was the last prophet before Mohammad.

The fact that Jesus is so revered in the eyes of God, helps us understand why he will participate in the grand mission of Imam Mahdi. We should not merely think that prophets, messengers, and imams were only sent to bring revelation or Divine law. They were also individuals in their own right, and desired nearness to God just as we do. Depending on their particular context and circumstances, God decreed each of them their own unique position. For example, we see in our ahadith that Imam Hussein (the 3rd holy Imam) reached his own state with God which could only be fulfilled and realized with his martyrdom. It is very likely the same is the case with Prophet Jesus, and that his assistance to Imam Mahdi is part of his own path to God.         

In a narration from the book of prophetic traditions Bihar al-Anwar, we read that “Nine thousand three hundred thirteen angels will descend to the Qà’im (Imam Mahdi), and they are the ones who were with Jesus when God raised him to Himself.”7 If God has chosen the same angels for a mission as monumental as that of Imam Mahdi, then clearly Prophet Jesus occupies an especially high rank with God. It is interesting to note that Imam Mahdi is reported to have prayed in his qunoot (supplication – a part of prayer), “…And I supplicate to You (God) with the supplication of Jesus Your spirit, when he supplicated You and You saved him from his enemies and You raised him to Yourself.”8

Another possible reason for the return of Prophet Jesus is that his presence will have a greater impact upon the Christians of the world, and will increase their support of the Mahdi. In this way the return of Jesus is a mercy to Muslims and Christians alike. The sight of their own savior supporting the cause of Imam Mahdi, can only serve to bring Muslims and Christians closer to each other.

It is clear then that Jesus holds an especially important place and high rank in both Christianity and Islam. This article is a humble starting point for the discussions that can take place between the religions. There are numerous resources with additional information about the subject, such as the relevant sections of al-Mizan of Allamah Tabatabai, available at, Jesus through Shi'ite Narrations, and Al-Imam Al-Mahdi: The Just Leader of Humanity by Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini, available at

1. Qur’an 30:30.
2. Qur’an 91:8.
3. Qur’an 91:9.
4. Usul al-Kafi, kitab al-iman wa al-kufr, bab al- Tawbah, hadith 10.
5. Qur’an 19:30.
6. Sirat al-Mustaaqim, 3, 92.
7. Bihar al-Anwar, 14, 339, 15.
8. Bihar al-Anwar, 82, 233.