(Say ye: We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma`il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord: we make no difference between one and another of them: and we bow to Allah (in Islam).
Behold! the angels said: O Mary! Allah giveth Thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah.)
We believe in all the prophets and messengers of Allah. We respect and honor all of them without any discrimination. We believe that all prophets preached the message of tawheed and all of them invited human beings to worship Allah alone and to live righteous lives.
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was not the only prophet of God, but he was the last and best prophet of God. Prophet Muhammad (s) was not the first to teach Islam; all prophets submitted to God (Muslims) and followed the way of submission to God (Islam). We believe that Jesus (as) was one of the great prophets of God.
In the Qur`an, Jesus (as) is called `Isa. He is also known as Al-Masih (the messiah) and Ibn Maryam (son of Mary). He has many other honorable names and titles in the Qur`an. He is a highly respected religious figure. Every Muslim believes in him, honors him, and loves him. His mother Mary (as) is also highly respected, loved, and honored. There are hundreds of thousands of Muslim men all over the world who feel proud and blessed to have the name `Isa, and there are thousands of Muslim women who feel honored and blessed to be called Maryam.
There is a big controversy going on all over the world at this time about Dan Brownâ€™s novel, The Da Vinci Code. This novel is a big thriller, and until now, more than 45 million copies have been sold. Today, a movie based on this novel will be released. Many Christians, especially Catholics, are outraged with this novel. In several countries, Christians are protesting and asking their governments to ban this novel and its movie. Some bishops and cardinals referred to the Danish cartoons against Prophet Muhammad (s) and said that if Muslims were angry with a few cartoons, we should be even more angry with this book. Some Muslims and non-Muslims are asking for our reactions to this book.
We as Muslims do not want to be known as people who react only when something wrong is done to the blessed name of our Prophet Muhammad (s). We stand for the respect of all religious figures of all religions. Furthermore, Jesus (as) is also a blessed prophet for us. We believe in him and honor him. We also have something to say about this novel and movie.
The Da Vinci Code is a novel, a fiction. It has not presented facts about Jesusâ€™ life in a serious and respectful manner.
There are two things that I would like to say about The Da Vinci Code. One is positive and the other is negative. The positive thing is that it says that for the first four centuries, Jesus was known only as a prophet of God, and not God. At the Council of Nicea around the year 325 CE, the Emperor Constantine and some bishops changed the true teachings of Jesus.
The Da Vinci Code also says that Jesus (peace be upon him) married one of his female disciples, Mary Magdalen, and had children, and that his descendants still exist today. Although the Qur`an does not say anything overtly about Jesusâ€™s (as) marriage, his wife, or his children (like the New Testament), there is nothing wrong, from the Islamic point of view, if he were married and had children. Allah says in the Qur`an:
We did send Messengers before thee, and appointed for them wives and children: and it was never the part of a Messenger to bring a Sign except as Allah permitted (or commanded). For each period is a Book (revealed)
Some Christians consider this story about Jesus to be blasphemous. According to them, to say that Jesus was married means that he is not God. Although they say that God had a son, they say that Jesus could not have had a son. However, as Muslims, we say that just because Jesus (as) wasnâ€™t married doesnâ€™t make him God. Prophet Yahya (as), who was Jesusâ€™ contemporary, was not married, yet no one considered him to be divine.
Celibacy does not make any person divine. If Jesus (as) were married, then this does not take away his honor because there were many prophets who came before and after him who were married and had offspring. It is interesting to see a number of books produced today by Christian writers that also say that Jesus was not crucified and that he never claimed to be the Son of God. This is what the Qur`an said a long time ago.
Muslims can use this opportunity to inform others about Islamic position about Jesus (as).
There is, however, a negative side of The Da Vinci Code, that we as Muslims should criticize. The Da Vinci Code is a novel, a work of fiction. It does not present facts about Jesusâ€™s (as) life in a serious and respectful manner. It has fictionalized his life and story, and in this sense it has downgraded this great messenger of Allah.
The author of The Da Vinci Code took some historical facts and then spun a mystery story to thrill and chill his readers. Allahâ€™s prophets and messengers should not be treated in this manner. They are entitled to receive utmost honor and respect from us. It is for this reason that Islam forbids making pictures of Allahâ€™s prophets and messengers and also forbids creating fictitious stories and movies about them. Islam teaches us that we should present the prophetsâ€™ life stories with great care, respect, and the utmost authenticity., because the wrong words about such a holy person as a prophet are in the fire.
The Prophet (s) said,
â€œConvey from me even if it is one verse. Speak about Bani Israel without any hesitation; but whosoever tells a lie about me, let him prepare his place in Hellâ€
We hope that more and more truth will come out about the life and teachings of Jesus (as). We totally reject those who abuse his person through fiction and falsehood. We as Muslims should use this opportunity to inform others about the Islamic position regarding Jesus (as). Ameen.
Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi is the president of the Fiqh Council of North America.