Jesus, the “Son” of God

What do Muslims believe about Jesus?

Muslims almost always object to using the title “Son of God” concerning Jesus. Many Muslims believe the phrase Son of God implies that God was somehow Jesus’ physical Father or that He had sexual relations with Mary (and that Jesus was born of this union). Some even understand the concept of Trinity as consisting of the Father, Mary and Jesus.

But here’s the real issue – it’s communication. Language. Semantics.

Christians, of course, do not actually believe these things. And, like Muslims, we find the idea repulsive and blasphemous.

Unfortunately, Christians attitudes towards Muslims have not always been Christ-like, and we have not gently and carefully explained what we believe.

Semantics & Misunderstandings

As Carl Medearis pints out, here’s how the conversation often goes with a Muslim:  They ask the Christian this “Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Because, we don’t.”

The Christian, thinking he’s answering honestly and with integrity say, “Of course. Jesus is called that in the Bible.”  The Muslim shakes his head and cries out to God to protect him from this awful heresy of the Christians.  The Christian is offended and gets even more defensive about Jesus being “the Son of God” and round and round it goes….

Here’s what the Muslim is thinking when he asks the question:  “Do you think that God had sexual relations with Mary and bore a small baby boy named Jesus?”

Who was Jesus?

The Qur’an does say that Jesus was born of a virgin. And the Quran tells how Jesus performed miracles such as healing the sick and raising the dead.So we all agree there.

Yet the Qur’an states that He was no more than a human being, a prophet like all other prophets. So therein lies the key issue: Was Jesus just a prophet? Or was He sent from God, part of God, and ambassador for God? Or the son of God?

The difficulty for Muslims is that Christians are seen as trying to elevate Jesus to God status. Islam, like Judaism, rejects the idea that Jesus is the Son of God.

Yet, the reality is that Jesus is not a man whom we are trying to elevate to be God; rather He is God who has humbled Himself to become man.

So when we use words to communicate we need need to be thinking at least three things:

  1. Do I know what I mean by the words I’m using?  If I call Jesus “the Son of God” do I understand what that means?
  2. When the one listening to me hears me say that I believe that Jesus “is the Son of God” does he know what that means?
  3. And do I understand what he is likely to hear when I say those words?  And maybe even one more – do I know whether or not he knows what I mean when I use those words?

Communication is both art and science. So the next time you’re with a Muslim friend and he asks you if you believe in the Trinity or that Jesus is the Son of God, think before you answer. Ask some questions.  Make sure you’re both talking about the same thing.

In this case, I think you’ll find that you’re not too far off from your Muslim friend. We both agree that God did not have sex with Mary and birth a son named Jesus. But that Son is a title given to Him.  We may still disagree on its meaning – but let’s work to help Muslims understand Jesus and Christians, not reject them.

Prayer Ideas:

  • May God bring real breakthrough in this area of misunderstanding. This subject is one of the most significant hindrances for Muslims coming to Christ. Believers need wisdom in addressing this issue, not debate.
  • Pray for Muslims to have a biblical understanding of the phrase “Son of God” and for Christians to not try to insist or explain this concept to those who are not ready to hear or able to understand.

More on this Topic

For a comprehensive look at this, see Rick Brown’s writings Son of God (part 1) and Son of God (part 2).pdf

Rick Brown is a Bible scholar and mission strategist. He has been involved in the Muslim world since 1977.

6 Comments

  1. One thing I’ve always been confused about is, for example, the sayings of Jesus on the cross. If Jesus and God are the same, why would there be sayings like,
    “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”
    “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me”

  2. Just because the Bible claims, or implies that Jesus is the son of God doesn’t mean he is. The Bible also claims that planet earth is flat (Galileo was persecuted for claiming otherwise), and that rabbits chew cud, among other claims..

    The Hindu Gita claims that Krishna is God. or a part of God. Should we believe simply because its written!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    God (Allah) does not share divinity with anyone. May He be Exalted above what Hindus and Christians claim Him to be.

  3. Salaam Alaykum.

    I noticed several things wrong with this article.

    “Muslims almost always object to using the title “Son of God” concerning Jesus. The main reason is that many Muslims believe the phrase “Son of God” implies that God the Father had sexual relations with Mary and that Jesus (the Son) was born of this union. Some understand the Christian Trinity as consisting of the Father, Mary and Jesus. Christians actually do not believe this and like Muslims we find the idea repulsive and blasphemous. Unfortunately this is often the Muslim understanding of the phrase “Son of God.””

    Thank you. So I guess since Jesus, peace be upon him, is not God’s son, you admit he’s not divine, right?

    “The Qur’an does say that Jesus was born of a virgin. Various Muslim traditions ascribe miracles to Jesus such as healing the sick and raising the dead. However, the Qur’an states that He was no more than a human being, a prophet like all other prophets. Islam thinks that Chrisians are trying to elevate Jesus to be God. Yet, the reality is that Jesus is not a man whom we are trying to elevate to be God; rather He is God who humbled Himself to become man.”

    *smacks forehead* Of course, so you’re not saying that he’s God, you’re just saying that…he’s God. Makes perfect sense.

    “Islam refuses to ascribe deity to Christ and rejects the doctrine that Jesus is the Son of…

  4. Mhm. Listen, I’m going to break this down for you. Jinn in Islam are not seen as gods. They are seen as a race of creatures that God has created alongside mankind.

  5. Muslims don’t just use the word “Allah” in reference to God. Muslims in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh also use the Persian word “Khoda” to refer to God because of Persian influence in those regions of the world. Also, there are 99 names/attributes of God in Islam. Allah is simply one of those names/attributes. Please do your research instead of regurgitating/copy-pasting random “facts”.

  6. Here are just few questions which I find confusing about this theory of “Jesus is son of God”

    Do you agree with me that
    1) the way Adam(a.s) was created is more miraculous than how Jesus (a.s)was created because a) he did not have a mother or a father & b) he was created from dust.

    2) If the answer is yes , then don’t you think Adam(a.s) has more right than Jesus(a.s) to claim he is “the son of God”.

    Indeed, the example of Jesus to Allah is like that of Adam. He created Him from dust; then He said to him, “Be,” and he was. Quran Chapter 3 V 59.

    Final question is when Christians say Jesus was God and he was crucified for our sin etc , etc. Does that mean human were able to kill God , how bizarre ?? Couldn’t he just protected himself by sending down lighting strike to kill all the people who tried to harm??

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