Muslims believe that all true prophets of God taught essentially the same message to their people. “The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah, which we have sent by inspiration to thee, and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Namely, that you should remain steadfast in religion, and make no divisions therein” (Qur'an 42:13). Muslims believe that the message of Muhammad was fundamentally the same message taught by Moses to his people and by Jesus to his followers: to believe in One Almighty God, worship Him alone, seek help from Him alone, and follow His guidance in every matter of life. Although they may differ on details, Muslims recognize a special bond between themselves and other monotheists.
According to the Qur'an, the People of the Book are those who believe in previous prophets and messengers, and they deserve particular respect and consideration. Christians, Jews, and other monotheists fall into this category.
The Qur'an acknowledges that among these groups, there are people who truly practice faith in God and strive to be righteous: “Of the People of the Book are a portion who stands for the right. They rehearse the signs of God all night long, and they prostrate themselves in adoration. They believe in God and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten in the emulation of all good works. They are in the ranks of the righteous. Of the good they do, nothing will be rejected of them, for God knows well those that do right” (Qur'an 3:113–115).
The Christian Faith
The Qur'an speaks highly of Jesus, the disciples, and those Christians who believe in God and work righteousness. However, there is also criticism of what Muslims believe to be misinterpretation of Jesus' divinity and role on earth: “Oh People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion, nor say of God anything but the truth. Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, was no more than a messenger of God, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him. So believe in God and his messengers. Say not ‘Three.’ Desist — it will be better for you. For God is but One God, Glory be to Him! Far exalted is He above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth” (Qur'an 4:171).
The Qur'an explains that the miraculous virgin birth accords no special status to Jesus. Just like Adam, God simply created him. “The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam. He created him from dust, then said to him: ‘Be.’ And he was” (Qur'an 3:59).
Muslims also take issue with the biblical account of Jesus' death and resurrection. The Qur'an makes it clear that Jesus was not killed but was raised up to God. Muslims believe in the Second Coming, that Jesus will reappear on earth to fight the anti-Christ and lead his true followers during a time of felicity before the Day of Resurrection.
The Qur'an mentions the Jewish people as monotheists who were given guidance through the prophets. Praise is given to those who are true to their faith and remain constant. However, just as with Christian beliefs, there are verses of the Qur'an that criticize the beliefs of some later followers of Moses. There are also a few verses in the Qur'an that are very critical of perceived hypocrisy among “the Children of Israel.” The Qur'an makes the charge that some among them were guilty of changing their divine laws, practicing racial discrimination, and rejecting Jesus as a prophet. All of the criticisms are based on practical and theological reasons, which were very much in evidence at the time of the revelation. There has been some criticism that the Qur'an is anti-Semitic. The Qur'an calls on all people, including Jewish people, to evaluate themselves and to come back into obedience to God's laws.