Book Review: The Islamic Jesus: How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims


Mustafa Akyol

The Islamic Jesus: How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims – Hardcover – February 14, 2017

Book by  Mustafa Akyol

When Reza Aslan’s bestseller Zealot came out in 2013, there was criticism that he hadn’t addressed his Muslim faith while writing the origin story of Christianity. In fact, Ross Douthat of The New York Times wrote that “if Aslan had actually written in defense of the Islamic view of Jesus, that would have been something provocative and new.”

Mustafa Akyol’s The Islamic Jesus is that book — and even much more.

For The Islamic Jesus not only tells the story of Jesus, and his mother Mary, as narrated in the Qur’an. It also explores how this Islamic picture of the Nazarene resonates with pre-existing Christian sources, especially Apocrypha. In particular, it unveils the fascinating similarity between Islam and “Jewish Christianity,” a strain in the early church that got branded as a heresy.

Jewish Christians were observant Jews who honored Jesus as a human — not divine — Messiah, and sought salvation by faith and works, not “by faith alone.” Akyol shows how their peculiar creed vanished in history after the first few Christian centuries, but only to be reborn in 7th century Arabia by a new prophet named Muhammad. This provokes puzzling questions about the origins of Islam, and the Abrahamic genealogy.

The Islamic Jesus also offers an “Islamic Christology,” and probes into Muslim beliefs on the “Second Coming.” Perhaps most provokingly, it even contemplates, “What Jesus can teach Muslims today” — at a time, Akyol argues, when Muslims are haunted by their own Herods, Pharisees and Zealots.

Buy the book in Amazon

Suggested Reading

Why religion will dominate the 21st century

Religion and the 21st Century: A Collection of Articles

3 replies

  1. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes that second coming of Jesus has already happened. We believe that our founder Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was a metaphorical second coming of Jesus, may peace be on both of them.

    He came in India 120 years ago to unite all religions and mankind by emphasizing religious freedom for everyone and the fact that the founders of all religions, Confucius, Buddha, Tao, Krishna, Ram, Moses and Jesus were prophets of God. He initiated renaissance of Islam in keeping with the prophecies of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him. Ahmad also laid the foundation of a vibrant Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

    Book Review by the Publishers Weekly

    In a conversational style and with studious acumen, Akyol (Islam Without Extremes) shows scintillating connections between “Jewish followers of Jesus and Arab followers of Muhammad” and how Jewish Christianity possibly shaped the Qur’an’s view of Isa—the Arabic name of Jesus. Tracing sacred texts from multiple traditions and centuries of commentary and contemplation concerning Jesus in Christian, Jewish-Christian, and Muslim sources, Akyol introduces the Islamic Jesus to the world. These beliefs and narratives about Jesus are handled respectfully, with careful attention to the nuances of his many sources. In his conclusion, Akyol admits that Christians, Jews, and Muslims have serious differences—theological and cultural. And yet, he advises, Muslims have something to learn from Jesus, and Christians and Jews can also gain from revisiting Jesus from a Muslim point of view. This is a solid read for those interested in the history of theology and religions, Christian-Muslim dialogue, understanding more about Islam, or appreciating the multivalent milieu of the Middle Eastern world where Christianity, Judaism, and Islam emerged. (Feb.)

Leave a Reply