Prophet Jesus (A.S.), the Great Prophet of Allah
Prophet Isa (A) was the son of Bibi Maryam (A), daughter of Imran. She was from the descendants of Prophet Dawood (A). Just before Bibi Maryam (A) was born, her mother prayed to Allah to grant her a child whom she would dedicate to the service of the Holy Mosque in Baytul Muqaddas. Her prayer was granted and although she had expected to have a son, she kept her promise and delivered Bibi Maryam (A) to the trustees of Baytul Muqaddas. They decided that Prophet Zakariya (A) would bring up the child. Her story and that of her blessed son Prophet Isa (A) has been recorded in the beautiful and inimitable style of the Holy Qur'an in Surae Maryam.
When Bibi Maryam (A) came of age, Prophet Zakariya (A) built her a special chamber where she lived and worshipped. When he went to visit her he found that she always had food. Prophet Zakariya (A) asked her where the food came from and she said that it came from the Grace of Allah , Who always provides for the ones He loves.
One day while she was busy in her worship, Bibi Maryam (A) was startled to see a young man suddenly appear before her. She was scared but the man said, "Do not be frightened, I am the angel Jibraeel and have brought to you the glad news that Almighty Allah is soon going to bless you with a son. He will be great in this world and in the hereafter and will speak while still in his cradle." Maryam was dismayed and asked, "How can this be possible when no man has ever touched me?". Jibraeel (A) said, "Allah has Power over all things."
Soon after the angel had left, Bibi Maryam (A) felt the signs of pregnancy. She was puzzled at the unnatural occurrence and also worried about how she would explain the baby to the people. Within nine hours she felt the pain of labour and managed to go out and rest under an old date-palm tree where Prophet Isa (A) was born. Things had happened so quickly and in despair she cried, "Would that I had died and been forgotten before all this had happened!"
The Holy Qur'an says:
Then (a voice) called out to her from beneath her, "Do not grieve, your Lord has caused a stream (to flow) from beneath you. And shake towards you the trunk of the palm-tree, it will drop on you fresh ripe dates. Then eat and drink ..."
Surae Maryam, 19 : 24 - 26
Thus consoled, she regained her confidence and returned to Baytul Muqaddas with her baby in her arms. The Jews who saw her were surprised and began to accuse her saying that she had acted in a shameful manner while her parents had not been immoral people.
She did not reply, but merely pointed at her baby.
The Holy Qur'an says:
But she pointed unto him. They said, "How can we speak to one who is a child in the cradle?" He (Isa) said, "Verily I am a servant of Allah. He has given me a Book and made me a Prophet. And He has made me blessed wherever I am and He has enjoined on me prayer and poor-rate (Zakaat) for as long as I live. And (to be) dutiful to my mother and He has not made me insolent ..."
Surae Maryam 19 : 29 - 31
The miracle of Prophet Isa (A) speaking to them from his cradle silenced the critics and left them astounded. The fame of the baby grew and many came from all over the country to see him and pay tribute to him.
The Jewish emperor, Herodotus, learnt about the birth of Prophet Isa (A) and was immediately concerned about the threat to his power. He thus plotted to kill Prophet Isa (A) to protect himself from any future trouble. However, Bibi Maryam (A) learnt of the danger to her son and she left with him for Egypt.
In Egypt, Prophet Isa (A) lived with his mother until he was 30 years old. Then he received the command of Allah to begin his mission and the Divine Book, Injeel, was revealed to him. Thus Prophet Isa (A) returned to Baytul Muqaddas to invite the Jews to the true religion of Allah .
As proof of his Divine appointment, Prophet Isa (A) possessed certain miracles. He could raise the dead to life, restore the eyesight of the blind and cure the lepers. These remarkable powers attracted the Jews to him and some became believers. The rest of them became his deadly enemies because their religious leaders encouraged them to oppose the Prophet who had brought a message that superseded that of Prophet Musa (A).
From amongst the few who has embraced the faith, Prophet Isa (A) selected twelve as his apostles. These men learnt directly from Prophet Isa (A) and he gave them authority to preach to the people according to the laws laid down in the Injeel.
Thus began the mission of one of the greatest Prophets of Allah . Day by day, his followers increased in number but his popularity made the Jews hate him even more. Despite their efforts to stop people from following the new faith, they were helpless against the Will of Allah .
Prophet Isa (A) and his twelve disciples went from place to place, in towns and villages, inviting people to believe in One God and teaching them the Divine commandments contained in the Injeel.
The disciples were pious and virtuous men, but one day they asked Prophet Isa (A) to show them a Sign of Allah so that they could experience first hand a direct contact with Him. Prophet Isa (A) replied that if they truly had faith they should cultivate in themselves Taqwa, which means being mindful of the commands of Allah and being afraid of His Wrath. However, they insisted, saying that they wanted to reassure themselves and become totally convinced of the existence of Allah and of the truthfulness of Prophet Isa (A).
They said, "O Isa, does your Lord not possess enough power to send food for us from heaven?" At last Prophet Isa (A) turned to Allah to ask Him to grant their wish. The Holy Qur'an says:
When Isa prayed, "Lord, send us a table full of food from the heavens so that it will make a feast for us and for those who are yet to come in this world as an evidence from You. Give us sustenance, for You are the best Provider." Allah replied, "I am sending it to you but if anyone of you turns back to disbelief, I will make him suffer a torment that no one has ever suffered."
Surae Maa'idah, 5 : 114,115
When the food came, it served to increase the faith of the disciples. Many people who witnessed this miracle embraced the religion immediately. However, the activities of Prophet Isa (A) caused a great stir amongst the Jews, who felt that their own religion was being threatened. They were enraged that his laws were different from those laid down in the Tawrat and that he did not consider Saturday as a holy day. They accused him of causing disruptions in their community with his magic. They refused to recognise him as a Messenger of Allah just like Prophet Musa (A), and they began to plot against him.
The Jews finally decided to kill Prophet Isa (A) and set about trying to find him. They caught and interrogated one of his disciples, whose name was Shamoon as-Safa (Simon Peter), but he gave them no information as to the whereabouts of Prophet Isa (A). Then they came across another disciple, Yahuda (Judas). This man betrayed Prophet Isa (A) after he was bribed with thirty pieces of silver.
The Jews had decided to arrest Prophet Isa (A) and crucify him by nailing his hands and feet onto a wooden cross. This was a very painful and slow way of execution and the victim usually suffered a great deal before he died. When Prophet Isa (A) heard that the Jews planned to arrest him he took shelter in a vacant house. Yahuda knew this and he led the Jews to the house.
Prophet Isa (A) was a great Sign of Allah . His birth had been in remarkable circumstances and his life was also destined to be extraordinary. At the time when his life was in danger, he was raised by Allah to the heavens.
Meanwhile, Yahuda entered the house but found it empty. Allah caused the features of this treacherous disciple to change so that he exactly resembled Prophet Isa (A). He came out of the house to report to the Jews, and was shocked when they seized him and dragged him away. Despite his protests, he was crucified. The Jews and even the Christians thus say that Prophet Isa (A) was killed on the cross but the Holy Qur'an says about the Jews:
That they said (boastfully), "Verily we killed the Messiah, Isa son of Mary, the Apostle of God."; but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but it was made to appear to them (that they had). And those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge. They only pursue a conjecture. They certainly did not kill him. Nay, Allah raised (lifted) him up to Himself; and Allah is Mighty, Wise.
Surae Nisa, 4 : 157,158
According to a prophecy of the Holy Prophet (S), when our 12th Holy Imam (A) will re-appear, Prophet Isa (A) will descend from the heavens and offer prayers behind him.
The Christian Era (A.D.) dates from the birth of Prophet Isa (A). He was only 33 years old when he was raised to the heavens.