There is this Islamic idea that Jesus was a Muslim. I know it sounds very strange, very absurd and some people might ask why I’m even talking about this. But people believe in very weird things. It is actually a fundamental Islamic idea, very popular in the Muslim world, propagated by Muslim preachers and apologists, that Jesus was a Muslim and that he will come back as a Muslim. What Muslims mean when they say that Jesus was a Muslim is that Jesus was misrepresented by Christians, that he was actually just a prophet who called people to submit to Allah. And that he was basically completely in agreement with Islamic belief, Islamic tradition and that he would have followed Muhammad if he had lived at the same time. They also believe that he will come back in the future and that he will basically declare Christianity to be false and he will break the cross and will fight for Islam. But why would we trust the Islamic narrative?
The historical account of the character of Jesus is that a character named Jesus existed, he was involved in some form of religious, political controversy and he was executed or he died. There is no doubt about this. There is no reason for us to doubt any of that. Apart from that we don’t really know what he preached. The rest relies on religious accounts, on Christian accounts. According to those accounts, those perspectives, he preached certain things. He preached the gospel and the divinity, his status as the Son, how you are saved through him. He seemed to bring a new message – the gospel – and he was crucified as a result. According to the Christian historical account, people also believed that they had seen him a few days after his crucifixion. I don’t believe in the Christian narrative. I don’t even want to debate that part, that’s not the point here but when it is already a struggle to believe in the Christian narrative, why in the world would we believe in the Muslim narrative, which came 600 years later? If you are between trusting the Christian narrative and the Islamic narrative, it should be uncontroversial to say that the Christian narrative is by far the more reliable one. And again, I don’t believe in it but it only makes sense, it is only plausible that if you want to trust in further accounts of Jesus and the things that he did, then the next most reliable thing would be the Christian accounts, the early writings about Jesus, the early gospels.
What do Muslims say about the gospels? The Quran says that Jesus brought a book called the gospel, which is not entirely true. Christians have the gospels, which are accounts about Jesus and they have a gospel which is usually considered the collection of those gospels. The Quran also says several times that the Christians should believe in and judge by the gospel that is with them and it also says that they will find Muhammad written in the gospel that is with them. But can you really unite the gospels with the beliefs of Islam? If you read through the gospels that tell us the story of Jesus, you will find teachings on every page of it that are completely unacceptable to Islam, which Islam rejects. It would be very inconsistent, very illogical, very dishonest on the part of Muslims and Islam to accept certain parts of the gospels and to reject the rest of it. If we accept the gospels as they are, then we have to reject Islam as false because the gospels are completely inconsistent with the message of the Quran, of Muhammad. If we reject the gospels entirely, then what do we have left as a source about Jesus? Nothing. The only thing we have from an Islamic perspective is the Quran and the words of Muhammad, which as we have established came over 600 years after the events of Jesus. Why would we trust that? Why would we dismiss the Christian accounts and trust the Islamic accounts and then go out and believe that Jesus was a Muslim? No reasonable person would do this.
If somebody came out 600 years after Muhammad and made up stories about Muhammad and said that Muhammad’s message was originally different but it was distorted by his followers, would that be believable? Would Muslims buy that or would they completely reject that? In fact, there were people who have asserted that Muhammad’s successors and followers corrupted his message. There were even people in his time who asserted that Muhammad’s message was actually different but that it was corrupted by his successors. If we want to believe Islam’s narrative that Jesus’ message was completely lost, completely forgotten, completely corrupted, and we then choose to believe the Islamic narrative without any proper justification, then why would we not do the same thing with other people who tell us the same story about Muhammad and Islam?
If I now came out and claim to be communicating with Allah and claim to be getting revelations through an angel, and if I told you that Muhammad’s message was completely different but that Muslims actually corrupted his message, would you then believe me? If not, why not? We could only accept Islam’s absurd message that Jesus was a Muslim as true if we had enough reason to believe that everything the Quran says and everything that Muhammad says is true and that we can trust the chain of people who tell us things about Muhammad. Unfortunately that is very hard to do. Muslims can’t really establish proper reasons to convince people that these books are indeed true.
As an outsider, as somebody who thinks reasonably, who establishes logic, who looks at the history of history, it is the most reasonable thing to do to look at the established historical accounts of Jesus and to then say that there are certain Christian accounts about Jesus which may or may not be partially true, but it would be insanely absurd for anybody to go ahead and say “No, the Christian accounts are unreliable and false obviously but the Islamic message can be trusted.” That’s absurd. Looking at it from here and also considering that Islam’s message is otherwise very poor and that we don’t have any reason to believe in the truth of Islam, we can confidently say no matter what you believe in, Jesus was definitely not a Muslim and Jesus will definitely not come back as a Muslim.