The Qur’an includes some embarrassing mistakes, such as describing Jesus’ mother Mary as the sister of Aaron and daughter of Amran (surah 19:27-28 and 3:35-36), which would make Moses the uncle of Jesus even though they lived about 2,000 years apart. Or there’s that passage that portrays the Christian belief in the Trinity as consisting of God the Father, Mary the mother and Jesus the Son (surah 5:116). Muhammad’s biggest mistake however was to argue that Jesus didn’t die on the cross:
And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah .” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain. (Surah 4:157)
In this lecture, Christian apologist Nabeel Qureshi shows why the Islamic claim that Jesus didn’t die on the cross is so absurd. If there’s anything we can know about Jesus, it is that He died on the cross. In fact, even the most skeptical and atheistic Jesus scholar will most likely agree that Jesus existed, that He was baptized and that He was crucified. Extremely liberal New Testament scholar John Dominic Crossan has said: “That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be”.
Not only is Muhammad’s idea historically absurd, but theologically as well. Qureshi points out around the 20-minute mark in the video that according to the Qur’an, the apostles and disciples of Jesus were “superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection” (surah 3:55). In other words, Muhammad thought that these men and women were honorable and trustworthy. Then how come they mix up their Master with someone else there on the cross?
I meet a lot of lovely Muslims when I evangelize with the Pancake Church. Just a few weeks ago I asked one of them if Jesus died on the cross, and he said no, it was someone else that His disciples thought was Jesus. I said to him “But His own mother, Mary, was there! John, who loved Him and had walked with Him constantly for three years, was there. He talked to them and told them to take care of one another.” – this is recorded in Jn 19:27-29 by the way – “How is it possible that they couldn’t see that it was someone else?”
His answer perplexed me: “Allah made it seem like Jesus was hanging there.”
This is what Muslims sooner or later will have to argue, Qureshi says, and it creates what he calls the “Islamic dilemma”. If Allah made it seem like Jesus died on the cross, then not only is he a deceiver but responsible for the creation of Christianity. To trick the apostles to believe that Jesus died on the cross and then 600 years later for the first time in world history inform people that actually, Jesus never died on the cross, is just silly.
From a Spiritual standpoint it’s easy to see why Muhammad denied Jesus’ death on the cross. It is through His death that our sins are forgiven, through His death we are reconciled with the Father. Denying this historical event may have seemed smart from Muhammad’s perspective in the short run, but as people realized how stupid this idea is I hope that more and more will discover who God really is.