The death of Jesus and the death of Muhammad

James M. Arlandson

All humans are mortal. You the reader are a human. Therefore, you are mortal. So goes standard, basic logic. But what about Jesus and Muhammad? They were also human. Therefore, they were mortal.

It is true that the New Testament teaches that Christ is the divine Son of God and that he came down from heaven. But it also teaches that he had a full (but sinless) human nature and mortal human body.

So what caused these two men to die? Were their deaths predicted? If so, how clear are the predictions? What were their concerns before they died? What were their last words? Where did they die? How did their followers react? Did their deaths have a purpose?

This article seeks to answer these questions. We begin with Muhammad, and then proceed to Jesus.


In Medina, Muhammad lived a life that included raids and wars and collection of war booty. His death reflects this kind of life.

What caused his death?

The prophet of Islam died from an illness aggravated by poison. After his conquest of the predominantly Jewish city of Khaybar (or Khaibar) in AD 628, a Jewish woman offered him mutton (sheep) that she had poisoned. Another report says a group of Jews had poisoned it.

The hadith (or traditions) is the reports of Muhammad’s words and deeds outside of the Quran. The most reliable hadith collector and editor is Bukhari (d. 870). This one indicates that the poison caused Muhammad some pain four years later at his death in AD 632.

. . . Narrated 'Aisha: The Prophet in his ailment in which he died, used to say, "O 'Aisha! I still feel the pain caused by the food I ate at Khaibar, and at this time, I feel as if my aorta is being cut from that poison." (Bukhari; see a parallel hadith here)

What was the Jewish community’s motive? In this hadith, Muhammad is interrogating the Jews of Khaybar. After a verbal sparring match with them, he comes to the point.

[Muhammad] asked, "Have you poisoned this sheep?" They [some Jews] said, "Yes." He asked, "What made you do so?" They said, "We wanted to know if you were a liar in which case we would get rid of you, and if you are a prophet then the poison would not harm you." (Bukhari)

Thus, Jews wanted to see if the poison would affect him, and it did. So why could he not heal himself by the power of Allah? The Quran teaches that Muhammad could work no miracles (go here and here for more information).

However, we should not take this "prophet test" as the only explanation of the Jews’ motive. The hadith seems also to hint at revenge in the words "we would get rid of you." Why revenge? Before Muhammad immigrated to Medina in AD 622, Jews thrived there. But Muhammad expels two tribes of Jews: the Qaynuqa (AD 624) and the Nadir (AD 625). He massacres the Jewish men and pubescent boys and enslaved the women and children of the Qurayza tribe (AD 627). Muhammad the newcomer to Medina had caused the Jews a lot of needless tragedy and grief.

See this article for further information on Muhammad’s troubled relations with the Jews of Medina and Khaybar.

See this article for more information on Muhammad and his bout with poison. The article discusses the inconsistency of why Muhammad superstitiously said to eat Ajwa dates to prevent the effects of poison, but here he is dying from it, at least in part.

This short question and answer feature at a Muslim website also reviews Muhammad’s tense relations with the Jews.

Was his death predicted?

A tradition says that his death was predicted in Sura 110:1, a Meccan sura (it was revealed in the city of Mecca before Muhammad’s Hijrah or immigration or flight to Medina).

The Quran in Sura 110:1 says:

When there comes the Help of Allah (to you, O Muhammad, against your enemies) and the Conquest (of Makkah [Mecca]). (Hilali and Khan)

This verse is not specific or accurate or relevant to his death. First, it says nothing about poison being a cause of death. Second, Makkah (Mecca) per se is not mentioned as the conquest—the parenthetical note has been inserted by the two translators—but at least the verse accurately predicts Muhammad’s life in Medina: one of numerous conquests. Third, the verse predicts the help of Allah, but Muhammad’s death from sickness and poison indicates the exact opposite; no help or healing came from Allah.

Further, other verses in the Quran that speak of Muhammad’s humanity and mortality cannot be characterized as clear and specific predictions (Suras 17:93, 39:30, and 41:6).

Fatima is Muhammad’s daughter by his first wife Khadijah. In this hadith, she is talking with her father, who reveals a secret premonition that she divulges only after his death.

. . . When the Prophet died, I asked her about it. She [Khadijah] replied. "The Prophet said, "Every year Gabriel used to revise the Qur'an with me once only, but this year he has done so twice. I think this portends my death, and you will be the first of my family to follow me." (Bukhari; see a parallel here).

However, a more down-to-earth reason for Muhammad’s premonition is his growing illness. Incidentally, a hadith says that Fatima died six months after her father.

What were some of his concerns before he died?

The next five hadiths range over diverse topics.

(1) One of his concerns during his fatal illness was his many marriages. Which wife should he stay with? It was his favorite, Aisha, his child-bride, who got this privilege. He betrothed her when she was six years old, and they sexually consummated their marriage when she was nine years old. She was never able to bear him a child. (Go here and here for more information).

Narrated 'Aisha:

. . . During his fatal ailment, Allah's Apostle used to ask his wives, "Where shall I stay tomorrow? Where shall I stay tomorrow?" He was looking forward to Aisha's turn. So all his wives allowed him to stay where he wished, and he stayed at 'Aisha's house till he died there. 'Aisha added: He died on the day of my usual turn at my house. Allah took him unto Him while his head was between my chest and my neck and his saliva was mixed with my saliva. (Bukhari)

(2) Another concern was a possible successor. This hadith approves of Abu Bakr, Muhammad’s right-hand companion, leading prayer while the prophet of Islam was sick.

While the Muslims were offering the Fajr prayer on Monday and Abu Bakr was leading them in prayer, suddenly Allah's Apostle lifted the curtain of 'Aisha's dwelling and looked at them while they were in the rows of the prayers and smiled. Abu Bakr retreated to join the row, thinking that Allah's Apostle wanted to come out for the prayer. The Muslims were about to be put to trial in their prayer (i.e. were about to give up praying) because of being overjoyed at seeing Allah's Apostle. But Allah's Apostle beckoned them with his hand to complete their prayer and then entered the dwelling and let fall the curtain. (Bukhari)

This is one of many passages in the hadith that point to the rightfulness of Abu Bakr becoming the successor or caliph, according to Sunni Islam. But Muhammad did not clarify in no uncertain terms who this should be.

(3) Muhammad ordered that his property not be inherited, but given to charity.

The Prophet said, "Our (Apostle’s) property should not be inherited, and whatever we leave is to be spent in charity." (Bukhari see a parallel hadith here)

But what about Fatima? Would she be denied her father’s inheritance?

Fatima and Al 'Abbas came to Abu Bakr [the first Caliph], seeking their share from the property of Allah's Apostle, and at that time, they were asking for their land at Fadak [property of Jews that was conquered] and their share from Khaibar. Abu Bakr said to them, "I have heard from Allah's Apostle saying, 'Our property cannot be inherited, and whatever we leave is to be spent in charity, but the family of Muhammad may take their provisions from this property.’" Abu Bakr added, "By Allah, I will not leave the procedure I saw Allah's Apostle following during his lifetime concerning this property." Therefore Fatima left Abu Bakr and did not speak to him till she died. (Bukhari)

Embittered and disappointed, Fatima left Abu Bakr, never to speak to him again.

This issue of wills has been discussed here.

(4) These two hadiths depict Muhammad as being insecure about his eternal destiny, where exactly he will end up.

An Ansari woman who gave the pledge of allegiance to the Prophet that the Ansar drew lots concerning the dwelling of the Emigrants. 'Uthman bin Maz'un was decided to dwell with them (i.e. Um al-'Ala's family), 'Uthman fell ill and I nursed him till he died, and we covered him with his clothes. Then the Prophet came to us and I (addressing the dead body) said, "O Abu As-Sa'ib, may Allah's Mercy be on you! I bear witness that Allah has honored you." On that the Prophet said, "How do you know that Allah has honored him?" I replied, "I do not know. May my father and my mother be sacrificed for you, O Allah's Apostle! But who else is worthy of it (if not 'Uthman)?" He said, "As to him, by Allah, death has overtaken him, and I hope the best for him. By Allah, though I am the Apostle of Allah, yet I do not know what Allah will do to me." By Allah, I will never assert the piety of anyone after him. That made me sad . . . (Bukhari)

A parallel hadith expresses the same doubt.

. . . The Prophet said, ‘No doubt, death came to him. By Allah, I too wish him good, but by Allah, I do not know what Allah will do with me though I am Allah's Apostle . . .’ (Bukhari)

See these parallel hadiths: here, here, and here.

To sum up, these five hadiths show Muhammad taking the affairs of his life seriously. Who should get the resources from his many conquests? With which wife should he stay as he lay dying? Who should be his successor? This latter question was never answered with absolute clarity (see the section, below, "How did his followers react?"). Also, the last two hadiths show him as very insecure about his exact destiny after he dies.

What were some of his last words?

The next four hadiths reveal some of his state of mind on his death bed.

(1) He curses Jews and Christians for taking graves as places of worship:

When the disease of Allah's Apostle got aggravated, he . . . . would say, ". . . May Allah curse the Jews [and] Christians because they took the graves of their prophets as places of worship." By that he warned his follower of imitating them, by doing that which they did. (Bukhari)

(2) Allah’s messenger ordered those closest to him to do three things, the first of which is to eject pagans out of the Arabian Peninsula. Ibn Abbas, his cousin and highly reliable transmitter of traditions, narrated this hadith.

[Muhammad] said, "Turn the pagans out of the Arabian Peninsula" (Bukhari)

Sura 9:5, coming late in Muhammad’s life, gives the pagans the "option" to convert. If not, they die by the sword.

(3) This hadith shows him wishing for a high place in Islamic heaven. The hadith references Sura 4:69, which discusses Muslims obeying Allah and his messenger. Then they are promised good company in Paradise. The hadith says explicitly that these were his last words.

When Allah's Apostle was healthy, he used to say, "No prophet dies till he is shown his place in Paradise, and then he is given the option" . . . So when death approached him (during his illness), and while his head was on my thigh, he became unconscious for a while, and when he recovered, he fixed his eyes on the ceiling and said, "O Allah! (Let me join) the Highest Companions" (see Qur'an 4:69). I said, "So, he does not choose us." Then I realized that it was the application of the statement he used to relate to us when he was healthy. So that was his last utterance (before he died), i.e. "O Allah! (Let me join) the Highest Companions." (Bukhari)

Though "Companions" is in the plural, this prayer indicates that Muhammad was searching for the highest place, next to Allah, the highest "Companion."

(4) This short parallel hadith finds him asking Allah for forgiveness and mercy for himself, as he asks to be placed among the highest companions. Why was he asking for forgiveness?

I heard the Prophet and listened to him before his death while he was leaning his back on me and saying, "O Allah! Forgive me, and bestow Your Mercy on me, and let me meet the companions." (Bukhari)

As noted in the previous hadith, Muhammad is searching for the highest place in Islamic heaven, next to Allah, the "Companion." But the reason he was seeking for forgiveness is that he suffered from sin, as the (linked) article just above this short hadith demonstrates.

To sum up this section, Muhammad curses Jews and Christians; he orders the pagans out of the Peninsula (or they could convert or die); he yearns for the highest status in Islamic heaven; and he begs Allah for forgiveness.

Where did he die?

We already learned that he was staying at his child-bride’s dwelling. She was now eighteen years old, and he was in his early sixties.

The Prophet died while he was between my chest and chin, so I never dislike the death agony for anyone after the Prophet. (Bukhari)

How did his followers react?

They felt heavy grief and wept for him. This is to be expected. But what is more interesting is the brief struggle between two close companions of Muhammad, Abu Bakr and Umar.

This hadith depicts Umar as willingly yielding the caliphate to Abu Bakr.

He heard 'Umar's second speech he delivered when he sat on the pulpit on the day following the death of the Prophet. 'Umar recited the Tashahhud [i.e. none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah's Apostle] while Abu Bakr was silent. 'Umar said, "I wish that Allah's Apostle had outlived all of us, i.e., had been the last (to die). But if Muhammad is dead, Allah nevertheless has kept the light amongst you from which you can receive the same guidance as Allah guided Muhammad with that. And Abu Bakr is the companion of Allah's Apostle. He is the second of the two in the cave [during their flight from Mecca]. He is the most entitled person among the Muslims to manage your affairs. Therefore get up and swear allegiance to him" . . . I heard 'Umar saying to Abu Bakr on that day, "Please ascend the pulpit," and kept on urging him till he ascended the pulpit, whereupon, all the people swore allegiance to him. (Bukhari)

The hadith are sometimes contradictory, and this next long one shows Abu Bakr, upon hearing of Muhammad’s death, striding forward and taking charge, even over Umar. Abu Bakr tells Umar to sit down and be quiet. Umar refuses, but the people go over to Abu Bakr, so Umar is shut out, as it were.

Narrated Abu Salama from Ibn Abbas: Abu Bakr came out and 'Umar was addressing the people, and Abu Bakr told him to sit down but 'Umar refused. Abu Bakr again told him to sit down but 'Umar again refused. Then Abu Bakr recited the Tashah-hud (i.e. none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah's Apostle) and the people attended to Abu Bakr and left 'Umar. Abu Bakr said, "Amma ba'du, whoever amongst you worshipped Muhammad, then Muhammad is dead, but whoever worshipped Allah, Allah is alive and will never die. Allah said: 'Muhammad is no more than an Apostle and indeed (many) Apostles have passed away before him . . . (up to the) grateful'" (3.144).

Finally, the hadith ends with the people reciting Sura 3:144.

The narrator added, "By Allah, it was as if the people never knew that Allah had revealed this verse before till Abu Bakr recited it and then whoever heard it, started reciting it." (Bukhari)

Sura 3:144 was revealed after the Battle of Uhud in AD 625. Muhammad’s army lost the battle in theory, but in practice he did not lose much materially, so his community quickly recovered. But he himself was wounded. So he asks his followers this question, predicated on his mortality.

3:144 Muhammad is only a messenger before whom many messengers have been and gone. If he died or were killed, would you revert to your old ways? (MAS Abdel Haleem, The Qur’an, Oxford UP, 2004)

Let’s step back and look at the big picture. Though Umar faithfully served Abu Bakr for two years, it should surprise no one that assassinations and wars over the caliphate occur during early Islam. Uthman and Ali, the third and fourth caliphs, were assassinated, for example. It is astonishing that Muhammad did not clarify in specific terms who his successor should be. But why all the violence in early Islam? Muhammad led by example. He either sent out or went out on seventy-four raids, assassination hit squads, skirmishes and full-scale wars. So why wouldn’t his followers do the same?

See this series of articles on the outcome of Muhammad’s conquests and warfare in his family.

What was the purpose of his death?

This question is open to interpretation. It is difficult to assign a purpose to such an important event. Difficult, but not impossible.

This one bedrock fact cannot be overlooked. Muhammad died from illness and poison. He did not die as a martyr, from an arrow or spear or sword during the heat of jihad. He did not die during a high and noble sermon. He did not die directly for his people in an act of heroism, laying down his life for them. He did not die from long old age.

A Jewess (and other Jews) who fed poison to him wanted to see if he were a prophet and to take revenge. In both cases, he would not even come close to eating the tainted mutton, would he? After all, a prophet could perceive that the meat was bad. But ate it he did. So did he have power from Allah to heal himself? Clearly not. Therefore, the following interpretation of his death is not unreasonable or outlandish, given the facts:

His death by sickness and poison had no deep or significant or spiritual purpose.

This interpretation, though open to debate, adds up if we measure it on the grand scale of a founder of a worldwide religion and his lack of perception before ingesting poison and his spiritual inability to heal himself through the power of Allah.

This interpretation comes into sharper focus when we contrast the death of Muhammad with the death of Jesus.


Jesus came with the express purpose of preaching the good news of the kingdom, living a godly life, and dying as a sacrifice for our sins. This purpose shapes the entire Christ event—his birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension.

What caused his death?

This one is easy to answer. God ordained that Jesus would die for the sins of the world, as he shed his blood (Luke 22:20). He died by crucifixion (Numbers 21:8-9 and John 3:14-15; Deuteronomy 21:23 and Galatians 3:13). On a human level, the Jewish and Roman authorities put him to death on the charge that he was seeking to be a king (Matthew 27:37). Also, the high priest charged him with blasphemy for affirming the question that he is the Christ, the Son of God (Matthew 26:63-65).

The Table below lists scriptures that God carefully fulfilled in Christ about his death, revealing that God orchestrated things behind the scenes.

Was his death predicted?

This Table lists only some of the prophecies in the Old Testament that find their fulfillment in the New Testament. They specifically deal with the death of Christ and the events leading up to and during and after his crucifixion.

Old Testament


New Testament

Is. 53:6-7 The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all . . . He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.

Suffering Lamb of God

Jn. 1:29 Look, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Ex. 24:8 Moses . . . said, "This is the blood of the covenant."

Blood of the Covenant

Mt. 26:28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Is. 50:6 I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.

Beaten, spit on, and mocked

Mk. 15:15, 19-20 Pilate . . . had Jesus flogged . . . Again and again the soldiers struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him . . . they mocked him.

Zech. 11:12 So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.

Thirty pieces of silver

Mt. 26:15 So they counted out for [Judas] thirty pieces of silver.

Zech 12:10 They will look on me, the one they pierced.

They will look on the one they pierced

Jn. 19:34, 37 One of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side . . . They will look on the one they pierced.

Ps. 22:18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.

Divided and cast lost for his garments

Jn. 19:23-24 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them . . . with the undergarment remaining . . . They said . . . "Let’s decide by lot who will get it."

Is. 53:12 He poured out his life unto death and was numbered with the transgressors.

Numbered with transgressors

Lk. 23:32-33 Two other men, both criminals, also were led out to be executed . . . they crucified [Jesus] along with criminals—one on his right, the other on his left.

Ps 22:7-8 All who see me mock me and hurl insults, shaking their heads.

Mocked by a crowd

Mt. 27:39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads.

Ps. 69:21 They . . . gave me vinegar for my thirst.

Vinegar for thirst

Jn. 19:28-29 Jesus said, "I am thirsty." A jar of vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a hyssop plant, and lifted it up to Jesus’ lips.

Nu. 9:12 They must not leave any of [the lamb] until morning or break any of its bones. (Cf. Ex. 12:46, Ps. 34:20)

No broken bones

Jn. 19:36 These things happened so that scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken."

An odd belief crept into the Quran, which denies Jesus’ physical crucifixion (Sura 4:157). This verse erroneously says that Jesus was made only to appear to have died; he did not actually and physically die on a cross. Evidently, this false doctrine absorbs Docetism, which had been circulating around the Greater Middle East for centuries. "Docetism" means in Greek "to seem" or "to appear." This Table contradicts this strange notion in the Quran.

The Table also demonstrates that the Bible is not corrupted, as Muslim polemicists assert. It is impossible that this alignment of prophecies spoken hundreds of years before their fulfillment in the New Testament could be forged. The enemies of earliest Christianity could double-check the Old Testament with the events in Christ’s life, which were fresh in everyone’s memory. In fact, some enemies were hard at work explaining away and covering up the Resurrection. The chief priests and elders bribed the guards of the tomb of Jesus. They were to say that the disciples stole the body; it was not resurrected (Matthew 28:11-15). In this hostile environment, Jesus Christ accurately fulfills Old Testament prophecies, and the authors of New Testament remembered this.

To end this section, here are passages in which Jesus predicts his own death in specific terms: Matthew 12:39-41 and Luke 11:29:30; 16:21-28, cf. Mark 8:31 and Luke 9:22-27; Matthew 20:17-19, cf. Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18:31-33; Luke 9:44; John 12:20-26.

Therefore, it is impossible for a Bible-educated Christian to deny the actual and physical crucifixion. This is the climax of the Four Gospels, along with his resurrection and ascension.

What were some of his concerns before he died?

He was concerned with the following things, which represent others not mentioned here: establishing the New Covenant and dying for the sins of many, by shedding his blood (Matthew 26:28); praying for Peter so that God would protect him from Satan, and after his restoration for betraying Jesus, the Lord asks him to strengthen his brothers (Luke 22:32); teaching his disciple to wash each other’s feet, in humility (John 13:17); comforting his disciples, as he prepares to die (John 14:1-4); promising the Holy Spirit as the Comforter and Helper (John 14:15-21; 16:5-16); teaching his disciples to live in Christ as a branch lives in a vine, and to love one another (John 15:1-17); praying for his immediate disciples (John 17:6-19); praying for all believers in him (John 17:20-26); healing the high priest’s servant’s ear, which Peter cut off during the arrest of Jesus (Luke 22:51; John 18:10); handing his mother over to the care of John, while Jesus is dying on the Cross (John 19:26-27); fulfilling Old Testament prophecies while on the Cross (see "Last words," below).

Therefore, no one can justly accuse Jesus of being selfish and of leading his disciples by example to fight each other for political dominance (Matthew 20:25-28).

What were his last words?

Jesus speaks important, final words on the Cross, and they fulfill Old Testament prophecies.

Old Testament


New Testament

Ps. 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Forsaken as the sins of the world are taken on himself

Mt. 27:46 "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Is. 53:12 He bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.

Interceding for transgressors

Lk. 23:32, 42-43 Two other men, both criminals, were led out with him to be executed . . . [A criminal] said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

Ps. 31:5 Into your hands I commit my spirit.

Committing his spirit to his Father

Lk. 23:46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."

Moreover, Jesus speaks important words either just before the crucifixion or without a direct fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy. For example, as Jesus was carrying his Cross to the place of crucifixion, he heard women weeping and wailing for him. He takes time to teach them, though under personal duress, about future events, which will cause them distress. They should not weep for him, therefore, but for themselves and their children (Luke 23:27-31).

Next, while on the Cross he speaks words of forgiveness for those who were crucifying him.

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34)

Finally, on the Cross he announces this blessed fact: "It is finished" (John 19:30). This means that Jesus is the victor. He accomplished everything that the Father purposed him to do while on earth.

Where did he die?

He died outside Jerusalem, on a hill called Golgotha, meaning "the Place of the Skull." But the most important place is on the Cross.

How did his followers react?

Luke 23:27-31 describes a large crowd following him as he carried his Cross to Golgotha. The women were weeping. This is to be expected. But what about his immediate disciples? They were scattered like sheep without a shepherd, as the Old Testament predicted.

Old Testament


New Testament

Zech. 13:7 Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.

Struck shepherd; scattered sheep

Mt. 26:31-32 Then Jesus said to [his disciples], "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."

The good news is that after his resurrection, Jesus regathered his disciples and commissioned them to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20). After the ascension and Pentecost, they went about spreading the gospel and working miracles. They did not wage wars on each other or assassinate each other. All but one of the Twelve (after a replacement for Judas was appointed) were martyred by local authorities or mobs. These apostles and later generations of Christians turned the world right-side up by preaching alone, not by violence and military conquests.

What was the purpose of his death?

The death of Jesus has a divine purpose, which can be subdivided into related multiple purposes. The Table of prophecies of the Old Testament and their fulfillment in the New Testament (see "Was his death predicted?" above) outlines many of them, but three stand out, though two of the three are not mentioned in any Table here.

First, Jesus was establishing the New Covenant, which had been predicted in Jeremiah 31:31-34; 32:40.

Luke 22:20 says:

In the same way, after the supper [Jesus] took the cup, saying, "This is the cup of the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for many."

The second purpose is related to the first. Jesus dies for our sins, so we no longer have to fear being judged by a holy and righteous God.

Matthew 26:28 says:

This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Finally, the third purpose is the fact that Jesus is our Redeemer.

Matthew 20:28 says:

. . . The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Jesus did not come to be pampered and served by slaves. In fact, the Greek word for "ransom" was commonly used for the price to redeem a slave. Thus, Christ uses his priceless life to redeem us from the slavery of sin and Satan.


Four truths come out of this study.

(1) Jesus and Muhammad lived different lives. Jesus came with the express purpose to preach the good news of the kingdom, to live a godly life, and to die as a sacrifice for our sins. And this purpose shapes his birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension. On the other side, Muhammad lived a life that included raids and wars and collection of war booty and multiple marriages. His death reflects this kind of life.

(2) Jesus was destined by God to die for the sins of the world. But Muhammad died of sickness exacerbated by poison. It is unimaginable that Jesus would die from such causes. He healed many with illnesses and even demon possession, in an atmosphere of faith. His mission was to set them free of ailments.

(3) Jesus forgave his crucifiers. He prayed for a criminal and promised him that he would be in paradise. Jesus knew where he was going—back to heaven where he originally came from. In contrast, Muhammad asked Allah for forgiveness and mercy for his own soul, begging his deity to raise him up to the highest companions. He also cursed his enemies.

Muhammad said:

"O Allah! Forgive me, and bestow Your Mercy on me, and let me meet the companions." (Bukhari)

And Muhammad cursed his enemies yet again:

May Allah curse the Jews [and] Christians . . . (Bukhari)

Jesus said:

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)

Jesus answered [the criminal], "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)

(4) Jesus was raised from the dead, bodily. Muhammad’s body lies still in his grave. Anyone can claim that his soul will go to heaven, for no one can see a disembodied soul. But the earliest Christians said Jesus’ body was raised to life.

This fatwa (legal decree) at a Muslim website clarifies a question posed by a Muslim.

The Messenger . . . died and was buried in his grave; hence . . . Abu Bakr . . . said: "Whoever used to worship Muhammad, Muhammad has died, but whoever used to worship Allah, Allah is alive and will never die." (Source)

This page has a further link to an image of the prophet of Islam’s tomb, where Muslims can take an extra pilgrimage.

Per contra, the following passage comes from the Gospel of Mark and says that Jesus was raised from the dead, bodily and physically.

1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"

4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

6 "Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' "

8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. (Mark 16:16:1-8)

He has risen. The tomb is empty.


The Tables are adapted from Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson (eds.), The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy, pp. 219-223. Harvest House, 2004.

Copyright by James Malcolm Arlandson.

Articles by James Arlandson
Answering Islam Home Page