By James Bishop| Many will be surprised at just how different Jesus and Muhammad really were as historical figures. Both have had a huge impact on the way many people choose to live their lives. Followers of Jesus espouse love and acceptance whereas Muhammad’s teaching is the reason behind why 70% (1) of the world’s refugees are Muslims attempting to flee Islamic theocracies.
1. Jesus was sinless. Muhammad was not.
Firstly, Jesus, according to the biblical record, was sinless (2 Cor 5:21) whilst Mohammad, according to the Koranic record, was sinful. In Mecca, Muhammad received a command about his sin:
“Then have patience (O Muhammad). Lo! the promise of Allah is true. And ask forgiveness of thy sin and hymn the praise of thy Lord at fall of night and in the early hours.”(Surah 40:55)
According to the Koran Muhammad was a sinner. Surah 48 also lends credence to the fact that Muhammad was a sinner:
“That Allah may forgive you your sins of the past and the future and complete His Favour on you, and guide you on the Straight Path…”
So, in other words Muhammad was very much like ordinary people as all humans are sinners. Yet Jesus, according to the Bible, is sinless, in fact in one episode he asks those accusing him, “Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can you prove me guilty of any sin?” (John 8:45-46)
Again, according to the book of 1 Peter we read that Jesus was sinless: “To this you [Christians] were called because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” (2:21-22 )
And in John 3:5 we read, “But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.”
The Koran revealed that Muhammad was a sinner. The Bible reveals that Jesus was morally perfect and incapable of sin.
2. Jesus’ tomb was found empty. Muhammad is still in his.
It is a historical fact that Jesus’ tomb was found to be empty by some of his women followers, as the Austrian scholar Jacob Kremer explains, “By far most exegetes hold firmly to the reliability of the biblical statements concerning the empty tomb” (2). William Lane Craig, philosopher and biblical exegete, concludes, “Taken together these eight considerations furnish powerful evidence that the tomb of Jesus was actually found empty on Sunday morning by a small group of his women followers. As a plain historical fact this seems to be amply attested” (3).
A study published in the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus found that about 75% of New Testament Scholars believe that the empty tomb is a historical fact. In other words, the vast majority of experts in this historical field believe the Jesus body left his tomb.
On top of this it was the earliest Christians (see the pre-Pauline creed of 1 Corinthians 15:1-11) that proclaimed Jesus’ resurrection, thus hinting at the empty tomb. Paul, whose letters we have, self admittedly persecuted the earliest Christian followers for proclaiming this message.
Yet Muhammad’s body is still in his grave.
3. Jesus’ death was planned, purposed, predicted. Muhammad died of illness.
When he was sick and dying in the arms of Aisha, Muhammad asked Allah for forgiveness and mercy for his soul before he died, “O Allah! Forgive me, and bestow Your Mercy on me, and let me meet the companions.” (Bukhari 724)
Yet Jesus, according to the God of Christianity, was to die for man’s atonement and for the sins of the world. Jesus’ Earthy mission was self-described with authority, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32, Matthew 9:13, Mark 2:17).
At all times, unlike Muhammad, Jesus knew exactly what was expected of him, and that his death was the focal point of his purpose on earth. Jesus even knew where he was going after his death – back to heaven where he originally came from. We see as such in Luke 23:43 where Jesus spoke to the criminal crucified next to him answered, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
He also says he came to give his life a ransom for many (Mark 10:25), and that his blood is the blood of the New Convenant that was sacrificed for us (Mark 14:24). He predicted his own death (Mark 8:31) which was also predicted in the Old Testament (Isaiah 53:5).
Jesus death was planned and saved humanity from the penalty of sin. Muhammad, however, died of sickness.
4. Jesus was compassionate on sinners. Muhammad was not.
In Surah 24:2 Mohammad says:
“The fornicatress and the fornicator, flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of the believers witness their punishment. [This punishment is for unmarried persons guilty of the above crime (illegal sex), but if married persons commit it (illegal sex), the punishment is to stone them to death, according to Allah’s law.”
Some verses from the Hadiths are also rather illuminating:
“Then the Prophet said, ‘Take him away and stone him to death.’” Jabir bin ‘Abdullah said: I was among the ones who participated in stoning him and we stoned him at the Musalla. When the stones troubled him, he fled, but we overtook him at Al-Harra [rocky place near Medina] and stoned him to death.” (Bukhari)
A further Hadith reports that a woman was buried up to her chest and stoned to death, “And when he had given command over her and she was put in a hole up to her breast, he ordered the people to stone her. Khalid b. al-Walid came forward with a stone which he threw at her head, and when the blood spurted on his face he cursed her.”(Muslim no. 4206)
Muhammad as portrayed within the Koran and within the Hadiths was a brutal man, yet we see a vast difference with Jesus. Firstly, Jesus explains why there are vices such as adultery. In the Sermon on the Mount, regarding the sins of adultery and lust, he says:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt. 5:27-28)
Jesus thus goes to the heart of the sin, he tells us why it is there, where it begins. Even further is this chasm between Muhammad and Jesus widened as Jesus interacted with prostitutes by letting them into his kingdom via their repentance. When provoked on the subject he replies, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.” (Matthew 21:31)
On another occasion a Pharisee invited Jesus for supper at his house, but then a “sinful woman” (a prostitute) come to Jesus and washes his feet with her tears, wiped them off with her hair, and poured oil on his feet. The Pharisee became indignant and said to himself that if Jesus really were a prophet, he would know who was touching him and not allow it because she was unclean. Yet Jesus pointed out to the Pharisee that he did not offer him the customs of hospitality (according to Jewish culture, such as washing feet) as the sinful woman had done. Then we read:
“Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace’” (Luke 7:48-50).
What is clearly evident is that Jesus never ordered prostitutes and other sexual sinners to be hunted down, scourged, buried alive or stoned to death. Jesus and Mohammad clearly differ greatly in their approaches in dealing with the sinful.
5. Jesus was peaceful. Muhammad was violent.
Jesus sets a very high standard for his followers to emulate if they are to “take up [their] cross and follow” him (Matthew 16:24). When Jesus was interrogated by the authorities he says:
“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” (John 18:36)
Jesus is separating himself from those who intend to do violence to achieve their outcomes; he clearly differentiates himself and his followers from such things. In fact he told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. This is further illustrated when one of his disciples, Peter, actually draws his sword to fight the Jews when they arrested Jesus in the garden the night before his crucifixion:
After saying these words Jesus allowed himself to be taken captive, and the next day he was crucified.
Muhammad proves to be very different as the Koran attests to he committed assassinations, as well as threatened to murder over ten people. These threats stemmed from the fact these people offended him in some way, some, for example, wrote satirical poems about him. In Surah 33:60-61 Muhammad says:
“If the hypocrites, the sick of heart, and those who spread lies in the city [Medina] do not desist, We shall arouse you [Prophet] against them, and then they will only be your neighbors in this city for a short while. They will be rejected wherever they are found, and then seized and killed.”
Even before these verses were penned Muhammad had already assassinated some people because of their insults and mockery towards him. There are many other verses which show us Muhammad’s murderous intentions – in another Hadith he wins a battle and slaughters 800 Jewish captives, after he captures Mecca he demanded that two female slaves be put to death along with their master because they had mocked him in a song (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 819, Abu Dawud 2678).
There are other examples littered throughout the Koran, but these will suffice for now to show the stark dichotomy between Jesus and Muhammad in their approaches to violence, or lack thereof.
6. Jesus had authority over darkness, Muhammad didn’t.
Surah 113, a short passage, was revealed to Muhammad in Mecca says, “I seek refuge with the Lord of daybreak against the evil in what He has created, the evil in the night when darkness gathers, the evil in witches when they blow on knots, the evil in the envier when he envies.”
Abdul-Rahman, an Islamic commentator, says that the hadiths on Muhammad’s bewitchment, and influences from magic, are evident, “As far as the historical aspect is concerned, the incident of the Holy Prophet’s being affected by magic is absolutely confirmed” (4). Thus, according to the Hadith traditions Muhammad was negatively affected by magic.
On the hand Jesus exercised a great authority over powers of darkness, as well as took Satan head on. In Luke 4:33-35 we read on Jesus’ encounter with a demon:
“In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, “Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God! “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.”
Here Jesus commands the demon to “come out of him!” This is the sort of authority Jesus exercised in his ministry on Earth. Such authority is seen many times in his ministry, especially in his 40 day fast in the wilderness where he is confronted by Satan:
“Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’” (Matthew 4:10)
We clearly see that whilst Muhammad was bewitched and feared Satan, Jesus on the other hand showed complete authority and the demons even obeyed his commands.
7. Jesus gave people a choice to follow him. Muhammad didn’t.
Jesus says “If anyone comes after [follows] me …” (Matthew 17:24). Jesus let people decide for themselves, if they refuse to follow him then so bet it. The word “if” implies freedom in choosing to either accept the way of Jesus or to reject it. Unlike Muhammad there was no army or power that tried to force people to believe. We see this further illustrated in John 6 where many disciples eventually chose to walk away from him:
“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:66-69)
Jesus never threatened anyone with harm if they chose to leave him although he obviously felt rejected and pained. But never once did he force anyone against their will to believe or to follow him.
Alternatively Muhammad forcefully imposes his will, we read in Surah 9:5 that “Then, when the months made unlawful for fighting expire, kill the mushriks [polytheists] wherever you find them, and seize them, and besiege them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent, establish Salat [prayer five times a day] and pay the Zakat dues [charity tax], then let them go their way.”
In this scene the pagans, if they converted, were to say their prayers five times a day like is the Muslim custom, as well as to pay a forced “charity” tax. Either that or they were to be killed for their non-belief. We also read in the Bukhari Hadith tradition:
“Allah’s Apostle said: “I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshiped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform that, then they save their lives and property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah.”
In other words Muhammad is called to fight until people acknowledge that only Allah is the right God, and that Muhammad is his unique messenger. The people must also give the messenger, Muhammad, their money.
Whereas Jesus gave people the choice to follow him, Muhammad was ruthless and commanded death for those who refused to accept and follow his message, and even if the unbelievers did convert to Islam a hefty tax would be imposed on them.
8. Muhammad said that Allah does not love those who reject Islam (Koran 30:45, 3:32, 22:38), whereas Jesus said that God loves everyone whether they believed in him or not (John 3:16). The Christian God is all loving and is unconditional in his love, whereas Allah’s love is strictly conditional.
9. Jesus condemned stealing: “Thou shall not steal” (Matthew 19:18), whereas Muhammad permitted stealing from unbelievers: “The people felt hungry and captured some camels and sheep (as booty)” (Bukhari 44:668).
10. Muhammad permits lying (Sahih Muslim 6303, Bukhari 49:857) whilst Jesus does not: “Thou shalt not bear false witness” (Matthew 19:18).
11. Jesus never owned slavers, or traded people, whereas Muhammad did: “Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: Sell him to me” (Sahih Muslim 3901).
12. Whereas Jesus preached forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-22, 5:38), Muhammaddid not. We saw above that he assassinated those who mocked or ridiculed him.
13. Muhammad taught revenge: “If then anyone transgresses the prohibition against you, Transgress ye likewise against him” (Koran 2:194), whereas Jesus did not: “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39).
14. Their personal and private relationships differed greatly. As far as we know Jesus was celibate, whereas Muhammad Married 13 wives and kept sex slaves (Bukhari 5:268, Koran 33:50).
15. Muhammad had sex with a nine year old (Bukhari 5:268, Koran 33:50) whereas Jesus never had sexual intercourse with minors.
16. The peace factor of their teachings were staunchly antithetical, according to Muhammad jihad in the way of Allah elevates one’s position in Paradise by a hundredfold (Muslim 4645), whereas Jesus said that “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called Sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).
17. Their approaches to women was different. Jesus forgave prostitutes, and even had women followers. However, Muhammad murdered women (Ibn Ishaq 819, 995).
18. Jesus never commanded or ordered combat campaigns or war on unbelievers, whereas Muhammad order at least 65 such campaigns in the final ten years of his life (Ibn Ishaq).
19. Muhammad killed many captives in battle: “Then a man drew his sword and cut off his son’s foot so that he fell down and Umayya [the boy’s father] let out a cry such as I have never heard… They hewed them to pieces with their swords until they were dead ” (Ibn Ishaq 451, Ishaq/Hisham 449), whereas Jesus never captured or killed anyone.
20. Jesus never enslaved women or raped them, whereas Muhammad did (Abu Dawood 2150, Koran 4:24).
21. Muhammad was never tortured, but did torture others (Muslim 4131, Ibn Ishaq 436, 595, 734, 764), whereas Jesus never tortured anyone, but was tortured himself.
22) Jesus instructs us to love and pray for them (Matthew 5:44), whereas Muhammad did not: “And fight them until there is no more persecution and religions is only for Allah” (Koran 8:39)
23. Muhammad celebrated and blessed the murder of a half-blind man (al-Tabari 1440), whereas Jesus healed a blind man (Mark 8:28).
24. Muhammad and Jesus had different views on what was the greatest commandment. According to Jesus the greatest commandments was to “Love God and love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:34-40), whereas Muhammadbelieved that it was “Belief in Allah and Jihad (holy war) in His cause” (Muslim 1:149).
25. Muhammad demanded the protection of armed bodyguards, even in a house of worship (Koran 4:102), whereas Jesus did not (John 18:10-12).
26. While Jesus gave his life for others (John 18:11), Muhammad had others give their lives to him (Sahih Muslim 4413).
27. Although we have already seen many of Muhammad’s murderous tendencies we also see that he consented to the crucifying of others (Koran 5:33, Muslim 16:4131), where Jesus was himself crucified to save mankind from its sinful nature.
28. While Jesus’ followers were persecuted and never used force, Muhammad’s followers, and many to this day, forcefully persecute and execute those who do not believe.
29. According to Muhammad: “He who fights that Allah’s word should be superior fights in Allah’s cause” (Bukhari 53:355), whilst Jesus instructs his followers to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Matthew 15:16).
30. While Jesus’ followers gave their possessions to those in need (Acts 2:44-45), Muhammad’s followers stole, and lived off the wealth of others. Many times Muhammad in his war against Mecca he hijacked caravans that transported goods in the desert.
31. While Muhammad emphasized his kingdom on Earth: “And Allah has made you heirs to their land and their dwellings and their property” (Koran 33:27), Jesusdeclared that his kingdom is not of the world, “Mine is not a kingdom of this world” (John 18:36, Luke 14:33)
32. Jesus’ followers shared their faith proudly yet with gentleness and kindness (1 Peter 3:15), whereas Muhammad’s followers were instructed to kill, convert or subjugate Christians and Jews (Koran 9:29). Both teachings respectively stem from Jesus and Muhammad themselves.
33. Whereas Jesus’ legacy was that of mercy, forgiveness, love and righteousness, Muhammad’s was not. The Islamic texts instruct men to beat their disobedient wives (Koran 4:34, Sahih Muslim 2127), whilst the Christian texts instruct men: “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them” (Colossians 3:19).
It shouldn’t be too difficult to note the differences between the historical Muhammad and the historical Jesus. Quite remarkably Wafa Sultan, who labels herself as a Muslim but does not adhere to Islam, says that”
“THE PROBLEM WITH CHRISTIANS IS THEY AREN’T AS GOOD AS JESUS. BUT THANK GOD MOST MUSLIMS ARE BETTER THAN MUHAMMAD” (5).
1. IHRC. 2010. Alert: World –UNHCR statistics reveal that around 70% of the refugees around the world are Muslim. Available.
2. Kremer, J. 1977. Die Osterevangelien-Geschichten um Geschichte. p. 49-50.
3. Craig, W. The Historicity of the Empty Tomb of Jesus. Available.
4. Abdul-Rahman, M. 2009. The Meaning and Explanation of the Glorious Qur’an (Vol 10). p. 630.
5. Wafa Sultan quoted by Good Reads. Available.
This article was originally featured on the website of James Bishop and was used with permission from the author.