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The Islamic Jesus

How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims

Mustafa Akyol

St. Martin's Griffin

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ISBN10: 1250199352
ISBN13: 9781250199355

Trade Paperback

288 Pages



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The Islamic Jesus reveals startling new truths about Islam in the context of the first Muslims and the early origins of Christianity. Muslims and the first Christians—the Jewish followers of Jesus—saw Jesus as not divine but rather as a prophet and human Messiah and that salvation comes from faith and good works, not merely as faith, as Christians would later emphasize. What Akyol seeks to reveal are how these core beliefs of Jewish Christianity, which got lost in history as a heresy, emerged in a new religion born in 7th Arabia: Islam.

Akyol exposes this extraordinary historical connection between Judaism, Jewish Christianity and Islam—a major mystery unexplored by academia. From Jesus’ Jewish followers to the Nazarenes and Ebionites to the Qu’ran’s stories of Mary and Jesus, The Islamic Jesus will reveal links between religions that seem so contrary today.


Praise for The Islamic Jesus

“A welcome expansion of the fragile territory known as common ground.”The New York Times

"Akyol finds striking convergences between what we know of some Jewish Christians and the teachings of Islam . . . [Akyol] has laid the ground for some rich, respectful conversations between Christians, Muslims and Jews."The Economist

"This work helps Westerners, especially Christians, to gain more insight into the Islamic understanding of Jesus - upon whom be peace- and also into why, while he is so highly venerated in Islam, he is not divinized as he is in Christianity but remains a prophet."—Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Professor of Islamic Studies, George Washington University

"Anyone interested in the deeper relationship between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam will learn much from Mustafa Akyol’s thoughtful, clearly written, and well researched analysis of how Jewish beliefs and practiced carried over into Christianity, Christian themes were preserved by some Jewish groups, and both, but especially Christianity, were received in Islam. Drawing upon accepted Christian Scriptures as well as lesser known apocryphal writings and related sources, Akyol makes a compelling case for recognizing more common ground among the three faiths than has been heretofore acknowledged. His compelling book is a must read for friends and foes of the Children of Abraham theme."—Charles Butterworth, Emeritus Professor, Department of Government & Politics, University of Maryland

"In this highly readable and provocative book, Mustafa Akyol establishes the unique role played by Jesus within the Islamic tradition. Most importantly, Akyol turns radical revisionist arguments on their head to make the compelling case that Jesus’ life when properly understood confirms the Islamic belief that there is no inherent contradiction between the Biblical and Qur’anic worldviews. From this vantage point, Jesus does not divide the Abrahamic religions but reconciles them, a message much needed in our divisive times."—Asma Afsaruddin, Professor of Islamic Studies, Indiana University

"The Islamic Jesus is a learned and thought-provoking exploration of the figure of Jesus in Islam. Mustafa Akyol develops a measured and distinctive argument of how the Islamic understanding of Jesus is connected to Judaism and Christianity. At the same time he challenges readers to consider how earlier religious controversies, and the figure of Jesus himself, might offer guidance for Islam today."—Gabriel Said Reynolds, Professor of Islamic Studies and Theology, University of Notre Dame

"Mustafa Akyol is the kind of public intellectual our fractured world needs. He is anchored in a specific tradition but also capable of engaging others with nuance, humility, and good will. In this timely and important book, Akyol provides an insightful account of an Islamic Jesus and a wonderful resource for anyone interested in Abrahamic dialogue."—John Barton, PhD, Director of the Center for Faith and Learning, Pepperdine University

“Aykol has produced an exceptionally compelling work that promotes religious tolerance and understanding. Recommended for religious scholars and anyone with an interest in religion.”Library Journal

"An intriguing exploration of the Muslim understanding of Jesus . . . A fascinating bridge text between Islam and Christianity.”Kirkus Reviews

"In a conversational style and with studious acumen, Akyol shows scintillating connections between “Jewish followers of Jesus and Arab followers of Muhammad” and how Jewish Christianity possibly shaped the Qur’an’s view of Isa—the Arabic name of Jesus . . . a solid read for those interested in the history of theology and religions."Publisher's Weekly (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt




James can serve as a desperately needed “missing link” between the children of Abraham.

—Jeffrey J. Bütz, scholar of religion,...

About the author

Mustafa Akyol

MUSTAFA AKYOL is a regular columnist for the Hurriyet Daily News,, and the International New York Times. His book, Islam without Extremes, has been reviewed and quoted by The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Washington Post, NPR, The Guardian, National Review, and Washington Times. Akyol has appeared on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS on CNN, Hardtalk on BBC, and Islam without Extremes was long-listed for the 2012 Lionel Gelber Prize literary prize.

Murat Sariaslan

Read Articles by the Author at The New York Times