Many people unfamiliar with Islam are surprised to learn that Jesus is mentioned in the Quran and that Muslims are required by Islam to revere him. Islam's teachings about Jesus include the belief that he was one of many prophets sent to mankind by God prior to Muhammad, and that he was one of the most significant of these prophets. However, the teachings of Islam regarding Jesus are different from Christianity in several key ways.
The most significant of Islam’s teachings about Jesus is the belief that he does not share God's divine nature. Unlike Christianity, which teaches that Jesus is the divine Son of God, Islam teaches that Jesus was a human prophet and messenger sent by God. Muslims are forbidden from worshiping him or treating him with the reverence they believe is due only to God. Further, Islam teaches that Jesus himself would be appalled at the notion of people worshiping him.
Another key teaching of Islam in regard to Jesus is the denial of his crucifixion. Muslims believe that Jesus was not crucified, but rather that God rescued him from his enemies while allowing them to believe that they had executed him successfully. The exact nature of this rescue is not clearly explained in the Quran or the teachings of Muhammad, but Muslims commonly believe that someone else was crucified in place of Jesus in order to fool his enemies and allow his safe escape.
Due to the Islamic belief that Jesus was not crucified or otherwise executed by his enemies, this also means that Muslims do not accept Christianity’s teaching about the resurrection of Jesus. Islam teaches that God raised Jesus up to heaven without him having died first. This means that Muslims disregard the post-crucifixion sightings of Jesus as being proof of his resurrection. Rather, they believe these sightings simply verify that Jesus was alive after the attempted crucifixion, not that he rose miraculously from the dead as Christians believe.
Islam also teaches that, as a messenger of God, Jesus brought a divinely revealed book to his followers. This book, known to Muslims as the Injeel, is believed to have supported Islam's teachings regarding Jesus; namely, that he was not divine and was simply a teacher calling people back to the worship of God. Islam does not provide an explanation that clarifies what happened to this book or where it is now. Some Muslims believe that it originally existed as part of the Bible but was later removed or changed by Christian leaders to hide the real teachings of Jesus.
Islam's teachings about Jesus differ from Christianity in regard to his nature, his life and death, and what he taught during his ministry. Therefore, while Muslims revere Jesus in their own way, they do not share the beliefs that Christians consider crucial to understanding Jesus. Islam does not teach that Jesus had a universal message relevant to all of mankind; it teaches that his role was to act as a guide to the people living in his society at that time. Nonetheless, Islam’s teachings do provide an interesting bridge between Muslims and Christians which can be beneficial in promoting a stronger relationship among the two groups.