June 22, 2024
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In the Name of Allah—the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

Was Jesus the Christ an Arab?

Was Jesus the Christ an Arab?

Was Jesus an Arab? The answer to this question depends on the comprehensive
definition of an Arab.
Generally,
Muslim scholars agree that a person is considered Arab if he qualifies the
three merits:

1.
He must be a descendant of Sam ibn Noah.

2.
The language of his tribe must be Arabic throughout recorded history.

3.
His tribe must be an inhabitant of the Arabian Peninsula.

The criteria we mentioned are often referred to as the “three merits” or “three conditions” to identify an Arab.
Let’s explore each of these conditions in more detail:

Descent from Sam ibn Noah (Shem):

According to some scholars, Arabs are considered descendants of Sam, who is believed to be one of the sons of the biblical figure Noah. This criterion suggests a lineage connection between the Arab people and the ancient
Semitic tribes.

Language of the tribe:

This condition emphasizes the importance of the Arabic language in defining Arab identity. It suggests that an individual or their tribe must have a historical association with the Arabic language. This criterion implies that Arabic has been the language of their ancestors and has been spoken continuously throughout recorded history.

Inhabitant of the Arabian Peninsula:

This condition asserts that an Arab must have ancestral ties to the Arabian Peninsula, which includes modern-day Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and parts of Jordan and
Iraq. It suggests that the tribe or individual in question must have a historical connection to this region.

It is worth noting that these conditions are not universally accepted by all scholars or communities. Arab identity is a complex mix of language, culture, history, and self-identification. There are Arab populations outside of the Arabian Peninsula, such as in North Africa, the Levant, and other regions, who may not meet these specific criteria but still identify as Arab due to cultural and linguistic affiliations.

Jesus in the Quran

The Quran does not explicitly mention the ethnicity of Jesus, nor does it provide specific details regarding his physical appearance or lineage. The Quran refers to Jesus (known as ‘Isa in Arabic) as a prophet and a messenger of God, emphasizing his role in delivering the message of monotheism to the Children of Israel.

In Islamic tradition, Jesus is considered to be a prophet from among the Children of Israel, specifically from the lineage
of Prophet David (Dawud in Arabic). While the Quran does not explicitly mention Jesus’ ethnicity, it does affirm his status as a prophet and highlights his miraculous birth, his miracles, and his teachings.

It is important to note that Islamic tradition generally views Jesus as an important figure in the prophetic lineage, rather than focusing on his ethnicity or physical appearance. The emphasis is primarily on his spiritual message, mission, and the theological significance of his role as a prophet.

According to Quran Jesus (peace be upon him) was the son of the virgin Maryam bint Imran (Marry). Quran also mentions him among the descendants of Ibrahim (Abraham), peace be upon him.

Allah Almighty said:

This was the argument We gave Abraham against his people. We elevate in rank whoever We please. Surely your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing. And We blessed him with Isaac and Jacob. We guided them all as We previously guided Noah and those among his descendants: David, Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses, and Aaron. This is how We reward the good-doers. Likewise, ˹We guided˺ Zachariah, John, Jesus, and Elias, who were all righteous. ˹We also guided˺ Ishmael, Elisha, Jonah, and Lot, favouring each over other people ˹of their time˺. And ˹We favoured˺ some of their forefathers, their descendants, and their brothers. We chose them and guided them to the Straight Path. [Surah
Al-An’am
, 6:83-87]

 According to the New Testament Jesus spoke Aramaic language that was a lingua franca of East Asia at his time.
Aramaic is a Semitic language along with Arabic, Hebrew, Phoenician, Akkadian, etc. Though some scholars claim that the Aramaic language originated from the Arabic language due to remarkable similarities between the two languages; however, it is not universally accepted.

Aramaic is a rich and complex language with a long and fascinating history. It is the language of the Bible, the Talmud, and the New Testament. It is also the language of many important historical figures, such as Jesus Christ, the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal, and the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria.

According to Islamic narratives and interpretations, Maryam’s lineage can be traced back to the Israelite prophet and king, Prophet Dawood(David). Prophet Dawood is highly esteemed in Islam and is considered a righteous and favored prophet. His son, Prophet Sulayman, is also revered inIslamic tradition for his wisdom and righteousness.

[Al-Muntazam: 2/16]

Muslim historians and scholars have attempted to establish Maryam’s genealogy by tracing her lineage through historical records and oral traditions. These sources suggest a connection between Maryam and the line of
Prophet Dawood, culminating in her being a descendant of Prophet Sulayman.

It is important to note that the specific details of this lineage, including the exact names and generations, can vary among different historical accounts and interpretations. The purpose of establishing this lineage is to emphasize Maryam’s noble lineage and her significance as the mother of Jesus, who holds a special place in Islamic belief as a prophet and a miracle birth.

The language spoken by Prophet David (Dawood in Arabic), peace be upon him, is not explicitly mentioned in religious texts or historical records. However, it is generally believed that Prophet David spoke Hebrew a form of ancient Semitic language that was prevalent among the Israelite tribes during that time.

Hebrew is a Northwest Semitic language and was the language of the ancient Israelites. It is closely related to other Semitic languages such as Aramaic and Phoenician. Hebrew is known for its significant influence on religious texts, as the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) contains the religious scriptures of Judaism, including the Psalms attributed to the Prophet
David. (peace be upon him).

There is no historical evidence or definitive information indicating that the tribe of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) spoke Arabic throughout recorded history. The historical context suggests that the language predominantly spoken by his community was likely Hebrew and Aramaic, which was the language of the Israelites during that
time.

It is important to distinguish between language and ethnicity. While the region where Jesus lived, which includes
modern-day Palestine, is geographically part of the Arab world, it does not automatically make Jesus an Arab in the ethnic sense. Arab identity is primarily based on a combination of cultural, linguistic, and historical factors, rather than simply the geographical location of one’s birth.

Jesus is universally recognized as a historical figure and religious leader whose teachings and life have had a profound impact on millions of people worldwide. His cultural and ethnic background is associated with the Jewish community of his time, as he was born into a Jewish family and grew up within the context of the Jewish religion and cultural practices.

The identification of Jesus as an Arab is not supported historically or within the context of religious traditions. Arab
identity, as we understand it today, emerged from specific historical and cultural developments that took place in the Arabian Peninsula and the wider Arab world.

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