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17. Understanding Islam

7.3. Christ cured the blind and the leper, and gave life to the dead

These three miracles aren’t attributed to anyone else in Islam. They may seem familiar to a Christian, as indeed we know that Christ did these things which are recounted in the Bible, but as is often the case when similar stories are included in the Qur’an, the details or sometimes even the main points of the story are quite different. In the case of raising the dead, the Qur’an isn’t talking about any of the cases we might think of, like Lazarus or the son of the widow of Nain, but the Qur’an is telling quite a different story which is not in the Bible at all. The story it tells is of Jesus when he was a little boy; while he was playing with other children, one of them hit another and killed him. When the child saw that the other boy was dead, he dropped him in Jesus’ lap and ran away. When people came they found Jesus with blood on his clothes and the dead child next to him, so they assumed he killed him. Jesus was taken to the judge where he said he didn’t know the child or even who killed him. People became angry and tried to kill Jesus. Then Jesus ordered them to bring the dead boy, and when he was asked why, he said “so I can ask him who killed him”. They wondered how he could talk to the dead, but they brought the dead boy anyway. Jesus prayed and raised the boy from the dead and asked him who killed him. The boy who had been brought back to life told Jesus who killed him and then died again.

Additional stories of Christ are told despite not appearing in the Qur’an or Hadith. Some Muslim writers even say Christ raised Shem, son of Noah, from the dead to testify to him; most stories such as these are not accepted by any scholarly measures but they are believed by many Muslims. It is the kind of folk stories that would have been told to him by his Coptic Christian slave girl Mariam who was given to him as a gift from the Roman ruler of Egypt.

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