I'm confused because, Allah recognises Jews and Christians.

Surely, those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah, in His Messenger Muhammad SAW and all that was revealed to him from Allah), those who are the Jews and the Sabians and the Christians, - whosoever believed in Allah and the Last Day, and worked righteousness, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. (Quran 5:69)

But when Jesus felt [persistence in] disbelief from them, he said, "Who are my supporters for [the cause of] Allah ?" The disciples said," We are supporters for Allah . We have believed in Allah and testify that we are Muslims [submitting to Him]. (Quran 3:52)

At one place Allah calls previous nations, followers of moses as Jews and followers of Jesus as Christians, and calls disciples of Jesus as muslims.

Question: are disciples of Jesus muslims, Jews or Christians?

  • 1
    <comments deleted> Comments are intended for constructive criticism and seeking clarification, not for argument and debate. We are a Q&A site about the topic of Islam, not a site for tearing down Christian beliefs.
    – goldPseudo
    Jul 7, 2017 at 17:37

2 Answers 2


(Note: The answer I previously posted was not relevant to the question I now clearly see here. Unless someone changed the wording of the question, I was probably in a sleep-deprived haze.)

If by "disciples of Jesus" you mean THE Disciples who followed him during his lifetime, then they were definitely Muslim.

This, however, is in the Quranic definition of Muslim; a true monotheist who believes in one God, the last day, the angels, and all prophets of whom they are aware, such as Jesus as a prophet and messenger of God in the same tradition and religion of Moses, Abraham and his lineage, such as Solomon and David (using anglicized names), as well as the Gospel and previous revelations. Islam is the exact same religion as that of Jesus or Moses; it is not an organization one joins or a religious club with members and non-members. It is a complete system of morality and behavior, law and faith, governance and principles. Anyone who conforms to the just laws and principles of Islam, whose faith is sincere and devoted to God alone, whose acts confirm the faith and its compassion and civility and goodwill (among other qualities), is Muslim and Mu'min (faithful). The word "Muslim" is not a title but a description which means "surrendered (to Allah)". I prefer "surrender" which is voluntary to "submission" which can imply forced in English, and there is, according to the Quran, "no compulsion in religion." (Al-Baqara 2:256)

When the Quran refers to "Christians" and "Jews", the terms are what later people called themselves. Much translation and interpretation changed the Gospel of Jesus and added other books into one called The Bible. But all are one religion;

From Surat Al-Baqara 2:62:

"Surely those who believe; and those who are Jewish, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever of them believes in God and the Last Day and does good works; they will have their recompense with their Lord, and there is no fear upon them, nor will they grieve."

This shows Jews and Christians to be of the same religion as Islam, defined by adherence to monotheism and righteousness.

From Surat Al-Maa'ida 5:82:

  1. "Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and polytheists; and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, "We are Christians": because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant."

This indicates the Christians called themselves this name; and shows the flip side of those who identify with these religions as so-named, that after the coming of prophet Mohammad and the Quran, many of them kept their separate faiths and rejected the prophecy of Mohammad and the Quran as divine revelation. On the other hand, the Disciples were there at the time of Jesus and were close followers, and since Jesus was a prophet of Islam, they would also have been Muslim.

As you pointed out, sometimes the Quran refers to Jews and Christians as believers and sometimes as even enemies. This is because their faith is not a matter of named religions but rather of the heart and the actions of each individual. The point about "shirk", or joining others with Allah to be worshipped alongside Him, as the Christians do with Jesus, is considered by Allah as idolatry and a violation of the first commandment. Such Christians as believe this or believe that Jesus is "son" of God are idolators and not Muslim. They can call themselves Christian but they are not in fact following the actual teachings of Jesus. Therefore such Christians are not Muslim, even if they claim to be "disciples" in the sense of devotees.

I hope this has made it clear.

  • When you say "that Christian is NOT Muslim and considered a polytheist", you mean from a Muslim perspective they are considered a polytheist, even though their core belief includes God being three persons in one being which makes them a monotheist? Jul 7, 2017 at 20:56
  • Yes, in Islam there can be no "three-in-one" in terms of "form" or "incarnation" (actual manifestation) of Allah; only a multiplicity of attributes. The Quran is very clear about this. "There is nothing whatsoever like (similar in any way to) Him." (Surat Al-Ikhlas 112). That would preclude being Jesus, a human being. Jesus was a prophet and all his miracles are valid as well as virgin birth from Mary. In Islam the first commandment is interpreted very strictly. Allah wants us to know what He is like: not like anything or anyone else. That is true monotheism taught by the Prophet Jesus.
    – S Karami
    Jul 7, 2017 at 23:18
  • I was one of your down-voters, however i now see you edited your answer and I've up-voted it instead!
    – Kilise
    Aug 12, 2017 at 15:21

Basically what you are asking is depended on the understanding of what "Muslim" means and "Christian".

What does Muslim mean?

In Arabic muslim means someone who "submit" or "surrender". In a religious context it is often meant to be someone who submits or surrenders to God.

See the translation of Muhammed Asad of verse 3:52:

And when Jesus became aware of their refusal to acknowledge the truth, he asked: "Who will be my helpers in God's cause?" The white-garbed ones replied: "We shall be [thy] helpers [in the cause] of God! We believe in God: and bear thou witness that we have surrendered ourselves unto Him!

What does Christian mean [in the Quran]?

The first verses you quoted (5:69) is translating the Arabic word "nasara" to Christians. The same word may literally mean "supporters" as mentioned in verse 3:52; "who are my supporters" (man ansari), which also contains the answer "we are the supporters" (nahno ansaro).

So one could argue that the translated word "Christian" in the Quran, which in Arabic is "nasara", is derived from the above verse (3:52), "ansar Allah", i.e the helpers. This is one of the supported theories behind the word nasara which also is mentioned in this fatwa:

وقيل سموا بذلك لأنهم نصروا عيسى عليه السلام

And it is said that they were named [nasara] because they supported Jesus - Peace be upon him.


In a Islamic point of view, it is believed that the disciples of Jesus was supporters [in the cause] of God (ansaro Allah), yet in the same time they were submitters unto God (muslims), as explained above and mentioned in verse 3:52.

That means that they were both "Muslims" (submitters) and "Christians" (helpers), but in definition of the terms mentioned above!

A similar verse is mentioned in 61:14, which is related to all believers (i.e Muslims too, see tafsir Tabarsi for references):

O YOU who have attained to faith! Be helpers [in the cause of God - even as Jesus, the son of Mary, said unto the white-garbed ones, [14] "Who will be my helpers in God's cause?" - whereupon the white-garbed [disciples] replied, "We shall be [thy] helpers [in the cause] of God!" ...

"Be helpers" here is "kono ansara Allah" which in is mentioned above to be the reason the Christians are called "nasara". So when the Quran says to us to be ansar Allah, does that mean we are Christians?

While the disciples of Jesus was called "ansaru Allah" and "muslims" doesn't necessary mean that they labeled them themselves as "nasara". Even if they did, the people after them who might labeled themselves as "nasara", doesn't mean that they were "the true helpers [in the cause] of God". This is where the theological differences appears. While the Quran mentions the Prophet Jesus, it doesn't mean that the Quran supports the theology of todays Christians. In fact, the Quran rejects parts, such as the trinity and the divinity of Jesus.

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