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Who Is "Esau" In Islam? A Case-Study (Part II): Historical Evidence

Disclaimer: This Article Will Be Revised In The Future

In my last post I conducted a lingual analysis of the Islamic name: "Issa". Together we discovered that Issa is neither the original name of Jesus nor a truly valid translation of the name Jesus into Arabic. In fact all the evidence appears to suggest the simplest explanation of 'Issa is that it is the Quranic rendition equivalently translated into English as Esau.

Now that we know that the Quranic Jesus and the Biblical Jesus could not possibly have the same original name on their hypothetical birth certificate, we must examine other details. Perhaps this is not a significant issue, if we examine a variety of factors we maybe able to reconcile such a trivial matter. With that in mind that brings us to the next portion of this series:
  1. Linguistic
  2. Genealogical
  3. Geographical
  4. Chronological 
  5. Historical
  6. Conceptual/Theological
Just who is the Islamic "Jesus" genealogically, geographically, chronologically and historically? I will proceed to cover these four sections. Once again I will be submitting a different point of view to the standard and ordinary agreement shared between Muslims and Christians Theologians.



Esau (Issa in the Qur'an) and Jesus (Yeshua in the Bible) have incompatible lineages resulting in these two distinct historical figures having different parents, families and ancestors. Islam rejects the genealogies of Jesus contained in the New Testament (recorded in Matthew and Luke). However Islam provides an alternative genealogy (in part) found within the Qur'an which specifies that Mary (the mother of Esau) had a brother called Aaron (19:27-28). The Qur'an also specifies Mary is the daughter of a father named Imran (66:12). Many commentaries even the earliest groups of Christians recognized the uncanny resemblance connected to the Old Testament with Mary the sister of Moses and Aaron and daughter of Amram. However my argument here is not to make such a pre-mature conclusion. I will not be arguing the Qur'an has an error here but rather that Esau cannot be Yeshua regardless of whether this is an error or not. This is due to both individuals possessing severely different birth certificates, so radically different, these cannot possibly refer to the same individual. It is only necessary to point out that if the Qur'anic Mary had a brother named Aaron and a Father named Amram, then this cannot be the Jesus or Mary of the New Testament, the Jesus of history. 

There are further discrepancies: The New Testament records that Mary had a sister(John 19:25) but does not report a brother, and therefore Jesus was a nephew with an aunt but unlike the Qur'an may think he actually had no uncle (Aaron). It also shows us that Jesus believed in the ideal of adoption as Jesus declares the apostle John to be Mary's Son (John 19:26-27), where as the Qur'an prohibits adoption altogether (33:4-5). Mary also had other biological children, specifically James (Luke 24:10; Galatians 1:19), a fact the Qur'an omits, the Biblical Jesus has a brother, the Qur'anic Esau is without (not even Jacob). The Bible tells us that Mary was the cousin (or relative) of Elizabeth and Zechariah (Luke 1:36) and therefore Jesus had first cousins. The Qur'an reports these characters, but does not connect them within a genetic relationship. The Bible tells us Jesus had a legal (adopted) Father Joesph (Matthew 1;16, Luke 3:23), the Qur'an does not recognize such an idea and therefore omits any reference to Mary's husband (19:22-25), but has no problem mentioning her Father Imran's wife (3:35-36) since her parents were explicitly married and portrayed in these terms, the fact that the Qur'an omits this in the case of Mary's husband is a clear evidence that she was never married in the Qur'an, but is definitely married in the Bible. Jesus therefore grew up with a Father in the Bible, Mary was married, but Esau was Fatherless in the Qur'an, proving (time again) they cannot be the same person.

The Qur'an rejects the idea of adoption, in every and any sense. It rejects the historical proposition that Jesus has a legal and adoptive Father and even refers to Jesus only as 'Esau "Son of Mary" implying he maybe a bastard in this context. This is because in Semitic culture when your lineage can only be recorded by maternal descent without a record to any Father, the implication is that the Child's father is unknown and therefore is the product of an illicit union. Although Matthew and Luke's genealogy may  mention women (Mary, Ruth, Thamar, Rachab, and Bathsheba - the wife of Urias), notice that the line of the genealogy is strictly through the male names, this is normative of lineages from Semitic antiquity. For the Qur'anic author(s) to adopt such a phrase with the added ignorance of using the name "Esau" is evidence the Quran could not be accurately representing the Biblical or historical Jesus. In conclusion Esau and Jesus do not have the same family, parents or ancestors. 



Islamic Esau is said to specifically be a messenger to Israel(43:59), but also said to be a sign to all peoples (19:21). Exactly the same is repeated of Muhammad. In the Qur'an he is specifically sent to address Israel (27:76) but was also was a mercy to all mankind (21:107). This means we cannot point Esau in Israel anymore than we could pin point Mohammed in Israel. The Qur'an no where specifies Jesus was born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth (Galilee) and paid homage in Jerusalem, or even became a pilgrim to the temple, it doesn't specify who his enemies were other than: "children of Israel who disbelieved". However the exact same sentiment is a commonly expressed Jewish view of Mohammed (4:46-47), once again showing it is an obsolete process to attempt to place Jesus in Israel anymore than we should place Mohammed in Israel.

One narrative that distinguishes Esau and Mary from Yeshua and Mary is exactly where Mary's pregnancy took place. In the Qur'an she is said to have isolated herself from her people and/or family: "to a place in the East". However it is impossible to tell where her original location may have been or what precise location was east of it. If we make an unwarranted presumption that Jerusalem was the original location, then Maududi adds a worthwhile observation: "It cannot be Nazareth as some people have wrongly taken it to be, because Nazareth is to the north of Jerusalem". Wherever this fantasy took place this is where she meets and greets the Angelic envoy Gabriel. After which she departs in new-found pregnancy to "a far place". According to the Qur'an we have several examples of a far place, heaven (34:53), hell (25:12) Israel/Jerusalem is far from central or southern Arabia (17:1), hence if Mary were in Israel she would of traveled well outside of Israel. So where exactly is she going? The text gives us very little detail. Firstly Mary appears to be by herself in a secluded remote place (19:22), secondly, she is exhausted and there doesn't appear to be much water or food (until a miracle occurs), nor is she in a busy or populated region (19:26). She appears to find rest near the trunk of a date-palm, with a water stream, and fresh ripe dates (19:22-25). This matches well with a description of an Oasis, geographically speaking, located in a desert. But which desert? The Qur'an only describes one such place on earth with an almost identical description. Pharaoh of Egypt uses these trunks of the date-palms to crucify his opponents (20:71). Hence this shows evidence that Mary appears to be travelling to Egypt via the Sinai or somewhere in Egypt.

This last endeavor comports well with the New Testament and Apocryphal accounts however there are two major differences. Firstly in the Qur'an Mary is by herself and second she is pregnant and gives birth in the desert and upon return carries and presents the child to her (anonymous) people (19:27). All other accounts place Mary's visit to Egypt with her family including her born baby, and after her virgin birth. Other than these exceptions the Qur'an is very similar to the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, an infancy Gospel:
"Now the day before this was done Joseph was warned in his sleep by the angel of the Lord, who said to him: Take Mary and the child, and go into Egypt by the way of the desert. And joseph went according to the saying of the angel." (Chapter 17)

"Lions and panthers adored Him likewise, and accompanied them in the desert. Wherever Joseph and the blessed Mary went, they went before them showing them the way, and bowing their heads; and showing their submission by wagging their tails, they adored Him with great reverence. Now at first, when Mary saw the lions and the panthers, and various kinds of wild beasts, coming about them, she was very much afraid. But the infant Jesus looked into her face with a joyful countenance, and said: Be not afraid, mother; for they come not to do thee harm, but they make haste to serve both thee and me. With these words He drove all fear from her heart. And the lions kept walking with them, and with the oxen, and the asses, and the beasts of burden which carried their baggage, and did not hurt a single one of them, though they kept beside them; but they were tame among the sheep and the rams which they had brought with them from Judaea, and which they had with them. They walked among wolves, and feared nothing; and no one of them was hurt by another. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophet: Wolves shall feed with lambs; the lion and the ox shall eat straw together. There were together two oxen drawing a waggon with provision for the journey, and the lions directed them in their path." (Chapter 19)

"And it came to pass on the third day of their journey, while they were walking, that the blessed Mary was fatigued by the excessive heat of the sun in the desert; and seeing a palm tree, she said to Joseph: Let me rest a little under the shade of this tree. Joseph therefore made haste, and led her to the palm, and made her come down from her beast. And as the blessed Mary was sitting there, she looked up to the foliage of the palm, and saw it full of fruit, and said to Joseph: I wish it were possible to get some of the fruit of this palm. And Joseph said to her: I wonder that thou sayest this, when thou seest how high the palm tree is; and that thou thinkest of eating of its fruit. I am thinking more of the want of water, because the skins are now empty, and we have none wherewith to refresh ourselves and our cattle. Then the child Jesus, with a joyful countenance, reposing in the bosom of His mother, said to the palm: O tree, bend thy branches, and refresh my mother with thy fruit. And immediately at these words the palm bent its top down to the very feet of the blessed Mary; and they gathered from it fruit, with which they were all refreshed. And after they had gathered all its fruit, it remained bent down, waiting the order to rise from Him who bad commanded it to stoop. Then Jesus said to it: Raise thyself, O palm tree, and be strong, and be the companion of my trees, which are in the paradise of my Father; and open from thy roots a vein of water which has been hid in the earth, and let the waters flow, so that we may be satisfied from thee. And it rose up immediately, and at its root there began to come forth a spring of water exceedingly clear and cool and sparkling. And when they saw the spring of water, they rejoiced with great joy, and were satisfied, themselves and all their cattle and their beasts. Wherefore they gave thanks to God." (Chapter 20)

"After this, while they were going on their journey, Joseph said to Jesus: Lord, it is a boiling heat; if it please Thee, let us go by the sea-shore, that we may be able to rest in the cities on the coast. Jesus said to him: Fear not, Joseph; I will shorten the way for you, so that what you would have taken thirty days to go over, you shall accomplish in this one day. And while they were thus speaking, behold, they looked forward, and began to see the mountains and cities of Egypt. And rejoicing and exulting, they came into the regions of Hermopolis, and entered into a certain city of Egypt which is called Sotinen; and because they knew no one there from whom they could ask hospitality, they went into a temple which was called the Capitol of Egypt. And in this temple there had been set up three hundred and fifty-five idols, to each of which on its own day divine honours and sacred rites were paid. For the Egyptians belonging to the same city entered the Capitol, in which the priests told them how many sacrifices were offered each day, according to the honour in which the god was held. (Chapter 22)
In conclusion the Qur'an gives us no explicit geographical detail of Jesus or any family member. It gives us no implicit detail other than the one account of Mary's travel to Egypt, which most Muslim exegetes still don't understand the historical context of til this day. It directly contradicts the nativity scene in all the most and least historical literature. There is therefore no where to place Esau or his pseudo family in the realm of historicity. 



In order for us to believe that Esau is apart of real tangible history, we need a time-zone to place him in. Does the Qur'an give us any clue? The fact is the Qur'an doesn't give us even a hint. There is only one possible set of passages that could be a potential exception and give us a candidate but these are not altogether useful, as these passages themselves are dependent on knowing Biblical history and using the Bible to correspond with known antiquity. It is possible the Qur'an relays story after story without detail because according to the Qur'an such detail is already provided in another valid divine scripture, which is why we only find vague references which are like mere footnotes in conveying the previous stories of prophets. The Qur'an puts Jesus birth close to that of 'Yahya' but no one can be sure who 'Yahya' is. As Yahya does not match to 'John' as commonly translated, nor does the Qur'an tell us when Yahya existed. The only subtle implicit hint that may denote a relationship between 'Issa and Yahya is the following verse:
"Then the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary: That Allah gives you the good news of Yahya verifying a Word from Allah, and honorable and chaste and a prophet from among the good ones." 3:39
If we assume Esau is the word being confirmed and verified here, Yahya may have had a direct contact or personal relationship with Esau. However the problem with this theory is that it assumes the New Testament (John and Jesus) neither of which align to Yahya and Esau. The second problem is Esau is said to have also confirmed Moses and Mohammed (61:6), but clearly verifying someone does not mean existing as their contemporary or having direct contact or relations with them. There is one other interesting piece of evidence a Muslim might submit. Esau appears to exist in a chronological sequence: "And Zachariah and Yahya and Isa and Elias" (6:85), the only problem appears to be that Elias does not fit in here sequentially. Other lists also confirm the fact that the Qur'an is not deliberately patterning names: "'Iesa (Esau), Ayub (Job), Yunus (Jonah), Harun (Aaron)" (4:163) and: "Noah, Abraham, Moses, and 'Iesa (33:7).


What happened?

You may have already gathered that Esau and Yeshua were born on different days, different times and even different regions with different circumstances showing a significant historical discrepancy. You probably saw that historically they have different families who raised him. However are there any other weighty historical issues at stake? The essential core is that Esau was neither crucified nor resurrected. However the Qur'an is not as definitive as we would like it to be on this matter. The Qur'an clearly speaks of Jesus being raised directly to Allah (3:55,4:158) however depending on how one interprets the Qur'an this could be a physical Resurrection, a spiritual elevation, or an assumption into heaven. 

Only one passage in the Qur'an appears to negate the death or crucifixion of Jesus (4:157). And while the most famous theories deduced from this passage are the substitution theory and the apparent-death theory, these aren't necessarily the most plausible exegesis of the text. Assuming that at-least one of them must be, it would be then conclusive to assert that Islam rejects the death, crucifixion, burial and Resurrection of Esau, once again definitely demonstrating Esau is not Jesus/Yeshua. And while this is emotionally stimulating, the historical and theological credulity of the Islamic position, truly vindicates that ironic pun: "no certain knowledge". While the Qur'an mentions disciples it doesn't mention how many, who they are, and what they did nor why they are relevant in the least. The Qur'an doesn't mention the baptism of "Esau" by "Yahya". The Qur'an doesn't report Esau at the temple, or any words of his strong community. It doesn't mention his circumcision, it doesn't mention whether he kept Sabbath. It doesn't mention what exactly were his new allowances during his dispensation (3:50). It doesn't specify his teachings other than monotheism, obedience and signs. The Qur'an lacks the heart of Yeshua, but contains the conjure of a theological proposition entitled Esau.

The Qur'an does not specify that Jesus is from Galilee or a Jew, or of the Tribe of Judah. The Qur'an doesn't allude to any of Jesus parables or metaphors (Lion, Lamb). The Qur'an presents Jesus as more Arab like (61:6), rather than a bi-linguist who spoke Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek and Latin. It doesn't mention which language(s) he spoke. The Qur'an doesn't mention the prophecy of Jesus coming, his kingdom or even his second return. The Qur'an doesn't explain what it means by referring to him as "Messiah", "Word" or "Spirit", these terms essentially become meaningless. The Qur'an doesn't explain why Esau was born of a virgin or the meaning of his name. Why wasn't Mary married? Why do historical reports narrate different authentic information in contrast to Allah? The assigned attributes, positions and titles hold no value nor convey any comprehensibility with the Qur'anic context. The Qur'an does not mention Jesus birth place: Bethlehem or his home town Nazareth. The Qur'an falsely attributes many of the details contained in later uninspired Gnostic accounts to Esau. The Qur'an omits his crucial message of the Gospel and the Kingdom of Heaven/God. It doesn't mention any details of his enemies, his family, his disciples his friends, his loved ones or even who he healed, rescued, Resurrected or saved. The characters are not real due to so much patently false illiterate ignorance. Many of them have falsely designated names. In order to know anything about Jesus, you must go outside the Qur'an. You have to go outside the Qur'an to know his true name, to understand why he isn't merely the "Son of Mary" but also the "Son of Joesph" his adopted Father. The Qur'an does not specify whether adoption was valid or invalid but it surely has an agenda in omitting the fact, this would counteract Mohammed's public relations campaign.

After briefly examining these four sections, I find the results to be conclusive.

  • Quranic Esau has none of the same peers/family as Jesus
  • Quranic Esau (or his mother) cannot be identified as a Jew, Israelite, Nazarene or even born in Bethlehem, he doesn't live in the same area as Jesus
  • Quranic Esau cannot be fixed in a time, place and space in history because he appears to be a theological construction
  • Quranic Esau is not even remotely close to aligning with the character, deeds, teachings or events of the historical Jesus.

Quranic Esau is therefore not Jesus

Who Is Jesus In Islam? A Case-Study (Part I): Linguistic Evidence



Introduction: Jesus In Islam: Yeshua vs Issa/Esau

You've heard of Jesus Christ, no matter who you are: Christian, Atheist, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Agnostic, Secular etc. Jesus Christ is the universal God and Savior of all humanity, God incarnate, the most beautiful, the purely wonderful, the true loving God of the universe, the central figure of the Christian Faith. However, have you heard of 'Issa'?

Probably not. Not unless you are a Muslim or have heard from a Muslim. So what is an Issa? Is that a name? Is that an object? Is that a place?

Who Is Jesus In Islam
Jesus In Islam
Well maybe you've heard of Esau. Esau as in Jacob and Esau the children of Issac in the Bible. Issa according to the most famous Islamic apologist (arguably of all time) Ahmad Deedat is Esau. However why is this in the least bit significant? Who really cares if Esau (Hebrew) in Arabic is Issa? It's because of what Deedat asserted next that makes this truly controversial. Deedat thinks the real historical and original name of Jesus was in fact: Esau (in Hebrew) Issa (in Arabic).

Muslims wish to substitute the actual Jesus of history (contained purely in the New Testament documents) with the Issa of the Qur'an. The only problem is the Issa contained in the Qur'an is merely a repeatedly revised polemical character which was modified and embellished for the deliberate purpose of supporting a fairly new empire. Issa was originally purely contrived in the context of a rigorous historical warfare. Various competing religious-politico factions strove for complete autonomy, power and control over a newly forming global power. The final victors were those who managed to utterly Arabicize the colony and bring rampant Islamification in every aspect, everywhere. The domain was now plugged into the realm of Allah. Every time a victory would be made Issa became less and less human, less and less historical, and more and more of a mixed brew, a controlled theological concoction, an argument, if you will. To put it simply, Issa is not someone who lived on earth in known history, but rather is a contrived theological argument. The Qur'an presents Issa as an argument, it paints Issa as an Arab even using Arabic words, a slave and a Muslim it seeks to dispose of Jesus as the Son of God and place Issa as merely a forerunner to the greatest of all created beings Prophet Mohammed. Hence the role of Issa in the Qur'an is largely to vindicate and substantiate Mohammed as a prophet, again showing a polemical tonality to Issa who is used as a vessel, an ideologue rather than something purely historical, Issa is again utilized as an argument for Mohammed's legitimacy but against Christianity theological expression.

Issa in the Qur'an purely is an ideology which has no plug into actual real history. However to be charitable in the up-coming series of articles I'm going to assume the very opposite. Lets imagine Issa was a historical figure. But then who would he be? Could he be Jesus? A spin on Jesus? Could he be Esau? Could he be some one else? My article here will demonstrate even if we conceived of Issa as a conceivable historical figure who has to be integrated within a historical framework we couldn't identify this personage with what most people today refer to as Jesus Christ.

Jesus and Issa/Esa are not the same conceptually, theologically, historically, genealogically or even linguistically, this means they are not the same individual, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence for this thesis. I will present 6 lines of evidence showing that Issa cannot be the historical Jesus of Nazareth. Issa and Jesus are not the same individual as is commonly thought of in several Islamic and Christian schools of thought. I will present sufficient evidence to substantially contest this mainstream, dominant and prevailing conclusion. Here are the strands of evidence we will investigate and examine together:
  1. Linguistic
  2. Genealogical
  3. Geographical
  4. Chronological 
  5. Historical
  6. Conceptual/Theological

Part I: Linguistic Evidence

"Jesus" is a proper noun of an individual in the English language but the name has been translated through various languages resulting in the final anglicized version: Jesus, perhaps a more direct translation from the original Hebrew noun into English would be: Joshua. Not surprisingly all names in English have etymological origins and therefore if we speak of a historical figure who existed prior to the English language but attach that individual with an English name typically the translation in English is not the original name of that person in history. As an example I will point to the name 'James'.

The name James is ranked on the 8th position of the most used names. It means that this name is very frequently used. It is more often used as a boy (male) name (feminine: Jamie). People having the name James are in general originating from Australia, Canada, France, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Seychelles, United Kingdom, United States of America. James is a proper noun that in English can clearly be the original name of the child in question. However when we refer to James as existing in the first century, we cannot say this was the original form of that name in the original language this is because of the linguistic ancestory:
"(James) English form of the Late Latin name Iacomus which was derived from Ιακωβος (Iakobos), the New Testament Greek form of the Hebrew name Ya'aqov (see JACOB). This was the name of two apostles in the New Testament. The first was Saint James the Greater, the apostle John's brother, who was beheaded under Herod Agrippa in the Book of Acts. The second was James the Lesser, son of Alphaeus. Another James (known as James the Just) is also mentioned in the Bible as being the brother of Jesus." (Online Etymology)
Jacomus was then taken by into an older french tongue:
"Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin Iacomus, variant of Iacōbus, Iacobus; see Jacob." (Etymological Dictionary)
As we can see Jacob is a direct translation of the Hebrew noun Ya'aqov. However James is a little more complex:
  1. Ya'aqov (Hebrew)
  2. Iakobos (Greek)
  3. Iacomus (Latin)
  4. Gemmes (Jammes) (Old French) (Cognates: French: Jacques. Italian: Giacomo. Spanish: Jaime. Catalan: Jaume. Galician: Xaime. Irish: Séamas, Séamus, Seumas, Seumus (Gaelic))
  5. James (Middle English) 
  6. James (Modern English) (Reported as the Consensus of Linguists at Teknia
One dictionary appears to at-least explain one of the changes, that is the evolution between the Greek and Latin form:
"The development Iacobus > Iacomus is likely a result of nasalization of the o and assimilation to the following b (i.e., intermediate *Iacombus) followed by simplification of the cluster mb through loss of the b." (Source)
But the evolution has not ceased, in English we have developed more cognates of Jacob/James:
  • Jake, Jakey (diminutive)
  • Jack, Jacky, Jackie (diminutive, chiefly British)
  • Coby/Koby (diminutive, uncommon, chiefly American)
  • Jamie (diminutive, found in all primarily English-speaking lands, U.K., Ireland, Canada, U.S.A., etc.)
  • Jaime/Jaimie (diminutive, uncommon, chiefly American, and by way of Spanish)
  • Jim
  • Jimmy/Jimmi/Jimi (diminutive)
  • Jimbo (diminutive)
  • Jambo
  • Jay
  • Jamesy
  • Jem (diminutive, also taken as a diminutive for Jeremiah, Jeremy or Jemma)
  • Jacqueline/Jaqueline (feminized, by way of French)
  • Jacqui/Jaqui (feminized diminutive), Jackie (feminized diminutive, chiefly American), Jacki (feminized diminutive)
  • Jamie/Jamey/Jami (feminized). (Wiki

Just like we know James is not the original name of Yakov, Yakov wouldn't have understood this word as being a reference to himself (namely because it didn't yet exist!) the original name of Jesus is Yeshua.

Yeshua on earth would not have known English along with multiple other languages. Just like Jacob's original name was Yakov, and this is not contested, no dictionary has disputed the real original name of Jesus:

The most popular online etymology dictionary shows us:
"late 12c. (Old English used hælend "savior"), from Greek Iesous, which is an attempt to render into Greek the Aramaic proper name Jeshua (Hebrew Yeshua) "Jah is salvation," a common Jewish personal name, the later form of Hebrew Yehoshua (see Joshua)." - Etymology Dictionary
It is usually purported the Qur'an and Bible have different ways of expressing the name Jesus. However one translation (the Arabic Bible) the noun given to Jesus is clearly derived from the Hebrew and Aramaic. While the name mentioned in the Arabic Quran "Issa/Esa" cannot be translated from the original language. Firstly this is evidence against the position that these are two distinct names for the same individual. Secondly this leads us to challenge two Muslim views.

Firstly there is a large group of Muslims who assert that Issa is the original name of the historical Jesus, the one his mother called him, the one whom he was called by all his contemporaries. If this is found to be false we can therefore conclude that Jesus and Issa are two separate figures seeing that they do not historically refer to the same person who possesses the identical name. Imagine for example if I insisted that a historical Jacob (who's original name would have been close to Yacov, (a Canaanite/Hebrew man)) was actually known and called by the English name: James, could we possibly be referring to the same individual? Could Yacov possibly have the name James on his birth certificate? (assuming he had one) The answer is no. In the same manner Yeshua could not have had the name Esa/Issa on his birth certificate, hence showing this position held by millions of Muslims is completely untenable. The secondary matter is whether Issa is a valid translation or legitimate expression of Jesus name in Arabic at all. There is no reason to hold to this view as we shall soon see.

Let's break this down in Arabic: Jesus name is as follows:

  • Arabic Bible: Yasu' = Ya + Sin + Waw + 'Ain
  • Arabic Qur'an: 'Isa = 'Ain + Ya + Sin + Ya.

As you can see the consonant in the word "Issa" is the precise reversal to Yasu'. This is technically known as a grammatical inversion. Ya and Waw are weak letters and Arabic grammar teaches that one can turn into the other as words take on different forms (declension, inflection) hence the change of Waw to Ya is accounted for easily. Since all three consonants directly correspond, the only significant noticeable difference is the 'Ain at the beginning of Issa however at the end of Yushua (Yasu'). Thus, one can see that the Muslim form 'Isa is basically an inversion of the Christian form Yasu'. But which Arabic noun is derived from Jesus true and original name and which isn't?

  • Early Hebrew Yod + He + Shin + Waw + 'Ain 
  • Later Hebrew Yod + Shin + Waw + 'Ain
  • Aramaic  Yudh + Shin + Waw + 'Ain 
  • Arabic Ya + Sin + Waw + 'Ain
  • Arabic 'Ain + Ya + Sin Alif-maqsurah (Quran)

Upon close inspection we can show all four versions of the name correspond, with the 5th version Issa not correlating to the previous lingual ancestory of the name. This is explicit proof the Arabic word Christians use Yasu' is word for word derived from the Aramaic/Hebrew, each consonant directly corresponds to it's etymological predecessor, where as Issa cannot be derived from Yeshua. Ahmad Deedat suggested that "Issa" corresponds to "Esau". Now if Yasu' is Yeshua and Issa is Esau then they must refer to two completely separate figures.

Jesus In Islam Yeshua
Yeshua or Issa
Some Muslims have attempted damage control and asserted the word "Ishoo" or "Eshoo" is close to or the original name of Jesus. They appeal to the fact that this is how contemporary Assyrian Churches refer to Jesus, and this is suppose to vindicate the Quranic Esa/Issa. One Muslim even asserted Jesus would have called himself "Eesho" even more specifically "Eesa" since according to him the Northern Palestinian Jews pronounced the letter "shin" as "seen". However there is no evidence that "shin" would be pronounced as "Semkath". We know the reverse is true because of transliterations of such Hebrew words as "Israel" with a Semkath because the Aramaic Shin cannot be pronounced as a Semkath, Shin in Hebrew can with a special mark, as the letter Seen. Secondly Ishoo is the contemporary eastern Neo-Syriac pronunciation and it is not the original Aramaic dialectal pronunciation.

The problem with Deedat's theory is that no Jew living in the first century would name their own child "Esau" this was because biblically speaking this is the worse name to give your baby child. In Jewish tradition Esau was rejected by his Father Issac who gave inheritance rights to the non-firstborn Jacob/Israel over his firstborn Esau and therefore Esau was commonly thought to be used as a slur to refer to someone as illegitimate in Jewish culture. It is clear to see why Jewish contemporaries of Mohammed would have used the name Esau as a spin on 'Jesus' derogatorily the pun seems quite brilliant. According to the Jews, both must be true: God chose Israel (Jacob) over Jesus(Esau), a very glaring feature of Jewish exegesis (embedded double meaning). And therefore you have an arabicized version of Jesus that had the consonant reversed before Mohammed was even born, to show clearly Jesus was similar or identical to the illegitimate Esau.

To support this theory there are other streams of evidence. In the Mediterranean and Semitic culture a persons lineage is always recorded through the Father's descent. This means when a persons descent is recorded through the mother, it implies the father is unknown implying the child is a bastard or illegitimate. The Quran just so happens to only call Jesus: "Ibn Mariam/Son of Mary" which infers Jesus is illegitimate, especially if we take this in conjunction with Deedat's idea that Issa is Esau.

The original Arabs who contrived the Qur'an could of deliberately selected Issa for inclusion since it was consistent with the linguistic style required by the Qur'an. Rhyming schemes are very important in the Qur'an, and the Arabs clearly seem to have had an obsession with similar sounding pairs of names.  They managed to manipulate quite a few other names to make them rhyme: Saul and Goliath turn into Talut and Jalut (S. 2:249-250), we find the angels Harut and Marut (S. 2:102), Else where Cain and Abel are called Kabil and Habil. it is not too surprising nor absurd to think that they may have selected the name Issa in such a way as to make it rhyme with Musa (Moses) and Elisa.

Putting this altogether the Qur'an denies and attacks all essential elements of the Gospel (Jesus is not God, Jesus is not the Son of God, Jesus did not die on the Cross, Mankind is not lost and does not need a savior, there is no Trinity), and that the Qur'an puts a curse on all who believe that Jesus is the Son of God (S. 9:30), then it is not altogether unbelievable that even Jesus himself is cursed in the Qur'an in a veiled way by reversing the consonants that make up his true name, possibly connecting him to Esau and only asserting his maternal but not paternal descent, this could possibly be the Jewish way of communicating to the early Quranic redactors showing them that Jesus is illegitimate, he is not the Son of God, but the son of a Roman Solider, the son of a woman, the son of a whore. Whatever theory one wishes to come up with, Issa does not come from the Hebrew/Aramaic for Yeshua, and hence Issa is not linguistically the same name as Yushua. 

Issa is therefore not the original name of Jesus, but is it a valid translation or expression of the name Jesus? From what we can tell the most plausible theory shows us this cannot be a valid alternative for the name Jesus, but even if we set aside the reasoning expressed above, we still have a grammatical inversion that cannot be counted for by the classic languages, because the other Semitic languages do not make this mistake in regards to Jesus own personal name. Because Issa and Jesus cannot be the original historical name of the figure in question, we know that Jesus is a translation via several languages, and Issa is either deliberately inverted or not even an attempted translation and therefore possibly connected with Esau.

In conclusion in the absence of any positive evidence to demonstrate Isa is a valid lingual off-shoot of Yeshua and since all the evidence appears in support of another theory we can conclude Isa is not a valid version or valid translation of the name Jesus in Arabic. We must therefore conclude Isa cannot be Jesus as they would have two entirely different names on a hypothetical birth certificate. This being something that any police officer of forensic expert or detective would immediately notice. An essential observation for the beginning of our accumulating collection of data. Conntinued investigative analysis upon the overall case study who is Jesus in Islam coming soon, Christ Willing.

Brother Denis Giron (fellow guest writer: NYCulturalPhysician) kindly pointed to me to two videos he has made on a similar note years ago. I completely recommend watching this now:

In the second video Denis presents two views and in our private correspondence he seems to find the second view more plausible or tenable.

After some further research, my bi-lingual friend and I came up with 3 additional reasons to doubt the second view, the idea that Issa is a valid translation through the medium of several languages like Jesus and James. Jai Habor summaries why this is not convincing:
"To rule out any further speculation that the Quranic 'Isa is any sort of rendition or result of language shifting from the Aramaic Ishoo', or Greek Iésous. Let's take a look at the theories people use to support these ideas. Theodor Nöldeke notes in his book, Mandäische Grammatik, that some words that start with yudh in certain dialects of Aramaic often start with an 'ayin in Mandiac. While this is an existing phenomenon in Semitic languages in general, does this explain the shift from the Aramaic Ishoo' to the Mandaic 'Iso? This theory does not account for the dropping of the final 'ayin from the Aramaic Ishoo' into the Mandaic dialect's 'Iso. Nor does this theory work for Arabic, because in Arabic you have both the initial 'ayin and the letter ya following it. So there is no exchange of an Aramaic yudh into an Arabic 'ayin, because the Arabic ya simply follows the 'ayin and is not lost at all or being exchanged.
How about Greek, could this theory possibly work to explain the Greek Iésous into the Arabic 'Isa? We actually do have examples of Greek names in the Qur'an, such as Elias and Yonus. Note that the final sigma �� at the end is not dropped in either rendition into Arabic. If the Greek Iota (Iota, corresponding to the Arabic ya) were morphed into 'ayin. Then it would still be highly unlikely that 'Isa would be coming from the Greek word Iésous because the ending of the word is not retained. We do not see the final sigma as we do in other Quranic words that are renditions of Greek."
Finally the orthographic form of Yasu'/Eshoo in Aramaic is clearly derived from the root form in Aramiac/Hebrew. In Neo-Syriac the yud is merely pronounced as ee and the ayin at the end is typically silent too. However some rare dialects 'ayin will be pronounce as Eshoo'a. Hence when going into Greek, you lose two of the sounds. the sh and 'ayin sounds but the orthographic form is completely preserved in Aramaic. 'Ayin appears to be deliberately retained as the first consonant on purpose in order to distinguish it from another common noun Ishoo. This would mean that the name Esau is being deliberately distinguished from Ishoo(Yasu') and thus should be rendered as Esau.

Esau in the Syriac Peshitta is spelled identical as Esau in the Hebrew, which in turn is identical to the Mandaic 'Iso'. Esau stays the same in all dialects of Aramaic. The name for Jesus in the Syriac Peshitta (a dialect of Aramaic) uses the same word, Ishoo', that is - yudh, shin, waw, 'ayin. Fascinating because this means that Jesus' name was truly preserved. In Hebrew Esau is 'Ayin, sin, vav. In the Syriac Peshitta (Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic) it's identical: 'Ayin, sin, waw which is the exact spelling of the word used by the Mandeans. So we have evidence that in Aramaic this is how they spelt Esau's name, not Jesus' name. The Diatessaron renders Yeshua exactly the same as the Peshitta and the Targums render both these names the same as the Peshitta. It's also worthy noting that this is a proper name. This isn't just some word. So, the Mandeans were probably mocking Jesus saying: Esau the Messiah, son of Mary. Because the word they spell is the exact spelling for Esau. Finally the examples that the German scholar Nöldeke provided in his book were words like "glory" which are not proper nouns assuming that a name isn't spelled with an entirely different pronunciation. A name would be reserved but perhaps not other nouns.

In conclusion Deedat was right (and wrong). The best evidence that Issa is the Arabic noun for Esau, but the name Esau is neither the original name of Jesus or a valid translation of Jesus name into the Arabic tongue.