Whilst reading the Quran I came across the verse: “Jesus calls his disciples and they confirm they are Muslims.” Since Muhammad and Islam were not around when Jesus was on earth how could his disciples be Muslims?
I presume you are referring to the following passage:
The miracle of the feeding of a large crowd
“Remember when I inspired the disciples of Jesus, “Believe in Me and My Messenger,” they said, “We believe, and bear witness that we have submitted ourselves to God’s will.” Remember when the disciples said, “Jesus son of Mary, can your Lord send down to us from Heaven a table spread with food?” Jesus said, “Fear Allah, if you are believers.” (Al-Maida: 111-112)
The term ‘Muslim’ means “to surrender, submit to the Divine will.” Everything in the earth and heaven submits to the Lord! They have no choice. This can be interpreted as follows: all things are made by Allah ﷻ and he has created a mechanism for their operation, they obey that. Inanimate objects follow the laws of Physics and Chemistry, gravity, laws of thermodynamics etc. Living things obey laws in their genome. Either as instincts or their biological needs. Humans are free to submit and obey God or refuse to carry out His will. He ﷻ says “the only religion acceptable to God is Submission.” Furthermore, God has always given the same message of submission to all prophets who were Divinely inspired, they only preached the same message, ‘obey God, worship God and submit to Him.’ So, we believe Jesus was a Muslim, Moses was a Muslim and so were all the disciples of Jesus, Peace be upon them all.
I hope this answers your query. May God help you and show you the straight Path.
This fatwa is written by Dr. Musharraf Hussain Al-Azhari