Answering Islam Email Dialogs

Topic: False and/or misleading statements in the Qur’an

Received: 3 March 2005

Subject: Stop spreading wrong information about Islam

I was quite disappointed to see the numerous articles on your site spreading incorrect information about Islam. If the intent of the website is to purposely deceive people, then I have nothing to say. However, if you actually believe you are being honest, then I can't understand why you would post such one-sided, anti-Islamic information.

For example, I noticed the article called "Was Uzayr (Ezra) Called The Son Of God?" by Andrew Vargo. The author used logically flawed arguments or flat-out wrong information to suggest the Qur’an makes inaccurate statements. For example, he indicates the Quran "mistakenly" suggests Christians believe Mary is a part of the trinity. No where in the Quran is such a statement made! The trinity is only mentioned in two places in the Quran, and all it says about trinity is "Say not trinity. There is only one God."

In a separate verse, the Quran relates a story of Jesus in which he is asked whether he told people to worship himself and his mother. (It does not suggest Mary is a part of the trinity.) There are many Roman Catholics today who pray to Mary (and saints, for that matter), so there is absolutely nothing wrong with what the Quran states! The Quran does NOT state that Mary is one of three in a trinity as Andrew Vargo suggests.

Secondly, he claims that a statement by the Quran that the Jews believe Uzayr is the son of God proves the Quran is wrong. Unless someone knows about the beliefs and practices of EVERY Jewish community in history, even those who left no written records, how can anyone claim this statement by the Quran is a contradiction? I would not be surprised at all if there were heretical Jews throughout history who gave up monotheism. After all, didn't some Jews worship a golden calf even during Moses time?

If you truly believe the one-sided, false information posted on your site, at least respond to the arguments I have made. Whether you respond or not, at least we agree that God will judge us in the end, and he knows what is in our hearts!

Our answer:

Greetings …,

Thank you for your e-mail.

First, I assure you that the purpose of our website is not as you said, "to purposely deceive people". However, when you said: "we agree that God will judge us in the end, and he knows what is in our hearts!" - we could not agree more fully. And for this reason, we do take this website seriously. We genuinely care about your eternal destiny as well as the eternal destinies of the multiplied thousands of visitors.

Okay, your complaint seems to be primarily the following: Inaccurate information particularly from the article "Was Uzayr (Ezra) Called The Son Of God?" by Andrew Vargo. Here Mr. Vargo critiques the Qur’an for claiming that Mary is part of the trinity and for claiming that the Jews viewed Uzayr (Ezra) as the Son of God.

Before I am going to explain Mr. Vargo’s position, I would like to point out that while technically the verse in question (Surah 5:116) does not specifically or directly mention the trinity - which you seem to think is justification to thus accuse us all here of dishonesty and deceit etc - neither does the other verse that you mentioned (Surah 5:73) technically mention the trinity either. In fact, it is my contention that the word "trinity" is nowhere found in the Qur’an. Since you are wanting to apply such a strictly technical standard to the Qur’an in the case of Surah 5:116 then I must point out to you that Christians do not believe that God is "one of three", but rather God is One - not of three but in three. Technically there is a huge difference. In fact, we Christians are in full agreement with the later part of this verse, which says that "there is no God except one God."

At this point, if I were to use your same standard of judgment and turn them back on you, I would be fully justified to accuse you of being dishonest and purposefully deceitful even as you have suggested that we are. I hope that you are beginning to see the rashness and the silliness of your initial suggestions.

Okay, now that we're both on the same page, let's look at the actual verses in question.

Specifically of God, the Qur’an says this:

"They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three [in a Trinity]: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy) verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them." Qur'an 5:73. (Yusuf Ali Translation)

Now obviously, the word "Trinity" is not in the original Arabic. This was added in the English translation. It does say however, "One of Three".

Now, the verse which you refer to about Mary is this:

"And behold! Allah will say: "O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, ‘Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah?" He will say: "Glory to Thee! Never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, Thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, though I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden." Qur’an 5:116

So your complaint is that there is no reference to the "trinity' in 5:116. (Of course, again, neither was there in 5:73.)

The question that needs to be asked is this: Is it reasonable to conclude after reading these two verses together to assume that Muhammad thought that the trinity of Christianity consisted of these three: Jesus, Mary and Allah? My response to this question is that yes, it is very reasonable. Indeed, my opinion is substantiated by the fact I have had numerous Muslims from all over the world express to me that this is exactly what they thought we Christians believed. Where did they get this idea? From other Christians? No. They learned this misconception from the Qur’an.

Now, to be fair, let me say that I do not necessarily altogether reject the possibility that perhaps what Muhammad was referring to was a smaller group of Christians who seemed to have a heretical emphasis on praying to Mary, etc… But while you accuse us here at of somehow being dishonest and one-sided for seeing it this way, we are joined by many of your very brothers and sisters (Muslims) from all over the world who have read it the very same way. Because of what the Qur’an says, many Muslims wrongly think Christians believe in a trinity that consists of God, Mary and Jesus.

On a side note with regard to the practice of some Roman Catholics who "pray to Mary": While I am not a Roman Catholic, and do not condone such non-Biblical practices, the official explanation of the Roman Catholic Church is that they do not pray to Mary as they pray to God but simply ask Mary to pray for them, even as you might ask a fellow Muslim to pray for you if you needed the extra prayer. Again, I do not endorse this practice for the simple reason that it is not Biblical. It is fair to say that this practice has no more to do with genuine Biblical Christianity than the practice of Istikhara has to do with Orthodox Islam.

Moving on: With regard to the Qur’anic claim that "The Jews call Uzair [Ezra] a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the Son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; In this they imitate what the Unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: How they are deluded away from the Truth!" (Surah 9:30)

Let's think about this for a moment. What does the Qur’an say? It says "The Jews" - not "some Jews" or "a company of the Jews", but rather "The Jews call Uzair a son of Allah". And not only this, but it clearly juxtaposes "The Jews" to "the Christians". Thus it reads:

"The Jews call Uzair [Ezra] a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the Son of Allah…"

Does this preclude Muhammad from referring to a small sect of Jews? Again, I am not altogether adamant that it does. But I would also ask you to admit that it is clearly the natural reading that Muhammad was referring to Jews in general. In fact to read it otherwise requires a hard and very unnatural stretch. If Muhammad were only referring to a very small sect of Jews, it seems as though he would have (and certainly should have) stated this verse quite differently.

Let me illustrate. As you know, there are some gay Muslims groups. Now imagine if I had a web-site or a book where I simply made the statement: "Muslims believe that homosexuality is acceptable before God (halal)." And imagine that I did so without any qualification whatsoever. I doubt that you would accept this as being an accurate statement. In fact I'm sure that I would be accused by many of your fellow Muslims of being a blatant deceiver. And if my statement was juxtaposed to another statement that was accurate such as: "The Muslims believe that Homosexuality is acceptable before God and the New-Agers think that Homosexuality is acceptable before God." This statement would be even more difficult for me then to come back and say to you, "Oh no, I wasn't referring to all Muslims, but just to a few." You would say, "Yeah right! Sure!" You wouldn't accept my answer for a second. Do you see my point? If I were to address such a negative topic, then surely I must qualify my statement so as to not mislead anyone into thinking that I am including all Muslims.

Yet, Surah 9:30 says what it says. This verse is and will always be highly suspect to any objective observer who is concerned with the truth.

The other obvious question in this discussion is: Why is there not a single shred of historical evidence for any small sect of Jews who called Ezra a Son of God? Your response is to ask for proof that there wasn't. Of course to prove a negative is an impossible request. Prove to me that Big Foot (the giant hairy ape-man) isn’t real. You can't. And to ask someone to do so is foolishness. In this case, the burden of proof is not on my holy book, but on yours. Thus, the burden of proof is on you, not me. Just a thought.

I hope that my responses and my honesty are satisfactory for you. Feel free to respond to me if you have any further questions.

God Bless You!


Web editor's comment: For a detailed analysis of Sura 9:30 based on Arabic grammar, and a comparison of various English translations struggling with the problem of the factually wrong statement, refer to this article.

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