In this section of our Christian-Islamic studies, it will be our specific goal to contrast the Jesus of the Holy Bible with Isa (i.e. Jesus) of the Quran. This will be done in order to set forth both the similarities and the differences within the Bible and the Quran on the person of Jesus Christ.
We hope to proceed from there and further contrast the life of Christ with that of the Muslim Prophet, Muhammad ibn Abdullah. Our reason for making such a comparison is the Muslim assertion that in Muhammad one finds a perfect example of morality and virtue, making it incumbent on all mankind to imitate him as he is the last and the greatest prophet.
To the Christian, it is Christ who is the standard of moral and spiritual perfection. Hence, all who claim to be prophets and messengers appearing after him, must stand in his glorious light and pass or at least match the standards he has set.
Due to these preceding factors we felt that an examination of the lives of both these men was indeed necessary, in order to reach a conclusion regarding the question of which man should truly be set forth as a role model for all mankind.
With this in mind, we proceed to our investigation in the hopes that all who read this paper will do so with an open and inquisitive mind.
Behold! The angels said: "O Mary! Allah hath chosen thee and purified thee - chosen thee above the women of all nations." S. 3:42
(Note - Mary is the only woman mentioned by name in the Quran and is the only woman to have a whole chapter named in her honor, Surat Al-Maryam - "The chapter of Mary".)
The Quran also declares that she is preferred over all women of creation. Although the Quran highly honors Mary the mother of Christ, it does not provide the reader with a reason for such a high esteem.
"Behold! The angels said: "O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from him: his name will be the Messiah Jesus, The son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the hereafter and of those nearest to Allah.." She said: "O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?" He said: "Even so: Allah createth what He willeth: when He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, 'be; and it is!' " S. 3:45,47.
These passages confirm that Jesus is 1) Al Masih, the Messiah, 2) virgin born, 3) Kalimat Minhu - a word from God and one of those nearest to God.
Before elaborating on these points, a final passage will be quoted in order to provide further insight into the person of Jesus Christ.
Relate in the book (the story of) Mary... She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them: then we sent to her our angel (Ruh - spirit) and he appeared before her as a man in all respects... He said: "Mary! I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy (i.e. faultless) son (Ghulamin Zakiyyan)." She said: "How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?" He said: "So (it will be): thy Lord saith, 'That is easy for me: and (we wish) to appoint him as a sign (ayat) unto men (alamin) and a mercy from us: It is a matter (so) decreed." S. 19:16, 17, 19-21.
These verses further establish the fact that Jesus is 4) faultless and 5) a sign from God to the entire world, not merely to the Israelites. To summarize, we find that Jesus is:
There are common Islamic objections to the ascribed attributes of Christ, objections which are nothing but attempts to diminish the uniqueness of Jesus the Messiah in the Quran. In this essay, we will attempt to refute each objection point by point:
Although the Quran knows of only one Messiah namely Jesus, referring to him as such a total of eleven times, Muslims object to the uniqueness that this title implies by stating that there are many who are called messiah in the Old Testament - Tawrat, demonstrating the fact that there is absolutely no real significance in its usage.
The Hebrew word for Messiah, Mashiach, means to anoint. All prophets, priests and kings were consecrated to their respective positions by being anointed with the special oil that God commissioned the priests to prepare. (Exodus 30:22-31, 1 Samuel 10:1, 16:12-13) This would in a sense make them "messiahs". In fact, the king of Persia, Cyrus, is also called the mashiach of God in Isaiah 45:1.
Although it is quite true that many are referred to as being anointed by God, the Hebrew Scriptures point to one person in particular who was to be greater than all the rest and would ultimately be the supremely anointed one of God, more so than any other person; the Messiah, son of David:
"Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the Earth set themselves, and the rulers take council together, against the LORD and His Anointed (Mashiach), saying, 'Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.' He who sits in the heavens laughs; The LORD has them in derision, then He will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in His fury, saying, 'I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.' I will tell of the decree of the LORD; He said to me (the Messiah), 'You are my son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.' Now therefore, o kings, be wise, be warned o rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, with trembling kiss His Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way; For his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him." Psalm 2:1-11
"The LORD says to my Lord [i.e. David's sovereign]: 'sit on my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool'... The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, 'you are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.'" Psalm 110:1, 4
These two passages point out the fact that the one specific Messiah predicted to come would be the Son of God, the King of all the nations and the Eternal Priest of God who sits on the right hand of majesty forever.
The fact that Jesus is the one being referred to in these passages becomes quite clear when reading the Gospel accounts of the angel's annunciation to Mary:
"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, 'Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!' But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his Father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there will be no end." Luke 1:26-33
Not only does this account confirm the Quranic narrative of Mary's election over all women, but goes one step further by describing why she is so highly preferred:
"...and she (Elizabeth) exclaimed with a loud cry, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!'" Luke 1:42
Indeed Mary is so highly blessed due to the reason that she was to conceive the greatest man who ever lived; the Son of the Most High, the Savior of the World, Jesus the Messiah.
To the Christians, the virgin birth proves that the son of Mary was divine. Yet, to the Muslim Christ's virgin birth is comparable to Adam's creation without mother or father. Muslims point out that if Christians accept Jesus' virgin birth as evidence for his divinity then they should also accept Adam as being the son of God. After all, he was fashioned more miraculously than Christ, having been created without mother or father.
In Islamic understanding, Christ's conception in Mary's womb without the aid of a man was an awesome display of God's ability to create anything He chooses by divine utterance of His word, Kun Fayakun, "Be and it is." In the Islamic thought process the virgin birth does not and should not suggest that Christ was or is divine.
To point out the fallacy of comparing Adam's creation with the birth of Jesus, it must be stressed that it was necessary for Adam to be created without mother or father. The very fact that he was the only man on earth at the time of his creation renders it impossible for him to be conceived in the natural fashion of sexual reproduction. The same logic applies to Eve since she was the first woman.
However, why was it necessary for Christ to be conceived in such supernatural fashion, when God had already put into motion the natural reproductive cycle of human birth? Why did God override his own laws of sexual reproduction and intervene personally by causing Jesus to be born from a virgin?
If the Muslims argue that this was meant as a sign for mankind to illustrate God's awesome power and glory, the counter argument would be that this would represent a rather inadequate display of God's omnipotence. The reason for such inadequacy is that, unlike the empty tomb of Christ where people would go and observe that the body was gone, the virgin birth cannot be verified by conventional means. It must be accepted by faith alone since no one was present to see the angel's annunciation of the virgin birth to Mary.
The Quran itself testifies to the fact that there were those who even accused Mary of being unchaste. It was chiefly due to another supernatural act which her innocence was upheld:
"At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). They said: 'O Mary! Truly an amazing thing hast thou brought! O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!'
"But she pointed to the babe. They said: 'How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?' He said: 'I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet...'" S. 19:27-30
A. Yusuf Ali writes in his footnote to this story:
"What could Mary do! How could she explain? Would they, in their censorious mood, accept her explanation? All she could do was point to the child, who, she knew, was no ordinary child. And the child came to her rescue. By a miracle he spoke, defended his mother, and preached to an unbelieving audience." (1: p.750, f. 2482)
This still does not address the necessity of the miraculous birth of Jesus. To seek an answer we must refer back to the Bible:
"And Mary said to the angel, 'How shall this be, since I have no husband?' And the angel said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.'" Luke 1:34-35
The reason that the child is born of a virgin is because he is the Son of God and as such, he could not be conceived in the normal fashion. Had he been born otherwise he would have inherited a sinful nature like all the rest of mankind.
In other words, the virgin birth was a necessity only for the fact that this was the only befitting way for the King of glory to become incarnate, since he is God's unique Son.
Hence, Christians do not believe that the virgin birth makes Jesus the Son of God. Rather, they believe that because Jesus is the Son of God he had to be born of a virgin.
The typical objection to this title of Christ points out that the Quran calls Jesus, "a word from God" (Kalimat-Minhu) and not the Word of God. Those raising this objection, routinely cite S. 3:39 and 45 to confirm their argument.
Yet, in S. 4:171 we are told:
"O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the Son of Mary was a messenger of Allah, and His Word (Kalimatuhu), which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him (Ruhun-Minhu): so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not 'three': desist."
This verse, while stating that Jesus is but a messenger of God, emphatically states that He is the Word of God since the phrase Kalimatuhu refers to God's very own personal word. This passage also affirms that Jesus is a Spirit from God, which we will expound upon later.
To further substantiate the fact of Jesus being the word of God, we quote from Muhammad Ayub's book, The Quran and Its Interpreters, vol. II. The House of Imran:
Tabari, an Islamic scholar quotes on the authority of Al-Suddi a debate between the Christians of Najran and Muhammad in which Muhammad was asked what he thought of Jesus, to which he answered: "He is the servant of God, His Spirit and Word." (p.184)
Another scholar, Sayyid Qutb, stated that "Messiah" is an alternative expression for the "word, but in reality he (Jesus) is the word." (Ibid., p.151)
Dr. Hasbullah Bakry in his book Nabi Isa dalam Al-Quran ("Jesus the Prophet in The Quran") p.109 declares: "The Prophet Jesus is called 'Kalimatu Allah' (the word of God) because he is the incarnation of the word of God which was signaled to Mary to bear the Prophet Jesus."
Both religious communities agree that the word of God is eternally inseparable from Him, since God has always existed with the ability to express His divine will through His Word. This would make Jesus eternally inseparable from God, since the Quran, alongside the Bible, concurs that Christ is the Word Incarnate:
"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that has been made...The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth..." John 1:1-3, 14a.
Hence, to illustrate that Christ is merely a creature indirectly assumes that the Word of God is created. This is blasphemous, since both Muslims and Christians affirm that God has eternally existed with all His qualities and attributes. He has never been in need of acquiring anything since God is immutable.
Yet, by acknowledging this fact Muslims are forced to conclude that Jesus is the eternal Word of God. Being eternal would also imply that Jesus is both distinct from God and also God by nature. However, a Muslim cannot adhere to this fact since the Quran denies the deity of Christ. (S. 5:17, 72,75)
To avoid this obvious paradox, Muslims state that the meaning behind the title "Word of God" simply implies that Jesus was created by God's command; that he was a by-product of God's Word Kun Fayakun, "Be and it is." They cite S. 3:59 to prove their case:
"The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: 'Be': and he was."
Once again this argument is unfounded since if the title was given solely to imply the creation of Jesus, then as the verse suggests, Adam should also be called the Word of God. Yet nowhere in the Quran, or Hadiths for that matter, is Adam ever referred to by such a title. This illustrates quite conclusively that the title, when applied to Christ means much more than what Muslims would have Christians believe.
We are then logically forced to arrive at the same conclusion that the Apostle John comes to in the prologue of his Gospel; namely that Jesus, being the Eternal Word of God, is the complete manifestation of the Godhead in human form and the ultimate and final revelation of divinity. (John 1:1-3, 14, 18)
It is not the principle of Christ's sinlessness that is at question here, since both Christians and Muslims affirm his perfect life. The question revolves around whether Jesus is the only prophet who is without sin.
In Islamic understanding, all prophets are sinless as it would not be befitting to the majesty of God to have messengers commit gross sins. After all, the prophets are thought of as examples for all others to follow.
Although this sounds quite logical, for it to be true we must find verification of it in the Quran and authentic Hadiths. The Quran surprisingly however, rather than affirming the sinless nature of God's messengers, actually emphasizes their need for forgiveness and cleansing from impurities! A listing of the prophets and the Suras will be given below to aid in illustrating this point beyond the shadow of a doubt:
Adam and Eve S. 2:36; 7:22-23
Noah S. 11:45-47
Abraham S. 26:82
Moses S. 28:15-16
David S. 38:24-25
Solomon S. 38:34
Jonah S. 37:142; 21:87
Zechariah S. 3:40-41
(Note - Most Islamic commentators presume that Zechariah's request for a sign as confirmation for the birth of John implies doubt on Zechariah's part, and hence are at pains to explain it away. [2: p.112])
Muhammad S. 4:102-107; 9:43; 40:55; 48:1-2; 80:1-10
Two arguments are naturally brought out in order to refute the obvious implications of the passages, namely that Jesus Christ is the greatest of all prophets and men.
The first objection is in regard to Muhammad's need for forgiveness for his sins. Muslims state that when the Quran mentions Muhammad as being a sinner, it is in actuality making reference to the Muslim community through Muhammad. This they claim, has nothing to do with the prophet of Islam. However, a single verse from the Quran blows this theory away completely:
"Know that there is no deity but God. Implore Him to forgive your (Muhammad) sins and to forgive the true believers, men and women." S. 47:19 (N. J. Dawood's Translation)
Both Muhammad and the Muslims are told to repent of their sins, conclusively illustrating that Muhammad was in need of forgiveness apart from the believers. The Hadith itself bears witness that Muhammad was a sinner:
According to Anas, the Prophet said, "At the judgment Day the believers will assemble and will say, 'Let us ask someone to intercede for us.' They will go and find Adam, and say to him, "you are the Father of mankind; God has created you with His hand, He has taught the angels to kneel before you, and He has taught you the names of all things. Intercede to the Lord on our behalf in order that He may deliver us from our predicament.' He will reply, 'I am not the one you are needing. Go and find Noah; He is the first messenger whom God sent to mankind.' They will find Noah, and he will say, 'I am not the one you need.' He will remind them that he asked the Lord about things of which he could have no knowledge, and he would be ashamed to intercede for them. 'Go,' he will say to them, 'and find the Friend of the Merciful [Abraham].' They will do as they are bid, and the latter will say, 'Go and ask Moses, this worshipper to whom God has an addressed word and to whom He has given the Torah.' They will go and find Moses, and he will say to them, 'I am not he whom you need.' He will tell them that he killed a man who was not guilty, and that he is ashamed before his Lord. The he arranges for them to approach Jesus, the worshipper of God and His messenger, the Word of God and the Spirit of God. But Jesus will say to them, 'I am not the one whom you need; go and find Muhammad (God bless and preserve him!); he is the servant for whom God has pardoned all sins, past and future. Then they will come to me; I shall go to the Lord and ask Him if he will listen to me. He will grant me my request, and when I see Him, I shall fall down to my knees and remain there as long it pleases Him. Then He will say to me, 'Look up! Ask and you shall receive; speak and you will be heard; intercede and your intercession will be granted...'" (Bukhari, Mishkat al-Masabih, Book 23, chp.12)
Not only is Christ the only sinless person amongst all the prophets mentioned in this tradition, but we have Muhammad once again confirming that Jesus is THE Word and Spirit of God and not just a word or spirit from him.
Accordingly, the story as recorded in the Mishkat registers the prophets' sins as the reason for their rejection as intercessors for the people.
This complicates the matter further, as we see that Muhammad is also a sinner in need of forgiveness for his own faults. This would nullify the idea of Muhammad being an intercessor for his people. The Quran agrees:
"... Every soul gathers the result of its acts on none but itself. No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another. You goal in the end is towards God. He will tell you the truth of the things wherein you disputed." S. 6:164 (see also 17:15; 35:18; 39:7; 53:38)
In other words, a person burdened with sin cannot bear another man's transgressions. The Quran does acknowledge that God will permit the intercession of him who is the witness to the truth:
"...And those (false gods) whom they invoke besides God have no power of intercession. ONLY HE WHO BEARS WITNESS TO THE TRUTH and they know." S. 43:86
The only one who is not only a witness to the truth but is the very Incarnation of Truth is Jesus Christ:
"Jesus said to him' "I am the way and the TRUTH and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me." John 14:6
Due to the fact that Jesus is the Truth of God revealed to mankind and because he, among all men, is without sin, his intercession is welcomed and accepted. The short-comings of all the other prophets will prevent them from fulfilling this role:
"For there is one God and ONE mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." 1 Tim. 2:5 N.K.J.V.
"My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world." 1 John 2:1-3 N.K.J.V.
The second argument is made regarding many other prophets in the Quran who are never told to repent of any sins. This, it is hoped, would imply that they too are perfect like Christ. (i.e. John the Baptist. S. 19:13)
It is true that prophets like Elijah, Enoch and others are never mentioned as being in need of forgiveness, but does this imply that they are without sin? We must refer to Islamic traditions for the answer:
Tabari, citing Abu Hurayrah, states: "The messenger of God said, 'Every newborn of the children of Adam must endure the stab of Satan's [finger], which causes the child to cry out except Mary daughter of Imran and her son.'" (2:94)
Qatadah, as reported by Tabari is said to have heard that, "Jesus and his mother did not commit any of the sins which the rest of the children of Adam commit." (2:94)
The children of Adam would include Elijah, Enoch and John the Baptist showing that all have sinned, and have been touched by Satan with Jesus and Mary being the sole exception to the norm. This would certainly include Muhammad, since he too was a child of Adam.
In order to offset even these arguments, Muslim's counter by indicating that although the Quranic testimony affirms Muhammad's sins, these were small mistakes and not major crimes since the Arabic word used is thanb which always refers to minor errors committed. It is then argued that Muhammad's willingness to acknowledge his mistakes testifies to the authenticity of the revelation since no one concocting scriptures would portray himself in such a negative manner.
Our response to the first assumption is that the internal evidence within the Quran tends to suggest that the word thanb does not refer to small errors but to major sins committed as the following passages prove:
Aziz's wife is told in S. 12:29 to "ask forgiveness for thy sin (thanb)," because of her adulterous desires for Joseph.
Allah will throw people in "the Blazing Fire" because of "their sins (thanbahum)" which consisted of the rejection of "their Lord and Cherisher." (S. 67:6,11)
The people of Thamud were destroyed due to their slaughtering God's she-camel and rejection of the Prophet Salih, a serious "crime (thanb)." (S. 91:11-14)
Finally, Qarun's thanb led to his destruction, in the same way that other generations before him were destroyed as a result of "their sins (thanbahum)." (S. 28:78-81)
Furthermore, to say that because Muhammad was honest enough to acknowledge his sins proves inspiration is erroneous, since this would make any and all religious leaders equally inspired as many of them such as Buddha were also honest enough to acknowledge their shortcomings. This would make the Muslim assertion that the Holy Bible is corrupt fallacious since the Scriptures portray the Jews, the Prophets and the Apostles as sinners, demonstrating their honesty and care in preserving the text irrespective of how both the Christians and the Jews were presented therein.
This line of reasoning also commits a logical fallacy by confusing a question of fact with a question of relevance. It is irrelevant to the topic at hand to speculate on Muhammad's motives in confessing his sins since the issue which we are dealing with is Christ's uniqueness in relation to the other Prophets. The fact that all of the Prophets and Muhammad were sinners, clearly indicates to all open-minded individuals that Jesus is the greatest man who ever lived since he alone is without sin.
One Muslim writer, who is honest enough to admit that Muhammad was a sinner, is Muhammad Asad in his note on S. 48:2:
Lit., "so that God might forgive thee all that is past of thy sins and all that is yet to come" thus indicating elliptically, that freedom from faults is an exclusive prerogative of God, and that every human being, however exalted, is bound to err on occasion. (The Message of the Quran, p.785, n. 2 emphasis ours)
This would essentially be an indirect admission on the part of Asad to the Deity of Christ, since only the Creator is above making mistakes and yet Christ is faultless also.
In conclusion, we quote a final tradition which further illustrates the glory and superiority of Jesus the Messiah over all men:
"When Jesus was born, the devils came to Iblis [their chief], informing him that all the idols were found that morning lying face down. He said, 'something important must have happened; stay where you are!' He then flew out and searched the entire earth; but he found nothing. He searched the seas, but again to no avail. He flew out once more until he discovered Jesus born near a donkey's manger, with angels standing all around him. Iblis returned to the devils and said, 'A prophet was born last night. No female has conceived or given birth but that I was present at her side, except this woman. You must despair therefore of idols ever worshipped again after last night. You must attack the children of Adam henceforth quickly and stealthily.'" (2:94)
Faced with such solid evidence, should a person still refuse to acknowledge Jesus' uniqueness and superiority over all things, then indeed no amount of reasoning will convince him to the contrary.
To the Christian these stories are not required to confirm the preeminence of Jesus, since he has sufficient confirmation of this in the Holy Bible:
Of humanity we are told that, "None are righteous, no, not one." Since "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Romans 3:10, 23
But of Christ we read that, "He committed no sin, no guile was found on His lips," and that He is "like that of a lamb without blemish or spot." 1 Peter 2:22, 1:19
Jesus Christ is "a high priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens." Hebrews 7:26
He was "one who in every respect was tempted as we are, yet without sin" and because of this God "made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." Hebrews 4:15; 2 Corinthians 5:21
So assured is the sinless life of Christ that He could ask His enemies, "which of you can convict me of sin?" John 8:46
A question to which none could provide an answer. Inasmuch as Jesus lived under the most intense scrutiny of the Jewish leaders, not one single charge of misconduct could be levied against Him. This is food for thought indeed.
The universal ministry of Christ has been one of the most attacked aspects of his mission. Most Muslims believe that Christ was not a universal prophet like Muhammad, rather similar to prophets before him, he was limited to his own people.
To prove their point Muslims extract certain passages from the Bible, which on the surface would seem to confirm that Christ's mission was indeed limited to Israel (Cf. Matthew 10:5-6).
This practice however, stands in neglect of scores of other verses that show quite conclusively that the mission of Jesus was geared toward the whole of mankind. (The reader may refer to John 4:40-42 as one example of this fact.)
What the Muslims also seem to overlook is the point that the Quran itself bears testimony to the universal mission of Christ:
He said: "so (it will be): thy Lord saith, 'That is easy for me: and (we wish) to appoint him as a sign unto men and mercy from us.'" S. 19:21
And (remember) who guarded her chastity: "We breathed into her of our Spirit and We made her and her son a sign for all peoples." S. 21:91
Yusuf Ali states in two separate footnotes that Jesus was meant to be a sign for the world:
"Mary the mother of Jesus, chastity was her special virtue: with a son of virgin birth, she and Jesus became a miracle to all nations. This was the virtue with which they (both Mary and Jesus) resisted evil." (1:815, f. 2748)
"The mission of Jesus is announced in two ways (1) he was to be a sign to men: his wonderful birth and wonderful life were to turn an ungodly world to Allah: and (2) his mission was to bring solace and salvation to the repentant ..." (1:748, f. 2473)
Ar-Razi, commenting on the different types of elections, notes:
"As for the second type of election... it is that God granted her (Mary) Jesus without a father. He moreover, made Jesus speak as soon as he was separated from her, so that he testified to her innocence from all suspicion. God also made her and her son a sign for humankind." (2:126)
Ibn Ishaq cites Muhammad as affirming Christ's universal mission. Commenting on a letter that was written by Muhammad on the methods his companions were to use in evangelizing the nations, Ishaq quotes from it and says:
"God has sent me (Muhammad) to all men, so take a message from me, God have mercy on you. Do not hang back from me as the disciples hung back from Jesus son of Mary. They asked how they hung back and he said, 'He called them to a task similar to that which I have called you. Those who had to go a short journey were pleased and accepted. Those who had a long journey before them were displeased and refused to go, and Jesus complained of them to God. (Tabari. From that very night) every one of them was able to speak the language of the people to whom he was sent.' (Tabari. Jesus said, 'This is a thing that God has determined that you should do, so go.'
"Those whom Jesus son of Mary sent, both disciples and those who came after them, in the land were: Peter the disciple and Paul with him, (Paul belonged to the followers and was not a disciple) to Rome. Andrew and Matthew to the land of the cannibals; Thomas to the land of Babel, which is in the land of the east; Philip to Carthage and Africa; John to Ephesus the city of the young men of the cave; James to Jerusalem which is Aelia the city of the sanctuary; Bartholomew to Arabia which is the land of Hijaz; Simon to the land of Berbers; Judah who was not one of the disciples was put in place of Judas" (Sira Rasul Allah, p.653)
Not only does Muhammad testify to Jesus' universal ministry via his disciples, but also indirectly acknowledges Luke's account of the Holy Spirit coming upon the believers on the day of Pentecost, giving them the ability to communicate in all the different languages of the people at that time. (Acts 2:1-13)
Ishaq also affirms that Paul was commissioned by God. This forces the Muslims to not only accept the universal mission of Christ, but to also acknowledge the Pauline Epistles and Luke's writings as authoritative and inspired by God. Obviously, God would not inspire Paul or Luke in writing letters that are brimming with errors. Accepting these writings would then amount to an acknowledgment of the divinity of Jesus Christ the Lord.
To counter this charge, Muslims deny the inspiration of the Apostles, i.e., that the disciples of Christ were commissioned to write the inspired writings such as those found in the New Testament.
Again, this charge finds no Quranic support, but to the contrary, the Muslim Book testifies to both the authority and preservation of the Apostolic testimony:
"Behold! God said: 'O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to myself and clear thee (of falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith to the Day of Resurrection: Then shall ye all return unto me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute.'" S. 3:55
M. Pickhtall's translation of this verse states that God would be "setting those who follow thee above those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection."
And when I (God) inspired the disciples, (saying): Believe in me and my messenger (Jesus), they said: we believe. Bear witness that we have surrendered (unto thee). S. 5:111 M. Pickhtall
O ye who believe! Be ye helpers of God: As said Jesus the son of Mary to the Disciples, "who will be my helpers to (the work of) God?" Said the Disciples, "we are God's helpers!" Then a portion of the children of Israel believed, and a portion disbelieved: But we gave power to those who believed, against their enemies, and they became the ones that prevailed. S. 61:14
The Quran testifies that the Apostles were given the same inspiration (wahi) that the earlier Prophets and Muhammad afterwards were given. It also states that God would insure that the true disciples of Jesus Christ would prevail and dominate till the Resurrection Day. Since the Day of Resurrection has not arrived, this would mean that true Christianity still exists. This would also compel us to accept the Bible as authoritative and inspired since it is the only testimony given by the God-inspired Apostles to their followers, a testimony that Allah himself said would remain and prevail against the attacks of the unbelievers. For a Muslim to say that the Bible has been corrupted would mean that God failed to keep his promise and that the Quran is wrong.
Thus the Apostolic testimony recorded in the Holy Bible can be trusted, and it is within these inspired pages that the universal mission of Christ is confirmed:
"Again Jesus spoke to them saying, 'I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12
"As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." John 9:5
"... and I, when I am lifted up from the Earth, will draw all men to myself." John 12:32
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." John 3:16-17
After examining the qualities just presented, one still has not fully exhausted all the attributes and titles given to Christ in the Quran and authentic Traditions. Rather than listing all these qualities we will enumerate some of the most important ones and note the implications that they bear on the overall question of who Christ really is.
As mentioned earlier, both the Quran and Traditions refer to Jesus as the Spirit of God (Ruh-Ullah). While it is true that the title given to Christ in S. 4:171, "a spirit from Him" (Ruhun-Minhu), implies that there are others who could rightly be called spirits from God (i.e. Adam), two other passages make it clear however that Christ is the Spirit of God incarnate:
"And (remember) her who guarded her chastity; We breathed into her of our Spirit, and We made her and her son a Sign for all peoples." S. 21:91
"And Mary daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into (her body) of our Spirit; and she testified to the truths of the words of her Lord and of His revelations, and was one of the devout (servants)." S. 66:12
Al Qashani said, "Allah purposed to cleanse the body of Isa (Jesus) from inherent impurities and he was an incarnate spirit in an ideal body, he (Allah) cleansed his spirit and purified him from being influenced by natural instincts and environmental characteristics, so that he could be supported by the Holy Spirit on whose form he was." (3:12-13)
Ibn A'ta states, "The most excellent plants are those whose fruits are like Isa, the Spirit of God." (3:13)
Ibn Arabi's statement is perhaps the closest acknowledgement any Muslim has ever made in relation to Jesus' Deity: "Surely," he said, "He has no equal. He is the Spirit and the Son of the Spirit, and Mary is His mother." (Quoted by Robert Payne in The History of Islam, p.83)
When we keep in mind that God is a Spirit (c.f. John 4:24) and Christ is the Spirit and the Spirit's Son, this makes Christ God, the Son of God!
Ibn Abbas proclaims, "As it was the Spirit which was breathed into him and the Holy One is Allah, so he is the Spirit of Allah." (3:13)
M. A. Qazi in his Concise Dictionary of Islamic Terms, p. 57, relates:
"Ruh-Ullah - Spirit of God, A special title given by Prophet Muhammad (S. A.) to Jesus (A. A.)"
Nisaburi contrasts human beings with Jesus' unique relationship with God:
"The human spirit which is the viceregent of God in His earth is capable of receiving all the kinds of divine attributes, by virtue of its viceregency, even the power of creation, revivification, healing as well as all other miracles which are the result of this power. But because of its attachment to the body, which is made of the elements, and its being veiled by the darkness of the lusts of the two parents, it is prevented from receiving the lights of [divine] attributes until divine succor brings it out of darkness by means of right guidance and its own physical and spiritual potencies. Then would the Prophet manifest signs and miracles, and in the saint would appear the characteristics of divine favors (karamat). Yet because the spirit and clay of Jesus, which were brought forth from Adam's loins, were kept with God until He cast them into Mary - without their being tainted by the darkness of the lusts of the two parents, for which reason he was called the Spirit of God - he was capable of receiving the lights of the attributes from the beginnings of his being.
"Thus he spoke to the people in the cradle and was able to read and write the Torah and the Gospel without instruction. He was also able to revive the dead and heal the sick and perform many other miracles." (2:146)
There exists controversy however as to the Spirit's identity. Some Muslims believe that the Spirit is the angel Gabriel. They base this belief on several passages from the Quran:
When We change one verse for another (God knows best what He reveals), they say: 'you are an imposter.' Indeed most of them have no knowledge. Say: 'The Holy Spirit brought it down from your Lord in truth to reassure the Faithful, and to give guidance and good news to those who surrender themselves.' S. 16:101-102 Dawood's Translation
Your Lord is the mighty One, the Merciful. This is surely revealed by the Lord of the universe. The Faithful Spirit brought it down into your heart, that you might warn the mankind in Arabic speech. S. 26:192-95 Dawood
Say: 'Whoever is an enemy of Gabriel (who has by God's grace revealed to you the Koran as a guide and joyful tidings for the Faithful, confirming previous scriptures) ...' S. 2:97 Dawood
Since the Quran states that the Spirit and the angel Gabriel brought down the revelation, it would naturally be assumed that the Spirit and Gabriel are one and the same.
Yet, when Muhammad was asked the identity of the Spirit, he replied that his identity was known by God alone:
They ask thee concerning the Spirit (of inspiration). Say: "The Spirit (cometh) by command of my Lord: of knowledge it is only a little that is communicated to you, (O men)!" S. 17:85
At the same time however, there are verses that suggest that the Spirit is an eternal and inseparable personality within the being of God:
"But He fashioned him (man) in due proportion, and breathed into him something of His Spirit..." S. 32:9
"Behold! Thy Lord said to the angels: 'I am about to create man, from sounding clay from mud molded into shape; 'When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My Spirit fall ye down in obeisance unto him.'" S. 15:28-29
The passages above indicate that God imparts life through the agency of his Holy Spirit, making the Spirit the Agent of Life.
To say that the Spirit is of the created order would imply that God was devoid of the ability to impart life to his creatures, since it is through the agency of his Spirit that he gives life.
This suggestion is blasphemous since this implies a change in God's being. God does not change, and therefore does not acquire anything. He has eternally existed with all his qualities and attributes. In light of this fact, we are forced to conclude that the Spirit of God eternal:
Al Sayyid Abdul Karim Al Djabal, states that the Holy Spirit is not created, and what is not created is eternal and the eternal is God alone. (4:27)
Al Shaikh Muhammad Al Harira Al Bayyumi is in agreement; "The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God and the Spirit of God is not created." (4:27)
Therefore, If the Spirit of God is eternal and Jesus Christ is the Spirit, this makes Jesus eternal. Considering the weight of all the evidence, this conclusion is in fact inevitable.
Yusuf Ali noted that, "Whenever anyone offers his heart in faith and purity to God, God accepts it, engraves that faith on the seeker's heart, and further fortifies him with the Divine Spirit, which we can no more define adequately than we can define in human language the nature of God." (1: f. 5365)
In other words the Spirit is mysterious, divine and uncreated, things true only of God.
(Note - the Christians believe that based on the Bible, the Holy Spirit is not Jesus Christ, but a distinct yet inseparable personality from Christ. God is Father, Eternal Word and Holy Spirit.
The Father creates, bringing all things into existence through His Eternal Word, by whom He also reveals Himself to man. The Father imparts life into man and unites with him through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. [Genesis 1:1-3; 2:7; John 1:1-3, 14,18; 1 Corinthians 6:19]
God as creator, the Father - Hebrews 3:4. God revealed, The Son - His Word - Matthew 11:27; John 1:1; Revelation 19:13. God the giver of life, the Holy Spirit - Romans 8:4b,11; 2 Corinthians 3:6b)
The Quran portrays Jesus as the divine Creator and Author of life:
And Allah will teach him the Book and Wisdom, the Law and Gospel and (appoint him) a messenger to the children of Israel (with this message): "I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah's permission. And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead, by Allah's leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store." S. 3:48-49; 5:110
This is the closest the Quran comes to acknowledging the omnipotence of Christ. Christ is given a prerogative that is God's alone, namely the ability to infuse life into non-living matter by the breath of his lips. This power bears a profound resemblance to the manner in which God fashioned the first man:
And when thy Lord said to the angels: I am going to create a mortal of sounding clay, of black mud fashioned into shape. So when I have made him complete and breathed into him of My Spirit, fall down making obeisance to him. S. 15:28-29
From this we observe that Christ, similar to God, is a life-giving spirit. This fact is echoed in the Holy Bible:
"... The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam (Jesus) became a life-giving Spirit." 1 Corinthians 15:45
The implications of this passage on the divinity of Christ are so enormous that certain sects within Islam - such as Ahmadiyyah, have had to deny its literal interpretation in order to avoid the obvious.
The late Maulana Muhammad Ali of the Ahmadiyyah sect writes,
"... The act of khalq (creating) in the sense of creation cannot be attributed to any being except Allah. The Quran has laid the greatest stress upon this point. It again and again speaks of the Divine Being as the creator of everything, so that there is nothing of which any one else may be said to be a creator. And of those who are taken as gods by any people, it says in particular that they do not create anything, while they are themselves created (16:20; 25:3)." (Ali, Holy Quran, 1995 edition: f. 428)
What the Maulana is basically pointing to is that, attributing creative actions to Christ is to make him God, since God alone has the supreme power over all creation.
Muhammad Asad also agrees that to attribute creative powers to any human, is to make him divine. In regard to Muhammad's inability to perform miracles, he notes:
"... The repeated insistence in the Quran on the humanness of the Prophet is in tune with the doctrine that no created being has or could have any share, however small, in any of the Creator's qualities or powers. In logical continuation of this argument, the next passage (vv. 189-198), stresses the uniqueness and exclusiveness of God's creative powers." (Asad, The Message of the Quran, p. 233, n. 154 on S. 7:188; emphasis ours)
Hence, if Asad's assessment is correct then Christ is more than human, since he shares in God's exclusive powers of creation. This is the second time which Asad indirectly affirms Christ's Divine nature.
To avoid this implication, Maulana Ali makes the verse read as an allegorical statement:
"To understand the significance of this passage it is necessary to bear in mind that the chief characteristic of Jesus' speeches is that he spoke in parables and preferred to clothe his ideas in allegorical language... It is perfectly intelligible if taken as a parable, but quite incomprehensible as a statement of fact. If on the one hand a prophet's dignity is much above such actions as the making of clay birds, on the other hand the act of creation is not attributable to any but the Divine Being." (Ibid.)
For those Muslims who do believe in the literal interpretation of the passage, the argument is avoided by the statement that Christ could only create, heal and raise the dead by the permission of God.
Interestingly however, rather than this being a denial of Christ's deity, it serves to confirm to Christians the unique relationship that Christ alone has with God his Father.
Surely there are many prophets who have performed miracles. Moses and his staff turning into a serpent stands as an example of this statement. However, no prophet ever gave life to clay figures and no prophet ever contained life within himself to impart to others if necessary. Jesus Christ alone is the possessor of such a power.
It follows then to ask, why is Christ the only one who has been given the supernatural prerogative to impart life! Furthermore, why is it that Christ is the only prophet to have knowledge of the day of judgment as recorded in S. 43:59, 61?
For instance, there are narrations where Jesus is quoted as having knowledge of future events that the others do not have:
Then they evoked the matter of the Hour and referred it to Ibrahim but he said: "I have no knowledge of it." They turned to Musa but he said: "I have no knowledge of it." They turned to 'Isa and he said:
As for the time when it shall befall, no one knows it except Allah. But this is what my Lord has assured me [concerning what precedes it]. The Dajjal or Anti-Christ shall come forth and I will face him with two rods. At my sight he shall melt like lead. Allah shall cause his destruction as soon as he sees me. It will be so that the very stones will say: "O Muslim, behind me hides a disbeliever, therefore come and kill him!" And Allah shall cause them all to die.
People shall then return to their countries and nations. At that time Ya'juj and Ma'juj [Gog and Magog] shall come out. They shall come from every direction. They shall trample all nations underfoot. Whatever they come upon, they shall destroy. They shall drink up every body of water.
At long last the people shall come to me bewailing about them. At that time I will invoke Allah against them so that He will destroy them and cause their death until the whole earth will reek of their stench. Allah will then send down rain which shall carry their bodies away and hurl them into the sea.
I have been assured by my Lord that once all this takes place then the Hour will be as the pregnant mother at the last stages of her pregnancy. Her family does not know when she shall suddenly give birth - by night or by day. (End of al-Sham's addition) (Islamic Doctrines and Beliefs: Volume 1: The Prophets in Barzakh, The Hadith of Isra' and Mir'aj, The Immense Merits of Al-Sham, The Vision of Allah, Al-Sayyid Muhammad Ibn 'Alawi al-Maliki, translation and notes by Dr. Gibril Fouad Haddad [As-Sunna Foundation of America 1999], pp. 70-71)
The answer as to why Jesus is given all these privileges is recorded for us in the Bible:
"Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; For whatever He does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself is doing; and greater works than these will he show him, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. Truly, truly I say to you, the hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; For the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment. I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.'" John 5:19-30
We conclude that the reason behind Christ's authority to give life and to judge is that he is the eternal love of God and all must worship him as the Father's beloved Son. The following passages also confirm this fact:
"And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven saying, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am pleased.'" Matthew 3:16-17
"Father I desire that they (the disciples) also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world." John 17:24
The Father and his Son have existed in perfect love from all eternity, making them the object of each others love. From this unconditional love flows the grace and mercy towards humanity, which has been revealed at the cross of Calvary:
"He (Satan) has no power over me; but I do as the Father commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father..." John 14:30b-31
"In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as an expiation for our sins." 1 John 4:9-10
The Quran only acknowledges what the Bible believing Christians have always known, namely that Jesus is the resurrection and life:
"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life; He who believes in me though he die yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.'" John 11:25-26
One attribute of God is the ability to know the unknowable (i.e., omniscience). No man or creature is capable of having the knowledge of the things invisible and hidden. This the Quran bears witness to:
"Say: The unseen belongs only to God." S. 10:20
Astonishingly, the Quran attributes to Christ a function that belongs to Deity alone:
"...And I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a sign for you if ye did believe." S. 3:49
According to al-Tabari based on the authority of Ibn Ishaq, "When Jesus was nine or ten years old, his mother sent him to a religious school. But whenever the teacher tried to teach him anything, he found that Jesus already knew it. The teacher exclaimed, 'Do you not marvel at the son of this widow? Every time I teach him anything, I find that he knows it far better than I do.'" (2:142)
Again al-Tabari states, this time based on Said ibn Jubayr, "that Jesus would say to one of his fellow playmates in the religious school, 'Your parents have kept such and such food for you, would you give me some of it?'" (Ibid.)
Al-Suddi relates, "Jesus used to tell his fellow pupils what their parents ate and what they kept for them. He used to say to a boy, 'Go home, for your parents have kept for you such and such food and they are now eating such and such food.' As the parents became annoyed by this, they forbade their children to play with Jesus, saying, 'Do not play with that magician." (Ibid.: 142-143)
The Quran announces the birth of John the Baptist as a messenger sent to prepare the way for Jesus Christ:
"And the angels called to him (Zechariah) while he was he was standing at prayer in the sanctuary, 'God gives you glad tidings of John, confirming a word of God, a master, chaste man and a prophet, one of the righteous.'" S. 3:39 Mahmoud's Translation
That the word of God being spoken of here is Jesus, is almost unanimously held by all Islamic scholars, making John a witness to Christ.
Mahmoud Ayoub, citing Tabarsi states:
"Tabarsi argues that John was obligated by God to be a witness to the fact that Jesus was in truth the word of God and His Spirit." (2:109)
(Note - We once again find confirmation that Jesus is THE Word of God, not just a word.)
Zamakshari substantiates this by saying:
"It is related that John was the first to believe in Jesus. Jesus was called Word... because he came to being only by God's word. It was His saying, 'kunn' (be), and no other cause." (2:108)
What is more interesting though, is not the fact that John came as a confirmation to Jesus, but what he actually did when he was in the presence of Christ:
Qurtubi writes that when Mary conceived Jesus, her sister came to visit her during the time of her conception of John:
"The sister visited Mary and said, 'O Mary, do you perceive that I am with child?' Mary answered, 'Do you see that I am also with child?' Her sister went on, 'I feel the child in my womb bowing down to the child in your womb.'"
Qurtubi continues, "It is reported that she felt the fetus in her womb bow down with its head turned toward Mary's womb." (2:108)
(Comment - It is interesting to note that this tradition states that Mary and Elizabeth, the mother of John were sisters as opposed to being relatives as recorded in Luke 1:36.)
Qatadah, reporting on the authority of Ibn Abbas, declares essentially the same thing:
"John and Jesus were first maternal cousins. John's mother used to say to Mary, 'I feel the child in my womb bowing down in reverence to the child in your womb...'"
The bowing down to any one other than God in reverence is to commit shirk, association of partners to Allah, which is unpardonable in Islam.
The only way John's bowing to Jesus (while still a fetus) can be accepted is if Jesus was more than a messenger, being in actuality divinity clothed in humanity. Otherwise, John would be accused of committing shirk.
(Note - The Quran in S. 15:28-29, records God's request that all angels should bow in reverence to Adam, the first man, with Iblis refusing to do so. Two serious problems arise from these passages. First, why would God command the angels to do something which is unpardonable and unthinkable [namely, the bowing down to anyone besides God] when it was God himself who requested that none should do so?
Secondly, why was Iblis cast out for refusing to do something which was forbidden for him to do in the first place? After all, he was only following the command of La-illah Ill-allah - "there is none worthy to be worshiped but God.")
The Bible also records the incident of John leaping in the womb:
"...And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 'And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.'" Luke 1:41-44
Elizabeth gives a reason for John's joy. Mary was to conceive Elizabeth's Lord, and because Jesus is Lord of all, everyone must bow down in reverence to the Messiah:
"When they (the magi) saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him." Matthew 2:10,11a
"...And those in the boat worshiped him saying, 'Truly you are the Son of God.'" Matthew 14:33
"And behold, Jesus met them and said, 'Hail!', and they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him." Matthew 28:9
"And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted." Matthew 28:17
"Jesus heard that they had cast him (the blind man) out and having found him said, 'Do you believe in the Son of Man?' He answered, 'And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?' Jesus said to him, 'You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.' He said, 'Lord I believe'; and he worshiped him." John 9:35-37
"And again, when he brings his first-born into the world, he says, 'Let all of God's angels worship him.'" Hebrews 1:6
Because, "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:10-11
To avoid any notions of divinity being attached to the worship of Christ, Muslims counter by saying that worship here signifies intense love and respect, not the type of worship given to God which includes offering up prayers and supplications to the Creator. This assumption is erroneous on the basis that not only did believers pray to Christ but that Christ condoned and commanded them to offer up their petitions to him as they would to God:
"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of Me in My name, I will do it." John 14:12-14 N.K.J.V.
In Acts 7:59, Stephen the first Christian martyr, during the time he was being stoned, cried out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." God alone receives the spirits of men, indicating the fact that the first Christian community prayed to Jesus as one would pray to God.
This becomes more evident in the book of Revelation where John the Apostle was caught in the spirit and witnessed the inhabitants of heaven worshiping both God and Christ equally, implying the absolute Deity of both the Father and the Son:
"Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
'You are worthy, O Lord.
To receive glory and honor
And power; For you created
All things, and by your will they exist and were created.'"
Revelation 4:9-11 N.K.J.V.
Notice the similar fashion in which the inhabitants of heaven worship Jesus:
"Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying:
'You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For you were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.'
"Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice:
'Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!'"
"And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein saying, 'To Him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!' And the four living creatures said, 'Amen!' and the elders fell down and worshiped." Revelation 5:13-14
The evidence compels us to conclude that to worship Jesus is to worship God.
All creation is subject to the Laws of God. None can add or subtract from the divine decrees but must faithfully follow the commands established by the Creator. For a man to override God's command is blasphemy. Yet, we find Christ doing precisely this in Matthew 5:21-44 when after quoting the Law, he redefines it on his own authority by boldly stating, "But I tell you this..." This places Christ's authority on an equal level with God's, indicating equality in essence and nature.
The Quran itself bears witness to this Biblical fact:
"(I have come to you), to attest to the Law which was before me and to make lawful to you part of what was (before) forbidden to you..." S. 3:50
According to Wahb bin Munabbih, Jesus came to "relieve" the Jews "of some of the hardships" which the Torah imposed on them. (2:149)
Qatadah states: "The [Law] with which Jesus came was much more lenient than that which Moses brought. The Law of Moses made unlawful for them to eat the flesh of camel, the fat covering the stomach of an animal, and some birds and fish." (Ibid.)
These commands were made lawful by Jesus according to al-Qummi (Ibid: 150)
In the view of Ibn Kathir, the Quranic injunction indicates "that Jesus did indeed abrogate some of the precepts of the Torah." (Ibid : 149)
Indeed, the more one analyzes the Quranic portrait of Christ the more amazing it appears. In fact, if it were not for the Quran's denial of Jesus' divinity and unique Sonship in such passages as S. 5:72 and 9:30, one would be left with the impression that the Quran does in fact tend to suggest that Christ is both divine and human, two natures united in one person. Even the titles used of Christ in the Quran suggest this i.e., ibn Maryam (son of Mary) and kalimatullah (Word of God).
The title "Son of Mary" is equivalent to the Biblical "Son of Man," an epithet used by Christ in regard to his own person; whereas the title "Word of God" being a synonym for "Son of God." (cf. Mark 14:61b-62; John 1:18, 3:16)
Thus, Jesus Christ the man was limited to the extent of which all humans are limited. He hungered, thirsted, grew weary, slept and grew in wisdom and knowledge similar to all humans. Yet, as God's own Word and unique Son he is the Bread of life, the Living Water, the Sustainer of the universe, the Judge of both the living and the dead, the King of kings and the Lord of Lords. (cf. John 6:35, 4:10; Hebrews 1:3; John 5:26-29; Revelation 17:14, 19:16)
A common fallacy which Muslims commit is to attempt to disprove the divinity of Jesus by emphasizing the passages exposing Christ's human limitations. This is a fallacy of false dilemma i.e., that Christ cannot be God because he was also a man.
The Biblical teaching is that Christ is God who became man, uniting two natures in one Person. These two natures did not fuse together but rather remained distinct, yet inseparable, in the person of Christ. Hence, we see time and again that Christ could not do in his humanity what he could do in his divinity and vice versa, displaying a perfect manifestation of both natures in one person.
To finish with this aspect of our study, we would like to state that once the evidence has been objectively examined, one will surely arrive to the logical conclusion that Jesus is the Son of the living God, the Savior of the world.
(Note - The Quran also deals with the crucifixion and yet due to diverse opinions held by different Islamic sects, this subject will be addressed fully in a separate section.)
It is time to compare Muhammad, the prophet of Islam with Jesus Christ the living Savior. The Muslims believe that Muhammad is the last and the greatest of all the prophets. This naturally opens the door for comparison between him and Jesus whom most, if not all, agree is the standard of spiritual perfection.
We will quote the Quranic view and traditional Islamic statements on Muhammad and his life, contrasting it with the Biblical view of Christ. We will employ Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan's nine volume translation of Sahi Al-Bukhari, which most Muslims agree is the most authentic of all traditions put together.
According to the Bible one is not to believe every spirit that claims to come from heaven, but to "test the spirits to see whether they are from God." (1 John 4:1) The reason for this is that even "Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light," to deceive people from the truth of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:14)
That is why if even an angel from heaven should preach a totally different Jesus Christ in contradiction to the Bible, the eternal condemnation of God will be upon him. (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:8-9)
We find Muhammad receiving a totally different message from a spirit named Gabriel. This spirit denies the Lordship of Jesus Christ, his death on the cross for humanity's sins and his bodily resurrection from the grave. (cf. S. 5:72; 9:30; 4:157-159)
The spirit first revealed himself to Muhammad when the latter, aged 40, was meditating in a cave in the Hira mountains near Mecca. The spirit grasped him suddenly, squeezing him half to death commanding him to "Read," to which Muhammad replied that he could not. The spirit repeated this procedure two more times when on the third try Muhammad, from fear of dying, exclaimed, "What shall I read?" The spirit then replied:
"Read: In the name of thy Lord who createth. Createth man from a clot. Read: and thy Lord is the most bounteous, who teacheth by the pen, teacheth man that which he knew not." S. 96:1-5 Pickhtall
After this event Muhammad, terrified, ran to his first wife Khadija, shouting to her to cover him with a blanket for he was afraid that he was possessed by a jinn (i.e. demon). This experience was so traumatic that it caused him to contemplate suicide.
According to one source when some time had elapsed from this revelation, "he was overwhelmed by grief. He sometimes climbed Thabir Mountain or Ghar Hira in order to throw himself from their summits." (7: p.15, citing Al-Sira al-Halabiya and al-Quran al-Majid [emphasis ours]) Yet, the spirit would prevent him from doing so.
According to another biography, Ibn Hisham, Khadija decided to test the spirit:
"Would you please tell me when the spirit comes to you? When Muhammad told her of the spirit's arrival Khadija said, 'Muhammad sit on my left thigh.' Muhammad sat on her left thigh. 'Do you see the spirit?' she asked. 'yes.' 'Then sit on my right thigh.' Muhammad sat on her right thigh. 'Do you see the spirit?' 'yes,' he answered. 'Then sit on my lap.' Muhammad sat on her lap. 'Do you see the spirit?' she asked. 'yes,' he answered. Khadija uncovered a feminine part of her body while Muhammad was sitting on her lap. 'Do you see the spirit?' 'no,' he answered. Then Khadija said, 'Muhammad, that spirit is an angel, not a devil.'" (Hisham, Vol. 2, pp.74-75 emphasis ours)
Several questions need to be asked:
How could Khadija test the spirit when she herself was a pagan? Secondly, does uncovering a female body part prove that a spirit is angelic or demonic?
If this spirit was from God, why did he make a scientific error when he proclaimed that man was created from a clot? Professor Hassanein Muhammad Makhloof, on page 508 of his Dictionary of Meanings of the Words of the Koran, notes that the Arabic word for "clot," alaq, really means frozen blood. We note that this entire notion is an obvious scientific error, as Dr. William Campbell, a medical doctor confirms:
As every reader who has studied human reproduction will realize, there is no state as a clot during the formation of a fetus, thus this is a major scientific problem. (8: pp.16-17 emphasis ours)
The spirit also contradicted himself stating at one time that man was created from a clot and at another time from clay. (cf. S. 96:1-5; 38:71-72)
"So he (Gabriel) came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face... but he touched me, and set me upright..." Daniel 8:16-18 K.J.V.
"Do not be afraid Zacharias... I am Gabriel that stand in the presence of God." Luke 1:13,19 K.J.V.
Gabriel also appeared to Mary who became greatly troubled. He went on to say to her, "Do not be afraid Mary." Luke 1:30 K.J.V.
All these factors indicate that the spirit who came to Muhammad could not have been sent from the only true and living Triune Godhead of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The fact that the spirit was not from God is solidified by Muslim biography Muhammad Husayn Haykal in his book The Life of Muhammad, as he speaks of the first encounter Muhammad had with the alleged angelic messenger:
"Stricken with panic, Muhammad arose and asked himself, 'What did I see? Did possession of the devil which I feared all along come to pass?' Muhammad looked to his right and his left but saw nothing. For awhile he stood there trembling with fear and stricken with awe. He feared the cave might be haunted and that he might run away still unable to explain what he saw." (Haykal, The Life of Muhammad [Indianapolis; North America Trust, 1976], p. 74)
According to Haykal, this was not the first time Muhammad had felt that he was possessed of the devil, only to be convinced otherwise by his wife Khadijah. For, "as she did on earlier occasions when Muhammad feared possession by the devil, so now stood firm by her husband and void of the slightest doubt," convinced him that he was called to be God's prophet to the Arabs. (Ibid., p. 75)
Hence, Muhammad himself originally believed that it was the devil who was manifesting to him as an angel.
Before continuing one erroneous notion needs to be quickly addressed, that being the idea that Muhammad never made sacrifices to idols, nor did he offer any type of worship to them. Unfortunately for the Muslim, the internal evidence within the Quran and Islamic sources refute such a notion:
"Did he not find thee an orphan and give thee a home? And found thee erring (or straying) and guide thee..." S. 93:6,7 Rodwel)
This verse acknowledges that Muhammad was erring, i.e., lost in the paganism of his ancestors before God guided him.
According to one Islamic Tradition, reported by Zaid ibn Haritha who was present at the event,
The Prophet slaughtered a ewe for one of the idols (nusub min al-ansab); then he roasted it and carried it with him. Then Zayd ibn Amr ibn Nufayl met us in the upper part of the valley; it was one of the hot days of Mecca. When we met we greeted each other with the greeting of the Age of barbarism, in'am sabahan. The Prophet said: "Why do I see you, O son of Amr, hated by your people?" He said, "This (happened) without my being the cause of their hatred; but I found them associating divinities with God and I was reluctant to do the same. I wanted (to worship God according to) the religion of Abraham..." The Prophet said, "Would you like some food?" He said, "Yes." Then the Prophet put before him the (meat of the ewe). He (that is, Zayd ibn Amr) said: "What did you sacrifice to, O Muhammad?"
"He said, "To one of the idols." Zayd then said: "I am not the one to eat anything slaughtered for a divinity other than God." (Al-Kharqushi, Sharaf al-Mustafa, cited in F. E. Peters, Muhammad and the Religion of Islam, pp. 126-127)
Ibn al-Kalbi also confirms the fact of Muhammad offering up a ewe to al-Uzza, "in accordance with the religion of the people." (Ibid., p. 127)
The Lord Jesus Christ taught, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matthew 5:27-28
And, "It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity , makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." Matthew 5:31-32
Behold! Thou didst say to one who had received the grace of Allah and thy favor: "Retain thou (in wedlock) thy wife, and fear Allah." But thou didst hide in thy heart that which Allah was about to make manifest, thou didst fear the people but it is more fitting that thou shouldst fear Allah." Then when Zayd had dissolved (his marriage) with her, with the necessary (formality), We joined her in marriage to thee: in order that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the believers in (the matter of) marriage with the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have dissolved with the necessary (formality) (their marriage) with them. And Allah's command must be fulfilled. S. 33:37
This verse was sent down to resolve the situation between Muhammad and Zayd Ibn Harithah, Muhammad's adopted son, and Zayd's wife Zaynab Bint Jash.
Muslim scholar Al-Baidawi relates the story in its fullest details:
"The prophet saw her (Zaynab) after he gave her to his son; he liked her and he said when he saw her, 'Praise be to God who changes the hearts. Zaynab heard this and told Zayd what she heard. Ever since Zayd hated to be with her. Consequently, he came to the prophet and said, 'I want to leave my wife.' The prophet said, 'Do you have doubts about her?' Zayd answered, 'No, actually I see but good things from her; except she mocks me.' The prophet said, 'Keep your wife.' When Zayd had performed the necessary formality of her divorce, and became bored with Zaynab, and needed her no more, he divorced her and was finished with her. The verse says, 'We gave her unto thee in marriage' meaning that the order of marriage was given without a marriage ceremony. This fact was supported by her saying, 'God arranged my marriage with the prophet, and you let your fathers take care of that for you.' This is a strong proof that Zayd showed strong faith after the inspiration by agreeing to divorce Zaynab, and giving her in marriage to the prophet. Then the prophet said, 'She only trusts you, go to her and engage her to me." (5:86-87)
The Christian, upon hearing this and comparing it with the teachings of Christ, takes this as utter blasphemy to actually think that God would,
It is also astonishing to read that Muhammad would actually ask Zayd to go and ask Zaynab's hand in marriage, adding insult to injury.
In contending with this problem, Muslims assert that Zayd was not Muhammad's biological son and thus Zayd having been adopted, the Prophet of Islam was in no way breaking a moral law!
Secondly, it is asserted that the command to marry his adopted son's divorcee was to set the example for the others to do likewise since it was considered immoral for a man to commit such an act prior to Islam.
Once again, these statements confuse a question of fact with one of relevance. It is irrelevant to say that Zayd was not Muhammad's biological son and therefore Zaynab was lawful for him, since the issue is one concerning the level of the spirituality behind the teachings of Muhammad and those of Jesus. It is here that the teachings of the Quran fail to compare with the moral perfection set by Jesus as evidenced through his life and preaching.
Also, it must be pointed out that adoption is strictly forbidden in Islam. This is based on S. 33:4-5:
"Allah has not made for any man two hearts in his (one) body: nor has He made your wives whom ye divorce by zihar your mother: nor has He made your adopted sons your sons. Such is (only) your (manner of) speech by your mouths. But Allah tells (you) the Truth and He shows the (right) Way. Call them by (the names of) their fathers: that is juster in the sight of Allah. But if ye know not their father's (names, call them) your brothers in faith, or your maulas. But there is no blame on you if ye make a mistake therein: (what counts is) the intention of your hearts: and Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful."
The question begged to be asked is how can the Quran send a message making adopted son's divorcees lawful for marriage when Islam forbids having adopted children? This strongly suggests that the passage on Zaynab was concocted in order to justify Muhammad's marriage to her.
Finally, this confirms the fact that the morality of the pagan Arabs at this point was vastly superior to Muhammad's, since it was considered abominable to commit such an act.
(Note - For web browsers interested in reading the orthodox Islamic position forbidding adoption of sons, search http://islamicity.org/dialogue/Q18.HTM and Q20.HTM)
Keeping on the subject of marriage, we read that Muhammad married Aisha "when she was six years old and consummated his marriage when she was nine years old." Bukhari Vol. 7:64
Bearing in mind that Muhammad was in his mid-fifties when he took Aisha to be his bride, we begin to see the differences which make Christ superior to the Prophet of Islam.
The biblical view of women is that despite the fact that in regard to position they remain subject to man within the family and church structure, they are of equal value to God. This necessitates the fair and respectful treatment on the part of husbands in relation to their spouses, which entails the point of laying down their lives for them:
"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." Ephesians 5: 22-33 N.K.J.V.
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:26-27 N.K.J.V.
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28 N.K.J.V.
Muhammad in the Quran, however, condones domestic violence in order to solve marital problems:
"Men are superior to women on account of the qualities which God hath gifted the one above the other, and on account of the outlay they make from their substance for them. Virtuous women are obedient, careful, during the husband's absence, because God hath of them been careful. But chide those for whose refractoriness ye have cause to fear; remove them into beds apart, and SCOURGE THEM: but if they are obedient to you then seek not occasion against them: verily, God is High, Great!" S. 4:34 Rodwell
The embarrassment of this passage has led Muslim scholars to redefine scourging as a light tap which leaves no mark. Some even appeal to Hadiths where it is reported that Muhammad disallowed wife abuse. Yet, unfortunately, other traditions will not allow for such forced interpretations:
"the above verse (i.e., 4:34) was revealed in connection with a woman who complained to Mohammad that her husband slapped her on the face (which was still marked by the slap). At first the Prophet said to her: 'Get even with him,' but then added: 'Wait until I think about it.' Later on the above verse was revealed, after which the Prophet said: 'We wanted one thing but Allah wanted another, and what Allah wanted is best.'" (Razi, At-tafsir al-Kabir on Q. 4:34)
In Bukhari 7:715 we find another woman who was beaten severely enough that a green bruise was found on her body.
Narrated Ikrima: Rifa'a divorced his wife whereupon Abdur-Rahman bin Az-Zubair Al-Qurazi married her. Aisha said that the lady (came), wearing a green veil (and complained to her (Aisha) of her husband and showed her a green spot on her skin caused by the beating.) It was the habit of ladies to support each other, so when Allah's Apostle came, Aisha said, "I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing woman. Look! Her skin is greener than her clothes!" When Abdur-Rahman heard that his wife had gone to the Prophet, he came with his two sons from another wife. She said, "By Allah! I have done no wrong to him, but he is impotent, and is useless to me as this," holding and showing the fringe of her garment. Abdur-Rahman said, "By Allah, O Allah's Apostle! She told a lie! I am very strong and can satisfy her but she is disobedient and wants to go back to Rifa'a." Allah's Apostle said to her, "If that is your intention, then know that it is unlawful for you to remarry Rifa'a unless Abdur-Rahman has had sexual intercourse with you." Then the Prophet saw two boys with Abdur-Rahman and asked (him), "Are these your sons?" On that Abdur-Rahman said, "Yes." The Prophet said, "you claim what you claim (i.e., that he is impotent) ? But by Allah, these boys resemble him as a crow resembles a crow."
We notice two things from this Hadith, 1) Aisha attests that Muslim women were suffering more so than any other women, and 2) Muhammad never once corrected Abdur-Rahman for beating his wife so hard as to leave a bruise on her body but focuses instead on his wife's allegations and motives.
In Sunan of Abu Dawud, #2141 we read:
Iyas Dhubab reported the apostle of Allah as saying:
"Do not beat Allah's hand maidens," but when Umar came to the apostle of Allah and said: "Women have become emboldened towards their husbands," he (the prophet), gave permission to beat them. Then many women came round the family of the apostle of Allah complaining against their husbands. So the apostle of Allah said, "Many women have gone round Muhammad's family complaining against their husbands. They are not the best among you."
And, in #2142 Umar reported the prophet as saying:
"A man will not be asked as to why he beat his wife." When Ash'ath Ibn al-Qays discovered Umar b. Khattab beating his wife, Umar stated: "Memorise three things from me, which I memorised from the prophet, who said: 'The man is not to be asked why he beat his wife...'" (Ibn Kathir on Q. 4:34, taken from a Hadith reported by Abu Dawood, al-Nisa'i and Ibn Magah)
In Bukhari 7:132 Muhammad said, "None of you should flog his wife as he flogs his slave and then have sexual intercourse with her in the last part of the day."
In other words, it is all right to flog women, only not as hard as slaves, or on the day a person decides to have intercourse with them, exposing harsh treatment of both women and slaves.
Another time where a woman was beaten occurred shortly after an incident involving Muhammad's youngest wife, Aisha. According to the traditions, after the Muslims were returning to Medina from the campaign of Banu al-Mustaliq, Aisha fell behind. Safwan Mu'attal ibn al-Salami found her stranded and brought her back to the camp. A rumor began to spread that Safwan and Aisha had committed adultery, causing Muhammad to distrust his young wife.
In order to get to the heart of the matter, Ali ibn Abu Talib decided to question Aisha's female servant in the presence of Muhammad about the latter's wife. Haykal notes, "The servant was called in and Ali immediately seized her and struck her painfully and repeatedly as he commanded her to tell the truth to the Prophet of God." (The Life of Muhammad, p.336)
According to Mishkat Al-Masabih's translator, in his footnote of Fatwa by Qazi Khan, that beating a wife mildly is "allowed in four cases (1) when she does not wear fineries though wanted by the husband, (2) when she is called for sexual intercourse and she refuses without any lawful excuse, (3) when she is ordered to take a bath (to clean herself) from impurities for prayer and she refuses and (4) when she goes abroad without permission of her husband." (Mishkat, Bk.1, section "duties of husband and wife," f. 138)
This is confirmed by Abu Dawud in his notes on #2141 and #2142:
"This shows that wives should obey their husbands," and, "This means that a man tries his best to correct his wife, but if he fails to do so, he is allowed to beat her as a last resort. This tradition never means that a husband should beat his wife without any valid reason."
Finally, the Arabic term for beat, idreb, is used a total of 12 times in the Quran, three in reference to sayings or proverbs and eight for a physical sense such as S. 8:12:
[And he commanded the angels:] "And give firmness unto those who have attained to faith [with these words from Me]: 'I shall cast terror into the hearts of those who are bent on denying the truth; strike, then, their necks, [O believers] and strike off every one of their finger tips.'"
This verse also points that God has made man superior to woman, not on the virtue of position, as is the case in the Bible, but due to man's superior qualities. This idea is restated in S. 2:28:
"...Women have such honorable rights as obligations, but their men have a degree above them."
Ibn Kathir commented on (Q. 4:34) states:
"Men are superior to women, and a man is better than a woman." (Ibn-Kathir, commenting on Q. 4:34)
Commentators such as Razi, Baidawi, Zamakhshari, and Tabari concur with Ibn Kathir.
Razi, commenting on Q. 4:11, said:
"(The males share is that of two females). Man is more perfect than the woman in creation, and intelligence, and in the religious sphere, such as the suitability to be a judge, and a leader in worship. Also, the testimony of the man is twice that of the woman. So that whoever is given great responsibilities must be given correspondingly great privileges. As the woman is deficient in intelligence and of great lust, if she is given much money, much corruption will be the result." (Razi on the Q.4:11).
He continues to say:
"The male is mentioned first in Q. 4:11 because the male is better than the female." (Ibid.)
The great Muslim scholar and philosopher Ghazali said:
"The most satisfying and final word on the matter is that marriage is a form of slavery (riq). The woman is man's slave and her duty therefore is absolute obedience to the husband in all that he asks of her person. As Mohammad himself said:'A woman, who at the moment of death enjoys the full approval of her husband, will find her place in Paradise'." (Ihya''Uloum ed-Din by Ghazali, Dar al-Kotob al-'Elmeyah, Beirut, vol. II, Kitab Adab al-Nikah, p. 64 emphasis ours)
In fact, according to Sahi Muslim, "Amongst the inmates of Paradise the women would form the minority." (Sahih Muslim, English translation, Kitab Al-Riqaq, chapter MCXL Hadith No. 6600 emphasis ours)
Commenting on the Qur'anic verse Q. 30:21 which states "And of His signs is that He created for you, of yourselves, spouses, that you may repose in them" Razi said:
"His saying'created for you' is a proof that women were created like animals and plants and other useful things, just as the Most High has said'He created for you what is on earth' and that necessitates the woman not to be created for worship and carrying the Divine commands. We say creating the women is one of the graces bestowed upon us and charging them with Divine commands to complete the graces bestowed upon us, not that they are charged as we men are charged. For women are not charged with many commands as we are charged, because the woman is weak, silly, in one sense she is like a child, and no commands are laid upon a child, but for the grace of Allah upon us to be complete, women had to be charged so that they may fear the torment of punishment and so follow her husband, and keep away from what is forbidden, otherwise corruption would be rampant." (At-Tafsir al-Kabir, Razi, commenting on Q. 30:21)
Bukhari reported the following Hadith:
"The woman is like a rib; if you try to straighten her, she will break. So if you want to get benefit from her, do so while she still has some crookedness." 7:113 This Hadith is classed as agreed upon.
The famous commentator Qortobi said:
"The woman was created so that man can rest in her ... for by her he gets rid of his sexual storm. The female sexual organ was created for men. For when Allah the most high said'(You) leave what your Lord has created for you of your wives?' Allah made it known that that place of the woman was created from man for man's sake. So the woman must yield it whenever the husband calls her. If she refuses then she is an oppressor and in a grave position. Sufficient proof of this was reported from Sahih Muslim in the Hadith that says'When a man calls his wife to his bed, and she refuses, the One Who is in the heaven will be angry with her until he [her husband] is pleased with her" (Qortobi, commenting on Q. 30:21)
"Had I ordered anybody to prostrate before any one, I would have ordered women to prostrate before their husbands on account of men's rights over the women ordained by Allah." (Mishkat al-Masabih, English translation, Section'Duties of husband and wife', Hadith No. 70. Reported by Abu Dawood, Ahmad, Tirmizi, Ibn Magah and Ibn Haban)
Modern Muslim writer, Ahmad Zaky Tuffaha, quotes the following Hadith:
"If a woman offered one of her breasts to be cooked and the other to be roasted, she still will fall short of fulfilling her obligations to her husband. And besides that if she disobeys her husband even for a twinkling of an eye, she would be thrown in the lowest part of Hell, except she repents and turns back." (Tuffaha, Ahmad Zaky, Al-Mar'ah wal- Islam, Dar al-Kitab al-Lubnani, Beirut, first edition, 1985, p. 176. It is also quoted in Al-Musanaf by Abu Bakr Ahmad Ibn'Abd Allah Ibn Mousa Al-Kanadi who lived 557H., vol. 1 part 2, p. 255)
In fact, the rights of the husband are so vast that "If blood, suppuration, and pus, were to pour from the husband's nose and the wife licked it with her tongue, she would still never be able to fulfill his rights over her." (Suyuti, commenting on Q. 4:34)
Hence, the revelation given through the Lord Jesus is vastly superior to the Quran.
The Quran teaches that men will be granted access to a paradise that is purely carnal:
As to the righteous, they will be in gardens and in happiness...(to them will be said,) "Eat and drink ye with profit and health, because of your (good) deeds." They will recline (with ease) on thrones (of dignity) arranged in ranks; and We shall join them (in the original: marry them) to companions with beautiful, big and lustrous eyes... And We shall bestow on them, of fruit and meat, anything they desire. S. 52:17, 19, 20, 22 (see also 4:57; 76:12-22; 55:54-56; 47:15)
Even more astonishing is this description:
"Surely for the godfearing awaits a place of security, gardens and vineyards, and maidens of swelling breasts (kawa'eb), like of age, and a cup overflowing." S. 78:33 Arberry (see also Dawood, Rodwell)
Ibn Kathir, one of Islam's premiere commentators, notes:
"Kawa'eb" - "swelling and firm, not sagging." (Quoted in Women in Islam, p. 30)
To imagine that God would reveal such a verse, wherein he would actually say that in paradise one will find women who literally have firm breasts is incredulous.
The idea of having sexual relations in Paradise has led some Muslims to interpret these passages metaphorically. This in turn has prompted the assumption that the description is merely a poetic attempt to describe that which is indescribable.
Unfortunately for these scholars, Muhammad will not allow for such an interpretation. In Sahi Muslim, no. 6793 and 6794, we are told:
"In Paradise...every person would have two wives (so beautiful) that the marrow of their shanks would glimmer beneath the flesh and there would be none without a wife in Paradise."
According to Ibn Kathir's commentary on S. 56:35-37, a Muslim will be given seventy specially created females with two of his earthly wives, for a total of seventy-two maidens in Paradise.
In Mishkat Al-Masabih, Muhammad indicates: "The believer will be given such and such strength in Paradise for sexual intercourse. It was questioned: O prophet of Allah! Can he do that? He said: 'He will be given the strength of one hundred persons.'" (Bk. IV, chp. XLII, Hadith no. 24; transmitted by Tirmizi who classified this Hadith as sound)
Even more amazing is this statement from Muhammad:
"The Prophet was asked: 'Do we have sex in Paradise?' He answered: 'Yes, by him who holds my soul in his hand, and it will be done dahman, dahman. And when it is finished she will return pure and virgin again.'" (Ibn Kathir's commentary on S. 56:35-37)
Kathir indicates that the word dahman means intercourse done with such shove and disturbance. (Ibid.)
To say that this is incredulous would be a wild understatement!
Christ's position in regard to sexual activity in paradise is clearly seen in the following refernce:
"Jesus said to them (the Jews), 'The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.'" Luke 20:34-36
Bukhari 5:369 records how Muhammad allowed Maslama to use outright deception to achieve his purpose of murdering Kab Ibn Ashraf. The tradition goes on to record the brutal method employed to behead Ashraf.
Another treacherous murder took place when Muhammad sent Umar ibn Adai to kill Asma bint Marwan, a poetess who wrote poetry insulting Muhammad. According to Nisa Muhammad (Muhammad's Women), p.102, authored by Muslim Sania Qur'aa, Adai "came to her at night and put away her baby (editor: she was nursing her infant) and killed her by the sword; then he went to Mohammed and Mohammed said, 'you've revenged God and his Apostle, Omeir.'" (see also Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, p. 243)
Jesus tells us quite plainly that one who uses deception to achieve a goal, especially if that goal is to murder, cannot possibly be from God:
"You (the Pharisses) are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies." John 8:44
"Fight those who believe not in God nor the last day... Nor acknowledge the religion of truth (Islam), (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay Jizya (tribute tax) with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued." S. 9:29
"Say to the desert Arabs behind: Ye shall be summond (to fight) against a people given to vehement war: then shall, ye fight, or they shall submit. Then if you show obedience, God will grant you a goodly reward, but if ye turn back as ye did before, He will punish you with a grievous penalty." S. 48:16
"Apostle! Rouse the believers to fight!" S. 8:65
"Know that Paradise is under the shades of swords." Vol. 4:73
"But into whatsoever city you enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, 'Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is nigh unto you.'" Luke 10:10,11 K.J.V.
"Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword die by the sword. Matthew 26:52
"For the Son of Man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." Luke 9:56 K.J.V.
What a marked difference between Jesus, the Prince of Peace and Muhammad Ibn Abdullah. Whereas Jesus came to save men by convicting them with the love of God, Muhammad came to force conversion through bloodshed and violence.
"If a suggestion from Satan assails thy mind, seek refuge with God; for he heareth and knoweth (all things)." S. 7:200
"Narrated Aisha: Once the Prophet was bewitched so that he began to imagine that he had done a thing which in fact he had not." Vol. 4:400
"And We have sent before thee no messenger or prophet but as he recited (a portion of Our message) Satan cast forth (suggestions) in respect of the recital. Then Allah abolishes what Satan casts forth, and Allah continues His revelations; and Allah is knowing, wise." S. 22:52 - Dawood
The great Muslim scholar Zamakhshari states in his commentary that this verse is referring to the occasion when "Satan substituted something in accordance with the wish which the messenger of God sheltered." (6:126)
In other words, Muhammad fell prey to Satan's interjections. Others who concur with Zamakhshari on what is now referred to as the "Satanic Verses", are Jalalen (commentary, p.282), al-Suyuti (Asbab al-Nuzul, p.184), Baidawi (commentary, p.447), Ibn Hisham (Prophetic Biography, pt.2, p.126) and Ibn Ishaq (Sira, pp.119-127).
This places Muhammad's prophethood in serious jeopardy. If Muhammad could not prevent Satan from influencing him and inspiring his recitation, how is a person to know which part of the Quran actually came from God and which part was caused by Satan's interjections?
Even more incriminating is this passage from S. 17:73-75:
"Indeed they were near to seducing thee from what We revealed to thee, that thou mightest forge against Us another (i.e., revelation), and then they would have surely taken thee as a friend. And had We not given thee strength, thou wouldst nearly have inclined to them a little. In that case We should have made thee taste an equal portion (of punishment) in this life, and an equal portion in death: and moreover thou wouldst have found none to help against Us!"
Compare this with Christ when Satan tried to tempt him:
"Then Jesus said to him, Be gone Satan!..." Matthew 4:10
In fact, Satan has no power against Christ:
"I (Jesus) will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world (Satan) is coming. He has no power over me..." John 14:30
The reason for this is that Christ's purpose in coming to us was to destroy the works of Satan:
"Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is the devil - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." Hebrews 2:14-15 N.I.V.
"The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil." 1 John 3:8b
And because Jesus has destroyed Satan's works, He can say to all who love and follow Him to take heart and do not fear, "that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 16:33
The Hadith exposes Muhammad's fear of the wild and of nature. For instance, Muhammad would seek God's protection from demons while answering the call of nature:
Narrated Anas: whenever the Prophet went to answer the call of nature, he used to say, "Allah-umma inni a' udhu bika minal khubthi wa khabaith [i.e., O Allah, I seek refuge with you from devils - males and females (or all offensive and wicked things, evil deeds and evil spirits etc.)]. Vol. 1:144
The Hadith also reveals Muhammad's fears of strong winds and eclipses:
Narrated Anas: whenever a strong wind blew, anxiety appeared on the face of the Prophet (fearing that the wind might be a sign of Allah's wrath). Vol. 2:144
Narrated Abu Musa: The sun eclipsed and the Prophet got up, being afraid that it might be the hour (i.e., Day of Judgement). He went to the mosque and offered salat (prayer) with a long Qiyam (standing), bowing and prostration that I had ever seen him doing. Then he said, "These signs which Allah sends do not occur because of the life or death of somebody, but Allah frightens with them Ibadahu (His slaves or His worshipers). So when you see anything thereof, proceed to remember Allah, invoke Him and ask for His forgiveness." Vol. 2:167
What a marked difference between Muhammad and the Lord Jesus:
"And in the fourth watch of the night he (Jesus) came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, 't is a ghost!' and they cried out for fear. But immediately he spoke to them, saying, 'Take heart, it is I; have no fear.' And Peter answered him, 'Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.' He said, 'Come.' So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, 'Lord save me.' Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying, 'O man of little faith, why did you doubt?' And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying to him, 'Truly you are the Son of God.'" Matthew 14:25-33 R.S.V.
"And a storm of wind came down on the lake, and they (the disciples) were filling with water, and were in danger. And they went and woke him (Jesus), saying, 'Master, Master, we are perishing!' And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, 'Where is your faith?' And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, 'Who then is this, that he commands even the wind and water, and they obey him?'" Luke 8:23a-25 R.S.V.
Whereas Muhammad had no control over nature, fearing wind and eclipse, Jesus Christ had supreme power over all the forces of nature, being the Lord of Creation and its sustainer.
The Quran is subject to change and abrogation:
"When We substitute one revelation for another - and God knows best what He reveals." S. 16:101
A few examples will be presented:
In S. 73:10, Muhammad is told to be patient with his opponents: "Be patient with what they say, and part from them courteously." (Revealed in the early Meccan period.) Yet, in Medina he is told to, "Kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from wherever they drove you out..." S. 2:191
In S. 29:45 Muhammad is told not to, "argue with the People of the Book (i.e. Jews and Christians), other than evildoers, only by means of what are better! And say, we believe in what has been sent down to us and sent down to you."
While in S. 9:29 God tells Muhammad to, "Fight those who do not believe in God and the last day... and fight the People of the Book, who do not accept the religion of truth (Islam) until they pay tribute (tax) by hand, being inferior."
Even more incredulous is the fact that Muhammad would replace the words of the revelation with suggestions given by his scribe, Abdallah ibn Sarh al-Amiri. According to al-Iraqi's Al-Sira,
The scribes of Muhammad were 42 in number. Abdallah Ibn Sarh al-Amiri was one of them, and he was the first Quraishite among those who wrote in Mecca before he turned away from Islam. He started saying, "I used to direct Muhammad wherever I willed. He would dictate to me 'Most High, All-wise; and I would write down 'All-wise' only. Then he would say, 'Yes, it is all the same.' On a certain occasion he said, 'Write such-and-such; but I wrote 'write' only, and he said, 'Write whatever you like.'" (Abd al-Fadi, Is the Quran Infallible?, pp.366-367; This tale is also affirmed by al-Baidawi and Zamakhshari)
It is unthinkable to have the message of God changed and replaced, since God is immutable:
"I the LORD, do not change." Malachi 3:6 N.I.V.
Contrasting this with the Gospel, we find that Jesus' words never change and because of this, the promises of eternal life will always remain steadfast:
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." Matthew 24:35
Jesus is "the same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrews 13:8
Because Jesus is immutable and his love for us will always remain, he can say to us, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Hebrews 13:5b
A Muslim can only hope for salvation, never knowing if his Lord will be pleased with him enough to allow him to enter into Paradise.
"But as for him who shall repent and believe and do right, perhaps he may be one of the successful." S. 28:67
"Oh, ye who believe, repent toward Allah, with a sincere repentance. It may be that your Lord will remit from your evil deeds and admit you to gardens beneath which rivers flow." S. 66:8
"Those only shall worship in the mosques of Allah, who believe in Allah and the last day and observe proper worship and give alms and fear none except Allah; and it might be that these are of the rightly guided." S. 9:18
Even those who are nearest in love to God (i.e. angels) can only hope for salvation:
"Even those (the angels and prophets) who are nearest. They hope for his mercy and fear his wrath." S. 17:57
In reference to hell, the Quran says, "Not one of you but will pass over it (original: through it). This is a decree which must be accomplished." S. 19:71
Muhammad himself was not guaranteed salvation:
"By Allah, though I am the Apostle of Allah, yet I do not know what Allah will do to me." Vol. 5:266
"Truly thou (Muhammad) wilt die, and they (Muslims) (too) will die. S. 39:30
This is why a believer is told to pray for Muhammad's salvation:
"God and his angels pray for the Prophet, and you who believe pray for him and ask for his salvation." S. 33:56
On the other hand, a Christian who has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is guaranteed eternal life,
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." John 5:24
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and none can snatch them out of My hand." John 10:27-28
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25-26
Jesus says to his followers, "Because I live, you will live also." (John 14:19 N.K.J.V.)
"Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also." John 14:1-3
"When Jesus had spoken these words, He lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, 'Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son that the Son may glorify thee, since thou hast given Him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom thou hast given Him. And this is eternal life that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." John 17:1-3
"Father I want those you have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory, the glory you have given Me because you loved Me before the creation of the world." John 17:24
"For whosoever calleth upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved." Romans10:13 K.J.V.
"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have eternal life in His name." John 20:31 N.I.V.
In fact Jesus does not need us sinners to pray for him since He is eternal life and our advocate with the Father:
"... the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaimed to you the eternal life (Jesus) which was with the Father and was made manifest to us..." 1 John 1:2
Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the truth and the life..." John 14:6
"My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:1-2
A final line of evidence which supports Christ's superiority over the Prophet of Islam, comes from Muhammad himself:
Narrated Abu Huraira: Two persons, a Muslim and a Jew quarreled. The Muslim said, "By him who gave Muhammad superiority over all the people!" The Jew said, "By him who gave Musa [Moses] superiority over all the people!" At that the Muslim raised his hand and slapped the Jew on the face. The Jew went to the Prophet and informed him of what had happened between him and the Muslim. The Prophet sent for the Muslim and asked him about it. The Muslim informed him of the event.
The Prophet said, "Do not give me superiority over Musa [Moses], for on the day of resurrection all the people will fall unconscious and I will be one of them, but I will be the first to gain consciousness and will see Musa [Moses] standing and holding the throne (of Allah). I will not know whether [Musa (Moses)] has also fallen unconscious and got up before me, or Allah has exempted him from that stroke." Vol. 3:594
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "Whoever says that I am better than Yunus (Jonah) Bin Matta, is a liar." Vol. 6:128
If Muhammad is not as great as either Jonah or Moses, then he cannot possibly be as great as Jesus Christ, since Christ is greater than both Moses and Jonah. Jesus was also greater than Solomon and the very temple of God:
"I (Jesus) tell you that one greater than the temple is here." Matthew 12:6 N.I.V.
"And now one greater than Jonah is here…And now one greater than Solomon is here." Matthew 12:41, 42
"But do not think that I (Jesus) will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would have believed me, for he wrote about me." John 5:45-46
In fact, all the prophets beginning from Abraham, rejoiced in the knowledge of the coming Christ, hoping this event would occur in their day:
"Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad." John 8:56 N.I.V.
"But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it." Matthew 13:16-17 N.I.V.
Let the readers decide for themselves who they will follow - Jesus Christ, the risen and Eternal Savior, or Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam.
Quotations of the Bible are from the Revised Standard Version unless noted otherwise.
Quotations of the Quran are from Abdullah Yusuf Ali unless stated otherwise.
The Quranic quotations have been provided in order to examine the Islamic arguments and positions on various topics discussed in this study. This usage does not imply endorsement of their inspiration.
Articles by Sam Shamoun
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