Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

An Expert Taqiyyist Strikes Back Once Again

And Fails One More Time! Pt. 1

Sam Shamoun

Christian apologist and philosopher David Wood produced an excellent tract for Evangelists and Apologists to effectively share the Gospel and the Deity of Christ with Muslims titled, “Where Did Jesus Say, ‘I am God, Worship Me’?”.

The neophyte Sami Zaatari has attempted to reply to this tract by producing one of his own called, “Answering Missionary Allegations that Jesus claimed to be God”.

Not surprisingly, Zaatari’s tract is filled with gross errors and blatant distortions, and only confirms that what we have been saying about him is absolutely correct. This master taqiyyist has no business doing apologetics since he doesn’t have the intellectual acumen or integrity needed to address such vitally important issues.

In this series of rebuttals we are going to provide a thorough refutation to every single one of his points, beginning with the following assertion:

Is Jesus God because he is described as a “Light of the world” in John 8:12?

What our Christian friends have failed to realize is that just because you are given a name or description, that is a similar name and description given to God, does NOT make you equal or identical to Him.

It is Zaatari’s own theology which argues that to ascribe a unique, divine name or characteristic to a particular individual is to basically make him/her equal or identical to God. In Islamic theology, such attribution is to commit shirk in the doctrine known as Tauhid al-Asma was-Sifaat, e.g. to attribute one (or all) of God’s unique names or qualities to a creature is to commit the sin of ascribing divinity to someone other than Allah:

5. Maintaining the unity of Allah’s names also means that Allah’s names in the definite form cannot be given to His creation unless preceded by the prefix ‘Abd meaning "slave of" or "servant of”. Many of the Divine names in their indefinite form like Ra’uf and Rahim are allowable names for men because Allah has used some of them in their indefinite forms to refer to the Prophet…

But ar-Ra’uf (the One Most Full of Pity) and ar-Rahim (the Most Merciful) can only be used to refer to men if they are preceded by ‘Abd as in ‘Abdur-Ra’uf or ‘Abdur-Rahim, since in the definite form they represent a level of perfection which only belongs to God. Similarly, names like ‘Abdur-Rasool (slave of the messenger), ‘Abdun-Nabi (slave of the Prophet), ‘Abdul-Husayn (slave of Husayn), etc., where people name themselves slaves to other than Allah are also forbidden. Based on this principle, the Prophet forbade Muslims from referring to those put under their charge as ‘abdi (my slave) or amati (my slave girl). (Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, The Fundamentals of Tawheed (Islamic Monotheism) [International Islamic Publishing House, Riyadh, 2nd Edition: 2005], Chapter One. The Categories of Tawhid, pp. 29-32; bold emphasis ours)


2. Shirk by deification

This form of shirk in al-Asma’ was-Sifat relates to cases where created beings or things are given, or claim, Allah’s names or His attributes. For example, it was the practice of the ancient Arabs to worship idols whose names were derived from the names of Allah. Their main three idols were: al-Lat, taken from Allah’s name al-Ilah; al-‘Uzza, taken from al-‘Aziz; and al-Manat, taken from al-Mannan. During the Prophet Muhammad’s era there was also a false prophet in a region called Yamamah, who took the name Rahman which only belongs to Allah. (Ibid, Chapter Two. The Categories of Shirk, Shirk in al-Asma’ was-Sifat, p. 51; underline emphasis ours)

Zaatari himself believes this since this is what he wrote in one of his blog posts:

Tawheed is the essence of Islam, it is the core of Islam, it is what Islam stands for, AND IT IS THE REASON WHY ALLAH CREATED US. All prophets and messengers were sent with the message of Tawheed, the Quran itself is a book of Taweed, and those who have a firm and correct belief in Tawheed will indeed be the saved ones.

So therefore what is Tawheed, what does it mean, and how does someone correctly follow it? Well for starters you should know that Tawheed has been divided into three categories, and they are as follows:

Tawheed of Lordship (Rubbubiyah)

Tawheed of Worship (Ibaadah/Uluhiyyah)

Tawheed of Allah’s names and Attributes (Taweed ul-Asmaa was-Sifaat)

Each of the above categories are found within the Quran, they are not three categories simply based on someone’s desires or own thinking, rather the categories are all established within the Quran and the Sunnah…

And Tawheed al-Asmaa was-Sifaat is describing Allaah the Most High and naming Him with whatever He described and named Himself with, and with whatever His Messenger described and named Him with in the authentic narrations – and to affirm that for Allaah without resemblance (to the creation) or likening (to the creation), and without (false) interpretation (of any of that) or negation (of any of that). There is nothing like Him and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer. And may Allaah send prayers and salutations upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and his companions. (Categories of Tawheed (oneness of Allah), March 31, 2012; capital and underline emphasis ours)

{Sidenote: Here, the Muslim scholars acknowledge that their deity actually prays for Muhammad, as well as for Muhammad’s family and companions, i.e. “And may Allaah SEND PRAYERS and salutations upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and his companions”. It seems that these taqiyyists have no problem admitting such facts when they aren’t trying to lie or mislead non-Muslims about the true nature of their deity.}

Since the Quran refers to Allah being the light of the heavens and the earth,

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is as (if there were) a niche and within it a lamp, the lamp is in glass, the glass as it were a brilliant star, lit from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east (i.e. neither it gets sun-rays only in the morning) nor of the west (i.e. nor it gets sun-rays only in the afternoon, but it is exposed to the sun all day long), whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself), though no fire touched it. Light upon Light! Allah guides to His Light whom He wills. And Allah sets forth parables for mankind, and Allah is All-Knower of everything. S. 24:35 Hilali-Khan

And since the name “the Light” (an-Nur) happens to be one of the unique titles and qualities of God according to Muslim theologians,

An-Nûr: The Light

The light, guide, the One who illuminates; the One who is manifest, clear.

An-Nur is one of the Ninety-Nine Names. (Aisha Bewley, Divine Names)

94. Al-Nur
The Light (Gibril F. Haddad, Allah's Names and Attributes)

This means that to describe Christ as the Light of the world, or even as the True Light that had come into the world he created, as the NT documents do,

In Him was Life, and that Life was THE Light (to phos) of men. That Light (to phos) shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man named John who was sent from God. He came as a witness to testify about THE Light (tou photos), so that all might believe through him. He was not THE Light (to phos), but he came to testify about THE Light (tou photos). THE TRUE LIGHT (to phos to alethinon), who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was created through Him, yet the world did not recognize Him.” John 1:4-10

Or to refer to him as the heavenly Lord who dwells in light and who shall also be the Lamp of the new heavens and earth,

“As he traveled and was nearing Damascus, a light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. Falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ ‘Who are You, Lord?’ he said. ‘I am Jesus, the One you are persecuting,’ He replied. ‘But get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’ The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the sound but seeing no one. Then Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing. So they took him by the hand and led him into Damascus. He was unable to see for three days and did not eat or drink.” Acts 9:3-9

“As I was traveling and near Damascus, about noon an intense light from heaven suddenly flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, the One you are persecuting! Now those who were with me saw the light, but they did not hear the voice of the One who was speaking to me. Then I said, ‘What should I do, Lord?’ And the Lord told me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told about everything that is assigned for you to do.’ Since I couldn’t see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.” Acts 22:6-11

“The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because God’s glory illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.” Revelation 21:23-24

Is to basically identify him as God.

Better yet, since it is Christ that personally referred to himself as the Light of the world who gives illumination to all men,

“Then Jesus spoke to them again: ‘I am THE Light (to phos) of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12

“We must do the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” John 9:4-5

“Jesus answered, ‘THE Light (to phos) will be with you only a little longer. Walk while you have THE Light (to phos) so that darkness doesn’t overtake you. The one who walks in darkness doesn’t know where he’s going. While you have THE Light (to phos), believe in THE Light (to phos) so that you may become sons of light.’ Jesus said this, then went away and hid from them.” John 12:35-36

“Then Jesus cried out, ‘The one who believes in Me believes not in Me, but in Him who sent Me. And the one who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me would not remain in darkness.’” John 12:44-46

This basically proves that Jesus was making himself out to be God.

After all, the Holy Bible states that God is Light, in fact everlasting Light, and that he himself is the believers’ Lamp:

“Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him.” 1 John 1:5

Yahweh, You are my lamp; Yahweh illuminates my darkness.” 2 Samuel 22:29

“The sun will no longer be your light by day, and the brightness of the moon will not shine on you; but Yahweh will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your splendor. Your sun will no longer set, and your moon will not fade; for Yahweh will be your everlasting light, and the days of your sorrow will be over.” Isaiah 60:19-20

It further proclaims that God is the fountain of life that grants illumination by his Light in order that others might find life:

“For with You is the fountain of life. In Your light we will see light.” Psalm 36:9

Yahweh is my light and my salvation—whom should I fear? Yahweh is the stronghold of my life—of whom should I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

The inspired Scriptures even teach that God clothes himself with light as a robe:

He wraps Himself in light as if it were a robe, spreading out the sky like a canopy,” Psalm 104:2

Thus, it is simply inarguable that the language which the Lord Jesus and his followers used to describe him as the Light can only mean that they truly believed and affirmed that Christ is God Incarnate. Such descriptions could never be used of a creature, no matter how highly exalted.

In fact, apart from Jesus, not one of the several dozen prophets in the Holy Bible ever made a similar claim. It is not the way prophets speak. It would be blasphemy as it would usurp the place of God.

Zaatari’s arguments go from bad to worse, since he ends up turning Muhammad into a god besides Allah!

For example, when Allah is called the “light of the heavens and the earth” in the Qur’an, this has a completely different meaning and context to when the Prophet Muhammad is called a light:

O people of the Book! There hath come to you our Messenger, revealing to you much that you used to hide in the Book, and passing over much (that is now unnecessary). There has come to you from Allah a (new) light and a perspicuous Book (Qur’an 5:15)

This is like when the Prophet Muhammad is called a mercy to mankind, that doesn’t make him Allah, just because Allah is also known as the Merciful one.

There are several problems with Zaatari’s argument. First, appealing to a text where Muhammad is supposedly called light does absolutely nothing to undermine the fact that, according to Islamic theology, ascribing a divine characteristic of God to an individual is to attribute divinity to such a person.

Therefore, the only thing that Zaatari’s response establishes is that the Quran ends up deifying Muhammad, which in turn means that the Quran’s author(s) and/or editor(s) is/are guilty of committing the unforgivable sin of shirk for ascribing divinity to a creature,

Who has made the earth a bed for you and the sky a dome, and has sent down water from the sky to bring forth fruits for your sustenance. Do not knowingly set up other gods beside God. S. 2:22 N. J. Dawood

VERILY, God does not forgive the ascribing of divinity to aught beside Him, although He forgives any lesser sin unto whomever He wills: for those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God have indeed gone far astray. S. 4:116 Muhammad Asad – cf. Q. 4:48

And this was Our argument which We vouchsafed unto Abraham against his people: [for] We do raise by degrees whom We will. Verily, thy Sustainer is wise, all-knowing. And We bestowed upon him Isaac and Jacob; and We guided each of them as We had guided Noah aforetime. And out of his offspring, [We bestowed prophethood upon] David, and Solomon, and Job, and Joseph, and Moses, and Aaron: for thus do We reward the doers of good; and [upon] Zachariah, and John, and Jesus, and Elijah: every one of them was of the righteous; and [upon] Ishmael, and Elisha, and Jonah, and Lot And every one of them did We favour above other people; and [We exalted likewise] some of their forefathers and - their offspring and their brethren: We elected them [all], and guided them onto a straight way. Such is God's guidance: He guides therewith whomever He wills of His servants. And had they ascribed divinity to aught beside Him - in vain, indeed, would have been all [the good] that they ever did: [but] it was to them that We vouchsafed revelation, and sound judgment, and prophethood. S. 6:83-89 Asad

And yet, it has already been revealed to thee [O man,] as well as to those who lived before thee, that if thou ever ascribe divine powers to aught but God, all thy works shall most certainly have been in vain: for [in the life to come] thou shalt most certainly be among the lost. S. 39:65 Asad

Basically, Zaatari has managed to prove that the Muslim scripture has turned Muhammad into another god besides Allah, even though it goes out of its way to affirm that Muhammad was nothing more than a fallible, imperfect sinner who was uncertain of his own salvation:

May God pardon thee [O Prophet]! Why didst thou grant them permission [to stay at home] ere it had become obvious to thee as to who was speaking the truth, and [ere] thou camest to know [who were] the liars? S. 9:43 Asad

"Or you have a house of adornable materials (like silver and pure gold, etc.), or you ascend up into the sky, and even then we will put no faith in your ascension until you bring down for us a Book that we would read." Say (O Muhammad): "Glorified (and Exalted) be my Lord (Allah) above all that evil they (polytheists) associate with Him! Am I anything but a man, sent as a Messenger?" S. 17:93 Hilali-Khan – cf. Q. 18:110

Know, then, [O man,] that there is no deity save God, and [while there is yet time,] ask forgiveness for thy sins and for [the sins of] all other believing men and women: for God knows all your comings and goings as well as your abiding [at rest] S. 47:19 Asad – cf. 4:106-107; 40:55; 48:1-2; 80:1-10; 110:3

Say thou, [O Prophet:] "I am but a mortal like you. It has been revealed to me that your God is the One God: go, then, straight towards Him and seek His forgiveness!" S. 41:6 Asad

Say: "I am not the first of [God's] apostles; and [like all of them] I do not know what will be done with me or with you: for I am nothing but a plain warner." S. 46:9 Asad

Second, Zaatari is being deceptive at this point since he is fully aware that his own Muslim theologians make a distinction between attributing a specific title or quality in an indefinite or definite sense to someone, i.e. there is a difference between calling someone a light and addressing him as THE Light since the latter implies that the individual in question is being depicted as the actual source of that specific characteristic, as opposed to someone who derives that particular attribute from the source from which that quality originates.

In other words, the use of the definite article is meant to distinguish between origination and derivation, differentiating someone who happens to be the origin or source of a specific characteristic, from a person who derives that quality from another, particularly from the source itself. 

Notice, again, the words of Muslim scholar Bilal Philips:

5. Maintaining the unity of Allah’s names also means that Allah’s names IN THE DEFINITE FORM cannot be given to His creation unless preceded by the prefix ‘Abd meaning "slave of" or "servant of”. Many of the Divine names in their indefinite form like Ra’uf and Rahim are allowable names for men because Allah has used some of them in their indefinite forms to refer to the Prophet…” (Ibid, bold and capital emphasis ours)

Thus, there is a world of difference between calling Muhammad A Light and identifying Jesus as THE Light of the world or THE TRUE Light, since this implies that Jesus is the Source from which all illumination originates. However, Christ can only be the Source if he happens to be absolute Deity since God alone is the Source of all illumination. Everything and everyone else derives their light or illumination from God himself.

Third, Zaatari erroneously assumes that Q. 5:15 is actually calling Muhammad a light even though this is not the obvious or plain reading of the text. It seems more likely that the verse is actually referring to the Quran itself as the light which Allah sent down for the specific purpose of providing spiritual illumination to everyone that reads it:

O people of the Book! There hath come to you our Apostle, revealing to you much that ye used to hide in the Book, and passing over much (that is now unnecessary): There hath come to you from God a (new) light and a perspicuous Book, - Y. Ali

What we have here are not two distinct things, e.g. light and a plain scripture, but rather two descriptions of the same thing, i.e. the Quran itself is said to be both a light and a plain book.

That this is the more plausible reading is easily proven from the following verses which speak of the Quran as the light which Muhammad was sent with: 

Those who follow the messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel (which are) with them. He will enjoin on them that which is right and forbid them that which is wrong. He will make lawful for them all good things and prohibit for them only the foul; and he will relieve them of their burden and the fetters that they used to wear. Then those who believe in him, and honour him, and help him, and follow the light (al-noora) which is sent down WITH HIM: they are the successful. S. 7:157 Pickthall

A. L. R. A Book which We have revealed unto thee, in order that thou mightest lead mankind out of the depths of darkness into light - by the leave of their Lord - to the Way of (Him) the Exalted in power, worthy of all praise! - S. 14:1 Y. Ali

And thus have We inspired in thee (Muhammad) a Spirit of Our command. Thou knewest not what the Scripture was, nor what the Faith. But We have made IT a light whereby We guide whom We will of Our bondmen. And lo! thou verily dost guide unto a right path, S. 42:52 Pickthall

So believe in Allah and His messenger AND the light (wa’al-noori) which We have revealed. And Allah is Informed of what ye do. S. 64:8 Pickthall

Nor is this merely our understanding of the text, since this interpretation is adopted and defended by the following commentary:

[2] ‘A light and a plain book’: both mean the Qur’an. The conjunction ‘and’ (waw) here is known in Arabic grammar as an explicative apposition (atful-bayan or atfut-tafseer). The proof of it is the words of Allah in the next verse: yahdil-lahu bihi (Allah guides by it). If light and Book were two separate subjects, Allah would say yahdil-lahu bi-hima (Allah guides by them both), that is, Allah would use a dual pronoun instead of a singular pronoun. This is a textual evidence proving that light and Book mean the one and the same, and not that the light means the Messenger of Allah, and that the Book means the Qur’an, AS THE INNOVATORS WOULD HAVE US BELIEVE. The innovators DISTORT the meaning of these words to support their fanciful belief that the Messenger of Allah is noor min noorillah (a part of the light of Allah) and, hence, deny his humanity. In defense of their self-styled belief, they quote a hadeeth: “Allah created the light of Muhammad before He created the cosmos and later, with this light, did He create the whole cosmos.” This hadeeth does not exist in any collection of authentic hadeedths. Moreover, this fabricated hadeeth goes contrary to another hadeeth: “The first thing Allah created was the Pen.” – (Jami At-Tirmidhi, hadeeth 2155; Sunan Abu Dawood, hadeeth 4700). Allama Al-Albani, the renowned muhaddith, while commenting on this hadeeth, writes: “This hadeeth is authentic without doubt, a clear evidence disproving the widely circulated hadeeth: ‘The first thing Allah created was the light of your Prophet, O Jabir.’” – Ta‘leeqatul-Mishkat (Commentary on Al-Mishkat) 1:34. (An English Translation of Tafsir Ahsanul-Bayan, Commentary by Hafiz Salahuddin Yusuf, translation of commentary by Mohammad Kamal Myshkat [Maktaba Dar-us-salam, First Edition: June, 2010], Volume 1. From Surat Al-Fatiha to Surat Al-Maidah, pp. 584-585; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Hence, according to these Muslim scholars, Zaatari is nothing more than an innovator who unashamedly distorts the meaning of his own religious texts in order to support his fanciful interpretations!

As such, this text provides absolutely no support for Zaatari’s position and therefore fails to refute the NT evidence that, as far as Islamic theology is concerned, Jesus was indeed claiming to be God when he referred to himself as the Light of the world.

This concludes the first part of our rebuttal. Lord Jesus willing, the rest of our responses to Zaatari’s misleading claims to follow shortly.