Responses to "Islamic Information"
Jesus on whom be peace in the Glorious Qur'an
Shabir's paper summarizes the Quranic portrait of Jesus. Although his summaries are accurate for the most part, there are certain points where he either did not delve into deeply enough or discarded completely. We begin our examination of his paper.
The Qur'an tells us a lot of wonderful things about Jesus. As a result, believers in the Quran love Jesus, honour him, and believe in him. In fact, no Muslim can be a Muslim unless he or she believes in Jesus, on whom be peace.
The Book of Mormon also tells us a lot of wonderful stuff about Jesus, yet Shabir would not embrace it as a revelation of God. In fact, no Mormon can be a Mormon unless he or she believes in Jesus. Furthermore, whereas the Quran commands Shabir to send peace and blessings upon Muhammad (cf. S. 33:56), there is no Quranic verse telling him to do so for other prophets. Hence, Shabir does not need to send peace upon Jesus since Jesus is our peace:
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be on His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
"I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but fear not for I have overcome the world." John 16:33
"For He is our peace. He has made us both one, and has broken down the hostile dividing wall between us." Ephesians 2:14
The Qur'an says that Jesus was born of a virgin, that he spoke while he was still only a baby, that he healed the blind and the leper by God's leave, and that he raised the dead by God's leave.
What then is the significance of these miracles? First, the virgin birth. God demonstrates his power to
create in every way. God created everyone we know from a man and a woman. But how about Adam,
on whom be peace? God created him from neither a man nor a woman. And Eve from only a man, but
not a woman. And, finally, to complete the picture, God created Jesus from a woman, but not a man.
Actually, the virgin birth is a rather unconvincing demonstration of God's power in that it is something unverifiable and must be taken solely by faith. Unlike Jesus' public miracles, no one was there when Mary received the news from the angel that she would conceive while still a virgin. In fact, it took namely another miracle to defend her integrity:
"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 God: He hath given me Revelation
and made me A prophet; and He hath made me Blessed wheresoever I be, And hath enjoined on me
Prayer and Charity as long As I live; (He) hath made me kind To my mother, and not Overbearing or
miserable; So Peace is on me The day I was born, The day that I die, And the day I Shall be raised up
To life (again)'!" Sura 19:27-33
Yusuf Ali notes,
"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. A child
came to her rescue. By a miracle he spoke, and defended his mother, and preached to an unbelieving audience." (Ali, The Holy Quran, f. 2482)
Hence, Shabir's reasoning behind the virgin birth cannot be sustained. Furthermore, whereas Adam and Eve could not have been born through the normal process of sexual reproduction due primarily to their being the first set of humans on the face of the earth, this was not the case with Jesus. The creation of Adam from clay and Eve from Adam was determined in part by their being the only humans at the time of their existence. Yet, why would there be a need for Jesus to be born of a virgin seeing that the process of sexual reproduction had already been established by God? The Quran does not give us an answer, yet the Holy Bible does:
"And Mary said to the angel, How can this be, since I have no husband? Then the angel said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and so the holy Thing which shall be born, will be called the Son of God." Luke 1:34-34
The reason for the virgin birth is that Jesus is the Son of God. Being the Son of God, this was the only befitting manner for him to enter time and space.
What about the other miracles? These were to show that Jesus was not acting on his own behalf, but that he was backed by God. The Qur'an specifies that these miracles were performed by God's leave.
This may be compared to the Book of Acts in the Bible, chapter 2, verse 22, where it says that the miracles were done by God to show that he approved of Jesus. Also, note that Jesus himself is recorded in the Gospel of John to have said, "I can do nothing of my own authority" (5:30). The miracles, therefore, were done not by his own authority, but by God's authority.
Actually, Trinitarians do not believe that Jesus functioned independently, doing whatever he pleased. Rather, Trinitarian teaching entails the belief that the three Persons of the Godhead do not work independently, but in perfect unity. The Godhead does all things as one, having one purpose. Hence, passages where Jesus indicates that he does nothing on his own affirms the perfect unity of the Godhead. This can be directly seen by what Jesus says to the unbelieving Jews:
"So Jesus answered them by saying, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, the Son is able to do nothing of his own accord; but He is able to do what He sees His Father doing. FOR WHATEVER THE FATHER DOES IS WHAT THE SON DOES IN THE SAME WAY." John 5:19
Jesus does nothing on his own but can do everything that his Father does. In order for Jesus to do the works of the Father he must be God since the Father does only what God can do. This becomes evident from what Jesus continues to say:
"Just as the Father raises up the dead and gives them life so the Son also gives life to whomever He is pleased to give it. Even the Father judges no one; for he has given all judgment entirely into the hands of the Son; So that all men give honor to the Son, JUST AS THEY GIVE HONOR TO THE FATHER. Whoever does not honor the Son, does not honor the Father Who sent Him... Believe Me when I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, The time is coming and is here now when the dead SHALL HEAR THE VOICE OF THE SON OF GOD, AND THOSE WHO HEAR IT SHALL LIVE." John 5:21-23, 25
Jesus makes claims that only God can make. Furthermore, if Shabir had read the entire New Testament clearly, he would have discovered that the Bible attributes the power to perform miracles to all three Persons of the Godhead:
"Do you not believe that I am in the Father and that the Father is in Me? What I am telling you I do not say of My authority, but the Father Who lives in Me does His works." John 14:10
"And Jesus summoned to Him His twelve disciples and gave them power over unclean spirits, to drive them out, and to cure all kinds of sicknesses... Jesus sent out these twelve, charging them, Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and do not go into any town of the Samaritans. But go rather to the sheep of Israel. And as you go, preach saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand! Cure the sick; raise the dead; cleanse lepers; drive out demons..." Matthew 10:1, 5-8
"But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." Matthew 12:28
This is precisely what a Trinitarian expects to find, passages affirming that all three Persons are able to do only what God can do. A Trinitarian also expects to find the very point these passages serve to prove, namely, that all three Persons perform the same functions together in perfect unity.
One thing that Shabir interestingly fails to comment on is Jesus' ability to infuse life to inanimate objects in precisely the same way God fashioned the first man and made him a living soul:
"... In that I make (Arabic- aniii `akhluqu) for you Out of clay, as it were, The figure of a bird, And breathe into it, And it becomes a bird By God's permission..." Sura 3:49
Compare Jesus' ability to create with the way God created Adam:
"Behold! Thy Lord said To the angels: `I am about To create man (Arabic- `inni khaaliqum-basharam) from sounding clay From mud moulded into shape; When I have fashioned him (In due proportion) and breathed Into him of My spirit, Fall ye down in obeisance Unto him." Sura 15:28-29
This echoes what the Apostle Paul said in reference to Jesus' ability to give life to others:
"Thus it is written, The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam (Christ) a life-giving spirit." 1 Corinthians 15:45
Hence, this is the closest the Quran comes to acknowledging the fact that Jesus is God since he is able to do what God alone does, create and give life.
What did Jesus teach? The Qur'an tells us that Jesus came to teach the same basic message which was taught by previous prophets from God—that we must shun every false god and worship only the one true God. Jesus taught that he is the servant and messenger of that one true God, the God of Abraham. These Quranic teachings can be compared with the Bible (Mark 10:18; Matthew 26:39; John 14:28, 17:3, and 20:17) where Jesus teaches that the one he worshipped is the only true God. See also Matthew 12:18; Acts 3:13, and 4:27 where we find that his disciples knew him as Servant of God.
While it is true that Jesus taught the worship of the one true God, it is not true that Jesus viewed himself simply as God's servant and prophet. He clearly viewed Himself as God's beloved Son:
"And He began to speak to them in parables: `A man PLANTED A VINEYARD, AND PUT A WALL AROUND IT, AND DUG A VAT UNDER the wind press, and built a TOWER, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey. And at harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, in order to receive some of the produce of the vineyard from the vine-growers. And they took him, and beat, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent them another slave, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and that one they killed; and so with many others, beating some, and killing others. He had one more to send, a beloved son; he sent him last of all to them, saying, "They will respect my son." But those vine-growers said to one another, "This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!" And they took him, and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard'... And they (chief priest, scribes, and elders) were seeking to seize Him; and yet they feared the multitude; for they understood that He spoke the parable against them. And so they left Him, and went away." Mark 12:1-8, 12
In this parable, the Owner represents God with the vineyard being Jerusalem (cf. Isaiah 5:1-7). The vine-growers represent the ruling Jewish class, and the slaves represent the prophets of God. Jesus' view of himself is not that of a slave, but the Owner's beloved Son and heir of the estate. This clearly affirms that Jesus felt that he was more than just a prophet and believed that he was greater than the rest of the prophets who were but God's servants.
Jesus also implicitly affirms his preexistence, since as the Son he was already present with the Father prior to his being sent to the vine-growers.
"While he was still speaking, lo, a shining cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, This is My Son, My beloved, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him." Matthew 17:5
In this passage, the Father himself affirms that Jesus is his beloved Son, the One who has been the eternal object of his love. This is confirmed by Jesus as well:
"Father, I desire that they also whom You have entrusted to Me, may be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory, which You have given Me for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." John 17:5
"...Again the high priest asked Him, Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I AM; and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right of Power, coming with the clouds of heaven." Mark 14:61b-62
Jesus' identification with the Son of Man who comes on the clouds is an allusion to the fulfillment of Daniel's Apocalyptic Vision:
"I saw in the night visions, and behold on the clouds of the heavens came One like the Son of Man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And there was given Him, dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom one which shall not be destroyed." Daniel 7:13-14
Jesus as God's Son sits at the right hand of the Father, returning in power to rule forever.
Finally, Shabir alludes to some biblical references with the implication that these passages agree with the Quranic view that Jesus was only a messenger. Since we have already dealt with the meaning of four of the citations elsewhere in our response to Ally's "Some Forgotten Sayings of Jesus" (cf. Mark 10:18; Matthew 26:39 on Jesus praying; John 14:28, 20:17), we will briefly comment on John 17:3, Acts 3:13 and 4:27. John 17:3 is a very important passage in understanding both the nature of salvation and of Christ:
"And this is eternal life; that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent."
The presupposition behind Shabir's use of this reference is that Jesus is not God but a servant of the true God, who in this particular context is the Father of Jesus. Since Jesus clearly distinguishes between himself and the true God, Christ cannot also be that true God. In order to understand the meaning of this citation it is essential that we quote the verses that immediately precede and follow it:
"When Jesus had spoken these things, He lifted up His eyes to heaven and said, Father, the hour is come. Glorify your Son, so that Your Son may glorify You. Just as You have granted Him authority over all flesh, so that He may give eternal life to all whom You have given Him. And this is eternal life; that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent. I have
glorified You down on earth by completing the work that You gave Me to do. And now, Father, glorify Me along with Yourself in Your presence as I had with You before the world existed." John 17:1-5
When the verse is read within context several things clearly stick out. First, Jesus states that he has authority over all flesh and is able to give eternal life to all whom God has given him. Secondly, Christ claims to have preexisted in heavenly glory alongside the Father even before the world was actually created. Yet, according to Isaiah 42:8 God does not give his glory to anyone:
"I am Yahweh; that is My name, and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to graven images."
This basically means that either Jesus was blaspheming or he is the true God, Yahweh. Furthermore, since Jesus also affirms that the Father is the true God, this implies that Yahweh is a multi-personal Being. Secondly, just as Jesus glorifies the Father as the true God, the Father also glorifies the Son as God:
"But as to the Son, He (the Father) says to Him, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of righteousness. You have loved righteousness and You have
hated lawlessness. Therefore God, Your God has anointed you with the oil of joy and gladness above Your companions." Hebrews 1:8-9
The Father also commands the angelic host to worship the Son:
"Moreover when He brings His firstborn into the world, He says, Let all the angels of God Worship Him." Hebrews 1:6
Thirdly, Jesus was man as well as God. As man, Jesus related to his Father as his God. Hence, what kind of God would the Father be to Jesus, a false or true One? Obviously he would be viewed as the true God, so it should come as no surprise that Jesus would address him as such.
Finally, according to Jesus eternal life is based on having a correct understanding of both the Father and the Son. This knowledge entails the belief in Jesus' Deity, otherwise salvation cannot be obtained:
"And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding that we may know Him who is true; we are in Him who is true, even in His Son. This is the true God and eternal life." 1 John 5:20
Since Shabir has clearly rejected this understanding of Jesus he has disqualified himself from eternal life. Our heartfelt prayer is that he repents of this and embraces Jesus as his Lord and Savior.
Shabir also cites Acts 3:13 and 4:27 to prove that the Apostles viewed Jesus simply as God's servant. What he conveniently leaves out is the context of these passages to get a better understanding of what the Apostles were actually saying:
"The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our forefathers, has glorified His servant Jesus Whom you delivered up and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had determined to
let him go. But you denied and rejected the Holy and Righteous One and demanded a murderer to be granted to you. But you killed the Author (Source) of Life, Whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses." Acts 3:13-15
In just this one passage, the Apostle Peter affirms that Jesus was handed over to Pilate by the Jews to be crucified, that Barabbas (i.e. "a murderer") was released instead of Jesus at the instigation of the Jews, that Jesus is both human and divine (i.e. "killed the Author of life" implying two natures) as well as the Holy and Righteous One (epithets implying that Jesus is sinless), and that God raised him from the dead to which Peter and the rest were eyewitnesses. Peter's message is the very heart of the gospel, and for Shabir to even use this verse to support the Islamic view is simply erroneous.
In regard to Acts 4:27, had Shabir read Acts 4:8-12 he would have found Peter again confirming the Christian gospel, as opposed to Islam:
"Then Peter filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, `Rulers of the people and elders, If we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a cripple, by what means this man has been healed, be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner.
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is not other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
We find that Peter, speaking by the Holy Spirit, heals a cripple through the name of Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. Peter not only confirms Jesus' death and resurrection, but this passage is thoroughly Trinitarian since we find the Spirit empowering the Apostle, Jesus healing the cripple, and God raising Christ. The three Persons are seen as functioning together in perfect unity, implying that all three are the one true God. Peter also indicates that Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy (in this case fulfilling Psalm 118:22) and that salvation only comes from faith in Jesus. This is precisely what a Trinitarian expects to find, but a Muslim does not want to discover.
The Qur'an tells us that some of the Israelites rejected Jesus, and conspired to kill him, but Allah (God) rescued Jesus and raised him to Himself. Allah will cause Jesus to descend again, at which time Jesus will confirm his true teachings and everyone will believe in him as he is and as the Qur'an teaches about him.
We agree with the above information with the exception of two points. Jesus does not return as a Muslim but rather as the King of kings and Lord of lords who shall destroy God's enemies:
"After that I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The One Who was riding it is called Faithful and True, and He passes judgment and wages war in righteousness. His eyes like a flame of fire, and on His head are many crowns; and He has a title inscribed which He alone knows. He is
dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and the title by which He is called is The Word of God. And the
troops of heaven, clothed in fine linen, followed Him on white horses. From His mouth goes forth a
sharp sword with which He can smite the nations, and He will shepherd them with a rod of iron. He
will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God. And on His garment and on His thigh He
has a name inscribed, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS." Revelation 19:11-16
Secondly, if by raising Jesus Shabir means that Jesus was resurrected from the dead and then ascended to heaven, we agree. But since Shabir does not believe Jesus was crucified (cf. 4:157), we must point out that whereas the Bible is clear that Jesus died and rose again from the dead, the Quran leaves one confused as to what actually happened to Jesus. The reason is that although the Quran denies the crucifixion, it seems to imply that Jesus did die before ascending to heaven:
"Muhammad is no more than a messenger: the messengers of which have passed away before him..."Sura 3:144
This verse indicates that THE MESSENGERS, inclusive, have passed away affirming that all of them have died. Since Jesus was a messenger, this affirms that he was also one of those who died.
"So Peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)." Sura 19:33
Compare this with what is said of John the Baptist:
So Peace on him the day he was born, the day he dies, and the day he will be raised up to life
(again)!" Sura 19:15
Muslims believe that John was born, died and will eventually be raised to life. Hence, this implies that Jesus also died, with the exception being that he was resurrected shortly after dying when God raised him to himself.
And He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me prayer and Zakat as long as I live." Sura 19:31
If Jesus has not died then he continues to pay Zakat in heaven! The only way for Jesus to be freed from his duty to pay alms is if he died before ascending.
Jesus is the Messiah. He is a word from Allah, and a spirit from Him. He is honoured in this world and in the hereafter, and he is one of those brought nearest to Allah.
Shabir would have been more correct if he had indicated that the Quran states that Jesus is actually THE Word of God, not just a word from Him:
"O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of God aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was a Messenger of God, and His Word (wa Kalimatuh), which he bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him (ruhum minh)..." Sura 4:171
Jesus is both God's very personal Word and a Spirit from him. Jesus is the only messenger to be called the Word of God and is the only messenger to be a spirit proceeding from him. Whereas believers have the Spirit from God strengthening them (cf. 58:22), only Jesus is a spirit from him. This implicitly affirms the preexistence of Christ since God's Word and Spirit are eternal.
Since the Quran clearly denies the deity of Christ, a Muslim cannot accept this line of reasoning. Muslims commonly respond that Jesus is called God's Word solely because he was created by God's command directly in the womb of Mary. This logic cannot be sustained since Adam was also created by the command of God and yet he is never called the Word of God:
"The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: `Be': and he is." Sura 3:59
The Quran does not explain what the significance of calling Jesus God's Word implies. For the answer we must turn to the Holy Bible:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We beheld His glory, the glory as the only-begotten Son, full of grace and truth." John 1:1, 14
Jesus as the Word of God is the only one who both fully knows and explains God to man:
No man has ever seen God at any time; the unique God, Who is in the bosom of Father, He has made Him known." John 1:18
"All things have been given over to Me by My Father, and know one knows Who the Son is except the Father, or Who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son may choose to make
Him known." Luke 10:22
Finally, Jesus is not just one of those nearest to God but the only way for man to draw near to God:
"Jesus answered him, I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by Me." John 14:6
"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men in
which we must be saved." Acts 4:12
To reject Jesus as the Son of God is to incur the wrath of God:
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge the
world; but that the world might find salvation through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged. But he who does not believe is judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God." John 3:16-18
"How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? For it was declared at first by the Lord, and it was confirmed to us by those who personally heard." Hebrews 3:3
Jesus was a man who spoke the truth which he heard from God. This can be compared with the
Gospel According to John where Jesus says to the Israelites: "You are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God" (John 8:40).
Jesus not only spoke the truth, but is the embodiment of truth:
"Jesus answered him, I am the Way, and the TRUTH, and the Life. No one comes to the Father
except through me." John 14:6
In fact, it is only through Jesus that one can know God intimately as a loving Father. Furthermore, Jesus is the only perfect and visible manifestation of the invisible God:
"Jesus replied, Have I been with all of you for so long a time and do you not recognize me yet, Philip? Any one who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say then, Show us the Father? John 14:9
In summary, we hopefully pray that Muslims will come to know God as a loving Father through a personal relationship with Jesus as their Lord and Savior. This includes Shabir Ally as well.
Responses to "Islamic Information"
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