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06 Oct 2014 

Responding to a Muslim’s Explanation of the Quran’s Dual Natures

Sam Shamoun

As I had promised at the end of the following rebuttal (
*) I continue my reply (*) to Muslim dawagandist Bassam Zawadi’s “response” (*) to my refutation (1, 2) to his failed attempt (*) of trying to prove that the Trinity is logically inconsistent with the Lord Jesus’ teaching in John 17:3 that the Father is the only true God.

I had compared the Christian belief in the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus to the Islamic view concerning the nature of the Quran in order to show Zawadi (and Muslims in general) that there is nothing logically inconsistent with the Christian position. After all, Sunni Muslims believe that the Quran is the uncreated speech or word of Allah which means that the Sunni view actually posits two natures to the Muslim scripture since the book which contains it is part of creation, not eternal. Thus, one aspect of the Quran is uncreated whereas another aspect of it is created.

I further quoted various sources that readily acknowledged that the Islamic view of the Quran is similar to the Christian understanding of the Incarnation.
The difference is that Christians believe that God’s eternal, uncreated Word became flesh (Incarnation, from incarnatio [“in flesh”]) whereas Sunni Islam teaches that the uncreated speech of Allah became a book, what is sometimes called “inlibration” (“having been turned into a book” [inscripturation], from in libro [“in book”]).

I then argued that Zawadi is being inconsistent for attacking the Christian understanding of the Incarnation of Christ when he himself holds to a similar a view of the Quran.

Here is how Zawadi replied:

As I said before, the Qur'an in essence is uncreated and communicated to us through created means. It did not become a creation. It is not a creation. Christians don't merely say that God remained in His essence and simply communicated to us through the image of a man. No, they say that He became a man. Since Muslims do not say that Allah's divine attribute of speech became paper, ink, etc. and that it is only communicated through those means, the analogy becomes fallacious at best.

Christians believe that God's divine essence was in the man of Jesus Christ himself. But no where do Muslims believe that the divine attribute of God is in the book itself. It is only its message and information content that it is there. Anyone can write up the Qur'an on a piece of paper. That doesn't mean that he can transform an ordinary piece of paper into a divine piece of paper at any time. Sure, the paper could become holy in the sense that it contains the words of the divine, but not that it has actually become divine in and of itself. If that were the case then the Prophet (peace be upon him) would have taught us to worship the Qur'an or seek blessings from it by wiping it over our faces, etc
" (
Source)

Zawadi’s comments confirm what I have repeatedly said about his inability to understand the issues and why he isn’t qualified to address them. His statements exemplify why he needs to stop engaging in apologetics (unless his intention is to discredit Islam) since he has repeatedly shown that he is simply incapable of doing any serious critical thinking into these matters.

For instance, his assertion that the Quran did not become a creation shows that he either hasn’t pondered over the implications of what his sources say concerning the nature of the Quran, or if he has then he is simply being dishonest. Wanting to give him the benefit of doubt we will say that he hasn’t taken the time to seriously reflect on what Sunni Islam has claimed for the Quran.

With that said it seems that this is going to be another instance where we will need to bring out the implications of the traditional Sunni view of the Muslim scripture in order for Zawadi to see why there is an essential aspect of the Quran that is created.

First, the Quran cannot be what it is without it being inscripturated or written down. After all, the word Quran itself speaks to the issue of its inscripturation since it means reading/recitation. Thus, its inscripturation is an essential and necessary component of its makeup, otherwise why even bother calling it the Quran? Why not simply call it the Word of Allah? The reason is obvious unless you happen to be Zawadi … it is called the Quran because it is a book that believers are required to read and recite, which leads us to our second point.

The Quran testifies to it being a book which was sent down to Muhammad to read and recite:

They ask thy instruction concerning the women say: God doth instruct you about them: And (remember) what hath been rehearsed unto you in the Book (al-kitabi), concerning the orphans of women to whom ye give not the portions prescribed, and yet whom ye desire to marry, as also concerning the children who are weak and oppressed: that ye stand firm for justice to orphans. There is not a good deed which ye do, but God is well-acquainted therewith. S. 4:127 Y. Ali

Read that which hath been revealed unto thee, of the book (kitabi) of thy Lord, [without presuming to make any change therein]: There is none who hath power to change his words; and thou shalt not find any to fly to, besides him, [if thou attempt it]. S. 18:27 Sale

These are verses of the Book (al-kitabi) that makes (things) clear. S. 26:2 Y. Ali

These are verses of the Qur'an,-a book that makes (things) clear (al-qurani wa-kitabin mubeenin); A guide: and glad tidings for the believers,- S. 27:1-2 Y. Ali

And they say: Why are not portents sent down upon him from his Lord? Say: Portents are with Allah only, and I am but a plain warner. Is it not enough for them that We have sent down unto thee the Scripture (al-kitaba) which is read unto them? Lo! herein verily is mercy, and a reminder for folk who believe. S. 29:50-51 Pickthall

Notice that this passage clearly says that the book was sent down, i.e.
it was a book before it was sent down. Thus, the message was not merely put into a book AFTER it was sent down, but the book was sent down (and then written up by men as well).

These are Verses of the Wise Book (al-kitabi al-hakeemi),- A Guide and a Mercy to the Doers of Good,- S. 31:2-3

The revelation of the Book (al-kitabi), there is no doubt in it, is from the Lord of the worlds. Or do they say: He has forged it? Nay! it is the truth from your Lord that you may warn a people to whom no warner has come before you, that they may follow the right direction. S. 32:2-3 Shakir

The revelation of the Book (al-kitabi) is from Allah, the Mighty, the Wise. Surely We have revealed to you the Book (al-kitaba) with the truth, therefore serve Allah, being sincere to Him in obedience. S. 39:1-2 Shakir

Lo! Those who read the Scripture of Allah (kitaba Allahi), and establish worship, and spend of that which We have bestowed on them secretly and openly, they look forward to imperishable gain, S. 35:29 Pickthall

He is the One who sent to the gentiles a messenger from among them, to recite to them His revelations, purify them, and teach them the scripture (al-kitaba) and wisdom. Before this, they had gone far astray. S. 62:2

The Quran further says that Muhammad was sent to recite and read purified pages:

A messenger from Allah, reading purified pages (yatlu suhufan mutahharatan) S. 98:1-2 Pickthall

The Quran is also supposed to be a book which confirms the previous revealed books in the Arabic language so that Arabs could know the revelations of Allah (we say supposed since the Islamic scripture contradicts the previous Scriptures):

And when there came to them a Book (kitabun) from Allah verifying that which they have, and aforetime they used to pray for victory against those who disbelieve, but when there came to them (Prophet) that which they did not recognize, they disbelieved in him; so Allah's curse is on the unbelievers. S. 2:89 Shakir

It is He Who has sent down the Book (al-kitaba) to you with truth, confirming what is between his hands. And he sent down the Torah and the Gospel. Aforetime, as a guidance to mankind, And He sent down the criterion. Truly, those who disbelieve in the revelations of Allah, for them there is a severe torment; and Allah is All-Mighty, All-Able of Retribution. S. 3:3-4

And We have sent down to you the Book (al-kitaba) in truth, confirming the Book that is between his hands and witnessing to their veracity. So judge between them by what Allah has revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging away from the truth that has come to you. S. 5:48

And this is a Book (kitabun) We have revealed, blessed, verifying that which is before it, and that you may warn the metropolis and those around her; and those who believe in the hereafter believe in it, and they attend to their prayers constantly.
S. 6:92 Shakir

Moreover, We gave Moses the Book, completing (Our favour) to those who would do right, and explaining all things in detail, - and a guide and a mercy, that they might believe in the meeting with their Lord. And this is a Book (kitabun) which We have revealed as a blessing: so follow it and be righteous, that ye may receive mercy: Lest ye should say: "The Book was sent down to two Peoples before us, and for our part, we remained unacquainted with all that they learned by assiduous study." Or lest ye should say: "If the Book had only been sent down to us, we should have followed its guidance better than they." Now then hath come unto you a clear (sign) from your Lord, - and a guide and a mercy: then who could do more wrong than one who rejecteth God's signs, and turneth away therefrom? In good time shall We requite those who turn away from Our signs, with a dreadful penalty, for their turning away. S. 6:154-157

These are revelations of the Scripture (al-kitabi) that maketh plain.… But when there came unto them the Truth from Our presence, they said: Why is he not given the like of what was given unto Moses? Did they not disbelieve in that which was given unto Moses of old? They say: Two magics that support each other; and they say: Lo! in BOTH we are disbelievers. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Then bring A SCRIPTURE (kitabin) from the presence of Allah that giveth clearer guidance than THESE TWO (that) I may follow it, if ye are truthful. S. 28:2, 48-49 Pickthall

And that We have revealed to thee of the Book (al-kitabi) is the truth, confirming what is before it; God is aware of and sees His servants. S. 35:31

And before this, was the Book of Moses as a guide and a mercy: And this Book (kitabun) confirms (it) in the Arabic tongue; to admonish the unjust, and as Glad Tidings to those who do right. S. 46:12 Y. Ali

They said: O our people! we have listened to a Book (kitaban) revealed after Musa verifying that which is before it, guiding to the truth and to a right path: S. 46:30 Shakir

These passages show that the Quran must be a book like all of those books which it is supposed to confirm.

Third, the Quran is said to be in the mother of the book and that it is inscribed in a preserved tablet:

We verily, have made it a Qur'an in Arabic, that you may be able to understand (its meanings and its admonitions). And Verily, it (this Qur'an) is in the Mother of the Book (i.e. Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz), before Us, indeed Exalted, full of Wisdom. S. 43:3-4

Nay! This is a Glorious Qur'an, (Inscribed) in Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz (The Preserved Tablet)! S. 85:21-22

Here is how the Muslim expositors interpreted these specific passages:

<And verily, it> means, the Qur'an…

<is in the Mother of the Book> meaning, Al-Lawh Al-Mahfuz (the Preserved Tablet). This was the view of Ibn `Abbas and Mujahid…

<with Us,> means, in Our presence. This was the view of Qatadah and others. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir,
Q. 43:4)

And it is indeed, fixed, in the Mother Book, the source of all the scriptures, namely, the Preserved Tablet, [which is] with Us (ladaynā substitutes [for fī ummi’l-kitābi, ‘in the Mother Book’]) [and it is] indeed exalted, above [all] the scriptures [that came] before it, wise, containing excellent wisdoms. (Tafsir Al-Jalalayn, 
Q. 43:4; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Nay, but it is a glorious, a magnificent, Qur’ān, in a tablet, suspended above the seventh heaven, preserved (read mahfūzin), from all devils and from having any of its contents altered; it is a high as the distance between the earth and the heaven, and as wide as the distance between the east and the west, made of white pearls — as stated by Ibn ‘Abbās (Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Q. 85:
21-22; bold and underline emphasis ours)

(And lo! in the Source of Decrees) in the Guarded Tablet, (which We possess) where it is written, (it) i.e. the Qur'an (is indeed sublime) exalted, noble and glorious, (decisive) in explaining the lawful and the unlawful, (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs,
Q. 43:4; bold and underline emphasis ours)

(Nay, but it) i.e. the Qur'an which Muhammad recites to you (is a glorious Qur'an) is a noble and honoured Qur'an (On a guarded tablet) He says: it is written on a tablet that is protected from the devils'. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs, Q. 85:
21-22; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Even the so-called authentic ahadith mention that Allah wrote a book before creation:

LV. The words of Allah Almighty, "It is indeed a Glorious Qur'an preserved on a Tablet." (85:21-22)

"By the Mount and an Inscribed Book" (52:1-2): Qatada said that "mastur" means "written". "Yasturun" (68:1) means "they inscribe", and the Umm al-Kitab (43:4) is the whole of the Qur'an and its source. [He said that] "ma talfizu" (50:18) means: "He does not say anything but that it is written against him." Ibn 'Abbas said, "Both good and evil are recorded," and "yuharrufuna" (4:46) means "they remove". No one removes the words of one of the Books of Allah Almighty, but they twist them, interpreting them improperly. "Dirasatihim: (6:156) means "their recitation" "Wa'iyya" (69:12) is preserving, "ta'iha" (69:12) means to "preserve it". "This Qur'an has been revealed to me by inspiration that I may warn you," meaning the people of Makka, "and all whom it reaches" (6:19) meaning this Qur'an, so he is its warner.

7114. Abu Rafi' related from Abu Hurayra that the Prophet said, "When Allah finished creation, He wrote a book with Him (which said), 'My mercy overpowered (or preceded) My anger.' It is with Him above the Throne."
(Aisha Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, 100. Book of Tawhid (the belief that Allah is One in His Essence, Attributes and Actions); sources 1, 2)

This narration introduces an additional problem. How can the mother of the book be the source of the Quran when the Quran is supposed to be eternal whereas the tablet/book is created? If this means that the heavenly book is the source of the earthly Quran then this only further confirms my point. It proves that the written aspect of the Quran is an essential part of its nature since it originated not from Allah, but from the heavenly book which Allah wrote. This is precisely what the following Muslim authorities say concerning the “descent” of the Quran to Muhammad:

(The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur'an.) (2:185) Ibn `Abbas and others have said, “Allah sent the Qur'an down all at one time FROM the Preserved Tablet (Al-Lawh Al-Mahfuz) to the House of Might (Baytul-`Izzah), which is in the heaven of this world. Then it came down in parts to the Messenger of Allah based upon the incidents that occurred over a period of twenty-three years.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir,
Q. 97:1; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Lo! We revealed it, that is, the Qur’an, in its entirety, [sending it down] from the Preserved Tablet to the heaven of this world, on the Night of Ordainment, that is, [the Night] of great eminence. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn,
Q. 97:1; bold underline emphasis ours)

According to Allaah’s statements in His Book, there were two distinct revelations of the Qur’aan which took place. It is important that these two revelations be understood in order to clear up the apparent contradictions [sic] in the various terms used in the Qur’aan and Sunnah to describe the Qur’aan’s revelation. On one hand, the Qur’aan is referred to as having been revealed in its totality in Ramadaan or on Laylatul-Qadr, the Night of Decree; while on the other hand, it is referred to as having been continuously revealed in segments up until the death of the Prophet.

The First Revelation
Allaah caused the Qur’aan to descend FROM the Protected Tablet (al-Lawh al-Mahfooth) on which it was written to the lowest heaven. In this revelation all of the Qur’aan was sent down at one time to a station in the lowest heaven referred to as "Bayt al-‘Izzah" (The House of Honor or Power). The blessed night on which this descent took place is called "Laylatul-Qadr" (The Night of Decree), one of the odd-numbered nights in the last ten days of the month of Ramadaan. Allaah referred to this initial revelation as follows [quotes Q. 44:1-3; 97:1; 2:185]…

These verses have [sic] to refer to the initial revelation because it is a known fact [sic] that the whole Qur’aan was not revealed to Prophet Muhammad on a single night on Ramadaan.

Ibn ‘Abbaas stated that the Qur’aan was first separated from its station in the upper heavens and placed in Bayt al-‘Izzah in the lowest heaven. One version states that this took place on the Night of Decree in Ramadaan. Had it been Allaah’s wish, the Qur’aan could then have been revealed as a whole to the Prophet in a single revelation. This was the method by which all of the earlier books of revelation were sent down. But, Allah chose to divide the revelation into two parts [sic]. The first revelation within the heavens represented an announcement to the inhabitants of the heavens that the final book of revelation was being sent down upon the last of the prophets.
(Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, Usool at-Tafseer, 6. The Revelations of the Qur’aan, pp. 94-96; sources
1, 2; capital and underline emphasis ours)

In light of the foregoing one wonders why Allah bothered to create a heavenly tablet in which he wrote down the Quran if its inscripturation wasn’t an essential part of its makeup?(1)

The answer is rather obvious but since it isn’t obvious to Zawadi we are going to have to break it down for him. What all of the preceding verses and references demonstrate is that the inscripturation of the Quran is a crucial and necessary element of its makeup. These citations prove that Allah intended from the very beginning for the Quran to be inlibrated, which means that the Quran cannot be what it is unless it is a book.

But this leads us back to what I had stated in my rebuttal concerning the Quran having two natures. Unless Zawadi wants to argue that the heavenly tablet and all of the books which contain the Quran are eternal he is going to have to admit that there is a necessary part of the Muslim scripture which is definitely created.

As the word Quran itself testifies, the so-called revelation which Allah supposedly gave to Muhammad was meant to be written down or inlibrated so that Muslims could read and recite it. In light of this Zawadi is going to have to accept the fact that the Islamic scripture does consist of two necessary components or essences: The Quran is the speech of Allah, and therefore uncreated, but it is also a book, and therefore created since its inscripturation occurred at a point in time. As such, that essential aspect which makes the Quran what it is, namely its written component, cannot be eternal.(1)

Thus, contrary to Zawadi’s assertion, it is not simply the case of the Quran being communicated through created means. Rather, the Muslim scripture itself became part of creation the moment Allah wrote it down in the heavenly tablet/book and sent it to Muhammad so that the faithful could also write it down in books. Without this essential created component the Quran cannot be what it is.

In light of this I am going to repeat what I had said to Zawadi. Since Zawadi has no problem affirming that Allah is absolutely one and that the Quran is also his uncreated speech that became a book he therefore has no logical basis to argue that the Christian belief in the glorious Incarnation of the eternal Divine Word is irrational. However, if he continues to claim that it is irrational then he is going to have to reject his belief in the Quran if he is going to be consistent and honest.

Lord Jesus willing, there will be more rebuttals to Zawadi’s “replies” in the near future.


Related Articles
The descent of the Quran: Piecemeal or all at once?
Is half the Qur'an already fully detailed?
Revisiting the issue of the Quran’s "Descent" – All at once or one piece at a time?
Haste Makes Waste
Is half the Qur’an already fully detailed? Further thoughts by a former Muslim

Endnotes

(1) According to the following narrative Muhammad may have actually believed that the heavenly tablet was eternal:

7115. Abu Rafi' related that he heard Abu Hurayra say that he heard the Messenger of Allah say, "Allah wrote a book before He created creation: 'My mercy preceded My anger.' It is written with Him above the Throne," (Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, 100. Book of Tawhid (the belief that Allah is One in His Essence, Attributes and Actions); sources
1, 2)

Narrated Abu Huraira: I heard Allah's Apostle saying, “BEFORE Allah created the creations, He wrote a Book (wherein He has written): ‘My Mercy has preceded my Anger.’ And that (Book) is written with Him over the Throne.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 93,
Number 643)

If Allah wrote a book before creation then this implies that the book itself is eternal since it existed before creation came into being. In that case Zawadi can argue that it is only the earthly replica of that contained in the mother of the book which has a created component to it.

However, this narration raises two problems which Zawadi needs to address. First, although the heavenly book/tablet may be eternal this doesn’t mean that the Quran was always a part of it. The very fact that the hadith says that Allah wrote a book suggests that the Quran was added to it later on. Moreover, the act of writing presupposes time and change which means that the written part of the Quran is not eternal since its inscripturation took place at a moment in time.

The second problem with Muhammad’s reported view is that an eternal book presupposes space and place since it must be composed of some material aspect, and matter requires space/place. But we know that time, matter and space/place were created. In light of this fact how can there be a book that existed before creation when its very existence requires matter and space/place? Should we assume that Muhammad actually believed that not all matter or space/place is created?

If so then that means that Allah is not the creator of all things and that he is not the only eternal being! His book is also eternal and since the book is not identical to Allah this means that we have two distinct eternal beings or entities! But if two eternal entities exist then this violates Islamic monotheism since this means that Allah is not the only uncreated being!

Whatever answer Zawadi may come up with he is left with huge problems and major difficulties that are not easily resolved or explained away.

For more on this issue and to see other problems with what the hadiths say concerning the existence of other eternal objects besides Allah we recommend the article:
Allah – the creator of all things?

Source:

IHS



Admin · 5 views · Leave a comment
27 Sep 2014 
Continuing from Part I

The readers may be left wondering what do these scholars do with the statements of Jesus in the Gospels where he embraces and accepts the title Messiah? Simple… they question their historical authenticity and claim that the Church made them up!

One may wish to look elsewhere in the hope of finding more explicit evidence that Jesus claimed to be a messianic figure. There are several places where Jesus accepts the title of “Messiah,” according to the evangelists. In John 4, during Jesus’s encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, she claims, “I know that Messiah is coming (Messias erchetai)…. When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us,” to which the Johannine Jesus replies, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you” (John 4:25-26). In the Markan trial scene the high priest asks Jesus: “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” and Jesus replies, “I am” (Mark 14:61b-62; but see the different responses in Matt. 26:64; Luke 22:67-68; John 18:33-34). Elsewhere Jesus does refer to the Messiah, but never with the first-person personal pronouns. In Mark we read: “For I tell you the truth, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you are of Messiah [Christou este] will by no means lose the reward” (Mark 9:41) A titular occurrence appears also in Matthew: “Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah [ho Christos]” (Matt. 23:10). Jesus warns of false messiahs (pseudochristoi) in the Olivet Discourse of the synoptic tradition (Mark 13:21-22/Matt. 24:24) and poses a riddle about the Messiah as the Son of David (Mark 12:35-37). Since most of these texts comport with the Christology and kerygma of the primitive church, scholars have been reluctant to regard them as historically authentic and usually suppose that they are accretions to the Jesus tradition by the early church, which invested the tradition with its own christological convictions concerning Jesus’s identity. (Pp. 26-27; underline emphasis ours)

What makes this rather interesting is that Catherine Murphy claims that scholars actually think that the historical Jesus may have used the title Son of Man!

The resurrection led Jesus’s followers to believe not only that he had a unique relationship to God, but also that he was superior to other luminaries like King David and the angels (Psalm 110 is interpreted to this end in 1 Corinthians 15:25; Matthew 22:41-46; Acts 2:29-36; Hebrews 1:3; 10:13). These folks DEVELOPED titles for Jesus to reflect THEIR beliefs. The titles people developed reflected THEIRChristology, or view of Jesus as the Christ or messiah ...

Out of all the titles that Jesus maintains, the ONLY ONE that the historical Jesus may have used of himself besides “Jesus” or “son of Joseph” was “Son of Man.” Scholars think that Jesus may have used this title because it’s his regular form of self-reference in the earliest Gospel, Mark, and because it was a common term synonymous with “human being.” At times it looks like that’s all the gospel authors mean by it too (for example, Mark 8:31; Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58). But at other points, the gospel authors follow the book of Daniel, and apply the title “Son of Man” to Jesus as a kind of heavenly figure who will come to rule the world (Q 17:24; Mark 8:38; 13:26; in Daniel 7:13-14, this figure isn’t an individual but rather the glorified people of Israel).

Two titles emerge as clear favorites – “Messiah/Christ” and “Lord.” “Lord” was a term used for human masters or superiors and also for God. The title “Messiah” or “Christ” was reserved for a designated human agent of God who would restore the kingdom, the Temple, or the world in a definitive way. Because Jesus hadn’t done this – or at least had not completed it – some of his followers apparently thought that his status as messiah would begin when he returned (see Acts 3:20-22). But most other followers christened him “Christ” in the interim so that already in Paul’s letters to the Romans “Christ” sounds like his proper name (Romans 9:5). This title is so characteristic of early believers that within a generation they are already being called Christians themselves.
(The Historical Jesus For Dummies, Chapter 15: From the Messiah to Son of God, pp. 248-250; underline emphasis ours)

This raises several problems for both Zawadi and his fellow comic book character, Captain Planet. First, if we are to blindly accept the criticisms of these historians and scholars (much like these Muslims do) then this means that Muhammad was mistaken for believing that Jesus was the Messiah since, according to these scholars, the historical Jesus didn’t think he was and never claimed to be!
 
(And remember) when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (unto Allah). S. 3:45

Therefore, since Jesus never went around telling people that he was the Messiah why, then, do these Muslims continue to believe in the Quran and Muhammad when it is obvious that their prophet derived such beliefs from the teachings of Jesus’ followers? In other words since these critical scholars believe that it wasn’t Jesus who claimed to be the Messiah but that it was his followers after his resurrection that did this means that Muhammad’s views have been influenced by the teachings of these early believers.

In light of this why do these Muslim taqiyyists still hold to the divine origin of the Quran in light of their appeal to the claims of liberal critical scholarship which undermine much of what the Quran says concerning Jesus? The answer is obvious.

Second, the context of some of Jesus’ Son of Man sayings includes statements of Jesus where he either admits or accepts that he is the Messiah and the Son of God:

“Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, ‘Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?’ But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ The high priest tore his clothes. ‘Why do we need any more witnesses?’ he asked. ‘You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’” Mark 14:60-64 – cf. 13:26-27

If these Son of Man statements are authentic then Jesus’ acceptance of the titles Messiah and Son of God must be deemed authentic as well since they appear in the same context. This, therefore, shows that these so-called scholars are mistaken when they claim that Jesus never said that he was the Messiah or Son of God. And if they are mistaken in this area then this opens the possibility that they are also in error when they assert that the historical Jesus never claimed to be Divine. (2)

This leads us to the third problem that Muslims such as Zawadi are faced with. In using the title Son of Man Jesus was identifying himself with the Divine figure that the prophet Daniel saw:

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14

Not only does this particular Son of Man rule forever but he also rides the clouds like God (cf. Num. 10:34; Psalm 68:4, 33-34; 104:3; Isa. 19:1; Nah. 1:3) and is worshiped in the same way that God is (cf. Dan. 3:12, 14, 16-18; 6:16, 20; 7:27; Psalm 86:9; Isa. 66:23; Rev. 15:4). Thus, in claiming to be this very specific Son of Man the historical Jesus was basically making himself out to be a preexistent Divine Being appearing in human form! In other words the historical Jesus did claim to be fully Divine, thereby refuting the scholars which Zawadi and his cartoon cohort cited who say otherwise! (3)

Fourth, the sources that Zawadi and Captain Planet appeal to do not adequately address the fact that the worship of Jesus as Divine took place within twenty years of Christ’s death and resurrection. These scholars fail to explain why Jesus’ first followers, all of whom were monotheistic Jews, would worship him as the unique Divine Son of God and exalted Lord of creation if the historical Jesus never made any Divine claims whatsoever.

As noted Christian philosopher and apologist William Lane Craig explains,
 
“Those who deny that Jesus made any personal claims implying divinity face the severe problem of explaining how it is that the worship of Jesus as Lord and God came about at all in the early church. It does little good to say that the early church wrote its beliefs about Jesus back into the Gospels, for the problem IS THE VERY ORIGIN OF THOSE BELIEFS THEMSELVES. Studies by New Testament scholars such as Larry Hurtado of the University of Edinburgh, Martin Hengel of Tübingen University, C. F. D. Moule of Cambridge, and others have proved that WITHIN TWENTY YEARS of the crucifixion A FULL-BLOWN Christology proclaiming Jesus AS GOD INCARNATE existed. How does one explain this worship by monotheistic Jews of one of their countrymen whom they had accompanied during his lifetime, APART FROM THE CLAIMS OF JESUS HIMSELF? The great church historian Jaroslav Pelikan points out that all the early Christians shared the conviction that salvation was the work of a being no less than the Lord of heaven and earth and that the redeemer was God himself. He observes that the oldest Christian sermon, the oldest account of a Christian martyr, the oldest pagan report of the church, and the oldest liturgical prayer (1 Cor. 16:22) ALL REFER TO CHRIST AS LORD AND GOD. He concludes, ‘Clearly it was the message of what the church believed and taught that “God” was an appropriate name for Jesus Christ.’ But if Jesus never made any such claims, then the belief of the earliest Christians in this regard becomes inexplicable
.” (Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics [Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL: Third Edition 2008], Part Five: De Christo, 7. The Self-Understanding of Jesus, p. 300; capital and underline emphasis ours)

And here is what Craig says in response to a book produced by liberal authors such as John Hick, which Zawadi actually quotes from,
  
In the Gospels there are a number of self-descriptions used by Jesus which provide insight into his self-understanding. Until recently, critical scholars have been quite skeptical of the authenticity of such self-descriptions. In 1977 a group of seven British theologians, headed by John Hick of the University of Birmingham, caused a great stir in the press and among the laymen by publishing a book provocatively titled The Myth of God Incarnate. In it they asserted that today the majority of New Testament scholars agree that the historical Jesus of Nazareth never claimed to be THE MESSIAH or the Lord or the Son of God or indeed any of the divine titles that are attributed to Christ in the Gospels. Rather, these titles developed later in the Christian Church and were written back into the traditions handed down about Jesus, so that in the Gospels he appears to claim these titles for himself. Thus, the divine Christ of the Gospels who appears as God incarnate is a myth and ought to be rejected.

Today no such skeptical consensus exists. On the contrary the balance of scholarly opinion on Jesus’ use of Christological titles may have actually tipped IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION.”
(Ibid., pp. 300-301; capital and underline emphasis ours)

How interesting. Zawadi cites a book which not only denies that Jesus claimed to be God but also sets out to prove that he never taught that he was the Messiah! Such inconsistency is typical of Muslim dawagandists and is therefore not surprising.

Hence, since NT scholarship is coming to the conclusion that both the historical Jesus and all of his first followers believed and taught that Christ is the Divine Son of God this means that C. S. Lewis stands vindicated and his Trilemma is therefore logically valid.

With that said we conclude this study in the words of Dr. Craig:
  
Explicit use of Christological titles like Messiah, the Son of God, and especially the Son of Man, combined with implicit Christological claims made through his teaching and behavior indicates a radical self-understanding on the part of Jesus of Nazareth. Indeed, so extraordinary was the person who Jesus thought himself to be that Dunn at the end of his study of the self-consciousness of Jesus feels compelled to remark, ‘One last question cannot be ignored: Was Jesus mad?’ Dunn rejects the hypothesis that Jesus was insane because it cannot account for the full portrait of Jesus that we have in the Gospels. The balance and soundness of Jesus’ whole life and teachings make it evident that he was no lunatic. But notice that by means of these claims of Jesus, on the basis of sayings shown to be authentic, we are brought round again to the same dilemma posed by the traditional apologetic: if Jesus was not who he claimed to be, then he was either a charlatan or a madman, neither of which is plausible. Therefore, why not accept him as the divine Son of God, just as the earliest Christians believed?” (Ibid., p. 327; underline emphasis ours)

Amen! Come Lord Jesus, come! We confess that you are neither a lunatic nor a liar. Rather, we believe that you are whom you claimed to be, namely, the preexistent Divine Son of God and the risen Lord of glory! We pray that by your grace we will always love and worship you as the beloved Son of the Father and the sovereign eternal Lord of all! Amen.

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Endnotes
(1) According to John’s Gospel Jesus claimed to be the unique Divine preexistent Son of God, which his Jewish contemporaries took to be blasphemous and worthy of death since they realized that Jesus was basically making himself out to be God and equal with God!
  
So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.’ For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” John 5:16-18
  
“‘My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one.’ Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any of these,’ replied the Jews, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God… do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?”
John 10:27-33, 36
  
The Jews insisted, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.’” John 19:7

These sayings cannot be simply brushed aside as later Christological developments since we find similar statements in the earliest Gospel strata:
  
And he began to speak to them in parables. ‘A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country. When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” But those tenants 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.’” Mark 12:1-8

In this parable Jesus makes a clear distinction between himself and the prophets since he identifies himself as God’s beloved Son and Heir whereas the rest are God’s servants (Cf. Jer. 7:25; 25:4; 26:5; 29:19; 44:4). Dr. Craig explains why even skeptical scholars accept this as an actual saying of the historical Jesus:
  
Even skeptical scholars like those in the Jesus Seminar recognize the authenticity of this parable, since it is also found in one of their favorite sources, the Gospel of Thomas (65), and so is by their reckoning multiply attested. Moreover, as [Craig] Evans has emphasized, the parable not only reflects the actual experience of absentee landowners in the ancient world but also employs stock images and themes found in rabbinic parables: Israel as a vineyard, God as the owner, unworthy rebellious tenants, the figure of a son, and so on, so that it coheres well with a Jewish milieu. There are, furthermore, aspects of the parable which render unlikely its later origin in the Christian church, for example, the concern over who should possess the vineyard after it is taken from the present tenants and the absence of the resurrection of the slain son. The parable also contains interpretative nuances rooted in the Aramaic targums (paraphrases) of Isaiah 5 which were in use in Jesus’ day. Evans concludes, ‘When understood properly and in full context, everything about the parable of the wicked vineyard tenants–including its context in the New Testament Gospels–argues that it originated with Jesus, not with the early church.’” (Reasonable Faith, p. 311)

In this next passage Jesus claims to be the unique Son who alone knows the Father completely and is therefore the only One qualified to make him known, being the One to whom the Father has entrusted all things:
  
All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Matthew 11:27 – cf. Luke 10:22

This saying is astonishing not only because Jesus claims to possess everything that the Father has and that he alone is qualified to reveal him to others, but also because he makes himself out to be just as incomprehensible as the Father is! Jesus says that no one knows him just as no one knows the Father, which presupposes that he is just like his Father in his incomprehensibility! This explains why it is only the Father (along with his Holy Spirit [cf. Luke 10:21; 1 Corinthians 2:10-12; Romans 8:26-27]) who can know the Son since only someone who has an infinite mind can know and perfectly understand an incomprehensible Being. This further explains why Jesus can say that he alone knows the Father in the same way that the Father knows him, i.e., Jesus is a Divine Person who is both incomprehensible and has an infinite mind!

This, too, is a saying which scholars deem to be authentic since it is found in Q, a very early sayings source.
  
“… Again there is good reason to regard this as an authentic saying of the historical Jesus. It is a Q saying of Jesus and therefore VERY EARLY. The saying has been shown to go back to an original Aramaic version, which counts in favor of its authenticity. Moreover, it is unlikely that the church invented this saying because it says that the Son is unknowable–‘no one knows the Son except the Father’–which would exclude even Jesus’ followers from knowing him. But the conviction of the post-Easter church is that we can know the Son (see, e.g., Phil. 3:8-11). Notice, too, that according to the saying the content of Jesus’ revelation is the Father, whereas Jesus himself was the content of the church’s proclamation. The reference to the Son is almost informal, rather than emphasizing a title like ‘Son of God.’ So this saying is unlikely to be the product of later church theology.
  
This saying has been characterized as a bolt out of the Johannine blue. For what does it tell us about Jesus’ self-concept? It tells us that he thought of himself as the exclusive Son of God and the only revelation of God… As Denaux has rightly emphasized, what we have here is a Johannine Christological affirmation IN THE EARLIEST STRATUM of the Gospel traditions, an affirmation which forms a bridge to the high Christology of John’s Gospel, and yet, in light of passages like Mark 4:10-12; 12:1-11; 13:32; and Matthew 16:17-19; 28:18, is also at home in the Synoptic tradition. On the basis of this saying, we may conclude that Jesus thought of himself as God’s Son in absolute and unique sense and as having been invested with the exclusive authority to reveal his Father God to men.” (Ibid., pp. 311-312; capital emphasis ours)
  
(2) Dr. Craig cites NT scholar Robert Gundry who provides compelling reasons why Mark’s report of Jesus’ questioning before the high priest is historically accurate:
  
So are these words of Jesus, which served as the basis for his condemnation by the Sanhedrin and for his delivery to the Roman authorities on charges of treason, authentic? In his meticulous commentary on Mark’s Gospel, Robert Gundry argues that the words of the high priest ‘Son of the Blessed (One)’ are likely authentic because this use of a circumlocution for ‘God,’ though common among Jews, was not characteristic of Christians; moreover, it appears only here in the Gospel of Mark, who elsewhere prefers the title ‘Son of God’ (1:1; 3:11; 5:7; 15:39). As for Jesus’ reply to the high priest’s question, Gundry provides several lines of evidence in support of its authenticity: (1) the combination of sitting at God’s right hand and coming with the clouds of heaven appears nowhere in New Testament material except on Jesus’ lips; (2) the Son of Man is nowhere else associated with the notion of sitting at God’s right hand’ (3) the saying exhibits the same blend of oblique self-reference and personally high claims that characterizes other Son of Man sayings (Mark 2:10, 28; 8:38; 13:26); (4) even though Psalm 110:1 concerning sitting at the right hand of God is alluded to frequently in the New Testament, the substitution of ‘the Power’ for ‘God,’ though typical for Jewish reverential usage, occurs nowhere else in the New Testament; and (5) Mark is unlikely to have created a prediction to the Sanhedrin which they did not, in fact, see fulfilled.” (Reasonable Faith, pp. 317-318)

Craig further writes:

In addition, Gundry notes the subtlety of the Markan account of the trial, which would escape a later Christian fabricator. Rules for dealing with capital blasphemy cases in the Mishnah (Sanhedrin 7.5) concern cases in which a person is accused of having pronounced on some previous occasion the divine name ‘Yahweh’ so as to dishonor God. During the trial the alleged blasphemy of the accused is not actually repeated, but some substitute for the divine name is used. Only at the trial’s close is the courtroom cleared, and in the presence of the judges, the lead witness is instructed, ‘Say expressly what you heard.’ He then repeats the blasphemous words uttered by the accused, at which all the judges stand and rend their clothes. In Jesus’ trial, the blasphemy occurs unexpectedly on the spot, so that only the high priest is standing and tears his garments. If Jesus actually uttered the divine name by saying, ‘You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Yahweh,’ a report of what transpired in Jesus’ trial would not include the pronunciation of the divine name itself but some substitute for it, like ‘the Power.’ Gundry concludes, ‘The collocation of capital blasphemy and clothes-rending in m. Sanh. 7.5 as well as in Mark favors … that Mark’s account of Jesus’ trial rests on trustworthy information…. For though Christians might have fabricated an account so defamatory of the Sanhedrin, Christians are unlikely to have fabricated–or even have been able to fabricate–an account corresponding so subtly to a later idealization of Sanhedrin jurisprudence in cases of capital blasphemy.’ How did Jesus dishonor God? Gundry answers, ‘We may best think that the high priest and the rest of the Sanhedrin judge Jesus to have verbally robbed God of incommensurateness and unity escalating himself to a superhuman level, by portraying himself as destined to sit at God’s right hand and come with the clouds of heaven.’” (Ibid., p. 318)
 
(3) In fact, Jesus’ Son of Man statements pass some of the very criteria which historians use to assess the reliability of a given saying or specific report with flying colors.

9. Some biblical scholars question whether Jesus ever used this title of himself. The designation “Son of Man” was not used, however, in the New Testament as a part of the church’s own way of speaking about Jesus. Other than on the lips of Jesus, he is so designated only in Acts 7:56 (Stephen’s vision prior to his stoning) and Revelation 1:13 (John’s initial vision). The Son of Man sayings of Jesus, then, pass a stringent test of authenticity (the so-called criterion of dissimilarity): if a saying of Jesus is unlikely to have been worded as it is by the early church, then we may infer that Jesus probably said it. (The reverse, though, is not a valid argument: from the fact that the early church would be comfortable wording something as it appears in a Gospel saying, it does not follow that Jesus didn’t say it.) (Robert M. Bowman & J. Ed Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place – The Case for the Deity of Christ [Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI 2007], Notes, Chapter 20: God’s Right-hand Man, p. 357)

Craig writes:
It is highly likely that Jesus thought of himself as and claimed to be the Son of Man. This was Jesus’ favorite self-description and is the title found most frequently in the Gospels (over eighty times). Yet, remarkably, this title is found only once outside the Gospels in the rest of the New Testament (Acts 7:56). That shows that the designation of Jesus as ‘the Son of Man’ was not a title that arose in later Christian usage and was then written back into the Jesus tradition. On the basis of the criterion of dissimilarity we can say with confidence that Jesus called himself ‘the Son of Man. Dunn concludes, ‘When we encounter a thoroughly consistent and distinctive feature–a tradition which depicts Jesus regularly using the phrase ‘son of man’ and virtually no other use of the phrase–it simply beggars scholarship to deny that this feature stemmed from a remembered speech usage of Jesus himself.’” (Reasonable Faith, p. 315; underline emphasis ours)

It also satisfies the criterion of multiple attestation since it is found in all the Gospel strands, e.g., Q, Mark, the so-called M or special Matthean material, L or special Lukan material, John etc.
 
That Jesus believed in the eschatological appearance of the figure described in Daniel’s vision is multiply attested in Markan and Q sayings (Mark 8:38; 13:26-27; Matt. 10:32-33/Like 12:8-9; Matt. 24:27, 37, 39/Luke 17:24, 26, 30). In Daniel’s vision the figure looks like a human being, but he comes on the clouds of heaven, and to him is given a dominion and glory that is God-like. The Similitudes of Enoch presents a similar vision of the preexistent Son of Man (I En. 48.3-6 cited above; cf. 62.7) who ‘shall depose kings from their thrones and kingdoms’ (I En. 69.29). We have also mentioned the Danielic vision of 4 Ezra 13, in which Ezra sees ‘something like the figure of a man come up out of the heart of the sea,’ whom the Most High identifies as ‘my son’ (4 Ezra 13.37) and who preexists with the Most High. The point in mentioning these passages is not that people listening to Jesus would have recognized his allusions or ideas–which they evidently did not–but rather that the construal of Daniel’s Son of Man as a divine-human figure would be neither anachronistic nor un-Jewish for Jesus. By using the oblique, self-referential expression ‘the Son of Man,’ Jesus prevented a prematurely transparent revelation of his super-human and messianic dignity.” (Ibid., p. 316)

This means that the only real reason why certain NT critics reject the veracity of these Son of Man sayings is primarily due to certain theological and/or historical presuppositions which they share in common with Muslim apologists. It is these very assumptions that do not allow them to accept even the possibility that the historical Jesus would have made such Divine claims. The following NT scholar explains it best:

Jesus’ favorite self-designation, due to its concealing as well revealing nature, was the title Son of Man. Jesus in using this title clearly had in mind the Son of Man spoken of in Daniel 7:13 (as is evident from Matthew 10:23; 19:28; 25:31; Mark 8:38; 13:26; 14:62). Therefore, rather than stressing humility, it is clear that the title reveals the divine authority Jesus possesses as the Son of Man to judge the world and his sense of having come from the Father (cf. here also Matthew 5:17; 10:34; Mark 2:17; 10:45). Many attempts have been made to deny the authenticity of some or all of the Son of Many sayings, but such attempts founder because this title is found in all the Gospel strata (Mark, Q, M, L, John), and satisfies perfectly the “criterion of dissimilarity,” which states that if a saying or title could not have arisen out of Judaism or out of the early Church, it must be authentic. The denial of the authenticity of this title is therefore based not so much on exegetical issues as upon RATIONALISTIC PRESUPPOSITIONS that a priori deny that Jesus of Nazareth could have spoken of himself in this way
. Robert H. Stein (The Portable Seminary, David Horton (general editor) [Bethany House Publishers, 2006], Chapter 5. The Doctrine of God the Son, p. 128; capital and underline ours)

Stein further asserts that the historical Jesus referred to himself as the Son of God in a unique sense,
 
“… He referred to himself also as the Son of God (Matthew 11:25-27; Mark 12:1-9), and a passage such as Mark 13:32 in which he clearly distinguished between himself and others must be authentic, for none in the church would have created a saying in which the Son of God claims to be ignorant as to the time of the end.”
(Ibid.)

Here Stein is alluding to the principle or criterion of embarrassment which states that, as a general rule, committed followers of a religious leader normally would not invent embarrassing stories about their founder. In light of this it seems highly unlikely that the early Church would attribute ignorance to the Son of God. Here again is Craig:
 
“… It seems highly unlikely that this saying could be the manufacture of Christian theology, especially in light of traditions like Matthew 11:27 (cf. John 5:20; 16:15, 30; 21:17c), because it ascribes ignorance to the Son. The criterion of embarrassment requires the authenticity of the reference to the Son’s ignorance. Just how embarrassing the saying was is evident in the fact that although Matthew reproduces it (Matt. 24:36), Luke omits it, and most copyists of Matthew’s Gospel also chose to drop the verse (though it is preserved in the best manuscripts). That Mark preserves this saying, despite his emphasis on Jesus’ predictive power and foreknowledge (Mark 11:2; 13; 14:13-15, 18, 27-28, 30), is testimony to his faithfulness to the tradition. As Markan commentator Vincent Taylor nicely puts it, ‘Its offence seals its genuineness
.’” (Reasonable Faith, pp. 312-313)

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20 Sep 2014 
How the Appeal to Liberal Critical Scholarship Discredits the Islamic Faith

Sam Shamoun

Most Christians who are involved in apologetics have not only heard of C. S. Lewis and are not only acquainted with his classic works such as Mere Christianity, but are also familiar with Lewis’ Trilemma. The Trilemma deals with Jesus’ Divine claims and the conclusions that can be drawn from them. As Lewis explained it:

Then comes the real shock. Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world, who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.

One part of the claim tends to slip past us unnoticed because we have heard it so often that we no longer see what it amounts to. I mean the claim to forgive sins: any sins. Now unless the speaker is God, this is really so preposterous as to be comic. We can all understand how a man forgives offences against himself. You tread on my toe and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you. But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men’s toes and stealing other men’s money? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned; the person chiefly offended in all offences. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivalled by any other character in history.

“Yet (and this is the strange, significant thing) even His enemies, when they read the Gospels, do not usually get the impression of silliness and conceit. Still less do unprejudiced readers. Christ says that He is ‘humble and meek’ and we believe Him; not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we could attribute to some of His sayings.

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to
.” (Mere Christianity, foreward by Kathleen Norris [Harper Collins Edition, 2001], Book 2. What Christians Believe, Part 3. The Shocking Alternative,
pp. 51-52; underline emphasis ours)

Christians aren’t the only ones familiar with Lewis’ Trilemma. Muslim polemicists are also aware of this and realize the ramification that Lewis’ apologetic has on the truth claims of Islam which denies the Deity of Christ. Not surprisingly these same Muslim dawagandists quickly run to critical liberal scholarship to undermine Lewis’ defense of Christ’s Divinity. They appeal to disbelieving scholars in order to attack the reliability of the NT so as to convince their constituents that the Divine claims attributed to Jesus in the Gospels are fabricated and were never uttered by the historical Jesus. However, these same Muslim “apologists” do not realize (or simply do not care) the kind of impact that such unbelieving scholarship has on their own Islamic beliefs. The Muslims are inconsistently applying the criticisms and arguments of liberal scholars against the Holy Bible and yet never bother to apply these same arguments against their own views; nor do they stop to think for a moment of how these assaults against the NT affect their Islamic beliefs concerning Jesus.

One such Muslim propagandist who inconsistently appeals to liberal scholarship is Bassam Zawadi. Zawadi has written a short “reply” whereby he seeks to show the fallacy inherent in Lewis’ reasoning.

He even quotes (more like misquotes) conservative scholars to prove that Lewis’s Trilemma is fallacious!

However, it is refreshing to see that respected Christian scholars - including the conservative ones - could see the fallaciousness of this supposed trilemma as I will show below. (
Examining C.S. Lewis' Trilemma)

He then proceeds to cite Craig L. Blomberg and Craig Evans, two noted Conservative NT scholars, to show that there are other options besides the three mentioned by Lewis, such as the assertion that the speeches of Christ as recorded in the Gospels are fabrications and do not accurately reflect the words of the historical Jesus. In so doing Zawadi and gives the misleading impression that they rejected Lewis’ Trilemma!

For instance, compare what Zawadi quotes of Blomberg,

The problem with this argument is that it assumes what is regularly denied, namely, that the gospels give entirely accurate accounts of the actions and claims of Jesus... This option represents the most common current explanation of the more spectacular deeds and extravagant claims of Jesus in the gospels. (Craig L. Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, (Intervarsity Press, 1987), page xx)

With what he actually wrote in context:

The problem with this argument is that it assumes what is regularly denied, namely, that the gospels give entirely accurate accounts of the actions and claims of Jesus. One can preserve Lewis’s alliteration and introduce a fourth option – the stories about Jesus were legends. This option represents the most common current explanation of the more spectacular deeds and extravagant claims of Jesus in the gospels: they were the product of the early church’s desire to glorify him, and so it exaggerated its portraits of him above and beyond what the facts permitted. Unless one can successfully dismiss this alternative, one cannot appeal to Lewis’s apologetics. An examination of the gospels’ historical reliability must therefore precede a credible assessment of who Jesus was. (Craig L. Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, (Intervarsity Press, 1987), p. xx; underline emphasis ours)

Blomberg clearly says that one must first refute the attacks against the historical reliability of the Gospels in order for Lewis’ Trilemma to be logically valid. And this is precisely what Blomberg and Evans set out to do, just as the titles of their books clearly show! (In fact, the name of Evans’ book which Zawadi quotes from is Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels. The title gives us an idea of Evan’s purpose in writing this book!) These authors present conclusive evidence which establishes that the Gospels are historically reliable and that they accurately preserve the words of the historical Jesus.

In light of this there is nothing logically fallacious about Lewis’ Trilemma since both its premises and its conclusion are valid, just as the following syllogism shows.

- The Gospels are early historical documents that accurately preserve and reliably transmit the words of the historical Jesus.
- The Gospels report Jesus claiming to be the unique Divine Son of God.
- Therefore, the historical Jesus believed and claimed to be the unique Divine Son of God.

Hence, there is nothing logically fallacious with Lewis’ Trilemma once it is presented accurately. The only fallacy is Zawadi’s blatant distortion and caricaturization of Lewis’ argument.

What makes this all the more amazing is that one of the liberal scholars that Zawadi references admits that the Gospels are early eyewitness accounts! Zawadi quotes from the late John A. T. Robinson, a liberal scholar who wrote a book titled
Redating the New Testament. In that book Robinson argues that all of the New Testament was written before 70 AD, and that much of it was written earlier, before AD 64. Robinson based this partly on the fact that the New Testament doesn’t reflect firsthand knowledge of the Temple's destruction in 70 AD. Robinson assigns the following dates for the Gospels:

Matthew – at 40 to after 60 AD.
Mark – at about 45 to 60.
Luke – at before 57 to after 60.
John – at from 40 to after 65.

Robinson also believed that the fourth Gospel was actually written by the Apostle John and that Paul authored all of the books which bear his name. Robinson further argued that the epistle of James was authored by a brother of Jesus within twenty years of Christ’s resurrection.

This means that all of the New Testament books were all written within forty years of Jesus’ resurrection during the time when the first generation of eyewitnesses were still living. Not only were they written during the lifetime of friendly eyewitnesses who personally knew Jesus but they were also composed when the very hostile enemies of Christ were still alive! This establishes that what we have written is based on historically reliable eyewitness testimony since the NT authors could not have fabricated stories of Jesus or the early Church and gotten away with it since there were both friendly and hostile witnesses who would have corrected and/or exposed them.

In light of this one would naturally assume that Robinson would hold to the historical reliability of the Gospels, especially in reporting the words of Jesus. Yet such is not the case since Robinson questions whether Jesus ever claimed to be the Son of God, let alone God! He writes:

We are often asked to accept Christ as divine because he claimed to be so--and the familiar argument is pressed: ‘A man who goes around claiming to be God must either be God--or else he is a madman or a charlatan (aut deus aut malus homo)’. And, of course, it is not easy to read the Gospel story and to dismiss Jesus as either mad or bad. Therefore, the conclusion runs, he must be God.

But I am not happy about this argument. None of the disciples in the Gospels acknowledged Jesus because he claimed to be God, and the Apostles never went out saying, ‘This man claimed to be God, therefore you must believe in him.’ In fact, Jesus himself said in so many words, ‘If I claim anything for myself, do not believe me’. It is, indeed, an open question whether Jesus ever claimed to be the Son of God, let alone God. He may have acknowledged it from the lips from others–but on his own he preferred ‘the Son of Man’. In Mark 14.61 f., he is reported to reply to the question at his trial, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’, with the simple words, ‘I am’. But in the parallel passage in Matthew he gives an equivocal answer: ‘The words are yours’ (as he does in all the Gospels when questioned by Pilate)–and what conceivable interest would Matthew have in watering Jesus’ claims? We cannot be sure what titles Jesus claimed, and we should be wise, like the Apostles, not to rest our faith on them. Their message was rather that ‘God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified’. That is to say, through the Resurrection God vindicated and set his seal upon this man as the one through whom he spoke and acted in final and decisive fashion. He vested himself utterly and completely in the man Christ Jesus; in him all his fullness dwelt. What God was, the Word was. (Robinson, Honest to God [Westminster, Philadelphia, 1963],
pp. 71-73; underline emphasis ours)

To better appreciate what Robinson meant by the Word being what God is it is important that we quote him further:

But before we ask with Bonhoeffer, ‘What is Christ, for us today?’, we should stop and pose the prior question of what it is we have to reinterpret, of what in fact the New Testament is saying. For I believe that the supranaturalist, like the naturalist, estimate of Christ, whatever its intention, tends to be a distortion of Biblical truth. I do not say that it necessarily is, since the mythological-metaphysical framework can obviously provide the setting, as it has in the past, for an entirely orthodox Christology. But in practice popular preaching and teaching presents a supranaturalistic view of Christ which cannot be substantiated from the New Testament. It says simply that that Jesus was God, in such a way that the terms ‘Christ’ and ‘God’ are interchangeable. But nowhere in Biblical usage is this so. The New Testament says that Jesus was the Word of God, it says that God was in Christ, it says that Jesus is the Son of God; but it does not say that Jesus was God, simply like that.

What it does say is defined succinctly and accurately as it can be in the opening verse of St John’s Gospel. But we have to be equally careful about the translation. The Greek runs: kai theos en ho logos. The so-called Authorized Version has: ‘And the Word was God.’ This would indeed suggest the view that ‘Jesus’ and ‘God’ were identical and interchangeable. But in Greek this would most naturally be represented by ‘God’ with the article, not theos but ho theos. But, equally, St John is not saying that Jesus is a ‘divine’ man, in the sense with which the ancient world was familiar or in the sense in which the Liberals spoke of him. That would be theios. The Greek expression steers carefully between the two. It is impossible to represent it in a single English word, but the New English Bible, I believe, gets the sense pretty exactly with its rendering, ‘And what God was, the Word was’. In other words, if one looked at Jesus, one saw God–for ‘he who sees me, has seen the Father’. He was the complete expression, the Word, of God. Through him, AS THROUGH NO ONE ELSE, God spoke and God acted: when one met him one was met–and saved and judged–by God. And it was to this conviction that the Apostles bore their witness. In this man, in his life, death and resurrection they had experienced God at work; and in the language of their day they confessed, like the centurion at the Cross, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God’. HERE WAS MORE THAN JUST A MAN; here was a window into God at work. For ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself’. (Ibid., pp. 70-71; capital emphasis ours)

And:

There is a paradox running through all the Gospels that Jesus makes no claims for himself in his own right and at the same time makes the most tremendous claims about what God is doing through him and uniquely through him. Men’s response to him is men’s response to God: men’s rejection of him is men’s rejection of God. And the fourth Gospel merely highlights this paradox (IT DOES NOT, AS IS USUALLY SAID, PRESENT QUITE A DIFFERENT PICTURE OF THE CLAIMS OF JESUS) when it combines the saying that the ‘Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing’ with the uncompromising assertion, ‘No one comes to the Father, but by me’. Jesus never claims to be God personally: yet he always claims to bring God, completely.

This paradox is the point from which our reinterpretation of Christology must start. As the summary of his ministry in the fourth Gospel, Jesus cries out and says, ‘He who believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And he who sees me sees him who sent me’. Jesus, that is to say, reveals God by being utterly transparent to him, precisely as he is nothing ‘in himself’
… (P. 73; capital emphasis ours)

One is left wondering how can Jesus not be God if, as Robinson asserts, he is more than a man and all that God is? If all the fullness of God dwells within Jesus then how can he be anything less than God?

Returning to the issue at hand, notice the circularity and inconsistency behind Robinson’s reasoning. He alludes to Jesus’ words from the NT to prove that Jesus either never claimed or even outright denied that he was God, thereby presupposing the historical veracity of such sayings. And yet Robinson’s statements clearly intend to cast doubt on any passage where Jesus does affirm his Deity! What makes this assertion all the more ironic is that Robinson himself cites Jesus claiming to be the Son who does nothing but what he sees the Father doing!(1)

Robinson’s question begging is further seen by his claim that we cannot be certain which titles the historical Jesus affirmed and accepted for himself. However, he doesn’t doubt and is absolutely sure that the Gospels accurately report Jesus’ supposed denials of being Divine!

Zawadi also appealed to philosopher John Hick, someone who is not a recognized NT scholar by any means. Be that as it may we will have more to say concerning him a little later.

Another dawagandist who appeals to liberal critics to undermine the NT is a Muslim who goes by the name ‘Captain Planet’. This Muslim left the following comments on Muslim “apologist” Ibn Anwar’s blog:

Captain Planet said
July 11, 2009 at 1:39 pm
If to die does not mean “cease to exist” and, therefore, we say that Jesus – who is supposed to be God, the second person of the Trinity – did not “cease to exist” even though he died, then his death was really not a permanent offering… in which case, how would that atone for the sins of mankind?

Trinitarians often play these word games. The fact they have to do this itself, for me, is sufficient proof for the falsity of the Trinity. It just does not seem reasonable that God would confuse humanity with such confusing notions about Himself.

I personally avoid having such discussions with Christians because even if we assume that the Trinity makes perfect logical sense – which it does not – it does not follow that it is right.

From a purely historical perspective – and I am attempting to talk here as a historian and not as a Muslim – it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that Jesus, a Jew of first century Palestine, thought of himself as divine in any sense, let alone the second person of the Trinity. Moreover, there is no proof whatsoever that the Jews were expecting the Messiah to be a divine being, let alone the second person of the Trinity (they did not even entertain a Trinitarian concept of God, they were Unitarians!).

Historical Jesus scholars are largely agreed upon the above: that it is highly unlikely and most improbable that the historical Jesus was going around preaching his divinity to the people.

Catherine M. Murphy, Under the heading “Things Jesus Didn’t Talk About”, writes:


++++
His own divinity: One of the cardinal principles of historical Jesus research is that the belief in Jesus’s divinity is a post-resurrection phenomenon. During his life, his acts of power were understood as signs that God (or Satan) was working through him – not that he was God.

The gospel of John presents Jesus teaching that he’s divine, but most scholars treat this as a later interpretation rather than a historical fact because it’s so much more highly developed here than in the earlier gospels and gospel sources...


Catherine M. Murphy, The Historical Jesus For Dummies, 2007, John Wiley & Sons, Indianapolis: Indiana, p. 178.

++++
James White goes around conveying the impression as if he is representing mainstream scholarship. But the truth is just the opposite. The perspective on Jesus he is presenting is one which is widely dismissed by scholars.

Thus, if Jesus is most unlikely to have claimed to be God, then out goes the Trinity.

Does it now matter if the Trinity makes “sense?” It does not. It still remains historically baseless. (Ibn Anwar,
Response to Dr. James White)

What this Muslim forgot to mention is that this very same source claims that most historians believe that not only did Jesus never teach that he was Divine but that he also never claimed to be the Messiah!

The terms “MESSIAH,” “son of God,” and “son of man” from the preceding list become titles for Jesus AFTER HIS RESURRECTIONand come to bear meanings that they don’t carry in Jewish scripture, such as meanings tied to Jesus’ unique role as God’s son and thus is divine himself (see Chapter 15). Most historians think that these LATER Christological beliefs (theological views of what it meant to be Christ or messiah) WEREN’T AT STAKE DURING HIS ACTUAL LIFE. But by the time the gospels were written, these beliefs are at stake, and so the gospel writers focus the Jewish trial around the matter of Jesus’s identity. Had Jesus actually claimed divine power equal to God’s, he might have been guilty of blasphemy, at least as the Sadducees likely defined it (they were pretty strict about such things compared to the Pharisees; see Chapter 7). (Catherine M. Murphy, The Historical Jesus For Dummie [Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, IN 2008], Part IV: Witnessing Jesus’s Execution and Resurrection, Chapter 14: Examining Jesus’s Crucifixion, p. 232; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Murphy isn’t the only author who asserts that historians reject the claim that Jesus believed to be or called himself the Messiah:

Matthew and Josephus both refer to “Jesus who is called ‘Messiah.’” Matthew places the remark on the lips of Pilate at Jesus’s trial, while Josephus mentions “Jesus who is called Messiah” almost as a side remark in his narration of the death of James the brother of Jesus, who was put to death at the instigation of the high priest Ananus in the early 60s CE. Both of these authors are writing in the last quarter of the first century of the Common Era and refer to Jesus who is called “Messiah.” But by whom was Jesus called the “Messiah”? The obvious answer surely is, by Christians, and Josephus himself traces the name of the Christians back to the founder of their movement, Jesus, which implies that he was known as “Christ” (Ant. 18:64). Matthew, in contrast, would have us believe that Jesus was known as “Messiah” during the course of his final ministry in Jerusalem and in particular at his trial. While no one disputes Jesus was proclaimed and heralded as Messiah in the early church, the question as to whether or not he was recognized as such during his own lifetime is a much more complex and disputed topic. Moreover, it is equally debated as to whether Jesus claimed to be the Messiah and whether we can legitimately talk of a “messianic self-consciousness” on the part of the historical Jesus.

Scholarship on the Messianic Question
This “messianic question” as to whether or not Jesus believed himself to be the Messiah is a recurring riddle of historical Jesus scholarship. Julius Wellhausen wrote that of all the problems facing scholarship on the life of Jesus, “among the most important questions is whether and in what sense he [Jesus] believed and claimed himself to be the Messiah.” Similarly, H. J. Holtzmann said that the messianic consciousness of Jesus was “the main problem of New Testament theology.” The nature of the dilemma, as Albert Schweitzer recognized long ago, is that researchers have had to wrestle with the problem of the purportedly nonmessinaic character of Jesus’s public ministry in contradistinction to his messianic vocation and identity as affirmed by early Christian sources.

Primitive Christianity was a messianic movement that venerated a figure with the appellation Christos (Christ/Messiah/Anointed One), and followers of Jesus were given the name Christianoi (Christians/Messianists) to distinguish them from other Jewish sects. Did a self-professedly messianic claimant lie at the root of this messianic movement, or was the messianic identity of Jesus a subsequent development in the christological reflection of the early Christian communities that attributed the title to him in the course of their post-Easter theologizing? In the last one hundred years of historical Jesus research, mainly under the influence of William Wrede and Rudolf Bultmann, the CONSENSUS has largely rejected the position that the historical Jesus regarded himself as the Messiah. In fact, Martin Hengel goes so far as to state: “Today the unmessianic Jesus has almost become a dogma among many New Testament scholars. One is tempted to describe this phenomenon as ‘non-messianic dogmatics.’” Just in case one thinks that Hengel is exaggerating the state of scholarship, consider the following collection of comments:

For this is the truly amazing thing, that there is in fact not one single certain proof of Jesus’ claiming for himself one of the Messianic titles which tradition has ascribed to him…. Not a single one of his words speaks of the Messias designatus.8
Jesus is never once recalled as using the title “Messiah” of himself or as unequivocally welcoming its application to him by others.9
To claim that Jesus is the Messiah is absurd.10
There is not a single genuine saying of Jesus in which he refers to himself as the Messiah.11
It seems that before the passion Jesus did not openly claim to be the Messiah.12
Scenes in the Gospel in which Jesus is addressed or acknowledged as the Messiah are very few and acceptance of that title by Jesus is marred by complications.13
There is thus no certainty that Jesus thought of himself as bearer of the title “Messiah.” On the contrary, it is unlikely that he did so: all the gospel writers so regarded him, but they could cite little direct evidence.14
Jesus never chose to call himself “Messiah” or “Son of God” and even when others questioned him about his Messiahship, he usually declines to give a straight answer.15
As a possible role model he was more hostile than welcoming to the idea of the royal Messiah16.
The historical-critical work on the Gospels regarding the question of the work and the self-understanding of the “earthly” Jesus leads to the following result: Jesus did not designate himself as “Messiah.”17

Such skepticism is unsurprising given that Jesus in the Gospels never EXPLICITLY refers to himself as the Messiah, but he is called the Messiah, King, or Son of David by others, such as Peter (Mark 8:29/Matt. 16:16/Luke 9:20), Bartimaeus (Mark 10:47-48), the high priest (Mark 14:61), Nathanael (John 1:49), the Galilean crowds (John 6:15; Matt. 12:23), Passover pilgrims (Mark 11:9-10), and Martha (John 11:27). By itself such data might suggest that Jesus inspired messianic hopes but did not embrace the title himself...The notion that Jesus of Nazareth never claimed to be the Messiah has thus remained a well-worn position in modern research, although it is probably not as strongly held as it once was…
(Michael F. Bird, Are You The One Who Is To Come? – The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question, foreward by Stanley E. Porter [Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI 2009], Chapter 1. Jesus Who Is Called the Christ,” pp. 23-27; capital and underline emphasis ours)

8. Gunther Bornkamm, Jesus of Nazareth (trans. Irene McLuskey et al.; London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1973), 172, 178.
9. James D. G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered, vol. 1, Christianity in the Making (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 653.
10. Donald H. Juel, “The Origin of Mark’s Christology,” in Charlesworth, The Messiah, 453.
11. Eduard Schweitzer, Jesus (trans. D. E. Green; London: SCM, 1971), 14.
12. Dahl, “Crucified Messiah,” 40.
13. Raymond E. Brown, The Death of the Messiah (2 vols.; ABRL; New York: Doubleday, 1994), 1:475.
14. E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus (London: SCM, 1993), 242.
15. Geza Vermes, The Authentic Gospel of Jesus (London: Penguin, 2004), 402.
16. James D. G. Dunn, “Messianic ideas and Their Influence on the Jesus of History,” in Charlesworth, The Messiah, 374.
17. Otfried Hofius, “Ist Jesus der Messias?” JBT 8 (1993) (Pp. 25-26)

Contiues on Part II

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13 Sep 2014 
How the words of one of Islam’s leading Taqiyyist backfire against him

Sam Shamoun

In our encounters with Muslim dawagandists we have found that they have absolutely no problem with selectively citing scholars which suit their purpose and will not hesitate to distort sources in order to undermine the veracity of the Holy Bible and defend the false claims of Islam. This shouldn’t surprise our readers since Islam allows Muslim dawagandists to lie and use deception in order to protect their own interests and/or to further the cause of Islam (
*; *; *; *; *).

Yet the difficulty with having to constantly lie and deceive people into believing a false religion is that it eventually catches up to you. After all, it is harder to maintain a lie than it is to speak the truth since a person must have a very sharp memory in order to be able to repeat the same lie over and over again without slipping.

Shabir Ally is one such Muslim who, in our estimation, is one of the most deceptive Islamic apologists out there. However, Shabir is faced with a challenge in that he hasn’t been “gifted” with a sharp memory whereby he can maintain the same lie which accounts for why he often changes his position or argument depending on his audience and debate opponent. Yet by failing to maintain the same lie or deception Shabir ends up exposing himself time and time again.

One such time when Shabir made certain claims which ended up backfiring against him is in a discussion he had with leading NT scholar Michael Licona which took place on Lee Strobel’s show, Faith Under Fire. Licona and Shabir were invited to discuss whether the historical Jesus was Divine or just a human prophet.

When Strobel asked why should anyone consider the Quran to be a better historical record than the New Testament, seeing that it was composed centuries after the time of Christ, Shabir replied by saying that,

Well the Quran doesn’t claim to be a better historical record. The Quran claims to reaffirm that teaching which is there in the earlier historical record, namely, the Gospels themselves; and it calls upon the people of the Gospel to judge by what God has revealed in the Gospels. And when we look at the Gospels we see that Jesus throughout was referring to himself as the Son of Man, which means a human being, that he had human limitations, he did not know everything. He said that of that day and hour no one knows, not even the Son but the Father only. He said, ‘I can of myself do nothing,’ uh, ‘I do only as the Father has commanded me.’ Throughout Jesus is deferring to God, in fact he falls to his face and prays to God. All of these are human attributes which the Quran affirms as clear evidence that Jesus was a prophet, he was a human servant and messenger of God.” (Michael Licona versus Shabir Ally, Faith Under Fire – Who Was Jesus? Divine or Prophet?
*; *)

In his haste to debunk historic orthodox Christian beliefs Shabir’s comments actually refute the Quran and prove that Muhammad is a false prophet!

For instance, Shabir’s statement that the Quran calls the people of the Gospel to judge by what God has revealed in the Gospels is a direct allusion to the following text:

And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus son of Mary, confirming the Torah that was between his hands and We gave to him the Gospel, wherein is guidance and light, and confirming the Torah that was between his hands, as a guidance and an admonition unto the godfearing. So let the People of the Gospel judge according to what Allah has sent down therein. Whosoever judges not according to what Allah has sent down -- they are the ungodly. S. 5:46-47

However, by saying that this text exhorts Christians to judge by the Gospels, plural, Shabir pretty much confirmed that the Gospel which God gave to Jesus is synonymous with the four canonical Gospels of the New Testament! In other words, Shabir’s statements presuppose that the four canonical Gospels which Christians possess are the written records of the very Gospel which God revealed to Christ!

Shabir wouldn’t be alone in identifying the NT Gospels as the inscripturation of the Gospel which Jesus received and passed on to his followers. According to one of the oldest extant biographies on the life of Muhammad the Gospel of John is actually the written account of the very Gospel which God gave to Jesus’ followers!

Among the things which have reached me about what Jesus the Son of Mary stated in the Gospel which he received from God for the followers of the Gospel, in applying a term to describe the apostle of God, is the following. It is extracted FROM WHAT JOHN THE APOSTLE SET DOWN FOR THEM WHEN HE WROTE THE GOSPEL FOR THEM FROM THE TESTAMENT OF JESUS SON OF MARY: ‘He that hateth me hateth the Lord. And if I had not done in their presence works which none other before me did, they had not sin: but from now they are puffed up with pride and think that they will overcome me and also the Lord. But the word that is in the law must be fulfilled, "They hated me without a cause" (i.e. without reason). But when the Comforter has come whom God will send to you from the Lord's presence, and the spirit of truth which will have gone forth from the Lord's presence he (shall bear) witness of me and ye also, because ye have been with me from the beginning. I have spoken unto you about this that ye should not be in doubt.’
“The Munahhemana (God bless and preserve him!) in Syriac is Muhammad; in Greek he is the paraclete. (The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth impression 1995], pp. 103-104; bold and capital emphasis ours)

And here we want to say that we agree with Shabir regarding this point. The Quran does indeed presuppose that the Scriptures which the Christians possessed at the time of Muhammad are the very revelations which God gave to Jesus to pass on to his followers. Since these Christians not only possessed the four Gospels but also the other books which compromise the New Testament this means that the Quran affirms that the NT writings are the inspired words of God! For more on what the Quran says concerning the Holy Bible please consult the articles found on this
overview page.

This leads us to the other problem with Shabir’s assertions. It is true that the Quran CLAIMS to confirm the earlier scriptures, but this is WRONG and the fact that it is wrong can be illustrated clearly with an example of Shabir Ally himself when he misinterprets the messianic title “Son of Man” through Quranic glasses. A careful examination of the Gospels shows that Jesus used this title in contexts which affirm that he is a preexistent Divine Being.

For instance, Jesus claimed that as the Son of Man he can forgive sins, a prerogative which belongs only to God:

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, ‘Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, ‘Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk”? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . .’ He said to the paralytic, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’” Mark 2:5-12

Jesus as the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath day:  

So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:28

He is also the Son of Man who came down from heaven and returned there:

No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.” John 3:13

What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!” John 6:62

And as the Son of Man he is the I AM that existed even before Abraham and who perfectly carries out his Father’s instructions:

So Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.’ … Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham came into being, I AM.’” John 8:28, 58

There is more to the story. Jesus taught his followers that he is the Son of Man who will come riding the clouds in his Father’s glory along with his holy angels:

If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels.” Mark 8:38

At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send HIS angels and gather HIS elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.” Mark 13:26-27

Jesus is claiming to be the same Son of Man whom the prophet Daniel saw and wrote about:

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14

What makes this particular Son of Man rather unique is that he rides the clouds like God does, reigns forever like God, and is worshiped by all the nations in the same way that God is (cf. 3:16-18, 28; 6:16, 20, 26; 7:27; Exodus 13:21-22; 14:19-20, 24; 33:7-11; 40:34-38; Numbers 10:34; Psalm 68:4, 33-34; 86:9; 104:3; Isaiah 19:1; 66:23; Micah 4:7; Nahum 1:3). It is therefore apparent that this Son of Man is not a creature but a fully Divine Person appearing as a man.

Hence, by identifying himself as this very same Son of Man Jesus was obviously claiming to be God in human form!

Ironically, when Licona mentioned that in Mark 14:61-62 Jesus identified himself with Daniel’s exalted Son of Man and claimed to be a co-occupant of God’s very own throne Shabir tried to brush it aside by saying that God could allow someone to sit on his throne. Yet Shabir overlooked the fact that it isn’t simply the issue that the Son of Man occupies God’s throne, but that he also receives the very exclusive worship which belongs only to God. Thus, if the Son of Man is not God but a creature then this means that God is promoting idolatry since he is expressly commanding all nations to worship a creature in the same way that they worship him.

Coming back to the point, Jesus also said that the Son of Man would be crucified and killed in order to offer up his life as a ransom to save many:

They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. ‘We are going up to Jerusalem,’ he said, ‘and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise… For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” Mark 10:32-34, 45 – cf. 8:31-32; 9:30-31

Thus, if the Quran confirms the Gospels, and therefore confirms the title “Son of Man” for Jesus, as Shabir seems to claim, then this would imply that the Quran actually confirms the Deity and vicarious death of the Lord Jesus Christ, as we have just seen! In any case, what he says about the Quran is true: The Quran makes that claim (whether it is true or false). Shabir’s problem is that he has to misrepresent the Holy Bible by trying to play down the meaning of the title Son of Man.

Shabir’s problems are far from over. Shabir made direct reference to the following text when he stated that Jesus didn’t know the day or hour:

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32

What Shabir overlooked is that in this particular verse Jesus as the Son places himself above men and angels, being subject to the Father in terms of knowledge. Hence, by placing himself above humans and angels Jesus was essentially claiming to be superior to all creation!

Shabir further stated that Jesus said he could nothing by himself, which is a reference to the following passage:

“So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.’ For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath,but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. Jesus gave them this answer: ‘I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because WHATEVER the Father does the Son ALSO DOES. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, EVEN SO the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son JUST AS they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come 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 he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear HIS [the Son’s] voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.’” John 5:16-30

In this very same passage that Shabir alluded to Jesus claims that he can do everything that the Father does, such as give life to whomever he pleases and raise the dead from their graves just by the sound of his voice! Jesus further stated that he has life in himself just as the Father does and that all must honor him in the same way that they honor the Father! Hence, far from establishing Shabir’s assertion that Jesus is just a man the immediate context actually proves that Jesus is fully God and co-equal with the Father.

Shabir further argued that the historical Jesus fell to the ground and prayed to God. However, what Shabir did not mention is that Jesus addressed God as “Abba” or Father:

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’” Mark 14:35-36

In light of the foregoing this means, that according to Shabir, the Quran affirms that Jesus is the Son of God who is superior to humans and angels, being subject only to the Father, who can do everything that his Father does, and that he is the Divine Son of Man who came to die on the cross as a ransom for many!

The readers should see the problems with Shabir’s argument that the Islamic scripture affirms all of these truths, namely, the Quran actually denies all of these assertions! For example, the Quran denies that Jesus is God’s Son who died vicariously on the cross to ransom sinners:

And for their saying, ‘We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah' -- yet they did not slay him, neither crucified him, only a likeness of that was shown to them. Those who are at variance concerning him surely are in doubt regarding him; they have no knowledge of him, except the following of surmise; and they slew him not of a certainty -- no indeed; Allah raised him up to Him; Allah is All-mighty, All-wise. S. 4:157-158

And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away! S. 9:30

The Muslim scripture also denies that Allah has children since he is a father to no one. In fact, the highest relationship one can have with Allah is that of a slave!

And they say: The Beneficent God has taken (to Himself) a son. Certainly you have made an abominable assertion The heavens may almost be rent thereat, and the earth cleave asunder, and the mountains fall down in pieces, That they ascribe a son to the Beneficent God. And it is not worthy of the Beneficent God that He should take (to Himself) a son. There is no one in the heavens and the earth but will come to the Beneficent God as a servant. S. 19:88-93

And they say: The Beneficent God has taken to Himself a son. Glory be to Him. Nay! they are honored servants. S. 21:26

How, then, could Shabir claim that the Quran affirms all of these Biblical truths? The answer is rather simple. In his haste to address Strobel’s question that the Quran is a document written centuries after the time of Christ, and is therefore an unreliable witness when it comes to issues concerning the life of the historical Jesus, Shabir had to prove to the audience that its testimony shouldn’t be discounted since it actually agrees with what the earliest records on the life of Jesus teach.

Shabir’s second mistake was to then interpret the NT teaching concerning Jesus in light of his Islamic presuppositions which prevented him from seeing how these very statements actually refute the Quran. This is why he erroneously assumed that Jesus’ Son of Man statements actually prove that Jesus was nothing more than a man when in point of fact this self-designation conclusively demonstrates that Jesus is a preexistent Divine Being. Jesus’ use of the Son of Man proves that the historical Jesus believed that he was a fully Divine Person who was appearing in human form, being the very same Divine figure that the prophet Daniel saw all nations worshiping as he rules over them forever.

In concluding we will now summarize the implications of Shabir’s assertions so the readers can see the problems that Shabir created for himself by trying to mislead the audience into thinking that the Quran actually confirms what the Gospels teach concerning Jesus.

According to Shabir the Quran confirms the following facts about Jesus.

- The Gospels are the written records of the very Gospel which God revealed to Jesus’ followers, and Christians should therefore judge by them.
- Jesus is the Divine Son of Man who reigns forever and shall be worshiped by all the nations (this would include Muhammad as well).
- Jesus is also the Son of Man who was killed by crucifixion in order to ransom the lives of many and who physically, bodily resurrected from the grave on the third day.
- Jesus is the Son of God who is higher than angels and men, being subject only to the Father.
- Jesus is the Son who can do nothing on his own initiative but can perfectly do whatever the Father does, such as give life and raise the dead etc.

Therefore, if Shabir is right that the Quran affirms all of these Biblical statements that he claims were made by the historical Jesus then Muhammad was wrong and is a false prophet since he denied Jesus’ Deity, his vicarious death on the cross, and did not believe that his god was a Father to anyone, especially the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is what happens when Muslim dawagandists like Shabir have to use lies and deception in order to defend falsehood and attack God’s true Word, the Holy Bible. The Triune Lord ends up shaming them by exposing their lies and causing them to sound like fools whenever they speak against his Word:

Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” Proverbs 30:5-6

“Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Messiah/Christ. ‘Let us break their chains,’ they say, ‘and throw off their fetters.’ The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, ‘I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.’ I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.’ Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 2:1-12

Addendum
The Desperate Polemics of Islam's Dawagandists

Bassam Zawadi contacted Shabir Ally to respond to my article exposing his slip. In so doing Zawadi shows that he didn’t understand my objection, nor did Shabir Ally for that matter. Zawadi begins his article by misrepresenting my argument:

He claims that Shabir Ally believes that the Qur'an affirms the authority of the four Gospels as fully divine. Shabir Ally replying back in email denies this charge completely:

Zawadi makes it more obvious with every article and “rebuttal” that he simply does not understand what he reads since that’s not quite what I said. I said that Shabir’s statements presuppose that the four Gospels are actually the Gospel which the Quran exhorts Christians to judge by. Can Zawadi ever present my statements or represent what I say accurately?

Zawadi then posts Ally’s reply:
Of course I believe, as do most Muslims, that the Quran both confirms the truth of that which was revealed in the previous scriptures and at the same time serves as a quality controller to expose the corruptions which human beings have introduced into God's Word. Sam takes the first part of this assertion, ignores the second part of that assertion, though this must by now be known to every reviewer of my debates, and builds a case on inferences he can make from the same.

Hence he proceeds by saying that this would mean that Shabir believes in the Gospels as they are, and therefore he believes in Jesus as God, and therefore he disbelieves the Quran which denies this. Since Shabir is still a Muslim he must be is lying in saying that the Quran confirms the Bible, etc
. (Source)

This response leads me to wonder whether either of these gentlemen even understood my argument. I thought I had made it fully clear that by saying that the Quran confirms the Gospels, plural, Shabir made a mistake which cost him dearly. I stated quite plainly that in his haste to address Strobel’s question and to debunk historic Christian beliefs Shabir slipped and said that the Quran exhorts Christians to judge by the Gospels. Do either of these gentlemen understand that by saying that Shabir slipped I was basically acknowledging that Shabir made a mistake since he obviously doesn’t believe that the Gospels are synonymous with the Gospel revealed to Jesus?

With that said, I am fully aware of Ally’s position so there was no need for Zawadi to have contacted him to clarify what he believes concerning the Quran’s relationship to the previous Scriptures. However, nothing that Shabir says here addresses my point but actually ignores and distorts what I had written.

For instance, Shabir doesn’t address the fact that he expressly identified the Gospel which the Quran exhorts Christians to judge by as the Gospels. Sadly, Zawadi doesn't see how in saying this Shabir pretty much refutes what Zawadi wrote in response to Dr. White’s assertion that the author of the Quran may have mistakenly thought that the Gospel was a book written by Jesus:

Well it depends on what Gospel James White is talking about. If he is talking about the four Gospels, well then that is not what the Qur'an is even talking about to begin with. The Qur'an is speaking about the actual revelation sent from God to Jesus (peace be upon him). (
The Arrogance and Ignorance of James White)

If the Quran isn’t speaking about the Gospels but is actually referring to the revelation sent from God to Jesus then how could Shabir say that the Quran exhorts Christians to judge by the Gospels?

More importantly, which of these two dawagandists should we believe? Is Shabir right that the Quran expects Christians to judge by the Gospels, plural, which means that Zawadi is wrong? Or is Zawadi correct that the Quran isn’t speaking of the Gospels at all, and therefore Shabir is mistaken?

That Shabir was correct, albeit unintentionally, and Zawadi is in error can be easily proven from simply reading the Quranic passage in context:

And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus son of Mary, confirming the Torah that was between his hands and We gave to him the Gospel, wherein is guidance and light, and confirming the Torah that was between his hands, as a guidance and an admonition unto the godfearing. So let the People of the Gospel judge according to what Allah has sent down therein. Whosoever judges not according to what Allah has sent down -- they are the ungodly. S. 5:46-47

This command to the People of the Gospel presupposes that the Christians at Muhammad’s time still had in their possession the very Gospel which God gave to Jesus; otherwise how could they be expected to judge by a revelation that no longer existed in its pristine form? In light of this fact the question that Zawadi has to address, but which he keeps avoiding, is what was the Gospel which the Christians of Muhammad’s time possessed? Weren’t these Christians reading the very NT Gospels which we still have in our possessions till this day? If not then can Zawadi provide any textual, historical and/or archaeological data proving that the Christians which the Quran is addressing were reading some other Gospel than the NT Gospels?

Shabir also failed to address the fact that he was the one who claimed that the Quran confirms all of the following “human attributes” of Christ:
- Jesus claimed to be the Son of Man.
- Jesus didn’t know everything since he said “that of that day and hour no one knows, not even the Son but the Father only” (cf. Mark 13:32).
- Jesus further said that, “I can of myself do nothing,” and “I do only as the Father has commanded me” (cf. John 5:19, 30).
- Jesus fell on his face and prayed to God (cf. Mark 14:36-38).

We already saw how these statements about Jesus which Shabir claims the Quran confirms actually prove the exact opposite of what Shabir contended in his dialogue with Mike Licona. These facts which Shabir himself pointed to establish that the historical Jesus believed that he is the Divine Son of Man and unique Son of God who is exalted above all creatures, being subject only to God the Father. Therefore, how can I be accused of lying or misrepresenting Shabir’s position when it was Shabir himself who argued that the Quran confirms these particular NT teachings?

Zawadi says that he has refuted my attempts to prove that Islam confirms the textual integrity of the Quran, though what he really meant is that he has responded to my argument that the Quran confirms the textual integrity of the Holy Bible. I invite the readers to peruse all of the articles and rebuttals that are found
here and judge whether Zawadi has really been able to refute my case. Moreover, he links to Zaatari’s article where he misrepresents Jochen Katz’s argument to prove that even Katz refutes me on this point! In so doing Zawadi is once again simply confirming that he is unable to comprehend the arguments correctly and is therefore incapable of providing a meaningful response.

Lord willing, there will be further rebuttals to Zawadi’s “replies” in the near future.

Source:

IHS


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22 Aug 2014 

Encountering Ibn Arabi in the Religion of Love

By Timothy Abraham

My Beloved is my Lord and my Lord is my Beloved. He is the starting point, the Alpha and the Omega. All creatures seek Him and praise Him every day and hundreds of millions praise him every day in thousands of languages. Nobody can monopolize Him to himself and say that He is for me and no one else. God is for everybody and loves everybody, and so He had to be triune in three persons so that I may be privileged to know Him. For if He remains one and only in His heavens and not reaching out to me or running out to meet me in His incarnation, what good does His monotheism do for me? In what way do I really benefit from a theoretically concrete monotheism such as that?

Believing in the unity of God is a de-facto matter, acknowledged by all including the demons. James says in his epistle “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” (2:19) However, we need more than belief in one God. We need for this one God to become flesh with us, reach out His hand to us in His Advent. We need more than the doctrine of monotheism as strictly dry as it is. Therefore, our Lord comes, willingly, motivated by intense outpouring love for our sake. He, then, becomes triune without having any qualms about it. At the same time He is the Lord who is One and there is no other. Receiving such a spiritual matter occurs on the level of Faith not the abstraction of ideas, or otherwise we are watching from a distance and remain detached from our God by a big chasm. All that we know then, is that he is just one God. This is like going to the beach, watching the water from a distance and not allowing our feet to get wet. We have to plunge into the water of divine love where there is a deeper level. It is the level of the Trinity.

Within the Muslim world there has been a voice that has proclaimed an intimacy with God that goes far beyond the traditional Islamic understanding of God and the Muslim relationship with Him. Ibn Arabi (1165-1240 AD) was a poet, a sheikh of Islam and a lover of God. He was endowed with spiritual insight as well as beauty of soul in order to see some things, while still remaining in Islam. This Muslim mystic was able to spot such a significant spiritual truth as the Christian doctrine of Trinity in that he ties it in with God’s unconditional love. In a famous poem in his Turjuman, he proceeds to proclaim his love for his God and commune with Him in affectionate, flirting, poetic verses, even though his religion does not allow for such romance with God. Admittedly, the Quran does not state clearly that God is love or that God is our Beloved or the Lover. Never does the Quan state that the Lord will reach out to humanity in his initiative of love, as it is the case with Christianity. Yet Ibn Arabi transcends the obvious cruel, customary rigidity accompanying the Quranic text and proceeds to love with his God. His God is his Beloved; no wonder he is enormously comfortable around Him. No wonder most of the Arab world is universally drawn to Ibn Arabi and chant his romantic poetry and see it as a divine gift and we also see how much his heart was vastly big and tolerant so as to include all people of religions and non-religions, which is in itself incongruent with the spirit of Islam. He showed that he wanted to break free of the restrictions of Islam and love like God loves, loving everyone.

Isn’t every true love emanating directly from the bowels of God?
– Yes, of course!
And do we have any love in us that came from within us ourselves?
– Of course not! For how did we learn to flirt or how did we learn the art of love? And how do our hearts beat with that thrill? Of course this is from our maker, the Lord God Himself! Any love that is not rooted in God or comes from the heart of God is plain deception for its self-seeking nature. True love seeks what is the “other’s”. This means that I get out of myself and pour all my attention on that individual and seek that person’s ultimate good. Often a man loves a young lady because he simply sees his image in her. He sees himself in her, and for the things that she does for him. Such love is narcissism, as when Narcissus saw himself on the face of the water. But when I love someone this should be for her own sake. I should seek with all my energy to make her happy without expecting something in return. Utilitarianism and love do not go hand in hand.

Because we think about love, sex and romance apart from God, we are haunted by the mentality of halal and harram
ذهنية الحلال والحرام , which is what is lawful and unlawful in Islam, the do’s and don’ts. With this taboo mentality, everything is liable to become unclean because the mind is measuring things in a utilitarian, objectifying light. For them, lovemaking has become a legal right governed by the marriage contract, hence the phrase “`Uqdad al-nikah” عقدة النكاح (Intercourse contract). This phrase describes marriage, on the one hand, as nothing more than a contract and, on the other hand, it is this contract which modifies the act of Nikah (intercourse in marriage). The focus of Islam, here, would be on the idea to have a contract to have the right to have sex.

Ibn Arabi saw that Christ was the seal of the Saints while Muhammad was the seal of the prophets.
He doesn’t place Christ on the same level as ordinary prophets, who according to Islamic theology merely convey the message of God passively. He sees Christ as an intimate saint of God, about whom the Hadith qudsi says, “Whoever becomes an enemy to a wali (saint) I have launched war on him.” Ibn Arabi brings to mind the people who came to Jesus under the cover of darkness as they felt and knew deep within themselves who Christ really was. One such person was Nicodemus. It is no surprise that Christ speaks to him from the heart with impatience, “You are a teacher of Israel and you don’t know this?” (John 3:10) Likewise, Ibn Arabi has his own high esteem as an Imam in Islam, in the same fashion that Nicodemus held a place of reverence as Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin.

Our honored sheikh, Ibn Arabi, a Nicodemus in his own Islamic way, has his masterpiece of poetry, Turjuman Al-Ashwaq.
1 In poem 12 he says communing with his Beloved:
 
My beloved has become triune while He is still One,
In Him the Persons of Trinity have become a Being
.”

The Beloved is one, indeed, in his personhood, and so, we might wonder, how does trinity get to him, our sheikh Ibn Arabi? Ibn Arabi would tell us: It is Love! It is by love and for the sake of love that He becomes triune, otherwise he is closed in upon himself in dire detachment. He is not arrogantly peeking from his heaven on his slaves, as Islam would inform us. The Trinity is contrary to being closed off. For if God becomes veiled from us, this would be, indeed, hell in itself. May He never hide His face from us! Love was, and still is, His initiative, not ours. We might ask Ramon Llull, who was one of the earliest Christians to take the Gospel message to the Muslim world in the 13th century, about paradise and hell. In his book he states:

They asked the Lover: “What is the greatest darkness?” He replied: “The absence of my Beloved.” “And what is the greatest light?” “The presence of my Beloved.”
2

Closeness of the Beloved is paradise, and the absence of the Beloved is hell. True divine enlightenment comes with the closeness of the Beloved.

As long as we talk about the Trinity or Christianity at large, it cannot be done apart from the encounter of the loving God that we experience. For He is the Beloved who cannot be absent, or else life would be miserable hell as a result of His absence. The Gospel always presents the doctrine of the Trinity in light of the God who is love. Without talking about the Beloved, and here I mean my Own Beloved, I have no way of talking about the Trinity at all. In the Gospel according to Matthew, there is an elucidation of this concept in the baptism of Christ.

When all the people were baptized Jesus was also baptized and while praying the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit came in the form in dove and said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" (Matthew 17:5)

In this incident the Father who sends His Beloved Son for the salvation of the world is present. So is the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit also. He announces as the Spirit comes upon Christ that Christ is, indeed, God’s Beloved Son. In this verse, there is the beautiful presence of the three persons of the Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This Bible passage powerfully and clearly explains the doctrine of the Trinity for our Christian witness. We cannot talk about what is between the Father and Christ the Son without addressing the relationship of love that they have between the two of them. This is the only way to present the doctrine of the Trinity. In talking about the Beloved who has captivated us by His love, what further proof for Christianity do we need more than His own love? They ask for a sign, and yet the sign of love is the only thing offered to them. According to the Bible this doctrine of the Trinity has been present from the beginning, and it isn’t an invention of a church council, as some claim in order to justify their rejection of the triune God of Love. Whenever God the Father and Christ are present in some place, with the Holy Spirit operating in the hearts of people, then you are, indeed, addressing the Trinity. Call it whatever term you wish, for it isn’t about the terminology but the profound theological content that it denotes. It is all about the relationship between God the Father and Christ working together in our hearts and renewing them by the Holy Spirit of God. That is why they call Christianity the religion of Love.

Therefore, I am inclined to go with Ibn Arabi when he says in his Turjuman, “The religion of love shall be my religion and my faith, wherever God’s caravans turn”. Today, still, Ibn Arabi comes again in the person of an enlightened, open-minded Muslim scholar such as Dr. Muhammad Kamel Hussayn in his literary masterpiece. He is appalled by the hardness of hearts that handed Jesus over to the cross. One of his characters in the novel is mouth pieced as saying, “Would you ever kill a man that says that God is love? No criminal would utter such a thing! God is love.”
3 This kind of love was, indeed, the message of Christ who went about proclaiming it, leaving no room for divisive arguments. With love, you simply can’t argue. Love always wins. It is such love that is the most prominent dogma of Christianity, and it is for its sake that Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc., leave everything behind in order to walk with Christ hand in hand.

There was a Sikh by the name Sadhu Sundar Singh who had decided to follow Jesus. He was asked once by a Hindu professor what it was that he had found in Christianity that he had not found in his old religion. “I have found Christ,” said Sadhu Sundar Singh. “Oh yes, I know,” said the professor rather impatiently. “But what particular doctrine have you found or principle that you did not have before?” “The particular thing I have found,” replied Sadhu Sundar Singh, “is Christ!” It is this Jesus Christ that Ibn Arabi found as precisely characterizing the “religion of love” in his poem, and yet he could not give up all and follow Him. Sundar Singh, on the other hand, made a different choice and decided to be cleansed in His heart by His redemptive love. We may wash the outside as much as we want in ablutions, and all that we are doing is washing the “outside” of the pot. Sadly, the inside of the pot is still dirty (Luke 11:39). This is where Love Divine comes in and purifies us, not a long list of do’s and don’ts, that strict Islamic mentality of the ‘taboo’. That Trinity of Love is what it takes to purge our souls of its ills. What people need primarily is not rigid, dogmatic beliefs, but a Person, the Liberator of the souls, Jesus Christ. On his account, things are done out of deep, compelling love of Christ, not out of fear.

When the Holocaust occurred, people were still dressed in civilized clothes and acted refined. The heart, sadly, still had it own disease, the disease of sin. Western secularism in all of its glory didn't prevent people from committing the barbarism of the Holocaust. What was and is still needed is not an “ideology” but definitely a change of heart, a heart made once again in the image of God in the religion of love, of which Ibn Arabi speaks. Love alone can eradicate evil from man’s heart, and man is no longer, as Hobbes once claimed, a wolf hunting his own brother. Love, beauty of God, will redeem our souls; no more hunters, but instead achieving the highest potential of the humanity of God in Christ and appropriating it to our beings. We have seen and heard terror of Islam on every side. Its peace is nothing more than a lip service as it is more of an ideology than a spirituality of sorts.

For this reason, my God who is omnipotent chose also to be all-humble, all-love in the Trinity. Without the Trinity, he is just a generic deity, direly detached and remote, peeking down from heaven and weighing on people with his severe edicts. In the Trinity, he reaches out with both hand and heart to embrace me. He is no longer an idea to be proven or disproven, but a person to choose or to reject; a God to experience personally as Lord and Savior, but not a ‘concept’ that inferentially prevails upon our minds. His is the ‘love story’ which Fanny Crosby beautifully chants,

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word.
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth.
“Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth.”

My friends, please, I would be delighted
to hear from you.

Footnotes
1 Edited by Reynold Alleyne Nicholson and published by The Royal Asiatic Society, London, 1912.
2 Ramón Llull, The Book of the Lover and the Beloved, translated from Catalan by E. Allison, with an introductory essay, 1923; p. 31, stanza 119, online source.
3 قرية ظالمة , Dar Al Shuruq, Cairo, Egypt, p. 19; English translation by Kenneth Craig, City of Wrong: A Friday in Jerusalem.

Source:

IHS


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15 Aug 2014 

Continues form Part 1

Andalusi proceeds to show that he simply doesn’t understand Craig’s argument:

The false premises just pour of this statement by William. Firstly, God knew all of his creation before he created it, would it be not possible for God to love his creation from all eternity even though it hadn’t existed yet? Surely if William had read his Old testament, he would have found the verse where God is reported to have said to Prophet Jeremiah:

‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.’ Jeremiah 1:5
 
‘When I (David) was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.’ Psalm 139:13-16

God exists outside time and space, for him, there is no before, present or after, so he had always loved his deserved amongst creation and always hated the undeserving amongst his creation. How narrow of Dr Craig to have limited God’s knowledge and timelessness so.

Once again, Andalusi doesn’t realize that his objection provides tacit support for Dr. Craig’s point since to say that God loved his creation before it existed actually affirms that a loving being must love someone other than himself. However, by positing creation as the object of God’s love Andalusi has now made God dependent upon creation, thereby denying God’s independence and self-sufficiency. Andalusi has turned God into a contingent being since his view makes God’s love dependent upon creatures.

Andalusi is not the only one to turn God into a contingent being who needs creatures in order to express his qualities, since Andalusi’s own prophet did the very same thing when he said the following
:

Chapter 2: THE OBLITERATION OF SINS WITH THE HELP OF SEEKING FORGIVENESS PROM ALLAH

Abu Sirma reported that when the time of the death of Abu Ayyub Ansari drew near, he said: I used to conceal from you a thing which I heard from Allah's Messenger and I heard Allah's Messenger as saying:Had you not committed sins, Allah would have brought into existence a creation that would have committed sin (and Allah) would have forgiven them. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037,
Number 6620)

Abu Ayyub Ansari reported that Allah's Messenger said: If you were not to commit sins, Allah would have swept you out of existence and would have replaced you by another people who have committed sin, and then asked forgiveness from Allah, and He would have granted them pardon. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037,
Number 6621)

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger having said: By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if you were not to commit sin, Allah would sweep you out of existence and He would replace (you by) those people who would commit sin and seek forgiveness from Allah, and He would have pardoned them. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037,
Number 6622)

That Allah needed to create sinners whom he could forgive as a way of showing mercy indicates that even Muhammad understood Dr. Craig’s argument! Muhammad seemed to realize that perfect love can only exist between persons who love one another, among a community which gives itself away in love. However, seeing that he didn’t understand the doctrine of the Trinity he was forced to come up with a view that ended up making Allah dependent upon not just creation in general, but upon sinners in particular! (This further shows that Allah had determined beforehand that there would be sin in the world and therefore created people who would actually sin.)

In fact, this next verse shows that Allah also needs creatures to love and worship him:

I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me. S. 51:56 Pickthall

Notice that the reason why Allah created jinn and mankind was so that they could worship him, which shows that Allah had a need which only creatures could meet.

The following narration further confirms Allah’s dependence on creation:

3) Allah says, "I was a hidden treasure, and I wished to be known, so I created a creation (mankind), then made Myself known to them, and they recognised Me." (
An Introduction to the Sciences of Hadith, Shaykh Suhayb Hasan hafidhahullaah (Published by Dar-as-Salam))

The reason why Allah created was because he wanted to be known!
 
(Side note: This narrative introduces another problem since it says that Allah wanted people to know him and yet he cannot be known since he has refused to reveal his nature to us. The only thing that can be known about Allah is his will as demonstrated by his actions.)

Although the authenticity of the chain of transmission for this report has been questioned by Muslim scholars there are some that accept its veracity on the grounds that its meaning is supported by Q. 51:56:

3) Ibn Taimiyyah says, "It is not from the words of the Prophet, and there is no known isnad for it, neither sahih nor da'if"; al-Zarkashi (d. 794), Ibn Hajar, al-Suyuti and others agreed with him. Al-Qari says, "But its meaning is correct, deduced from the statement of Allah, I have not created the Jinn and Mankind, except to worship Me, i.e. to recognise/know me, as Ibn 'Abbas has explained." These statements are mentioned by al-'Ijlouni, who adds, "This saying occurs often in the words of the Sufis, who have relied on it and built upon it some of their principles."88 (An Introduction to the Sciences of Hadith,
SECTION C: FURTHER BRANCHES OF MUSTALAH AND RIJAL AL-HADITH; italic emphasis ours)

88. Isma'il b. Muhammad al-'Ijlouni, Kashf al- Khafa' (2 vols. in 1, Cairo/Aleppo, N.D.), no. 2016. (Footnotes)

Hence, the Islamic sources testify that Allah needed to be worshiped and loved by others and so he therefore decided to create individuals who would give him what he needed! As such, Allah cannot be a self-sufficient being who is free of all desires and needs. Allah is actually a contingent being who had to create in order to both express and experience love!(1)

Hopefully, this will help Andalusi see all of the problems that his argument and the narrations attributed to Muhammad pose for his monotheistic beliefs. Perhaps he will now realize how Muhammad’s teachings and his own reply actually confirm, rather than refute, Dr. Craig’s argument and show that it is philosophically sound and logically valid.

All glory to the Triune God the Christian conception of God doesn’t suffer from any of these problems! According to God’s inspired Word, God is love and his nature is to give himself away in love:
 
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God IS love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God IS love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:8-16
 
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
 
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2
 
and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 1:5-6

At the same time the Holy Bible is clear that the Triune God didn’t need any creature to express and receive love from since the distinct Persons of the Godhead have been loving one another before creation existed. For instance, the Father loved his Son before the world existed:
 
“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’" Matthew 3:16-17 – cf. 9:7
 
“And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began… 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 17:5, 24

And because he loves the Son the Father appointed him Heir of everything that exists:
 
“Then the owner of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let's kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’” Luke 20:13-14
 
“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.” John 3:35
 
For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.” John 5:20

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and FOR him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,” Colossians 1:13-19
 
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” Hebrews 1:1-3

In a similar manner the Lord Jesus perfectly obeys the Father in everything he commands, even to the point of laying his life down for believers, because of his love for the Father:
 
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:37-40
 
The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” John 10:17-18

“but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.” John 14:31
 
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” John 15:9-10

Thus, God didn’t create because he needed someone or something to love, but out of his own free will. God was already expressing and experiencing perfect love in eternity, long before creation ever came into being. Allah is clearly not like the God of the Holy Bible in this regard, and in many other aspects as well.

Furthermore, Andalusi’s statement here,

God exists outside time and space, for him, there is no before, present or after, so he had always loved his deserved amongst creation and always hated the undeserving amongst his creation. How narrow of Dr Craig to have limited God’s knowledge and timelessness so.

Is simply irrelevant to Craig’s argument and is nothing more than a red herring, since even in Andalusi’s view his god is still dependent on creation in order to express love.

Besides, Andalusi is causing more problems for himself by raising this objection. He seems to imply that whatever God is stated to do at a certain time (like loving those of his creation who deserve it) he has been doing for eternity because God is outside of time and therefore there is no before, after, now etc. On what basis would Andalusi restrict this conclusion only to “loving” and not to other actions of God? Would he also say that God was exhibiting wrath and anger towards sinners even before they existed?

Another problem with his assertion is that his position would inevitably mean that God’s act of creation is timeless and so God must be eternally creating the universe. However, seeing that such is not the case doesn’t the very act of creation imply a moment of time that God began creating the universe at a specific moment and then finished that act at a different moment? If so then weren’t these actions of God moments in time?

Moreover, if there is no present and after with God then does this means that God hasn’t finished with his act of creating the universe. If Andalusi actually believes this then he must accept that God is actually still creating the cosmos and cannot stop creating it since there is no after with God! And if there is no before with God then there can never be a time when he wasn’t creating the universe. However, since Andalusi clearly doesn’t believe that God was always creating the cosmos this means that he must accept that there is a before with God since there was an actual moment before God created anything.

In fact, Andalusi himself admits that there is a before with God since this is what he wrote:

God knew all of his creation BEFORE he created it, would it be not possible for God to love his creation from all eternity even though it hadn’t existed yet?

Not only is Andalusi contradicting himself his statements show that even he doesn’t really buy into his own logic!(2)

Andalusi tries to take a stab at refuting Craig’s position that the Trinity exhibits perfect, selfless love:

Dr Craig asserts, self-destructively, that the Unitarian God is unable to ‘give himself away to another’, and therefore ‘cannot be the most perfect being’, and that only a triad of ‘persons’ in a trinity are the ones who can achieve such a ‘giving away to another’

The most fundamental problem with this conclusion, is not just that Dr Craig denies god can love his creation before he made it, and not on the nature of what love is, but also, interestingly enough, on who God needs to love. Craig says that if God only loves himself, then he is not a ‘perfect being’, but Craig’s Trinitarian doctrine attests that the trinity’s ‘persons’ are all part of God and not separate from his being, thus they do not constitute a ‘OTHER’ to the being of God. Thus, Dr Craig has fell into his own trap, for if he claims that God loves himself, then he admits that his conception of God too, cannot be the ‘perfect being’ as well. The alternative is for Dr Craig to say the trinity is, in reality, a pantheon of three Gods who love each other as a relationship between separate beings, and therefore also able to satisfy the (Dr Craig’s) criteria of love, which demands that God love ‘an-OTHER’.

If Dr Craig were to argue that there is love between the ‘persons’ of the trinity within God’s being, but not without, then, according to his logic, the persons maybe individually ‘perfectly loving’ to each other, but collectively as God, they will not be perfectly loving, since God as a ‘whole’ (!) is not loving another, but merely himself. Although I really don’t understand why Craig’s anthropomorphised God cannot be Unitarian and still love itself, when even human beings can love themselves! But I guess Craig’s concept of God cannot do something a ordinary human can.

Thus, Craig will have become stuck on the contradictory nature of the Trinity fallacy, and he will have no other recourse than to exclaim that his premise, a God who cannot love himself while at the same time be the ‘perfect loving being’, CAN in fact love himself and still be the ‘perfect loving being’ without any contradictions. Once again, the trinitarians, in their desparate attempt to find explanations for contradictory doctrines, have created more contradictions then they solve. Perhaps Craig shall have toexplain that his argument is correct but that the reason we don’t understand it is because it is a great mystery
.

Andalusi erroneously assumes that since the distinct Persons of the Godhead are not separate Gods, but a single God, this means that God is still essentially loving himself. Thus, according to Andalusi God must express love to another being in order for Craig’s argument to work.

The readers should immediately spot the problem with Andalusi’s reasoning since perfect love doesn’t require that a person love another distinct being. All that is required is that a person loves someone else. Here, once again, is Craig’s argument:

As the greatest conceivable being, God must be perfect. Now a perfect being must be a loving being. For love is a moral perfection; it is better for a person to be loving rather than unloving. God therefore must be a perfectly loving being. Now it is of the very nature of love to give oneself away. Love reaches out to ANOTHER PERSON rather than centering wholly in oneself. So if God is perfectly loving by His very nature, He must be giving Himself in love to another. But who is that other? It cannot be ANY CREATED PERSON, since creation is a result of God’s free will, not a result of His nature. It belongs to God’s very essence to love, but it does not belong to His essence to create. So we can imagine a possible world in which God is perfectly loving and yet NO CREATED PERSONS exist. So CREATED PERSONS cannot sufficiently explain whom God loves. Moreover, contemporary. cosmology makes it plausible that created persons have not always existed. But God is eternally loving. So again CREATED PERSONS alone are insufficient to account for God’s being perfectly loving. It therefore follows that the other to whom God’s love is necessarily directed must be internal to God Himself.

In other words, God is not a single, isolated PERSON, as unitarian forms of theism like Islam hold; rather God is a plurality of PERSONS, as the Christian doctrine of the Trinity affirms. On the unitarian view God is A PERSON who does not give Himself away essentially in love for ANOTHER; He is focused essentially only on Himself. Hence, He cannot be the most perfect being. But on the Christian view, God is a triad of PERSONS in eternal, self-giving love relationships. Thus, since God is essentially loving, the doctrine of the Trinity is more plausible than any unitarian doctrine of God. (Emphasis ours)

Notice that Dr. Craig speaks of persons and of loving another person. He says nothing about beings loving other beings. So Andalusi is basically distorting Craig’s position in order to attack a strawman.

With that said, since there are three distinct Persons of the Godhead who love one another this means that the Christian conception of God meets the conditions for perfect love and therefore the Christian God is the greatest conceivable Being.

Andalusi’s argument further likens God to his creation, albeit implicitly. After all, to say that even the Christian concept has God essentially loving himself is to basically liken God’s mode of existence with that of his creatures. Therefore, just as a human being loving himself would not be a display of perfect love, but would be considered a rather selfish act, God loving himself is also not the greatest demonstration of selfless love.

The problem with this argument is that God’s Being is unlike his creation since he is tri-Personal whereas creatures such as humans are for the most part uni-personal. Thus, whereas a human being loving himself would not be an expression of selfless love God loving himself would be since it is not a single Person loving himself, but rather three distinct Persons loving one another.

In conclusion, we must say that Abdullah Al-Andalusi has failed to show any real flaws in Dr. Craig’s argument. In fact, we have seen that many of his very own objections actually presuppose and confirm that Craig’s reasoning is logically valid.

We have also seen that the Christian conception of God perfectly fits the definition of the greatest conceivable Being since the Christian God perfectly loves and has actually exhibited the greatest display of love imaginable.

We further demonstrated that the Islamic conception of God is both morally inadequate and philosophically objectionable and that the Islamic god is not self-sufficient since he is in need of his creation.

Therefore, the Islamic conception of god should be rejected since it demeans God and turns him into a contingent being. Islam posits an imperfect and inadequate figure whose love is no greater than the love displayed by imperfect sinners according to the words of the Lord Jesus since he only loves those who love him or do good.

The following Christian authors show why the Islamic conception of god is morally and philosophically repugnant whereas the Christian concept is not:
 
There is something profoundly imperfect and therefore inadequately divine in a solitary divine individual. If such an individual is love, he must share, and sharing with finite beings such as humans is not sharing all of one's nature and so is imperfect sharing. A divine individual's love has to be manifested in a sharing with another divine individual, and that (to keep the divine unity) means (in some sense) within the Godhead, that is, in mutual dependence and support.” (Richard Swinburne, The Christian God [Oxford University Press, USA, November 24, 1994], p. 190)

And:
 
Of all the gods in all the religions of the world, only the triune God of the Bible is truly and wholly personal. This point is often not recognized, so we will dwell on it briefly. First, consider the non-Christian theism embraced by Jews and Muslims, the belief in a single god who rules the world. By itself, theism will not suffice to give us a truly personal god, for a god who is utterly and simply one – a mere monad– fails to have qualities we know to be essential to personality. Although an absolute monad, like the god of Islam, is the most exalted non-Christian idea of a deity, a monad is a being who is eternally alone – with no other to love, no other with whom to communicate, and no other with whom to have fellowship. In the case of such a solitary god, love, fellowship, and communication cannot be essential to his being. Indeed, they are no part of the monad at all. But without these qualities it is difficult to imagine that the deity so conceived is in any meaningful sense personal. To conceive of a god who does not know love, a god who has never shared, for whom a relationship with another is eternally irrelevant, is to conceive of an abstraction, an idea or a thing more than a person.
 
“If, to make his god personal, a believer in such a deity suggested that his god loved the world after he created it, the result would be a god who changes in time and who needs the world in order to grow into his self-realization as a god of love – a god who becomes personal only with the help of creation. Suppose one asserted that the monad loved the world from eternity? Then the personality of this deity and his attribute of love would still depend for their existence on the world he created. Creation would be a necessary act of self-becoming. For, unless this deity created the world, he could not realize the love that had been eternally hidden in him, waiting for its time to shine forth.
 
In either case, we would have theism of a sort. Both cases would be attempts to obtain a monad for whom love had some meaning. However, these attempts succeed in exalting the monad ethically by demoting him ontologically, for he is no longer absolute, no longer transcendent. We would have to admit that he could no longer truly be god, and that a god who varies or a god who is dependent on the world that he creates is not worthy to be regarded as a deity. Be that as it may, in either of these cases, though the idea of love has been imported into an inchoate theism, we are clearly far from the biblical concept of a personal fellowship of love among equals. Of course, neither orthodox Jews nor orthodox Muslims imagine their god as a changing or contingent being. They would not think of revising their views of god to enhance his image and compensate for his lack of personal qualities. It follows that they must be satisfied with a god who exists in an eternal vacuum, even though they will find irresistible the temptation to ascribe personality to the monad.” (Ralph Allan Smith,Trinity and Reality: An Introduction To The Christian Faith [Canon Press, Moscow Idaho 2004], Chapter Two. A Personal God and a Personal Word,
pp. 18-19)

Smith reiterates this point when he elsewhere writes that,
 
The Triune God of the Bible is the only God who is truly and wholly personal. Consider, for example, how different the Triune God is from the Jewish and Muslim conception of an absolute monad. The most exalted non-Christian idea of deity involves a being who is eternally alone – with no other to love, no other with whom to communicate, and no other with whom to fellowship. In the case of such a solitary god, love, fellowship, and communication cannot be essential to his being. But without these qualities it is difficult to imagine that the deity so conceived is actually personal at all. A god for whom a relationship with another is eternally irrelevant is an abstraction, an idea or a thing more than a person.
 
“If, to make his god more personal, a believer in such a deity suggested that his god loved the world after he created it, the result would be a god who changes in time. Or, if one asserted that the monad loved the world from eternity, the personality of this deity, or at least his attribute of love, would depend for its existence on the world he created. It is also important to note that the idea of a god loving a world that will someday come into existence is far from the Biblical concept of a personal fellowship of love among equals. In any event, a god who changes, or a god who is dependent on the world that he creates is less than a god. Neither orthodox Jews nor orthodox Muslims imagine their god as changing or dependent on the world. They must resolve, therefore, to believe in a god who exists in an eternal vacuum, even though they will find irresistible the temptation to ascribe personality to the monad.
 
If Muslims and Jews applied their notion of god consistently to their worldview, man's personality, too, would be found to lack ultimate meaning. That man speaks, laughs, and loves can only be accidental truths at best. There would be nothing in the deity to correspond to such things. And what could it mean for man to be created in the image of such a god? If man is to be like such a god, would that mean that the ideal life in this world is one that lacks these personal qualities? Should man look forward to an eternity of silent self-contemplation?
 
“Nor can polytheism, which may seem to be personal, really provide a source of personal meaning. For in addition to the fact that the gods tend to vary from place to place and time to time, the personal deities of polytheism are not ultimate. They are themselves determined by a higher principle, whether fate or something similar, which again makes the impersonal ultimate. When the gods themselves are struggling to be personal, they cannot be the source of personal meaning for man.
 
“Only in the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is there a personal absolute. In the Father, Son, and Spirit, Christians worship three equally ultimate Persons who are united in one Being. Since neither God's Oneness nor His Threeness is prior to the other, both His unity and His personal diversity are ultimate. Men – created in God's image as persons – have meaning, both individually and as a race, because they are the image of the Absolute. Indeed, the whole creation can only be understood rightly in terms of the Tripersonal God who created all things to reveal His glory. Ultimate explanation is not to be found in principles, nor in ideas, nor in a final theory, but in the Father, Son, and Spirit – the Personal God. All things in the world are what they are by His will – they were created by Him and for Him and in Him alone they subsist (Col. 1:16-17). The history of the world is nothing other than the outworking of His plan "who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" (Eph. 1:11b).”
(Smith, Trinity and Covenant: Christian Worldview,
Chapter One. The Covenant Standard)

In light of these facts a person should therefore reject Islam and its god and embrace the Christian conception of God since not only is it morally adequate and philosophically sound, it is also true!

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Endnotes
(1)
It is interesting to see how these specific Islamic texts actually refute the following assertion made by Andalusi:
Furthermore, to say that God possesses an attribute that “by His very nature, He must be giving Himself in love to another.”, is to claim that God is IN NEED of something else other than his (absolutely indivisible) self. God cannot be in need to do anything, as he is uncreated and independent. Thus he possesses no innate desires, instincts or motivations that CAUSE him to do actions. For if he were to possess instincts, natures or desires that are intrinsically part of himself, the question would arise as to ‘who created those causes that cause the first cause (i.e. God)?

The correct and rational conclusion, is that God possesses no needs or any kind, because he has no ‘nature’ or instincts that motivate him to do actions (i.e. are a first cause before himself). Thus God is not a creature which is moved by its own nature; rather God does not have a defined nature, since no one defined him. But rather, he defines his will by whatever he pleases.

Besides misconstruing Craig’s argument Andalusi is going against the teachings of Muhammad at this point, just as the narratives which we quoted earlier demonstrate. After all, if Allah was really free of any need or desire then why did he create jinn and mankind to worship him? Why did he create for the purpose of wanting to be known by others if Allah is truly free from all desires? It is evident that Andalusi’s view of God has been influenced by Greek philosophy and/or medieval Christian theology rather than by the Quran or Muhammad’s sunna.

(2)
Lest the readers misunderstand we are not claiming that God exists in time or that he didn’t create time. What we are saying is that the relationship between God and time is much more complex than Andalusi’s statements suggest. The fact is that God’s relationship to time is one of those paradoxes that finite minds will never be able to fully comprehend or reconcile.

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08 Aug 2014 

Sam Shamoun

Evangelical Christian apologist and philosopher Dr. William Lane Craig presents a rather powerful philosophical argument for why the Christian conception of God is vastly superior to the Islamic doctrine of unitarianism that is based on God’s attribute of love. He says:

As the greatest conceivable being, God must be perfect. Now a perfect being must be a loving being. For love is a moral perfection; it is better for a person to be loving rather than unloving. God therefore must be a perfectly loving being. Now it is of the very nature of love to give oneself away. Love reaches out to another person rather than centering wholly in oneself. So if God is perfectly loving by His very nature, He must be giving Himself in love to another. But who is that other? It cannot be any created person, since creation is a result of God’s free will, not a result of His nature. It belongs to God’s very essence to love, but it does not belong to His essence to create. So we can imagine a possible world in which God is perfectly loving and yet no created persons exist. So created persons cannot sufficiently explain whom God loves. Moreover, contemporary. cosmology makes it plausible that created persons have not always existed. But God is eternally loving. So again created persons alone are insufficient to account for God’s being perfectly loving. It therefore follows that the other to whom God’s love is necessarily directed must be internal to God Himself.

In other words, God is not a single, isolated person, as unitarian forms of theism like Islam hold; rather God is a plurality of persons, as the Christian doctrine of the Trinity affirms. On the unitarian view God is a person who does not give Himself away essentially in love for another; He is focused essentially only on Himself. Hence, He cannot be the most perfect being. But on the Christian view, God is a triad of persons in eternal, self-giving love relationships. Thus, since God is essentially loving, the doctrine of the Trinity is more plausible than any unitarian doctrine of God.

A particular Muslim apologist named Abdallah al-Andalusi has written a
reply to Dr. Craig where he tries to show that Craig’s argument is philosophically unsound.

In this article we are going to examine Andalusi’s reply to see whether he was able to refute the soundness of Dr. Craig’s position.

Andalusi begins by arguing that,

Merely possessing love, is not a moral perfection in of itself, because love is just an emotion and even a greedy person possesses love (i.e. love for money). Furthermore, love only becomes incumbent on us because we are created, and our creator ordained upon us that we should love each other as a worship of Him. Since God does not worship anything (since he is God, the only), he is not subject to morals, but rather, he defines the morals which others must follow according to his will.

Furthermore, God is no more ‘likely’ to possess the attribute of ‘loving’ as he would possess the attribute of hating.

Andalusi is distorting Craig’s position and therefore attacking a strawman. Craig didn’t say that the mere possession of love, any kind of “love,” is a moral perfection but rather loving others is, i.e., note Craig’s repeated emphasis that a perfect being must be a loving being. Craig clearly stated that it is the very nature of love itself to give oneself away to another.

What makes this rather ironic is that Andalusi’s analogy actually confirms Craig’s point. Andalusi brings up the example of a greedy person who loves money to illustrate the fact that love in and of itself is not a moral perfection. However, the reason why Andalusi could see that the person’s love for money is greedy is because such love was focused on the person himself and not on others. A person’s love for money may and often does cause him to turn a blind eye to those who are in need, making him selfish and callous towards the pain of those whom he could be of benefit to if he was simply willing to use his money to help others. Thus, Andalusi’s own example confirms Craig’s argument that loving others is better than loving oneself, and since this greedy person’s love was centered towards himself such love was morally objectionable.

Even without looking at the behavior of greedy people towards other people, Andalusi’s attempted counter-example of “love of money” also fails because it is an entirely different “love” (more appropriately called desire or lust rather than love) since it is a “love” that wants to HAVE, to GRAB, to POSSESS and is thus the opposite of the self-giving love which Dr. Craig was speaking about.

The other problem with Andalusi’s claim is his assertion that love is only incumbent upon us because we are created. But that’s not true at all, since he also says:

The Love between people is merely the manifestation of the human species bonding instinct, which normally moves us to have compassion with our fellow human being (and anthropomorphised pet!). God is not part of a genus of species that requires him to possess an instinct which bonds him with other gods – this is because God is unique and the only one, and more importantly, he is not created.

Anyone can see the problem with such statements. How does Andalusi know that this is what love is? Where is he getting this definition from? Did God personally reveal this to him? Is he getting this from the Holy Bible or the Quran? If so where is this stated in the Holy Bible or the Quran? He obviously isn’t getting it from the Quran since, as we shall shortly see, even the false prophet Muhammad agreed with Craig’s argument!

Moreover, Andalusi should have asked himself who placed this instinct to bond within creatures if not God? But then why would God create this instinct within creation if it doesn’t somehow reflect God’s nature in some sense (albeit to a vastly limited extent)?

But let us assume for argument’s sake that his assertion is correct, is Andalusi willing to accept the logical outcome of his position?

For instance, the Quran says that Allah is also a loving being, even though he only loves Muslims who do good:

And spend in the way of Allah and cast not yourselves to perdition with your own hands, and do good (to others); surely Allah loves the doers of good. S. 2:195

Say: “If you love Allah then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you of your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” S. 3:31

Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just. S. 60:8

Truly Allah loves those who fight in His Cause in battle array, as if they were a solid cemented structure. S. 61:4

This means that according to Andalusi’s logic Allah must be a creature who is part of a genus of species which requires him to possess an instinct that bonds him with other members of that said species!
Notice the following:

- Loving others is only incumbent upon us because we are creatures whom the Creator has ordered us to love as an act of worship to him.
- Allah is a being who loves others.
- Therefore, Allah is a creature who is subject to another whom he is obligated to worship by loving others.

And:
- Love is an instinct that species possess which binds them together.
- Allah loves others according to the Quran.
- Therefore, Allah must be part of a genus of species that possesses an instinct to love in order to bind him to others.

More importantly, Andalusi’s objections again confirm the validity of Dr. Craig’s argument even though he doesn’t see it. In saying that love is an instinct which moves us to show compassion Andalusi is acknowledging that it is the nature of love to give itself away to another! Besides why would God command creatures to love one another if it is not the very nature of love to do so? And why did God even bother coming up with such a command for his creatures if he himself was not a loving being who also gives himself away in love?

The other mistake in Andalusi’s reasoning is that he erroneously assumes that morals is something that one has to be subject to and since God isn’t subject to anything he is therefore not subject to any morals. It is rather unfortunate that Andalusi does not see that if his reasoning is sound then this means that he is positing a God that is amoral, a being who is neither good nor bad, and is therefore not necessarily holy and doesn’t act righteously because of his nature. Rather, such a God acts righteously simply because he chooses to (assuming, of course, that he has chosen to act righteously)!

Yet such a view means that God is capricious and can decide at any moment to act wickedly or commit immoral acts. After all, there are no morals that such a God is subject to so what’s to stop him from being wicked and deceitful? What prevents such a God from inflicting the greatest harm and cruelty upon his creatures for no other reason than simply because he feels like it? The scary thing about this is that according to Andalusi’s position there is absolutely nothing which prevents him from doing so!

In fact, Andalusi pretty much admits that his god doesn’t have a nature, at least not one that is defined, and can simply do whatever he wants:

The correct and rational conclusion, is that God possesses no needs or any kind, because he has no ‘nature’ or instincts that motivate him to do actions (i.e. are a first cause before himself). Thus God is not a creature which is moved by its own nature; rather God does not have a defined nature, since no one defined him. But rather, he defines his will BY WHATEVER HE PLEASES. (Emphasis ours)

Andalusi’s statements confirm the following observation made by noted Evangelical Christian apologist and philosopher Norman L. Geisler and his co-author:

GOD AS ABSOLUTE WILL (HIS VOLITIONALITY)

There is a certain mystery about God’s names. Cragg affirms these names “are to be understood as characteristics of the Divine will rather than laws of His nature. Action, that is, arising from such descriptives may be expected, but not as a matter of necessity.” What gives unity to all God’s actions is that he wills them all. As willer he may be recognized by the descriptions given him, but he does not conform to any. The action of his will may be identified from its effects, but his will of itself is inscrutable. This accounts for antithesis in certain of God’s names that will be discussed below. For example, God is “the One Who leads astray” as well as “the One Who guides.”

GOD AS ABSOLUTELY UKNOWABLE (HIS INSCRUTABILITY)

Since everything is based on God’s will and since his effects are sometimes contradictory and do not reflect any absolute essence, God’s nature is really unknowable. Indeed, “the Divine will is an ultimate beyond which neither reason nor revelation go. In the Unity of the single will, however, these descriptions co-exist with those that relate to mercy, compassion, and glory.” God is named from his effects, but he is not to be identified with any of them. The relation between the Ultimate Cause (God) and his creatures is extrinsic, not intrinsic. That is, God is called good because he causes good, but goodness is not part of his essence. (Geisler & Abdul Saleeb,Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross [Baker Books, A Division of Baker Book House Co, Grand Rapids, MI, updated and revised 2002], p. 138; bold emphasis ours)

To say that such a view of God is problematic would be a wild understatement. For instance, how can anyone ever love and rely upon such a God when he can’t be truly known, can’t be trusted, who can simply change his mind and decide to harm and lie to his creatures since he doesn’t have a nature which insures that he will always act in a certain righteous manner? How can a person love a God whose nature remains unknowable and whose actions do not reveal his character but only his will? Can a person love someone who is essentially unknowable and doesn’t care enough for his creatures to make his nature known to them?

Notice the marked difference between Andalusi’s god and the God revealed in the Person of the Lord Jesus:
 
“No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.” John 1:18
 
“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word…I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." John 17:3-6, 26
 
“However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’ —but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-16

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,” 2 Peter 1:3

We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20

And not only can the God of the Holy Bible be known he also has an immutable nature, and as such he can only act in accord with it:

“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.” Galatians 4:8

This presupposes that the true God has a Divine nature, unlike the false gods who do not.

And seeing that God by nature is perfect, loving, merciful, holy, righteous, pure etc.
 
“I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves about on the ground. I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.” Leviticus 11:44-45 – cf. 19:2; 1 Pt. 1:15-16
 
Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;” Deuteronomy 7:9
 
“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” Deuteronomy 32:4
 
“This God — his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30
 
But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.” Psalm 86:15
 
Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate.” Psalm 116:5
 
The LORD is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.” Psalm 145:17
 
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.” Isaiah 6:1-4 – cf. Rev. 4:1-8
 
For this is what the high and lofty One says— he who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15 – cf. Rev. 15:4; 16:5
 
Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” Habakkuk 1:13
 
God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:9 – cf. Isaiah 49:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:24
 
“Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure… But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin… Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.” 1 John 3:3, 5, 7

He therefore cannot lie, cheat, be tempted by evil etc.

Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.” Hebrews 6:17-18
 
if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13

When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;” James 1:13

Moreover, Andalusi’s view pretty much destroys moral absolutes since morality is whatever this god arbitrarily decides and chooses. This means that such a god could have easily decided to command adultery, lying, murdering, stealing etc. and decreed that such acts are morally good while classifying virtues such as honesty, fidelity, self-sacrificial love etc., as morally objectionable.

Andalusi continues to say:

How does Dr Craig know that God is not the perfect hating being? Dr Craig would probably retort ‘but what need would God have to hate if he has no rival?’, thus the same could be said of love.

In the first place, the reason Dr. Craig knows that God is a perfectly loving Being is because the Holy Bible says that, a) God is perfect (cf. Deuteronomy 32:4; Matthew 5:48; Acts 17:25; 1 Corinthians 13:10) and that, b) he is love meaning that it his nature to love (cf. 1 John 4:8, 16). The Holy Bible, on the other hand, never says that God is hate.

Secondly, this is nothing more than a false analogy since God’s hate is not an attribute in the same sense that love and holiness are. In fact, hate is actually a manifestation of God’s qualities of justice and holiness. According to the Holy Bible sin is breaking God’s law which was given to reveal God’s everlasting righteousness, goodness etc.
 
Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” 1 John 3:4
 
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.” Psalm 19:7-9
 
Righteous are you, O LORD, and right are your rules.” Psalm 119:37
 
Your word is very pure, Therefore Your servant loves it… Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth… Your testimonies are righteous forever; Give me understanding that I may live… The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.” Psalm 119:140, 142, 144, 160
 
“So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good… But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.” Romans 7:12, 16

Therefore, every time a person sins s/he is breaking God’s law which is an assault against God’s own character. And because God is righteous and just he hates all violations of his law and will therefore punish the wicked:
 
The LORD judges the peoples; Vindicate me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me. O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous; For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds. My shield is with God, Who saves the upright in heart. God is a righteous judge, And a God who has indignation every day. If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready.” Psalm 7:8-12
 
The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.” Psalm 11:4-7

The foregoing makes it clear that God’s hatred is a manifestation of his characteristics of justice and holiness, and as such God is not required to hate if there are no sinners who violate his law. In other words, God doesn’t have to express hate in order to be perfectly holy and just. And since all three Persons of the Godhead are perfectly just and holy there was never a need for God to exhibit hatred towards anyone before creation existed.

Perfect love, however, is different in that it doesn’t wait for someone to do something deserving of love in order for it be expressed towards another. This point is perfectly illustrated by Jesus’ teaching on God loving even those who are unworthy and commanding his followers to do the same:
 
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends his rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48
 
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:27-36

Thus, the very nature of love as explained by the Lord Jesus is to love even those who are undeserving.

Continues on Part 2

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IHS


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25 Jul 2014 
Another Violation of Tauhid from the Quran

Sam Shamoun

We have seen in previous articles (*; *; *; *; *; *; *; *; *; *; *) how both the Quran and the ahadith expressly violate the doctrine of tauhid which was developed centuries after the death of Muhammad by later Muslim theologians. Here we provide another case where the Islamic scripture directly conflicts with this later Islamic teaching.

One of Allah’s names happens to be al-ala, or “the most high.”

Praise the name of your Lord the Most High (rabbika al-ala), S. 87:1

Except as seeking the face of his Lord Most High (rabbihi al-ala). S. 92:20

According to the doctrine of tauhid al-asma wa-sifaat none of the names of Allah can ever be attributed to any creature, no matter how exalted, in their definite forms, e.g., a person can never be called ar-Rahman with the definite article since this a characteristic which belongs exclusively to Allah. To do so would be to commit the unforgivable sin known as shirk, or of associating partners with Allah:

The Essence of Shirk in Tawheed al-Asma wa-Sifaat:

Shirk in Tawheed al-Asma wa-Sifaat is to give other than Allah, the qualities (Attributes), which are specific of Allah Alone. For example, amongst the Attributes of Allah is that He is the Knower of the Unseen (Ghayb) and He alone knows what the heart conceals. Allah says: "Say, ‘None in the Heavens and the earth know the Ghayb (Unseen) except Allah, nor can they perceive when they shall be resurrected."

Therefore, to consider someone other than Allah to have the knowledge of the past, future or the Unseen is Shirk (associating partners with Allah).

This concept of Tawheed distinguishes Islam from many other religions. Those who have studied comparative religion can very easily realize that, while the Jews made their Creator like the creation, the Christians make the creation like the Creator. (Sajid Abdul Kayum, The Jamaa'at Tableegh and the Deobandis,
Chapter 2: The Islamic Concept of Tawheed (Monotheism); bold emphasis ours)

Islamic theology further teaches that the doctrine of abrogation does not apply to the names and attributes of Allah, i.e., the names of Allah are eternal and can ever be canceled out by another:

The phrase: ‘…of a ruling…’, implies that naskh is only valid in laws, and not in belief ('aqeedah). In other words, naskh cannot occur with regards to belief in Allah, His Names and Attributes, the Day of Judgement, and other matters related to the fundamentals of belief. It is concerning those non-abrogated beliefs that Allah says…

<<He has ordained for you the same religion which He ordained for Nooh, and that which We have inspired to You (O Muhammad), and that which we ordained for Ibraheem, Moosaa, and 'Eesaa, saying that you should establish religion and make no division in it>> [42:13] (Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur'aan [al-Hidaayah Publishing and Distribution, Birmingham UK, Second Print 2003], Chapter 13. Abrogation in the Qur’aan: An-Naskh Wa Al-Mansookh, I. The Definition of Naskh, p. 233; underline emphasis ours)

This means that the expression al-ala is a divine name which only applies to Allah and can never be canceled out.

Yet here is where the problem lies for the Muslims.
The Quran says that Allah himself called Moses al-ala or the most high!

And Moses conceived a fear in his mind. We said: Fear not! Lo! you are the Most High (al-ala). S. 20:67-68

This means that Moses is Allah according to the Islamic scripture! Note how this works out logically:

The most high is a divine title which belongs only to Allah.

- Moses is the most high.
- Therefore, Moses is Allah.

To put this in another way:

- Only Allah is the most high.
- Moses is the most high.
- Therefore, Moses is Allah.

Or the Muslims must accept the fact that their own god has committed shirk!

Ascribing the exclusive names of Allah to a creature is to commit shirk, which is the unpardonable sin (cf. Q. 4:48, 116).

Allah ascribes one of his unique names to Moses.

Therefore, Allah is guilty of committing the unforgivable sin of shirk!

This wouldn’t be the only time where Allah committed shirk since he commanded his angels to worship Adam, thereby forcing all of them to violate
tauhid al-uluhiyyah/ibaadah:

And when we said unto the angels, worship Adam; they [all] worshipped [him], except Eblis [who] refused, and was puffed up with pride, and became of the [number of] unbelievers. S. 2:34 Sale
 
[Remember] when we said unto the angels, worship ye Adam: And they [all] worshipped [him], except Eblis, [who] was [one] of the genii, and departed from the command of his Lord. Will ye therefore take him and his offspring for [your] patrons besides me, notwithstanding they are your enemies? Miserable [shall such] a change [be] to the ungodly! S. 18:50 Sale

For more on this topic please consult the articles and rebuttals found at the start of the article as well as the following rebuttals (
*; *).

Now the Muslims must accept one of these two conclusions or admit that their own scripture does not teach the doctrine of tauhid as developed and articulated by later Islamic theologians. In this case they must choose between one of three options since the Quran will not allow for any other choice.

In other words, as unfortunate as this may be, the Muslims simply cannot have their cake and eat it too.

Source:


IHS

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18 Jul 2014 
Continues from Part I


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18 Jul 2014 

Masud Masihiyyen

“Do they not know that We have made the Qur’an a book full of mistakes?”

A comparative reading of the Biblical accounts with the ones of the Qur’an reveals that Mohammad distorted the genuine word of God for the sake of his innovated religion and ideology. Mohammad’s tampering with the original narratives of the Bible is mostly manifest in the form of absurdities that stem from the confusion of certain biblical events and figures as well as their misplacement in history. Being addicted to hasty generalizations and faulty conclusions, Mohammad generally took the path of assimilation when he saw that two originally distinct accounts bore remarkable similarities. Mohammad’s misleading strategy of combining different pairs of accounts having thematic associations and the problems caused by this strategy are best exemplified in his devisal of the 19thchapter of the Qur’an, which I previously discussed at length in the article entitled “
Surah Maryam: The Curse of the Apocrypha”.

Although closely related, not all mistakes of the Islamic scripture are of the same nature. Some of the anomalies in the Qur’an, which correspond to Mohammad’s intentional or accidental deviation from the original accounts of the Bible, are derived from the blatant confusion of biblical figures through the misinterpretation of a great number of thematic analogies. In the same category falls the confusion of two separate biblical events that are erroneously considered one and same because of their occurrence in the same period and environment. Some other anomalies, on the other hand, illustrate Mohammad’s unfamiliarity with the concept of anachronism, which makes frequent appearances in the Qur’an through Mohammad’s fallacious location of particular future figures and events in the past. In some cases, the mistakes of the Qur’an are composed of both confusions and misplacements in history. The aim of this paper is to analyze these different sorts of mistakes in the Islamic scripture through prominent examples and explain what basic motives and inferences led Mohammad to faulty conclusions. A list of other stories in the Qur’an that exhibit similar mistakes and can be included in the same categories are provided in footnotes.

Combination of Biblical Figures: MIRIAM and MARY


Mohammad’s confusion of Jesus’ mother Mary (New Testament) with Moses and Aaron’s sister Miriam1 (Old Testament) is undoubtedly the biggest historical blunder of the Qur’an, which has caused much trouble for Islamic scholars and prompted them to make up several inconsistent arguments in response to critical question on this point. Even though it may sound like a joke to the readers who are not acquainted with this issue yet, the Qur’an designates Jesus’ mother Mary as Aaron’s sister:

Then she brought him to her own folk, carrying him. They said: O Mary! Thou hast come with an amazing thing. O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a wicked man nor was thy mother a harlot. (Surah 19:27-28 Pickthall)

This identification brings to mind the following biblical verse:

Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a hand-drum in her hand, and all the women went out after her with hand-drums and with dances. (Exodus 15:20 NET Bible)

To make things even more baffling, in two other chapters the Qur’an teaches that Jesus’ mother Mary was Imran’s (Amram) daughter:

(Remember) when the wife of 'Imran said: My Lord! I have vowed unto Thee that which is in my belly as a consecrated (offering). Accept it from me. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower! And when she was delivered she said: My Lord! Lo! I am delivered of a female - Allah knew best of what she was delivered - the male is not as the female; and lo! I have named her Mary, and lo! I crave Thy protection for her and for her offspring from Satan the outcast. (Surah 3:35-36 Pickthall)

And Mary, daughter of 'Imran, whose body was chaste, therefore We breathed therein something of Our Spirit. And she put faith in the words of her Lord and His scriptures, and was of the obedient. (Surah 66:12 Pickthall)

According to the biblical data, Miriam, Aaron’s sister, was Amram’s daughter:

Now the name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed, daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt. And to Amram she bore Aaron, Moses, and Miriam their sister. (Numbers 26:59 NET Bible)

These verses suffice to convince many readers that Mohammad mistook Jesus’ mother Mary as the Miriam of the Old Testament, combining these two distinct women bearing the same name. Undoubtedly, this gross mistake did not solely stem from the fact that these two women had identical names or that they were Israelites. There appeared a few other similarities between the Miriam of the Old Testament and the Virgin Mary of the New Testament that drove Mohammad to his faulty conclusion and combination of these two female figures. Strikingly, the set of parallelisms between Aaron’s sister and Jesus’ mother were not essentially of biblical origin, but rather the product of Mohammad’s misunderstandings and weird reasoning, which was good at overstating superficial similarities to the point of assimilation.

At this point, it is noteworthy that Islamic scholars and commentators think and act like Mohammad while trying to provide a good answer for the question why Mary is said to have been addressed by her folk as Aaron’s sister in the 19th Surah. In order to stave off this gross mistake, they base their arguments on mere assumptions that are alien to the Bible and Jewish culture. The metaphorical interpretation of Mary’s relation to Aaron gives birth to two allegations, none of which is supported by the main text of Islam. The contention that Mary was called Aaron’s sister because of her similarity to Aaron in terms of piety and devotion
2 not only fails to answer the basic question why Mary was likened to Aaron of all the other male and female biblical figures of piety, but also disregards the fact that the 3rd chapter of the Qur’an perfectly consolidated Mary’s supposed biological relation to Aaron when it taught that the wife of Aaron’s biological father Imran (Amram in Hebrew) gave birth to Jesus’ mother Mary in verses 35-36.

Further, as if to resist and debunk the metaphorical interpretation of Mary’s affiliation with Aaron, Mary’s folk in Surah 19 addresses her as Aaron’s sister so as to imply the identity of her biological parents. The sentence below leaves no place for a symbolic reading of the word “sister”, for in it Aaron’s brotherhood cannot be considered independent of the two members of Mary’s biological family: her father and mother.

O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a wicked man nor was thy mother a harlot. (Surah 19:28 Pickthall)

Thus, Aaron’s implicit inclusion into Mary’s biological family in the Meccan period subsequently impelled Mohammad to name Mary’s father “Imran” in the Medina period of the Qur’an.

The Islamic attempt to construe Mary’s relation to Aaron symbolically through the supposition that Aaron was the father of the tribe that Jesus’ mother descended from is similarly rebutted by two facts. First, there is nothing in the Qur’an even to suggest Mary’s being a distant member of Aaron’s progeny. Although the 3rd chapter narrates Mary’s dedication to the Temple after her birth, Mary’s service in the Temple does not necessitate her being a descendant of Aaron. As if being aware of this fact, the Qur’an draws no parallelism between Mary’s dedication and Aaron’s progeny as the phrase “Aaron’s sister” is missing from its 3rd chapter. Second, Mary’s people would have called her “Aaron’s daughter” instead of “Aaron’s sister” if they had really aimed to point at her descent from Aaron’s tribe.

Now that we know Mohammad made a mistake when he thought of Jesus’ mother Mary as Aaron’s sister and Imran’s daughter, we can start analyzing the anatomy of this embarrassing confusion. In order to figure out the major factors contributing to Mohammad’s confusion of the two women named Mary, it is necessary to check the sources he used in the devisal of the 19thchapter, which is the first and only place where Jesus’ mother is identified as Aaron’s sister. As I previously stated in my article concerning Mohammad’s plagiarism from the non-canonical Gospels of Jesus’ Infancy in the invention of the first 35 verses of Surah 19, Mohammad focused on the apocryphal literature of Christianity and drew heavily from the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew(
*). Expectedly, Mohammad did not keep faithful to the original version of the stories in Pseudo-Matthew and tampered with the chronology of events, which contributed to his confusions as these illicit modifications augmented the number of pseudo-similarities between the two biblical women having the same name.

It is by no means surprising to see that Mohammad’s embarrassing confusion showed up in the account of Virgin Mary’s accusation by her folk. According to the account in Pseudo-Matthew, Mary’s pregnancy became known to her folk and she was brought to the temple for interrogation:

After these things there arose a great report that Mary was with child. … Then was assembled a multitude of people which could not be numbered, and Mary was brought to the temple. And the priests, and her relatives, and her parents wept, and said to Mary: Confess to the priests thy sin, thou that wast like a dove in the temple of God, and didst receive food from the hands of an angel. (Pseudo-Matthew chapter 12)

This is how Mohammad inserted the account above into his scripture:

Then she brought him to her own folk, carrying him. They said: O Mary! Thou hast come with an amazing thing. O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a wicked man nor was thy mother a harlot. (Surah 19:27-28 Pickthall)

Mohammad’s distortion of the original narrative is obvious. Specifically, he misplaced the account of Mary’s accusation as an incident occurring after Jesus’ birth although in the apocryphal Gospel the accusation and interrogation took place long before Jesus’ birth. One of the probable reasons for this misplacement is the misinterpretation of the phrase “be with child” in the original narrative. The writer of Pseudo-Matthew used this phrase to indicate Mary’s pregnancy (her carrying the child in her womb), but Mohammad thought that this phrase actually pertained to Mary’s carrying the baby in her arms after the delivery. The second discrepancy came into existence because Mohammad, unlike the author of Pseudo-Matthew, preferred using a vague and general term (her folk) while explaining who Mary was accused and questioned by instead of repeating the specific group of people (priests, relatives, parents) in the non-canonical Gospel. As a result, in Mohammad’s version Mary’s family (parents and relatives) was removed from the group of the accusers, but maintained in the narrative through her folk’s reference to them. This detail also strengthens the idea that Aaron’s brotherhood of Mary in the 19thSurah was meant to be purely biological, being in the same context as Mary’s relation to her biological parents. Obviously, the greatest discrepancy between the original narrative in Pseudo-Matthew and Mohammad’s version in chapter 19 of the Qur’an remains to be Mary’s stunning identification as Aaron’s sister by Mohammad. Where did Mohammad get this idea from if not from a misunderstanding/misreading of the non-canonical Gospel?

In order to answer this vital question, we must remember that Mohammad’s weird reasoning necessitated the combination of two people through a number of parallelisms between them. Blatantly, Mohammad needed another source in addition to the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew to combine Miriam and Mary with the help of unintended analogies. It is not difficult to guess that Mohammad made use of the Old Testament data about Miriam on the way to his great mistake as he needed two distinct narratives for a combination, and Mary’s designation as Aaron’s sister in Surah 19 reveals which particular section of the Old Testament opened the door to Mohammad’s process of assimilation:

Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a hand-drum in her hand, and all the women went out after her with hand-drums and with dances. (Exodus 15:20 NET Bible)

This verse mirrors the only overt link in the Qur’an between the Miriam of the Old Testament and Jesus’ mother Mary. As Miriam was called “the sister of Aaron”, in Mohammad’s fantasy Mary’s folk called her “sister of Aaron”. The comparative study of the single verse above with the account of Mary’s accusation by her folk in Pseudo-Matthew amazingly enables us to detect the source of Mohammad’s mistake, helping us see through Mohammad’s eyes the far-fetched parallelisms between Miriam in Exodus 15:20 and the account of Mary’s accusation with regard to her pregnancy in Pseudo-Matthew. To analyze the components of the Old Testament verse:

Miriam
The prophetess
Sister of Aaron
Dancing to praise God

To compare these with the basic components of the Qur’an verse:

Mary (Mariam in Arabic)
Sister of Aaron

Interestingly, the word “prophetess” is missing from the verse in Surah 19:28, which is rather normal because Mary’s folk do not identify her as a prophetess in Pseudo-Matthew. However, Pseudo-Matthew nowhere calls Mary “Aaron’s sister” throughout his Gospel either. Where did Mohammad derive this from and why did he locate it in the account of Mary’s interrogation by her people then? The answer to this significant question is embedded in the narrative below:

After these things there arose a great report that Mary was with child. … Then was assembled a multitude of people which could not be numbered, and Mary was brought to the temple. And the priests, and her relatives, and her parents wept, and said to Mary: Confess to the priests thy sin, thou that wast like a dove in the temple of God, and didst receive food from the hands of an angel. (Pseudo Matthew chapter 12)

It was quite natural for Mohammad to hear these things stated about Jesus’ mother Mary and bind them to Miriam’s designation as a prophetess in the Old Testament verse. This major link proves that Mohammad combined the components of the verse identifying Miriam in the Old Testament with the statements used by Mary’s folk during her interrogation in Pseudo-Matthew before incorporating this fictitious parallelism into the Qur’an in the shortest form possible.

Being a man dedicated to harmonizing different accounts for the credibility of his fabricated analogies, Mohammad could easily harmonize the account of Mary’s interrogation in Pseudo-Matthew with the similar narrative in the Gospel of James (
*), another popular non-canonical Gospel of Jesus’ infancy. The following verses in the Infancy Gospel of James convinced Mohammad that Miriam, the dancing prophetess” in Exodus 15:20 and Jesus’ mother Mary were one and same:

And the priest said: Mary, wherefore hast thou done this, and wherefore hast thou humbled thy soul and forgotten the Lord thy God, thou that wast nurtured in the Holy of Holies and didst receive food at the hand of an angel and didst hear the hymns and didst dance before the Lord, wherefore hast thou done this? (Gospel of James chapter XV:1)

Mohammad perfectly demonstrated his talents for inventing extreme cases of false parallelism between two biblical figures with the help of his perversion of the original accounts when he combined Exodus with the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew through another analogy. The last so-called similarity concocted by him concerned the time of the reference to Miriam (the dancing prophetess) in the book of Exodus and the distorted version of the time of Mary’s interrogation by her people in Pseudo-Matthew. According to the narrative in the Bible, Miriam praised God and danced in thanksgiving for Israel’s exodus from Egypt through the crossing of the Red Sea:

Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a hand-drum in her hand, and all the women went out after her with hand-drums and with dances. Miriam sang in response to them, “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and its rider he has thrown into the sea.” (Exodus 15:20-21 NET Bible)

In the light of these verses, it is easy to see that Mohammad associated Miriam’s designation as the sister of Aaron and the dancing prophetess with her departure from Egypt. Keeping this in mind, Mohammad turned to the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew in search of a reference to Mary’s relation with Egypt and found out that Mary had been to Egypt after Jesus’ birth and the visitation by the magi:

Now the day before this was done Joseph was warned in his sleep by the angel of the Lord, who said to him: Take Mary and the child, and go into Egypt by the way of the desert. And Joseph went according to the saying of the angel. (Pseudo-Matthew chapter 17)

More to the point, Pseudo-Matthew referred to a miraculous incident that occurred on the third day of the holy family’s journey to Egypt:

And it came to pass on the third day of their journey, while they were walking, that the blessed Mary was fatigued by the excessive heat of the sun in the desert; and seeing a palm tree, she said to Joseph: Let me rest a little under the shade of this tree. … Then the child Jesus, with a joyful countenance, reposing in the bosom of His mother, said to the palm: O tree, bend thy branches, and refresh my mother with thy fruit. And immediately at these words the palm bent its top down to the very feet of the blessed Mary; and they gathered from it fruit, with which they were all refreshed…. And it rose up immediately, and at its root there began to come forth a spring of water exceedingly clear and cool and sparkling. And when they saw the spring of water, they rejoiced with great joy, and were satisfied, themselves and all their cattle and their beasts. Wherefore they gave thanks to God. (Pseudo-Matthew chapter 20)

Mohammad copied the story of Mary’s miraculous provision with fruit and water into his Qur’an:

And the pangs of childbirth drove her unto the trunk of the palm-tree. She said: Oh, would that I had died ere this and had become a thing of naught, forgotten! Then (one) cried unto her from below her, saying: Grieve not! Thy Lord hath placed a rivulet beneath thee, And shake the trunk of the palm-tree toward thee, thou wilt cause ripe dates to fall upon thee. (Surah 19:23-25 Pickthall)

The major discrepancy between the narrative in Pseudo-Matthew and the one in the Qur’an is related to the time of this miraculous incident. According to the original account, the miraculous feeding occurred on Joseph and Mary’s way into exile in Egypt after Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem and His visitation by the Magi. Mohammad changed the chronology of this event by locating it just before Jesus’ birth and associating it with Mary’s return to her folk with the baby. This very alteration and faulty association resulted in the presumption that Jesus’ mother Mary returned to Israel from Egypt
3 and faced the accusations of her folk for having an illegitimate affair.

To summarize, below are given all of the factors that contributed to Mohammad’s combination and confusion of Miriam with Jesus’ mother Mary:

Miriam in Exodus 15:20-21: This verse identified Miriam, the sister of Aaron, as a prophetess dancing to praise God after her departure from Egypt after a miraculous incident.

Mary in Pseudo-Matthew (chapter 12) (combined with the Gospel of James chapter XV:1) On account of her pregnancy, Mary was brought to the temple and questioned by her people. Mary’s folk’s charges referred to her being a holy person living in the temple of God, receiving food from the hand of angels, and dancing before the Lord. All these statements pointed to her having the characteristics of a prophetess. Mary also went to Egypt and returned to Israel.

After harmonizing all these elements drawn from the book of Exodus and the non-canonical Gospels of Infancy, Mohammad inserted them into his Qur’an, but he did not mention any of them explicitly. Instead, he chose a perfect phrase that would represent all the thematic associations he himself made up between Miriam of the Old Testament and Mary, Jesus’ mother: “Sister of Aaron”. This phrase was copied by Mohammad along with the name Miriam from Exodus 15:20 into Surah 19 as it referred to Miriam’s being a prophetess, her dancing to praise God, and her leaving Egypt after a miracle, all of which were identically valid for Jesus’ mother’s Mary in Mohammad’s imagination.

Combination of Events: The Rescue of Infant Moses

The Qur’an endorses and repeats the biblical teaching that Pharaoh persecuted the Israelites at the time of Moses’ birth and that Moses was saved from being slain by the Egyptians because his mother hid him for some time and then put him into an ark so that he could be safe on the Nile:

And indeed, another time, already We have shown thee favour, When we inspired in thy mother that which is inspired, Saying: Throw him into the ark, and throw it into the river, then the river shall throw it on to the bank, and there an enemy to Me and an enemy to him shall take him. And I endued thee with love from Me that thou mightest be trained according to My will. (Surah 20:37-39 Pickthall)

This is the first of the two references to Moses’ infancy in the Qur’an. Mohammad heard this story and copied it from the following narrative in the book of Exodus:

A man from the household of Levi married a woman who was a descendant of Levi. The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a healthy child, she hid him for three months. But when she was no longer able to hide him, she took a papyrus basket for him and sealed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and set it among the reeds along the edge of the Nile. His sister stationed herself at a distance to find out what would happen to him. (Exodus 2:1-4 NET Bible)

Mohammad’s new version of the story is different from its original form in that it is shorter, lacking most of the biblical details. It must also be noted that Mohammad presented the story as being recounted to Moses directly by God. This technique relevantly made Moses’ mother’s actions divinely guided, binding them to the alleged inspiration that fulfilled God’s plans for saving infant Moses and the Israelites. The use of this technique in the Qur’an is not surprising or praiseworthy, but significant as it illustrates how Mohammad re-wrote most of the biblical stories by adding commentaries to them. The claim that Moses’ mother was inspired by God to “put baby Moses into an ark and cast the ark into the river” does not contradict the Bible or sound awkward.

However, the second reference to the same event in the Qur’an, which occurs in Surah 28, does not only show textual variation with the reference in Surah 20, but also consists of a weird and absurd statement:

And We inspired the mother of Moses, saying: Suckle him and, when thou fearest for him, then cast him into the river and fear not nor grieve. Lo! We shall bring him back unto thee and shall make him (one) of Our messengers. (Surah 28:7 Pickthall)

In this narrative we are said that God instructed Moses’ mother to cast her baby directly into the river without putting him into a chest or an ark! If we do not read the parallel verse in Surah 20, we can suppose that God asked Moses’ mother to drown her baby by casting him into the Nile so as to make her obey Pharaoh’s commandment first. In that case we would have to believe that God was torn between granting Pharaoh his wish and saving baby Moses from him. Why or how did Mohammad allow this absurdity to sneak into his Qur’an? Was it the product of a careless scribe who forgot to add the phrase “into the ark” because he mistakenly considered it a useless detail or an accidental duplicate?

A more interesting question is why this kind of a textual variation in the form of a blunder occurred in Surah 28, which was formed later than Surah 20, which contained the more accurate formulation? In order to find a satisfactory answer to this question, it is crucial to remember that Surah 28 claims to be a detailed form of Moses and Pharaoh’s story, and follows an ordered narrative – from the beginning of Pharaoh’s administration – unlike the account embedded into God’s speech to Moses in Surah 20:

These are revelations of the Scripture that maketh plain. We narrate unto thee (somewhat) of the story of Moses and Pharaoh with truth, for folk who believe. Lo! Pharaoh exalted himself in the earth and made its people castes. A tribe among them he oppressed, killing their sons and sparing their women. Lo! he was of those who work corruption. And We desired to show favour unto those who were oppressed in the earth, and to make them examples and to make them the inheritors, And to establish them in the earth, and to show Pharaoh and Haman and their hosts that which they feared from them. (Surah 28:2-6 Pickthall)

Excluding the historical blunder concerning Haman’s co-existence with Pharaoh in Moses’ time, Mohammad’s account seems to have been taken from the biblical data in the book of Exodus. To compare and contrast:

Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power over Egypt. He said to his people, “Look at the Israelite people, more numerous and stronger than we are! Come, let’s deal wisely with them. Otherwise they will continue to multiply, and if a war breaks out, they will ally themselves with our enemies and fight against us and leave the country.” So they put foremen over the Israelites to oppress them with hard labor. As a result they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more they multiplied and spread. As a result the Egyptians loathed the Israelites, and they made the Israelites serve rigorously. They made their lives bitter by hard service with mortar and bricks and by all kinds of service in the fields. Every kind of service the Israelites were required to give was rigorous. The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you assist the Hebrew women in childbirth, observe at the delivery: If it is a son, kill him, but if it is a daughter, she may live.” But the midwives feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live. Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this and let the boys live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women – for the Hebrew women are vigorous; they give birth before the midwife gets to them!” So God treated the midwives well, and the people multiplied and became very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he made households for them. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “All sons that are born you must throw into the river, but all daughters you may let live.” (Exodus 1:8-22 NET Bible)

The final verse of the biblical quotation above teaches that Pharaoh commanded his people to kill male children of the Israelites by “throwing them into the river”. Although this biblical information seems to be missing from the Qur’an, it is actually present there in the 28thchapter in a twisted form. Apparently, Mohammad failed to understand that Pharaoh’s commanding the Egyptians to cast male infants of the Israelites into the river was different from baby Moses’ placement by his mother in an ark among the reeds of the Nile.

We can reckon the ascription of Joseph and the virgins’ utterances in Pseudo-Matthew to Mary in the account of the angelic annunciation in Surah 19 (
*), the implication that David served Saul in Saul’s first battle, and the relevant teaching that Saul's first battle involved the Philistines and Goliath (*) as further examples for this particular category of mistake in the Qur’an.4

Anachronism/Misplacement of future figures in the past: Haman as the vizier of Pharaoh in Moses’ time
One of the prominent examples for the historic misplacements and blunders
5 in the Qur’an is Haman’s appearance in Egypt along with the Pharaoh of Moses’ time. The ordered and detailed narrative in Surah 28 explicitly refers to Haman as an evil man complying with Pharaoh’s plans for the persecution of the Israelites, affiliating him directly with Pharaoh’s administration:

And We desired to show favour unto those who were oppressed in the earth, and to make them examples and to make them the inheritors. And to establish them in the earth, and to show Pharaoh and Haman and their hosts that which they feared from them. (Surah 28:5-6 Pickthall)

And the family of Pharaoh took him up, that he might become for them an enemy and a sorrow, Lo! Pharaoh and Haman and their hosts were ever sinning. (Surah 28:8 Pickthall)

The Qur’an also implies that Haman, as one of the few characters called by his personal name, was second to none in terms of helping Pharaoh when it claims that Pharaoh asked for Haman’s assistance in order to deride and defy Moses:

And Pharaoh said: O chiefs! I know not that ye have a god other than me, so kindle for me (a fire), O Haman, to bake the mud; and set up for me a lofty tower in order that I may survey the God of Moses; and lo! I deem him of the liars. (Surah 28:38 Pickthall)

And Pharaoh said: O Haman! Build for me a tower that haply I may reach the roads, The roads of the heavens, and may look upon the God of Moses, though verily I think him a liar. Thus was the evil that he did made fairseeming unto Pharaoh, and he was debarred from the (right) way. The plot of Pharaoh ended but in ruin. (Surah 40:36-37 Pickthall)

Actually, Haman was the name of the Persian King Ahasuerus’ vizier, who lived many centuries after the Exodus. The book of Esther in the Bible relates Haman’s story and designates him as a bitter enemy that plotted to exterminate the Jews:

Some time later King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, exalting him and setting his position above that of all the officials who were with him. As a result, all the king’s servants who were at the king’s gate were bowing and paying homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded. However, Mordecai did not bow, nor did he pay him homage. Then the servants of the king who were at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why are you violating the king’s commandment?” And after they had spoken to him day after day without his paying any attention to them, they informed Haman to see whether this attitude on Mordecai’s part would be permitted. Furthermore, he had disclosed to them that he was a Jew. When Haman saw that Mordecai was not bowing or paying homage to him, he was filled with rage. But the thought of striking out against Mordecai alone was repugnant to him, for he had been informed of the identity of Mordecai’s people. So Haman sought to destroy all the Jews (that is, the people of Mordecai) who were in all the kingdom of Ahasuerus.(Esther 3:1-5 NET Bible)

However, when Esther, the daughter of Mordecai’s uncle, was chosen by the King to be the new queen of his reign, Haman’s evil plots to conduct genocide on the Jews were destroyed. As a result of the twist of his fortune, Haman was murdered by the King’s command (Esther 7:1-10), and the Jews were thus delivered from his plans of massacre (Esther 8 and 9). Mohammad picked up Haman the Agagite from the book of Esther and pushed him backward in time so as to make him Pharaoh’s greatest assistant and ally in hostility towards the Jews living in Egypt.

Haman’s erroneous placement in history was the natural outcome of Mohammad’s desire to harmonize the story of Israel’s deliverance from Pharaoh in the book of Exodus and that of the Jews’ deliverance from Haman in the book of Esther. Certainly, the major factor contributing to the combination of these two independent narratives was Haman’s identification as the second greatest enemy of the Jews in history, the first being the Pharaoh of the Exodus. This sequence gave Mohammad the wrong impression that Haman was the second enemy of the Jews along with Pharaoh, which naturally made Haman Pharaoh’s vizier in the Qur’an. Additionally, Mohammad’s eyes caught a significant thematic similarity between the first chapter of Exodus and the third chapter of Esther. In the former account Pharaoh was said to plan the slaughter of the Jews right after his coming to power whilst in the latter Haman was said to have the same hideous plan right after gaining his high administrative position. This parallelism also explains why Haman was overtly inserted into the same verse with Pharaoh in the 28th chapter of the Qur’an, which is a chapter following the order of the story in the first chapter of Exodus.
6

Rather interestingly, the Qur’an refers to Haman along with Pharaoh in two other instances where biblical Korah (Qarun in the original language of the Islamic scripture) makes a mysterious appearance as the third person included into the group of Pharaoh and Haman:
 
(Remember also) Qarun, Pharaoh, and Haman: there came to them Moses with Clear Signs, but they behaved with insolence on the earth; yet they could not overreach (Us). (Surah 29:39 Yusuf Ali)

Of old We sent Moses, with Our Signs and an authority manifest, To Pharaoh, Haman, and Qarun; but they called (him)" a sorcerer telling lies!" (Surah 40:23-24 Yusuf Ali)

In order to decipher this mysterious reference, it is crucial to analyze what Mohammad taught about the biblical Korah and whether he made any additions to Korah’s story in the Bible.

Qarun (Korah) in Mohammad’s Scripture and Another Case of Confusion

A reader checking the biblical figures in the Islamic scripture is surprised to see there a certain notorious man named Qarun, which is later understood to be the distorted version of the biblical name Korah. The single and most detailed reference to Qarun in the Qur’an occurs in the 28thchapter:

Qarun
was doubtless, of the people of Moses; but he acted insolently towards them: such were the treasures We had bestowed on him that their very keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men, behold, his people said to him: "Exult not, for Allah loveth not those who exult (in riches). But seek, with the (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on thee, the Home of the Hereafter, nor forget thy portion in this world: but do thou good, as Allah has been good to thee, and seek not (occasions for) mischief in the land: for Allah loves not those who do mischief." He said: "This has been given to me because of a certain knowledge which I have." Did he not know that Allah had destroyed, before him, (whole) generations,--which were superior to him in strength and greater in the amount (of riches) they had collected? but the wicked are not called (immediately) to account for their sins. So he went forth among his people in the (pride of his wordly) glitter. Said those whose aim is the Life of this World: "Oh! that we had the like of what Qarun has got! for he is truly a lord of mighty good fortune!" But those who had been granted (true) knowledge said: "Alas for you! The reward of Allah (in the Hereafter) is best for those who believe and work righteousness: but this none shall attain, save those who steadfastly persevere (in good)." Then We caused the earth to swallow up him and his house; and he had not (the least little) party to help him against Allah, nor could he defend himself. And those who had envied his position the day before began to say on the morrow: "Ah! it is indeed Allah Who enlarges the provision or restricts it, to any of His servants He pleases! had it not been that Allah was gracious to us, He could have caused the earth to swallow us up! Ah! those who reject Allah will assuredly never prosper." (Surah 28:76-82 Yusuf Ali)

From this account we find out that

- Qarun was an Israelite, being from Moses’ folk.
- Qarun was a notorious character because he was arrogant and rebellious.
- Qarun was haughty because he was an extremely rich person. (His tremendous wealth is expressed through a hyperbole.)
- Qarun was also a wise man, which was associated with his arrogance. (He claimed he was rich because of his knowledge of things.)
- Qarun’s pride was punished by Allah when the earth swallowed him and his house.

Apart from the name Qarun, none of these teachings or elements is peculiar to the Qur’an as the Old Testament designates Korah in almost identical terms. Below are the major biblical references to Korah:

Now Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, who were Reubenites, took men and rebelled against Moses, along with some of the Israelites, 250 leaders of the community, chosen from the assembly, famous men. And they assembled against Moses and Aaron, saying to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, seeing that the whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the community of the Lord?” (Number 16:1-3 NET Bible)

Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of my own will. If these men die a natural death, or if they share the fate of all men, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord does something entirely new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up along with all that they have, and they go down alive to the grave, then you will know that these men have despised the Lord!” When he had finished speaking all these words, the ground that was under them split open, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, along with their households, and all Korah’s men, and all their goods. They and all that they had went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed over them. So they perished from among the community. All the Israelites who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “What if the earth swallows us too?” (Numbers 16:28-34 NET Bible)

The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and Korah at the time that company died, when the fire consumed 250 men. So they became a warning. (Numbers 26:10 NET Bible)

Apparently, these biblical accounts about Korah do not have the information in the Qur’an that Qarun was an extremely wealthy man and that his arrogance resulted from both his wealth and wisdom, but it will not be right to blame Mohammad for inventing the additional elements in Qarun’s story. This is because Qarun’s depiction as a very rich and knowledgeable man in the 28th chapter of the Qur’an is taken from rabbinical literature, which gives us the right to blame Mohammad for plagiarizing from the Talmud and mixing biblical data with commentaries made on them. The Jewish Encyclopedia contains the following information about the references to Korah in rabbinical literature:

The name "Korah" [...] is explained by the Rabbis as meaning "baldness." It was given to Korah on account of the gap or blank which he made in Israel by his revolt (Sanh. 109b). Korah is represented as the possessor of extraordinary wealth, he having discovered one of the treasures which Joseph had hidden in Egypt. The keys of Korah's treasuries alone formed a load for three hundred mules (Pes. 119a; Sanh. 110a). He and Haman were the two richest men in the world, and both perished on account of their rapacity, and because their riches were not the gift of Heaven (Num. R. xxii. 7; comp. Ex. R. li. 1). On the other hand, Korah is represented as a wise man, chief of his family and as one of the Kohathites who carried the Ark of the Covenant on their shoulders (Tan., ed. Buber, Korah, Supplement, 5; Num. R. xviii. 2). (
Source)

This information contains a remarkable parallelism between Haman and Korah on the basis of their extraordinary riches, which may have played an important role in Mohammad’s presentation of Haman as a contemporary of Korah and, through him, of the Israelites at the time of the exodus from Egypt.

Still, not even the rabbinical literature confirms or explains the probable reasons for Korah’s awkward and mysterious inclusion by Mohammad into the same group as Pharaoh and Haman in two verses of the Qur’an. The answer to this question and the relevant solution to this mystery of the Qur’an can be found if the following biblical verses are read carefully and compared to the two verses of the Qur’an:
 
“Tell the community: ‘Get away from around the homes of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.’” (Numbers 16:24 NET Bible)

So they got away from the homes of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram on every side, and Dathan and Abiram came out and stationed themselves in the entrances of their tents with their wives, their children, and their toddlers. (Numbers 16:27 NET Bible)

It was Dathan and Abiram who as leaders of the community rebelled against Moses and Aaron with the followers of Korah when they rebelled against the Lord. (Numbers 26:9 NET Bible)

All these verses talk of Korah as the third of the three rebellious and notorious characters that opposed Moses and Aaron in the desert after the exodus from Egypt. Actually, this triplet is composed of Korah’s insertion into the same group with Dathan and Abiram although in some other verses of the Bible Abiram and Dathan form an independent couple because of Korah’s separation from them:

Then Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, but they said, “We will not come up”. (Numbers 16:12 NET Bible)

Then Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram; and the elders of Israel went after him. (Numbers 16:25 NET Bible)

Or what he did to Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab the Reubenite, when the earth opened its mouth in the middle of the Israelite camp and swallowed them, their families, their tents, and all the property they brought with them. (Deuteronomy 11:6 NET Bible)

The earth opened up and swallowed Dathan; it engulfed the group led by Abiram. (Psalm 106:17 NET Bible)

Likewise, it is stated in Numbers 16 that Moses addressed and warned Korah and his community separately from Dathan and Abiram:

When Moses heard it he fell down with his face to the ground. Then he said to Korah and to all his company, “In the morning the Lord will make known who are his, and who is holy. He will cause that person to approach him; the person he has chosen he will cause to approach him. (Numbers 16:4-5 NET Bible)

Then Moses said to Korah, “You and all your company present yourselves before the Lord – you and they, and Aaron – tomorrow. And each of you take his censer, put incense in it, and then each of you present his censer before the Lord: 250 censers, along with you, and Aaron – each of you with his censer.” So everyone took his censer, put fire in it, and set incense on it, and stood at the entrance of the tent of meeting, with Moses and Aaron. When Korah assembled the whole community against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting, then the glory of the Lord appeared to the whole community. (Numbers 16:16-19 NET Bible)

Nevertheless, in Numbers 16:24 and 27 Korah, Dathan, and Abiram were mentioned in the same sentence as a triplet because they had rebelled against Moses and Aaron in the same place and at the same time, getting the same kind of instant punishment. Thanks to this thematic parallelism, the appearance of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram’s name in the same sentence in biblical verses turned into a traditional form of reference used in remembrance of the opposition of certain Israelites in the desert. Accordingly, even non-canonical Christian scriptures employed this usage. For instance, in the Gospel of James we read that the priest reminded Joseph of this triplet while urging him to obey God’s commandments and take Virgin Mary into his house from the temple:

And the priest said unto Joseph: Fear the Lord thy God, and remember what things God did unto Dathan and Abiram and Korah, how the earth clave and they were swallowed up because of their gainsaying. And now fear thou, Joseph, lest it be so in thine house. And Joseph was afraid, and took her to keep her for himself. (Gospel of James IX:1)

Mohammad was certainly aware of this triplet and decided to incorporate it into his Qur’an. However, he ignored the fact that there were two separate occasions of arrogant opposition against Moses (one from Pharaoh in Egypt and the other from his own folk in the desert) and concluded that Qarun (Korah) had rebelled against Moses together with Pharaoh and Haman! This rough combination of the two independent incidents prompted Mohammad to replace biblical Abiram with Pharaoh and biblical Dathan with Haman in his Qur’an.

Korah’s misplacement
7 into the same group with Pharaoh and Haman in the Qur’an was not only related to thematic similarities between two occasions of rebellious acts that Moses faced. The names of the arrogant actors of these rebellions also sounded similar to Mohammad. Although the name Abiram and the Arabic word for Pharaoh are not so similar, the case changes in the Greek translation of the Old Testament. In the Septuagint (LXX) the name “Abiram” is surprisingly modified to “Abiron”, which is pronounced “Aviron” (Avir’on) as Greek language stipulates the pronunciation of the phoneme “B” as “V”:8

And they stood aloof from the tent of Core round about; and Dathan and Abiron went forth and stood by the doors of their tents, and their wives and their children and their store.

καὶ ἀπέστησαν ἀπὸ τῆς σκηνῆς Κορὲ κύκλῳ· καὶ Δαθὰν καὶ ᾿Αβειρὼν ἐξῆλθον καὶ εἱστήκεισαν παρὰ τὰς θύρας τῶν σκηνῶν αὐτῶν καὶ αἱ γυναῖκες αὐτῶν καὶ τὰ τέκνα αὐτῶν καὶ ἀποσκευὴ αὐτῶν. (Numbers 16:27 Septuagint)

“Aviron” is obviously much closer to Fir’on, that is, “Fir’avn” of the Qur’an. Mohammad, who was more familiar with the Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures, most likely heard the name “Aviron” and concluded on the basis of its phonological similarity to the word Pharaoh in Arabic that rebellious and haughty “Abiron”, who had been punished by God through a disastrous death, was the same person as Pharaoh. Biblical Dathan’s replacement with Haman was also quite smooth, for these two names had similar sounds. However, the primary reason for this easy alteration was Mohammad’s previous misplacement of Haman into Pharaoh’s story.

Now that we know Mohammad distorted the original triplet (Dathan, Abiram, and Korah) in the Bible by replacing Abiram with Pharaoh and Dathan with Haman, things start to get clear for us as we can find answers to the following questions
:

Q:
Why did Mohammad talk of Korah always in association with Pharaoh and Haman?
A:
Because the biblical account did so with regard to Dathan, Abiram, and Korah in Numbers 16 and a few other places.

Q:
Why did Mohammad locate Korah’s story in Surah 28, which referred to Pharaoh and Haman as a couple?
A:
Because Mohammad knew that in some verses of the Bible Korah was separated from the couple of Dathan and Abiram, but still appeared in the same chapter with them.

Q:
Why did Mohammad claim in Surah 40:24 that Moses had been sent to Korah in addition to Pharaoh and Haman?
A:
Because the Bible (Numbers 16) said that Moses went and talked to Dathan and Abiram, and Korah in order to warn them.

Q:
Why did Mohammad maintain the names Pharaoh, Haman, and Qarun in Surah 29:39?
A:
Because in that verse Mohammad emphasized these three characters’ arrogance, which had been one of the factors contributing to his confusion of the two distinct rebellions against Moses and his misplacement of Korah in the Qur’an.

Finally, we can ask the question why Mohammad changed the biblical name “Korah” into “Qarun”. The reason for this modification was most likely Mohammad’s wish to imply Korah’s affiliation with Levi with the help of a name that sounded almost identical to Aaron in Arabic (Haroun), for Aaron also descended from Levi (Numbers 16:1).

Conclusion on next post

Source:

IHS

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11 Jul 2014 
“Muslims in the West: Lost within Modernity”

Lately, more reformist Arab intellectuals have been addressing the problems facing Muslims who have settled in Western Europe. On Wednesday, 15 December, 2009, an article appeared on the Al-Awan website with this title “Muslims in the West: Lost within Modernity” (
*).

The Algerian author has written on other problems facing first and second generation Muslims of Western Europe. In this particular article he stressed the inner struggle that rages within the hearts and minds of these Muslims. He says they are “lost within the modernity that is a distinguishing feature of Western civilization.” Here are excerpts from his article, in which he claims that Islam and Western civilization are incompatible. My comments follow.

Modernity is radically incompatible with Islam. According to the Islamic worldview, man’s life remains under the supervision of Allah; it is Allah who guarantees man’s freedom, and guides him in his life journey. But according to modernity’s view, man possesses an absolute value in the universe. He depends on his own reason, and by using his critical faculty, he determines his own responsibilities.

Does Islamic fiqh (jurisprudence) encourage the use of reason, and the freedom of thought? Does the Islamic mind accept the basic foundations of modernity? For example, in Islam, the ruler is not held accountable to the people; his responsibility is to Allah alone. Muslims have no right to reject the Shariah. To date, not one Arab ruler has ever dared to rethink or amend the Shariah’s requirements. It is quite evident that Islam is not compatible with democracy; the very word “democratos” (people’s rule) contradicts the essence of Islam, where rule belongs exclusively to Allah.

Thus Muslims would never be asked to cast a ballot that will change halal
1 to haram,2 and haram to halal! FIS (Front Islamic to Salut),3 the now banned Algerian Islamist organisation, used to portray such slogans as “An Islamic State, without Elections,” and “Democracy is Kufr.” These slogans should not be considered simply as the opinions of radicals, because they actually represent Islamic view of politics and governance.

Recently, in Bordeaux, France, the Moroccan Consulate objected to the cremation of a Frenchman of Moroccan origin, even though he specifically stipulated before his death that he wished to be cremated. Due to the pressures of the Islamists and certain Islamic governments, and in order to avoid serious trouble, the French authorities buckled and gave in to the pressures. One should note that in Islam an individual’s wishes are subject to the will of the community. It is the Umma that possesses the final authority in matters of life and death. Manifesting the same Islamic outlook, the imam of the mosque in Lille, who heads the Islamic League in Northern France, declared recently: “The concept of citizenship does not exist in Islam; the group or the community is very important. To recognize a community implies the recognition of the laws that govern it.”

“Thus, as a Muslim finds himself wandering and lost in the lands of modernity, he tends to isolate himself from his social environment. Within his inner life a raging civil war goes on; in fact the clash of civilizations takes place between his faith and the modernity that governs his surroundings, invading his very home! Immigrant Muslims don’t care about what the laws of their countries say. Rather, they give heed to what the Shariah demands. In democratic lands where the rule of law reigns, Muslims prefer to seek guidance from Islamic fiqh. You would be overwhelmed and shocked to learn about the multitude of fatwas that are issued daily in the Islamic world. As a Muslim seeks to become a true believer, his behavior must conform to all the demands of the Shariah, whether dealing with a minor or a major subject. Should a Muslim deviate from the demands of his sacred law, or neglect its guidance, he would earn the wrath of Allah. Such topics seem to haunt the Muslim: Is prayer lawful while flying and how could one determine the Qiblah?
4 May a woman use kohl on her eyes during Ramadan? May men become doctors of gynecology? Is it haram or halal to frequent swimming pools where men and women bathe?

According to the London-based television channel “Hiwar,” Dar al-Fatwa in Egypt issues daily, more than 1,000 fatwas in four different languages over the telephone; not counting another 500 fatwas handed to believers who seek guidance by going to the Center. You can hardly believe the questions addressed to this television station coming from Paris, London, Rome, Lausanne, etc. As for the mufti’s answers, they are nauseating.

Modernity offers a new approach for humanity. At its core, it celebrates the values of individual liberty, and independence. Thus, the contradiction between modernity and Islam is not an unimportant matter; it is a necessary result of its internal logic. Islam and modernity by definition are in conflict, because there is no way modernity can compete with Shariah in the mind and daily existence of a true, but highly conflicted, Muslim.

For example, Britain was, for the Muslim immigrants from Britain’s former colonies, their “Land of Promise.” Now that they have settled in the country, and become British citizens, they are working hard at its Islamization. Recently, Shaheb Hassan, the official speaker for the Islamic Council of Britain, called on the British to exchange their age-long democratic political institutions for an Islamic regime! Addressing them, he said: “Simply apply the Shariah, and this country would become a peace garden: amputate a thief’s hand, and no one would steal; stone the adulterer and no one would commit adultery. British society would benefit greatly by adopting the Islamic Shariah.”

Pressures on Western societies keep mounting to conform to Islamic laws. On 12 January, 2007, a German judge refused the request of a German lady of Moroccan descent, who wished to divorce her husband because he was beating her. The judge based her decision on the fact that the Qur’an allows husbands to beat their wives. Western Europe is called upon to learn about Islam, and to deal with Muslims in the light of their traditions. This was recently illustrated in Amsterdam where members of its police force were all handed copies of the Qur’an to study in order to become more conversant with the Islamic way of life! And in Rouen, France, the imam of its mosque was dismissed for officiating at a mixed-marriage, and for delivering his sermon in French. His action was denounced by the officials of the mosque as being heretical.

Muslims living in the West who wish to practice Islam in the way it was traditionally practiced in their homelands necessarily find their problems increasing. Even in the simple area of choosing an occupation or finding settled work of any kind, a Muslim must be careful not to displease Allah. When looking for a restaurant, he must find one that offers halal food so as to follow Islamic dietary laws. The list goes on. In the final analysis, a practicing Muslim has a very hard time accepting and becoming a part of the Western world and its modernity. So whichever society of the West he and his family have settled in, the conflict continues and grows deeper!


Analysis
The Algerian writer shows a deep interest in and seems to be very concerned about the plight of Muslims in the West. It is obvious he would like to see them become assimilated into the rule of law and basic freedoms that Western traditions hold paramount. He conveys to a Western reader that Muslims live conflicted lives in the cultures of freedom they inhabit. The teachings of their authority figures do not help them assimilate but rather keep them in a conflicted state between freedom and Shariah tyranny. The basic problem, he claims, is the incompatibility of traditional Islam with Western civilization. As mentioned at the beginning of my article, a literal translation of the Arabic headline reads, “Muslims in the West: Lost within Modernity”.

Comments
This article describes the plight of North African immigrants who have settled in France and who find adjusting to life in their new homeland quite difficult. The Algerian author lays the blame on the strictures imposed upon them by the Islamic Shariah. Guidance they receive from their imams at the mosques, or from other authority figures who issue fatwas has a strong hold on them. The teaching of their religious leaders is meant to deal with and specifically answer the many problems they encounter in their adoptive non-Islamic milieus. What it appears to be doing, however, according to this author, is contributing to a sense of lostness, and an inability to enjoy the peace of mind which they are taught is the reward of obedience to Sharia.

The writer does not offer any solution for the perplexed Muslims of Western Europe. As he put it in an article on the same subject published in a French-language website:

“Un islam sans prosélytisme, sans charia, sans Etat islamique, ce n’est plus l’islam… Ouvrez le Coran, vous serez bien servis!” (
*)

(An Islam that does not practice proselyting, is without Shariah, and without an Islamic State, is no longer Islam. Just open the Qur’an, and see that for yourself.”)

Having offered a definition of “true” Islam, he deems his fellow-North Africans lost, and wandering without much hope in a country that gave them many opportunities for fulfillment, especially in the area of vocation. Yet this very environment, with both its challenges and blessings, has unsettled rather than pacified and pleased them. They still hanker after the world of Daru’l Islam!

Footnotes
1 Halal: In harmony with Shariah, and thus an allowable act or behavior.
2 Haram: Contrary to the Shariah, and thus a forbidden act or behavior.
3 FIS (Front Islamic to Salut): the Islamic Salvation Front, a radical Algerian organization that won the local elections in the early 1990s. That prompted the Military Government to annul the elections, and prevent FIS from participating in the national elections. Civil war resulted, with more than 200,000 Algerians losing their lives.
4 Qiblah points to the direction of Mecca, so that when Muslims are engaged in private prayer, or in the Friday prayers at the Mosque, they must face the Holy City; a tradition that goes back to Muhammad’s days in Medina.

Source:


IHS

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27 Jun 2014 

According to Muslim tradition, Muhammad consummated his marriage with Aisha when she was nine years old. Since Muhammad is considered the role model in all areas of life, Islamic law permits marriage for young children with horrible medical and psychological consequences. The following articles explore various aspects of this contentious issue.

What is so bad about child brides?
Muhammad, Aisha, Islam, and Child Brides
Muhammad's Marriage to a Prepubescent Girl And Its Moral Implications
Child brides face health woes
Yemeni 12-year-old child-bride dies in labor
Special protection orders save nine-year-olds from forced marriages

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IHS


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17 Jun 2014 
By Dallas M. Roark, Ph.D.

It was a good thing that Aisha, the child bride of Mohammed, never became pregnant. She was engaged to him at 6 years old and the marriage was consummated when she was nine. It is rather strange that only one of Mohammed’s wives became pregnant. At any rate if Aisha had become pregnant at nine she could possibly have had a terrible time in delivery and may have possibly died. If she did not die she might have wished that death had overtaken her because of the possible consequences of a youthful pregnancy. Unfortunately Mohammed became the model of the Muslim man and marrying children has been a part of the influence of Mohammed. Untold numbers of girls have died because of Mohammed’s action. Other untold numbers have suffered a miserable life and probably wished they were dead because of being a child bride.

Consider the following:

“You are a 14 year old girl. You’ve never been to school. You were married to a man in a neighboring village at age 13—before your first menstrual period and six months later, you became pregnant. Now you are in labor with your first child.

Labor has already lasted for three days, but still the baby has not come. You are exhausted. You have lost a lot of blood and are running a fever. You haven’t passed urine in over two days, and your genitals are horribly swollen and bruised from the constant pushing. Why won’t the baby come out? You wonder. You dread the long bony fingers of the old woman who is attending your birth. Nothing she does brings relief.

Soon the sun is rising on the morning of your fourth day of labor. At midday, with agony, you manage to pass the child from your body. The baby is stillborn. It has been dead for nearly three days and has started to decay. The softening of its tissues finally allowed it to pass through your vagina.

Thank God, you sigh, It’s finally over, but it is not.

On the morning of the fifth day, you pass more dead tissue. And then it starts. Urine is running out of your vagina, unto your thighs, onto the floor. What is going on? The urine does not stop. You find some rags and stuff them between your thighs.

There, that ought to take care of it, you think, but it doesn’t.

In an hour or two, the rags are soaked. In six hours you have run out of rags. In 12 hours you notice—to your horror—that feces are also coming out. No matter how much you try, no matter how much you wash, you cannot get rid of it.

The odor and wetness are constant. Your husband is disgusted. He cannot stand to have you around. Your presence is unendurable.

“What has happened to you? What did you do?” He demands. You were supposed to become a woman, the mother of his first-born son, but instead you have turned into a human cesspit. This all must be punishment for something you did. He turns you out of the house. Your family takes you back but you are not fit to live in their dwelling, so they put you in a shack on the edge of the family compound, where you sit day after day—alone, wretched, and stinking—until your family has had enough and cast you out.

You are 14. You are illiterate and have no money. You have no skills with which to learn a livelihood. You reek of urine and feces. And you want to die.

You don’t know that your condition has a name, all you know is that you are cursed for reasons you don’t understand. As far as you can tell, you are the only woman who has ever been afflicted in this way. You don’t know that 3 to 4 million other women currently share your fate of have a fistula. Neither do you know that tens of thousands more join this sisterhood of suffering every year. As the lonely months roll by, you understand that this condition will not go away, that your injury will not heal on its own, and that nothing you can do will change your condition.

Most importantly, perhaps, you do not know that fistulas are both curable and preventable.

Labor is an involuntary process. Once started, it continues until delivery is achieved or it ends in one of several catastrophic ways. The pregnant woman whose pelvis is too small for childbirth may be in hard labor for days, suffering severe, unrelenting uterine contractions without achieving delivery until—exhausted, weak from blood loss, and probably infected because of the long labor—she dies without ever delivering her child. Sometimes the uterus will rupture, killing both the woman and her baby in a sudden cataclysm in which the fetus and the afterbirth are thrown into her abdomen through the burst wall of her womb.

Women who do not succumb eventually pass a stillborn infant who is asphyxiated during the long birth process. After death, the entrapped baby starts to decay, eventually macerating and sliding out of the mother’s body.

And if this were not terrible enough, the worst is yet to come. A few days later, the base of the woman’s bladder sloughs away due to her injuries, and a torrent of urine floods through her vagina. In obstructed labor, the woman’s bladder is trapped between the fetal skull and her pelvic bones. The skull is forced relentlessly downward by the contractions, but the unyielding bones of her pelvis refuse to let it pass. As her pelvis’s soft tissues are crushed, they die and slough away, forming a fistula. Once this happens, the fistula will not heal without a surgical operation.”

(The good news is that surgery is almost like a miracle and may cost only a few hundred dollars. A fistula is a break in the wall of an organ allowing fluid to flow from one place to another.)

Because surgery is so scare in this part of the world—Africa—most of these women never receive help.”

(This material has been excerpted from: Jesus and the Unclean Woman, by L. Lewis Wall, professor of obstetrics/gynecology in the School of Medicine and professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. The article was published in the January 2010 issue of Christianity Today, pp. 48-52)

The focus of the article I have quoted deals primarily with Africa. It is equally valid for the child brides of the Muslim world. Many regard Mohammed’s action to be imitated concerning a child bride. Fortunately for Aisha she did not become pregnant but that is not the case for many child brides in Islam. Imams around the Muslim world should warn men against the outrageous idea of taking a child bride. It is not in the man’s best interest of having a healthy wife and mother of his children, nor in the best interest of the child who has not matured enough for a healthy pregnancy. Children continue to grow until about the age of 18 and this is particularly important for females to mature to the point of their bodies being ready for conception. Each time a man imitates Mohammed in taking a child bride he is risking the life of both the mother and the child.

The
WorldwideFistulaFund.org site is seeking to help these women where possible.

Further sources

Muhammad, Aisha, Islam, and Child Brides
Child brides face health woes
Yemeni 12-year-old child-bride dies in labor
CHILD BRIDES (link list)

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IHS

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07 Jun 2014 

Bassam Khoury

The Qur’an presents the concept of Allah in a way which makes the Qur’an’s revelation itself impossible. To understand this, let us have a closer look at one Qur’anic verse:
 
“… nothing is like him, he is the All-hearing, the All-seeing” (Q. 42:11).

To begin with, if we consider the characteristics of Allah that the Qur’an displays and the way Muslims have dealt with them, we find that they are meaningless words. The author of Nahj Al-Balagha, defining Allah’s characteristics, says:

The foremost in religion is the acknowledgement of Him, the perfection of acknowledging Him is to testify Him, the perfection of testifying Him is to believe in His Oneness, the perfection of believing in His Oneness is to regard Him Pure, and the perfection of His purity is to deny Him attributes, because every attribute is a proof that it is different from that to which it is attributed and everything to which something is attributed is different from the attribute. Thus whoever attaches attributes to Allah recognises His like, and who recognises His like regards Him two; and who regards Him two recognises parts for Him; and who recognises parts for Him mistook Him; and who mistook Him pointed at Him; and who pointed at Him admitted limitations for Him; and who admitted limitations for Him numbered Him. Whoever said in what is He, held that He is contained; and whoever said on what is He held He is not on something else. He is a Being but not through phenomenon of coming into being. He exists but not from non-existence. He is with everything but not in physical nearness. He is different from everything but not in physical separation. He acts but without connotation of movements and instruments. He sees even when there is none to be looked at from among His creation. He is only One, such that there is none with whom He may keep company or whom He may miss in his absence. (Source)

Ibn Ishaq Al Kindy
1 says: “Allah, may he be blessed and exalted, is absolutely one, and does not allow any multiplicity or composition. He is beyond description, and can not be described by any category. (The magazine of the University of Umm-Al-Qura, Vol. 6, p. 123)

This makes all talk of Allah meaningless, not to mention that it gives rise to self-reference paradoxes like: Allah, who cannot be described by any category, is in the category of that which is not composite. Or, Allah is in a category all his own, namely, the category of that which cannot be categorized. Or, Allah may be described as that being which cannot be described.

Muslims may say that those who have such views are not the people of the Sunnah. But the views of Sunni Muslims hardly represent an improvement upon the views just mentioned. The doctrine of Sunni Islam relating to the names and characteristics of Allah states: “The names of Allah –may he be exalted– depend on the Qur’an and Sunnah, without addition or subtraction; and because reason cannot comprehend the names which Allah is worthy of, it is unavoidable to solely depend on the text. (Al-Majla Sharh Al-Akeeda Al-Muthla– Ibn Otheimeen 1:8)

At this point the Sunni Muslims would tell us that they are confirming what pertains to Allah according to the Book and the Sunnah. But this does not explain anything; we had already admitted that those characteristics are there. The problem is that by viewing them in the light of the Muslims’ doctrines they are mere empty words. The text of Sura 42:11 tells us that, “
He is the All-seeing, the All-hearing.” But what do those words mean according to the belief of Sunni Muslims? The reason for considering only the Sunni belief is the fact that others2 have exempted us from this discussion by their own admission, as the Shia, for example, put it: “the perfection of His purity is to deny Him attributes,” and in fact, “He cannot be described by any category.”

As for the Sunnis, they confirm the characteristics, but they say the fundamental belief of the Sunnis is that Allah is to be described by what he described himself or by what the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) described him without any comparison or likening, or interpretation and nullification.

The confirmation of this characteristic of Allah and other characteristics does not necessitate any attempt to liken them to the characteristics of humans. In fact they are not similar to the characteristics of human beings but rather characteristics that befit his majesty and glory: “
nothing is like him, he is the All-hearing, the All-seeing” (42:11).

In order to understand a certain thing we need to know what is the meaning of the terms used.

Likening: to believe that any of Allah’s characteristics is
like the characteristics of human beings.
Analogy: to believe that Allah’s characteristics are analogous to human characteristics.
Nullification: to deny Allah’s characteristics or attribute completely.
Interpretation: it means to try to understand the words in another way than the obvious meaning, like to say "hand" means power or "eye" means care or any thing of that sort.

Under these definitions it is impossible to understand any word whatsoever. Suppose we ask about the meaning of “the All-hearing, the All-seeing”. The answer should be, ‘they mean “the All-hearing , the All-seeing”’. However this meaning - according to Muslims - should not be associated with any picture perceived by human reason. Their scholars stressed this to the extent to say: “
it is impossible that Allah -glory and power to him- would have in himself and his characteristics anything imagined or perceived by humans, because Allah is different from anything you could think of.” (The Explanation of the Tahawi’s belief– Saleh Al Al-Sheikh – a lecture on Saturday 13 Thee Al Kaadeh, 1417 H - quoted from the Comprehensive Encyclopaedia; source, page (1/168))

But if such words cannot be defined, then what is the difference between saying that Allah is “the all-hearing” and Allah is “the all-seeing”? On such an approach, all such “characteristics” of Allah collapse into one meaningless “characteristic”.

Even when the characteristics of Allah agree in wording with the characteristics of creatures, they do not mean the same thing according to Muslims. Thus they say: “
it is not permissible for a man to say: Allah is knowing and I am knowing, Allah is existing and I am existing, Allah is living and I am living, Allah is capable and I am capable. I should not say this in a free manner but rather specifying that Allah’s knowledge, capacity, existence and life are different from our knowledge, capacity, existence and life.” (The Essence of Explaining the Islamic belief - the subject of Allah’s characteristics; source, 3rd point: The un-likeness to creation)

If we consider the above discussion logically we would find out that the Islamic doctrine makes the revelation of the Qur’an impossible.

- The Qur’an says about Allah “nothing is like him”.
- This means that Allah is other than anything that comes to your mind about him.
- Muslims believe in the doctrine of "Mukhalaft
مخالفة" ‘unlikeness’, which means there is no likeness whatsoever between Allah, and his characteristics, on one hand and all that pertains to creatures on the other.
- The Qur’an is Allah’s word which is not like human words. (
Arabic source for the fourth point.)

The above demonstrates that it is impossible to use human language to talk about Allah. That means if the Qur’an is credible in what it tells about Allah’s nature and characteristics, then it cannot be a revelation from that Allah. In other words, if it is false, it is false; if it is true, it is also false; therefore, it is false.

This teaching of the Qur'an leads to the impossibility of using human language to define Allah.

Therefore, since the Qur’an is written with human language, it can not be an expression of Allah, it cannot be a revelation from him, nor can it be his word.

That is to say if the Qur’an is true about who Allah is, it cannot be true about what the Qur’an is, and vice versa.

The only way, for Muslims to solve this dilemma is by considering that all words of the Qur’an are other than facts and that they are not equivalent to any human concept even if the wordings of both agree. Expressed differently, those words actually mean nothing; they are in fact only empty words.

Thus, the Muslims’ teaching that Allah is other than what comes to our minds logically means that if we have understood what the Qur’an said about Allah, He is other than what the Qur’an has said about him.

Footnotes
1 Ibn Ishaq Al Kindy was not a Shiite. He was a Muslim philosopher influenced by Mutazilite theology. For more information, see the Wikipedia entry on Al-Kindi.
2 I.e. various other sects of Islam, the Mutazilites being the most prominent group besides the Shia.

Source:

IHS


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26 May 2014 

1. Introduction
2. Was Christmas Christ’s Idea?
3. Missed The Real Meaning Of Christmas?
4. Fruits Of Biblical Christianity In Europe
5. Fruits Of Biblical Christianity In The UK
6. Causes Of The Great Christmas Crime And The Cure
7. Conclusion


1. INTRODUCTION

Christmas in the 21stcentury is associated by many with parties, celebrations, holidays, and having a good time. Oh yes, and then there is the Christmas play, the Nativity, the story of the birth of baby Jesus, suitable for 6 – 11 year olds. He was wrapped up in cloths and placed in a manger. Similarly, many ‘wrap up’ Jesus after Christmas and put him away for another year. Is that all there is to it?

Those who know the Bible realize that Jesus Christ was born for a purpose, to save his people from their sins and to give them life to the full.
1 He did not come to be part of our life only at certain times, but to be our life2 since everything was created by Him and for Him.3 “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did,”4 every day, all the time and thankfully with his help.5

Many people do not want to hold on to these truths and thereby commit a colossal crime. They are robbing Christmas of the real Jesus! This produces a fragmented, distorted and decadent view of Christmas. To put it in another way, those who exclude Christ are left with no real Christmas! However, for those who give Jesus their whole life, every day of the year turns into ‘Christmas.’

2. WAS CHRISTMAS CHRIST’S IDEA?
The actual date of Jesus’ birth is not known for certain. The New Testament contains neither a command nor a prohibition to celebrate it. Latest scholarship has convincingly proven that there is no pagan connection to either the Christmas dates or to its various traditions.
6 As long as Christian principles are not violated7 it can therefore be celebrated with enjoyment according to the advice found in Romans 14:5: “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”

3. MISSED THE REAL MEANING OF CHRISTMAS
Thankfully, it is not the exact date that matters or whether certain traditions
8 are observed at Christmas, but the fact that the birth of Christ really happened. Jesus really did come to live among us to save us from our sins. And he will come again. The Bible did not just predict Jesus' first coming, but also his return. However, this time he will not come as a baby in a manger. He will appear as the King of the Universe to put an end to all evil in the world. He will come to judge us all and to create a new heaven and a new earth, free from suffering and pain.

In the light of Jesus being so central to the true understanding of Christmas, it is indeed a colossal crime to have marginalised him to the fringes of it! The fact that many people seldom think of Jesus when talking about Christmas, merely symbolises the terrible tragedy we are surrounded by every day! Just think of the agonising consequences caused by adultery, drugs, drunkenness, greed, fraud, lies, hypocrisy, and murder and so on. Indeed, the punishment we have to bear for committing the Christmas crime is horrendous. The Bible warned long ago that if we chose to live our lives without God such a disaster would be inevitable:

Without guidance from God law and order disappear ... (Proverb 29:18)

and in the Old Testament book of the prophet Hosea, God says,

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6)

Together we urgently need to go on a journey of discovery to find the causes that led to the great Christmas crime. Let us start by looking at the heights from which we have fallen.

4. FRUITS OF BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY IN EUROPE
Historians agree that the beginning of Europe and its development can not be understood apart from Christianity. The arrival of the Gospel united the separated northern part of Europe. Until then the nature worship of the Germans, the mythology of the Scandinavians and the fertility cult of the Etruscans held the different tribes in a state of animosity towards each other. Aided by the political development of the Roman Empire, the message of Jesus created a rich, unequalled heritage, producing a unique oneness that allowed for diversity in language, living and housing. But how do we explain the coalition between church and state for selfish gains, the crusades, religious wars, slavery, colonialism and the two world wars? The answer lies in the fact that only secondary Christian values, such as brotherhood and liberty, justice and equality were accepted by the nations of Europe. The cross of Christ and its personal application was sadly rejected by many. Having set the stage let us now look at Europe's common Christian heritage which is slowly taken away without people even realizing it. Rev. Wim Rietkerk describes the seven pillars on which European civilisation is built as follows:
9

A. The linear concept of time in history
The first thing that distinguishes a pagan culture from a Christian culture is the difference in awareness of time. A real pagan life style is always cyclical, whereas the Biblical view of history is always linear. There is a tremendous difference. In spite of all of our sins, we still believe that history is not a prison, that life is not a samsara, a cycle, a circle. No, Europeans believe that we live in the direction of a future, that something will happen, that finally will be the disclosure. Basically, a European from his tradition does not believe in reincarnation; he believes in resurrection. (But this is changing.) Total despair is therefore impossible in a Christian world view because God is a God who is active, who is merciful, a wonderful God who stands above history. He gave it a beginning, and he will be at the end. That is our view on history. He is the Alpha and the Omega.

B. The importance of man's calling
Out of this basic awareness of time flows a different view on our calling, the calling of man. This awareness of being called, not to escape the world, neither to adapt to the world, but to change it, is what made Europe great. Every real European, whether Christian or not, is at work to shape the environment. Every real European is at work to realise something of a dream inside the outside world, the surrounding world. This is what we Christians call the cultural mandate: to be fruitful, to fill the earth, to cultivate it. This has so deeply influenced the European mind that no one in Europe can really believe that we have to escape the material world, as eastern gurus preach, or that we should accept life as a fate, as the Muslims preach. So that is a second point that is a pillar under European civilisation: the awareness of man's calling, that he is crucial in changing history.

C. The redemption of labour
Closely connected with our view on calling is our faith in the meaningfulness of human labour - intellectual work, artistic work, craftsmanship, science and technology. The correlation between man at work and an environment made by a reasonable God is the basis for human science, and is rooted only in Christianity. With that comes the importance of human responsibility. Our choices shape the world. Our actions can have an enriching result, or we can also choose to be dead producing machines. But in all cases, labour is meaningful. God called us to work.

D. The dignity of man
The fourth underlying conviction in the biblical worldview is the dignity and the uniqueness of each individual man and woman. That is a precious treasure of European civilization. What a compassion flows out of this basic pillar, the belief in the dignity and uniqueness of each individual person, created in the image of God. All over Europe the traffic stops when an ambulance comes by. We hardly are aware of it, we do not watch it, but it is remarkable. All these strong and healthy people behind the wheel of their car, they stop and wait for one ill, weak individual. That does not happen in India. Europeans understand that a person is not just a wheel in a machine, or a copy. He or she is an original. He or she is wanted in a cosmic sense, because Someone wanted him or her. Even after losing faith in God, a European still believes that each person is unique. That is a pillar of European civilization, a pillar that cannot be absent in the house of our culture. But at this moment, it is shaking. Witness the danger in new legislation on the handicapped, the unborn and the terminally ill, for example, in Holland. The belief in the uniqueness, the preciousness and the dignity of each individual, unborn, or ageing, is dying with this legislation.

E. Mediating structures
Only through the Bible have European nations learnt the right structures for interhuman relationships. Because we are often not aware that we derive them from Christianity, the seed is being picked out of our pockets before we realise what is going on. We should fight for these values! Monogamy in European civilisation is a fruit of Christianity, as is the place of the family, the protection of marriage, structures for school, business, university, all the intermediating structures, and finally civil government. All these spheres redeemed through the preaching of the Gospel. Out of this preaching flowed a strong community life, around family, equality of man (and woman - much too late pursued), and respect for delegated authority. Christianity recognised there was no final authority among men, that authority needed accountability. Hence the basis of democracy was built in human civilisation. Each sphere of society is equal to each other, and each is directly under God. That is the Calvinistic view of society. This has been the predominant European view on the structures of human society, and comes from the Bible, even if many Europeans do not believe in the Bible anymore.

F. Moral order
Among these secondary Christian values are the moral values. Even non-Christian Europeans agree it is wrong to steal, it is wrong to have more than one wife, or to do perjury, and that we should love one another as ourselves. I am always amazed that when you ask people individually what the highest value is, they say loving your neighbour as yourself. They forget the first, the highest commandment, and take the second one, to love your neighbour as yourself. All these rules for moral behaviour come from the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, and have provided the basis for moral behaviour in Europe.

G. Socio-political values
Only the Biblical message preaches that God is a God of righteousness, that he hates the oppressor, and that he is on the side of the poor. The missionaries preached this message across Europe. Because of that message, all of us have common political values: solidarity with the poor, equality by the law and before the law, freedom of the individual, etcetera, etcetera. Today we call these values human rights, but they are in fact fruit of Biblical revelation, fruit of the fruit of the Spirit. These social political values are present all over Europe, and in every European political party.

But today these values are being slowly cut off from these roots. Scholar Jurgen Habermas, who cannot be called a Christian, says in a book on post-modern culture:
'Post-modern man is characterised by the fact that he wants to pick the fruits without the roots'. We know what happens when you cut tulips or daffodils from the field. They continue to flourish in your home where you put them in a vase, but without the roots and the bulbs they must wither and die. That is the tragedy of the modern European.

5. FRUITS OF BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY IN THE UK
What follows focuses primarily on the history of Great Britain
10 but very similar accounts can be drawn in many countries where Christianity was and is influential.

The message of the Bible was probably taught already since the early part of the third century AD in what the Romans called 'Britannia'. In the late ninth century AD, King Alfred the Great put the Biblical Ten Commandments at the beginning of his own law book to communicate that they should be understood 'by the love and compassion of the Lord Christ.' Already before and ever since the Bible has shaped our laws based on its understanding of truth, individual responsibility, the preciousness of life and justice.

By the end of the thirteenth century AD, a Church was established in each village and city. The building itself was at the centre of public life. Where the clergymen were committed Christians, biblical values heavily influenced the whole community for the good. The establishment of hospitals and hospices started out as attachments to monasteries in medieval times. The purpose of the 'hospitium' was to care for the sick, the poor, the elderly and travellers if they could not be looked after by their own families and relatives. Committed Christians helped medical science to advance in major ways. To name just a few: Joseph Lister developed antiseptic procedures; James Simpson pioneered chloroform as an anaesthetic; Arthur Rendle Short was the leading authority in the use of blood transfusions, and Annie McCall started the first ante-natal and post-natal clinic.

The idea of education was largely born in the Church.
In 1860 AD, twenty years before state education came into being, about two and a half million children went to schools, the majority of which were run by Churches and Christian charities in England.

The complete Bible is currently translated into 366 languages and is still the world’s number one best-seller. No wonder it has influenced the development of language, literature, classical music in a unique way.

Many scientists who were Christians pioneered early discoveries and progress,
such as:

John Ray (1627): His work laid foundation for sciences of ornithology, botany, and zoology.
Robert Boyle (1627): He developed what is known as the Boyle's law in chemistry and physics.
Michael Faraday (1791): Pioneer of the electric motor, the dynamo and the transformer.
Sir John Herschel (1792): He made outstanding contributions to physics of light and the science of astronomy and astrophysics.
Lord Kelvin (1824): The founder of modern Physics.
Charles Babbage (1826): He designed the first automatic, digital computer. The Professor at Cambridge stated that careful scientific study is wholly compatible with a belief in the truth of the Bible and the Christian hope of life after death.
James Maxwell (1831): He laid foundation for modern radio, television, radar and satellite communications through his work on electromagnetism.
Sir Ambrose Fleming (1849): The pioneer of electric light, radio and telephone.

6. CAUSES OF THE GREAT CHRISTMAS CRIME AND THE CURE
The Roman Catholic Church, which dominated Europe in the Middle Ages, became more and more powerful and wealthy. With its success came the dangers of pride, corruption, misuse of power, spiritual and moral weakness. At one stage it even passed a law against reading the Bible in the English language! The bad example of the leaders influenced the followers to such an extent that society fell back time and time again into selfish, damaging behaviour. The problem is deadly and it lies not only around us, but also within all of us! The reason for this sad fact is found in the desire of men to be independent from God, not to be under his control, but under one's own. The temptation put before Adam and Eve that they would.... be like God... (Genesis 3:5) and therefore not in need of him anymore proved to be too great to be resisted. Religious people may emphatically state that they can not live without God but by their lives they communicate the opposite message. Through their prayerlessness, stubbornness, greed, evil thoughts, selfishness and pride, they say to God: "I don't really need you, I can live by myself." Yes, they do good deeds, some of them more than others, and these are very helpful. But, when it comes to living in fellowship with God, good works alone can never satisfy the Holy and Almighty One! A change of heart, a new life is needed and even then God needs to constantly forgive us every day because we fall short of honouring Him. That is exactly what is offered to everyone in the world through the Bible! This is why its message is called 'Good News'! Out of God's love for us and to satisfy the demands of His Justice, He became flesh in Jesus to pay the punishment for our sins by his death on the cross. Salvation, a place in heaven, is free for everyone who believes in that work of Jesus because it cost God so much! True believers now devote all their heart, mind and strength to honour God with their life, out of a deep gratitude to the Saviour.

Those Christians who sought to fight against evil during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by leading the nation back to the truth of the Bible were known as 'Reformers'. William Wilberforce, possibly bringing about the greatest social reforms in his day, fought successfully against the slave trade. As a result it was banned on British ships in 1807. Finally, in 1833 slavery in the whole of the British Empire was abolished. A group of committed Christians known as the 'Clapham sect' financed and established the colony of Sierra Leone in Africa to be a home for freed slaves. This group was also used by God to prohibit the savage 'sports' of bear and bull baiting.

In 1834 James Hammit, along with other Methodists, campaigned for better working conditions, the right of employees to express their views freely and for fair wages. As a result they were sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia. A hundred years later the Trades Union Congress honoured Hammit in an inscription on his grave 'as the Pioneer of Trades Unionism.' Many early trades union officials were members of local Churches.

Christian groups who popularised the Temperance Movement led the fight against Alcoholism,
the major drug of the nineteenth century. Under their supervision coffee houses and alcohol-free centres for workmen and their families were opened. Community nursing in the UK can be traced back to church visitors giving care and advice on hygiene and medical matters.

Today's Probation Service was significantly influenced by the Police Court Missionaries
who worked with the Police and courts to supervise those convicted of minor offences.

The late nineteenth century saw almost three-quarters of all charity organisations being run by evangelical Christians.

Lord Shaftesbury,
heir to the many estates of his father, devoted himself very successfully to the needs of the poor and the underprivileged. According to the Times Newspaper he did as much for children as Wilberforce had done for slaves. He stated that his views on everything were governed by his total commitment to Jesus Christ and the Bible. At his memorial service in 1885 many thousands of the poor came to pay him respect. Some school boys who followed Shaftesbury's coffin carried a banner with the words of Jesus: 'I was a stranger and you took me in'.

Missionaries, such as Amy Carmichael, left the shores of England to rescue abandoned children and girls whom their parents gave up to be prostitutes and temple slaves in India. Others worked to end the burning alive of widows, known as 'suttee.' In the Pacific Ocean islands the teaching of the Bible helped to end head hunting and cannibalism. In China Christians worked to abolish the opium trade. Today, more then £125 million is used for overseas aid each year by charities whose motivation for their work is obedience to Christ and the Bible. (e.g. Tearfund, Christian Aid, the Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund, etc.)

7. CONCLUSION
Since the birth of Christ the world has changed dramatically. Assurance of forgiveness, peace on earth, eternal life in heaven, a personal relationship with God, all have become possible through Jesus. Sadly today, particularly in the Western world, many have replaced worship of Jesus by worship of self or other idols. The result is disastrous: crime, rape, deceit, hopelessness, despair, broken relationships. All have become an everyday occurrence. Christianity is looked at as irrelevant. Some people even think that it is the cause of the mess we are in. As we have seen by looking at some crucial points of history, this is definitely not the case. Whenever the Christian faith is practiced according to the Bible its influence in personal life, family and society is absolutely breathtaking. It is not too late to change. Dear reader, are you truly searching for a better quality of life? Are you prepared to make sacrifices for the sake of the truth? Then start this Christmas and take heart from this promise God gave to you:

'You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,' declares the Lord.
(Jeremiah 29:13-14)

For any questions or comments please contact Oskar.

Footnotes
1 Matthew 1:21, John 10:10
2 Matthew 10:39, 16:25
3 Colossians 1:15-17
4 1 John 2:6
5 John 14:12-29
6 Cf. Christmas: Pagan Festival or Christian Celebration?
7 Such as drunkenness, adultery, overeating, quarrels, etc. see Galatians 5:19-21
8 There are actually many different Christmas traditions in different parts of the world. The article “Christmas traditions & customs around the world” provides a several examples.
9 Europe: God's Experiment? by Rev. Dr. Wim Rietkerk, a paper adapted from an address given at the 1993 New Europe Forum (NEF), Brussels.
10 All information in this section is summarized from the book: Brian H Edwards, Ian J Shaw,AD, (Day One Publications, Epson, 1999).

Source:

IHS


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15 May 2014 
Dr Anthony McRoy


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01 May 2014 
By Ali Khalaf


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28 Apr 2014 
By Mumin Salih



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16 Apr 2014 
It is a common fallacy spread by Muslim apologists and dhimmi mouthpieces that "Islam is a great for women." One time, I was almost physically attacked by a "cool" New Ager type who told me he was reading the Koran/Quran, followed quickly by the off-the-cuff-remark, "Islam is great for women."

The comment was so out of left field that it smacked of, "Me thinks thou doth protest too much." Why would he need to make such a declaration, unless he knew that there was a debate as to whether or not Islam was "great for women?" He obviously knew many had claimed the opposite that is Islam is bad for women. At that moment - being a woman - I asserted the opposite as well, at which point he became quite angry, completely losing his holier-than-thou enlightenment. Apparently, my womanly opinion was not appreciated.

No one can tell me that "Islam is great for women," because - surprise! - I have eyes to see how women are treated in the Muslim world. And I've actually read the Koran, which is not only anti-infidel but also anti-woman, while the bulk of Islamic woman-enslavement can be found in other Muslim scriptures such as the hadiths. As one example, Koranic sura 4:34 states:

"Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and forsake them in beds apart, and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme." (The Koran with Parallel Arabic Text, tr. N.A. Dawood, 83)

Concerning the subjugation of women in Islam, Dr. Ergun Mehmet Caner states: "How is this subordinate status defined? According to hadith 3.826, Muhammad said that women are genetically and legally inferior: 'Muhammad asked some women, "Isn't the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?" The women said, "Yes." He said, "This is because of the deficiency of the woman's mind."'...

"Three times in the Hadith, Muhammad's vision of hellfire is recorded, each time including the same feature: 'Muhammad said, "I was shown the Hell-fire and that the majority of its dwellers are women."' As a result of this teaching, women are regarded as both harmful to men and a bad omen. 'Muhammad said, "Bad omen is in the women, the house and the horse...after me I have not left any affliction more harmful to men than women."'

"A woman, thus being a lesser creature, has fewer rights and privileges in Muslim society. In apportioning inheritance, a woman should receive half of what a man receives: 'To the male a portion equal to that of two females' (sura 4:11). In judicial proceedings, a woman's testimony is given one-half the value and credibility as that of a man
... (sura 2:282). (Caner, Ergun Mehmet and Caner, Emir Fethi, Unveiling Islam: An Insider's Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs, 134)

Islam gives men authority over women in a variety of ways - and an emancipated woman who was actually raised Muslim can attest to this fact abundantly. Just ask Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Dr. Wafa Sultan and Nonie Darwish, as but a few examples. Hirsi Ali in particular was subjected to the crudest form of classical- not "extremist" or "radical" - Islam, complete with radical genital mutilation and the nearly full veil of the chador/abaya. (Unlike the burkha and niqab, these coverings allow for the face to be shown.) These women will tell you that classical Islam is absolutely not "great" or even good for women.

Is slavery is "great" for blacks?
The Muslim apologist argument runs that women in the pre-Islamic world were actually worse off than they are within Islam! First of all, it depends on what location you are discussing: This claim may be true for the Arabian Peninsula, for example, but not in many other parts of the world. How about Polynesia, where women live quite freely by comparison? Or what about other eras, in which the Goddess ruled and women were revered in a far greater manner than at any other time in history?; Today in the democratic Western cultures women have achieved - or re-achieved - much of this status, although even here sexism remains in many areas to some extent, unfortunately.

Secondly, just because women appear to be slightly or even somewhat better off within Islam than they were in the pre-Islamic Arabian Peninsula, that alleged fact does not mean that "Islam is great for women." Slaves in 19th century America were far better off than their counterparts in Africa - does that mean that slavery is great for blacks? To those of us women, who are truly free, liberated and whole, with the wealth of life's opportunities available on the table before us, Islam represents slavery, period. And that is one reason why so many women are at the forefront of battling back the brutal, cruel and inhumane Islamic/sharia law that would reduce us to household/sex slaves and baby-making machines. The bottom line is that Islam is NOT "great for women."

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14 Apr 2014 

By Ali Sina

The Physical Effects of Muhammad’s Ecstatic Experiences:

Here is how Muhammad described his mystical experiences: “The Revelation is always brought to me by an angel: sometimes it is delivered to me as the beating sound of the bell--and this is the hardest experience for me; but sometimes the angel appears to me in the shape of a human and speaks to me.” [40]
 
Those who saw the Prophet (pbuh) in this state relate that his condition would change. Sometimes he would stay motionless as if some terribly heavy load was pressed on him and, even in the coldest day, drops of sweat would fall from his forehead [41] At other times he would move his lips.

Ibn Sa'd says, "at the moment of inspiration, anxiety pressed upon the Prophet, and his countenance was troubled" [1]

"
He fell to the ground like one intoxicated or overcome by sleep; and in the coldest day his forehead would be bedewed with large drops of perspiration. Inspiration descended unexpectedly, and without any previous warning."[2]

"Then Allah's Apostle returned with that experience; and the muscles between his neck and shoulders were trembling till he came upon Khadija (his wife) and said, "Cover me!" They covered him, and when the state of fear was over" [3] and [4]

All these are symptoms of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. The following is a partial list of the Temporal Lobe Seizure Symptoms & Signs as defined in health.allrefer.com

Hallucinations or illusions such as hearing voices when no one has spoken, seeing patterns, lights, beings or objects that aren't there

- Rhythmic
muscle contraction Muscle cramps are involuntary and often painful contractions of the muscles which produce a hard, bulging muscle
-
Abdominal pain or discomfort. Sudden, intense emotion such as fear.
-
Muscle twitching (fasciculation) is the result of spontaneous local muscle contractions that are involuntary and typically only affect individual muscle groups. This twitching does not cause pain.
- Abnormal mouth behaviors
- Abnormal head movements
- Sweating
- Flushed face
- Rapid heart rate/pulse
- Changes in vision, speech, thought, awareness, personality
- Loss of memory (amnesia) regarding events around the seizure (partial complex seizure)

All the above symptoms were present in Muhammad during the moments that he was allegedly receiving revelations.
- He had visions (hallucinations) of seeing an angel or a light and of hearing voices.
- He experienced bodily spasms and excruciating abdominal pain and discomfort
- He was overwhelmed by sudden emotions of anxiety and fear
- He had twitching in his neck muscles
- He had uncontrollable lip movement
- He sweated even during cold days.
- His face flushed. His countenance was troubled.
-
He had rapid heart palpitation
- He had loss of memory. (There is a tradition that states Muhammad was bewitched and used to think that he had sexual relations with his wives when he actually had not. [5]

It is also interesting to note that Muhammad's hallucination was not limited to seeing the Angel Gabriel but he also claimed seeing Jinns and even in one occasion while praying in the mosque he started struggling with an imaginary person and later said "Satan came in front of me and tried to interrupt my prayer, but Allah gave me an upper hand on him and I choked him. No doubt, I thought of tying him to one of the pillars of the mosque till you get up in the morning and see him. Then I remembered the statement of Prophet Solomon, 'My Lord ! Bestow on me a kingdom such as shall not belong to any other after me.' Then Allah made him (Satan) return with his head down (humiliated)." [6]

Muhammad's belief in Satan was such that he seemed to think that not even he is immune from his whisperings. [7]

One of the embarrassing events in Muhammad's life occurred when Satan put words in his mouth.

Tabari says: “
When the messenger of God saw how his tribe turned their backs on him and was grieved to see them shunning the message he had brought to them from God, he longed in his soul that something would come to him from God which would reconcile him with his tribe. With his love for his tribe and his eagerness for their welfare it would have delighted him if some of the difficulties which they made for him could have been smoothed out, and he debated with himself and fervently desired such an outcome. Then God revealed:

"By the Star when it sets, your comrade does not err, nor is he deceived; nor does he speak out of (his own) desire..."
and when he came to the words:
Have you thought upon al-Lat and al-Uzza and Manat, the third, the other?
Satan cast on his tongue, because of his inner debates and what he desired to bring to his people, the words:
"These are the high flying cranes; verily their intercession is accepted with approval.

The Quraysh left delighted by the mention of their gods. Amity was restored and the news of that reached the followers of Muhmmad who at his behest had migrated to Abyssina and some of them returned. Muhammad realizing the consequence of this is giving up on his monopoly on God and the contradiction that it entails, claimed those verses and his Allah consoled him saying, “Never did We send a messenger or a prophet before thee, but, when he framed a desire, Satan threw some (vanity) into his desire: but Allah will cancel anything (vain) that Satan throws in, and Allah will confirm (and establish) His Signs: for Allah is full of Knowledge and Wisdom: 22:52 [8]

In the Quran there are several mentions of Jinns. Surah 72 narrates a conversation between Jinns where they comment about the Quran, call it “a wonderful Recital” and convert to Islam. Their role is described as prying into the secrets of heaven and eavesdropping to the conversation of the exalted assembly. Which since the apparition of Muhammad, they found it filled with stern guards and flaming fires. “We used, indeed, to sit there in (hidden) stations, to (steal) a hearing;" Quran quotes one Jinn saying to others, "but any who listen now will find a flaming fire watching him in ambush. And we understand not whether ill is intended to those on earth, or whether their Lord (really) intends to guide them to right conduct".

It is not difficult to see that Muhammad suffered from Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. In fact TLE was just one of his ailments. The prophet suffered from other mental disorders and physical complications. I will speak about them in future. The real miracle is in the fact that a billion people follow a sick man for so long.

[1] Katib al Waqidi p. 37. See also Bukhari 1: 1: 2
[2] Bukhari 7, 71, 660
[3] Bukhari 6, 60, 478
[4] B. 9,78.111
[6] Bukhari 2, 22, 301
[7] 6.68, 6.116, 22.52
[8] Tabari volume 6, page 107



Background: Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) was defined in 1985 by the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) as a condition characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures originating from the medial or lateral temporal lobe. The seizures associated with TLE consist of simple partial seizures without loss of awareness (with or without aura) and complex partial seizures (ie, with loss of awareness). The individual loses awareness during a complex partial seizure because the seizure spreads to involve both temporal lobes, which causes impairment of memory.
TLE was first recognized in 1881 by John Hughlings Jackson, who described "uncinate fits" and the “dreamy state." In the 1940s, Gibbs et al introduced the term "psychomotor epilepsy." The international classification of epileptic seizures (1981) replaced the term psychomotor seizures with complex partial seizures. The ILAE classification of the epilepsies uses the term temporal lobe epilepsy and divides the etiologies into cryptogenic (presumed unidentified etiology), idiopathic (genetic), and symptomatic (cause known, eg, tumor).

Pathophysiology: Hippocampal sclerosis is the most common pathologic finding in TLE. Hippocampal sclerosis involves hippocampal cell loss in the CA1 and CA3 regions and the dentate hilus. The CA2 region is relatively spared.

For more information, see Pathophysiology in the article Seizures and Epilepsy: Overview and Classification.

Frequency:
In the US: Approximately 50% of patients with epilepsy have partial epilepsy. Partial epilepsy is often of temporal lobe origin. However, the true prevalence of TLE is not known, since not all cases of presumed TLE are confirmed by video-EEG and most cases are classified by clinical history and interictal EEG findings alone. The temporal lobe is the most epileptogenic region of the brain. In fact, 90% of patients with temporal interictal epileptiform abnormalities on their EEG have a history of seizures.

History:
- Aura
- Auras occur in approximately 80% of temporal lobe seizures. They are a common feature of simple partial seizures and usually precede complex partial seizures of temporal lobe origin.
Auras may be classified by symptom type; the types comprise somatosensory, special sensory, autonomic, or psychic symptoms.
- Somatosensory and special sensory phenomena
- Olfactory and gustatory illusions and hallucinations may occur. Acharya et al found that olfactory auras are associated more commonly with temporal lobe tumors than with other causes of TLE.
- Auditory hallucinations consist of a buzzing sound, a voice or voices, or muffling of ambient sounds. This type of aura is more common with neocortical TLE than with other types of TLE.
- Patients may report distortions of shape, size, and distance of objects.
- These visual illusions are unlike the visual hallucinations associated with occipital lobe seizure in that no formed elementary visual image is noted, such as the visual image of a face that may be seen with seizures arising from the fusiform or the inferior temporal gyrus.
- Things may appear shrunken (micropsia) or larger (macropsia) than usual.
- Tilting of structures has been reported. Vertigo has been described with seizures in the posterior superior temporal gyrus.
- Psychic phenomena
- Patients may have a feeling of déjà vu or jamais vu, a sense of familiarity or unfamiliarity, respectively.
- Patients may experience depersonalization (ie, feeling of detachment from oneself) or derealization (ie, surroundings appear unreal).
- Fear or anxiety usually is associated with seizures arising from the amygdala.
- Patients may describe a sense of dissociation or autoscopy, in which they report seeing their own body from outside.
- Autonomic phenomena are characterized by changes in heart rate, piloerection, and sweating. Patients may experience an epigastric "rising" sensation or nausea.

Physical:
- Following the aura, a temporal lobe complex partial seizure begins with a wide-eyed, motionless stare, dilated pupils, and behavioral arrest. Oral alimentary automatisms such as lip smacking, chewing, and swallowing may be noted. Manual automatisms or unilateral dystonic posturing of a limb also may be observed.
- Patients may continue their ongoing motor activity or react to their surroundings in a semipurposeful manner (ie, reactive automatisms). They can have repetitive stereotyped manual automatisms.
- A complex partial seizure may evolve to a secondarily generalized tonic-clonic seizure.
- Patients usually experience a postictal period of confusion, which distinguishes TLE from absence seizures, which are not associated with postictal confusion. In addition, absence seizures are not associated with complex automatisms. Postictal aphasia suggests onset in the language-dominant temporal lobe.
- Most auras and automatisms last a very short period—seconds or 1-2 minutes. The postictal phase may last for a longer period (several minutes). By definition, amnesia occurs during a complex partial seizure because of bilateral hemispheric involvement.

Causes:
- Approximately two thirds of patients with TLE treated surgically have hippocampal sclerosis as the pathologic substrate.

The etiologies of TLE include the following:
- Past infections, eg, herpes encephalitis or bacterial meningitis
- Hamartomas
- Gliomas
- Vascular malformations (ie, arteriovenous malformation, cavernous angioma)
- Cryptogenic: A cause is presumed but has not been identified.
- Idiopathic (genetic): This is rare. Familial TLE was described by Berkovic and colleagues, and partial epilepsy with auditory features was described by Scheffer and colleagues.
- Hippocampal sclerosis produces a clinical syndrome called mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE). MTLE begins in late childhood, then remits, but reappears in adolescence or early adulthood in a refractory form.
- Febrile seizures: The association of simple febrile seizure with TLE has been controversial. However, a subset of children with complex febrile convulsions appears to be at risk of developing TLE in later life. Complex febrile seizures are febrile seizures that last longer than 15 minutes, have focal features, or recur within 24 hours.

Source:

IHS


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