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Meeting the Reverend
I was visiting the "Bible House" in Johannesburg. Whilst browsing through the stacks of Bibles and religious books, I picked up an Indonesian Bible and had just taken in hand a Greek - English New Testament, a large, expensive volume. I had not realized that I was being observed by the supervisor of the Bible House. Casually, he walked up to me. Perhaps my beard and my Muslim headgear were an attraction and a challenge? He inquired about my interest in that costly volume. I explained that as a student of comparative religion, I had need for such a book. He invited me to have tea with him in his office. It was very kind of him and I accepted.
Over the cup of tea, I explained to him the Muslim belief in Jesus, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. I explained to him the high position that Jesus occupied in the House of Islam. He seemed skeptical about what I said. I was amazed at his seeming ignorance, because only retired Reverend gentlemen can become Supervisors of Bible Houses in South Africa. I began reciting from verse 42 of chapters 3 of the Holy Qur'an:“ 'Behold!' The angels said: 'O Mary, Allah hath chosen thee...'”.
I wanted the Reverend to listen, not only to the meaning of the Qur'an, but also to the music of its cadences when the original Arabic was recited. Rev. Dunkers (for that was his name) sat back and listened with rapt attention to "Allah's Words".
When I reached the end of verse 49, the Reverend commented that the Qur'anic message was like that of his own Bible. He said, he saw no difference between what he behaved as a Christian, and what I had read to him. I said: "that was true". If he had come across these verses in the English language alone without their Arabic equivalent, side by side, he would not have been able to guess in a hundred years that he was reading the Holy Qur'an. If he were a Protestant, he would have thought that he was reading the Roman Catholic Version, if he had not seen one, or the Jehovah's Witness Version or the Greek Orthodox Version, or the hundred and one other versions that he might not have seen; but he would never have guessed that he was reading the Qur'anic version.
The Christian would be reading here, in the Qur'an, everything he wanted to hear about Jesus, but in a most noble, elevated and sublime language. He could not help being moved by it.
In these eight terse verses from Chapter 3: 42 to 49 we are told:
- “ That Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virtuous woman, and honored above the women of all nations”.
- “ That all that was being said was God's own Revelation to mankind”.
- “ That Jesus was the "Word" of God”.
- “ That he was the Christ that the Jews were waiting for”.
- “ That God will empower this Jesus to perform miracles even in infancy”.
- “ That Jesus was born miraculously, without any male intervention”.
- “ That God will vouchsafe him Revelation”.
- “ That he will give life to the dead by God's permission, and that he will heal those born blind and the lepers by God's permission, ... etc”.
"Chalk and Cheese"
The most fervent Christian cannot take exception to a single statement or word here. But the difference between the Biblical and the Qur'anic narratives is that between "chalk and cheese". "To me they are identical, what is the difference?" the Reverend asked. I know that in their essentials both the stories agree in their details, but when we scrutinize them closely we will discover that the difference between them is staggering.
Now compare the miraculous conception as announced in verse 47 of the Holy Qur'an with what the Holy Bible says:"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was in this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, (as husband and wife) she was found with child of the holy ghost" (Matthew 1:18).
The eminent Billy Graham from the United States of America dramatized this verse in front of 40,000 people in King Park, Durban, with his index finger sticking out and swinging his outstretched arm from right to left, he said: " And the Holy Ghost came and impregnated Mary!" On the other hand St. Luke tells us the very same thing but less crudely. He says, that when the annunciation was made, Mary was perturbed. Her natural reaction was:" How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" (Luke 1:34) meaning sexually.
The Qur'anic narrative is:“ She said: O my Lord! how shall I have a son when no man hath touched me (meaning sexually)?” (Holy Qur'an 3:47).
In essence there is no difference between these two statements "seeing I know not a man" and "when no man hath touched me". Both the quotations have an identical meaning. It is simply a choice of different words meaning the same thing. But the respective replies to Mary's plea in the two Books (the Qur'an and the Bible) are revealing.
The Biblical Version
Says the Bible:" And the angle answered and said into her: 'The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee" (Luke 1:35).
Can't you see that you are giving the atheist, the skeptic, the agnostic a stick to beat you with? They may well ask "How did the Holy Ghost come upon Mary?" "How did the Highest overshadow her?" We know that literally it does not mean that: that it was an immaculate conception, but the language used here, is distasteful. Now contrast this with the language of the Qur'an.
The Qur'anic Version
“ He said (the angel says in reply): 'Even so: Allah (God) createth what He willeth: when He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, 'Be', and it is!” (Holy Qur'an 3:47).
This is the Muslim concept of the birth of Jesus. For God to create a Jesus, without a human father, He merely has to will it. If He wants to create a million Jesus' without fathers or mothers, He merely wills them into existence. He does not have to take seeds and transfer them, like men or animals by contact or artificial insemination. He wills everything into being by His word of command "Be" and "It is".
There is nothing new in what I am telling you, I reminded the Reverend. It is in the very first Book of your Holy Bible, Genesis 1:3 "And God said..." What did He say? He said, "Be" and "It was". He did not have to articulate the words. This is our way of understanding the word "Be" that He willed everything into being.
Choice for His Daughter
"Between these two versions of the birth of Jesus, the Qur'anic version and the Biblical version, which would you prefer to give your daughter?" I asked the supervisor of the Bible House. He bowed his head down in humility and admitted "The Qur'anic Version."
How can "a forgery" or "an imitation", as it is alleged of the Qur'an, be better than the genuine, the original, as it is claimed for the Bible? It can never be, unless this Revelation to Muhammed is what it, itself, claims to be viz, the pure and holy Word of God! There are a hundred different tests that the unprejudiced seeker after truth can apply to the Holy Qur'an and it will qualify with flying colors to being a Message from on High.
Does the miraculous birth of Jesus make him a God or a "begotten" son of God? No! says the Holy Qur'an:“ The similitude of Jesus before Allah (God) is that of Adam; He created him from dust then said to him: 'Be', and he was” (Holy Qur'an 3:59).
Yusuf Ali, comments in his notes in the Qur'an translation:
" After a description of the high position which Jesus occupies as a prophet in the preceding verses we have a repudiation of the dogma that he was God, or the son of God, or any thing more than man. If it is said that he was born without a human father, Adam was also so born. Indeed Adam was born without either a human father or mother. As far as our physical bodies are concerned they are mere dust.
In God's sight Jesus was as dust just as Adam was or humanity is. The greatness of Jesus arose from the divine command 'Be': for after that he was more than dust a great spiritual leader and teacher"
The logic of it is that, if being born without a male parent entitles Jesus to being equated with God, then, Adam would have a greater right to such honor, and this no Christian would readily concede. Thus, the Muslim is made to repudiate the Christian blasphemy.
Further, if the Christian splits hairs by arguing that Adam was "created" from the dust of the ground, whereas Jesus was immaculately "begotten" in the womb of Mary, then let us remind him that, even according to his own false standards, there is yet another person greater than Jesus, in his own Bible. Who is this superman?
"For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God... Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life..." (Hebrews 7:1,3).
Here is a candidate for Divinity itself, for only God Almighty could possess these qualities. Adam had a beginning (in the garden), Jesus had a beginning (in the stable); Adam had an end and, claim the Christians, so had Jesus "and he gave up the ghost". But where is Melchisedec? Perhaps he is hibernating somewhere like Rip Van Winkel (a fairy tale character who slept for many ages.)
And what is this "Hebrews"? It is the name of one of the Books of the Holy Bible, authored by the gallant St. Paul, the self appointed thirteenth apostle of Christ. Jesus had twelve apostles, but one of them (Judas) had the Devil in him. So the vacancy had to be filled, because of the "twelve" thrones in heaven which had to be occupied by his disciples to judge the children of Israel (Luke 22:30).
Saul was a renegade Jew, and the Christians changed his name to "Paul", probably because "Saul" sounds Jewish. This St. Paul made such a fine mess of the teachings of Jesus, peace blessings be upon him, that he earned for himself the second most coveted position of "The Most Influential Men of History" in the monumental work of Michael H. Hart: The 100 or The Top Hundred or the Greatest Hundred in History. Paul outclasses even Jesus because, according to Michael Hart, Paul was the real founder of present day Christianity. The honor of creating Christianity had to be shared between Paul and Jesus, and Paul won because he wrote more Books of the Bible than any other single author, whereas Jesus did not write a single word.
Paul needed no inspiration to write his hyperboles here and in the rest of his Epistles. Did not Hitler's Minister of Propaganda - Goebbels - say: "The bigger the lie the more likely it is to be believed'? But the amazing thing about this exaggeration is that no Christian seems to have read it. Every learned man to whom I have shown this verse to, seemed to be seeing it for the first time. They appear dumbfounded, as described by the fitting words of Jesus: "...seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand." (Matthew 13:13).
The Holy Qur'an also contains a verse which fittingly describes this well cultivated sickness:“ Deaf, dumb and blind, will they not return (to the path)” (Holly Qur'an 2:18).
The Sons of God
The Muslim takes strong exception to the Christian dogma that "Jesus is the only begotten son, begotten not made". This is what the Christian is made to repeat from childhood in his catechism. I have asked learned Christians, again and again as to what they are really trying to emphasize, when they say: "Begotten not made".
They know that according to their own God given (?) records, God has sons by the tons:
"...Adam, which was the son of God (Luke 3:38).
" That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair... And when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them..." (Genesis 6: 2,4).
"...Israel is My son, even My firstborn:" (Exodus 4:22).
"...for I (God) am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn." (Jeremiah 31:9).
"...the Lord hath said unto me (David): 'Thou art My son: this day have I begotten thee." (Psalms 2:7).
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." (Romans 18:14).
Can't you see that in the language of the Jew, every righteous person, every Tom, Dick and Harry who followed the Will and Plan of God, was a "SON OF GOD". It was a metaphorical descriptive term commonly used among the Jews. The Christian agrees with this reasoning, but goes on to say: "but Jesus was not like that". Adam was made by God. Every living thing was made by God, He is the Lord, Cherisher and Sustainer of all. Metaphorically speaking therefore God is the Father of all. But Jesus was the "begotten" son of God, not a CREATED son of God?
Begotten Means "Sired"!
In my forty years of practical experience in talking to learned Christians, not a single one has opened his mouth to hazard an explanation of the phrase "begotten not made". It had to be an American who dared to explain. He said: "It means, sired by God". "What?" I exploded: "SIRED by God?" "No, no!" he said, "I am only trying to explain the meaning, I do not believe that God really sired a son.
The sensible Christian says that the words do not literally mean what they say. Then why do you say it? Why are you creating unnecessary conflict between the 1,200,000,000 Christians and a thousand million Muslims of the world in making senseless statements?
Reason for Objection
The Muslim takes exception to the word "begotten", because begetting is an animal act, belonging to the lower animal functions of sex. How can we attribute such a lowly capacity to God? Metaphorically we are all the children of God, the good and the bad, and Jesus would be closer to being the son of God than any one of us, because he would be more faithful to God then any one of us can ever be. From that point of view he is preeminently the son of God.
Although this pernicious word "begotten" has now unceremoniously been thrown out of the "Most Accurate" version of the Bible, the Revised Standard Version (R.S.V.), its ghost still lingers on in the Christian mind, both black and white. Through its insidious brainwashing the white man is made to feel superior to his black Christian brother of the same Church and Denomination. And in turn, the black man is given a permanent inferiority complex through this dogma.
The human mind can't help reasoning that since the "begotten son" of an African will look like an African, and that of a Chinaman as a Chinese, and that of an Indian like an Indian: so the begotten son of God aught naturally to look like God. Billions of beautiful pictures and replicas of this "ONLY BEGOTTEN SON" (?) of God are put in peoples hands. He looks like a European with blonde hair, blue eyes and handsome features like e one I saw in the "King of Kings" or "The Day of Triumph" or "Jesus of Nazareth". Remember Jeffrey Hunter? The "SAVIOUR" of the Christian is more like a German than a Jew with his Polly nose. So naturally, if the son is a white man, the father would also be a white man (God?). Hence the darker skinned races of the earth subconsciously have the feeling of inferiority ingrained in their souls as God's STEP CHILDREN. No amount of face creams, skin lighteners and hair-straighteners will erase the inferiority.
God is spirit
God is neither black nor white. He is beyond the imagination of the mind of man. Break the mental shackles of a Caucasian (white) man-god, and you have broken the shackles of a permanent inferiority. But intellectual bondages are harder to shatter: the slave himself fights to retain them.
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 Hyperbole: exaggerated statement that is not meant to be taken literally.
 R.S.V.: The Revised Standard Version, claimed by the Church of England Newspaper as "The Finest version which has been produced in the present century", goes back to the MOST ancient manuscripts, some two to three hundred years after Jesus.
 Black: I use this term in the South African context where every non-European is black, whether African, Colored or Asiatic, never mind how white he looks.