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Chapter 6: Answer to Christian Dilemmas
"Christ in Islam" is really Christ in the Qur'an: and the Holy Qur'an has something definite to say about every aberration of Christianity. The Qur'an absolves Jesus, peace and blessings be upon him, from all the false charges of his enemies as well as the misplaced infatuation of his followers. His enemies allege that he blasphemed against God by claiming Divinity. His misguided followers claim that he did avow Divinity, but that was not blasphemy because he was God. What does the Qur'an say?
Addressing both the Jews and the Christians, Allah says:“ O People of the Book! commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of Allah (God) aught but the truth. Christ Jesus son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah (God), and His Word, which he bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah (God) and His messengers...” (Holy Qur'an 4:171).
Going to Extremes
"O People of the Book:" is a very respectful title with which the Jews and the Christians are addressed in the Holy Qur'an. In other words, Allah is saying "O Learned People!" "O People with a Scripture!" According to their own boast, the Jews and the Christians prided themselves over the Arabs, who had no Scripture before the Qur'an. As a learned people, Allah pulls up both the contending religionists for going to either extremes as regards the personality of Christ.
The Jews made certain insinuations about the legitimacy of Jesus and charged him of blasphemy by twisting his words. The Christians read other meanings into his words; wrench words out of their context to make him God.
The modern day Christian, the hot-gospeller - the Bible thumper, uses harsher words and cruder approaches to win over a convert to his blasphemies.
- "Either Jesus is God or a liar".
- "Either Jesus is God or a lunatic".
- "Either Jesus is God or an impostor".
These are his words, words culled from Christian literature. Since no man of charity, Muslim or otherwise, can condemn Christ so harshly as the Christian challenges him to do, perforce he must keep non-committal. He thinks he must make a choice between one or the other of these silly extremes. It does not occur to him that there is an alternative to this Christian conundrum.
Is it not possible that Jesus is simply what he claimed to be, a prophet, like so many other prophets that passed away before him? Even that he is one of the greatest of them, a mighty miracle worker, a great spiritual teacher and guide - the Messiah! Why only God or Lunatic? Is "lunacy" the opposite of "Divinity" in Christianity? What is the antonym of God? Will some clever Christian answer?
The Qur'an lays bare the true position of Christ in a single verse, it says:
- "That he was the son of a woman, Mary, and therefore a man".
- "But a messenger, a man with a mission from Allah (God), and therefore entitled to honor".
- "A Word bestowed on Mary, for he was created by Allah's word 'Be', and he was;" (3:59).
- " A spirit proceeding from Allah (God), but not Allah: his life and mission were more limited than in the case of some other messengers, though we must pay equal honor to him as a prophet of Allah. The doctrines of Trinity, equality with God, and sons, are repudiated as blasphemies. Allah (God) is independent of all needs and has no need of a son to manage His affairs. The Gospel of John (whoever wrote it) has put a great deal of Alexandrian Gnostic mysticism round the doctrine of the Word (Greek, Logos), but it is simply explained here, and our Sufis work on this explanation".
A. Yusuf Ali's comment on verse 171 above.
Reproduced below are verses 119 to 121 from Sura Maida (chapter 5 of the Qur'an) depicting the scene of Judgment Day, when Allah will question Jesus, peace and blessings be upon him, regarding the misdirected zeal of his supposed followers in worshipping him and his mother: and his response:
- “ And behold! Allah will say: O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah? He will say: Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, Thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden”.
- “ Never said I to them aught except what Thou didst command me to say, to wit, Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord; and I was a witness over them whilst I dwelt amongst them; when Thou didst take me up Thou was the Watcher over them, and Thou art a witness to all things”.
- “ If Thou dost punish them, they are Thy servant: If Thou dost forgive them, Thou art the Exalted in power, the Wise”.
Claimed No Divinity
If this is the statement of truth from the All-Knowing that, "Never said I to them aught except what Thou didst command me to say, that is WORSHIP GOD, WHO IS MY LORD AND YOUR LORD", then how do the Christians justify worshipping Jesus?
There is not a single unequivocal statement throughout the Bible, in all its 66 volumes of the Protestant versions, or in the 73 volumes of the Roman Catholic versions, where Jesus claims to be God or where he says, "worship me". Nowhere does he say that he and God Almighty are one and the same person.
The last phrase above - "one and the same person" tickles many a "hot-gospeller" and "Bible-thumper," not excluding the Doctor of Divinity and the Professor of Theology. Even the new converts to Christianity have memorized these verses. They are programmed to rattle off verses out of context, upon which they can hang their faith. The words "ARE ONE" activates the mind by association of memories. "Yes", say the Trinitarians, the worshippers of three gods in one God, and one God in three gods, "Jesus did claim to be God!" Where?
Reverend at the Table
I had taken Rev. Morris D.D. and his wife, to lunch at the "Golden Peacock." While at the table, during the course of our mutual sharing of knowledge, the opportunity arose to ask, "Where?" And without a murmur he quoted, "I and my father are one"- to imply that God and Jesus were one and the same person. That Jesus here claims to be God. The verse quoted was well known to me, but it was being quoted out of context. It did not carry the meaning that the Doctor was imagining, so I asked him, "What is the context?"
Choked on "Context"
The Reverend stopped eating and began staring at me. I said, "Why? Don't you know the context?" - "You see, what you have quoted is the text, I want to know the context, the text that goes with it, before or after." Here was an Englishman (Canadian), a paid servant of the Presbyterian Church, a Doctor of Divinity, and it appeared that I was trying to teach him English. Of course he knew what "context" meant. But like the rest of his compatriots, he had not studied the sense in which Jesus had uttered the words.
In my forty years of experience, this text had been thrown at me hundreds of times, but not a single learned Christian had ever attempted to hazard a guess as to its real meaning. They always start fumbling for their Bibles. The Doctor did not have one with him. When they do start going for their Bibles, I stop them in their stride: "Surely, you know what you are quoting?" "Surely, you know your Bible?" After reading this, I hope some "born-again" Christians will rectify this deficiency. But I doubt that my Muslim readers will ever come across one in their lifetime who could give them the context.
What is the Context?
It is unfair on the part of the Reverend, having failed to provide the context, then to ask me, "Do you know the context?" "Of course," I said. "Then, what is it?" asked my learned friend. I said, "That which you have quoted is the text of John chapter 10, verse 30. To get at the context, we have to begin from verse 23, which reads:
23. And Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon's porch.
John, or whoever he was, who wrote this story, does not tell us the reason for Jesus tempting the Devil by walking alone in the lion's den. For we do not expect the Jews to miss a golden opportunity to get even with Jesus. Perhaps, he was emboldened by the manner in which he had literally whipped the Jews single-handed in the Temple, and upset the tables of the money changers at the beginning of his ministry (John 2:15).
24. "The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly".
They surrounded him. Brandishing their fingers in his face, they began accusing him and provoking him; saying that he had not put forth his claim plainly enough, clearly enough. That he was talking ambiguously. They were trying to work themselves into a frenzy to assault him. In fact, their real complaint was that they did not like his method of preaching - his invectives, the manner in which he condemned them for their formalism, their ceremonialism, their going for the letter of the law and forgetting the spirit. But Jesus could not afford to provoke them any further - there were too many and they were itching for a fight.
Discretion is the better part of valor. In a conciliatory spirit, befitting the occasion -
25. "Jesus answered, I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me",
26. "But you do not believe because you are not my sheep".
Jesus rebuts the false charge of his enemies that he was ambiguous in his claims to being the Messiah that they were waiting for. He says that he did tell them clearly enough, yet they would not listen to him, but
27. "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me".
28. "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall any man PLUCK THEM OUT OF MY HAND".
29. "My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; and no man is able to PLUCK THEM OUT OF MY HAND".
How can anyone be so blind as not to see the exactness of the ending of the last two verses. But spiritual blinkers are more impervious than physical defects. He is telling the Jews and recording for posterity, the real unity or relationship between the Father and the son. The most crucial verse:
30. "I and the Father are one".
One in what? In their Omniscience? In their Nature? In their Omnipotence? No! One in purpose! That once a believer has accepted faith, the Messenger sees to it that he remains in faith, and God Almighty also sees to it that he remains in faith. This is the purpose of the "Father" AND the "son" AND the "Holy Ghost" AND of every man AND every woman of faith. Let the same John explain his Gnostic mystic verbiage.
"That they all may be ONE as thou Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be ONE in us..."
"I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in ONE..." (John 17:20-22).
If Jesus is "ONE" with God, and if that "ONENESS" makes him God, then the traitor Judas, and the doubting Thomas, and the satanic Peter, plus the other nine who deserted him when he was most in need are God(s), because the same "ONENESS" which he claimed with God in John 10:30, now he claims for ALL "who forsook him and fled" (Mark 14:50). All "ye of little faith" (Matthew 8:26). All "O faithless and perverse generation" (Luke 9:41). Where and when will the Christian blasphemy end? The expression "I and my Father are one", was very innocent, meaning nothing more than a common purpose with God. But the Jews were looking for trouble and any excuse will not do, therefore,
- "Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him".
- "Jesus said to them, I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?"
- "The Jews answered him, saying, 'For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself a God".
In verse 24 above the Jews falsely alleged that Jesus was talking ambiguously. When that charge was ably refuted, they then accused him of blasphemy which is like treason in the spiritual realm. So they say that Jesus is claiming to be God "I and the Father are one". The Christians agree with the Jews in this that Jesus did make such a claim; but differ in that it was not blasphemy because the Christians say that he was God and was entitled to own up to his Divinity.
The Christians and the Jews are both agreed that the utterance is serious. To one as an excuse for good "redemption", and to the other as an excuse for good "riddance". Between the two, let the poor Jesus die. But Jesus refuses to co-operate in this game, so -
- Jesus answered them, is it not written in your law, `I said, Ye are gods?
- If he called them `gods,' to whom the word of God came --and the Scripture cannot be broken--,
- Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, `I am the son of God?.
Why "Your Law"?
He is a bit sarcastic in verse 34, but in any event, why does he say:" Your Law"? Is it not also his Law? Didn't he say:" Think not that I am come to destroy the Law of the prophets: I am come not to destroy, but to fulfill (the Law). For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass away, one Jot or one title shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled" (Matthew 5:1718).
"You are Gods"
"You are gods:" He is obviously quoting from the 82nd Psalm (verse 6) - "I have said, ye are gods: and all of you are the children of the most High".
Jesus, continues: "If he (i.e. God Almighty) called them gods, unto whom the word of God came (meaning that the prophets of God were called 'gods') and the scripture cannot be broken..." (John 10:35), in other words he is saying: "you can't contradict me!" Jesus knows his Scripture; he speaks with authority; and he reasons with his enemies that: "If good men, holy men, prophets of God are being addressed as 'gods' in our Books of Authority, with which you find no fault, then why do you take exception to me? When the only claim I make for myself is far inferior in our language, viz. 'a son of God' as against others being called 'GODS' by God Himself. Even if I (Jesus) described myself as 'god' in our language, according to Hebrew usage, you could find no fault with me." This is the plain reading of Christian Scripture. I am giving no interpretations of my own or some esoteric meaning to words!
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 Please refer to your Holy Qur'an and read the whole of verse 171 of Chapter 4 with its meaning.
 Peter: But he turned and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." (Matthew 16:23).
 Observe the subtle game the Christian scholars play in using small letters and capital letters when they spell "GOD". Also in the pronouns used for God and Jesus. To God they would give a small "h" as in "he" but a capital "H" for Jesus. There is no such thing as capital and small letters in Hebrew or Greek?
 "YOT": is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Meaning that not even the tiniest bit of the Law is to be abrogated, done away with.