Debate: Do the gospels portray a consistent picture of Jesus? (voting period)

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How consistent are the gospels? Can we rely on them to present the character of Jesus accurately? Follow my recent debate here as I challenge my opponent – Otakujorden that they aren’t at all consistent.

I do not wish to offend any Christian with this debate, such is not my intention. I hope those that read it will enjoy it and find it quite interesting. Thank you.

Posted from Saj’s Nexus

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A statement on the different stages of life

Jesus said to the disciples, “Man is created into the world in four stages, in three of which he feels secure and in the fourth of which he is ill-disposed and fears that God will forsake him. In the first stage, he is born in three darknesses: the darkness of the belly, the darkness of the womb, and the darkness of the placenta. God provides for him in the darkness of the cavity of the belly. When he is brought out of the darkness of the belly, he falls upon milk which he does not advance toward on foot or leg, or obtain with his hand or move strongly toward, but he is forced to it and rewarded with it until flesh and blood grows upon him. Weaned from milk, he falls upon the third stage: food provided by his parents, who earn it either lawfully or unlawfully. When his parents die, people take pity on him, one person feeding him, another giving him a drink, another sheltering him,and another clothing him. When he falls upon the fourth stage and has grown strong and erect and had become a man, he fears that he will not be provided for, so he attacks people, betrays their trust, robs their belongings, and carries away their wealth, fearing that God Almighty might forsake him.”[1]

– excerpted from: The Muslim Jesus by Tarif Khalidi, The sayings and stories, no.86

An elaborate description on the general stages of a mans life and how one can fall to become a criminal. It gives the understanding that a persons downfall is as a result of despondency towards God’s gratuity. I read it and thought it to be profound in its meaning. Though the saying dates from the 9th century AD, it has deep relevance to the society and environment we are in now and the situations that we face – a rise of materialistic desires  and forgetfulness the Creator etc.

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References 

[1] Abu ‘Uthman al-Jahiz (d. 255/868), al-Mahasinwa al-Addad, pp. 82-83. Cf. Abu Hayyan, al-Imta’ wa al-Mu’anasa, 2:127; and al-Bayhaqi, al-Mahasin wa al-Masawi, p. 309. (Asin, p. 537, no. 105; Mansur, no. 236; Robson, pp. 50-51). Cf.Ibn Abi al-Dunya, Kitab al-Qana’a wa’l Ta’affuf, in Mawsu’at Rasa’il, 1:57, excerpt no. 126; Ibn ‘Asakir, Sirat, p.170, no. 193.

The fasting Jesus: from Muslim literature

As I continue to read Tarif Khalidi’s book, The Muslim Jesus, I come across wonderful saying and spiritually uplifting stories. As it is the month of Ramadan, the following are sayings and stories, I present from the book regarding Jesus and fasting. I have excerpted them less concerned about their authenticity, but in confidence that they will be of some inspiration.

Jesus said, “If it is a day of fasting for one of you, let him anoint his head and beard and wipe his lips so people will not know he is fasting. If he gives with the right hand, let him hide this from his left hand. If he prays, let him pull down the door curtain, for God apportions praise as He apportions livelihood.”[1

If you want to fast as Jesus did, he would fast all the time and lived on nothing but barley. He always wore [garments of] coarse hair, and wherever he would be at nightfall he would plant his feet and keep praying until he saw the break of dawn. He would never leave a particular place before praying two rak’as. If, however you want to fast as his mother the Virgin did, she used to fast for two days at a time then eat for two days.[2]

It is told that Jesus spent sixty days in intimate conversation with his Lord without eating. Then the thought of bread occurred to him and his intimacy was interrupted. At once a loaf of bread appeared in his hands, so he sat down and wept for the loss of intimacy. At that moment, an old man cast his shadow upon him and Jesus said to him, “God bless you, friend of God. Pray to God for me, for I was in a trance and the thought of bread occurred to me, and so my trance was interrupted.” The old man prayed, “O God! If you know that the thought of bread has occurred to me since I have known you, do not forgive me. On the contrary, if anything was brought before me, I would eat it without any thought of it.”[3]

Jesus exhorted some of his companions as follows: “Fast from the world and break your fast with death. Be like him who treats his wound with medicine lest it oppress him. Remember death often‑for death comes to the man of faith bringing good with no evil to follow; but to the evil man, it brings evil with no good to follow.”[4]

References 

[1]The Muslim Jesus by Tarif Khalidi , The Sayings and Stories no. 4 –  ‘Abdallah ibn al-Mubarak (d. 181/797), al- Zuhd, pp. 48-49 (no. 150). Cf. al-Ghazali, ihya’ Ulum al-Din, 3:287; Ibn ‘Asakir, Sirat, p. 175, no. 201 (Asin, p. 389, no. 55; Mansur, no. 137; Robson, p. 46).

[2]The Muslim Jesus by Tarif Khalidi, The Sayings and Stories no. 146 –  Abu al-Layth al-Samarqandi (d.373/983), Tanbih al-Ghafilin, p. 125 (asin, p. 557, no. 139; Mansur, no. 39; Robson,pp.74-75).

[3]The Muslim Jesus by Tarif Khalidi, The Sayings and Stories no. 209 –  Abu Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d. 505/1111), Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din, 3:81 (Asin, p.362, no. 22; Mansur, no. 107; Robson, pp. 63-64). 

[4]The Muslim Jesus by Tarif Khalidi, The Sayings and Stories no. 280 –  Abu Muhyi al-Din ibn ‘Arabi (d.638/1240), al-futuhat al-makkiyya, 4:663 (Asin, p. 584, no. 194; Mansur, no. 225; Robson, p. 60)

Who ate the third loaf of bread?

A man once accompanied Jesus, saying to him “I want to be with you and be your companion.” They set forth and reached the bank of a river, where they sat down to eat. They had with them three loaves. They ate two loaves, and a third remained. Jesus then rose and went to the river to drink. When he returned, he did not find the third loaf, so he asked the man: “Who took the loaf?” “I don’t know,” the man replied.

Jesus set forth once more with the man, and he saw a doe with two of her young. Jesus called one of the two, and it came to him. Jesus then slaughtered it, roasted some of it, and ate with his companion. Then he said to the young deer, “Rise, by God’s leave.” The deer rose and left. Jesus then turned to his companion and said, “I ask you in the name of Him who showed you this miracle, who took the loaf?” “I don’t know,” the man replied.

The two of them then came to a body of water in a valley. Jesus took the man by the hand and they walked upon the water. When they had crossed over, Jesus said to him, “I ask you in the name of Him who showed you this miracle, who took the loaf?” “I don’t know,” the man replied.

They then came to a waterless desert and sat down upon the ground. Jesus began to gather some earth and sand, and then said, “Turn to gold, by God’s leaves,” and it did so. Jesus divided the gold into three portions and said, “A third for me, a third for you, and a third for whoever took the loaf.” The man said, “It was I who took the loaf.” Jesus said, “The gold is all yours.”

Jesus then left him. Two men came upon him in the desert with the gold, and wanted to rob and kill him. He said to them, “Let us divide it into three portions among us, and send one of you to town to buy us some food to eat.” One of them was sent off, and then said to himself, “Why should I divide the gold with those two? Rather, I shall poison the food and have all the gold to myself.” He went off and did so.

Meanwhile, the two who stayed behind said to each other, “Why should we give him a third of the gold? Instead, let us kill him when he returns and divide the money between the two of us.” When he returned, they killed him, ate the food, and died. The gold remained in the desert with the three men dead beside it. Jesus passed by, found them in that condition, and said to his companions, “This is the world. Beware of it.”[1]

– Excerpted from the book: The Muslim Jesus by Tarif Khalidi.

The story is seen as a moral fable of longstanding deep interest in many cultures, from late 9th century AD.

Reading the book, this particular story stood out to me. The main theme of the story is about greed and deceit and I saw it could relate to our times. It has much to say about the way we live, how we crave for worldly things. How easy it is to let our materialistic desires define our own character and actions. I find it concerning to see society like this, particularly the youth today, having the latest phone, jacket, expensive hair cuts etc. this is what defines most of them. And if they don’t have that then they have an identity crisis.

Looking at how people are so caught up in the world, gaining wealth and influence and ‘respectability’, one can understand why the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) discouraged liking this life and this world too much. As we can read in the Qur’an, one of my favourite passages regarding worldly matters:

“Competition in (worldly) increase diverts you until you visit the graveyards. No! You are going to know. Then no! You are going to know. No! If you only knew with knowledge of certainty, you will surely see the Hellfire. Then you will surely see it with the eye of certainty. Then you will surely be asked that Day about pleasure.”[2]

The story may be a fable; one might question the authenticity of the story. However, I think one can spend his time more effectively by reflecting on the essence and deep meaning of the story.

References

[1] Abu Bakr ibn Abi al-Dunya (d. 281/894), Kitab Dilamm al-Dunya, in Mawsu’at Rasa’il, 2:49, excerpt no. 87. Cf. al-Ghazali, IIIya’, 3:267 (Asin, pp. 383-384, no. 54; Mansur, no. 136; Robson, pp. 97-99); al-Makki, Qut, 1:255 (Asin, pp. 387-388, no. 54 quater; Mansur, no. 26); al-Thriushi, Siraj, pp. 79-80; Ibn ‘Asakir, Sirat, p. 95, no. 82; al-Abshihi, al-Mustatraf 2:263-264 (Asin, p. 385, no. 54 his and pp. 386-387, no. 54 ter; slight variation).

[2] Qur’an 102

Divinity or Prophet-hood of the Biblical Jesus Christ Peace be upon Him

Ahmed Deedat - was one of the greatest Muslim apologist, scholar, writer and charismatic public speaker.

This has to be one of the most popular and oldest topics in Christian-Muslim debate. The divinity of Christ Jesus (pbuh), is Jesus (pbuh) God according to the Bible? Throughout history Muslims and Christians have endlessly been arguing this subject matter. I’m sure if one searches these titles on YouTube he/she can find plenty of debates to watch, the most admired ones (by the Muslim community) are probably including the late Ahmed Deedat. It is a great topic one has to agree, dealing with the very nature of God and His ability of becoming a man. What should we believe God can and cannot do? Can He do everything? The two most popular religions of the world are in disagreement here, both having Jesus (pbuh) in common but with such conflicting views. As a result of reading many works and watching so many debates and lectures on this topic, I have decided to give it a go myself. Now I’m sure most of you reading this article will have at least a basic understanding of the concept of God in Christianity and Islam, and know who stands on which side of the debate. However if you have no such knowledge then read no more! For now: leave this article and please do a simple study of God on both religions. Only then is it suitable to come back to this article, otherwise it would most probably be a waste of your time.

I have touched on this issue of Jesus’ (pbuh) divinity in some other articles I have posted on this blog, but I feel I now need to deal with this topic completely. I am not a scholar, professor or sheikh etc by any means, but I am a person who is fascinated by religion and theology, and I have been for most of my teenage and adult life. So you could say I am some how qualified to write concerning such a scholarly topic. And because I am a Muslim I will be defending the Islamic view of Jesus Christ (pbuh) and monotheism, but I also believe in playing fair (being unbiased towards the subject matter).

Is Jesus (pbuh) divine in his own words?

The question: ‘was or is Christ Jesus (pbuh) God?’ leads to another question: did he ever clearly claim to be God? And of course as many of us know, there is nothing in the Bible as such. This is the book which is supposed to contain four accounts of Jesus’ (pbuh) life story, yet no where can we find Jesus (pbuh) ever directly claiming to be God. If this is the case then surely the answer is no, Jesus’ (pbuh) was not divine.

Let us look at this in more detail, let us use logic. If the Lord all Mighty had come down to earth as a man, as Jesus Christ (pbuh) then wouldn’t He want the people to know? Wouldn’t He make it plain such as ‘I am your Lord; I have come down to earth so worship me’? This is a very basic argument but effective. Why leave the whole world in such confusion? If Jesus (pbuh) was God according to Christianity, then there should be some direct unambiguous statement in the Bible, made by him while he walked this earth confirming that. This is only logical. For example if you did not know Adam’s name was Adam because he never told you, how can you be sure what his name was? It’s so simple and basic.

There is a passage in the Christian Bible which comes close to claiming the divinity of Christ (pbuh). In the book of Revelation, where Jesus is supposed to have said “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty”[1]. This verse seems convincing at first but when one should looked into the matter with more detail (who wrote this book, when was it written etc?), the problem is very clear. The book of Revelation was a dream of a man named John, now if this John was the same John who wrote the ‘Gospel according to John’ or ‘Gospel of John’, I’m not sure. But nevertheless the book was a dream of someone called John as many Christian scholars claim. The very idea that it was a dream written down weakens the statement (Revelation 1:8). A dream could mean anything, how reliable is a dream? Did this man John really have the dream, or did he make the whole thing up? No one can be one hundred percent sure. Also, we do not take events that take place within dreams and attribute them to reality as proof, this clearly doesn’t work. Everyone knows this.

The book of revelation was written many years later after Jesus (pbuh) as a result of a dream, around 70 – 95 C.E (some scholars vary on the time). If such a direct and clear statement was uttered by Christ (pbuh) in actual reality while he was on earth, then there would probably be no disagreement to whether Jesus (pbuh) claimed divinity or not in the Bible.

God becoming a man on earth

As many Christians would proudly boast that God all Mighty can do anything, even become a man. In this part, I am examining what it means for God to become a man, His very own creation.

First of all, it seems appropriate to refer to a particular verse from the holy Qur’an (regarding the matter of being a God-man as some Christians may say): “Christ the son of Mary was no more than a messenger; many were the messengers that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how Allah doth make His signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth[2]. The verse points out that Jesus (pbuh) and his blessed mother both eat food. Some may question so what if they eat food? Everyone has food. And that is exactly the point that Christ Jesus (pbuh) needed to eat daily to survive. As the creation of God: human beings, we constantly need to feed ourselves so that we have the strength and ability to live and do things. The Lord all Mighty is not needy like this. God does not need to feed Himself however Jesus (pbuh) had to, showing that he was a mere mortal, a creation or the all Mighty. If you eat, don’t you need to let it back out after a while? And the verse ends with mentioning how easy the signs are yet they (Christians) reject the truth. This explanation being from the Qur’an the Christian will not accept, and no matter how many reasons shown from the Qur’an, they would not be enough. So what is there to be done? We need to examine this issue in light of the Bible itself, which is the only way to convince a Christian. So that is what I have done in the following parts of this section. It only makes sense to do so.

It is obvious that we need to examine the personality and attitude of Jesus Christ (pbuh) according to the Bible, his nature and his attributes. And when we do so it is very noticeable that Jesus (pbuh) of the Bible presents himself as a modest servant of God who has no power without God. He presents himself as a simple human being and gives himself no divine attributes whatsoever. For example he completely humbles himself in such places in the New Testament: Jesus (pbuh) was called a good master but he refuses to be called as such and says there is none so good but the only Lord[3]. In another passage of the Bible he says: “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me[4]. Also Jesus (pbuh) claims all his power is given to him by his Creator[5]. One more example out of the many I feel I should point out here, before resurrecting Lazarus Jesus (pbuh) absolutely humbled himself by calling to the Creator aloud. Ponder carefully over what he said here according the Gospel of John: Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth”[6]. Are these the sayings of God? Is the all Mighty not good? Is His power given to Him? Simple basic logic suggests that these are not the sayings of God but of a mere human being, a prophet of God.

Shabir Ally - well known Muslim debater and speaker on comparative religion.

Even in Christ’s (pbuh) day to day thinking, actions and doings do we see no sign of a divine being but a simple human. Here are some instants from the Bible to show this: Jesus (pbuh) had no knowledge of the hereafter[7]. He felt thirsty[8], and he cried in another instant[9]. He was tempted by the devil[10]. It is very clear these are not the attributes of God, they are attributes a human being. Can anyone imagine a thirsty or weepy or ignorant God? Can anyone believe God was being tempted by the devil? Everything we find in the Bible regarding Jesus (pbuh) clearly show that he was only a limited being, whereas God all Mighty is unlimited. You cannot have an unlimited and limited being at the same time. As the famous Muslim debater Shabir Ally puts it: “you cannot have a square-circle”, you are either limited or unlimited.

Even the supposed crucifixion of Christ (pbuh) creates problems with believing in his divinity. I have never heard a Christian claim that God got crucified. We all know God cannot die, yet it is believed that Jesus (pbuh) died on the cross while being God at the same time. Jesus (pbuh) the second person of the trinity (the son) according to Christendom died, not the father (the first person of the trinity) neither the Holy Ghost. But the Christian belief is that God is one person in three or three in one (something to this effect), and that these three persons are co-existing and co-eternal. So if one felt something the others would know and feel as well, if one dies then the others would die too, same for the Crucifixion right? If this isn’t the case then it means the trinity is made up three different Gods who are independent of one another. And this idea the Christian will not accept, but you can’t have both ways.

Defending the belief of a God-man

Nevertheless Christians haven’t given up in the argument, they still present their reasons to why Jesus (pbuh) would be God. The explanations they provide are as always based on Biblical passages. Passages which they seem to think are convincing, and purely their own interpretations. When closely examined and scrutinised one would realise that such passages or verses are completely uncertain and ambiguous open to many interpretations. As I wrote earlier in this writing that wouldn’t the all Mighty make it clear and plain if He came down to earth as a Man? The following are some of the most common arguments given from the Bible as proof of the divinity of Christ (pbuh).

In the Bible Jesus (pbuh) had claimed that he was in existence before his miraculous birth[11], so therefore somehow concluding that he must be divine. But this is nothing special when the same concept is also in the Old Testament regarding Jeremiah, Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations”[12]. There are other verses when read out of contexts are misinterpreted against what they mean when read in context. Such as: “I and my Father are one”[13] and “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”[14]. And finally one more: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”[15]. This verse wasn’t even uttered by Jesus (pbuh), in the red letter Bible this verse appears as black. Also notice how none of these passages are actually direct or unequivocal.

There is no direct statement, verse or passage in the Bible regarding Christ’s (pbuh) divinity. What would be most appropriate is a claim from the lips of Jesus Christ (pbuh) that ‘I am your Lord, worship me’, we don’t even have this in that Bible. What I myself at least see are ambiguous and vague passages provided by my fellow Christian with particular interpretations out the many that they can have. If God became a man in the Bible, then we need complete solid undeniable, indisputable proof, which no Christian scholar has been able to provide.

Conclusion

The Muslim understanding of Jesus Christ (pbuh) is that of any other prophet of the all Mighty in Islam. As some may not be aware Muslims believe in the miraculous birth of Christ and the many Miracles he performed (all by permission of God) during the course of his life. But these miracles do not imply that Jesus (pbuh) was God, it is very easy for the Creator of all things to will such miracles to take place, Originator of the heavens and the earth. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is”[16]. The first human Adam (pbuh) was created without no mother and father, a greater miracle to Christ’s (pbuh) birth. Where Christians and Muslims differ regarding Christ (pbuh) is the Trinity, Crucifixion and Divinity.

It can be said that there is no solid evidence to base a belief of the divinity Christ (pbuh). The Bible when studied, observed and scrutinised has nothing intellectually convincing to offer to prove such an idea. Rather we have at best very vague, indirect and ambiguous passages which Christians claim to be convincing proof. One must have solid incontestable evidence for giving such an attribute to Jesus (pbuh) or to God. We cannot base our beliefs on assumption. Also a Christian must consider verses which outright deny the divinity of Jesus (pbuh), such as: “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your father, which is in heaven”[17].

In a debate we expect proofs, solid evidences. But when it comes to this particular topic (Jesus’ Divinity) we hear the most loosely convincing arguments from the Christian side. Arguments implying that we believe decades later a person’s dream is actual proof of what we are questioning in reality. We hear arguments that imply us to believe that vague ambiguous statement are actually somehow solid proof. No real evidence has ever been shown. The famous late Ahmed Deedat used to challenge Christian scholars so strongly, he used to promise to embrace Christianity if someone could show him anywhere in the Bible where Jesus Christ (pbuh) directly claimed divinity. No one ever came forth with a single convincing verse. Of course some may disagree with Deedat’s tactics here, that this is not the way to debate. But it shows how one sided debates regarding this topic have become. Some may say that it is just a matter of believing when all else fails however, belief should be base on evidences and proofs right? I conclude with this: if Jesus (pbuh) was divine then most certainly he would have directly claimed so, but we find nothing of the kind in the entire Bible. There is no solid evidence; in fact there are passages which deny the idea. So the divinity of Jesus Christ (pbuh) can never be proven from the Bible, and if the Bible cannot prove this then nothing else can or ever will. It would be more natural to believe the Jesus (pbuh) was only a prophet of the all Mighty, on which both the holy Qur’an and the Bible agree. 

References

[1] Revelation 1:8

[2] Qur’an 5:75 

[3] Matthew 19:16-17, Mark 10:17-18, Luke 18:18-19 

[4] John 5:30 

[5] Matthew 28:18 

[6] John 11:41-43 

[7] Mark 13:32 

[8] John 19:28 

[9] John 11:35 

[10] Mark 1:13 

[11] John 8:58 

[12] Jeremiah 1:4-5 

[13] John 10:30 

[14] John 14:6 

[15] John 1:1 

[16] Qur’an 2:117 

[17] Matthew 23:9

A Reply to Those Who Try to Verify Jesus’ (pbuh) Divinity from the Qur’an

There are a number Christians today who use certain Qur’anic verses to prove to Muslims that Jesus (pbuh) is divine within the Qur’an. Very daft and outlandish indeed. This article is a response to such an allegation against the holy Qur’an made by Christian missionaries.

The fundamental belief

The first and primary quality a Muslim is taught is the unique oneness of God. Every Muslim in the world is in agreement that Allah (God) is unique and that nothing in the heavens and the earth could ever be compared to Allah, the creator of every thing and every being. There is a whole chapter in the Qur’an which is dedicated to explain the uniqueness of God in Islam. This chapter is called: ‘The Purity of Faith’ 112th chapter of the Qur’an. Also the Chapter is so short and easy to memorise that pretty much every Muslim on the face of the Earth have it known off by heart. The chapter is only four verses long and goes as such:

“Say: He is Allah (God) the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him.”

Any Muslim who has this chapter memorised can easily refute the claim made by Christians: that Jesus (pbuh) is God according to the Qur’an, especially by using the last verse of the chapter: “And there is none like unto Him”. This verse declares that there is nobody/nothing like God in existence, or in other words: mankind kind cannot even imagine what God looks like. God is not like humans or animals, with arms and legs, the need eat and survive…etc. There is nothing like God in the Earth or Heavens above. This is what the Qur’an is telling the reader, so why then would the Qur’an claim that Jesus (pbuh) is God and contradict itself? Because we all have a rough idea how Jesus (pbuh) appeared like. He was a human being; and human beings depend on God (God is self governing and independent, unique).

Qur’an 112 also states that Allah/God does not have any parents or grand-parents; neither does He have any sons or daughters (“He begetteth not, nor is He begotten”). And everyone knows Jesus (pbuh) had a mother (Christians and Muslims alike): the Virgin Mary. As the Qur’an clearly states: “Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah.”[1]. This verse immediately eliminates any idea of the Qur’an claiming Jesus (pbuh) of being divine.

And if chapter 112 isn’t enough to disprove the allegation, there is a verse in the Qur’an which deals directly with the issue: “They do blaspheme who say: “Allah is Christ the son of Mary.” But said Christ: “O Children of Israel! worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” Whoever joins other gods with Allah,- Allah will forbid him the garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help.”[2]. This verse completely denies the divinity of Jesus (pbuh). What more proof does the Muslim need to provide? There is an additional verse where it is stated that Jesus (pbuh) and his mother both had food to eat indicating that they were both human, not divine (“And He (Allah) it is that feedeth but is not fed”[3]): “Christ the son of Mary was no more than a messenger; many were the messengers that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how Allah doth make His signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth!”[4].

The methods

There are mainly two types of arguments Christians use to try and prove their allegation: the Qur’an claiming Jesus (pbuh) to be divine, 1) Using some names of the 99 names of Allah (God) and matching them with Biblical attributes (supposedly) relating to Jesus (pbuh). 2) Using verses from the Qur’an describing God’s al-mighty power and uniqueness and matching them which Biblical verses (supposedly) describing or mentioning about Jesus (pbuh).

The 99 names of Allah (God) are names or attributes of God almighty found in the Qur’an. For example: “That (is so). And if one has retaliated to no greater extent than the injury he received, and is again set upon inordinately, Allah will help him: for Allah is One that blots out (sins) and forgives (again and again).”[5]. The attribute used here for God (end of the verse) is: ‘One that blots out sins and forgives’ translated into Arabic: ‘Al-Afuww’.

A number of Christians will take some names/attributes from the 99 names of Allah and match them with the same/similar attributes given to Jesus (pbuh) in the Bible. For example: ‘Al-Haqq’ meaning ‘the Truth’ is one of the 99 names/attributes of God in Islam[6]. Christian missionaries will reply to this by showing that Jesus (pbuh) also supposedly claimed to be ‘the truth’: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”[7]. Therefore claiming: Jesus (pbuh) must be God because he “supposedly” uses the same attribute for himself in the Bible as Allah uses for Himself in the Qur’an. To the Muslim this is of course ridiculous. We are told in the Qur’an to take no one as a God but Allah. We read in the Qur’an: “They do blaspheme who say: “Allah is Christ the son of Mary.” But said Christ: “O Children of Israel! worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” Whoever joins other gods with Allah,- Allah will forbid him the garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help.”[8]. This verse rules out any possibility of ‘Jesus (pbuh) being divine’ a doctrine in Islam. The 99 names of Allah are only meant to be attributed to Allah alone.

The other manner Christians use to prove divinity of Jesus (pbuh) from the Qur’an is: by matching verses from the Qur’an (which describe Allah’s oneness and power) with verses which are the same or similar in the Bible (relating to Jesus (pbuh). For example: the Qur’an states: “He (Allah) is the First and the Last, the Evident and the Hidden: and He has full knowledge of all things.”[9]. Christians boast that this verse of the Qur’an is referring to Jesus (pbuh) because it is similar to a verse in the Bible: “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he (Jesus) laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last.”[10]. Again, this is of course absurd. Using the Bible to commentate on the Qur’an is totally uncalled for. Even if we look at the context of Qur’an 57:3 (or any other verses of the Qur’an which talk about Allah), we would realise the verse is only describing/talking about Allah alone, not Jesus (pbuh). The Qur’an makes clear difference between Allah (God) and Jesus (pbuh) in 5:75 and 5:72.

One must realise that the Qur’an does not need comments from the Bible. The Qur’an can speak for itself. Also the Qur’an does not confirm that the Bible is accurate in what it teaches. So if there are any divine attributes given to Jesus (pbuh) in the Bible, then that is completely against the teachings of the Qur’an (Qur’an 5:72) and not a problem for the Muslim.

Conclusion

Jesus (pbuh) was one of the mightiest messengers of God in Islam. Muslims believe in his miraculous birth (which only took place by permission of God), and the miracles/signs he performed only by God’s help. But these qualities do not make Jesus (pbuh) God. The Qur’an clearly denies such an idea of Jesus (pbuh) being divine (Qur’an 5:75, 5:72). So it is foolish and ignorant to point out verses in the Qur’an which clearly talk about God alone and claim they are attributed to Jesus (pbuh). The Qur’an can speak for itself and does a very beautiful job at it. One should see what the Qur’an has to say about itself by examining it as a whole and in context. The Bible is not approved of by the Qur’an, so using the Bible to commentate on the Qur’an is just as ridiculous as having soup with a fork.

In Islam, anyone who claims divinity must match the four criteria given in surah Ikhlas[11]. Surah Ikhlas is one of the shortest chapters in the Qur’an, yet the chapter sums up in no more than four short verses the supreme oneness of God. Surah Ikhlas could be also called the touchstone of theology in Islam, meaning: it can be used as a standard of judging for anyone who claims divinity.

References 

[1] Qur’an 3:45

[2] Qur’an 5:72

[3] Qur’an 6:14

[4] Qur’an 5:75

[5] Qur’an 22:60

[6] Qur’an 6:62, 22:6, 23:116, 24:25

[7] Bible John 14:6

[8] Qur’an 5:72

[9] Qur’an 57:3

[10] Revelation 1:17

[11] Qur’an 112

‘I AM HE’ Does that really make Jesus (pbuh) God?

A Christian I recently got into discussion with asserted that Jesus (pbuh) claimed divinity by saying ‘I am he’, the same three words that God apparently said in Isaiah 41:4 (Bible).

We read in the Bible: “Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way.”[1]

In short: some soldiers and officials from the chief priests and Pharisees were looking for Jesus (pbuh) but not knowing how to recognise him. Jesus (pbuh) asked these individuals who they were looking for, they replied: “Jesus of Nazareth”. To confirm that he was Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus (pbuh) then replied: “I am he”. There is no other explanation if we read in context.

In Isaiah 41:4, by saying: ‘I am he’ God is confirming that He is the Lord and He is the First and the Last. In John 18:4-8, by saying: ‘I am he’; Jesus (pbuh) is confirming that he is Jesus of Nazareth. Very different from what was said in Isaiah 41:4.

Claiming divinity by saying ‘I am he’ is a very unclear statement and I as a Muslim believe God is not the author of confusion which is also a teaching in the Bible[2]. Just because Jesus (pbuh) said the same three words as God said, it doesn’t make Jesus (pbuh) God.

If Jesus (pbuh) is God because he said the same word that God said, then why not apply this logic to anyone else that did or said the same thing that God said or did in the Bible? For example: God begat Jesus (pbuh)[3], Abraham also begat is son Isaac (pbut). Now does that make Abraham God? God begot a son and so did Abraham (pbuh) beget a son, of course not, these are not the standards of judging.

The question: Is Jesus (pbuh) God? Can be answered by asking a counter question: Did Jesus ever confess to be god? Did he ever say ‘I am God’ or ‘worship me’? And if we read the Bible, we will see that Jesus while he walked this earth, never made such claims.

References 

[1] John 18:4

[2] 1 Corinthians 14:33

[3] John 3:16