Additional Reasons for Islam’s Rejection of Biblical Christology

The previous article in this series analyzed one of the last surahs of the Qur‘an, Surah 5, in order to show that holding certain theological concepts informs the qur‘anic picture of Christ as taught by Muhammad.1

 

Surah 5 is divided into six major segments according to certain structural markers as well as subject matter, with an apparent argument for each segment. The three Christological assertions of Surah 5 (v. 17, vv. 72–77, and vv. 116–19) appear in its even-numbered segments (second, fourth, and sixth). In all three segments the deity of Christ is denied. These denials appear within contexts that reveal related theological presuppositions that call for exploration. The previous article examined the first denial of the deity of Christ in Surah 5. This article examines the second and third denials of the deity of Christ. While the first denial was immersed in a theological system that disagrees with the biblical concept of grace, the second and third denials are couched in an expansion of the same theme with specific applications.

 

THE SECOND DENIAL OF CHRIST’S DEITY

 

In the fourth segment of Surah 5 (vv. 44-86) the second Christological statement occurs toward the end (vv. 72–77) in a climactic fashion. This fourth segment contains some of the same features as the second segment (vv. 12–26). The difference lies mainly in an intensification of varous aspects of the subject. This is done by contrasting the Bible with the Qur‘an, the Jews and Christians with Muslims, and Jesus with Muhammad. This segment rejects the Bible, Jews, and Christians, and the Christian understanding of Jesus, and it also elevates the Qur‘an, the Muslim people, and Muhammad.

 

A Dismissal of all Previous Revelation

 

This theme, though present in the second segment, is strongly emphasized in verses 41–

  1. First, these verses maintain that all prophets before Muhammad were Muslims in the essence of their faith. The term ―surrendering prophets‖ of ‗Ali‘s translation of verse 44a is literally ―those who became Muslims,‖ that is, those who have surrendered to God.

This is said to be a title given to prophets as a compliment to them and as an encouragement to Muslims.2 All the earlier prophets climaxed in Jesus, whose gospel, with which He was entrusted, is a confirmation of the Torah and an exhortation to those who fear God (v. 46).

 

Second, after giving such high respect to the prophets who preceded Muhammad, the Qur‘an declares that the message of these prophets in its original form has been lost (v. 47).3

 

Third, Christians are held responsible for discerning the true message of their gospel (vv. 47–48a). Al-Razi mentions three things Christians are responsible to do. (1) Christians are to judge and see what signs and predictions there are in the New Testament that speak of Muhammad. (2) Christians are to accept only those teachings in the New Testament that have not been abrogated by the Qur‘an. (3) Christians are warned against altering or corrupting their Scriptures.4  Verses 48b–50 continue to teach that though Christians corrupted their Scriptures, Muhammad possessed true revelation. The revelation given to Muhammad is the basis on which God unites Muslims and on which Muhammad is to judge unbelievers. The Qur‘an is thus considered to be the guardian of the truth lost in the previous Scriptures (v. 45a). Muslim commentators say the Qur‘an contains the ultimate truth of all religions and is protected by God from ever being corrupted.5

 

Fourth, Muslims are said to be constantly tested to see whether they are submitting to the revelation given to them (the Qur‘an) to the exclusion of any other Scriptures, all of which have been corrupted (cf. vv. 48b–49).

 

Fifth, it naturally follows that the Qur‘an forbids Muslims from being friends with Jews and Christians (v. 54). Only those who convert to Islam can be trusted (vv. 52–56).6

 

Sixth, the Qur‘an asks why ―the People of the Book‖ (Jews and Christians) reject the Muslim faith and the Muslim book when all Muslims believe in one God and in His word that was revealed to them (vv. 57–59). Those who reject Muslims are next to those who have incurred the curse and wrath of God (v. 60).7 Verse 63 explains that this wrath has caused God to turn people into apes and pigs.8 The faith of Jews and Christians is attacked and is said to be falsified by their evil deeds (vv. 61–62). The Jews are said to blaspheme God by accusing Him of stinginess (v. 64).9

 

Seventh, the Qur‘an maintains that the only way of deliverance for both Jews and Christians is to believe in Islam by submitting to the true teachings of the Torah and the gospel, which are found in the Qur‘an (vv. 65–68). Muslim commentators assert that this involves acknowledging that the Torah and the gospel prophesied of the coming of Muhammad and spoke plainly of his character.

 

Jews and Christians who have walked on the right path are those who have believed in Islam (v. 69).10 The Jews are again denounced severely for breaking their covenant with God (vv. 70–71). Thus the Qur‘an maintains that Jews and Christians have corrupted their Scriptures by not discerning the qur‘anic message taught by all prophets, which elevated Muhammad and contained the ultimate truth restored and found only in Islam. Therefore the Qur‘an is to be highly valued. The corrupters of the true message are also not to be befriended because they deserve the curse and wrath of God. It is at this juncture that the second Christological assertion is made.

 

The Logic of Surah 5:47-74

 

The logic of the fourth segment of Surah 5 is as follows.

 

Premise 1: The message of all the prophets until Jesus was Islamic in essence.

 

Premise 2: The Qur‘an was revealed by God but disagrees with previous scriptures (the Bible).

 

Five conclusions: (1) The Bible does not contain the true message of previous prophets. (2) The Bible must have been corrupted at some point in time. (3) Only the Qur‘an contains the true message of the prophets. (4) Jews and Christians are blasphemers. (5) Jews and Christians are to be befriended only if they convert to Islam.

 

With the above logic, an average Muslim finds himself with no basis to leave the qur‘anic teaching, as well as no reason for examining the teaching of the Bible. Muslims are thus driven more and more away from the Bible and are locked within their own scriptures. Truth, like grace, is forever dismissed. At this point the Surah speaks strongly against the deity of Christ.

 

First result: Denial of the Trinity.

 

Verses 72–77 accuse the Christian doctrines about Christ and the Trinity of extremism. These verses read as follows.

 

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. They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One God. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them. Why turn they not to Allah, and seek His forgiveness? For Allah is Oft-forgiving, most Merciful. 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! Say: ―Will ye worship, besides Allah, something which hath no power either to harm or benefit you? But Allah— He it is that heareth and knoweth all things.‖ Say: ―O People of the Book! Exceed not in your religion the bounds (of what is proper), trespassing beyond the truth, nor follow the vain desires of people who went wrong in times gone by,—who misled many, and strayed (themselves) from the even Way.

 

These verses include several reasons for rejecting the doctrines of the deity of Christ and the Trinity.

 

First, these doctrines are said to be blasphemous.

 

Second, Christ asked His followers to worship God, His Lord.11 This same concept is repeated in verse 117, pointing to its important apologetic use by Muslims. In fact it has been used from the earliest times in attacking Christ‘s deity. A reply by a medieval Christian, Arethas (A.D. 931), to a Muslim illumines to some extent the Muslim‘s point of view. ―You start again to say silly things: ‗How can you say that God is Christ when He Himself with His own proper words said, ―I am returning to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God‖ ‘?‖12

 

Third, believing in the deity of Christ is said to be polytheism, which will be punished by fire, since there is only one God (v. 75b). The subject then shifts to the Trinity in verse 76a, which says that the claim that God exists as one of three is blasphemy against God, who is one. Muslim commentators refer to the doctrine of the Trinity as taught by the Nestorians, the Melkites, and the Jacobites, though the three differed in their views.13 The reference to the Trinity in verse 76 could refer either to that of Father, Son, and Spirit, or that of Father, Mother, and Son. Most commentators think the latter is the background of this verse.14 This is supported by the Surah‘s reference to both Mary and Jesus in verse 75, which speaks of their humanity, and by Jesus‘ alleged words in verse 116, in which He denied the Trinity of Father, Mother, and Son. Nevertheless verse 76a is used to deny the Trinity of Father, Spirit, and Son on the basis that it is against reason, since it is maintained that three can never be one, and one can never be three.15 Commenting on this verse, Al-Razi states that there is nothing more wicked and vain than the claim of three persons and one essence.16 Verses 73b–74 assert that blasphemers who believe in the Trinity will experience great torture if they do not stop their blasphemy, or they will be forgiven by a merciful God if they repent.17

 

Fourth, verse 75 states that Christians have no basis for their belief in the deity of Christ. Jesus, the son of Mary, was only an apostle in a series of apostles; His mother was a righteous woman. Both had to eat food, which is an absolute proof of the lack of deity in Jesus Christ, because in experiencing hunger He would be no different from animals or other human beings. It is marveled that Christians ignore these clear signs.18 If Christ ate food, then He needed to release excretions, and this is too demeaning if He were God.19 Muslims point out that Christ‘s miracles were performed only because God permitted and enabled Him to do so. Though God raised the dead through Jesus, God did a greater act through Moses by changing his staff to a serpent. Similarly, if God created Jesus without a human father, He did a greater act by creating Adam without a human father or mother.20 God is above the human notions of requiring conception, birth, nursing, and care.21

 

Fifth, belief in the deity of Christ is said to be trespassing beyond the truth of proper religion (v. 77a).

 

Sixth, it is maintained that to believe in the deity of Christ is to follow the desires of wrongdoers (v. 77b). The fourth segment of Surah 5 then ends by pronouncing again a severe denunciation of the Jews. It declares that the sons of Israel were cursed by both David and Jesus. It is said that, had they believed in God and in Muhammad and his revelation, they would not have befriended the unbelievers. As a result they will be punished in eternal torment (vv. 78–81). Furthermore the fiercest enemies to the believers (i.e., Muslims) are Jews and idolaters, and those who are closest to Muslims are Christians who respond to Muhammad‘s revelation in tearful belief and in joining the company of the righteous. This will bring them eternal rewards, unlike the rejectors who will end up in hell (vv. 82–86).22

 

In conclusion the fourth segment of Surah 5 not only makes the Incarnation an unsuitable and unnecessary evil, but also an impossible evil.

 

Second result: Revelation restored.

 

In discussing the corruption of previous scriptures Surah 5 emphasizes that previous prophets, religions, and messages were united. Any corruption that occurred was finally corrected by Muhammad, by Islam, and by the Qur‘an. These themes are stressed in other parts of the Qur‘an to emphasize that there is no vital progress of revelation, but only a reparation of it.

 

Several factors relate to this theme. First, according to Islam there is only one religion. Verse 3 declares that God has perfected Islam as a religion. By doing so, it is said that Islam is the only religion approved by God, that there is no need for another religion, that there is no need for another prophet, that Muhammad is the final prophet, and that whatever Islam permits is permitted and whatever Islam prohibits is prohibited.23 Thus Islam is the perfect religion of works, which all previous religions only approximated. ―Indeed to turn to Islam, the religion of all the prophets in its final form, is not to turn one‘s back on the preceding prophets. It is an augmentation, rather than a conversion, because it does not involve changing one‘s basic spiritual nature. In the Qur‘an, pure human nature is a ‗Muslim nature,‘ which knows its Lord and wishes to submit to Him.. .. My substitute for the term ‗conversion‘ is‗reversion,‘ in the sense of a return to the pure monotheism in which we were all created.‖24

 

Some maintain that Jesus‘ designation as ―the word of God‖ (Surah 4:171) further indicates that all the prophets from Abraham to Muhammad taught only one religion.25 Thus God is said to have produced one religion to which all the prophets directed their desires. Surah 3:83-84 emphasizes this claim. ―Do they seek for other than the Religion of Allah?—while all creatures in the heavens and on earth have, willing or unwilling, bowed to His Will (accepted Islam), and to Him shall that all be brought back. Say: ‗We believe in God, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael; Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the Prophets from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to God do we bow our will (in Islam).‘ ‖

 

Second, there is only one book. The fourth segment of Surah 5 elevates the Qur‘an over the Bible. In fact it is said that the true Bible that proclaimed the message of the Qur‘an does not exist today. The Qur‘an further teaches that there is a single original text of the revealed Scriptures, and that God has it. It is called ―the mother of the book‖ (Surah 13:39), ―the preserved tablet‖ (85:21–22), and the ―clear book (of evidence)‖ (36:12). God has revealed His ―one book‖ to all the prophets and apostles (2:213; 13:38–39).26 But in the process of revelation the book was corrupted by the Jews and Christians, but finally restored in the Qur‘an.

 

Third, according to Islam there is only one prophetic message—―tawhid‖ (oneness). The unity of the prophetic messages is repeatedly asserted in the Qur‘an. All the prophets had the same message, which forms the basis for a unity of faith (2:136). This message is that of the oneness of God, or ―tawhid.‖ Powell believes that the word ―islam‖ (―submission‖) is an allusion to ―tawhid.‖27 This unity of message comes from a unity of inspiration. Surah 4:163-65 asserts, ―We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent to Noah and the messengers after him: We sent inspiration to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, the Tribes, Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the psalms. Of some messengers We have already told thee the story: of others We have not— And to Moses Allah spoke direct—messengers who gave good news as well as warning, that mankind, after (the coming) of the messengers, should have no plea against Allah: for Allah is exalted in power, wise.‖ Powell concludes, ―Therefore, any distinction among the prophets is inconceivable, because he who inspired them is one and the inspiration which they all have is one. So they are links of a single chain and carry a single message.‖28 Furthermore all the prophets are said to call people to God, based on the message of ―tawhid.‖ Every apostle whom God sent insisted that there is no deity alongside God (21:24–25).

 

The Qur‘an further asserts that ―if anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), The Qur‘an thus affirms that all the prophets previous to Muhammad not only preached Islam but were themselves Muslims. This includes Abraham and Ishmael (22:78), Abraham‘s sons, who also passed it down to other generations (2:131–32), the twelve tribes of Israel (2:133), the two branches of descendants from Ishmael and Isaac (2:128), the prophets between Moses and Jesus (5:44), the Jews who kept the original Torah (3:79–80), Jesus Himself (3:52), Jesus‘ disciples (5:108), and the monotheistic contemporaries of Muhammad prior to his mission (28:52–54). Muhammad followed the religion of his predecessors and then transmitted it to his people, becoming officially the first Muslim. ―Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds: no partner hath He: this am I commanded, and I am the first of those who bow to His Will [lit., ‗be Muslim‘]‖ (6:162–63).

 

Since there is one religion, one book, and one prophetic message, the recurring call of the Qur‘an is to erase all distinctions between them. ―Those who deny Allah and His messengers, and (those who) wish to separate Allah from His messengers, saying, ‗We believe in some but reject others‘: and (those who) wish to take a course midway—they are in truth (equally) unbelievers; and We have prepared for unbelievers a humiliating punishment. To those who believe in Allah and His messengers and make no distinction between any of the messengers We shall soon give their (due) rewards‖ (4:150–52). ―We make no difference between one and another of them and We bow to Allah (in Islam)‖

(2:136).29

 

Summary

 

Islamic theology exposes serious issues. First, it confines all humanity under one religion of works that has no room for the biblical concept of grace. It all depends on human merit.

People are to be striving constantly in their own strength to please the Master, or else they will be severely punished.

Second, Islam reinterprets history and the progress of revelation. From a Christian perspective it falls short of presenting a realistic view of history, which sees a need for distinctions in the orderly progress of revelation, and Islam shuts up all religions under one dispensation. Also Islam‘s view of faith amounts to an acknowledgement of certain ideas: there is one God; Muhammad is His apostle; the Qur‘an is His word; and angels, the resurrection, and the judgment day are realities.30 Faith in Islam amounts to a slavelike submission to the power and will of God.31 As Muhammad Abdul Rauf writes, ―The basic meaning of Iman [‗faith‘] is impregnated with the socio-political connotation of allying oneself with the party of monotheists against their adversaries.‖32

Fourth, the assertion of the deity of Christ and of the Trinity are said to be a sign of trespassing beyond the truth, an evil and blasphemous extremism. According to Islam, not only is the Incarnation unsuitable and unnecessary, as the first Christological denial implied, but it is also impossible, and belief in it is, again, evil.

 

 

THE THIRD DENIAL OF CHRIST’S DEITY

 

In the sixth segment of Surah 5 (vv. 109-20) again the deity of Christ is rejected (vv. 116–19). Actually this comes as a climactic conclusion to the whole surah. In this final segment the theme of Scripture abrogation, found in the second and fourth segments (first and second denials of Christ‘s deity), is absent. Instead Jesus is here presented as confirming the two earlier statements about Christ. The first assertion about Christ is in the context of discrediting grace and elevating human merit; the second statement about Christ is made in the context of discrediting the Bible and elevating the Qur‘an; the third statement about Christ is made in the context of discrediting Jesus‘ miracles and elevating God‘s power. Also this final segment builds on the other two in that, having disclaimed the deity of Christ, Jesus Himself is said to agree with the Qur‘an. Thus the pattern on the one hand is to discredit the biblical concept of grace and truth and the Bible‘s portrait of Jesus, and on the other hand to exalt human merit and the qur‘anic portrait of Jesus.

 

The burden of this final segment of Surah 5 is to demonstrate more forcefully that, in spite of Jesus‘ unique qualities and miracles, He is a mere human. Verse 109 begins by referring to a time when the apostles will be asked about the response of their followers to their message. Muslim commentators say that the reference here is to the day of reckoning, when God will gather His apostles in order to testify about the people entrusted to them.33 Verse 110 reports that only Jesus is then addressed. Al-Sabzawari maintains that the reason the surah here singles out Jesus is that He is favored by God because of His selfless life.34

 

In verse 110 Jesus is told that He is to remember God‘s favors on Him and on His mother. These favors included the following: (a) being empowered by the Holy Spirit; (b) speaking from the cradle and in old age; (c) being taught the book, wisdom, the Torah, and the gospel; (d) performing miracles by God‘s permission—healing the blind and the leper, raising the dead, and creating from clay a figure of a bird; (e) God‘s restraining of the children of Israel from committing violence against Him when He showed them clear signs that they attributed to magic.

 

These favors on Jesus fall short of ascribing deity to Him. Muslim commentators further water them down by pointing out several things.

 

First, Al-Baydawi says that the Holy Spirit refers either to the angel Gabriel, to the words that inspire a religion, to eternal life, or to purity from sin.35 However, the first meaning is adopted by most Muslim commentators.36 Al-Razi maintains that it is possible that the intention here is the spirit of the holy, with the ―spirit‖ referring to Gabriel and ―the holy‖ referring to God.37

 

Second, Muslims are quick to point out that the expression ―with My permission‖ is repeated four times in verse 113 in order to emphasize that God, not Jesus, performed the miracles.38 ‗Ibn Kathir says that oral tradition has it that Jesus used to have two prayers before He would perform any miracle (each prayer being what Muslims perform in an elaborate ritual).39 It is maintained that just as the virgin birth does not prove the deity of Jesus, so also His miracles do not prove His deity.40 Räisänen claims that the early Christians believed much the same way as the Qur‘an does.41

 

Third, the epitome of God‘s saving Jesus from the Jews is said to be His delivering Him from being crucified.42 This is supported by Surah 4:157-58, referred to earlier. Thus Surah 5 speaks of Jesus reverently, as does the rest of the Qur‘an, and never with any criticism. However, this reverence misses a large amount of biblical teaching. Fry concludes that the qur‘anic Christ presents such a small part of the true Christ that He cannot be the biblical Christ. ―Christ is properly honored not merely by praise of the lips, but by transformed lives and the labors of obedient love. It is my contention that the Christ of the Quran cannot produce such a conversion, for true discipleship requires both sincerity and truth.‖43

 

Fourth, 5:111 says that Jesus is given the privilege of testifying that His disciples were Muslims.44 At this point the narrative is presented in verses 112–14, giving an example of how it was that God answered Jesus‘ prayers and enabled Him to perform miracles.45 Jesus is presented as incapable of doing anything without God‘s direction and power. Whatever uniqueness Jesus had was only a gift from God.

Then in Surah 5 a dialogue is presented as occurring between Jesus and God sometime after His ascension (vv. 116–19). Al-Razi affirms that this dialogue must have occurred at His resurrection as indicated by the phrase, ―A day on which the truthful will profit from their truth.‖46   The dialogue is as follows.

 

And behold! Allah will say: ―O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men,

‗Worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of 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, though 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 wast the Watcher over them, and Thou art a witness to all things. If Thou dost punish them, they are Thy servants: if Thou dost forgive them, Thou art the Exalted in power, the wise.‖ Allah will say: ―This is a day on which the truthful will profit from their truth: theirs are Gardens, with rivers flowing beneath,—their eternal home: Allah well- pleased with them, and they with Allah: that is the great salvation (the fulfillment of all desires).‖

 

These verses include several reasons why Muslims reject the deity of Christ. First, it is said that Christ denied ever claiming deity. God asked Jesus whether He called people to worship Him and His mother,47 but this was not asked in order to glean information but to deny the claim.48 Jesus is presented as responding in fear, so that He did not defend Himself but relegated all knowledge to God.49 Second, God is said to know that Christ never claimed deity. Third, Christ is said to have taught His disciples that God is His Lord (v. 75). Fourth, it is said that if Christians deny the deity of Christ, they will have great eternal rewards.

 

Summary

 

The second segment of Surah 5 elevates God‘s favor but then deprives grace of its biblical significance, and the fourth segment elevates the message of the previous

prophets but deprives the Bible of its rightful place. While both of these segments deprive Jesus of His deity, the sixth segment elevates His miracles but presents Him as denying having asserted His rightful status. Not only is the Incarnation viewed as unsuitable, impossible, and unnecessary, but it is also viewed as a mistake. In a climactic fashion this segment of Surah 5 declares that the Incarnation is an evil that even Jesus opposed.

The doxology at the end of the surah declares, ―To Allah doth belong the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is therein, and it is He who hath power over all things‖ (v. 120). Al-Razi maintains that this verse incorporates several factors. First, it stresses God‘s sovereignty in rejecting the Jews for denying Muhammad and establishing new laws that abrogate the laws of Moses. Second, it stresses God‘s sovereignty in denouncing the Christians for proclaiming Trinitarianism and ascribing deity to Jesus and His mother. Third, the surah ends with a statement about God‘s transcendence and exaltedness. Surah 5 is said to have begun with jurisprudence and to have ended with truth.50 The unfeigned reality, however, is that Surah 5 completely rejects grace and truth.

 

CONCLUSION

 

Surah 5 gives in one hand and takes away in another. It elevates the covenants and takes away grace. It elevates a so-called original Bible and takes away the present one. It elevates the prophets and takes away their message. It elevates God‘s oneness and takes away His personality. It elevates Christ and His miracles and takes away His deity. It elevates God‘s power and takes away the need of humans for His enablement. All this forms the basis for supposing that the Incarnation is unsuitable, unnecessary, impossible, and mistaken. The qur‘anic reactions to biblical Christology ―are the expected consequences of belief in a system that is fundamentally different from Christianity in its understanding of God and of his creatures.‖51

 

 

 

Notes

 

  • (1) Imad Shehadeh, “Reasons for Islam’s Rejection of Biblical Christology,”

Bibliotheca Sacra 161 (July-September 2004): 274-88.

  • (2) Al-Baydawi, The Lights of Revelation and the Secrets of Explanation (Beirut: Dar Al-Kashaf, 1965), 151; and Jalal Al-Din Muhammad Bin Al-Mahali and Jalal Al-Din ’Abi Bakr Al-Suyuti, The Commentary of the Jalalayn (Beirut: Dar Al-Wifaq, n.d.),151.
  • (3) See ‘Abdullah Yusuf ‘Ali, The Holy Qur’an (Brentwood, MD: Amana, 1989), 263.
  • (4) Al Fakhr Al-Razi, The Commentary of Al-Razi (Damascus: Dar-Al Fikr, 1981), 12:11.
  • (5) See Al-Baydawi, The Lights of Revelation and the Secrets of Explanation, 152; Al- Sabzawari, The New in the Explanation of the Glorious Qur’an (Beirut: Dar Al-ta‘aruf

Lilmatbu‘at, n.d.), 2:476–77; and Al-Razi, The Commentary of Al-Razi, 12:12.

  • (6) Al-Sabzawari explains that some Muslims wanted to maintain a strong relationship with the Jews, who had political control at that time, lest things turn

around to Islam’s disadvantage (The New in the Explanation of the Glorious Qur’an,

2:480).

  • (7) The word “Mathwabah” in verse 60 means “reward,” but it is used here with the opposite meaning to imply a negative treatment by God (see Al-Baydawi, The Lights of Revelation and the Secrets of Explanation, 154).
  • (8) Muslim commentators explain the changing to apes and pigs with the use of the word “masakha” as an act in which people are transformed to an appearance like that of It is said to refer to Jews who disobeyed the Sabbath and Christians

who disrespected the Lord’s Table (see Al-Baydawi, The Lights of Revelation and the

Secrets of Explanation, 155; and Al-Sabzawari, The New in the Explanation of the Glorious Qur’an, 2:491).

  • (9) Al-Razi uses verse 67a against the Mu‘tazalites, who assert that God is bound to act in certain w Al-Razi emphasizes that God may choose to act in any way He pleases: He may eradicate Christ and His mother, or God may stretch out His hands to give bountifully (The Commentary of Al-Razi, 12:47).
  • (10) See Al-Baydawi, The Lights of Revelation and the Secrets of Explanation, 224; Al- Sabzawari, The New in the Explanation of the Glorious Qur’an, 2:496–97; Al-Razi, The

Commentary of Al-Razi, 12:49–50; and Sayid Qutub, In the Shadow of the Qur’an

(Jeddah: Dar al Olm lil Tibaah wa al Nashir, 1986), 2:939.

  • (11) Muslims point to Matthew 4:10; Mark 12:25; Luke 18:19; and John 20:17 to substantiate verse 75 of this Surah that Christ encouraged Israel to worship His God and theirs (see ‘Ali, The Holy Qur’an, 271 782).
  • (12) Arethas, “La Lettre Polémique ‘D’Aréthas’ a l’Émir de Damas,” Byzantion 24 (1954): 366 (author’s translation).
  • (13) See Al-Baydawi, The Lights of Revelation and the Secrets of Explanation, 158; and ’Ibn Kathir, Commentary on the Great Qur’an (Beirut: Al-Jil, 1988), 2:77.
  • (14) See ’Ibn Kathir, Commentary on the Great Qur’an, 2:77; Al-Sabzawari, The New in the Explanation of the Glorious Qur’an, 2:502; Al-Jalalayn, The Commentary of the Jalalayn, 158; and Al-Razi, The Commentary of Al-Razi, 12:64.
  • (15) See Mohammed Sadiq, “A Moslem on the Trinity,” Moslem World 10 (1920): 410- 11.
  • (16) Al-Razi, The Commentary of Al-Razi, 12:64.
  • (17) Though the entire weight of Islamic tradition uses these verses to reject the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, the Qur’an seems in fact to oppose the false tritheism of God, Jesus, and Mary (see Julius Basetti-Sani, “For a Dialogue between Christians and Muslims,” Muslim World 57 [1967]: 189).
  • (18) Al-Baydawi, The Lights of Revelation and the Secrets of Explanation, 158; and ’Ibn Kathir, Commentary on the Great Qur’an, 2:78.
  • (19) See Al-Sabzawari, The New in the Explanation of the Glorious Qur’an, 2:504; and

Al-Jalalayn, The Commentary of the Jalalayn, 158. Al-Razi, however, points out that the people of paradise do not excrete, and that the verse only points to Christ’s creaturehood, His poverty and need, which are unfitting if He were God (Al-Razi, The Commentary of Al-Razi, 12:65).

  • (20) Al-Baydawi, The Lights of Revelation and the Secrets of Explanation, 158.
  • (21) Al-Sabzawari, The New in the Explanation of the Glorious Qur’an, 504.
  • (22) Qutub reviews some of the history that forms the background to this attitude toward Jews and Chr He states that the Jews were especially antagonistic to

Muhammad when he sought to establish Islam in Medina, though Muhammad

sought their support. Qutub notes, however, that a select group of Christians accepted Muhammad (In the Shadow of the Qur’an, 2:960–62). For a fuller treatment of the historical background as it relates to the Qur’an see Newell S. Booth Jr., “The Historical and the Non-historical in Islam,” Muslim World 60 (1970): 109-22; Muhammad Abdul Rauf, “A Muslim Response to ‘The Pre-Islamic Period of Siérat Al- Nabi,’ ” Muslim World 62 (1972): 42-48; James E. Royster, “The Study of Muhammad: A Survey of Approaches from the Perspective of the History and Phenomenology of Religion,” Muslim World 62 (1972): 49-70; and Fred M. Donner, “Muhammad’s Political Consolidation in Arabia Up to the Conquest of Mecca,” Muslim World 69 (1979): 229-47.

  • (23) See ’Ibn Kathir, Commentary on the Great Qur’an, 2:13.
  • (24) Jamal Badawi, Bridgebuilding between Christian and Muslim (Halifax, NS: Islamic Information Foundation, n.d.), 8–9.
  • (25) Nazeer el-Azma, “Some Notes on the Impact of the Story of the Mi’raj on Sufi Literature,” Muslim World 63 (1973): 98.
  • (26) See A. J. Powell, “The Qur’anic View of Other Scriptures,” Muslim World 59 (1969): 99-100.
  • (27) Ibid., 100.
  • (28) Ibid., 101.
  • (29) See Surahs 2:285; 3:84.
  • (30) See Khurshid Ahmad, Islam: Its Meaning and Message (London: Islamic Foundation, 1976), 21–22.
  • (31) See Caesar Farah, Islam Beliefs and Practices (Woodbury, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, 1968), 125–50; Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, “The Conception of the Term Dn in the Qur’an,” Muslim World 64 (1974): 114-23; George F. Hourani, “Ethical Presuppositions of the Qur’an,” Muslim World 70 (1980): 1-28; and David S. Noss and John B. Noss, Man’s Religions (New York: Macmillan, 1980), 506–14.
  • (32) Muhammad Abdul Rauf, “Some Notes on the Qur’anic Use of the Terms Islam and

Iman,” Muslim World 57 (1967): 101. See also Sabih Ahmad Kamali, “The Moral Basis of Faith,” Muslim World 55 (1965): 9-18.

  • (33) See ‘Ali, The Holy Qur’an, 283 814; Al-Jalalayn, The Commentary of the Jalalayn,

166; and Al-Sabzawari, The New in the Explanation of the Glorious Qur’an, 2:533–34.

  • (34) See Al-Sabzawari, The New in the Explanation of the Glorious Qur’an, 2:534–35.
  • (35) Al-Baydawi, The Lights of Revelation and the Secrets of Explanation, 166.
  • (36) See Al-Jalalayn, The Commentary of the Jalalayn, 166; Al-Sabzawari, The New in the Explanation of the Glorious Qur’an, 2:535; and ’Ibn Kathir, Commentary on the

Great Qur’an, 2:109.

  • (37) Al-Razi, The Commentary of Al-Razi, 12:133.
  • (38)Al-Sabzawari, The New in the Explanation of the Glorious Qur’an, 2:536; Al-Razi, The Commentary of Al-Razi, 12:134; and Al-Jalalayn, The Commentary of the Jalalayn,166.
  • (39) ’Ibn Kathir, Commentary on the Great Qur’an, 2:109.
  • (40)See Heikki Räisänen, “The Portrait of Jesus in the Qur’an,” Muslim World 70 (1980): 126-27; and C. George Fry, “The Qur’anic Christ,” Concordia Theological Quarterly 43 (1979): 211.
  • (41) Räisänen, “The Portrait of Jesus in the Qur’an,” 128.
  • (42) See Al-Jalalayn, The Commentary of the Jalalayn, 166; ’Ibn Kathir, Commentary on the Great Qur’an, 2:109; Al-Sabzawari, The New in the Explanation of the Glorious Qur’an, 2:536; and Al-Razi, The Commentary of Al-Razi, 12:135.
  • (43) Fry, “The Qur’anic Christ,” 208.
  • (44) That Jesus is the one to testify is supported by Surah 3:52.
  • (45) The Sufis attempt to allegorize the meaning of this passage, but most Muslims take it literally and elaborate on it by stating that angels supposedly brought down a table with seven loaves and seven whales on it so that all ate of it and were satisfied. This continued regularly at appointed times until the rich started preventing the poor from coming to Then God made many men, who had families, into apes and swine, roaming in streets eating dirt. The table is said to have never come down again (Al-Sabzawari, The New in the Explanation of the Glorious Qur’an, 2:540–41; and Al-Jalalayn, The Commentary of the Jalalayn, 167). For fanciful and more elaborate and somewhat conflicting versions of what happened see Al-Baydawi, The Lights of Revelation and the Secrets of Explanation, 167; Shaykh Zadah, Marginal Notes on the Commentary of Qadi Al Baydawi, vol. 2 (Istanbul: Hakikat Kitabevi, 1988), 246–47; ’Ibn Kathir, Commentary on the Great Qur’an, 2:110–13; and Surahs 2:87; 3:46, 48–49, 62.
  • (46) Al-Razi, The Commentary of Al-Razi, 12:142.
  • (47) The veneration of Mary, which the Qur’an attacks, reflects the Qur’an’s reaction to the New Testament apocrypha and pseudepigrapha, which had a strong impact throughout Middle Eastern Christendom at that time (Imad Shehadeh, “A Comparison and a Contrast between the Prologue of John’s Gospel and Qur’anic Surah 5” [Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1990], 61–73).
  • (48) Al-Razi, The Commentary of Al-Razi, 12:142.
  • (49) Al-Razi says that Jesus’ response was out of humility and submission (ibid., 143).

(50) Ibid., 147-48.

(51) Ida Glaser, “The Concept of Relationship as a Key to the Comparative Understanding of Christianity and Islam,” Themelios 11 (1986): 60.

 

 

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