Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Does the Quran Misrepresent Christian Beliefs? Pt. 2

Sam Shamoun

Proceeding from where we left off, Williams conveniently failed to quote the rest of John 20, and we shall now see why:

“Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, ‘I have seen THE LORD (ton kyrion),’ and that He had said these things to her. So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, HE BREATHED ON THEM and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.’ But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples were saying to him, ‘We have seen THE LORD (ton kyrion)!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’ After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ Thomas answered AND SAID TO HIM, ‘My Lord and my God (ho kyrios mou kai ho theos mou)!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.’ Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:18-31

It is ironic that all of the chapters that Williams could cite from, he chose the very one which speaks of Christ’s physical, bodily resurrection and his post-mortem appearances to his disciples, all of which Islam denies! This is also the same chapter where the disciples honor Jesus as the Lord, with Thomas worshiping the risen Christ as his Lord and God, a confession which Jesus both accepts and blesses!

Remarkably, Thomas’ proclamation is virtually identical to the Psalmist’s praise of Yahweh:

“Awake, O Lord (kyrie), and attend to my judgment, [even] to my cause, my God and my Lord (ho theos mou kai ho kyrios mou). Judge me, O Lord (kyrie), according to thy righteousness, O Lord my God (kyrie ho theos mou); and let them not rejoice against me.” Psalm 34[Heb. 35]:23-24 LXX

However, the Hebrew Scriptures expressly forbid a monotheistic Jew from worshiping any one other than Yahweh as his/her Lord and God:

“Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord (kyrios ho theos hemon kyrios heis esti). And you shall love the Lord your God (kyrion ton theon sou) with all your mind, and with all your soul, and all your strength… You shall fear the Lord your God (kyrion ton theon), and him only shall you serve; and you shall cleave to him, and by his name you shall swear. Go not after other gods of the gods of the nations round about you; for the Lord your God (kyrios ho theos sou) in the midst of you [is] a jealous God, lest the Lord your God (kyrios ho theos sou) be very angry with you, and destroy you from off the face of the earth.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5, 13-15 LXX

Therefore, Christ could have only accepted such a confession if both he and his followers thought that Jesus was(is) Yahweh God in the flesh (even though he is not the Father or the Holy Spirit).

Christ is also depicted as breathing the Holy Spirit upon his followers in order to empower them for the ministry of proclaiming the Gospel.

This isn’t the only place in John’s Gospel where Jesus is said to be able to impart the Holy Spirit:

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’… He said, ‘I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord,” as Isaiah the prophet said.’… John answered them saying, ‘I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know. It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.’ These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He on behalf of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.” I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.’ John testified saying, ‘I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, “He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.” I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.’” John 1:14-15, 23, 26-34

Here we have the Evangelist depicting John the Baptist as the herald mentioned by the prophet Isaiah, the one sent to prepare for the coming of Yahweh God himself to his people. More on this point shortly.

The Baptist not only proclaims that Christ is greater than him, since he isn’t even worthy enough to untie the thong of Jesus’ sandal, he also testifies that Christ is the One who shall baptize people with the Holy Spirit.

The Gospel of Mark is in complete agreement with John’s Gospel at this point:

“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: ‘Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, Who will prepare Your way; The voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight.”’ John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. And he was preaching, and saying, ‘After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’ In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.’” Mark 1:1-11

Now this introduces a whole host of problems for Williams’ Islamic beliefs.

In the first place, both Gospels portray Jesus as carrying out a function which the OT ascribes to Yahweh alone, namely, the ability to breathe out or grant the Holy Spirit to human beings in order to give them biological or spiritual life:

“Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7


“Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel, And that I am the Lord your God, And there is no other; And My people will never be put to shame. It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth, Blood, fire and columns of smoke. The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the Lord has said, Even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.” Joel 2:27-32 – cf. Isaiah 32:14-15; 34:16; 48:1-3; 59:19-21; Ezekiel 36:25-27; 37:12-14; 39:29

The Quran agrees with God’s Word at this point, since it not only depicts Allah breathing his Spirit into man in order to animate him:

Who made all things good which He created, and He began the creation of man from clay; Then He made his seed from a draught of despised fluid; Then He fashioned him and breathed into him of His Spirit; and appointed for you hearing and sight and hearts. Small thanks give ye! S. 32:7-9 Pickthall – cf. 15:28-29; 38:71-72

It also has Allah permitting Jesus to perform this same divine function of creating and breathing life into inanimate objects!

“to be a Messenger to the Children of Israel saying, ‘I have come to you with a sign from your Lord. I will create for you out of clay as the likeness of a bird; then I will breathe into it, and it will be a bird, by the leave of God. I will also heal the blind and the leper, and bring to life the dead, by the leave of God. I will inform you too of what things you eat, and what you treasure up in your houses. Surely in that is a sign for you, if you are believers.’” S. 3:49 Arberry

When God said, 'Jesus Son of Mary, remember My blessing upon thee and upon thy mother, when I confirmed thee with the Holy Spirit, to speak to men in the cradle, and of age; and when I taught thee the Book, the Wisdom, the Torah, the Gospel; and when thou createst out of clay, by My leave, as the likeness of a bird, and thou breathest into it, and it is a bird, by My leave; and thou healest the blind and the leper by My leave, and thou bringest the dead forth by My leave; and when restrained from thee the Children of Israel when thou camest unto them with the clear signs, and the unbelievers among them said, "This is nothing but sorcery manifest."’ S. 5:110 Arberry

Secondly, both Gospel writers describe the Baptist’s role in relation to Isaiah’s prophecy that the Lord God would be sending an envoy to proclaim the good news of Yahweh’s coming to dwell among his people:

“A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley; Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’… Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, Lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; Lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’ Behold, the Lord God will come with might, With His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him And His recompense before Him. Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.” Isaiah 40:3-5, 9-11

Since both these authors also agree that the Baptist was sent to herald the coming of Christ, this means that they both intended to communicate the fact that Jesus is none other than the very Lord God whom Isaiah said was coming to save his flock!

Logically, Williams simply has no way of getting around this fact, provided he is consistent, just as the following syllogism illustrates:

A. The Baptist is the envoy that Isaiah said would be sent to announce that the Lord God himself was coming to save his people.

B. The Baptist testifies that he was sent to prepare God’s people for Christ’s coming.

C. This means that Jesus is the Lord God whom the prophet Isaiah said was coming to shepherd and save his flock.

In light of the above, it is simply dishonest for Williams to say that Mark’s Gospel portrays Jesus as a very human figure, since it is obvious that Mark depicts Jesus as a human being who is absolutely divine by describing him as Yahweh God Incarnate. This is further seen from the following reference:

“The high priest stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus, saying, ‘Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?’ But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, ‘Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ And Jesus said, ‘I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’ Tearing his clothes, the high priest said, ‘What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?’ And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.’” Mark 14:60-64

In the above passage, Christ alludes to the following OT texts to describe his Person and relationship to the Father:

A Psalm of David. The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’” Psalm 110:1

“I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming
, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14

Jesus claims to be David’s Lord who sits enthroned at God’s right hand, as well as the divine Son of Man who not only reigns forever, but is also worshiped by all the nations in the same way that God is worshiped:

“Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; HIS kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will SERVE and obey HIM.” Daniel 7:27

“All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, And all the families of the nations will worship before You. For the kingdom is the Lord’s And He rules over the nations. All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship, All those who go down to the dust will bow before Him, Even he who cannot keep his soul alive. Posterity will serve Him; It will be told of the Lord to the coming generation. They will come and will declare His righteousness To a people who will be born, that He has performed it.” Psalm 22:27-31

All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, And they shall glorify Your name.” Psalm 86:9 – cf. Isaiah 66:23; Zechariah 14:16-17; Revelation 15:3-4

Christ even rides the clouds, which is another divine function:

“The oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud and is about to come to Egypt; The idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence, And the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.” Isaiah 19:1

“The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, And the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. In whirlwind and storm is His way, And clouds are the dust beneath His feet.” Nahum 1:3 – cf. Exodus 24:10-11; 33:7-11; 40:34-38; Numbers 10:34; Deuteronomy 33:26; Psalm 68:4, 33-34; 104:3; Matthew 17:5

Moreover, to be seated at God’s right hand means that Jesus is now reigning from God’s very own heavenly throne as the sovereign Lord of all creation, since that is where the Psalms say God happens to be seated:

“The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.” Psalm 11:4

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pitThe Lord has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all. Bless the Lord, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word, Obeying the voice of His word! Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, You who serve Him, doing His will.” Psalm 103:1-4, 19-21 – cf. Ps. 2:4

Thus, unlike the angels who are portrayed as standing in attention ready to carry out God’s will, the Lord Jesus is actually seated on the heavenly throne alongside God the Father!

Interestingly, Mark ascribes the very same divine functions to Christ which the preceding Psalm attributes to Yahweh:

“When He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?IMMEDIATELY Jesus, aware IN HIS SPIRIT that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, ‘Why are you reasoning about these things IN YOUR HEARTS? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven”; or to say, “Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.’ And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this.’” Mark 2:1-12

Christ is seen doing what Psalm 103 says Yahweh does, namely, forgive sins and heal diseases. Jesus is also depicted as immediately knowing what the people were thinking within their hearts, meaning within themselves, which is another function that the Psalms attribute to God alone:

“Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.” Psalm 44:21 – cf. 139:1-6; 1 Kings 8:39, 46-50

Mark even has Jesus redeeming people by his vicarious sacrifice on the cross:

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”” Mark 10:45

“While they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, ‘Take it; this is My body.’ And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, ‘This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I say to you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.’” Mark 14:22-25

Once again, this is a divine work which the Psalms emphatically insist that no human being is capable of doing:

“No man can by any means redeem his brother Or give to God a ransom for him—For the redemption of his soul is costly, And he should cease trying forever—That he should live on eternally, That he should not undergo decay… But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, For He will receive me. Selah.” Psalm 49:7-9, 15

Now Williams cannot deny any of these points since his own religious scripture affirms that the functions which Mark ascribed to Christ are uniquely divine ones which only Allah can carry out.

For instance, the Quran has the Jews of Muhammad’s day waiting for Allah to show up in the covers of the clouds along with his angels:

Do they await but that Allah should come to them in covers of clouds and the angels [as well] and the matter is [then] decided? And to Allah [all] matters are returned. S. 2:210 Sahih International

The Quran itself says that Allah will be coming with his heavenly host on the last day in order to judge mankind:

No! When the earth has been leveled – pounded and crushed – And your Lord has come and the angels, rank upon rank, And brought [within view], that Day, is Hell – that Day, man will remember, but what good to him will be the remembrance? S. 89:21-23

What makes this rather interesting is that Mark says that it is Jesus who comes with the angels to judge individuals on that day for how they have responded to him!

“For whoever is ashamed OF ME and MY words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of HIS Father with the holy angels.”” Mark 8:38

The Muslim scripture also testifies that Allah is the only one who can forgive sins:

And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins - and who can forgive sins except Allah? – and [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know. S. 3:135 Sahih International

Say, "O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful." S. 39:53

Moreover, the Quran emphatically denies that the Muslim deity has a son who shares in his dominion over creation,

And say, "Praise to Allah, who has not taken a son and has had no partner in [His] dominion and has no [need of a] protector out of weakness; and glorify Him with [great] glorification." S. 17:111 Sahih International

Since the sovereignty of the heavens and earth belongs solely to Allah:

And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and Allah is over all things competent. S. 3:189 Sahih International

Nor does Allah allow his followers to serve any prophet as Lord:

It is not for a human [prophet] that Allah should give him the Scripture and authority and prophethood and then he would say to the people, "Be servants to me rather than Allah," but [instead, he would say], "Be pious scholars of the Lord because of what you have taught of the Scripture and because of what you have studied." Nor could he order you to take the angels and prophets as lords. Would he order you to disbelief after you had been Muslims? S. 3:79-80 Sahih International

These examples prove that Mark’s Christology is anything but compatible with Islam (let alone John’s!), since Jesus says and does things in Mark which even the Quran acknowledges only God can say and do.

The third problem Williams faces is that his assertion ends up turning his god into a very human figure. Recall what he said concerning Mark portraying Jesus as praying to God:

“… But our earliest surviving gospel, that of Mark, portrays a very human figure who prays to God…”

Whether Williams realizes it or not, his statement basically implies that prayer is an act carried out by humans, since the underlying presupposition is that Jesus wouldn’t be praying to God if he wasn’t human.

In light of this assumption, Williams’ argument proves that Allah isn’t truly god either (which he isn’t, but for other reasons), since the Muslim scripture teaches that William’s deity prays as well!

Those are the ones upon whom are PRAYERS from their Lord and mercy (salawatun min rabbihim wa’rahmatun). And it is those who are the guided. S. 2:157

In fact, Allah even prays together with his angels!

He it is who PRAYS (yusallee) FOR YOU and His angels too, to bring you forth out of the darkness into the light, for He is merciful to the believers. S. 33:45 Palmer

Verily, God and His angels PRAY for the prophet (Inna Allaha wa’malaikatahu YUSALLOONA ala al-nabiyyi). O ye who believe! pray for him (salloo alayhi) and salute him with a salutation! S. 33:56 Palmer

This proves that both Allah and his angels must be very human according to Williams’ reasoning!

Logically, Williams is stuck as the following syllogism shows:

  1. Praying is a human act which indicates that the one who performs it must be a very human figure.
  2. Allah prays along with his angels for Muhammad and the believers.
  3. Allah (and by extension his angels as well) must, therefore, be a very human figure since he performs a human act.

And just in case Williams wants to deny that Muhammad taught that Allah actually prays, we recommend the following articles and rebuttals:

The foregoing address all the desperate Muslim attempts to refute the fact that, according to the Quran and other allegedly sound Islamic texts, Allah actually prays and worships like his creatures.

We are not through just yet, since there are plenty more blunders that need to be addressed, which we shall do so in the near future if the Lord Jesus wills.