Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

A Dawagandist Turns Muhammad Into A God Once Again! Pt. 3

Sam Shamoun

We resume with our rebuttal.

Muhammad Testifies that Jesus shares in the Lordship of Allah

The other major problem that Williams must contend with is that Muhammad’s reasoning basically ends up proving that Jesus is the sovereign Lord God.

After all, the Quran expressly teaches that Christ made lawful some of that which Allah had previously forbidden,

I confirm previous scripture - the Torah - and I revoke certain prohibitions imposed upon you. I come to you with sufficient proof from your Lord. Therefore, you shall observe GOD, and obey me. S. 3:50 Rashad Khalifa

According to the narration that Williams cited, this is an act which elevates Christ to divine status. Here it is again, taken from Ibn Kathir’s exposition of Q. 9:31:   

Imam Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Jarir At-Tabari recorded a Hadith via several chains of narration, from `Adi bin Hatim, may Allah be pleased with him, who became Christian during the time of Jahiliyyah. When the call of the Messenger of Allah reached his area, `Adi ran away to Ash-Sham, and his sister and several of his people were captured. The Messenger of Allah freed his sister and gave her gifts. So she went to her brother and encouraged him to become Muslim and to go to the Messenger of Allah. `Adi, who was one of the chiefs of his people (the tribe of Tai') and whose father, Hatim At-Ta'i, was known for his generosity, went to Al-Madinah. When the people announced his arrival, `Adi went to the Messenger of Allah wearing a silver cross around his neck. The Messenger of Allah recited this Ayah

(They took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah). `Adi commented, "I said, `They did not worship them.’” The Prophet said…

<<Yes they did. They (rabbis and monks) prohibited the allowed for them (Christians and Jews) and allowed the prohibited, and they obeyed them. This is how they worshipped them.>>

The Messenger invited `Adi to embrace Islam, and he embraced Islam and pronounced the Testimony of Truth. The face of the Messenger of Allah beamed with pleasure and he said to `Adi…

<<Verily, the Jews have earned the anger (of Allah) and the Christians are misguided.>> Hudhayfah bin Al-Yaman, `Abdullah bin `Abbas and several others said about the explanation of…

(They took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah...) that the Christians and Jews obeyed their monks and rabbis in whatever they allowed or prohibited for them. This is why Allah said…

(while they were commanded to worship none but One God), Who, whatever He renders prohibited is the prohibited, whatever He allowed is the allowed, whatever He legislates, is to be the law followed, and whatever He decides is to be adhered to…

(None has the right to be worshipped but He. Hallowed be He above what they associate (with Him).) Meaning, exalted, sanctified, hallowed above partners, equals, aids, rivals or children, there is no deity or Lord worthy of worship except Him. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir)

Muhammad’s logic goes something like this:

  1. To obey a person who makes lawful or unlawful that which Allah has either forbidden or permitted is to worship him as Lord and God.
  2. Jews and Christians obeyed their rabbis and monks in these matters.
  3. Therefore, the Jews and Christians ended up worshiping them as their lords and gods.

However, since it was Allah who specifically gave Jesus such authority this means that the Muslim deity must have wanted people to believe that Christ is more than a man; by allowing Christ to revoke certain prohibitions Allah obviously wanted his followers to worship Jesus as their Lord God!

Here is Muhammad’s logic once again:

  1. To obey a person who makes lawful or unlawful that which Allah has either forbidden or permitted is to worship him as Lord and God.
  2. Jesus Christ revoked certain prohibitions which Allah had ordained.
  3. In doing so, Jesus essentially made himself out to be the Lord God.
  4. At the same time, however, it was Allah who gave Jesus the authority to do so.
  5. Therefore, it was Allah who wanted people to recognize and worship Jesus as their Lord God.

Logically, there is simply no way around this for Williams since this is the inevitable conclusion of Muhammad’s own reasoning if and when it is applied consistently.

What makes this all the more ironic is that the literal rendering of the Arabic text of Q. 9:31 actually confirms that Allah does want his followers to worship Jesus as Lord. Here is the text, once again, with the Arabic included within parentheses:

They took their rabbis and their monks to be lords besides Allah AND the Messiah son of Mary (min dooni Allahi WA al-maseeha ibna maryama), when they were bidden to worship only one God. There is no God save Him. Be He Glorified from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him)!

The verse places Jesus along with Allah as the only Lord that the Jews and Christians were to worship.

This now brings me to my second point. Q. 9:31 employs the conjunction wa to connect Allah and Jesus together, e.g. Allahi WA al-maseeha ibna maryama. According to Muslim scholars, this is the conjunction of partnership which is why it is forbidden to use it in the same sentence where Allah and someone else are mentioned together:

The fact that mention of the Prophet is directly connected to mention of Allah also shows that obedience to the Prophet is connected to obedience to Allah AND HIS NAME TO ALLAH'S NAME. Allah says, “Obey Allah and His Messenger” (2:32) and “Believe in Allah and His Messenger.” (4:136) Allah joins them together using the conjunction WA WHICH IS THE CONJUNCTION OF PARTNERSHIP. IT IS NOT PERMITTED TO USE THIS CONJUNCTION IN CONNECTION WITH ALLAH IN THE CASE OF ANYONE EXCEPT THE PROPHET.

Hudhayfa said that the Prophet said, “None of you should say, ‘What Allah wills and (wa) so-and-so wills.’ Rather say, ‘What Allah wills.’ Then stop and say, ‘So-and-so wills.’”

Al-Khattabi said, “The Prophet has guided you to correct behaviour in putting the will of Allah before the will of others. He chose ‘then’ (thumma) which implies sequence and deference as opposed to ‘and’ (wa) WHICH IMPLIES PARTNERSHIP.”

Something similar is mentioned in another hadith. Someone was speaking in the presence of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, “Whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger has been rightly guided, and whoever rebels against them both (joining them together by using the dual form)…” The Prophet said to him, “What a bad speaker you are! Get up! [Or he said: Get out!]”

Abu Sulayman said, “He disliked the two names being joined together in that way BECAUSE IT IMPLIES EQUALITY.”… (Qadi ‘Iyad, Kitab Ash-shifa bi ta'rif huquq al-Mustafa (Healing by the recognition of the Rights of the Chosen One), translation by Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley [Madinah Press, Inverness, Scotland, U.K.; third reprint 1991, paperback], Part One. Allah’s great estimation of the worth of his Prophet expressed in both word and action, Chapter One. Allah’s praise of him and his great esteem for him, Section 1. Concerning praise of him and his numerous excellent qualities, p. 8; capital emphasis ours)

Thus, by grouping Allah and Jesus together through the use of wa the Quran has invariably turned Jesus into Allah's partner and associate. And since the Arabic text originally had no markings this would mean that someone reading it would have clearly seen that Jesus is being placed alongside Allah as the Lord whom believers were commanded to believe in and worship.

Now Williams may want to challenge my exegesis on the grounds that the Arabic text places Jesus alongside the rabbis and monks who were wrongly taken as lords besides Allah. Hey may contend that the conjunction (wa) before al-Maseeha, and the short vowel fatha (a), at the end of the word indicate that al-Maseeha is in the accusative, so it is another object (together with the first two, ahbarahum wa ruhbanahum, “their rabbis and their monks”) of the verb “have taken.”

In light of these factors, he can claim that the verse actually reads in the following manner:

They have taken their rabbis and their monks AND the Messiah Son of Mary as lords apart from God, and they were commanded to serve but One God; there is no god but He; glory be to Him, above that they associate.

Williams may further argue that if the wa was conjoining al-Maseeh to Allah, e.g. placing Allah and the Messiah together, then it would have been in the genitive case just like Allahi is, i.e. al-Maseehi.

There is a major problem with this objection since it assumes that the markings distinguishing the different cases in Arabic, i.e. nominative, accusative etc., were part of the original text from the very beginning. The reality, however, is that the original Arabic Quran had no markings to help differentiate between the different nuances of a word.

In fact, this is how the text would look like in transliteration minus the critical points: min doon allah w al-maseeh bn maryam.

As one can see, there is no short fatha at the end of the words al-Maseeh, bn or maryam, which means that there was nothing in the original Arabic consonantal text which separated Jesus from Allah. Instead, the Arabic original actually placed Jesus alongside Allah as the only Lord God that believers are supposed to worship! 

In other words, the skeletal text of Q. 9:31 and the use of the conjunction wa means that Allah expected the Jews and Christians to worship him and Jesus together as their Lord God!

At this point, the Quran is doing nothing more than confirming what the NT says concerning Jesus.

The inspired Scriptures proclaim that Christ is the Lord,

“You call me ‘Teacher and ‘Lord,’ and right so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” John 13:13-14

Who sits enthroned at God’s right hand,

“Of David. A Psalm. The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’” Psalm 110:1

“While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, ‘Why do the teachers of the law say that the Messiah is the son of David? David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared: “The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until put your enemies under your feet.’” David himself calls him “Lord.” How then can he be his son?’ The large crowd listened to him with delight.” Mark 12:35-37

According to the Holy Bible, God’s inspired revelation, to be seated at God’s right hand is to rule from heaven itself, from the very presence of God,

“Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.” Hebrews 8:1-2

“But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves, but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption… For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.” Hebrews 9:11-12, 24

Where every created thing remains eternally subject to the One seated on the throne, that is, Jesus:

“and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above ALL rule and authority, power and dominion, and EVERY NAME that can be invoked, not only in the present age BUT ALSO IN THE ONE TO COME. And God placed ALL THINGS under his feet and appointed him to be head OVER EVERYTHING for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Ephesians 1:19-23

“… It saves you by the resurrection of Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand – with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.” 1 Peter 3:21b-22

Astonishingly, the Quran itself testifies that Jesus was taken to dwell with Allah himself:

Remember when God said, "O Jesus! verily I will cause thee to die, and will take thee up TO MYSELF and deliver thee from those who believe not; and I will place those who follow thee above those who believe not, until the day of resurrection. Then, to me is your return, and wherein ye differ will I decide between you. S. 3:55 Rodwell

But Allah took him up UNTO HIMSELF. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise. S. 4:158 Pickthall

Since the Muslim scripture says that Allah is ruling the entire creation from his throne,

Lo! your Lord is Allah Who created the heavens and the earth in six Days, then He established Himself upon the Throne, directing all things. There is no intercessor (with Him) save after His permission. That is Allah, your Lord, so worship Him. Oh, will ye not remind? S. 10:3 Pickthall

This means that Jesus must also be on the throne alongside Allah as well!

Hence, the Muslim scripture is simply echoing what God’s Word had proclaimed about Christ’s exalted status.

However, this raises more problems for Williams since this means that the Quran presents a confused and contradictory portrait of Christ. In one breath, the Muslim scripture denies that Jesus was more than a man (cf. Q. 43:59), and yet in another breath the Quran says things about Jesus which clearly prove that he is fully divine, and therefore more than human. As the following authors note:  

It is no easy task, however, to describe the Qur'an's evaluation of Christianity, for the precise historical context of the Qur'an's origins is far from clear, despite the elaborate biographies of the Prophet Muhammad written during the 'Abaasid period (132/750-656/1258). Meanwhile, Qur'anic language, essentially homiletic and referential, is often sparing with details. It can therefore be elusive to readers removed from its original context.

The problem might be presented in regard to terminology. The Qur'an repeatedly (eleven times in all) refers to Jesus as the Christ (al-masih). However, it seems to use the term simply as a proper name (much as Christians began to use the term in the patristic period). Yet the Qur'an also refers to Jesus as the Word of God (Q 3:45; 4:171; cf. 3:59) and the Spirit of God (4:171), who was created from a divine breath (21:91; 66:12). These are typical formulae used by Christians to express the divinity of Christ, as is the Qur’an reference to Christ creating a bird from clay and bringing it to life with his breath (3:49; 5:110; cf. God's creation of Adam: 15:29; 32:9; 38:72) and the Qur'an's close association of Jesus and the Holy Spirit (2:87, 253; 5:110).

However, the Qur'an also repeatedly has Jesus announce that he was sent by God to confirm the law (Tawrat) to the Israelites (3:50; 5:46; 61:6), to insist on God's transcendence (3:51; 5:72), to reject worship of him (and his mother) as gods (5:116-117), and, in one place, to announce a Messenger to come after him (61:6). Hence it seems that the Qur'an is rejecting Christian claims about Jesus, and indeed the Qur'an implies that the "People of the Book" (here presumably Christians are intended) belittle God with their statements about Christ (4:171). Elsewhere (9:30) Christians are reprimanded for calling Christ the Son of God. And yet in the very next verse (9:31) the Qur'an seems to imply that Christians and Jews err in considering monks and rabbis as Lords instead of God and Christ.2 (‘Abd al-Jabbar – Critique of Christian Origins: A Parallel English-Arabic Text, edited, translated, and annotated by Gabriel Said Reynolds & Samir Khalil Samir [Brigham Young University Press, Provo, Utah 2010], pp. xxi-xxii; bold emphasis ours)


2. Note, however, that the text is vocalized today with Christ in the accusative so that Christ is grouped with monks and rabbis in this verse. (Ibid., pp. xxii)

We will let Williams solve the mess that he made for himself by posting a tradition which raises more problems than it solves.

So much for William’s argument.