It is often posed in self defense by Christian apologists that the Trinity doctrine delineated and disposed by the Quran carries no connection to the notion held by vast majority or orthodox Christians, and thus it not only fails to falsify the established creed but also carries a gargantuan theological error. ‘The Quran got the Trinity wrong’, they say, when it describes the Trinity as consisting of the Father, Mother, and Son. And so is postulated the argument that since the Quran never actually confronts the orthodox Trinity Muslims hold no solid ground in founding their rejection and objection on the Quran. And since it could not even grasp the real thing this also brings into question the Quran’s claim to divine authority.

In answering this objection some Muslim respondents insist on denying the Quran ever speaks of a Trinity as such. They read the text as mere negation of Mariolatry or deification of mother Mary[p] some Christians might express in their invocations and eulogies. The Quranic text, however, hardly takes any deciphering and provides the reader its simple conclusion which may go lost to one who fails to appreciate the context;

لَّقَدْ كَفَرَ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ ثَالِثُ ثَلَاثَةٍ ۘ وَمَا مِنْ إِلَٰهٍ إِلَّا إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۚ وَإِن لَّمْ يَنتَهُوا عَمَّا يَقُولُونَ لَيَمَسَّنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ أَفَلَا يَتُوبُونَ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَيَسْتَغْفِرُونَهُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ مَّا الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ وَأُمُّهُ صِدِّيقَةٌ ۖ كَانَا يَأْكُلَانِ الطَّعَامَ ۗ انظُرْ كَيْفَ نُبَيِّنُ لَهُمُ الْآيَاتِ ثُمَّ انظُرْ أَنَّىٰ يُؤْفَكُونَ

Indeed those who say: “Allah is the third of the Trinity” became unbelievers, for there is but One God. If they do not desist in what they say a painful punishment will afflict those of them that disbelieve. Will they not turn to Allah in repentance and ask His forgiveness? He is Forgiving, Merciful. The Messiah, son of Mary, was not but a messenger (just as) other messengers had gone before him, and his mother a siddeeqah[i]. They both ate food! See how We make Our signs plain to them, then observe how they turn away (Quran 5:73-75).

In its denunciation it is evident the Quran does describe Mary as the second person of the Trinity, albeit implicitly, inasmuch as Jesus[p] is being rejected as the ‘third of three’. Then immediately the intimation moves to remove Mary from the God mix. Having said that, what is worth deliberation here is many a times Quranic statements that deal in denunciation come as responses to questions posed or tenets held by contemporaries of the 7th century prophet Mohammad[p]. Here likewise the Quran appears to be addressing a prevalent situation and challenges a belief not uncommon to and perhaps even upheld by some among Christians of the time. Consider that if such a belief were not prevalent the need to encasket the notion would seem redundant. But the fact that the Quran does shows at least some fringe sect did indeed entertain this heresy.

Now the question arises as to whether the Quran deals with the Trinity proper. In truth there are two places where the Quran brings the Trinity under stricture. But before we proceed to the second of the two passages it would be expedient to reiterate the importance of realizing that primarily the Quranic address is to its immediate addressees; the people of Makkah and Arabia, and so it naturally must first deal with notions prevalent among them. And the Quran does exactly this; it deals with specific concerns and then moves on to address issues in a more general light. Take for instance the image of Jenna or paradise in the Quran which is presented in typical bedouin Arabian flavor with overflowing milk and honey and prolonged shades. Whereas, in general it assures everyone that therein ‘whatever ye wish shall have’. And so after having dealt with a local familial variant of the Christian Trinity in Surah 5 al-Maidah, the Quran moves on to tackle the traditional version in Surah 4 al-Nisaa;

يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لَا تَغْلُوا فِي دِينِكُمْ وَلَا تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ إِلَّا الْحَقَّ ۚ إِنَّمَا الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ وَكَلِمَتُهُ أَلْقَاهَا إِلَىٰ مَرْيَمَ وَرُوحٌ مِّنْهُ ۖ فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِ ۖ وَلَا تَقُولُوا ثَلَاثَةٌ ۚ انتَهُوا خَيْرًا لَّكُمْ ۚ إِنَّمَا اللَّهُ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ سُبْحَانَهُ أَن يَكُونَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ ۘ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ وَكِيلًا لَّن يَسْتَنكِفَ الْمَسِيحُ أَن يَكُونَ عَبْدًا لِّلَّهِ وَلَا الْمَلَائِكَةُ الْمُقَرَّبُونَ ۚ وَمَن يَسْتَنكِفْ عَنْ عِبَادَتِهِ وَيَسْتَكْبِرْ فَسَيَحْشُرُهُمْ إِلَيْهِ جَمِيعًا

O People of the Book! Go not beyond bounds in your religion and speak not regarding God except the (revealed) truth. Verily the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, is only a messenger of God, and His command which He imparted unto to Mary as a spirit from Him. So believe in God and His messengers (of old) and say not “Trinity”, refrain to your own welfare. Verily God is only One God. Glory be to Him – that He should have a son! To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and in the earth; God (alone) suffices as (its) guardian. The Messiah will not disdain to be a servant of God, nor the Angels of the Presence[ii]; for whosoever disdains to serve Him and waxes proud, He will assuredly muster them to Him, all of them (Quran 4:171-72).

In this second instant not only are the subjects of the Trinity not those of previous but their order is slightly but significantly altered. Here the persons unmistakably are: God, Messiah, and the Angels, in exact Christian creedal order. The addition to and allotment of ‘Angels’ to the third spot on the Trinity roster not only promotes Jesus to the second (mark the contrast from Surah 5) but crucially also identifies the Holy Spirit as the Archangel (presumably Gabriel or Michael or both [See: Q.2:98]). And I insist with good certainty the Bible also bears quite the same testimony [Read: Lk.12:8-10; 9:26, 34-35; Cf. Mat.28:19; Also: 2Ch.18:18-22].

So what we take out of this exposé is not to conflate two distinct critiques of the Trinity doctrine offered in all probability to two different denominations of Christians among the immediate addressees of the prophet Mohammad. In Surah 5 a particular group is called to account while Surah 4 targets a more universal form of Trinitarianism.

In conclusion I should add sort of a disclaimer in that whatever conclusion drawn here simply represents my limited study and scope and naturally it by no means is impervious to miscomprehension. But I feel very confident the issue as dealt herein is closer to the Quranic intent and the best opinion I have known. If something better pops up I will not be shy to amend my views.

——————————————-
[i] Admittedly I was unsure of the correct connotation the word “siddeeqah” carries. Translations I have come across show little harmony when contextualized. It seems to have been used here as a religious epithet as she was foremost and firm in ‘attesting’ Christ, perhaps in contradistinction to her Gospel portrayal where she appears ‘unsure’ to put softly [Mr.3:21]. Until a proper rendition comes up I prefer to leave it un-touched.

[ii] I have so rendered “al-malaaikatu’l-muqarraboon” (lit. angels brought near) for the purpose of explanatory identification [See: Ex.23:20-22; Isa.63:9; Lk.1:19].

عیسٰی علیہ السلام کے اِس وعظ کو اخلاقی تعلیمات کا شاندار نمونہ مانا گیا ہے۔ اس میں دین کی اصل یعنی اخلاقیات جس حُسن وفِراست سے بیان ہوئی ہیں شاید تمام الہامی لٹریچر میں اس کی مثال نہیں۔ اس کا مقصد انسانی شعور کی بیداری ، تادیبِ نفس، ہمدردی اور انصاف پسندی جیسی اعلٰی اقدار کو اُجاگر کرنا ہے۔ آج جب مذہب محض چند ظاہری رسوم و تہوار کا مجموعہ بن کے رہ گیا ہے اس وعظ کا پرچار اور ہماری زندگی میں اس کے ساتھ ایک زندہ تعلق نہایت اہمیت رکھتا ہے۔  یہ پوری انجیل کا نِچوڑ، مسیح کے مستند اقوال، اور بلا شبہ وہ نور ہے جس کی طرف قرآن ہمیں بلاتا ہے۔

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Salam,

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him [Deut.18:18 NIV].

A considerate look at the overall context of this ‘prophecy’ reveals the erroneousness of both Muslims and Christians in their respective propositions. Muslims in general point to the prophetic mission of Muhammad[p] as the ideal referent, while, most Christians have always associated it with and viewed Christ[p] as fulfillment of yet another Old Testament prophecy.

In negation of my previous view, which was admittedly borne out of Muslim favoritism, I now suggest this passage concerns not a certain individual with particularity. Its immediate context, starting from v.9, points to the office of prophethood in general. Israel is admonished against turning to diviners and wizards who indulge abominable practices for supernatural commune and future foretelling [vv.9-14], hence receive assurance, out of personal request, of a continuous chain of prophets who, like Moses[p], would communicate unto them divine directives [v.15ff]. If the promise were pertaining a particular individual, the overall context would seem incoherent. The use of singular pronouns are actually collective singulars as in Isaian Servant songs [cf. v.22], and Deut.34:10 need not be seen as any hindrance either, since it magnifies Moses'[p] un-parallel dignity and status among Israelite prophets, whereas our passage merely concerns prophetic function [Ex.19:16-19].

Most crucially, this ‘prophecy’ could not be concerning Christ[p] since the very idea of a savior messiah was not yet formulated, coming to fore during the post-exile period. Jesus[p] himself never cited it in self-designation, remarkable considering Jesus[p] feels at home using, of frequency, his other messianic titles. Jn.1:45, 6:14, Act.3:22, 7:37 are confronted by Jn.1:19-21 and 7:40-41, and may well be described as devout zealousness. Neither does the Quran make any claim thereto, despite stressing the Prophet[p] being mentioned by name in the Bible. Q.73:15-17 merely stresses similar outcome of Meccan disbelievers as that of Pharaoh’s legions afore. Deut.17:15, which arguably shows the passage concerns Israelites alone, is enough in miscarrying the Muslim misconception.

Moreover, this ‘prophecy’ is no prophecy, rather, annunciation of God’s future scheme regarding the station of prophethood within Israel in compliance with her wish [Ex.20:18-21]. It is well-known that before Moses[p], prophets were appointed few and far between. The declaration concerns commencement of an un-broken succession of prophets among Israelites after Moses[p] [Q.2:87]. Hence, no particular individual is alluded here. The best inference one could achieve is an implicit one; that, since prophethood is the subject-matter and Jesus[p] is one of, if not the greatest, prophet in Israelite religious history, he more than anyone is here referenced. Yet any such deduction is naturally secondary and un-told in the text’s primary intent.

Regards.

Sawm

Posted: July 10, 2013 in Islam
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“Fasting (sawm) is the third pillar of Islam. Right from dawn till dusk, a man who is strictly on a fast will neither eat so much as one morsel of food nor drink so much as one drop of water. By submitting to this discipline, that is, by depriving himself of the prime  necessities of life, he learns the valuable lesson of fortitude. With no food and drink, he naturally feels hungry and thirsty, and his strength begins to ebb. The entire routine of his life is severely disturbed and his whole system is upset. But, out of a high sense of discipline, he braves all these difficulties and discomforts, and, remaining alert and never losing heart, he steadfastly discharges his duties. Food and drink may be temptingly placed before him, but, despite an overwhelming urge to have both, he will not even touch them. In this way, he prepares himself for a well-regulated and responsible life, doing only what is his duty and refraining from pernicious acts and  habits. He is thus strengthened to continue with his mission in life, no matter how he may be beset by adversity.

God has endowed man with innumerable gifts, but, all too often, he takes them for granted without any feelings of gratitude. Countless benefits like the air, the sun, the water, have been showered upon man, the absence of anyone of which would cast his delicately balanced system into a living hell. But because he has received these things without any effort on his part, he sets no great value upon them, and hardly ever stops to ponder upon how they came to be his.

It is only when fasting temporarily curbs the satisfying of his desires that his consciousness of the value of these divine gifts is awakened. When, at sunset, after a whole day’s hunger, thirst and the accompanying  discomfort and fatigue, a man begins to eat and drink, he becomes fully aware of his utter dependence on God’s bounty. He is then filled with gratitude towards God and the realization comes to him that, even were he to lay down his life for this Bountiful Creator, the price he should have to pay would not be too high.

The life of believer in this world is one of fortitude and forbearance, limited as it is to the enjoyment of whatever is allowed by God and avoidance of whatever is forbidden by Him. It will naturally be beset by all the difficulties encountered in the path of righteousness and truth, and the believer must staunchly face up to them. Much of his time must be given to such activity, and no precious moment can be wasted in stooping to revenge himself upon adversaries who have made him object of their spite and malice. On the contrary, the slights and injuries of this world should leave him undaunted; he should be able simply to take such untoward incidents in his stride so that he may continue unflinchingly to discharge his duties. Whenever his pride has been hurt, or whenever some unpleasantness has left him in a state of agitation, he must guard against adopting a negative attitude – for this is sheer weakness! – and must continue to devote his energies in a positive manner to worthy objectives. Nothing, in fact, should stop him, or even slow him down in his progress towards the Hereafter.

All of this demands enormous fortitude, and, without it, no one can travel along the path of Islam. The annual month-long period of fasting builds up the strength of character which is essential, if devout Muslims are to tread the path of righteousness for the rest of  the year, avoiding impatience, cruelty and all such evil acts, and making no attempt to meddle with divine commandments. While in its outward form, fasting means abstinence from food and drink for a given period, in essence, it is training for a whole life of self-denial, inculcating patience, fortitude and forbearance”

[Wahiduddin Khan, Islam, the Voice of Human Nature, pp.68-71].

Sog

Christians regard the ‘Son of God’ phrase used by Jesus[p] as a personal pronoun in the New Testament (four Gospels) as self-consciousness of deity on Jesus’[p] part, whereas, Muslims have contrastingly seen the term carrying no more significance than mere expression of servitude, righteousness, and God-affiliation. At our previous attempt of expounding ‘What Son of God Really Means…’, we presented that very custom Muslim stance, but have since discovered that sonship in Bibliology means more, a lot more, hence this work, which might be read as emendation of our previous views. Herein, we’ve alluded the origin, nature, and history of the phrase in a simple and concise way, yet evoke Scripture familiarity and background knowledge about the contention. All in all, this presents Christians a new but quite inherent way of interpreting the term, placing the Son of God in his ‘proper’ religious and historic context.

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An Islamized exposition of the Transfiguration narrative.

transfiguration

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Muslims in general hold wishing “Merry Christmas” abominable since it ‘implies’ attesting God’s incarnation in Christ[p] on the 25th of December. However, in my personal opinion, this implication is implied not inherent. “Merry Christmas” only pertains to greeting Christians on the occasion of festivity upon their designated date for the birth of Christ[p]. As such, Christmas compliments are equivalent to any Eid greeting and therefore not detestable.

Is it adviseable to offer respects and hold non-Muslims in regard? I believe so. Most significant part of being Muslim is to be at peace with God, and one cannot be at peace with God so long as he is not peaceful and concerned toward others, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. God does not discriminate as to who be recipient of divine favor – whoever does good shall reap its reward – Muslims are likewise required to spread peace and guidance to all yearners regardless of their prior commitments.

Moreover, greetings bring people closer and how are we to invite and aware Christians to the Islamic Christ[p] if we distance ourselves from them? Wishes are also a way of expressing one’s concern for the other, and often bring opportunity for dialogue and da‘wah. Who knows a Christians, if Allaah wills, may well end up receiving guidance as a result?

In general, Christians to their credit find no hindrance in wishing us “Eid Mubaarak” even though it could mean to imply validity of prophet Muhammad’s[p] prophet-hood, Muslims are obliged by the Qur’an to give back something in a more handsome gesture [4:86].