Refutation: Easter Story Found in Quran
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,
This is a response to Answering Islam’s Oksar on, “Easter Story Found in Quran“.
- The Qur’aan on the Death and Resurrection of Jesus.
- When did Jesus Die According to the Qur’aan?
- Why Did Jesus Have to Die?
Oskar deceptively tries to utilize shadh (solitary) opinions from one translator’s understanding of the Qur’aan and pretends as if one person’s opinion overrides that of all the other centuries of Islamic scholarship. Cherry picking to say the very least. Unfortunately for Oskar, his writing was not very convincing, to the point that the only portion of the Easter story he found was maybe the word ‘death’, but not exactly because as he concedes it doesn’t mean ‘death’. In realising his futility he then jumped to the Bible for help which really is inconsistent writing since the topic led me to believe that the arguments were presented from the Qur’aan. Strange guy this Oskar.
The Qur’aan on the Death and Resurrection of Jesus
He begins by misquoting the Qur’aan:
“Muhammad is only a messenger; all the [other] messengers have passed away before him…”
The ayah in question does not mention the word all, the word all is ‘جَمِيعًا’ (Cf. 2:165, 2:29) which is not present in this verse. The word that is used which indicates more than one is rusulu, ‘ الرُّسُلُ’, but this does not mean ‘all’, it means ‘messengers’ which is the plural of rasul (singular). Therefore Oksar’s argument is based on a word which does not exist. I would suggest to Oskar that he read ‘Exegetical Fallacies’ by William D. Barrick, especially the case of the ‘Word Study’. He then quotes Surah 19, Ayah 33 which reads (according to him):
‘So Peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)’
The verse is best rendered as:
“And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will ( أَمُوتُ) die and the day I am raised alive.”
Even if we read Oksar’s translation, ‘Aissa (Jesus) alayhi as salaatu wa salaam does not say “the day that I have died”, since the Qur’aan was revealed after the advent of the Bible, if Jesus did speak these words in relation to the Easter sacrifice, then should it not be “died” as in the past tense from of the word? Yet the word amutu ( أَمُوتُ) is best rendered as “I will die”, an event that is to come and that which has not yet happened. He then quotes another ayah which says (according to Oskar):
Behold! Allah said: ‘O Jesus! I will take thee (Arabic: ‘mutawaffika’) and raise thee to Myself…’ (Surah 3, Ali ‘Imran, 55, also Surah 5, Al Ma’idah, verse 117)
His focus on the word ‘mutawaffika’ actually backfires on him. It means several different things, in the Qur’aan and it is used in the sense of giving something and taking something (sometimes life). When it is used to mean ‘fulfil’ – (وَفَّىٰٓ) ,(أَوْفَىٰ) it is used (18, Cf. 2:27, 2:28, 3:25, 3:57, 3:161, 3:185, 4:173, 8:60, 11:15, 11:111, 16:111, 24:25 ) + (18 – 2:40 (1st time), 2:40 (second time), 3:76, 5:1, 6:152 (twice), 7:85, 11:85), a total of 36 (and an additional 6 [(يَسْتَوْفُ) , (أَوْفَىٰ) , (مُوَفُّو), etc ] other times for other forms not referring to death) times whereas it is only used 24 times as death (تَوَفَّىٰ), see 2:23, 2:24, 3:93, 4:15, 4:97, 5:117, 6:60, 6:61 etc. His argument on grammar ends here and he decided to pursue a more rational process of thought:
If Jesus did not die Surah 19, Maryam, verse 31 would not make sense. There Jesus allegedly said, ‘…and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity so long as I live:’ According to the traditional Muslim view, Jesus was taken up to heaven alive. But nobody can seriously believe that he still gives alms up to this day!
He stops short of presenting the entire Islamic view, as we believe that upon Jesus’ return he will continue to pray and give zakaat. The traditional Muslim view is that Salaah and Zakaat are of this world (the dunya) and Jesus is obviously not in the dunya, he has been raised, so these laws would not apply to him while he is not amongst us (Cf. Tafsir Maar’iful Qur’aan, Surah Maryam : 32). It is important for Oskar to remember, when he references the traditional Muslim view that he should atleast cite or quote a Muslim view. Secondly, when interpreting verses for himself, he must remember that there is his understanding and the Muslim understanding given our ‘aqidah etc, so for him to pervert the understanding of the verse by appealing to the Qur’aan but ignoring the understanding that Muslims have, then he is betraying representing the accurate Muslim study, thus alienating the Muslim perspective. He continues:
The following Hadith about the day of judgement, collected by Al-Bukhari is further proof that Jesus died:
On the authority of Ibn Abbas: The Prophet of Allah said, ‘…Then I will say as the pious slave Jesus, son of Mary, said: ‘And I was a witness over them while I dwelt amongst them. When you caused me to die (‘tawaffaytani’) you were the watcher over them, and you are a witness to all things…’ (Bukhari, Muhammad Ibn Ismail. Sahih of al-Buhari, trans. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, New Delhi: Kitab Bhavan, 1984, vol. 3, number 3263. See also vol. 4, number 4349, 4463.)
This is where I must question Oskar’s comprehension skills. The Day of Judgement is the day when everyone has died and no human has remained alive. So the understanding of this hadith is that it is the day after everyone has died and no one has remained alive, so yes Jesus is dead…..because it is the Day of Judgement. I’m not sure how exactly I’m supposed to point out to Oskar that the earth is destroyed and everyone is raised up on this day (after their deaths) to be judged. He even says it is a hadith about the Day of Judgement, so how exactly he misunderstood what that day is about completely mystifies me. We believe that Jesus will return to the earth (as he does as well) and will then die a natural death, then God will raise him on the Day of Judgement and the hadith records the account he will give.
When did Jesus Die According to the Qur’aan?
Jesus did not die according to Islamic theology which is why it does not mention his death, rather it mentions Allaah’s saving him from death/ murder (Cf. 4:157-158). Thus the Qur’aan is clear on Jesus’ death, he didn’t die or was murdered because God raised him to Himself (Cf. 4:158). He refers to the ahadith as unreliable because he quotes an author who says that the ahadith were transcribed into codices in the 2nd and 3rd centuries after the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) death. What he fails to realise is that these collections are based on the earlier collections, they are [1 – Many thanks to my dear Br. Waqar Cheema who has allowed me to reproduce this information]:
- Abdullah ibn ‘Amr’s (may Allaah be pleased with him) Manuscript:Mujahid said: I saw a manuscript with Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin al-‘As so I asked about it. He said: “This is al-Sadiqa and in it is what I listened to from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him, in it (means narrations therein) there is no step between myself and the Prophet.” (Ibn Sa’d’s Tabaqat al-Kubra Darul Sader ed. 2/373)
Abu Rashid al-Hurani said: I went to ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin al-‘As and I said to him: “Narrate to me what you listened from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him.” He handed me over a manuscript and said: “This is what I wrote from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him …” (Musnad Ahmad, Hadith 6851. Shaykh Shu’aib Arnaut authenticated it)Ali’s (may Allaah be pleased with him) Manuscript:
‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “We have not written anything from the Prophet except the Qur’an and what is in this manuscript …” (Sahih Bukhari, Hadith 3179)
- Abu Hurayrah’s (may Allaah be pleased with him) Collections:Al-Hassan bin ‘Amr said: I mentioned a Hadith to Abu Huraira which he did not acknowledge. I said, “Verily I have listened to it from you.” He said, “If you got it from me then it must be written with me.” He held my hand and took me to his home and we saw many books of Hadith of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him, then we found the Hadith. So he said, “Indeed I told you if I narrated it to you then it is written with me.” (Jami’ Bayan al-‘ilm, Hadith 422)“At Hims you have met seventy of the companions of Messenger of Allah who fought at Badr … Write to me what you have heard of the Ahadith of the Messenger of Allah from his companions, except those of Abu Huraira for they are with us.” (Tabaqat al-Kubra 7/448 Entry: Kathir bin Murrah)
- Anas ibn Malik’s (may Allaah be pleased with him) Manuscript:Ma’bad bin Hilal says: When many of us were with Anas bin Malik he came to us with a manuscript saying, “I heard this from the Prophet, may Allah bless him, and so I wrote it and presented it unto him.” (Mustadrak al-Hakim, Hadith 6452)
In contradiction to Oksar’s claim, he notes (to his credit) that the Qur’aan clearly says that Jesus did not die:
“There is only one reference in the Quran that appears to say when Jesus did not die. It is found in Surah 4, Al Nisa, 157-159″
He labels it as being unclear and qualifies this claim by referencing the Ahamadiyya sect of Islam. To his detriment however, I must call him out on his standards. Does he accept that the Bible’s verses of Jesus’ ‘deity/ personhood‘ are unclear because of other Christian sect’s interpretation of them? Does he accept that the verses used for Trinitarian dogma are unclear because of Unitarian interpretations? If not, then he is openly implying that this logic is clearly inconsistent and easily dismissed. If his very own methodology cannot be applied to his own scripture/ faith, then he is in clear denial. I assume for the next point that I am about to make that Oskar is not proficient in English, concerning Qur’aan 4:157-159, he says:
The Jews were boasting THEY had crucified and killed Jesus because they were convinced he was a false prophet. Against their arrogance verse 157 says, ‘THEY slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them.’ The Biblical accounts tell us that Jesus was ultimately not killed by the Jews, but because God brought about his deliberate and well thought out plan.
However, he has failed to take the verse’s context into consideration:
And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain. – Qur’aan 4:157.
There is a distinction between ‘killing’ and crucifixion’. The Jews killed (death by stoning) and the Romans crucified. Therefore the Qur’aan is clearly saying that neither the Jews nor the Romans murdered Christ. Oskar’s interpretation failed to take into consideration the distinction of the method of punishment of the Jews and that of the Romans. Therefore his interpretation is inconsistent not only historically, but also textually with the Qur’aan. His other point was indeed a bit fanciful, he says:
From a Christian point of view it is totally unacceptable to think that He would be responsible for misleading 1.3 billion people who call themselves Christians today! Some Muslims will say, ‘Allah can do whatever He wants. If it pleases Him, to mislead all the Christians, He has the right to do so!’
There is a problem with Oskar’s logic. If God saved Christ, what would lead persons to rationally believe that God had in fact, died? If these were religious Jews of whom where Christ’s disciples (Cf. Acts 21, Acts 15, Galatians 2, and of which the Bible indicates they are) then it would be very difficult to believe that they accepted a man as a God, or that God essentially killed himself/ died. It is fair enough to say, using Oskar’s logic, that it is YHWH’s fault that the Jews rejected him because of the Torah which He revealed to them. The Jews, using the Torah to this day reject Jesus as the Messiah, therefore, has YHWH deceived the Jews by revealing to them a scripture which they can use to deny Jesus as the Messiah? Surely this logic does not hold. He went on to say:
However, Muslims who believe that Jesus was just a messenger will have to answer the following question: ‘Mere men may only be able to go to Paradise. Since it is created Allah will not be there because he is completely separate from his creation according to Islam. Does not the fact that ‘Allah raised Jesus up unto himself‘ prove that Jesus was more than just another prophet?’
Here’s the logic combo breaker, without delving into too much discussion of Islamic doctrine/ creed (‘aqidah), we say that the creation can be with Allaah. For example, we read of Satan’s place among the angels before God, and Adam + Hawa ‘s (may God be pleased with them both) being before God. So if indeed God did raise Jesus to Himself, it is no problem for us or our doctrine. Clearly Oskar’s argument was a half thought as opposed to fully explored. He proceeded to say:
Verse 159 seems to say that none of the Jews will believe in Jesus before they die and on the day of resurrection it will be too late for them to change their minds.
The word ‘seems’ is very important, as Oskar’s eisegesis is incorrect. The verse actually means that the Jews will not believe in the truth about Christ, either they accept his as false Prophet or they convert to Messianic Judaism and take him as a deity with YHWH, which we hold to be not true about Christ.
Why Did Jesus Have to Die?
According to Oskar the reasons he gives are as such:
- To Restore God’s Honour.
- To meet the demand of God’s justice and love.
I’m not sure if I want to argue with Oskar on this. If he believes that his God is dishonorable then who I am to disagree with him? I am quite happy to commend him on establishing that his God is liable to being dishonorable. As Muslims, we believe that God is free from defect and error, here we have Oskar giving us Muslims a reason to deny Christian beliefs, he wants us to believe that God screwed up and is dishonorable. I say Amen to that brother Oskar, if that is the God you believe in, then I’m quite happy to be Muslim.
As for ‘God’s justice and love’, he says:
He loves us so much (John 3:16) that in His mercy he chooses to forgive our sins. But if He would forgive our sins without punishment, then in His mercy He would become unjust!
This is where Oskar goes into ‘evangelical preaching mode’. Sad to say, but his logic here is faulty. What is a sin? Sin is disobedience to God. Now, God is the Just, so whatever He says is moral, is moral and what He says is immoral, is immoral. Both Muslims and Christians accept this (and theists in general). We also believe that God can forgive sins. What is the meaning of forgive? It means to ‘pardon or excuse‘. The question has to be asked: why can’t God pardon or excuse sin without requiring punishment? If God is the Just, then He can forgive (pardon or excuse) sin. I say this because forgiveness has conditions! Forgiveness would only be unjust (according to Oskar’s theology) if God did not place conditions on the believer to earn forgiveness. In the case of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the conditions are to repent and make atonement. Jesus preached the following message before his ‘death’ in the New Testament:
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
Why would Jesus teach the disciples to pray for forgiveness, if God could not forgive them? In comparison, the same verse also says that humans could forgive, so why can’t God? It would therefore be an inherit contradiction to say that humans can forgive, but an All Powerful God, cannot. Jesus’ message would also be rendered inconsistent if he preached a lie (that God can forgive without his dying, as this was taught to the disciples long before the alleged crucifixion).
Clearly, we see a forced and faulty study of a missionary who is desperate to justify his beliefs. Perhaps Oskar is in doubt and is searching in haste for an answer so he can finally be at peace with the errant faith he currently (but loosely) holds to. We know that the Bible as a scripture is largely uncertain and full of doubts, we know that the Gospels conflict regarding the death of Christ to the point that they seem made up and that Christ as a human did,