Author Archives: Hamza A.A.

A Brief Refutation of the Gharaniq (Satanic Verses) Claim

A Brief Refutation of the Gharaniq (Satanic Verses) Claim by Hamza AA

This topic has been often been used by missionaries and Islamophobes to cast doubts about Islam, as such it merits at least a brief response.

What is the Gharaniq (Satanic Verses) Claim?

According to the fictional story, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) wished that Allah would reveal verses (of the Qur’an) so that he could have reconciled with his tribe. Satan took this opportunity to manipulate the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) mind with certain words, which he mistook for Qur’anic verses, and recited them in praise of pagan idols.

By the Star when it sets, your comrade does not err, nor is he deceived; nor does he speak out of (his own) desire …

and when he came to the words:

Have you thought upon al-Lat and al-Uzza and Manat, the third, the other?

Satan cast on his tongue (because of his desire for reconciliation with his tribe) the words:

These are the high-flying cranes; verily their intercession is accepted with approval

Upon hearing these verses, the Muslims and pagans jointly prostrated in worship. Later, Angel Gabriel appeared to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and informed him that he (Gabriel) had not revealed those words to him. The Prophet got very upset with himself for having lied about God and falsely promoting the worship of idols. God then comforted him with the claim that such confusion had happened to all Prophets (peace be upon them) in the past:

And We did not send before you any messenger or prophet except that when he spoke [or recited], Satan threw into it [some misunderstanding]. But Allah abolishes that which Satan throws in; then Allah makes precise His verses. And Allah is Knowing and Wise. (22: 52)

The Prophet then publicly retracted the false verse:

He certainly saw of the greatest signs of his Lord. (53:18) So have you considered al-Lat and al-‘Uzza? (53:19)  And Manat, the third – the other one? (53:20)

This in turn angered the pagans who rejected and hated Islam.
An example From Tabari [1192-1193], vol. 6, pp. 108-110 reads:

“Ibn Humayd – Salamah – Muhammad b. Ishaq – Yazid b. Ziyad al-Madani – Muhammad b. Ka’b al-Qurazi: When the Messenger of God saw how his tribe turned their backs on him and was grieved to see them shunning the message he had brought to them from God, he longed in his soul that something would come to him from God which would reconcile him with his tribe. With his love for his tribe and his eagerness for their welfare it would have delighted him if some of the difficulties which they made for him could have been smoothed out, and he debated with himself and fervently desired such an outcome. Then God revealed:

By the Star when it sets, your comrade does not err, nor is he deceived; nor does he speak out of (his own) desire …and when he came to the words:

Have you thought upon al-Lat and al-Uzza and Manat, the third, the other?

Satan cast on his tongue, because of his inner debates and what he desired to bring to his people, the words:

These are the high-flying cranes; verily their intercession is accepted with approval.

When the Quraysh heard this, they rejoiced and were happy and delighted at the way in which he spoke of their gods, and they listened to him, while the Muslims, having complete trust in their Prophet in respect of the messages which he brought from God, did not suspect him of error, illusion, or mistake. When he came to the prostration, having completed the surah, he prostrated himself and the Muslims did likewise, following their Prophet, trusting in the message which he had brought and following his example….The Quraysh left delighted by the mention of their gods which they had heard, saying, ‘Muhammad has mentioned our gods in the most favorable way possible, stating in his recitation that they are the high-flying cranes and that their intercession is received with approval.’

…Then Gabriel came to the Messenger of God and said, ‘Muhammad, what have you done? You have recited to the people that which I did not bring to you from God, and you have said that which was not said to you.’ Then the Messenger of God was much grieved and feared God greatly, but God sent down a revelation to him, for He was merciful to him, consoling him and making the matter light for him, informing him that there had never been a prophet or a messenger before him who desired as he desired and wished as he wished but that Satan had cast words into his recitation, as he had cast words on Muhammad’s tongue. Then God cancelled what Satan had thus cast, and established his verses by telling him that he was like other prophets and messengers, and revealed:

Never did we send a messenger or a prophet before you but that when he recited (the Message) Satan cast words into his recitation (umniyyah). God abrogates what Satan casts. Then God established his verses. God is knower, wise.

Thus God removed the sorrow from his Messenger, reassured him about that which he had feared and cancelled the words which Satan had cast on his tongue … Those two phrases which Satan had cast on the tongue of the Messenger of God were in the mouth of every polytheists …”

Brief Rebuttal:

Although a minority of scholars have adopted the Gharaniq story, such as Tabbari in his exegetical work, Ibn Ishaq, and Al-Wahidi in his renowned classic work Asbab al Nuzul, the vast majority of scholars have rejected it. We should further add that the story neither exists in the Qur’an, nor is it located in any main hadith collection (at least what is considered as Sahih). As for the narration and authors that narrate the story we must ask several questions:

Is the Isnad (Line of Transmission)  and Matn (content) reliable ?

1)  a) It’s absurd to place any source whose accuracy of preservation or narration is not equivalent to that of the Qur’an or as equally credible (muttawatir).

These are the verses of Allah which We recite to you in truth. Then in what statement after Allah and His verses will they believe (Quran  45:6)

b)  In the beginning of Al Tabbari’s work on the History of the Prophet (peace be upon him) he warns the readers of the following:

Let him who examines this book of mine know that I have relied, as regards everything I mention therein which I stipulate to be described by me, solely upon what has been transmitted to me by way of reports which I cite therein and traditions which I ascribe to their narrators, to the exclusion of what may be apprehended by rational argument or deduced by the human mind, except in very few cases. This is because knowledge of the reports of men of the past and of contemporaneous views of men of the present do not reach the one who has not witnessed them nor lived in their times except through the accounts of reporters and the transmission of transmitters, to the exclusion of rational deduction and mental inference. Hence, if I mention in this book a report about some men of the past, which the reader of listener finds objectionable or worthy of censure because he can see no aspect of truth nor any factual substance therein, let him know that this is not to be attributed to us but to those who transmitted it to us and we have merely passed this on as it has been passed on to us  (Source: Abu Ja`far Muhammad bin Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari: Tarikh al-Umam wal-Muluk, 1997, Volume I, Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut (Lebanon), p. 13.)

In other words, Al Tabbari informs us that he gathered informative records as they were passed on to him and if we find any errors, we should disregard those records.

c) Ibn Ishaq has been criticized for the inaccuracies of his work:

– Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal was asked about the solitary reports of Ibn Ishaq if they are considered reliable. He said “No!”. See Tahdhib al-Tahdhib, Da’ira Ma’arif Nizamia, Hyderabad, 1326 A.H. vol.9 p.43

– Imam Malik was not the only contemporary of Ibn Ishaq’s to have problems with him. Despite writing the earliest biography of Prophet Muhammad, Scholars such as al-Nisa’I and Yahya b. Kattan did not view Ibn Ishaq as a reliable or authoritative source of Hadith. (Jones, J.M.B. Ibn Ishak. Vol. IV, in Encyclopaedia of Islam, edited by Ch. Pellat, and J. SchachtV.L.M.B. Lewis. London: Luzac & Co., 1971: pages 810-811)

d) It is clear that Waqidi is in fact the senior partner. Ibn Sa’d, known of course as ‘Katib al-Waqidi’, was a secretary-editor of his master and of the materials he had assembled and then amplified. Waqidi was attacked for loose isnad usage by strict practitioners of Hadith. (T. Khalidi, Arabic Historical Thought In The Classical Period, 1994, Cambridge University Press, p. 47 , 48)

2) It is irrational to claim that the Prophet (peace be upon him) would be confused in reciting verses praising idols, whichwould flat out contradict the basic fundamental teaching of Islam, the Tawhid (The oneness of God).

Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin. (Quran 4:48)

Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly gone far astray.  (Quran 4:116)

And it was already revealed to you and to those before you that if you should associate [anything] with Allah , your work would surely become worthless, and you would surely be among the losers.” (Quran 39:65)

3) Historically the Gharaniq story does not add up. According to the story:

– The Satanic verses were revealed roughly around the Fifth year of the Prophetic call (Eight years before the Prophet made Hijrah [Migration to city of Madinah]).

–  The Gharaniq story states that verses 73-75  of Surah 17 were revealed to reprimand the Prophet (please note: the correct context of these verses is provide in point 4, section C) for reciting the so called satanic verses. Yet, it is known that these verses were not revealed before the Miraj event (when the Prophet [peace be upon him] ascended to heaven). This event is historically dated no earlier than the 10th year of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) call (in other words at least three years before the Prophet’s Hijrah [Migration) to the city of Madina].

–  The Qur’anic verse 22:52 was revealed the first year of Hijrah.

Taking the above details into consideration, how rational is it that the satanic verses would be revealed in the fifth year before the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) Hijrah and as such, God’s admonishment and rectification of these false narrations would be revealed roughly 5 to 9 years later? Are we to presuppose that the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Muslim companions would be associating partners with Allah (shirk) for at least 6 years before these verses were nullified and rectified?

4) Had the Gharaniq story been historically true, the Qur’an would have to explicitly address it, while on the contrary:

a) The Qur’an provides assurances that it is divinely protected and impenetrable by falsehood:

Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian. (Quran 15:9)

Indeed, those who disbelieve in the message after it has come to them… And indeed, it is a mighty Book. Falsehood cannot approach it from before it or from behind it; [it is] a revelation from a [Lord who is] Wise and Praiseworthy. (Quran 41:41-42)

b) The Qur’an clearly confirms that had the Prophet (peace be upon him) recited any falsehood he would swiftly be punished:

So I swear by what you see (69:38)  So I swear by what you see (69:39) [That] indeed, the Qur’an is the word of a noble Messenger. (69:40) And it is not the word of a poet; little do you believe. (69:41) Nor the word of a soothsayer; little do you remember. (69:42) [It is] a revelation from the Lord of the worlds. (69:43) And if Muhammad had made up about Us some [false] sayings, (69:44)  We would have seized him by the right hand; (69:45) Then We would have cut from him the aorta. (69:46)  And there is no one of you who could prevent [Us] from him. (69:47)

c) The Qur’an states the Prophet (peace be upon him) was protected from being seduced by the disbelievers. Had he followed the disbelievers, he would have been severely punished:

And indeed, they were about to tempt you away from that which We revealed to you in order to [make] you invent about Us something else; and then they would have taken you as a friend. (17:73) And if We had not strengthened you, you would have almost inclined to them a little. (17:74) Then [if you had], We would have made you taste double [punishment in] life and double [after] death. Then you would not find for yourself against Us a helper. (17: 75)

d) The Qur’an states that when the Prophet (peace be upon him) preached the Qur’anic revelation, he spoke not of his own desires but from that of divine inspiration:

Your friend (Muhammad) was not astray, nor was he deceived. (53:2) Nor was he speaking out of a personal desire.(53:3) It was divine inspiration (53:4)

5) Clarifying the misinterpreted verses in the Gharaniq Story.
a) A closer look at Qur’an 53:18:28 –

He certainly saw of the greatest signs of his Lord. (53:18) So have you considered al-Lat and al-‘Uzza? (53:19) And Manat, the third – the other one? (53:20)  Is the male for you and for Him the female? (53:21) That, then, is an unjust division. (53:22) They are not but [mere] names you have named them – you and your forefathers – for which Allah has sent down no authority. They follow not except assumption and what [their] souls desire, and there has already come to them from their Lord guidance. (53:23) Or is there for man whatever he wishes? (53:24) Rather, to Allah belongs the Hereafter and the first [life]. (53:25) And how many angels there are in the heavens whose intercession will not avail at all except [only] after Allah has permitted [it] to whom He wills and approves. (53:26) Indeed, those who do not believe in the Hereafter name the angels female names, (53:27)  And they have thereof no knowledge. They follow not except assumption, and indeed, assumption avails not against the truth at all. (53:28)

The above verses sarcastically rebuff the pagan idols and it would make no sense to glorify the pagan idols after verses 53:18-20. The Qur’anic verses accuse the pagans of falsely attributing names and authority to idols, basing their belief on nothing but assumptions.

In other words, what kind of divine revelation would in one sentence praise the idols, while later on deprecating them with such vehemence and intensity? How could such a blatant contradiction within two consecutive sentences be explained or justified?

b) A closer  look at Qur’an 22: 52-54 –

And We did not send before you any messenger or prophet except that when he spoke [or recited], Satan threw into it [some misunderstanding]. But Allah abolishes that which Satan throws in; then Allah makes precise His verses. And Allah is Knowing and Wise. (22:52) [That is] so He may make what Satan throws in a trial for those within whose hearts is disease and those hard of heart. And indeed, the wrongdoers are in extreme dissension. (22:53) And so those who were given knowledge may know that it is the truth from your Lord and [therefore] believe in it, and their hearts humbly submit to it. And indeed is Allah the Guide of those who have believed to a straight path. (22:54)

There is no explicit understanding that shows Satan confused the Prophet (peace be upon him) to recite those false verses. On the contrary, whatever malicious words Satan tried to throw in order to confuse the Prophet (peace be upon him) are nullified, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was protected from these temptations, and Allah’s words prevailed.

6) It would be ironic that once the Prophet (peace be upon him) recited these Satanic verses that both the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and pagans without hesitation and defiance would prostrate themselves willingly.

For instance, in a previous historical event the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) grew angry and objected that the Prophet (peace be upon him) signed a certain treaty (The Treaty of Hudaybiah; little did they know it was for their benefit) with the Quraish pagans and agreed not to enter Mecca until the next year. If the companions were willing to object to such an event of less importance, why would they not be willing to rebuke in anger the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) allegedly contradictory words, while prostrating to idols in total submission?

As for the pagans, after years of fighting the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his beliefs (Tawheed), why would they simply bow their heads to verses that were recited without hesitation or questioning.

7) Had the Gharniq story actually happened, the damage would have been irreparable:

a) It would have caused a drastic confusion in regards to the authenticity of what was being revealed (the Qur’an). The believers wouldn’t have known whether the recited words were divine or satanic.

b) If Satan had succeeded to confuse the Prophet (peace be upon him) once, he could have successfully done it several times.

c) Contradictory statements would have lead believers to leave Islam.

d) If the Prophet (peace be upon him) was confused by Satan, what would prevent the same thing from happening to the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) upon reciting the Qur’an or anything else?

Conclusion:

Regardless from which perspective we examine this claim, the Satanic Verses allegation fails every test of authenticity, whether historically, chronologically, contextually, and logically. Therefore, this claim should be disregarded without thinking twice.

Who Heard the Prayer of Gethsemane?

Who heard the prayer in Gethsemane?

Reading through the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane’s Garden struck my attention. A prayer which showed unwillingness and submission from the son to the father, but what struck me the most was the confusion of who heard the prayer and how was it recorded in three of the four above gospels?

After the last supper Jesus predicts Judas’ betrayal as well as Peter’s denial. Jesus takes his disciples and goes to Gethsemane. He requests from his disciples to stay while he goes further away to pray taking with him only Peter, James and John in which he then asks them to keep watch as he moves further away from them in order to pray as he felt sorrowful and troubled.

Matthew 26
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Mark 14
32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” 35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

What was the distance Jesus moved away from the disciples (Peter, James and John)? The Gospel of Luke provides us with an estimation.

Luke 22
39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 HE WITHDREW ABOUT A STONE’S THROW BEYOND THEM, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

For further clarification let’s look at Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

And he was withdrawn from them, That is, from the three disciples, Peter, James, and John, whom he took along with him, leaving the rest at some further distance; and from these he removed,  about a stone’s cast; fifty, or sixty feet(1) from the place where they were:

and kneeled down and prayed; the following prayer.

Fifty to sixty is between 15.24 to 18.288 meters

Having noticed that Jesus distanced himself from the disciples and remained in solitude praying (where he could not be heard) taking breaks to check on his disciples only to find them fallen asleep.

Matthew 26
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Mark 14
37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. 41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping a:? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Luke 22
45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

In conclusion, as the disciples were distanced away from Jesus and since they were constantly falling asleep, the question we ask again is who heard Jesus’ prayer and how were they recorded into the Bible? Interestingly the Gospel according to John does not mention specifically what took place in the prayer and simply states the following:

John 18
18 When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.

Bible: Jesus was Impure

Jesus’ Divine Birth .

To Trinitarian Christians, ‘The word ‘(God) became flesh ,

John 1: 14
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

How did God become flesh?

Luke 1: 35
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

Now as we can see from above in accordance to Christian belief, baby (god) Jesus was in the womb of Mary for around nine months and then delivered into this world acting like all babies do crying, eating, drinking, secreting faeces … who would then later grow in wisdom and age.

Luke 2:52
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

What is more puzzling is the idea that the birth of (god) Jesus would leave his mother (Mary) unclean, We read in Luke 2: 22-24:

22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”]), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “A pair of doves or two young pigeons.

Why a pair of doves and what does it mean? In order to clearly understand, we would have to go to Leviticus 12

Purification After Childbirth
12 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. 3 On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. 4 Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over. 5 If she gives birth to a daughter, for two weeks the woman will be unclean, as during her period. Then she must wait sixty-six days to be purified from her bleeding.6 “‘WHEN THE DAYS OF HER PURIFICATION FOR A SON OR DAUGHTER ARE OVER, SHE IS TO BRING TO THE PRIEST AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE TENT OF MEETING A YEAR-OLD LAMB FOR A BURNT OFFERING AND A YOUNG PIGEON OR A DOVE FOR A SIN OFFERING. 7 He shall offer them before the LORD to make atonement for her, and then she will be ceremonially clean from her flow of blood.“‘These are the regulations for the woman who gives birth to a boy or a girl. 8 But if she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’”

The act of delivering a child leads to:

  • The mother (Mary) becoming unclean.
  • She (Mary) is to offer a sin sacrifice for delivering a child (baby Jesus -god).
  • If the mother delivers a boy it will take her “thirty-three days to be purified” while if she delivers a girl then it will take her “sixty-six days to be purified”.

In conclusion such beliefs attribute weakness and uncleanness to God, contradicting His eternal and unlimited characteristics. If the heavens and the earth cannot contain God even according to the Bible how then could baby Jesus ?

1 Kings 8:27
“But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!

2 Chronicles 6:18
“But will God really dwell on earth with men? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!

2 Chronicles 2:6
But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him? Who then am I to build a temple for him, except as a place to burn sacrifices before him?


The simple reasonable and logical answer to the above dilemma would be to accept Jesus as a Prophet of God.

Quran 4:171

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 مِنْهُ ۖ فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِ ۖ وَلَا تَقُولُوا ثَلَاثَةٌ ۚ انْتَهُوا خَيْرًا لَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّمَا اللَّهُ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ سُبْحَانَهُ أَنْ يَكُونَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ ۘ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ وَكِيلًا

O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not “Trinity”: desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth.

Discussion with a Maronite Priest: Part 2

In another discussion with the Maronite Priest and his crew, the following happened –

Jesus Curses a Fig Tree Mark 11: 12-14

“12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.”

Summary:
a) Jesus was hungry.
b) He saw a fig tree.
c) The tree was had no fruits because it was out of season.
d) Jesus got angry and cursed the tree

We asked why would Jesus curse a tree that was out of season ? Didn’t the (all knowing) Jesus know it was out of season ?

Our dear priest’s response, was that Jesus was teaching his disciples, Jesus pretended to be angry…, so that he may teach: whoever comes on Judgement day without fruits will be damned. Yet, to us even the tree should have provided fruits for Jesus the ‘god’. I responded and asked, what was the lesson behind Jesus cursing the tree ? … What lesson is to be understood : That God is to expect something from us that we don’t have the capability of achieving and when we don’t achieve it we are cursed ?

Is a farmer expected to be a rocket scientist and when he is unable to achieve this he is cursed ? Unfortunately we got the same response as before which lead to nowhere.

Discussion with a Maronite Priest: Part 1

Yesterday we had a 3 hour discussion with a Maronite priest and 2 of his companions.  After failing to deny that Jesus was a man, we asked what makes Jesus divine and the answer was: “because he performed miracles that no one else did.” At this point we were thinking “we had him cornered“, so we said: what miracles?  The reply was that he had raised the dead.

What a typical answer!

So we said, Elijah raised the dead:

Elijah raised the son of the Zarephath widow from the dead (1 Kings 17:17-22).

His “strange” reply was that the boy had been dead for few hours, the man that Jesus raised was dead for four days. To make it more strange, his companion affirmed that it is not the same kind of miracle. After a long discussion we couldn’t figure out why is it that they believed that if you raise someone who has been dead for less than four days, it doesn’t count as “raising the dead“, but if the person has been dead for four days then that makes you a God.

(thinking about this now, we should have pointed out that they believe Jesus died for three days, i.e. it doesn’t count since it’s not four days). Figuring out there is no reasoning about the “4 days” minimum requirement we pointed out that a man came alive by touching Elisha’s bones (2 Kings 13:20-21). An objective/honest observer would definitely agree that a dead man raising another dead man exceeds a living man raising a dead man, but I guess “objectivity/honesty” serve as the key words here, as we got nothing from the priest and his affirming companions that concluded that Jesus’ four days miracle was better/mightier.

 

Does Jesus’ Holy Spirit Make him Divine?

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,

Responding to the Christian claim that Jesus’ body was human and his human spirit was replaced with the Holy Spirit (God). Therefore when Jesus died on the cross it was the body that died and not the spirit (of God) which is eternal.

Such a claim placed forward adds further complications to the divinity problem of Christ:

1) The above statement is in conflict with the catholic understanding of Jesus whose body and spirit are fully human and fully divine.

“461 Taking up St. John’s expression, “The Word became flesh”,82 the Church calls “Incarnation” the fact that the Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. In a hymn cited by St. Paul, the Church sings the mystery of the Incarnation:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.83

“464 The unique and altogether singular event of the Incarnation of the Son of God does not mean that Jesus Christ is part God and part man, nor does it imply that he is the result of a confused mixture of the divine and the human. He became truly man while remaining truly God. Jesus Christ is true God and true man.”

“469 The Church thus confesses that Jesus is inseparably true God and true man. He is truly the Son of God who, without ceasing to be God and Lord, became a man and our brother:

“What he was, he remained and what he was not, he assumed”, sings the Roman Liturgy.95 And the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom proclaims and sings: “O only-begotten Son and Word of God, immortal being, you who deigned for our salvation to become incarnate of the holy Mother of God and ever-virgin Mary, you who without change became man and were crucified, O Christ our God, you who by your death have crushed death, you who are one of the Holy Trinity, glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit, save us!”96”

“470 Because “human nature was assumed, not absorbed”,97 in the mysterious union of the Incarnation, the Church was led over the course of centuries to confess the full reality of Christ’s human soul, with its operations of intellect and will, and of his human body. In parallel fashion, she had to recall on each occasion that Christ’s human nature belongs, as his own, to the divine person of the Son of God, who assumed it. Everything that Christ is and does in this nature derives from “one of the Trinity”. The Son of God therefore communicates to his humanity his own personal mode of existence in the Trinity. In his soul as in his body, Christ thus expresses humanly the divine ways of the Trinity:98

The Son of God. . . worked with human hands; he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin.99

– Source http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p122a3p1.htm

2) A human being is composed of a human body and a human soul in order to be fully human, a divine being (God) in His perfection is not attributed to any weaknesses. The replacement of the human spirit with a divine spirit, clearly does not state one being is fully divine and fully human, but instead partly human and clearly not divine.

3) If the Christians insist on such a definition for the divinity of Jesus, as his human spirit was replaced with the Holy Spirit, and therefore Jesus is worshipped. We would further have to conclude that any object or being that is filled with the Holy Spirit should be worshipped as well. For Instance:

– Bezalel was filled with the Holy Spirit:

Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts- – Exodus 31:1-3 (NIV)

What is interesting about Bezalel is that he was filled with the Spirit of God to build the tabernacle. When we think of people filled with the Spirit, does a builder come across your mind? How about an accountant? A doctor? A housewife? When we see the ramifications of Bezalel, we see that God’s anointing is not just for pastors on Sunday services with music, but God’s empowerment was meant for all areas of life. Find out that you are uniquely empowered by God to do, then do it with all your might.

Today’s commentary by:
Dave Whitehead, Senior Pastor, GraceNYC.org

– The Disciples of Jesus (at Pentecost) were filled with the Holy Spirit:

Acts 2:1-4
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them

– The Tabernacle (including the temple) should be worshiped as well as it was filled with the Spirit of God:

Exodus 40:34-38
34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
36 In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; 37 but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. 38 So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary:

40:34-38 The cloud covered the tabernacle even in the clearest day; it was not a cloud which the sun scatters. This cloud was a token of God’s presence to be seen day and night, by all Israel, that they might never again question, Is the Lord among us, or is he not? …

4) With respect to the death of Jesus (God) , if Jesus’ body was the only part to die while the spirit lives on as God and does not die. Then how can the flesh of a human body (as humans are born with the original sin) bear the sins of mankind?

Ecclesiastes 7:20
There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.

Job 15:14
“What is man, that he could be pure, or one born of woman, that he could be righteous?

In the end, we conclude that the division of the nature of Jesus is a baseless, irrational and a self-contradictory claim. We praise Allah for guiding us to Islam, for Allah’s attributes are perfect leading us to one decisive conclusion that no other being (spirit, man, rock, cow … ) besides Allah is worthy of being worshipped.

Quran 112: 1-4
1 Say: He is Allah, the One and Only;
2 Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;
3 He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;
4 And there is none like unto Him.

For additional reading on the Christian concept of the Soul, Spirit and Body, please see:

Peter or Paul?

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,

Are you following the teachings of  Jesus’s  apostles? We note that out of the 27 books found in the New Testament, 14 books (including the Book of Hebrews as it was thought to be written by Paul) are ascribed to Paul and 2 Books (Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts) ascribed to his companion. More than half of the Christian teachings come from Paul. Paul (known as Paul the Apostle , Saul of Tarsus ) was a Jew who persecuted Christians, on his way to Syria (Damascus) his journey was interrupted when Jesus appeared to him as a blinding light (Acts 9, Acts 22: both accounts contradict one another)  and speaks to Paul, leading Paul to believe and spread the Message.  This should make you ask, a person who in one incident only has received a vision of Jesus, how can he become the leading author and main interpreter of the words of Jesus, while all the other 12 disciples lived, accompanied, learned and were taught by Jesus have little or nothing to say.

Jesus clearly tells Peter (“Cephas” was Peter’s real name, the Greek word for “Peter” means “rock”) :

Matthew 16:18

18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

Peter the leading disciple, Jesus’s rock has only two small epistles (New Testament books) to his name 1 and 2 Peter and ironically both books authors are believed to be anonymous :

“Some modern scholars on the basis of a number of features that they consider incompatible with Petrine authenticity, regard the letter as the work of a later Christian writer. Such features include the cultivated Greek in which it is written, difficult to attribute to a Galilean fisherman, together with its use of the Greek Septuagint translation when citing the Old Testament; the similarity in both thought and expression to the Pauline literature; and the allusions to widespread persecution of Christians, which did not occur until at least the reign of Domitian (A.D. 81-96). In this view the letter would date from the end of the first century or even the beginning of the second, when there is evidence for persecution of Christians in Asia Minor. (The New American Bible, ISBN: 978-0-529-06484-4, Page 1348)”

“Nevertheless, acceptance of 2 Peter into the New Testament canon met with great resistance in the early church. The oldest certain reference to it comes from Origen in the early third century. (The New American Bible, ISBN: 978-0-529-06484-4, Page 1354)”

“Among modern scholars there is wide agreement that 2 Peter is a pseudonymous work, i.e., one written by a later author who attributed it to Peter. (The New American Bible, ISBN: 978-0-529-06484-4, Page 1354)”

With respect to 1 Peter:

Some scholars believe the author was not Peter, but an unknown author writing after Peter’s death. Estimates for the date of composition range from 60 to 112 AD. Most critical scholars are skeptical that the apostle Simon Peter, the fisherman on the Sea of Galilee, actually wrote the epistle, because of the urbane cultured style of the Greek and the lack of any personal detail suggesting contact with the historical Jesus of Nazareth. The letter contains about thirty-five references to the Hebrew Bible, all of which, however, come from the Septuagint translation, an unlikely source for historical Peter the apostle, but appropriate for a Hellenized audience; thus the use of the Septuagint helps define the audience. The Septuagint was a Greek translation that had been created at Alexandria for the use of those Jews who could not easily read the Hebrew and Aramaic of the Tanakh and for proselytes. A historical Jew in Galilee would not have heard Scripture in this form, it is argued.

Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authorship_of_the_Petrine_epistles

So we ask again our Christian friends whose understanding have you been following?

To further strengthen our case:

Paul’s understanding of the Law (The commandments of God according to the Bible): 

Galatians 3:10-13  

 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.

Romans 3:20

20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

Romans 10:9-10

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

Contrary to what Paul says, Jesus had always requested the law to be applied:

Matthew 5:17-19

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 23: 1-3

1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.

Furthermore, Paul confronts and calls Peter (Cephas) and James Hypocrites for trying to abide by and teach the Law:

Galatians 2: 11 -21

11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

17 “But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.

19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

If Peter (Jesus’ Rock) , James and Barnabas the apostles of Jesus were considered to have gone astray in their teachings by a person who had only one vision of Jesus (Paul)… Whose side would you pick?   According to the Pseudo-Clementines,  there is a debate to show Peter supporting the ongoing validity of the Law against Paul (Disguised as Simon Magus).

For some from among the Gentiles have rejected my lawful preaching and have preferred a lawless and absurd doctrine to the man who is my enemy. And indeed some have attempted, while I am still alive, to distort my words by interpretations of many sorts, as if I taught the dissolution of the law… But that may God forbid ! For to do such a thing means to act contrary to the Law of God which was made to Moses and was confirmed by our Lord in its everlasting continuance. For he said, “The heaven and the earth will pass away, but not one jot or one tittle shall pass away from the Law.” (Letter of Peter to James, 2.3-5)

In a portion of the Homilies Peter attacks Paul:

And if our Jesus appeared to you also and became known in a vision and met you as angry with an enemy [recall: Paul had his vision while still persecuting the Christians: Acts 9], yet he has spoken only through visions and dreams or through external revelations. But can anyone be made competent to teach through a vision? And if your opinion is that that is possible, why then did our teacher spend a whole year with us who were awake? How can we believe you even if he has appeared to you?… But if you were visited by him for the space of an hour and were instructed by him and thereby have become an apostle, then proclaim his words, expound what he has taught, be a friend to his apostles and do not contend with me, who am his confidant; for you have in hostility withstood me, who am a firm rock, the foundation stone of the Church (Homilies 17.19)

In conclusion, I will say Peter, not Paul, is the true authority for understanding the message of Jesus, but since Peter’s (The Rock ) writings are not around, whose teachings are you following ?

Jesus says in the Bible:

Matthew 7:15

Jesus said “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

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