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Strange Attributes of the New Testament “God”

 

A probable portrait of the Christian "God" as described in the Book of Revelation

A probable portrait of the Christian “God” as described in the Book of Revelation

Strange Attributes of the New Testament “God”

An enquiry into Christian faith beyond mere humanization of God

 

Question Mark

 

Introduction

 

 

The Qur’an does testify that the pagans of Mecca used to believe that it was Allah (SWT) who created everything that exists,

If thou ask them, who created them, they will certainly say, Allah:

Yet ironically in the same verse Allah (SWT) imputes them to have gone astray from the truth!

If thou ask them, who created them, they will certainly say, Allah: How then are they deluded away (from the Truth)? (Qur’an 43:87)

The pagans of Mecca even believed that it was Allah (SWT) who governed the universe,

 

And if indeed thou ask them who it is that sends down rain from the sky, and gives life therewith to the earth after its death, they will certainly reply, “Allah!” Say, “Praise be to Allah!” But most of them understand not. (Qur’an 29:63)

 

Yet noticeably Allah (SWT) disregards them by stating that they “understand not”. In other words, none of their aforementioned beliefs could make them monotheists; they were still condemned as “polytheists”. This was because although it is important that Allah (SWT) is to be accepted as the Creator, Sustainer etc it is, however, not enough!

To become believers of one True God it is important that God’s attributes be not violated, i.e., we should not assign the attributes of God to any of His creatures or vice-versa. This is extremely important to maintain Gods oneness of attributes. However, unfortunately, a lot of communities have stumbled upon this violation of God’s attributes including, sadly, Christianity.

Earlier we have documented how Christianity breached God’s attributes thereby violating monotheism itself. It was with regards to God’s humanization in the form of Jesus (peace be upon him). In this paper we would further continue beyond it.

 

Beyond Incarnation

 

Christians provide a number of explanations in defense of their incarnation theory. One of the leading amongst them is the Pauline passage that Jesus (peace be upon him) gave up his divine attributes to enter into humanity (c.f. Philippians 2: 6-8). Although humanization of God is open idolatry yet we are not concerned about it in this paper. We want to look beyond it into areas which are far grotesque than mere humanization!

It is interesting to note that John happens to be the only author amongst the gospel writers who has entitled Jesus (peace be upon him) as the “Lamb” (c.f. gospel of John 1: 29, 36); however, this usage of the title is figurative. Jesus (peace be upon him) is symbolized as the sacrificial animal or the “Lamb” to be slaughtered in commemoration of the Passover ritual of the Old Testament.

However, there is one more book in the New Testament attributed to “John” – the book of Revelation – which edifies that the title “Lamb” was not only figuratively used in the New Testament; it has plain literal meanings as well. In his fanciful “visions”, John goes overboard to portray Jesus (peace be upon him) as nothing less than a pagan mythical beast:

 

Then I saw a Lamb standing in the centre of the throne, surrounded by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb appeared to have been killed. It had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God that have been sent throughout the whole earth. The Lamb went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who sits on the throne. As he did so, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each had a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. They sang a new song:

You are worthy to take the scroll and to break open its seals. For you were killed, and by your sacrificial death you bought for God people from every tribe, language, nation and race. You have made them a kingdom of priests to serve our God, and they shall rule on earth.” Again I looked, and I heard angels, thousands and millions of them! They stood round the throne, the four living creatures, and the elders, and sang in a loud voice:…The four living creatures answered, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshipped. ” (Revelation 5: 6-14)

Thus, in the book of Revelation, Jesus (peace be upon him) – the assumed “God” – is morphed from a human being to a weird “seven horned, seven eyed” beast. More interestingly, this mythical creature not just stands on the magnificent Throne of God but also receives “worship” by some of the best Christians!

Christians typically understood the verse to signify Christ’s (peace be upon him) perfect power and wisdom – omnipotence and omniscience. It is because horn and eye represent power and knowledge and seven of each adds to it their respective perfections:

 

 

Seven horns – As horn is the emblem of power, and seven the number of perfection, the seven horns may denote the all-prevailing and infinite might of Jesus Christ. He can support all his friends; he can destroy all his enemies; and he can save to the uttermost all that come unto God through him.

 

Seven eyes – To denote his infinite knowledge and wisdom: but as these seven eyes are said to be the seven Spirits of God, they seem to denote rather his providence, in which he often employs the ministry of angels; therefore, these are said to be sent forth into all the earth. See on Rev_1:4 (note). (Revelation 5:6, Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible)

 

 

Christians might interpret seven horns and seven eyes to represent “God’s” divine power and knowledge; however, to any non-Christian monotheist these can only represent bestial (beast-like) qualities unjustly and blasphemously imputed upon God.

 

Furthermore, even if it be accepted for the sake of argument that horns and eyes represent some divine attribute, yet a number of other body parts of a “Lamb” cannot possibly represent any “divine” attribute of God!

 

It is unconceivable in any sensible monotheistic purview that God would transfigure into a mythical “Lamb” and grow horns – in fact seven of them – and seven eyes and stand on the Throne of God with his neck slit and blood oozing out. Given this grotesque portrayal of New Testament “God”, how feasible is it that this was the same “God” which was worshipped by Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and others (peace be upon them all)?

 

New Testament’s portrayal of God as animals has not yet ended. Since the gospels, very famously, has portrayed the third person of the Christian godhead – the Holy Ghost – as a “dove”:

 

 

And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased. (Luke 3:22, King James Version)

 

 

On the foregoing, qualified Bible expositor J.P. Lange makes some very intriguing remarks:

 
In a bodily shape, like a dove.—The mention of the dove by all the four Evangelists, plainly shows, that the descent of the Spirit was usually compared, by the Baptist who saw it, and afterwards by those who related it, to the descent of a dove. It is, however, by no means necessary to infer, from the σωματικν εδος of Luke, the actual form of a dove. Luke does not say, σωματικῷ εἴδει περιστερᾶς, but ὡς περιστεράν. By supposing a ray of light to have descended from the opened heaven, gently, swiftly, and evenly, like the downward flight of a dove, and to have shone around the head of the praying Saviour for some space of time, we escape many difficulties, and obtain a representation beautiful in itself, and becoming the divine majesty. It is by no means proved, that the dove was, in the days of Jesus, regarded by the Jews as an emblem of the Holy Spirit. The very shy nature of the dove renders it difficult to conceive its descending from heaven, and abiding on a newly baptized person, even in a vision. And if ancient Christian art, exchanging the figure for the fact, constantly introduced a visible dove into every representation of the baptism, it is only probable that this unæsthetic treatment was the result of an exegetical error. Our view also will satisfactorily explain why Justin Martyr (Dial. cum Tryph. c. 88), as well as the Gospel of the Hebrews (Epiphanius, Hœres. xxx. 13), mentions a vivid ray of light as suddenly surrounding the banks of Jordan. By a very natural symbolism, light was regarded by the Jews as an emblem of the Divinity; and we can see no reason why the descent of a ray of light should not also have been compared to the descent of a dove. (Luke 3:22, Lange Commentary by J. P. Lange)

 

 

Notice that commentator Lange is not willing to admit, unlike other Bible commentators like Robertson (c.f. Robertson’s Word Picture) [1.], that the “divine God” took the form of a “dove”. For Lange, it is not “necessary” that whatever descended had “the actual form of a dove”! In fact Lange provides his reasons why “dove” should not represent Holy Spirit. For this reason he is even willing to deem traditional and historical church practice as an “exegetical error”. And we must understand Lange’s tacit uneasiness to accept the more obvious meaning of the statements!

 

In fact, it is for obvious idolatrous issues that Lange is more willing to accept “descent of ray of light” in place of a “dove”! Lange has very expressly indicated that he has no problems in accepting the descent of a “ray of light” (not a “dove”) upon Jesus (peace be upon him) since “light was regarded by the Jews as an emblem of the Divinity”; unlike this, “It is by no means proved, that the dove was, in the days of Jesus, regarded by the Jews as an emblem of the Holy Spirit.” And therefore, rather than accepting the obvious imports of Luke’s statement which is corroborated by all other gospels (c.f. Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, John 1:32), Lange chooses to go by the views of mere church father Justin Martyr and a book – Gospel of Hebrews – which he himself rejects as apocryphal! [This creates another problem that the traditional Christian understand of Holy Ghost’s transformation into a dove is not supported by one of the earliest “apostolic” father!]

 

Lange rather candidly admits why he chose Justin Martyr and the Gospel of Hebrews to the views of the “inspired” author(s) Luke. It was because, “By supposing a ray of light to have descended from the opened heaven, gently, swiftly, and evenly, like the downward flight of a dove, and to have shone around the head of the praying Saviour for some space of time, we escape many difficulties, and obtain a representation beautiful in itself, and becoming the divine majesty.”

 

It must be enquired as to why Lange faced “difficulties” when Holy Ghost – the “God” – was represented as a “dove”? Why this representation of “God” as “dove” was not “beautiful” enough for Lange but an “unaesthetic treatment”? The answer is quite obvious. No claimant of monotheism can easily accept his/her God be represented as a “dove” without finding other “explanations” out of it! And so Lange “explained”, strangely enough, that the descent of the ray of light is represented by the descent of a dove! Lange is very strangely contended enough to relate the hovering of a dove to the straight downward descent of a ray of light; and we must understand this phenomenon!

 

There can be one more reason why Lange finds it unpalatable to represent Holy Ghost as “dove”. It was traditionally of Satan – the first time ever, even before God – to turn into animals for achieving objectives:

 

 

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: (Genesis 3:1-4, King James Version)

 

 

Just like the Holy Ghost was not initially a “dove” in the same way biblical Satan was not really a “serpent”; it was a “Dragon”. The book of Revelation illustrates us on it:

 

 

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Revelation 12:9)

 

And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, (Revelation 20:2)  

 

And subsequently, using animal transformations as apparatus, which is a satanic modus operandi, could have troubled Lange to impute the same on his “God”!

 

 

Conclusion

 

Allah (SWT) has declared the following warning about the sin of polytheism (Arabic. Shirk – associating partners with God) very precisely in the Qur’an:

 

Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin Most heinous indeed. (Qur’an   4:48)

 

If associating partners with Allah (SWT) is unpardonable sin then how saved are the Christians who ascribe bestial attributes to God. It comes extremely unpleasant and grotesque to accept that the “God” of “monotheists” would stand on the Throne with the appearance of a “Lamb” with seven horns protruding his head and an equal number of eyes, and a bleeding neck for people to prostrate “worship” it! How would a “jealous” God (c.f. Exodus 34:14) react when he comes to know that He was compared to a mere “Lamb”, albeit, seven-horned and seven-eyed and a “dove”!

Yet if Christians are still monotheists by believing in multiple animal-like “Gods” then we would have to justify why pagans are pagans for their belief. A lot of pagan cults have mythical beasts as their gods and this should not, at least, differentiate them from those who call themselves “Christians”!

That is why we adjure our Christian brethren to consider this paper beyond mere apologetics. We request you earnestly to have a talk with yourselves as to how correct is the belief wherein one of the gods of the Trinitarian godhead is said to look like a lamb with seven horns and seven eyes and a bleeding neck and other one resembles a dove! If you are true to yourself then you would agree that there are gross and colossal issues herein with the Trinitarian brand of “monotheism” and that such a description of God can only come out as figments of mere human imagination with nothing divine “inspiration” behind it. Will it then be not be much safer to follow the following Qur’anic injunctions?

 

Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;  He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him. (Qur’an 112:4)

And,

(He is) the Creator of the heavens and the earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves, and pairs among cattle: by this means does He multiply you: there is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the One that hears and sees (all things). (Qur’an 42:11)

 

 

Footnotes:

[1.] In a bodily form (sōmatikōi eidei). Alone in Luke who has also “as a dove” (hōs peristeran) like Matthew and Mark. This probably means that the Baptist saw the vision that looked like a dove. Nothing is gained by denying the fact or possibility of the vision that looked like a dove. God manifests his power as he will. The symbolism of the dove for the Holy Spirit is intelligible. (Luke 3:22, Robertson’s Word Picture)

 

Notes:

  • All Qur’anic texts taken from Yusuf Ali Translation.
  • Unless otherwise mentioned, all biblical texts taken from Good News Edition.
  • We apologize if this paper has offended any sincere Christian believer. It was never our intention to hurt any feelings or jeer any belief. We respect your choices. Nevertheless, we quoted passages which are already registered in the Bible and made our arguments on it.

 

 

 

 

Examining New Testament’s Prediction of Jesus’ (p) Return

 

More on New Testament’s Miscalculation of the End of World

 

Question Mark

Introduction

 

In one of our earlier paper we documented how the gospel traditions impute inaccurate predictions of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) second return and subsequent end of the world on him. According to Jesus (peace be upon him), end of the world was so near that some of his disciples would have remained alive to experience it.

It is now time to further that issue with the New Testament disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him). The way they interpreted, perceived and reacted to Jesus’ (peace be upon him) prediction of imminent end of the world and his second coming!

Paul’s prediction Jesus’ (p) return

 

It would be good if we start with Paul. While writing to the Thessalonians, Paul had the following to predict:

What we are teaching you now is the Lord’s teaching: We who are alive on the day the Lord comes will not go ahead of those who have died.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15)

It is very straight forward and obvious that Paul believed some amongst them would still remain alive on Jesus’ (peace be upon him) return! However, unfortunately, all of them are dead and Jesus (peace be upon him) is yet to return to the world!

Nevertheless, it would be fair if we also consider standard Christian understanding of the passage. Well known biblical expositor Adam Clarke reconciles as follows while dealing with the passage:

We which are alive, and remainBy the pronoun we the apostle does not intend himself, and the Thessalonians to whom he was then writing; he is speaking of the genuine Christians which shall be found on earth when Christ comes to judgment. From not considering the manner in which the apostle uses this word, some have been led to suppose that he imagined that the day of judgment would take place in that generation, and while he and the then believers at Thessalonica were in life. But it is impossible that a man, under so direct an influence of the Holy Spirit, should be permitted to make such a mistake: nay, no man in the exercise of his sober reason could have formed such an opinion; there was nothing to warrant the supposition; no premises from which it could be fairly deduced; nor indeed any thing in the circumstances of the Church, nor in the constitution of the world, that could have suggested a hint of the kind. The apostle is speaking of the thing indefinitely as to the time when it shall happen, but positively as to the Order that shall be then observed.

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Does New Testament deny followers of Jesus (p) to be “Muslims”?

Does New Testament deny followers of Jesus (p) to be “Muslims”?

A look into New Testament beyond mere “Christian” disciples of Jesus (p)

 

Question Mark

 

Introduction

In the last installment we proved that Qur’an does not lend any veracity to the “Bible”. We also quoted that Qur’an does claim the original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) to be Muslims (c.f. Qur’an 3:52, 5:111); this obviously offends Christians like Sam Shamoun who claims that Qur’an is at historical “error”.

Therefore, in this part, we would consider New Testament itself for the validity of the Qur’anic assertion. We would see that there were many “other-apostles” of Jesus (peace be upon him) albeit, sarcastically called as “chief-apostles” by Paul (c.f. 2 Corinthians 11:5), and put under extremely negative light (as expected) who, interestingly, had beliefs very similar to the Qur’anic claim!

Let Loose the Letters

 

Most of the Epistles of the New Testament were written to address specific issues which the fledgling first century (earliest) churches were facing. In this regard, Pauline epistles to Corinthians are of immediate interest to us since they relate to our investigation quite precisely.

However, before we actually delve into the epistle, it is important to observe the tone which Paul has used. Consider the following “verses”:

     “From Paul, who was called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Sosthenes –” (1 Corinthians 1:1)

Note that Paul starts off by strongly emphasizing that it was by the “will” of God Himself that he became an apostle of Jesus (peace be upon him). In other words, he wanted to assert his apostolic authority over the Corinthians. This phenomenon is interspersed throughout the epistle. Consider a similar emphasis again merely eight verses later:

     “By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ I appeal to all of you, my brothers…” (1 Corinthians 1:10)

Paul did not find it redundant to reiterate his “apostolic” authority one more time:

     “So then, we do not speak in words taught by human wisdom but in words taught by the spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:13)

Why was Paul so concerned to exert his apostolic authority so often? Probably because masses were not recognizing him as any so-called “apostle” of Jesus (peace be upon him). In fact, as we would soon explore, Paul was indeed unrecognized to have any “apostolic authority”. This would have a close link with our principal investigation: whether Jesus (peace be upon him) had Muslim followers? We would start from the very reason why Paul was made to write the letters to the Corinthians!

Paul had been informed that there was a vitriolic schism in the “Christian” community of Corinth and so he dispatches letters to the Corinthians addressing the issue; exhorting people to unite (c.f. 1 Corinthians 1:11). However, the nature of the dispute is very crucial because the earliest “Christian” community was divided over the apostles:

     “Let me put it this way: each one of you says something different. One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Peter”; and another,     “I follow Christ.”” (1 Corinthians 1:12, Good News Edition)

The above quotation indicates that the preaching of different apostles were different. (And they differed very arduously as we would subsequently observe.) Otherwise it makes no sense that the community would be divided over apostles if they were monolithic.

Moreover the last part of the citation is utmost important since it alludes to a particular group in the community which denied to follow any so-called “apostles” than Jesus (peace be upon him) himself! Who could be these people? New Testament provides meager information about these “Christ-followers”; however, we can be sure that they cannot be Jews since they recognized Jesus (peace be upon him) as “Christ”. Similarly, they cannot be “Christians” either, that is, the “orthodox” Pauline Christians – believing cross, alleged death and resurrection and deity of Jesus (p) – since they rejected Paul to follow Jesus (peace be upon him); be mindful that there was a certain group who was claiming to be “Paul-followers”; and these “Christ-followers” did not coincide with them in their declaration! Thus, if this group was neither Jewish nor Christian, then obviously there remains a big question as to who were these people?

Moreover, why this group choose to follow Jesus (peace be upon him) himself rejecting multiple “apostles” at their disposition who were readily, in turn, claiming to follow Jesus (peace be upon him), Paul for example (c.f. 1 Corinthians 11:1). Did not they know that these were “apostles” either handpicked or ‘supernaturally’ chosen en-route Damascus by Jesus (peace be upon him) himself? The only reason they would reject “apostles” to follow Jesus (peace be upon him) is when the apostles differed from Jesus (peace be upon him) so much so that they thought it is best to follow Christ (peace be upon him) himself rather than following differing apostles!

We cannot even dash off these Christ-followers as “heretics”; they can only be condemned as heretics when the condemner is presupposed to be an “orthodox”! In other words, it depends on the perspective one is looking from. For it is sure that Paul and his preaching were “heretical” for these “Christ-followers”, as we would soon observe through the pages of New Testament!

And thus, as discussed above, if this particular group was neither Jewish nor Christian then it certainly opens up the contention that followership of Jesus (peace be upon him) was not merely restricted to those who became positively famous through the pages of New Testament and subsequently in the “orthodox” churches as “Christians”. And so, for the rest of the paper we would further substantiate this notion. In the course, we would indirectly glean intriguing deductions that groups like “Christ-followers” denied deity of Jesus (peace be upon him) to consider him as mere mortal thus further corroborating the Qur’anic assertion that original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) were Muslims.

Finally, it is worthwhile to note that the historical, Muslim followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) had to follow Jesus (peace be upon him) himself than any other “apostle” just like contemporary Muslims have to follow Mohammad (peace be upon him) than any other teacher no matter how influential s/he is and if s/he differs from Mohammad (peace be upon him) himself! So in this context, these Christ-followers come very close to the Qur’anic assertion that Jesus’ (peace be upon him) original followers were Muslims: following him (p); rejecting intricate philosophies (trinity, vicarious atonement) of “apostles”, to submit their wills to God alone.

“Apostle” Paul rejected at Corinth

Remember that the first Pauline letter to the Corinthians was written because particular groups in the community chose individual apostles for themselves. It was not merely an issue of choosing one from the wide range of apostles, rather it entailed with it rejecting others while choosing the one for the particular group. As such those group who chose apostles other than Paul, or even those who ultimately chose Christ (peace be upon him) himself, rejected Paul (obviously for his preaching):

“Am I not a free man? Am I not an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord? And aren’t you the result of my work for the Lord? Even if others do not accept me as an apostle, surely you do! Because of your life in union with the Lord you yourselves are proof of the fact that I am an apostle.” (1 Corinthians 9:1-2)

Recall that at the start of this paper we noted that Paul, in this first letter to the Corinthians, chose a tone to defend his apostleship at Corinth, albeit, hitherto, indirectly. However, at this point in the letter, things just went out of hand where he had to make explicit appeal for his apostleship. Nevertheless, in a way, they also provide information as to the objections which the opponents of Paul raised. Paul appeals that because he has “seen” Jesus (peace be upon him) and “worked” for him with results, therefore, he must be a bona fide apostle!

However, why did Paul felt the need to appeal these specific notions? Probably because these were the primary arguments, amongst others, raised against his apostleship!: Corinthians were sure that Paul never consorted with Jesus (peace be upon him) in real time and the only information about Paul “seeing” Jesus (peace be upon him) comes after Jesus’(p) alleged death and only through hearsay to the Corinthians (in fact to almost everybody for that reason).

Similarly, Paul’s “work” could well have been another reason for his opposition. To be sure, Paul’s primary “work”, in other words, his preaching, was salvation through the alleged death and resurrection of Christ (peace be upon him) on cross. This could have gone unintelligible with his Corinthian opponents:

“For God in his wisdom made it impossible for people to know him by means of their own wisdom. Instead, by means of the so-called “foolish” message we preach, God decided to save those who believe. Jews [1.] want miracles for proof and Greeks look for wisdom. As for us we proclaim the crucified Christ, a message that is offensive to the Jews and nonsense to the Gentiles, this message is Christ, who is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For what seems to be God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and what seems to be God’s weakness is stronger than human strength” (1 Corinthians 1:21-25)

And therefore, Paul appeals to support these notions with a hope that even if other factions have denied his apostleship, at least, those who are apparently loyal to him would not doubt them.

More Issues with Paul and His preaching in Corinth

It was not that opposing groups in Corinth were merely following their apostles or “Christ”; in fact they were on full-fledged ministry against Paul and his preaching:

“I wish you would tolerate me, even when I am a bit foolish. Please do! I am jealous for you, just as God is; you are like a pure virgin whom I have promised in marriage to one man only Christ himself. I am afraid that your minds will be corrupted and that you will abandon your full and pure devotion to Christ – in the same way that Eve was deceived by snake’s clever lies. For you gladly tolerate anyone who comes to you and preaches a different Jesus, not the one we preached; and you accept a spirit and a gospel completely different from the Spirit and the gospel you received from us!” (2 Corinthians 11: 1-4) [2.]

Notice that “apostles” in Corinth were teaching a “different Jesus” and a “gospel completely different”. This gospel preaching about Jesus (peace be upon him) was so fundamentally different from Paul that he had premonitions that people might abandon “full” and “pure” “devotion” to Christ (peace be upon him).

According to standard Pauline, Trinitarian theology, “devotion” to Christ (peace be upon him) means services to Jesus (peace be upon him) while bearing him as “divine” “God” – the “second” in the divinity of “three”! Thus, inferably, we have a proof in the above polemical passage that opposing “apostles” in Corinth were specifically preaching a non-divine Jesus (peace be upon him). As celebrated Bible expositor Albert Barnes specifically comments on the same:

Ye might well bear with him – Margin, “with me.” The word “him” is not in the Greek; but is probably to be supplied. The sense is, there would then be some excuse for your conduct. There would be some reason why you should welcome such teachers. But if this cannot be done; if they can preach no other and no better gospel and Saviour than I have done, then there is no excuse. There is no reason why you should follow such teachers and forsake those who were your earliest guides in religion. – Let us never forsake the gospel which we have until we are sure we can get a better. Let us adhere to the simple doctrines of the New Testament until some one can furnish better and clearer doctrines. Let us follow the rules of Christ in our opinions and our conduct; our plans, our mode of worship, our dress, and our amusements, engagements, and company, until we can certainly ascertain that there are better rules. A man is foolish for making any change until he has evidence that he is likely to better himself; and it remains yet to be proved that anyone has ever bettered himself or his family by forsaking the simple doctrines of the Bible, and embracing a philosophical speculation; by forsaking the scriptural views of the Saviour as the incarnate God, and embracing the views which represent him as a mere man; by forsaking the simple and plain rules of Christ about our manner of life, our dress, and our words and actions, and embracing those which are recommended by mere fashion and by the customs of a frivolous world. (2 Corinthians 11:4, Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 

As expected Barnes has a tone-down for any gospel message portraying Jesus (peace be upon him) other than as portrayed by Paul simply because he assumes/believes Paul (and himself) to be an “orthodox” Christian! And therefore, the Pauline opponents, for him, would have to be “heretics” incompetent of producing anything better than Paul. Nevertheless, as we argued earlier, the other-apostles at Corinth would have assumed exactly the same for their opponents. For them, they were “orthodox” and Paul and his supporters were “heretics”. However, in any case, no matter from which perspective we are looking from, for sure, we had groups as early as Paul, preaching a Jesus (peace be upon him) who was a “mere man” than any pagan influenced “incarnate god”.

Likewise, noted New Testament commentator Vincent also informs that at Corinth a Jesus (peace be upon him) of different “identity” and “nature” was proposed:

Another Jesus – another Spirit (ἄλλον  – ἕτερον)

 

Rev., another Jesus, a different Spirit. See on Mat_6:24. Another denies the identity; a different denies the similarity of nature. It is the difference of “individuality and kind” (Alford). (2 Corinthians 11:4, Vincent’s Word Studies)

 

As touted in churches, the “orthodox” Pauline “identity” and “nature” of Jesus (peace be upon him) was that he was “divine” Son of God, a “divine” savior and intercessor, the very “divine” second god-person of Trinitarian godhead, same in essence with divine Father (the “nature”); nevertheless, inferably, all of these were categorically denied by Pauline opponents when preached a Jesus (peace be upon him) of different “identity” and “nature”.

No surprises that contemporary Bible giants like James Dunn assert that “earliest” Jesus (p) traditions have no hint for his divinity:

 “There is no real evidence in the earliest Jesus traditions of what could fairly be called a consciousness of divinity.” (James Dunn, Christology in the Making, p.60)

It is for such notions that professors like John Hick claim that to impute divinity upon “historical” Jesus (peace be upon him) is not merely “devoid” in sense but its gradual evolution has pagan influences:

“For to say, without explanation, that the historical Jesus of Nazareth was also God is as devoid of meaningthat Jesus was God the Son incarnate is not literally true, since it has no literal meaning, but it[s] an application to Jesus of a mythical concept whose function is analogous to that of the notion of divine sonship ascribed in ancient world to a king.” (John Hick, The Myth of God Incarnate (London: SCM Press, 1977), p. 178)

 

Interestingly all of this is expressly important for the Qur’anic assertion that original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) were “Muslims” since as Muslims they would not recognize him as divine in any sort since. Consider the following was the express teaching of Jesus (peace be upon him):

And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah’?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden. “Never said I to them aught except what Thou didst command me to say, to wit, ‘worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord’; and I was a witness over them whilst I dwelt amongst them; when Thou didst take me up Thou wast the Watcher over them, and Thou art a witness to all things. (Qur’an 5:116-117)

They do blaspheme who say: “Allah is Christ the son of Mary.” But said Christ: “O Children of Israel! worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” Whoever joins other gods with Allah,- Allah will forbid him the garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help. (Qur’an 5:72)

The forgoing could well be the reason that respected Christian sources like Compton’s Encyclopedia states that it was difficult to distinguish earliest “Christians” from Jews since the “only” difference between them was that they accepted Jesus (peace be upon him) to be “Messiah” while their Jewish counterparts did not:

“The early Christians were all Jews. They remained in Jerusalem and partook in the religious observance in the Temple. They differed from their fellow Jews ONLY in that they believed that the Messiah had come. Had they kept quiet about their conviction, they might well have remained a sect within Judaism…” (Compton’s Encyclopedia, ‘Christianity,’ (CD-ROM Home Library, 1997.)

 

So, the only difference was Messiah consciousness as opposed to divinity consciousness. And “Muslim” followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) had to recognize him as “Messiah”! (c.f. Qur’an 3:45). Now compare this with Pauline opponents at Corinth who claimed that they were “Christ”-followers, denyingfull and pure devotion to Christ” (c.f. 2 Corinthians 11:3).

Furthermore, it would be incorrect to restrict the scope of the Pauline verse to divinity of Jesus (peace be upon him) alone since, we know, Paul centered his theology on crucifixion and its redemptive capacity as well. Therefore, if Paul so staunchly complains that other “apostles” were preaching a “gospel completely different” about a completely “different” Jesus (peace be upon him) then his opponents were disparaging the importance and implications of cross! As Paul clarifies that many were rejecting crucifixion and philosophies entailed around it:

For the message about Christ’s death on the cross is nonsense to those who are being lost; but for us who are being saved it is God’s power.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

It is interesting to note the place where Paul places the above “verse”. He wrote them just after introducing the division in the Corinthian church implying strongly that it was inside the Corinthian church where crucifixion and subsequent redemption was rejected and Paul was reproaching the same. This is further proven by the words Paul has chosen in the quoted “verse”. Note he writes that for only a particular few in the community – “for us” – the “message” about crucifixion is “power”; Paul is obviously addressing to those few who were loyal to his preaching; implying again that there were other rejecting cross and its efficacy (if any).

Contemporary New Testament authority Bart Ehrman also speculates that the author of ‘Q’ – a contemporary with Paul and firsthand source, for evangelists Matthew and Luke – denied vicarious atonement through the cross of Jesus (peace be upon him) – a philosophy which was corner stone for Paul:

The author of Q, too, may have thought that it was the sayings of Jesus that were the key to a right relationship with God. If so, in losing Q we have lost a significant alternative voice in the very earliest period of early Christianity. Most scholars date Q to the 50s of the Common Era, prior to the writing of the Synoptic Gospels (Mark was some ten or fifteen years later; Matthew and Luke some ten or fifteen years after that) and contemporary with Paul. Paul, of course, stressed the death and resurrection of Jesus as the way of salvation. Did the author of Q stress the sayings of Jesus as the way? Many people still today have trouble accepting a literal belief in Jesus’ resurrection or traditional understandings of his death as an atonement, but call themselves Christian because they try to follow Jesus’ teachings. Maybe there were early Christians who agreed with them, and maybe the author of Q was one of them. If so, the view lost out, and the document was buried. In part, it was buried in the later Gospels of Matthew and Luke, which transformed and thereby negated Q’s message by incorporating it into an account of Jesus’ death and resurrection. One more form of Christianity lost to view until rediscovered in modern times. (Lost Christianities, The Battles of Scriptures and the Faiths We Never Knew, p. 59)

What is still interesting is the result which these opposing apostles were receiving in Corinth for their “missionary activity”! Reconsider the following passage:

 For you gladly tolerate anyone who comes to you and preaches a different Jesus, not the one we preached; and you accept a spirit and a gospel completely different from the Spirit and the gospel you received from us!” (2 Corinthians 11: 4)

The rapid success of his opponents frustrated Paul to such an extent where he even started to act like “fools”:

I am acting like a fool – but you have made me do it. You are the ones who ought to show your approval of me. For even if I am nothing, I am in no way inferior to those very special “apostles” of yours. The many miracles and wonders that prove that I am an apostle were performed among you with much patience. (2 Corinthians 12: 11-12)

Note that, according to the above citation, it is now not people of other camp who are deserting Paul rather they are the very people about whom Paul was confident will accept him as “apostle”. It is natural that in such scenarios people would act like “fools”!

In fact, to make matters worse for Paul, these much anticipated followers of Paul were the same who even demanded proofs from Paul for his apostleship:

You will have all the proof you want that Christ speaks through me.” (2 Corinthians 13:3)

Notice, even though Paul asserted that the “miracles and wonders” he ironically “performed among [them]” (c.f. 2 Corinthians 12:12, quoted above) were the very proofs for his apostleship yet Corinthians demanded proof from him! This certainly makes sense because according to Jesus (peace be upon him) even charlatans would be able to achieve miraculous feats:

“For false Messiahs and false prophets will appear. They will perform miracles and wonders in order to deceive even God’s chosen people, if possible. Be on your guard! I have told you everything before the time comes.” (Mark 13: 22-23)

It is very plausible that by “proof”, Corinthians demanded a doctrine compatible with Jesus’ (peace be upon him) message and human cognizance. They could neither see Jesus’ (peace be upon him) stamp or compatibility in the Pauline preaching about his deity nor could they fathom any logic in the theories of cross and vicarious atonement there from. Not much surprise, it came to them as “foolish”.

Such embarrassing response at Corinth by his own faction led Paul emotionally appeal against his rejection:

Dear friends, in Corinth! We have spoken frankly to you; we have opened our hearts wide. It is not we who have closed our hearts to you; it is you who have closed your hearts to us. (2 Corinthians 6:11)

Due to brevity of this paper we have not documented that Paul was strongly opposed at most places he preached like Galatia, Ephesus, Antioch, and even in Jerusalem. What is very interesting to note is that the oppositions in Antioch and Jerusalem did not come from any revolting “heretical” faction but from “brother of Christ” (peace be upon him) James himself! The one thing which all of these do prove is that there were various faiths prevailing amongst the earliest communities!

 

Conclusion

 

We saw that the earliest “apostles”, as early as Paul himself, were divided over doctrines. Many apostles contemporary to Paul at Corinth came to oppose him for his most fundamental theories, like, vicarious atonement through alleged crucifixion of Jesus (peace be upon him) and his divinity.

This made university scholars like Dr. A. Meyer (Prof. of Theology at Zurich University) to conclude that the “Christianity” we know of was not the religion Jesus (peace be upon him) came to promulgate rather it was a complex philosophy that Paul coined:

If by ‘Christianity’  we understand faith in Jesus Christ as the heavenly son of God, who did not belong to Earthly humanity, but who lived in the divine likeness and glory, who came down  from heaven to earth, who entered humanity and took upon himself a human form through a virgin, that he might make propitiation for men’s sins by his own blood on the cross, who was them awakened  from death and raised to God as the Lord of his own people, who believe in him, who hears their prayers, guards and leads them, who shall come again to judge the world, who will cast down all the foes of God, and will bring his people with him unto the house of heavenly light so that they may become like his glorified body – if this is Christianity, the[n] such a Christianity was founded by Paul and not by Jesus.” (Meyer, Jesus or Paul, p. 122)

All of this are conducive to conclude that earliest community of “Christians” were not merely composed of “Christians”, that is, those believing in redemptive capacity of cross and divinity of Jesus (peace be upon him). And thus, subjective Christians like Shamoun, merely to falsify Qur’an, try to restrict the followership of Jesus (peace be upon him) only to those who became positively recognized in the pages of New Testament. Consider the following parochial note that he wrote:

Contrary to the Quran’s assertions, Christ’s disciples proclaimed that Jesus is the divine Son of God who died on the cross and rose from the dead three days later. They also testified that he sits enthroned in heaven alongside the Father as the sovereign Lord of all creation, and that he will return to the earth in order to judge the living and the dead. They even went as far as to worship Christ as their risen and exalted Lord!

Note that some (self-claimed) “disciples” of Jesus (peace be upon him) did imply his divinity in some sort and did promulgate his alleged crucifixion and entailing salvation theories. However, these were not the “only” disciples. There were others contemporary to Paul (i) who denied “full and pure devotion to Christ”, (ii) they denied the preaching of Paul which, evidently, relied heavily around the alleged crucifixion and vicarious atonement there from, yet these at the same time also (iii) claimed that they were “Christ-followers”! So next time Shamoun claims that “There is simply no way around this fact”, he needs to suggest what name other than “Muslims” could he give to these opponents of Paul? Pick one! It seems like, “There is simply no way around this fact” that original followers of Christ (peace be upon him) were “Muslims”!

Even if we allow that these Pauline opponents were not “Muslims” yet there mere presence at such odds with “orthodox” Christians (Paul, for example) is enough to open up the contention that the followership of Jesus (peace be upon him) was not only restricted to those who were labeled as “Christians”. This in itself makes the Qur’anic fact further viable that original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) were “Muslims”! Subsequently, from a historians’ point of view, the Qur’anic assertion is not at any “historical error”.

There is still vast amount of information which has to be unearthed from New Testament about Paul and his ways which we would definitely do in future, inshAllah. For the time being since Paul asserts that everybody else opposing him were “false apostles” and, Shamoun disdains original follower of Jesus (peace be upon him) to be Muslims; therefore, in the next installment – the final installment of the series – we would turn our attention to the well-known New Testament disciples and see how much of a ‘disciple’ they were! We do have some important stuff coming up, inshAllah.

Footnote:

[1.]       At first glance, many would be tempted to interpret that the “Jews” mentioned in the verse are those traditional Jews who hated Jesus (peace be upon him); and not the Corinthian Jews who came to believe in him. However, this cannot be precisely correct in the overall context of the epistle. Consider the following issues:

Firstly, in the context of the epistle we have differing factions in the Corinthian community split over apostles for their preaching. Now notice the sarcastic tone which Paul has used in the subject passage: “foolish message”. Therefore, the first target audience for this sarcasm has to be those Corinthians who rejected Paul to accept Christ (p) himself (or some other apostle for that reason) labeling his message as “foolish”. If this was not true then Paul’s sarcasm would make no sense since the letter was not going to Jerusalem – the haven of Christ (peace be upon him) killers; it was going to a supposedly “Christian” community of Corinth.

Secondly, we know for a fact that Paul’s most fundamental preaching was the alleged crucifixion and philosophies around it! Now as Corinthian opponents rejected Paul they did not reject the “man” Paul with two eyes and one nose. They precisely rejected his preaching which has to be the alleged crucifixion and this made Paul write that the crucifixion comes as “foolish” and “offensive” to the Jews – the believing Jews of Corinth in the context; and, likewise, “nonsense” to the Gentiles. If these were not valid, it makes no sense that many Corinthian groups “rejected” Paul.

[2.]       The King James Version of the Bible renders the word “simplicity” in place of your “full and pure devotion”:

“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)

Nevertheless, it hardly makes any difference in the interpretation of the verse when we look at it like a Christian would. For this “simplicity” in Christ (peace be upon him) is the quality of him being the divine Son of God who desires pure and simple devotion to him; and the “simplicity” comes because of his alleged sacrificial death on the cross. Consider some standard expositions of this rendering:

From the simplicity that is in Christ –

 

(1) From simple and single-hearted devotedness to him – from pure and unmixed attachment to him. The fear was that their affections would be fixed on other objects, and that the singleness and unity of their devotedness to him would be destroyed.

(4) from the simplicity in worship which the Lord Jesus commended and required. The worship which the Redeemer designed to establish was simple, unostentatious, and pure – strongly in contrast with the gorgeousness and corruption of the pagan worship, and even with the imposing splendor of the Jewish temple service. (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, 2 Corinthians 11:3)

And,

3. The simplicity that is in Christ] i.e. the pure gospel that salvation is by faith in Christ alone. (A Commentary on the Holy Bible Edited By J.R. Dummelow)

 

Notes:

  • Unless otherwise mentioned, all Qur’anic text taken from Yusuf Ali Translation.
  • Unless otherwise mentioned, all biblical text taken from Good News Edition.
  • Emphasize wherever not matching with original is ours.

Does Qur’an validate Bible?

Does Qur’an validate Bible?

A response to Sam Shamoun’s critique: Qur’an Error – Were Jesus’ Disciples Muslims?

 

Part1

 

Question Mark

Introduction

 

Christian evangelists and missionaries apply a standard argument upon Muslims that the Qur’an “validates” Bible! They especially use this argument against Muslims who are uninitiated in missionary tactics. Once a gullible Muslim is sufficiently duped into this cunning deception, “winning souls” into Christianity is not far off [1.].

Read more

When a ‘Christian’ met Tawhid Al Asma Wa Sifat

A response to the unexpected Christian objections 

Question Mark

Introduction

A certain Christian named C.L.Edwards has objected to our paper wherein we discussed the problems which Christianity, especially the Trinitarian strand of it, faces while dealing with monotheism with regards to God’s attributes and names.

Throughout Edwards directed his response to Ijaz may be either due to careless negligence or sheer obsession as recently they were engaged in a debate. So whenever Edwards refers anything to Ijaz it is actually aimed at me.

Although it was an honor to read Edwards’ response, yet certain very important issues needed to be addressed which we intend to do in this paper.

Problem lies at the base

 

Edwards divides his response into twenty five bullet points. The most important of all lies at the very end! In fact as we would soon observe it shows the philosophy which Edwards as a Trinitarian endorses under the assumption of it being ‘doctrine of monotheism’. As such we would start our analysis from there. Here is Edward’s twenty fifth point:

25. Ijaz says…Monotheism simply means One God, the issue of God incarnating as a man and living the life of a man has nothing to do with whether God is One. The real issue clearly is Ijaz’s psychological hang ups about the incarnation.

Carefully observe the stress upon the definition of monotheism for Edwards. It simply and only means counting God as “One”. We assume this is a standard Trinitarian belief. Nevertheless, on one hand where it is extremely important to count God as one; on the other hand, it is not enough to merely count Him as one! Since even the pagans – by all sense of the word – also count God as one! Consider the following quotations from Hindu scriptures:

“There is only ONE God, not the second; not at all, not at all, not in the least bit.” (Concept of God in Major Religions, Brahma Sutra of Hindu Vedanta, pg. 8)

“He is One only without a second” (Concept of God in Major, Chandogya Upanishad 6:2:1, pg. 5)

Therefore, we do not think that by merely counting God as “one”, Edwards is any different from Hindus who are (generally) known polytheists. As such there has to be more to monotheism than just counting God as one. It is this lack of more qualifications to the imports of monotheism which drives Edwards towards beliefs wherein he allows all sorts of Idolatry under the aegis of Trinitarian Christianity:

24. He then says, “Nevertheless, they have no qualms when they ring their church bells about “God” being delivered out of Mary’s womb “in the crude way” or, “God” being poked on cross while he was almost naked or, still more weirdly, a dead “God” hanging on the cross with probably scavenger hovering over “His” head until his “dead body” was to be placed in a cave.” No we do not, just like the previous messengers had no qualms about this, nor Jesus disciples, nor Jesus himself. because this is what God had said would happen and it is what did happen. Your inability to accept or grasp how it could be is irrelevant, unless you only want a “god” that conforms to your mind(aka an idol).

To paraphrase Edwards’ stand: once a Christian has sufficiently “counted” God to be “one” then he is monotheist enough to allow God being delivered out of Mary’s womb in the crude way; God hanging almost nude on the cross; or even more embarrassingly, monotheists carrying God’s “dead body” into ‘His’ “grave”! So on and so forth.

In other words, a Hindu would be a polytheist since he is worshipping “God-man” like Krishna but a Trinitarian Christian would be a ‘monotheist’ destined to heaven since he worships Jesus (peace be upon him) – , albeit, another ‘God-man’; even though both a Hindu and a Christian “counts” God to be absolutely “one”! We do not really have any good explanation for this extremely biased and partisan approach towards different “God-mans” apart from the fact that either “God is God of Israel” – the nationalistic God and thus the biased approach or, the so-called philosophy of “hypostatic union”:

In fact Edwards readily accepted a number of utterly idolatrous acts for God under the name of hypostatic union. Following is the list,

1)      God being procreated out of the womb of Mary “in the crude way”.

2)      God contained inside His “mother’s” womb

3)      God sucking his life of his mother.

4)      God producing biological waste.

5)      God almost made naked on cross.

6)      God made to bleed and wounded.

7)      God being spat on his face.

8)      And, on top of all of that, “God” dying on the cross

9)      And, “God’s” dead body being enshrouded and placed in cave.

 

And following is Edwards’ acceptance of them under the explanation of hypostatic union!

“16. Ijaz then lists many things that happened to Jesus Christ while incarnate as a man, that he says do not befit God. In a sense I agree from the stand point of God in his essence would never be nailed to a cross(how could a incorporeal being be nailed to anything?), but God incarnate in the manner detailed by the doctrine of the hypostatic union could and did do all those things without violating his “God-hood”.

Edwards goes on to explain what hypostatic union means and how it justifies all of the above blasphemous attributes upon God:

13. Ijaz then says “On the same reasoning, Jesus (peace be upon him) cannot be imputed with some of the attributes which ill-fits a “God”” Correction Jesus as the incarnate God-man having two natures could not have attributes ”ill-fit” for a God ascribed to his divine essence(dhat). As for His second additional nature that he took upon himself, it is fully human in every sense of the word. Since Jesus two natures are not mixed or co-mingled causing a dilution nor a cancellation of the other, Christs human nature imputes nothing ”ill-fit” to his divine nature.

This is pure Greek philosophy than anything else since we cannot have a “union” of two mutually exclusive attributes at the same time and in the same entity. Although Edwards asserts that Jesus’ (peace be upon him) humanity would not interrupt his divinity yet this is not possible. To explain this let’s take a situation in Jesus’ (peace be upon him) life where he was in his mother’s womb. When the baby, in other words, the human Jesus (peace be upon him) was in the womb along with it the “God” of Trinitarians was also clinging to the uterine wall of Mary! So, where it is perfectly acceptable for a human Jesus (peace be upon him) to be contained in Mary; however, it is grotesque even to imagine “God” hanging in Mary’s womb! And yet this is exactly acceptable under the explanation of “hypostatic union”!

To further realize the absurd implications of the “hypostatic union”, we would go further earlier in Mary’s pregnancy. Think about the time when Jesus (peace be upon him) was not even a baby in the womb – the zygote state. By the very token of “hypostatic union” we would have to grant that the zygote was both a mere human-pre-natal state and at the same time (hypostatic union) “God” Almighty clinging to the womb of Mary as a mere two celled organism! So if the dual nature of Jesus (peace be upon him) – the divine and the human – by the virtue of “hypostatic union” allows him to be referred as “God-man” during his adult ministry, then by the same token of “hypostatic union” it should have been ‘doctrinally’ permissible to call him “God-zygote” during his incipient stages!?

The above explanations make it amply clear that the human nature of Jesus (peace be upon him) does interfere with his divine nature (if he has one). And this cannot be merely explained away by assuming that “two natures are not mixed or co-mingled causing a dilution nor a cancellation of the other, Christs human nature imputes nothing ”ill-fit” to his divine nature.”!

At last, some attributes are blasphemous

Edwards, however, does not allow everything for Jesus (peace be upon him):

15…For those unfamiliar with Christian doctrine it does not teach “the “Son of God” would procreate his “Son””. Ijaz does such things constantly and despite being corrected he continues on,  I can only speculate because it befits his attempts at dawah.

Note how precisely Edwards deny the notion that Jesus (peace be upon him) would beget any kid(s). He reasons that the “Christian doctrine…does not teach” so. However hardly does he care to enquire why the “Christian doctrine” is so? Why Jesus (peace be upon him) cannot procreate? The reason is simple. Jesus (peace be upon him) – the human – begetting a kid would be acceptable but because of the “hypostatic” phenomenon, the divine nature is also co-residing; thus, Jesus (peace be upon him) betaking kids would defy all monotheistic paradigms. And in this situation church mandated the Christian “doctrine” that Jesus (peace be upon him) cannot beget kids.

However, on one hand where the “Christian doctrine” disallows Jesus (peace be upon him) begetting kids, nevertheless, ironically it does allow Jesus (peace be upon him) himself being begotten off Mary! Furthermore, Christian “doctrine” does allow Jesus (peace be upon him) to bleed, sweat, feel for hunger, and so logically, have all other hormonal developments including reproductive as there is in any other human being – yet the only thing he cannot do is beget kids!

It was to circumvent these nasty implications that Islam qualified that there is more in monotheism than mere count of God as “one”. It made it necessary that besides recognizing and counting God as one, sufficient care has to be taken with regards to His attributes. His attributes should not be invested upon His creation and vice-versa.

In fact the Hebrew Bible also teaches the same! Therefore, we quoted Exodus20:4. Nevertheless, Edwards neglected it with the explanation that the verse merely speaks against the “making” of idols:

4. Exodus 20:4 does not prove the following statement, “Quite obviously Bible is denying that attribute of any creation can be imputed upon the Almighty”. Exodus 20:4 is a prohibition against making idols.

Similarly, for obvious Trinitarian reasons, Edwards also asserted that Deuteronomy 4:16 does not speak against any humanization of God:

18. Ijaz further exposes his lack of knowledge of Christian theology by supposing the incarnation of Christ is some how like the craving of a idol in his quoting of Deuteronomy 4:16. I am not sure how a command from God to Israel to not crave idols disproves God could have the ability(or will) to take on a second additional nature and co-exist as both God and man. Again ijaz ignores the actual topic of the passage(do not make idols) and feels free to make it say what he “feels” it should say.

We would consider Deuteronomy 4:16 only for brevity and check if it only concerns with “making” of idols. This is what the text reads:

Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, (Deuteronomy 4:16)

As usual Edwards neglects the reason why God is not to be represented in an idol. A verse earlier, Bible explicitly gives the reason:

And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go over to possess it. Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: (Deuteronomy 4:14-15)

God’s reasoning is very clear: On the day when He spoke, Israelites could not observe His similitude to any of His creatures! As such it was forbidden that Israelites represent Him in any shape or form including human males. More specifically, God does not have any similitude to male humans and thus it would be idolatry to conceive Him in that form and worship.

However, when Edwards tries to limit the scope of the verse to mean merely forbiddance of idol making and worship, then he even goes against the standard Christian interpretation of the verse:

Deuteronomy 4:16

The likeness of male or female – Such as Baal-peor and the Roman Priapus, Ashtaroth or Astarte, and the Greek and Roman Venus; after whom most nations of the world literally went a whoring. (Adam Clarke’s commentary on the Bible)

the likeness of male or female; of a man or a woman; so some of the Heathen deities were in the likeness of men, as Jupiter, Mars, Hercules, Apollo, &c. and others in the likeness of women, as Juno, Diana, Venus, &c. Some think Osiris and Isis, Egyptian deities, the one male, the other female, are respected; but it is not certain that these were worshipped by them so early. (John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Out of the many names which the commentator has provided many were real mennot mere idols. However, they are criticized as “Heathen deities” since God has no similitude to “males”! And so personification of God is here termed as paganism.

Nevertheless, Christians would never apply the same standards upon Jesus (peace be upon him) even though he is just another male like Hercules or Apollo! In Jesus (peace be upon him), Christians somehow do see (similitude of) God notwithstanding the premises of the preceding Hebrew biblical verses.

To further expose the weakness of the argument that the verse merely speaks about “making” of idols we would consider the era when, say, Krishna was physically moving around in the villages of India “preaching” about spirituality and performing “miracles” among masses. And consider the group of people worshipping him during his earthly ministry; now what would Edwards say about the religious practices of these people! Are they ‘monotheists’ (remember they (Hindus) staunchly count God as one) – or polytheists! Note that these people would not be into any idol business since they have their deity physically present with them. If Edwards would still deem them as polytheists for the mere reason that they worshipped a “God-man” then how is he himself with all other Christians a ‘monotheist’?

As such Christians should provide strong enough reasons why as a non-Christian we should reject all other “Heathen” god-men in the name of ‘monotheism’ but yet accept the deity of Jesus (peace be upon him), who was yet another god-man. One cannot accept such a notion unless s/he is flagrantly biased; since, if Jesus (peace be upon him) performed miracles and that makes him to be “God” then so did a number of other claimants of divinity in other religions. If Christians have a “scripture” which allegedly speak of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) deity; most other “Heathen” religions also have scripture, in fact many even predating New Testament, that also speak of their candidates as gods! And most importantly, if Jesus (peace be upon him) is a “God-man” so were a number of others!

But if the acceptance-rejection yardstick lies only on the mere fact that the “Heathens” in absence of their man-gods portrayed them in idols then we would have to accept that the few sects of Christianity, which are easily outnumbered by more dominant ones, are only a step behind in “Heathenism” since they do have full-blown image/idol of Jesus (peace be upon him) in their minds during their “services”.

Humanization in Islam

On the fly, Edwards accused Islam of humanizing God as well:

17. Ijaz a man who follows a religion that teaches God has a face, two eyes, a shin, feet, will be seen in the form of a man, and descends down into time and space then claims, “ What is disappointing in all of this is that Bible strictly speaks against any such idolatrous humanization of God”. Besides the fact that Christian theology doesn’t teach the humanization of God in the manner Ijaz accuses, see point 13, 15 and 16.

Islamic Scriptures does speak about face, shin but it also states that:

(He is) the Creator of the heavens and the earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves, and pairs among cattle: by this means does He multiply you: there is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the One that hears and sees (all things). (Qur’an 42:11)

Commenting on the above highlighted part of the verse, Shaikh Philips writes the following:

The attributes of hearing and seeing are among the human attributes, but when they are attributed to The Divine Being they are without comparison in their perfection. However, when these attributes are associated with men they necessitate ear and eye apparatuses which cannot be attributed to God. What man knows about the Creator is only what little He has revealed to him through His prophets. Therefore, man is obliged to stay within these narrow limits. When man gives free reign to his intellect in describing God, he is liable to fall into error by assigning to Allah the attributes of His creation. (The Fundamentals of Tawheed (Islamic Monotheism), Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, pp 28-29)

And,

Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;  And there is none like unto Him. (Qur’an 112: 1-4)

Noted Qur’an commentator Yusuf Ali also reflects likewise:

This sums up the whole argument and warns us specially against Anthropomorphism, the tendency to conceive of Allah after our own pattern, an insidious tendency that creeps in at all times and among all peoples.

Thus when Allah (SWT) states that He has a Face or Hands etc the similarity lies only in the linguistic words, certainly not in the imports. On the basis of preceding Qur’anic verses, we do not have any warrant to make deductions/conclusions that if Allah (SWT) said about His Face then it would mean a face made up of two eyes, one nose, pair of lips and ears – comprising of epidermis, fat, muscles, nerves, blood etc; since in the end God also said “nothing whatsoever is like unto Him”. We need to be particularly careful with the last clause since God will question about it.

Conclusion

With regards to Edwards’ understanding of monotheism, we observed some peculiar and typical statements like,

18…I am not sure how a command from God to Israel to not crave idols disproves God could have the ability(or will) to take on a second additional nature and co-exist as both God and man.

25…Also Monotheism simply means One God, the issue of God incarnating as a man and living the life of a man has nothing to do with whether God is One. The real issue clearly is Ijaz’s psychological hang ups about the incarnation.

These give strong indication for the type of philosophy Edwards endorses as “monotheism”; and we assume that Edwards is trying his best to demonstrate the standard Christian doctrine of monotheism. As such the type of monotheism which Christianity offers to humanity is extremely narrow. It is just the count of God to one which matters added with the denial of idols.

However, Christianity does allow drawing similitude to God even though the Hebrew Bible expressly rejects it. In order to accommodate the “incarnation” or the humanization of God, Christianity neglects the reason why the God of Israel forbade representing Him through idols. It was because, as He explained, He does not have any similitude or resemblance to any of His creation, including “male” humans. And so it would be attributing “male” resemblance upon God which has to be rejected as paganism. If this essence and theme is neglected from the verse then it does not matter whether one worships Jesus (peace be upon him) or Krishna or any other “God-man” since, as we saw, even the Hindu scriptures counted God as “one” so a Krishna worshipper is still a ‘monotheist’ in that regard. Thus, until we filter out “incarnation” of God (i.e., attributing the qualities of humans upon God), as a non-Christian it is hard to see difference between Paganism and Christianity.

And so in all good spirit we request Edwards to ponder into the following words of God where He is addressing the very delusion of most humans who ‘think’ they believe in God but…

…most of them believe not in Allah without associating (other as partners) with Him! (Qur’an 12:106)

“Travel through the earth and see what was the end of those before (you):Most of them worshipped others besides Allah.” (Qur’an 30:42)

Notes:

  • Unless otherwise mentioned, all Qur’anic texts taken from Yusuf Ali Translation.
  • Unless otherwise mentioned, all biblical texts taken from King James Version.
  • All emphasize wherever not matching with original is ours.

 

P.S.: This paper was mostly responsive where we responded to a number of issues Edwards raised. During the course, we touched on issues which might hurt Christian feelings. Nevertheless, it was never our intention to hurt any sincere Christian sentiment. We apologize, in case, if any Christian sentiment has been hurt. We seek God’s guidance and mercy.

The nude young man of the Gospel(s)!

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,

The nude young man of the Gospel(s)!

Investigating the weird presence of a mysterious man with biblical Jesus (peace be upon him)

Question Mark

Introduction

It was one of the most critical juncture in biblical Jesus’ (peace be upon him) life time. Only a few hours before he was to be confiscated by the colluded forces of Jewish elders and Roman authorities; Jesus (peace be upon him) was in the garden of Gethsemane with a “distressful”, “anguished” heart “crushed under sorrow” (Mark 14: 33-34).

Given the ponderous situation, Jesus (peace be upon him) wanted, as naturally expected, his most loyal and some of the best disciples to accompany him in the garden. He bestowed Peter, James and John with the privilege (Mark 14:33).

However, mysteriously Jesus (peace be upon him) was also followed by an hitherto unknown person:

And they all left him, and fled. And a certain young man followed with him, having a linen cloth cast about him, over his naked body: and they lay hold on him; but he left the linen cloth, and fled naked. (Mark 14:50-52, Revised Version)

Then all the disciples left him and ran away. A certain young man, dressed only in a linen cloth, was following Jesus. They tried to arrest him, but he ran away naked, leaving the cloth behind. (Mark 14: 50-52, Good News Edition)

The above “verses” perfunctorily looks simple. However, it entails with it rather intriguing and important queries:

  1. Who was this “young man”?
  2. Why did he dress up so unusually with only a thin linen sheet covering his nakedness going to otherwise public place – the gardenof Gethsemane, under sensitive setting of seizure of Messiah (peace be upon him) who was to be put to death?
  3. What motivated this young man to endanger his life by following Jesus (peace be upon him) in that risky situation?
  4. Did he “follow” Jesus (peace be upon him) as his disciple?
  5. If he was a disciple, why was he not introduced before?
  6. Furthermore, except Mark, why are every other New Testament author, including the gospel authors, absolutely silent about him?

Moreover,

  1. Why did the “Holy Ghost” felt it now important enough to mention him who was hitherto un-introduced?
  2. What did the author achieve by mentioning the young man in not more than two “verses” in the “God’s word”? After all every portion of scripture has to attain some objective (2 Timothy 3: 16-17)
  3. Why did the “Holy Ghost” inspire the author to stress on young man’s dress that he was wrapped in only a linen sheet – implying and later expressly informing that he was naked underneath?

Yet further,

  1. The abrupt appearance of an unusual man out of nowhere in the gospel;
  • Does it allude that these “verses” are a result of interpolation?
  • Or, does it prove that there was much more in the gospel of Mark than which survived in the “New Testament”; and the presence of the young man is just an allusion of that larger, more elaborative gospel of Mark now lost for good!?

The queries are numerous around otherwise innocent looking only two verses long “God’s word”! However, there simply isn’t enough information in the New Testament(1.) about the young-man to answer the above queries. As Bible expositor Albert Barnes noted, “A certain young man – Who this was we have NO means of determining” (Albert Barnes’ notes on the Bible, Mark 14:51)

Nevertheless, (not) surprisingly we do have ancient Christian writings which directly allude to the intriguing only linen laden otherwise nude young-man. Even more interestingly, these writings were also authored by the same author Mark (!) – remember no other author in the entire New Testament has referred to this young-man except Mark – entitled as the “Secret Gospel of Mark”.

  

Secret gospel of Mark 

 

New Testament giant Morton Smith made a remarkable discovery of a letter from Clement of Alexandria – an early (merely second century), influencing and “orthodox” church father. The Clementine letter was discovered in one of the not-so-easily-accessible monasteries in the so-called “Holy Land”! This was an orthodox monastery in Mar Saba.

In the letter, Clement alludes to the circulation of several other versions of gospel of Mark in Alexandria during his time:

“Clement indicates that Mark wrote an account of Jesus’ public ministry based on his acquaintance with the apostle Peter in Rome; in his Gospel, however, Mark did not divulge the secret teachings of Jesus to his disciples. But after Peter was martyred, Mark moved to Alexandria and there composed a second“more spiritual Gospel” for those who were more spiritually advanced. Even though he still did not divulge the greatest secrets of Jesus’ teachings, he did add stories to his Gospel to assist the Christian elite in progressing in their knowledge of the truth.

According to this letter, in other words, there were three versions of Mark’s Gospelavailable in Alexandria: the original Mark (presumably the Mark we are familiar with in the canon); a Secret Mark, which he issued for the spiritually elite; and a Carpocratian Mark, filled with the false teachings of the licentious heretic. (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, p. 73)

It was a quotation from “Secret Mark” which Clement cited in his letter and which eventually has relevance to our mysterious, only linen laden young-man. Consider the following intriguing account from the “Secret Mark” which took place just after the “canonical”New Testament Mark 10:34:

They came to Bethany, and a woman was there whose brother had died. She came and prostrated herself before Jesus, saying to him, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” But his disciples rebuked her. Jesus became angry and went off with her to the garden where the tomb was. Immediately a loud voice was heard from the tomb. Jesus approached and rolled the stone away from the entrance to the tomb. Immediately he went in where the young man was, stretched out his hand, and raised him by seizing his hand. The young man looked at him intently and loved him; and he began pleading with him that he might be with him. When they came out of the tomb they went to the young man’s house, for he was wealthy. And after six days Jesus gave him a command. And when it was evening the young man came to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. He stayed with him that night, for Jesus was teaching him the mystery of the Kingdom of God. When he got up from there, he returned to the other side of the Jordan. (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, p.74)

We pointed out earlier the abrupt presence of the “young man” in the “canonical” gospel of Mark. However, if we accommodate the notion that Mark actually wrote a much larger version comprising of the canonical gospel of Mark and the Secret gospel of Mark; then we then find a confluent flow of the text.

Now we have a context in which the mysterious “young man” is no more mysterious! We now know that he was a dead man in Bethany and Jesus (peace be upon him) raised him up miraculously upon the request of his sister. Consequently, he became a disciple of Jesus (peace be upon him).

Although we may now know who this young-man was, yet we do not know why he chose to wear just a linen cloth? We still need to investigate this. It is a fact that every human wearing any cloth, let alone a linen wrapping, would be nude underneath it. Thus, it is intriguing to note that the author Mark chose to emphasize that the man was nude under his linen wrapping in both his “canonical” and “Secret” works!

On the foregoing, Christian scholars, not Muslim “propagandists”, have asserted that (i) young-man’s unusual dressing sense (ii) his overnight stay with Jesus (peace be upon him) and (iii) Jesus (peace be upon him) “teaching” him “mysteries” of Kingdom of God the whole night; have homoerotic overtones:

It is this newly recovered story which has caused the greatest stir in connection with Smith’s discovery. For even though it is similar to stories in the canonical Gospels, such as the raising of Lazarus in John 11 and the story of the rich young man in Mark 10, there are significant differences. And some of the differences, especially near the end, have appeared to some interpreters, notably Smith himself, to have clear homoerotic overtones. Jesus becomes acquainted with a young man who loves him and who comes to him wearing nothing but a linen cloth over his naked body. Jesus then spends the night with him, teaching him about the mystery of the Kingdom. What is that all about? (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, p. 74)

 

These Christian scholars could see erotic insinuations since they somehow see its roots in the New Testament itself; it was indeed a Christian (cult) practice in early churches to get “baptized” nude and unite with Christ (peace be upon him):

[Morton] Smith is struck, quite understandably, by the fact that the young man comes to Jesus wearing nothing but a linen cloth over his nakedness. That sounds like someone coming forward for baptism, since in the early church, people were baptized, as adults, in the nude (after taking off a simple robe worn to the ceremony). Now the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke do not indicate that Jesus baptized people. But the Gospel of John indicates that he may have done so (John 3:22; 4:1–2).Moreover, the apostle Paul talks about baptism and indicates that at baptism a person is somehow “united” with Christ (Rom. 6:1–6). Did Paul, after Jesus’ death, make up such a view himself? No, argues Smith, it was a view known to Jesus’ followers before his death, because it was Jesus’ own view. Jesus himself baptized people, and in that baptism they came to be united with him. (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, p.80)

 

Authenticity

  

The easiest way out for Christians is to simply discard the letter of Clement as fictitious (2.). However, there is sizeable Christian scholars who do consider the Clementine epistle to be authentic!

Morton Smith being the scholar that he was had the following consensus of scholars:

But how could one establish that the letter was from Clement rather than, say, from a forger pretending to be Clement hundreds of years later (who fooled, then, the eighteenth-century scribe who copied the letter)? The first step Smith took in answering the question was to show the letter to scholars who were experts in Clement, who had spent their lives studying Clement, who would recognize a new work by Clement simply on the basis of its subject matter and writing style. When he did so, the majority of the experts agreed, this looked very much like something Clement would write. If someone had forged it, she or he had done highly credible work. But how could one know for sure? The only way to decide is by making a careful point-by-point comparison of the vocabulary, writing style, modes of expression, and ideas found in the letter with the vocabulary, writing style, modes of expression, and ideas found in the writings known to have been produced by Clement. This, needless to say, is not a simple task, not the sort of thing most people would care to undertake. But Smith did it. One word at a time. It was slow, arduous, painstaking work of many years. The results are published in his scholarly volume, and they are impressive.

This was not an easy kind of work to produce in the days before computers. But Smith was able to use this and similar resources to determine whether his discovery followed Clement’s writing style and used his distinctive vocabulary and whether it ever used a style or words uncharacteristic of Clement. The end result was that this letter looks very much like something Clement would have written. In fact, it is so much like Clement that it would be well nigh impossible to imagine someone other than Clement being able to write it, before tools like those produced by modern Clement scholars such as Stählin were available. Smith’s verdict was that the letter actually was written by Clement of Alexandria. (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, p. 77-78)

Smith went on to establish that not merely was the Clementine letter authentic (3.)but that the Markan quotation was also in line with author Mark:

But were the quotations of Secret Mark in this letter of Clement actually written by the author of the Gospel of Mark? Here again, it is a question of vocabulary, writing style, modes of expression, and theology. A careful analysis of the quotations of Clement indicates that these passages, while not in the style of Clement himself, are very much in the style of Mark as found in the New Testament. (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, p. 79)

At the outset, however, I should emphasize that the majority of scholars Smith consulted while doing his research were convinced that the letter was authentic, and probably a somewhat smaller majority agreed that the quotations of Secret Mark actually derived from a version of Mark. Even today, these are the majority opinions. (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, p. 81)

To add more value to the genuineness of the letter, it is fact that the letter is now out-of-sight from the library of Mar Saba which ironically had always been a highly restricted area!

Some years later, someone told Stroumsa of a rumor that the letter of Clement had been cut out of the book for “safe-keeping.” Stroumsa called the librarian at the Greek Patriarchate and was told that it was true. He himself had done just that. And he now did not know where the pages were. And that’s the end of the story. Did the librarian hide the pages, to keep scholars from rifling through the monks’ treasured possessions looking for lost Gospels? Did he burn the pages simply to get them off his hands? Where are they now? Do they still exist? I’m afraid that as of this moment, no one appears to know. Maybe that will change. What is certain is that no one has carefully examined the book itself, and it may be that no one ever will. (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, p.84)

The “loss” of such a critically acclaimed antique letter, in this age of science, technology and preservation points forcefully to the fact that there was something(to say the least) which was rather embarrassing to the “orthodox” Christianity. Otherwise how and why would a letter of antiquity be “lost” – just like that, from a highly restricted and reserved site!

As if these were not enough, we even have scholars who assert on “good reasons” that the nude companion of Jesus (peace be upon him) was the author Mark himself (!):

“His disciples failed Him, but as He submitted to the Father’s will His spirit rose triumphant. Sleep on now-the past is irrevocable. The disciples fled as fast as their feet would carry them. If only they had prayed, they would have been steadfast and unmovable. There are good reasons for supposing that the young man mentioned here was Mark himself.” (Mark 14:32-52, Alone in the hour of Trial, Through the Bible Day by Day by F.B. Meyer)

F.B. Meyer is not the only scholar, even Robertson concurs with him:

A certain young man (neaniskos tis). This incident alone in Mark. It is usually supposed that Mark himself, son of Mary (Act_12:12) in whose house they probably had observed the passover meal, had followed Jesus and the apostles to the Garden. It is a lifelike touch quite in keeping with such a situation. Here after the arrest he was following with Jesus (sunēkolouthei autōi, imperfect tense). Note the vivid dramatic present kratousin (they seize him). (Mark 14:51, Robertson’s Word Pictures)

It cannot, therefore, be mere coincidence that (i) we have “Holy Ghost” only inspiring Mark about the young man, (ii) the secret gospel is also attributed to Mark with a good level of authenticity and (iii) multiple orthodox conservative scholars asserting that the nude man was Mark himself!It is all Mark, Mark and Mark!

Christians might reject it on “obvious” grounds however, the preceding chain of observations strongly imply that the nude man’s presence in the garden had some pretext not worthy of mention in the “canonical” gospel!

Furthermore, let’s apply the Principle of Embarrassment to the incident of nude man. We are applying the Principle since Christian apologists love applying it against Islam especially when they deal with the issue of “Satanic Verses”. So we thought of applying the same on Christianity as well.

The following Christian polemical source defines the Principle for us:

Principle of Embarrassment: is a principle that is employed to validate the trustworthiness, authenticity, and truthfulness of any historical document. Christian apologetics also applies this principle to determine the historicity of the events described in the Bible. When a source (s) that can potentially damage/s its case admits something embarrassing, these assertions are unlikely to be invented or fabricated. (CAFN)

Based on the observed facts that we have, namely, (i) a “Christian” text, (ii) found in highly restricted “Christian” monastery, (iii) discovered by “Christian” scholar, (iv) approved by “Christian” academia, (v) attributed to “inspired” “evangelist” Mark himself!, it can be concluded on the lines of Principle of Embarrassment that the text could not possibly be an invention or fabrication.

Conclusion

 

In the last few pages of the canonical gospel of Mark we found bizarre presence of a mysterious young-man. Hitherto, unknown in the gospel (or in any of the gospels for that reason)! Neither did we have any clue as to who he was nor were we given any context alluding to this weird person.

Moreover, out of nowhere, we find him in the one of the most critical place with one of the most important man in Christianity – Jesus (peace be upon him). What he was doing in such a risky place – the garden of Gethsemane – where authorities came to handcuff Jesus (peace be upon him) to put him to death!

The young-man’s presence made the flow of the gospel rather jerky and as such it pointed to either of the two possibilities: (i) either, for some unknown reason, the verses concerning the young-man was interpolated in the text of the gospel or (ii) the gospel itself was a crafty redacting/editing work of a larger text. Both the conclusions raises question on the preservation of the so-called “Injeel”.

On the foregoing [point (ii)], the unaccounted and abrupt presence of the young-man was easily explained when we allowed that at one point of time the gospel of Mark was much larger than the present one.

However, besides explaining the identity and purpose of the young-man, this larger version of gospel of Mark also added the embarrassment of “homoerotic overtones” upon Jesus (peace be upon him) – the second god of the Trinitarian godhead. To add more chagrin, Christian scholars consider the narration to be genuine.

Of course, as a Muslim, based on the information of Qur’an and Hadith, we do not believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) would have ever tolerated any man in merelinen wrapping, let alone teaching him about any “Kingdom of God” the whole night, he would have chided him towards modest dressing! Nevertheless, we are not dealing with the information from Qur’an or Hadith. We have the so called God breathed, canonized gospel of Mark.

 We do not believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) could be attributed with any “homoerotic” attribution, this is not because certain Christian scholar has doubted the authenticity of Clementine letter, but because we believed in what Mohammad (peace be upon him) taught us about Jesus (peace be upon him) six hundred yearsafter his ascension. Nevertheless, marginalizing “homoerotic” twists from the text does not explain who this (nude) man was, what was he doing in the garden especially in that eccentric attire so on and so forth?

In the light of the above, either the mysterious young-man would always be mysterious since neither Mark nor any other evangelist took pain to inform sufficiently about him. Or, since Mark has referred to him, we would have to painfully refer to the larger version of Mark at the cost of imputing “homoerotic overtones” on the person otherwise labeled as “lord” Jesus (peace be upon him) of the Christians.

 

Notes:

 

  • Unless otherwise mentioned all biblical texts taken from Good News Edition.
  • Emphasis wherever not matching with original is ours.
  • A few Christian apologists like using the argument that Qur’an does not elaborate who Zaid was? And thus they deem it incomplete. However, such apologists need to be careful the next time they use any such argument. Because we would certainly enquire who was this (ironically) nameless young man, let alone his purposes with Jesus (peace be upon him).

 

Footnote:

 

(1.)  That is the “New Testament” which was handed to us after church’s century long deliberations after suppressing and destroying many other New Testaments.

 

(2.) It is an open secret now why Christian apologists would deem the incident of nude man learning “Kingdom of God” from Jesus (peace be upon him) as dubious. They would not accept the appeal to “apocryphal” notwithstanding the internal and external proof of authenticity Christian scholars give.

However, this helps us expose these apologists for their double standards: they have no qualms when imposing all sorts of Islamic “apocrypha” on Muslims. One can easily see a pattern where either disowned “Hish  hhJJHistory” of At-Tabari; or unknown sources of Ibn Ishaq; or mere “Chronicles” of Waqidi etc are used. None of the preceding texts are “canonical” in Islam yet they are widely used to demonize Islam. Next time Christian apologists are required to be more prudent with their choice of Islamic texts.

(3.) Contrarily there had been few scholars who doubted the authenticity of the letter. However, because of the majority positive opinion towards the letter, they could never come to a concrete and common consensus.

Some scholars have thought the letter was forged, either in antiquity or in the Middle Ages or in the modern period. Some have suspected from the beginning that Smith forged it. Those who think so appear to be increasing in number—or at least they are speaking out more, now that Smith is not around to respond. Among the earliest doubters was one of the greatest scholars of Christian antiquity of the twentieth century, Smith’s own teacher at Harvard, Arthur Darby Nock,… But Nock evidently did not think that it would have been a modern forger, let alone Smith. Others have thought otherwise. (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, p. 82)

Refutation: The Quran on Muslims Entering Hell

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,

Missionaries often like to claim that the Qur’an says all Muslims will go to hell. There is one Missionary/ Christian polemic who bases a significant portion of his writings on this argument. Sam Shamoun not only things that the Qur’an says this[1][2], he also claims the Qur’an contradicts itself about this particular verse[3], it reads:

And not one of you but shall pass over it: it is for thy Lord an ordinance decreed.

There are two opinions on this verse, namely:

  1. The believers and disbelievers will go across a bridge above the fire, the disbelievers will fall in (thus the bridge is the entry to the fire), and the believers will cross without punishment.
  2. The believers and disbelievers may have to enter the fire, but the believers will walk away without damage, as Abraham [alayhi as salaam] walked away from the fire of Nimrod without any mark, pain, or suffering.

Muslims are also aware that according to Sunni sources [4][5], Muslims who have less good deeds than bad, may be sent to the fire to pay for their sins, upon which they will then be allowed to enter Jannah, there acceptance into heaven dependant upon their levels of ‘Iman:

Then it will be said, ‘O Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to; and ask, for your will be granted (your request); and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.’ I will say, ‘O Lord, my followers! My followers!’ And then it will be said, ‘Go and take out of Hell (Fire) all those who have faith in their hearts, equal to the weight of a barley grain.’ I will go and do so and return to praise Him with the same praises, and fall down (prostrate) before Him. Then it will be said, ‘O Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to, and ask, for you will be granted (your request); and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.’ I will say, ‘O Lord, my followers! My followers!’ It will be said, ‘Go and take out of it all those who have faith in their hearts equal to the weight of a small ant or a mustard seed.’ I will go and do so and return to praise Him with the same praises, and fall down in prostration before Him. It will be said, ‘O, Muhammad, raise your head and speak, for you will be listened to, and ask, for you will be granted (your request); and intercede, for your intercession will be accepted.’ I will say, ‘O Lord, my followers!’ Then He will say, ‘Go and take out (all those) in whose hearts there is faith even to the lightest, lightest mustard seed. (Take them) out of the Fire.’ I will go and do so.”‘

From this, we understand that Muslims, even with a mustard’s seed of ‘Iman will be allowed into Jannah due to the intercession of the Prophet Muhammad [sallalahu alayhi wa sallam]. Sam Shamoun however, concludes otherwise:

These traditions demonstrate the plausibility of interpreting 19:71 to mean that every Muslim will enter hell. After all, if Allah allows bad Muslims to enter hell and then come out due to Muhammad’s intercession, then he can also allow good Muslims to enter there as well. More importantly, these hadiths do not necessarily state that Muhammad is interceding simply for bad Muslims.

Unfortunately, Sam logic betrays his arguments. These ahadith demonstrate the opposite of Sam’s claim, you will notice that the ahadith specifically mentions the level of ‘Iman of which those people in the fire possess. What happens to those with a higher level of ‘Iman? The level of ‘Iman for which those Muslims entered the fire, was equal or less than to the first mentioned criteria: a grain of barley, other narrations mention the weight of a dinar. Therefore Sam’s argument is debunked by simply understanding the hadith. Does Sam believe that Muslims will a barley’s grain of faith, are not bad Muslims? Logic contradicts Sam’s claim. Up to this point, what can we conclude?

  1. Some Muslims will not enter hell (the will cross the entrance – the bridge across hell), the fire will not burn them while they cross into heaven.
  2. Some Muslims will enter hell, these are essentially weak Muslims who have sinned, the minimum criteria is considered to have a barley grain’s worth of ‘Iman.

Sam is therefore proposing a gross generalization, in his mind he thinks that if a hadith or ayah says some Muslims go to hell, that it means all Muslims go to hell. He is essentially forcing his understanding upon the sources which directly claim otherwise as I have duly demonstrated. We will now read what some of the commentators of the Qur’an have to say:

Ibn Kathir [6] says in his Tafsir:

Ibn Jarir reported from `Abdullah that he said concerning Allah’s statement,

﴿وَإِن مِّنكُمْ إِلاَّ وَارِدُهَا﴾

(There is not one of you but will pass over it.) “The bridge over Hell is like the sharp edge of a sword. The first group to cross it will pass like a flash of lightning. The second group will pass like the wind. The third group will pass like the fastest horse. The fourth group will pass like the fastest cow. Then, the rest will pass while the angels will be saying, `O Allah save them, save them.’ ” This narration has supporting narrations similar to it from the Prophet in the Two Sahihs and other collections as well. These narrations have been related by Anas, Abu Sa`id, Abu Hurayrah, Jabir and other Companions, may Allah be pleased with them all. Ahmad also recorded that Umm Mubashshar, the wife of Zayd bin Harithah, said, “The Messenger of Allah was in the house of Hafsah when he said,

«لَا يَدْخُلُ النَّارَ أَحَدٌ شَهِدَ بَدْرًا وَالْحُدَيْبِيَّة»

(No one who was present at the battles of Badr and Hudaybiyyah (of the Muslims) will enter into the Hellfire.) Then, Hafsah said, “Doesn’t Allah say,

﴿وَإِن مِّنكُمْ إِلاَّ وَارِدُهَا﴾

(There is not one of you but will pass over it (Hell);) The Messenger of Allah replied by reciting,

﴿ثُمَّ نُنَجِّى الَّذِينَ اتَّقَواْ﴾

(Then We shall save those who had Taqwa.) In the Two Sahihs there is a Hadith reported from Az-Zuhri, from Sa`id from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said,

«لَا يَمُوتُ لِأَحَدٍ مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ ثَلَاثَةٌ مِنَ الْوَلَدِ تَمَسُّهُ النَّارُ إِلَّا تَحِلَّةَ الْقَسَم»

(No one of the Muslims who has had three children, who all died, will be touched by the Hellfire, except for an oath that must be fulfilled.) `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam commented on Allah’s statement,

﴿وَإِن مِّنكُمْ إِلاَّ وَارِدُهَا﴾

(There is not one of you but will pass over it;) “The passing of the Muslims (over the Hellfire) means their passing over a bridge that is over it. But the passing of the idolators over the Hellfire refers to their admission to the Fire.” As-Suddi reported from Murrah, from Ibn Mas`ud, that he said concerning Allah’s statement,

﴿كَانَ عَلَى رَبِّكَ حَتْماً مَّقْضِيّاً﴾

(this is with your Lord; a Hatman decree.) “An oath that must be fulfilled.” Mujahid said, “Hatman means preordainment.” Ibn Jurayj said the same. Concerning Allah’s statement,

﴿ثُمَّ نُنَجِّى الَّذِينَ اتَّقَواْ﴾

(Then We shall save those who had Taqwa. ) When all of the creatures passed over the Hellfire, and those disbelievers and the disobedient people who are destined to fall into it because of their disobedience, Allah will save the believers and the righteous people from it because of their deeds. Therefore, their passing over the bridge and their speed will be based upon their deeds that they did in this life. Then, the believers who performed major sins will be allowed intercession. The angels, the Prophets and the believers will all intercede. Thus, a large number of the sinners will be allowed to come out of Hell. The fire will have devoured much of their bodies, except the places of prostration on their faces. Their removal from the Hellfire will be due to the faith in their hearts. The first to come out will be he who has the weight of a Dinar of faith in his heart. Then, whoever has the next least amount after him. Then, whoever is next to that after him, and so forth. This will continue until the one who has the tiniest hint of faith in his heart, equal to the weight of an atom. Then, Allah will take out of the Fire whoever said “La ilaha illallah,” even one day of his entire life, even if he never performed any good deed. After this, no one will remain in the Hellfire, except those it is obligatory upon to remain in the Hellfire forever. This has been reported in many authentic Hadiths from the Messenger of Allah.

Mufti Shafi Uthmani [alayhi rahma] says in his Tafsir [7]:

This means that everybody – be he a believer or an infidel – will go across Hell. However, this does not mean that they would go to stay in it; they would only go across it. But even if the word means “entry, then the pious believers on entry into Hell will feel no discomfort because its fires will cool down and will do no harm to them. Sayyidna Abu Sumayya has related that The Holy Prophet once said that:

“Everybody whether he is a pious man or a sinner will initially enter Hell, but for the pious believers the fire will cool down just as the fire of Namrud cooled down when Sayyidna Ibrahim (A.S) was cast into it. Thereafter, the believers will be taken to Paradise.”

Tanwir al Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas [8]:

(There is not one of you but shall approach it) there is not a single one of you, to the exclusion of prophets and messengers, save that he will enter it, i.e. hell. (That is a fixed ordinance of your Lord) it is a decree that must necessarily take place.

Author’s comments: This tafsir takes the second view as presented above in Maar’iful Qur’an, that if the believers do enter, no harm will come to them. 

Tafsir al Qurtubi and Tafsir at Tabari were also referenced by Sam Shamoun, but they also hold on to the second opinion as indicated in Tafsir Maar’iful Qur’an. Commenting on these tafsirs, Shaykh Gibril says [9]:

Yes, it is the madhhab of al-Hasan al-Basri, Qatada and a group of the lexicographers, strengthened by certain authentic hadiths, that the “wurud” mentioned in verse 19:71 does not denote “entering” (which is the madhhab of Ibn `Abbas and is related from him and other Companions, yet none of the 23 English translations I consulted dared translate it this way) but either “crossing over”, in order to agree with the hadith of the believers crossing the bridge over hellfire at various speeds, some like light and others slower, or “coming into sight of and approaching”.

Others said the verse refers only to the disbelievers; others said the entering of the believers is not antithetical to their safety from the greater harm therein. The Holy Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, himself explained the verse: “All people shall ‘yariduha’, then they shall be blocked from it by their works”, as narrated in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad and the Sunan of Imam al-Tirmidhi, Allah have mercy on them. The “then” can mean that they enter it first, and it can mean that they come into sight of it only, and Allah knows best.

Al-Qurtubi discussed this in his Tafsir and, more at length, in al-Tadhkira. Shaykh Muhammad al-Amin al-Shinqiti gave a magisterial treatment to this controversial issue in his great Tafsir entitled Adwa’ al-Bayan fi Idah al-Qur’an bil-Qur’an (4:436-443). In his view the Quranic context most frequently provided by other verses mentioning such wurud confirms Ibn `Abbas’s position that the meaning here is “to enter.” At the very least some will enter it, as evinced by the countless authentic hadiths on intercession, by means of which they shall be brought out in droves, and this very verse was used by Ibn `Abbas, Allah be well-pleased with him and his father, as a proof for the doctrine of Ahl al-Sunna against the Khariji Nafi` b. al-Azraq, since Kharijis believe once in, never out. The angels’ dua on that day is: “Allahumma sallim, sallim!” (grant safety) on behalf of the believers, for which we ask here and hereafter.

Summary:

Based on this, we can conclude the following –

  1. Some will cross over the bridge over the fire quickly into heaven.
  2. Some will have difficulty crossing the bridge and may approach the fire where they will not be burned by it.
  3. Some will enter the fire, be burned for a while and based on their level of ‘Iman are removed from it and enter heaven.
  4. Some will enter into it and never leave {disbelievers}.

An Alleged Contradiction:

I’m not sure if Sam Shamoun knows what the word ‘contradiction’ meant, but it is evident from his usage in the aforementioned article that he does not truly understand the meaning of the world. He claims that Qur’an 3:192 means the following:

“According to the Quran, entering the fire is a sign of a person being shamed, humiliated, disgraced by Allah. Since the Quran says that Muslims shall enter hell, this means that Allah has decreed that all Muslims must experience shame, humiliation, and disgrace!

Note the implications here:

  • Entering hell is a sign of disgrace, humiliation and shame.
  • Allah has decreed that all Muslims will enter hell.
  • Therefore, all Muslims will be disgraced, humiliated and shamed by Allah.

Allah obviously delights in humiliating his followers since he has decreed their descent into hell.”

It is strange that he only partially quoted the verse, and unlike the other verses, he did not quote a tafsir/ commentary in this case. The verse actually says [10]:

Our Lord verily whomsoever Thou makest to enter into the Fire, him Thou hast surely humiliated and for the wrong-doers there shall be no helpers.

Rather, the context of the verse is removed by the deceptive misquote by Sam Shamoun (which is expected of him). The entering of the fire as referred to in the above verse, is contextualised by the verse preceding it which reads [11]:

Those who remember Allah when standing, sitting, and on their sides, and contemplate upon the creation of the heavens and the earth (saying:) ‘Lord, You have not created these in falsehood. Exaltations to You! Guard us against the punishment of the Fire

Therefore the context is that those who will enter into the fire for punishment, will be disgraced and humiliated and those who were not entered for punishment, i.e. going over the bridge (recall: the bridge is the entrance as from the bridge you either fall into the fire or cross into heaven), will not be burned from the fire. In fact Sam made a grave error in judgement, he jumped to Qur’an 66:7-8 which reads according to Sam’s article[12]:

“… the Day that God will not permit to be humiliated the Prophet and those who believe with him… Y. Ali”

If he had stuck with a thorough reading of 3:192 and onwards, he would not have need to invent a contradiction, for the verses after it state [13]:

Our Lord, give us what You promised us by Your Messengers, and do not abase us on the Day of Resurrection. You do not break Your promise‘. And indeed their Lord answers them: ‘I do not waste the labor of any that labors among you, male or female you are from each other. And those who emigrated, and were expelled from their houses, those who suffered hurt in My way, and fought, and were killed those I shall surely acquit of their evil deeds, and I shall admit them to Gardens underneath which rivers flow’ A reward from Allah, and Allah with Him is the best reward.

According to the context of the verse, God will surely save them from humiliation by forgiving them of their sins and allowing them to enter into the heaven. Thus they are the people who will cross over the bridge into heaven. If Sam had stuck with the continuing of the verses, he would not have forced his incorrect understanding upon them. Sadly, this is the deception that missionaries like him must employ to appease his Lord. To rework and correct Sam’s argument, the true argument can thus be laid out as such:

  • Entering and being punished by the fires of hell is a sign of disgrace humiliation and shame.
  • Some Muslims will be disgraced because of their evil sins and bad deeds by the punishment of hell.
  • Therefore those evil Muslims will be shamed but eventually forgiven and sent to heaven.

In the second part of this article we will examine the case of Christians and their place in hell according to the Bible.

wa Allaahu ‘Alam.

[1] – “Will All Muslims Go to Hell”, Qur’an Contradiction, Sam Shamoun.
[2] – “The Quran on Muslims Entering Hell”, Sam Shamoun.
[3] – Qur’an 19:71.
[4] – Sahih al Bukhari, Book #93, Hadith #601. Sahih al Muslim (Ibid), Book #1, Hadith #377. Hadith Qudsi #36.
[5] – According to the Interpretation of Shaykh Salih al Munajjid, Islamqa. It is a must read in understanding this topic.
[6] – “Qur’an 19:71-72“, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, by Imam Ibn Kathir [alayhi rahma].
[7] – “Qur’an 19:71“, Tafsir Mar’iful Qur’aan, by Mufti Shafi Uthmani [alayhi rahma].
[8] – “Qur’an 19:71“, Tanwir al Miqbas min Tafsir ibn Abbas, allegedly by Ibn ‘Abbas [radi allahu anhu].
[9] – “Will the Believer Enter the Fire or Just See It?“, Seeker’s Guidance, Shaykh Gibril.
[10] – Qur’an 3:192.
[11] – Qur’an 3:191.
[12] – “The Quran on Muslims Entering Hell”, Sam Shamoun.
[13] – Qur’an 3:194-195.

Wishing ‘Merry Christmas’

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,

This is no means a fatwa (scholarly edict), but this is an explanation of the reasoning, usage and meaning of the phrase, ‘Merry Christmas‘. The overwhelming majority of scholars have agreed that it is not proper to congratulate the Christians on this celebration as it is an implicit endorsement of their kufr (disbelief).

The term ‘Merry Christmas’ in itself, is meant to be conveyed as, ‘Merry Christ mass’ and is more properly understood as, ‘Happy Celebration of Christ’. Now, we as Muslims have no qualms with celebrating or sending salawat upon our Prophets. Hence after a Prophet’s name is spoken we rejoice and gladly convey our prayers upon them, God’s prayers upon them. We say, ‘alayhi as salaam‘ (May God’s peace be upon him) or ‘alayhi as salaatu wa salaam‘ (May God’s mercy and peace be upon him). When it comes to Christmas however, we must understand several notions about the day and celebration in itself:

  • This is not merely a birthday celebration.
  • This is primarily about a God becoming incarnate.
  • This is secondarily the birth of a God who has no beginning or end, understandably contradictory.

Therefore, when you wish a Christian, ‘Merry Christmas’, as a Muslim you are not celebrating Christ, but you are celebrating the incarnation of God, i.e. God assuming a human form. Thus, it should now be clear why we as Muslims do not endorse such a greeting or pleasantry. It is because this is considered shirk to us Muslims. It is clearly stated in the Catholic Encyclopaedia:

For the first coming of Our Lord in the flesh [in which He has been begotten], in Bethlehem, took place [25 December, the fourth day] in the reign of Augustus [the forty-second year, and] in the year 5500 [from Adam]. And He suffered in His thirty-third year [25 March, the parasceve, in the eighteenth year of Tiberius Cæsar, during the consulate of Rufus and Rubellio].”

Thus, it is not that Muslims want to be rude, or that we are ill mannered, it is because conveying such a greeting implies that we are embracing the incarnation of Christ and as such, we wholly disagree with such a notion. Even the Catholic Encyclopaedia accepts that gift giving and card giving on this day, or for this season are based on Pagan rituals:

Pagan customs centering round the January calender gravitated to Christmas. Tiele (Yule and Christmas, London, 1899) has collected many interesting examples. The strenæ (eacute;trennes) of the Roman 1 January (bitterly condemned by Tertullian, de Idol., xiv and x, and by Maximus of Turin, Hom. ciii, de Kal. gentil., in P.L., LVII, 492, etc.) survive as Christmas presents, cards, boxes.”

Therefore, if you are a Muslim and you thought that the scholars were perhaps being a bit too stringent in their rulings, this is not so. The information I have presented is clear and to the point, while you may intend to simply convey pleasantries, the day, its history and its significance in the Christian faith is in complete opposition to the fundamental teachings of tawhid (monotheism), as even the Christians regard it as pagan tradition. In closing, I leave you with an actual fatwa that explains the Islamic ruling on the issue (Darul Fiqh):

Greeting Non Muslims with -MERRY CHRISTMAS? 

Question: Is it ok to say to a colleague at work phrases like merry Christmas or have a nice Christmas party?

Answer:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

Imān is the greatest commodity a Muslim possesses. Salvation in this world and especially in the hereafter is dependent on nothing but Imān. A billionaire without Imān will not be spared from the painful punishment despite his millions and billions. A beggar with Imān will have access to the Eternal Gardens of Paradise despite his poverty. Imān is the key.

All the dollars and pounds of the world do not equate to the value of Imān. The price and worth of Imān is greater than all the gold, silver and diamonds put together. Our life revolves around the security of our Imān. Preservation of Imān until one’s last breath is obligatory on us. Imān equivalent to the size of a mustard seed is sufficient to purchase the everlasting gardens of Paradise.

Anything which compromises our Imān or contradicts our Imān is hazardous for us. Other faiths contradict our faith. Showing happiness for another faith’s festival is extremely hazardous. Greeting adherents of other faiths well or happiness in their festivals in essence is verbal acknowledgement, recognition and approval of their festival. The Jurists have stated that there is fear of one losing his Imān if he wishes others well in their festivities.[1]

A Muslim should not forsake his principles and beliefs merely to be friendly. Friendliness and foolishness are two poles apart. Friendliness is to be courteous and well-mannered whilst adhering to one’s belief and principles. Foolishness is to risk one’s belief and principles merely to please or to ‘fit in’ to a society.

Thus, greeting others with any phrase indicating a greeting for the Christmas festival is impermissible.

This does not mean we do not be kind and courteous. We must be kind, caring, loving and compassionate to the whole of creation. The Prophet salallahu alaihi wasallam was an embodiment of compassion. He was a fountain of mercy. We must be friendly with all and not foolish with ourselves.

And Allah Ta’ālā Knows Best

Mufti Faraz

——————————————————————————–

[1] اجتمع المجوس يوم النيروز فقال مسلم خوب رسم نهاده اند أو قال نيك أثرنهاده اند خيف عليه الكفر. (جامع الفصولين ج 2 ص 230 إسلامي كتب خانه)

فتاوى محمودية ج 19 ص 267 إدارة القرآن

For those who would like a video to understand the issue a bit more, here is Shakyh Mumtaz ul Haqq [db] on the issue:

wa Allaahu ‘Alam

Women’s Intelligence Hadith

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,

TEXT AND SOURCING

The hadith states that the Prophet upon him blessings and peace, addressed a group of women in the mosque, saying:

“I have not seen any one more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious, sensible man could be led astray by some of you.” The women asked: “O Allah’s Apostle, what is deficient in our intelligence and religion?” He said: “Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?” They replied in the affirmative. He said: “This is the deficiency of your intelligence”… “Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?” The women replied in the affirmative. He said: “This is the deficiency in your religion.”

It is related in al-Bukhari and Muslim.

ITS MEANING IS NOT LITERAL

The hadith here uses two figures of speech: the first is hyperbole (mubalagha) meaning exaggeration in the words “even a prudent, sensible man might be led astray by some of you” i.e. a fortiori an ordinary man.

The second figure is synechdoche (majaz mursal) consisting in using the whole for the part: intelligence to mean the specific legal testimony of a woman, and religion to mean the prayer and fast at the time of menses.

Numerous verses and other narrations stress that the reward of women equals that of men even if their acts differ. So this particular narration is not meant literally but as an acknowledgment of the inordinate power women wield over men while ostensibly less active in the public and spiritual spheres.

THREE ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND MEANINGS

Three additional meanings provide an indispensable completion of the picture of this hadith. These meanings revolve around fundraising for jihad, the blame of women’s cursing of their husbands, and the playfulness of the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, with his female public.

1. FUNDRAISING

The real import of the hadith – spoken at the Farewell Pilgrimage – and its actual context was that the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, challenged the women that were present to realize that unless they helped raise money with their gold and jewelry, they would miss the reward of men waging jihad as well as show ingratitude.

2. BLAME OF CURSING

In the full version of the hadith the Prophet upon him blessings and peace, also orders the women to ask forgiveness and desist from frequently cursing their husbands. All this was spoken at a time of (1) the impending departure of the latter on jihad; (2) the impending departure of the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, from this world; and (3) the fact that “Cursing the believer is like killing him.”

3. PLAYFULNESS

The Prophet upon him blessings and peace, was also being playful in his use of strong terms to impress this teaching on the listeners. Ruqayyah Waris Maqsud writes:

“After the Farewell Pilgrimage at the Eid prayer, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) walked past the men leaning on Bilal’s arm, and came to the rows of women behind them. Bilal spread out a cloth and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) urged the women to be generous with their gifts of charity, for when he had been allowed a glimpse into the flames of Hell, he had noted that most of the people being tormented there were women. The women were outraged, and one of them instantly stood up boldly and demanded to know why that was so. ‘Because,’ he replied, ‘you women grumble so much, and show ingratitude to your husbands! Even if the poor fellows spent all their lives doing good things for you, you have only to be upset at the least thing and you will say, ‘I have never received any good from you!’ (Bukhari 1.28, recorded by Ibn Abbas – who was present on that occasion as a child). At that the women began vigorously to pull off their rings and ear-rings, and throw them into Bilal’s cloth.”

In conclusion, we need to remove the meaning of the words of the Prophet upon him blessings and peace, from our contemporary context of sour feminism and the clash of the sexes, and replace it into its proper context: namely, a parting, wartime exhortation using certain figures of speech which are not meant literally, nor are women the issue although they are addressed pointedly and, as it were, by the scruff of their gender; but rather, to trigger among wealthy and sensible citizens acts of generosity for the greater good while reminding them that life is fleeting and thankfulness a surer way to Paradise than despair.

And Allah knows best.

gibril
[2006-05-30]

Note: This article by Shaykh GF Haddad as read on www.livingislam.org

Samson the Holy, Does the Unholy

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,

This article by Br. Alexus Haddad.

We are told that in order to save Israel (again and again…and again!) out of their enslavement by the Philistines (this time), God was to send a saviour (Not Jesus!)…Samson, a holy child, born miraculously. In fact, his mother was sterile (Judges 13:2), so the angel of the Lord came to give her the good news.

What is remarkable is that one of the requirements for the pregnancy, is that his mother should: “Not drink any wine, or other fermented drink nor eat anything unclean” (Judges 13:13). Since that child is a holy child…chosen by the Almighty God, she should abstain of what is unclean. Wine is obviously, in this case considered unclean.

Nonetheless, what is definitely more striking is that we are told that this miraculously noble child, who was chosen by the Almighty God does something contrary to his nature:
“Then went Samson to Gaza, AND SAW THERE A PROSTITUTE, AND WENT INTO HER.” (Judges 16:1)
“Went into her” means slept with her. Yes, this specially chosen person of God, one day, saw a prostitute and slept with her (we are not told if he actually paid money). Really? Are we to believe that? How did God, Almighty choose him to carry His will? Are we to hold that belief in the Almighty?!
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