Islam & Christianity (4):Digging Deeper

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all." - 2 Corinthians 13:14

If we look back at Surah Al-Iklas (112), the purity, the sincerity, most Muslims will tell you that this is one of the most important Surah's within the Qur'an. Islamic traditions tell us that Muhammad likewise held the view that this was a very important Surah, expressing something that is definitional of the Islamic faith.

But it is important to define the terms to those who may not truly understand their definitional meanings. When Muslim's speak of the Oneness of Allah, the purity and simplicity, this within Islam becomes inherently connected with the concept of Unitarianism. So what does that mean?

Christians are monotheists (1), but we are trinitarians (2), Muslims are monotheists but they are unitarianists. What is the difference between the two? Both believe that there is one being of God, but Christians believe that the one being of God, that which defines what God's nature, is found fully and completely in 3 persons: the Father, the Son, and the Spirit and has eternally been so. We differentiate from the word - being, which describes what something is, and - person, which describes who something is.

Muslims are unitarians, that is, the one being of God is shared by only one person. Within the trinitarian view of the Bible we can have God expressing love within the set of living, loving, relationships that exist within Himself. That however, cannot happen within Islam. Allah is fully transcendent and is unitarian; and if there is love to be expressed it must be done outside of himself.  Therefore before creation within Islam, love could not be an intrical aspect of God's nature because there would be no way of expressing it.

So let me repeat, both Christians and Muslims are monotheists, believing there is only one creator God, but the Christian believes in the basis of all that the New Testament teaches and all that the Bible teaches: that that God has expressed Himself, revealed Himself, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

With that in mind let us look at Al-Ikhlas(3) as a statement of faith. I would like to add that I am not the only one who has chosen to look at Al-Ikhlas in this way, many Islamic scholars across the spectrum of Islamic belief have chosen to look at it as functioning in this type of confessional manner. Notice what it says:   

1. Say, "He is Allah, the One and Only, 2. Allah, the Eternal Absolute, 3. He neither begets nor is begotten, 4. Nor is there to Him any equivalent.

Notice what it says in the first statement, Say, "He is Allah, the One and Only." Christians could join with the Muslim at that point as long as we are referring to the being of God and not the persons. In fact there are numerous texts within the Bible (especially within the book of Isiah) that say the exact same thing(1). Many times in the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah, the false gods are challenged on the basis that Yahweh, the God of the Bible, states that He is the One True God and that there is non other besides Him. 

This is what the LORD says-- Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. 
Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one. - Isaiah 44:6 & 8
 
We agree that there is One and One only God, but, when this is joined with the concept of unitarianism we have conflicting beliefs. 


The next statement in Al-Ikhlas says that Allah is the eternal Absolute, God is eternal. We can agree that t God is eternal and is the absolute of all things. Christians for example do not believe that the Son came into existence at a point in time, that He was begotten in the sense of His deity as becoming the Son of God (4). We agree, and believe,that God is the eternal absolute. 

But then the third section of the verse states that, "He neither begets nor is he begotten" (lam yalid wa-lam yolad in the Arabic) the background to this being very very clear. There can truly be no doubt that the Christian faith and the Christian doctrine of the relationship of the Father and the Son is foreshadowed within a verse like this. Finally the fourth section stating that there is none like him, using almost the same denoted language that we find in Isaiah and Jeremiah describing God. 

There are only four sections in this very short verse in the Qur'an. One out of the four, 25%, one quarter, possess a denial of the heart of the Christian faith. That is why it is there. Islam in its own self definition denies the Christian faith 600 years after the time of Christ. The very words, "He neither begets nor is he begotten," in the Arabic language shares the same Semitic root as that of the Hebrew Old Testament where we read in the words of Isaiah in Isaiah 9:6 that:

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

And when it uses the words "a child will be born to us" in the original Hebrew it uses the same root of "yolad." The term for begotten, the term for the birthing of a child, because Jesus truly entered human flesh. But not only that but the second part is important, "a son will be given to us." Why is this important? Because it implies that the son existed before and is being given, the human and eternal nature of God in human form being expressed by Isaiah.

I don't believe there is any reason to believe that Muhammad would have had access to the original language of Isaiah 9 so it was probably not purposeful. But all the same, the very same words that Surrah 112 uses within it's linguistic roots that was prophesied by Isaiah 700 years before Christ show a very interesting connection. 

So it is fundamental for both Christians and Muslims to understand that the denial of the heart of the Christian faith is definitional to what it means to be a Muslim. This is what impacts the dialogues between the Christian and the Muslim. There can be no compromise between the two, we need to engage one another openly (but respectfully) in order to communicate in an honest way. 

I do not believe we show respect for either of our beliefs, whether the Christian or the Muslim, when we engage in discussion and dialogue under any hidden pretense. So we have to come together and apply the same standards of examination to each of our faiths. And I believe as a Christian, in trying to do that: in studying the Qur'an and the Haddith and Islamic history, and comparing them to Christian history and the Bible, what we discover is that words like these in the Qur'an are not due to divine inspiration but rather the misunderstanding of one man 600 years after Christ in the writing of that book. 

As a Christian I must believe this to be true, as I stated in the first post of this series I cannot believe that something is true and untrue at the same time. We have to have the freedom to disagree before we begin to honour the truth and discuss the issues we have.

I would also like to point out that Al-Iklas is not the only place where Christian truth is denied in the scriptures. But seeing as blogs are supposed to be brief (and mine never are to begin with) I thought I would address just the surface issues that strike me. In my next post I will go more into detail on specifics, but I wanted to be clear on a few things before that point.

"See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority." -Colossians 2:9

For a further look into the loving nature of the trinitarian God of the Bible please read: God, Love, And Creation (1), God, Love, And Creation (2)

(1) One God - Monotheism within Christian Scripture:
Deuteronomy 4:35: You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides Him there is no other.
Deuteronomy 4:39: Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.
Deuteronomy 32:39: See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me.
2 Samuel 7:22: How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.
1 Kings 8:60: So that all the people of the earth my know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.
2 Kings 5:15 "Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel.
2 Kings 19:15: enthroned between cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of earth. You have made heaven and earth.
1 Chronicles 17:20: There is no one like you, O LORD, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.
Nehemiah 9:6: You alone are the LORD, You made the heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything and the multitudes of heaven worship you. 
Psalm 18: 31: For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God?
Psalm 86: 10: For you are great and do marvelous deeds: you alone are God.
Isaiah 37:20: Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD are God.
Isaiah 45:21: Declare what is to be, present it - let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior. 
Hosea 13:4: But I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior expect me.
Joel 2:27: Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God and that there is no other: never again will my people be shammed.
Zacharia 14:9: The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and His name the only name.
Mark 13:29: "The most important one," answered Jesus, "Is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the LORD is one, Love the LORD your God with all your heart ad with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'
John 17:3: Now this is eternal life: that they may know you the only true God. And Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
Romans 3:30: since there is only one God; who will justify the circumcised by faith ad the uncircumcised through the same faith. 
1 Corinthians 8:4-6: So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many 'gods' and many 'lords'), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live: and there is but one LORD, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
Galatians 3:20: A mediator, however, does not represnet just one party but God is one.
Ephesians 4: 4-6: There is one body and one Spirit - just as you were called to one hope when you were called - one LORD, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
1 Timothy 1:17: Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever, Amen.
1 Timothy 2:5: For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men - the testimny given in, its proper time.
James 2: 19: You believe that there is one God, Good! Even the demons believe that - and shudder.  



(2) Trinity: within the One being that is God, there exists eternally 3 coequal and co-eternal persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
81 verses about the trinity

(3) Surah Al-Ikhlas (112): 
1. Say, "He is Allah, the One and Only, 2. Allah, the Eternal Absolute, 3. He neither begets nor is begotten, 4. Nor is there to Him any equivalent

(4) 
John 1:1-3: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
John 1:14: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 

 




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