What Every American Needs to Know about the Qur'an

by WILLIAM J. FEDERER February 22, 2008

QUR’AN: CHRISTIAN INFLUENCE

 

Encyclopedia Britannica stated of Mohammed:

 

The gospel was known to him chiefly through apocryphal and heretical sources. (15:648)

 

In Mohammed’s day, there were complicated Christian schisms, mostly over the nature of Christ.

 

Orthodox Christianity repeatedly confirmed the doctrine of Jesus’ nature being the only-begotten Son “of one substance with the Father” at the First Council of Nicea, 325 AD; First Council of Constantinople, 381 AD; Council of Ephesus, 431 AD; Council of Chalcedon, 451 AD; Second Council of Constantinople, 553; and the Third Council of Constantinople, 680 AD.

 

QUR’AN & CHRISTIAN SCHISMS

 

Christian schisms in Mohammed’s day were:

 

  • Nestorianism, which believed Jesus had two essences, man and Logos, which were unmingled yet eternally united;
  • Monophysitism, which believed Jesus’ two natures were joined in one body;
  • Docetism, which believed Jesus was all God and only appeared to be human;
  • Arianism, which believed Jesus was a special creation by God for man’s salvation;
  • Ebionites, which believed Jesus was the Messiah, but was not divine.

 

This confusion over the nature of Christ is reflected in Islam.

 

For example, the Qur’an teaches that Jesus did not have a biological father, being conceived in Mary’s womb by the will of God. Yet, in a mental disconnect, Muslims say Jesus was not the son of God. This belief is considered blasphemy and punishable by death.

 

Confusion may be due to the two different Arabic words for son:

 

  • “walad”- son from a sexual union; and
  • “ibn” – son in the widest sense of the word, similar to the Hebrew word “ben” – builder of the family name.

 

In verses which say Allah did not have a son, the Arabic word used for “son” is “walad” – son of a sexual union, not “ibn” – son in the widest sense:

 

Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him (far exalted is He) above having a son (walad) (Sura 4:17);

It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son (walad). Glory be to Him when He determines a matter, He only says to it ‘Be,’ and it is. (Sura 19:35)

 

In this sense, Muslims and Christians are in agreement, that God did not have sex with Mary.

 

 “Behold” the angels said: “O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ (Messiah) Jesus, the Son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company) of those nearest Allah. He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity and he shall be (of the company) of the righteous.” She said “O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?” He said: “Even so: Allah createth what He willeth; when

He hath decreed a plan He but saith it to it ‘Be’ and it is!” (Sura 3:45-51)

 

He said “Mary, I am only a messenger from the Lord to announce to thee the gift of a HOLY SON.” She said “How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?” He said “So it will be: thy Lord saith, ‘that is easy for me. And we wish to appoint Him as a sign unto men and a Mercy from us. It is a matter so decreed.’” So she conceived him, and retired with him to a remote place. (Sura 19:16-22)

 

Another translation renders Sura 19:19:

 

I am only a messenger of thy Lord that I may bestow on thee a faultless son. (Arabic word for “faultless” is “zakkiyya” meaning totally without sin.)

 

The Hadith, sayings of Mohammed remembered by his wives, warriors and companions, stated:

 

The Prophet said, “When any human being is born, Satan touches him at both sides of the body with his two fingers, except Jesus, the son of Mary, whom Satan tried to touch but failed, for he touched the placenta-cover instead.” (Hadith Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 4, No. 506, narrated by Abu Huraira)

 

In Hadith Sahih al-Bukhari (Vol. 4, No. 641), narrated by Said bin al-Musaiyab:

 

Abu Huraira said, “I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, ‘There is none born among the offspring of Adam, but Satan touches it.’ A child therefore, cries loudly at the time of birth because of the touch of Satan, except Mary and her child.”

 

QUR’AN: JESUS & THE GOSPEL

 

The Qur’an acknowledges Jesus and the Gospel, though it does not explain what the Gospel is:

 

Subsequent to them, we sent Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the previous scripture, the Torah. We gave him the Gospel, containing guidance and light, and confirming the previous scriptures, the Torah, and augmenting its guidance and light, and to enlighten the righteous.

 

The people of the Gospel shall rule in accordance with Allah’s revelations therein. Those who do not rule in accordance with Allah’s revelations are the wicked. (Sura 5:46-7)

 

Allah will say, “O Jesus, son of Mary, remember My blessings upon you and your mother. I supported you with the Holy Spirit, to enable you to speak to the people from the crib, as well as an adult.

 

I taught you the scripture, wisdom, the Torah, and the Gospel. Recall that you created from clay the shape of a bird by My leave, then blew into it, and it became a live bird by My leave.

 

You healed the blind and the leprous by My leave, and revived the dead by My leave.

 

Recall that I protected you from the Children of Israel who wanted to hurt you, despite the profound miracles you had shown them. “The disbelievers among them said, “This is obviously magic.” (Sura 5:110; see Sura 57:27)

 

QUR’AN: JESUS’ DEATH & RESURRECTION

 

The views of different Christian heresies are reflected in the Qur’an’s treatment of Jesus’ death, resurrection and his role in judgment at the last day.

 

Islam teaches that the Jews did not kill Jesus, which is factually true, as during the Roman occupation of Israel only Romans had the power to carry out a death sentence.

 

It is an Islamic teaching that Jesus did not die, citing a rebuke to a false charge of the Jews in Sura 4:156-159:

 

And for their unbelief, and their uttering against Mary a grave false charge, and for their saying,

 

“We killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messiah of God”...yet they did not slay him, neither crucified him, only a likeness of that was shown to them.

 

Those who are at variance concerning him are surely in doubt the following of conjecture; and they did not kill him of certainty...no indeed; God raised him up to Him; God is Almighty, Allwise.

 

There is not one of the people of the book but will assuredly believe him before his death, and on the Resurrection Day he will be a witness against them.

 

The Qur’an gives it as a “statement of truth” that Jesus said “I shall die,” Sura 19:30-35:

 

Jesus said, “I am a servant of Allah. He has given me the Book, and has made me a Prophet,

 

And He has made me blessed wheresoever I may be, and has enjoined upon me Prayer and almsgiving so long as I live;

 

And He has made me dutiful towards my mother, and has not made me arrogant and graceless. And peace was on me the day I was born, and peace will be on me the day I shall die, and the day I shall be raised up to life again.” Such was Jesus, son of Mary. It is a statement of truth.

 

Sura 3:55 states that Jesus was raised up:

 

“Behold!” Allah said: “O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection:

 

Then shall ye all return unto me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute.”

 

QUR’AN: CONFUSION OVER TRINITY

 

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit being three distinct, co-eternal persons sharing one indivisible Divine essence was the orthodox Christian understanding of the Trinity.

 

Possibly due in part to being illiterate, Mohammed mistakenly thought Christians worshiped three gods, and that these gods were the Father, Mary and Jesus.

 

Idols were worshiped for centuries in Arabia and Persia: Sumerian goddess Ianna and her son; Akkadian goddess Ishtar and her son; Egyptian goddess Isis and her son; and Greek goddess Rhea and her son.

 

Mohammed imputed these pagan beliefs to be what Christians believed regarding Mary and Jesus:

 

Allah will say, “O Jesus, son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Make me and my mother idols beside Allah?’

 

He will say, “Be You glorified. I could not utter what was not right. Had I said it, You already would have known it. You know my thoughts, and I do not know Your thoughts. You know all the secrets.” (Sura 5:116)

 

In the Hadith, narrated Abu Said al-Khudri:

 

Afterwards the Christians will be called upon and it will be said to them, “Who do you use to worship?” They will say, “We used to worship Jesus, the son of Allah.” It will be said to them, “You are liars, for Allah has never taken anyone as a wife or a son,” (Vol. 6, Book 60, No. 105)

 

Byzantine and Roman Catholic’s title of Mary as “Mother of God” may have contributed to Mohammed’s misbelief. (“Theotokos”; Council of Ephesus, 431 AD)

 

QUR’AN: JEWISH INFLUENCE

 

Since the era in which Mohammed lived was 800 years before the invention of the printing press, Jewish scriptures were hand-copied and very valuable. Kept securely protected in synagogues, common people had no access to them. Most of what Mohammed knew of Judaism was from the Talmud, oral Jewish traditions called Mishnah and Gemara, and the commentaries of the Jewish Law (Tanakh) called Midrash.

 

Stories such as those in the Book of Enoch and the Apocalypse of Abraham are reflected in the Qur’an.

 

QUR’AN – CONFUSED JEWISH BELIEFS

 

British scholar Edward Carpenter in his book Pagan and Christian Creeds: Their Origin and Meaning (1920; reprinted 1998), wrote that the child of the mother goddess in Arabia and Persia was called “Aben Ezra.”

 

Mohammed had mistakenly imputed this pagan belief to the Jews when he said Jews believed “Ezra” was the “son of God,” as written in the Hadith, narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:

 

Then the Jews will be called upon and it will be said to them, “Who do you use to worship?”

 

They will say, “We used to worship Ezra, the son of Allah.”

 

It will be said to them, “You are liars, for Allah has never taken anyone as a wife or a son. What do you want now?”

 

They will say, “Our Lord! We are thirsty, so give us something to drink.”

 

They will be directed and addressed thus, “Will you drink,” whereupon they will be gathered unto Hell (Fire) which will look like a mirage whose different sides will be destroying each other.

(Vol. 6, Bk. 60, No. 105)

 

The Arabic spelling of Ezra is “Uzair.” Sura 9:30- 31 revealed Mohammed was inadvertently imputing this pagan belief in “Aben Ezra” to Jews.

 

The Jews call Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth, (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say.

 

QUR’AN: APOCRYPHAL INFLUENCE

 

Many apocryphal and heretical stories that Mohammed heard were reflected in the Qur’an.

 

The Qur’an’s description of Hell is very similar to the Homilies of Ephraim, a Nestorian Christian preacher of the 6th century (John Bagot Glubb, The Life and Times of Mohammed, 1970, page 36).

 

QUR’AN & INFANCY GOSPEL

 

Another influence on the Qur’an is the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, a non-canonical, questionable Gnostic text written by someone, (definitely not the apostle Thomas) who knew little of Jewish life. Written several centuries after Christ, it is not taken seriously by Biblical scholars, considered simply as Christian fiction.

 

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia.com states:

 

An Arabic text, Injilu ‘t Tufuliyyah, translated from a Coptic original, gives some parallels to the episodes, ‘recorded in the book of Josephus the Chief Priest, who was in the time of Christ’: Jesus speaking from the cradle and the episode of the swallows made of clay found their way into the Qur’an.

 

INFANCY GOSPEL - SPEAKING FROM THE CRADLE

 

The apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Thomas has Jesus speaking while still an infant:

 

A teacher named Zacchaeus overheard everything Jesus said to Joseph and marveled, saying to himself, “As just a child, he utters these things.” (Infancy Gospel of Thomas 6:1-2)

 

This story made it into the Qur’an:

 

He shall speak to the people in cradle and in maturity. (Sura 5:110)

 

But Mary pointed to the baby. They said “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?”

 

Jesus said: “I am indeed a servant of Allah; He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet.” (Sura 19:29-33)

 

Eth-Thalabi, a leading commentator of Islamic traditions, recounted the story:

 

Then Mary told them to talk to Jesus, and they grew angry and said, “How can we speak to him who is in the cradle, a little child?”

 

Wahab says that then Zachariah came to her, when she showed herself to the Jews, and said to Jesus, “Speak up, and give us your argument if you are so commanded.”

 

And at that instant Jesus and He was only forty days old, said,

 

“Verily, I am a servant of Allah to whom He has given a wonderful Book.”

 

INFANCY GOSEPL – CLAY BIRDS FLY

 

The apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Thomas says Jesus made clay birds, clapped and they flew away:

 

When the boy Jesus was five years old, he was playing in a narrow part of a rushing stream...and after he had made clay, he molded twelve sparrows from it. And it was the Sabbath when he did these things...

 

Then, a certain Jew saw what Jesus was doing while playing on the Sabbath.

 

Immediately, he departed and reported to Jesus’ father, Joseph,

 

“Look, your child is in the stream and he took clay and formed twelve birds and profaned the Sabbath?”

 

And Joseph went to the area and when he saw him, he shouted, “Why are you doing things that are not permitted on the Sabbath?”

 

Jesus, however, clapped his hands and shouted to the sparrows, “Depart, fly...” and the sparrows departed. (Infancy Gospel of Thomas 2:1-7)

 

This story was referred to in the Qur’an:

 

I make for you out of clay as it were the figure of a bird and breathe into it and it becomes a bird. (Sura 3:49)

 

Thou makest out of clay as it were the figure of a bird...and thou breathest into it and it becometh a bird. (Sura 5:110)

 

INFANCY GOSEPL – RESURRECTING A PLAYMATE

 

The apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Thomas says one of Jesus’ playmates died and Jesus raised him up.

 

Jesus was up on a roof of a house. And one of the children playing with him died after falling off the roof.

 

And when the other children saw, they fled and Jesus was left standing alone. When the parents of the one who had died came, they accused Jesus, “Troublemaker, you threw him down.”

 

But Jesus replied, “I did not throw him down, rather he threw himself down.

 

When he was not acting carefully, he leaped off the roof and died.

 

Jesus leaped off the roof and stood by the corpse of the boy and cried out with a loud voice and said, “Zeno,” – for that was his name- “rise up, talk to me, did I throw you down?” and rising up immediately, he said

 

“No, Lord, you did not throw me down, but you did raise me up.” (Infancy Gospel of Thomas 9:1-5)

 

Islam has a similar story, in the Kusus al-Anbiah by Imam Abu Ishak Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Ibrahim Eth-Thalabi:

 

Said Wahab. While Jesus was playing with his playmates, one of them jumped upon another and kicked him with his feet till he died.

 

So they threw him between the arms of Jesus and He was covered with blood, and when the people came upon them, they took notice of it and carried him to the Kadi of Egypt, and said to him, ‘This boy has killed the other.’

 

So the Kadi asked Him, and Jesus said, ‘I do not know who killed him, and I am not his companion.’

 

They desired to fall upon Jesus and He said to them, “Bring me the boy who was killed,” and they said, “What do you wish to do with him?”

 

He said “I wish to ask him who killed him.” Said they, “How can he speak to you when he is dead?”

 

They took Jesus and brought Him to the place where the boy was killed, and when Jesus offered a prayer, Allah raised him from the dead, and Jesus said to him,

 

“Who killed you?” The boy said, “So and so.” (Cairo edition, pages 241-255)

 

In the next excerpt, we’ll learn more about the life of Mohammed, including his first marriage and how he began the Qur’an.


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