Could you explain some of what Islam teaches in relation to Christianity?
Reading some Islamic books did not resolve my thoughts. I have inquired of some Muslims in my local area but they interpreted these questions as an attack on their faith, so they refused to respond. Another Muslim I asked was not knowledgeable enough to voice his opinion.
1) Both Muslims and Christians agree that God is all powerful and too 'majestic' for the human mind to understand completely. There is nothing that God can't do. Moreover, both agree that God is eternal and that God's Word is eternal. By this they do not suggest that there are two eternals, for God is one. Likewise, God also possesses some eternal attributes:love, anger, power, wisdom, speech, mercy, etc. Some Muslims agree with Christians on the plurality of God. Both know and value the confession that God is one. At the same time both also understand that God is greater than the figure "one".
Christians believe that God exists as Creator, Word (who became flesh), and Spirit. Since some Muslims believe that God's eternal Word became a book, why can't they believe that His eternal Word became a man? Why do they limit what God can do?
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Thank you for taking the time to write this detailed letter. Due to the fact that the response to your first question took much more space than I imagined, I can only answer the first of the five stated in your letter. The other questions that you asked, God-willing, will be answered in future issues.
I hope the answer set out in this response will enable you to resolve some of the thoughts that you have. I wish to make it quite clear that these are very important questions and I have not the slightest intention nor desire to hurt the religious feelings of Christian friends, so please do not interpret this response as an attack on your faith. However, to answer a question like this I have to be honest and straight-forward. I love Christ (PBUH), Moses (PBUH), and Abraham (PBUH), as I do Muhammed (PBUH) and all other holy prophets of God.
Say: "We believe in Allah, and what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the Prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to Allah do we bow our will (in Islam)." (Quran 3:84)
The attributes of God are not to be considered as distinct and divine entities or personalities, otherwise we shall have, not one trinity of persons in the Godhead, but several dozen of trinities. An attribute until it actually emanates from its subject has no existence. We cannot qualify the subject by a particular attribute before that attribute has actually proceeded from it and is seen. Hence we say "God is Good" when we enjoy His good and kind action; but we cannot describe Him--properly speaking--as "God is Goodness," because goodness is not God, but His action and work. It is for this reason that the Quran always attributes to Allah the adjectival appellations, such as the Wise, the Knowing, the Merciful, but never with such descriptions as "God is love, knowledge, word," and so forth; for love is the action of the lover and not the lover himself, just as knowledge or word is the action of the knowing person and not himself.
I particularly insist on this point because of the error into which have fallen those who maintain the eternity and distinct personality of certain attributes of God. The Verb or the Word of God has been held to be a distinct person of the Deity; whereas the word of God can have no other signification than an expression of His Knowledge and Will. The Quran, too, is called "the word of God," and some early Muslim doctors of law asserted that it was eternal and uncreated. The same appellation is also given to Jesus Christ in the Quran--Kalimatun minho, i.e. "the Word from Him" (Quran 3: 45). But it would be very unreligious to assert that the Word of God is a distinct person, and that it assumed flesh and became incarnate in the shape of a man of Nazareth or in the form of a book, the former called "the Christ" and the latter "the Quran".
To sum up this subject, I insistently declare that the Word or any other imaginable attribute of God, not only is it not a distinct divine entity or individuality, but also it could have no actual existence prior to the beginning of time and creation.
The first verse with which
St. Johns Gospel commences was often refuted by the early Unitarian writers,
who rendered its true reading as follows: "In the beginning was the
Word; and the Word was with God; and the Word was God's."
It will be noticed that the Greek form of the genitive case "Theou," i.e. "God's" was corrupted into "Theos"; that is, "God," in the nominative form of the name!
It is also to be observed that the clause "In the beginning was the word" expressly indicates the origin of the word which was not before the beginning! By the "word of God: is not meant a separate and distinct substance, coeval and coexistent with the Almighty, but an expression and proclamation of His knowledge and will when He uttered the word Kun, namely, "Be." When God said Kun, for the first time, the worlds became; when He said Kun, the Quran was created and written on the "Lowh" or "Table"; and when He pronounced the word "Be," Jesus was created in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and so on- whenever He wills to create, His order "Be" is sufficient.
The Christian auspicatory formula: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, does not even mention the name of God! And this is the Christian God! The Quranic formula, on the other hand, which expresses the foundation of the Islamic truth, is a great contrast to the Trintarians' formula: Bismillahi' r-Rahmani'r- Rahim; that is: In the name of the Most Merciful and Compassionate Allah.
The Christian Trinity- inasmuch as it admits a plurality of persons in the Deity, attributes distinct personal properties to each person; and makes use of family names similar to those in the pagan mythology-cannot be accepted as a true conception of the Deity. Allah is neither the father of a son nor the son of a father. He has no mother, nor is He selfmade.
The belief in "God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Ghost" is a flagrant denial of the unity of God, and an audacious confession in three imperfect beings who, unitedly or separately, cannot be the true God.
Mathematics as a positive science teaches us that a unit is no more nor less than one; that 1 is never equal to 1 plus 1 plus 1; in other words, 1 cannot be equal to 3, because 1 is the third of the 3. In the same way, 1 is not equal to a third. And vice versa, 3 are not equal to 1, nor can a third be equal to a unit. The unit is the basis of all numbers, and a standard for the measurements and weights of all dimensions, distances, quantities and time. In fact, all numbers are aggregates of the unit 1. Ten is an aggregate of so many equal units of the same kind. Those who maintain the unity of God in the trinity of persons tell us that "Each person is omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal and perfect God; yet there are not 3 omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal and perfect Gods, but 1 omnipotent... God!" If there is no sophistry in the above reasoning then we shall present this "mystery" of the churches by an equation: 1 God=1 God + 1 God + 1 God; therefore: 1 God= 3 Gods. In the first place, 1 god cannot equal 3 gods, but only 1 of them. Secondly, since you admit each person to be a perfect God like His 2 associates, your conclusion that 1+1+1=1 is not mathematical, but an absurdity!
It is either arrogance when it is attempted to prove that 3 units equal 1 unit; or cowardness to admit that three ones equal three ones. In the former case it is never possible to prove a wrong solution of a problem by a false process; and in the second case a lack of courage to confess your belief in three gods.
Besides, we all -Muslim and Christians- believe that God is Omnipresent, that He fills and encompassed every space and particle. Is it conceivable that all the three persons of the Deity at the same time and separately encompass the universe, or is it only one of them at the time? To say "the Deity does this" would be no answer at all. For Deity is not God, but the state of being God, and therefore a quality. Godhead is the quality of one God; it is not susceptible of plurality nor of diminution. There are no godheads but one Godhead, which is the attribute of one God alone.
Then we are told that each person of the trinity has some particular attributes which are not proper to the other two. And these attributes indicate -according to human reasoning and language -priority and posteriority among them. The Father always holds the first rank, and is prior to the Son.
The Holy Ghost is not only posterior as the third in the order of counting but even inferior to those from whom he proceeds. Would it not be considered a sin of heresy if the names of three persons were conversely repeated? Will not the signing of the cross upon the countenance or over the elements of the Eucharist be considered impious by the Churches if the formula be reversed thus: "In the name of the Holy Ghost, and of the Son, and of the Father? For if they are absolutely equal and coeval, the order of precedence need not be so scrupulously observed.
The fact is that the Popes and the General Councils have always condemned the Sabelian doctrine which maintained that God is one but that He manifested Himself as the Father or as the Son or as the Holy Spirit, being always one and the same person. Of course, the religion of Islam does not endorse or sanction the Sabelian views. God manifested His Jamal or beauty in Christ, His jelal or glory and majesty in Muhammad, and His wisdom in Solomon, and so on in many other objects of Nature, but none of those prophets is any more God than the vast ocean or the majestic sky.
The truth is that there is no mathematical exactitude, no absolute equality between the three persons of the Trinity. If the Father were in every respect equal to the Son or the Holy Spirit, as the unit I is positively equal to another figure I, then there would necessarily be only one person of God and not three, because a unit is not a fragment or fraction nor a multiple of itself. The very difference and relationship that is admitted to exist between the persons of the Trinity leaves no shadow of doubt that they are neither equal to each other nor are they to be identified with one another. The Father begets and is not begotten; the Son is begotten and not a father; the Holy Ghost is the issue of the other two persons; the first person is described as creator and destroyer; the second as savior or redeemer, and the third as life- giver. Consequently none of the three is alone the Creator, the Redeemer and the Life- giver. Then we are told that the second person is the Word of the first Person, becomes man and is sacrificed on the cross to satisfy the justice of his father, and that his incarnation and resurrection are operated and accomplished by the third person.
Strictly speaking, that the gods of the heathen are false and imaginary, whereas the 3 gods of the Churches have a distinct character, of whom the Father-as another epithet for Creator- is the 1 true God, but the son is only a prophet and servant of God, and the 3rd person one of the innumerable holy spirits in the service of the Almighty God. In the Old Testament, God is called Father because of His being a loving creator and protector, but as the Churches abused this name, the Quran has justly refrained from using it. The Old Testament and the Quran condemn the doctrine of three persons in God; the New Testament does not expressly hold or defend it, but even if it contains hints and traces concerning the Trinity, it is no authority at all, because it was neither seen nor written by Christ himself, nor in the language he spoke, nor did it exist in its present form and contents for-at least- the first two centuries after him.
In conclusion, the back-bone of Islam is the belief in the 1 God and to bring Him in a form of man is to limit His power. Islam holds that human worship reaches without need for intermediaries. No aspect of God's power or divinity is channeled anywhere without threat to divine transcendence. God's power and sanctity are solely God's. They are not dispensed to any creature because Creator and creature are two absolutely different kinds of being which never fuse into each other. God is the Forgiver, Punisher, Judge, and Master. He does not delegate these functions to any creature because that would violate His transcendence and role as sole Governor and Judge of humanity. He is fully responsive to every person's prayer in ever language. His mercy and care for humankind, along with His Omnipotence, demand that all people address themselves directly to Him.
God needs no bureaucracy. He is in direct control of human affairs; and worshippers, thanksgivers, confessors, and supplicators can all address themselves directly to Him.
Let me begin by wishing you Ramadan Mubarak and a very huge thank you for sending The Islamic Bulletin I requested. May Allah bless you and the members involved in making the Bulletin possible. During a century when Muslims have been portrayed as barbarians by the media, you are ensuring that the Muslim flag remains high. I have during my lifetime read many newsletters and I would sincerely like to say that none compares to yours. It is simple but yet of high quality. May Allah grant you paradise for your good work.
I once again thank you for your kindness.
We have read your Islamic Bulletin Vol. II, No. 10-93, we are deeply impressed with it's contents, would you kindly send us your periodical regularly to our foundation, so that it will be useful to our Islamic propagation and Guidance.
We pray to Allah SWT to grant you His Blessings. With best wishes. Was Salaam.
Sayyed K. Hegrani/Director
The Public Islamic Institution Propagation
Don't be alarmed! You have not missed any issues of the newsletter. Please accept our sincere apologies in that it has taken an unusual amount of time to produce this issue.
- The Editor
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The Editor of the Islamic Bulletin
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|Letters to the Editor|
|The Charge of|
|Alcohol - The|
|The Kid's Corner|
|Women in Islam|
|Why I Embraced Islam|
|Miracles of the Qur'an|
|Stories of the Sahabah|
|Sayings of the Prophet|
|Death - Are|