Category Archives: Christianity/Orientalists

TRINITY DEMOLISHED

By Brother Abu Zakariya

THE CONCEPT OF GOD IN CHRISTIANITY

The world around us, our very existence, everything, we owe it all to our Creator. God also sustains all life. Imagine what would happen if God withheld the rain, or blotted out the sun; life would cease to exist. Now, can you imagine if you gave someone a really expensive gift and they didn’t thank you, or perhaps even worse, thanked someone else? What would you think about that person? God is our Master; we are but His servants. Our love, obedience and reverence are His rights upon us.

It’s important to note that God is not in need of our worship; God is free of all needs. If the whole of humanity were to collectively  worship God, it would not increase Him one iota. Similarly, if the whole of mankind were to cease worshipping God, it would not degrade Him one iota. God existed in all His majesty and splendour for an eternity before He created man. God does not need our worship, but He deserves it.

Thankfulness and gratitude is a key aspect of worship. This is why it’s so important that we worship God properly, that we give Him His due reverence. Is it possible to have a meaningful relationship with a stranger? Would anyone want a relationship with the wrong concept of God? As you can see, in order for our worship to be effective, we need to know who God is. This is why the question of who Jesus is, what his true nature is, is so important. Thus, we begin by looking at the Christian concept of God.

THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY

When it comes to the nature of God, beliefs differ significantly across the various denominations of Christianity. The most popular belief, promoted by the vast majority of churches in the world,  is that God has a triune nature. This is the doctrine known as the Trinity, which defines God as one Being who exists eternally as three distinct persons — the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Put simply, it is “one God in three persons”. The persons of the Trinity are not to be confused, so the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is not the Father. All three persons of the Trinity are said to be co-equal and co-eternal, and “each is God, whole and entire.” However, each person is said to have a different role when it comes to how God relates to the world. For example, in God’s plan of salvation for mankind, the Father is said to have sent the Son, Jesus, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. The Holy Spirit is said to sanctify believers, inspiring Christians in their day-to-day lives.

Here is a diagram that is commonly used by Trinitarians to summarise the doctrine:

image

A key element of the doctrine of the Trinity is the incarnation of God. This teaches that the second person of the Trinity, the Son, took on human flesh in the bodily form of Jesus. Thus, when Mary gave birth to Jesus, God entered into the creation. Jesus is said to be the God-man, who has two natures – one divine, one human. Jesus is said to be both fully God and fully man. As a result of the incarnation, humanity has been permanently incorporated into the Godhead; the Son will forever have an inseparable divine and human nature. Jesus’s humanity is not something that can be discarded or dissolved back into  the Godhead. Even after his crucifixion, resurrection and ascension back to the Father, Jesus will forever exist in heaven as a glorified man, albeit God at the same time. Here is a diagram which summarises this concept:

image

As a Muslim, I was raised to believe in the pure monotheism of Islam that teaches God is one, not only in essence, but also in personhood, and that God is distinct from human beings. So, it took me a long time to grasp the Trinitarian concept of God. It turns out that I’m not alone in  struggling to grasp the Trinity. According to scholars of Christianity and defenders of the Trinity, many Christians who profess to believe in the Trinity in fact do not understand the doctrine. Dr James White, one of the foremost apologists for the Trinity today, wrote the following:

“For many Christians, the Trinity is an abstract principle, a confusing and difficult doctrine that they believe, although they are not really sure why in their honest moments.” [1]

This is evident when one discusses the doctrine with the average Christian. In my experiences of interacting with Christians, a common way of trying to explain the Trinity is the use of elaborate analogies.

The following examples are quite commonly put forward:

– The Trinity is like the three parts of an egg: the shell, the white and the yolk.

– The Trinity is like three forms of water: ice, liquid and vapour.

– The Trinity is like a man who can exist as a father, a son and a husband, all at the same time.

Such analogies, however, are highly problematic. The egg analogy doesn’t work because the doctrine of the Trinity states that each person (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is fully God. One wouldn’t say that the shell is fully an egg, the white is fully an egg or that the yolk is fully an egg. It is only the totality of the three parts (shell, white and yolk) that make a complete egg. The water  analogy doesn’t work either, because it implies that God first manifested Himself as Father, then as the Son and then as the Holy Spirit. These ‘forms’ are temporary and never co-exist, thus violating the principle of the doctrine that the persons eternally co-exist. Finally, the man analogy also fails to encompass the doctrine of the Trinity. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit aren’t simply three functions or roles of God, they are said to be three distinct persons.

The simple fact is that no analogy will ever be complete. Although this is not appreciated by the average Christian that I encounter on a day-to-day basis, it is something that is fully acknowledged by Christian theologians who freely admit that the Trinity cannot be explained. Many theologians have abandoned all hope of deriving a deep understanding of the doctrine and have resigned themselves to classifying it as a holy mystery. The Catholic Church states: “The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life” [2]. The  Catholic Church defines mystery in theology as something that remains veiled in darkness:

The Vatican Council has explained the meaning to be attributed to the term mystery in theology. It lays down that a mystery is a truth which we are not merely incapable of discovering apart from Divine Revelation, but which, even when revealed, remains “hidden by the veil of faith and enveloped, so to speak, by a kind of darkness.[3]

Reconciling the plurality of the godhead, a threeness, within a monotheistic framework, continues to be one of the great challenges faced by Trinitarians. If Trinitarians embraced the polytheism that is inherent in the doctrine and explained it for what it really is  –  three Gods and not one – then there would be no confusion. The doctrine is inexplicable because Trinitarians try to reconcile a concept of threeness into a monotheistic  context which does not, and cannot, fit. How can anyone, or anything, be three things and one thing, all at the same time? The fact is that the Trinity is something that believers must accept on blind faith; it cannot be rationalised.

The doctrine of the Trinity is also problematic when we consider the purpose of revelation, which boils down to guidance – the books of God were revealed in order to guide mankind. If guidance results in confusion (or misguidance), then it defeats the purpose of revelation. If the Trinity were some inconsequential aspect of Christian theology, then perhaps its mystery wouldn’t be an issue. But it isn’t; so entrenched has the belief in the Trinity become that it is the litmus test for whether or not a person is considered to be orthodox. Rejecting any aspect of the doctrine is enough for a Christian to be  condemned  as  a  heretic. Evangelical scholar Harold Lindsell and seminary professor Charles Woodbridge wrote the following:

The mind of man cannot fully understand the mystery of the Trinity. He who has tried to understand the mystery fully will lose his mind; but he who would deny the Trinity will lose his soul. [4]

There you have it, “deny the Trinity and you lose your soul.” This reveals a fundamental paradox with the doctrine: why would God reveal something that cannot be fully comprehended, and yet tie our salvation to it? What should we make of all this in the light of the purpose of revelation? Revelation is an opening up, an uncovering. How can the Trinity be a revelation when the most learned of biblical scholars write that it is a mystery? That is double-talk which directly conflicts with the very purpose of revelation: guidance.

Today, faith and the Trinity are synonymous in Christian thought. In fact, they are so intertwined that you would think the Trinity must have always been the dominant belief going all the way back to the early Church. As we are going to see, this could not be further from the truth.

THE DIFFERENT VIEWS OF JESUS IN THE EARLY CHURCH

Very early on in Christianity, almost from the beginning, different Christians in different churches in different regions had different views of Jesus. Here are some of the views about Jesus that existed in the first few centuries of Christianity:

1. Jesus was purely human.

This is the view that Jesus was born a human being with no divine aspect whatsoever. One such early Christian group that held this belief were the Ebionites. The word “Ebionite” is from Hebrew Ebyonim meaning “poor ones”. The Ebionites were Jewish followers of Jesus and were concentrated in Palestine and its surrounding regions. The Ebionite Christians believed that
Jesus was the Jewish Messiah sent from God to the Jewish people in fulfilment of the Jewish Scriptures. They also believed that to belong to the people of God, one needed to be Jewish. As a result, they insisted on observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher, and circumcising all males. Their insistence on staying Jewish should not seem peculiar from a historical perspective, since Jesus and his disciples were Jewish, as were the earliest Christians who were also Jewish  followers of Jesus. At this early point, Christianity was a Jewish phenomenon. It was not yet a separate and distinct religion, but rather a sect of Judaism. It seems that the only thing that distinguished these early followers of Jesus from any other Jew was their belief that Jesus was the Messiah. The Book of Acts attests to their continued regular attendance at the Jewish Temple, as well as the goodwill they had from their fellow Jews, which would have been impossible had they preached that Jesus was God incarnate, a belief which is seen as blasphemous in Judaism:

And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. [Acts 2:44-47]

From what we know of the beliefs of the Ebionites, they saw Jesus as the adopted Son of God. They held that Jesus was born human and that he became God’s son by adoption during his baptism, being chosen by God because of his sinless devotion to the will of God. It’s important to note that, for the Ebionites, Jesus did not pre-exist and was never an object of worship because they believed he was inferior to God.

Many scholars believe that such views about Jesus were held by the earliest Christians. A New Testament scholar, Professor Bart Ehrman, states: “… adoptionistic Christologies can be traced to sources that predate the books of the New Testament.” [5]

2. Jesus was purely divine and not human at all.

This view is an opposite extreme to that of the Ebionites. It is the belief that Jesus had no human aspect at all and was purely divine. One such group which held these beliefs were the Marcionites. Unlike the Ebionites, the Marcionites represented a highly attractive religion and had many pagan converts. Potential converts from among the pagans were not flocking to the Ebionite form of religion, which involved restricting activities on the Sabbath, giving up pork and other popular foods, and men getting circumcised. The Marcionites, on the other hand, had a comparatively easy religion to follow as it was avowedly Christian with nothing Jewish about it. In fact, everything Jewish was taken out of it as they had trouble reconciling what they saw as a wrathful, vengeful God of the Old Testament with the loving, merciful portrayal of God in the New Testament. They went so far as to even exclude the Jewish books of the Old Testament from their Bible.

The Marcionites believed that Jesus was not truly a part of this material world. He did not have a flesh-and-blood body, and was not actually born. Although he appeared to be human, his human form was merely an illusion. Jesus was purely divine with no human aspect whatsoever.

3. Jesus was both human and divine.

There were numerous sub-groups within this category. One group, known as Sub-ordinationists, believed that Jesus was divine and that he was created by God the Father; thus, Jesus was not equal to the Father but subordinate to him. Origen of Alexandria, the most prolific Christian writer in history with over 1,000 books, was a Sub-ordinationist.

Another group believed that Jesus was always divine and that when Jesus became human he became an additional person. So, Jesus existed as two beings: the man Jesus of Nazareth who was human and the Christ who was completely divine. People who held this belief are known as Separationists.

A third group believed that Jesus  was always divine and when he became human he took on an additional nature. So Jesus is one person with two natures, one divine and one human. This is the Trinitarian view of Jesus that ultimately became orthodoxy. Today, it is the mainstream position in Catholicism, Protestantism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The official position of these churches is that all the other groups, with their different views about Jesus, are heretics, deviators from the truth of the orthodoxy of Trinitarianism.

Is it fair to casually dismiss these other views of Jesus as heretical? They can’t be considered heretics from an early Church perspective because, as we’ve seen, there were many competing views about Jesus. During the first three centuries, Church doctrine had yet to be fixed. To take one example, Trinitarians like to quote early Church Fathers like Tertullian (155 – 240 CE) who spoke of a “trinitas” (Latin for ‘threeness’). They cite them as proof that the Trinity was the standard belief of Christians in the early Church. However, such claims are misleading. When we properly examine the writings of individuals like Tertullian, we find that this is not the case:

For the Father is the entire substance, but the Son is a derivation and  portion  of  the  whole, as He Himself  acknowledges: “My Father is greater than I.” In the Psalm His inferiority is described as being “a little lower than the angels.” Thus the Father is distinct from the Son, being greater than the Son. [6]

In other words, one of the earliest sources in the early Church who spoke of a ‘trinity’ never actually taught a doctrine of three co-equal persons. Tertullian’s understanding of Scripture was that the Father and Son cannot be co-equal, which goes against modern Trinitarianism. At this early stage in history, the doctrine of the Trinity was still in its infancy, so any talk of the Trinity being orthodoxy is not only anachronistic, but also a gross oversimplification. Many of the doctrine’s finer details had yet to be formulated. This is why historians refer to the early Christians who believed in the deity of Jesus as “partially Trinitarian”, or “proto-Trinitarian”, as the doctrine hadn’t yet been fully developed. Another issue with labelling these other views of Jesus as heretical is that proto-Trinitarianism wasn’t even necessarily the majority belief in the early Church. Indeed, historians think that, at one point, there were more non-Trinitarian Christians than so-called orthodox Trinitarian believers. We can find evidence of this in the writings of Tertullian who commented:

The simple, indeed, (I will not call them unwise and unlearned,) who always constitute the majority of believers, are startled at the dispensation (of the Three in One)… are constantly throwing out against us that we are preachers of two gods and three gods… [7]

Tertullian wrote the above in a chapter in his book “Sundry Popular Fears and Prejudices. The Doctrine of the Trinity in Unity Rescued from These Misapprehensions”. This indicates that the proto-Trinitarian view was a minority belief in the early Church, which the masses rejected on the grounds that it was polytheistic. Another piece of historical evidence is a sermon delivered by the fourth century bishop Gregory of Nyssa:

If in this city you ask a shopkeeper for change, he will argue with you about whether the Son is begotten or unbegotten. If you enquire about the quality of the bread, the baker will answer, ‘The Father is greater, the Son is less.’ And if you ask the bath attendant to draw your bath, he will tell you that the Son was created ex nihilo [out of nothing]. [8]

Gregory’s wry comment is fascinating for what it says and what it implies. It suggests that ordinary tradespeople and workers felt perfectly competent to debate abstract theological issues. Gregory’s shopkeeper questions whether Jesus is “begotten or unbegotten” – that is, whether he is a creation of God or the Creator Himself. The bath attendant says that he was created “out of nothing”, meaning that he was brought into existence like the rest of God’s creatures. And the baker asserts that Jesus is separate from, and lesser than, God. All of these views go against the Trinity and seemed to be the popular belief among common people.

Proto-Trinitarianism was not  even necessarily the default  position of the bishops of the Roman Empire in the middle of the fourth century. For example, the high-ranking bishop of Constantinople, Macedonius, endorsed a non-Trinitarian position:

Towards the middle of the fourth century, Macedonius, Bishop of Constantinople, and, after him a number of Semi-Arians, while apparently admitting the Divinity of the Word, denied that of the Holy Ghost. [9]

One of the most astounding historical facts about the Trinity is that the earliest Church Fathers who promoted a proto-Trinitarian belief (such as Tertullian and Origen) were all later condemned by the Roman Catholic Church as heretics. On the other hand, Church Fathers such as Ignatius, Polycarp and others, who taught a binitarian (not Trinitarian) view, are today considered to be saints by the Roman Catholic Church. This demonstrates the frivolity of assigning labels like orthodox  and heretic in the early Church, as the orthodoxy of one age can (and did) become the heresy of the next.

We need to be more nuanced in our discussion of these subjects. We shouldn’t evaluate these different views about Jesus as a popularity contest, but rather on the strength of the arguments that each view puts forward. We’ve seen that early Christianity was widely diverse, and that different groups of Christians in the ancient world held varying, even contradictory, points of view about the nature of Jesus. By the sixteenth century, the Trinity had a virtual monopoly in Christian thought. So dominant was the doctrine of the Trinity that toeing the line of orthodoxy was a matter of life and death. Michael Servetus was a sixteenth century Spanish theologian whose interpretations of the Bible brought him into conflict with the Church. In 1531 CE, Servetus published the book “Errors of the Trinity”, in which he said those who believed in the Trinity were really Tritheists (believers in three gods). He was condemned as a heretic and burnt alive atop a pyre of his own books [10]. How did the Trinity go from being just another belief about Jesus to a position of absolute dominance to the point where dissent could cost you your life? We will now turn our attention to the tides of history to see just how the Trinity came to be the dominant, orthodox position of Christianity today.

HOW THE TRINITY BECOMES ORTHODOXY

Earlier, we saw how Christianity started out as a small movement within Judaism. When Christianity eventually spread to Gentiles (non-Jews), how was the religion perceived by the general Pagan populace in the Roman Empire? By 300 CE, Christians had accounted for approximately 10% of the Roman population,  according to some estimates [11]. Up until that point, Christians had been a persecuted minority. This persecution culminated in the passing of legislation which compelled Christians to sacrifice to the Roman gods or face imprisonment and execution [12].

The coming to power of the Roman Emperor Constantine was a major turning point for Christianity. After his victory, Constantine supported the Church financially, granted privileges such as exemption from certain taxes to the clergy, promoted Christians to high-ranking offices and returned previously confiscated property to the churches [13]. Under the influence of Constantine, the Christian movement gradually underwent its major transformation from a previously underground, and even criminal, movement persecuted by the general Pagan populace into an officially-sanctioned religion of ‘first rank’ within the Roman Empire. Both Paganism and Christianity were now legal religions, with their respective adherents vying for power in the Roman Empire.

Perhaps the defining moment of Constantine’s reign came with the Arian controversy. In the early fourth century, a debate raged within the Church with regard to the nature of Jesus and his precise relationship to God. Arius, a priest and theologian, and bishop Athanasius, a Church Father, were the chief proponents of both sides of the debate. Athanasius was a Trinitarian who promoted the idea that Jesus was equal to God, whereas Arius promoted the idea that Jesus was in fact a creation of God and therefore inferior to God. A major contention for Arius and his followers, the Arians, with regard to the Trinity was that if the Son were equal to the Father, then there would be more than one God. These disagreements about the nature of Jesus and his relationship to God deeply divided Christianity in the Roman Empire into two opposing theological factions. It’s important to note that neither side was a niche group; in the fourth century, Arianism had the upper hand in the Eastern, Greek-speaking  part of the Roman Empire, while the Trinitarians dominated the Western, Latin-speaking part.

Council of Nicea

Emperor Constantine, seeking to unify the Church, convened the Council of Nicea in 325 CE. The question to be settled was, “Is Jesus absolutely equal to the Father: always existing and of the very same substance, or not?” Bishops from all over the empire were summoned to the council  where their differences would be debated with the aim of reaching agreement. This was the first time in Christian history that such a council had convened. Constantine told the delegates that they would enjoy the climate and also, with a hint of menace, that he intended to: “be present as a spectator and participator in those things which will be done”   [14]. It must be noted that Constantine was not interested in doctrinal purity; his motivation for calling the council was merely to assure the political stability of his empire. Constantine himself said: “When I heard of your division, I was convinced that this matter should by no means be neglected… I shall feel my desire fulfilled only when I see the minds of all united in that peaceful harmony… Put away all causes of strife, and loosen all knots of discord by the laws of peace.”  [15]

The Council of Nicea had three points of view represented at the meeting: the strict Arians, the  semi-Arians and the strict  Trinitarians. The strict Arians were a small minority who were led by Arius. They believed that Jesus is inferior to God and rejected the notion that Jesus is of the same substance as God. The strict Trinitarians were also a small minority and they were led by Athanasius. They opposed Arianism because it questioned the deity of Jesus. The vast majority in attendance, however, took a middle position between Arianism and Trinitarianism. They were led by Eusebius of Caesarea and are referred to as “Semi-Arians”. They rejected the Trinitarian doctrine that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are of the same substance. About this council, Church historian Philip Schaff wrote:

In reference to the theological question the council was divided in the beginning into three parties. The orthodox party… was at first in the minority… The Arians or Eusebians numbered perhaps twenty bishops… The majority, whose organ was the renowned historian Eusebius of Caesarea, took middle ground between the right and the left… [16]

This is further evidence that the Trinity was not the orthodox position of the early Church, since the majority of bishops attending had not held a pro-Trinitarian, anti-Arian view before the council.

The council proceedings caused the mood of the undecided majority to move towards an anti-Arian view. Because of this sudden swing away from Arianism, the goal of the council quickly shifted from seeking compromise to condemning  Arianism in no uncertain terms. Since it was difficult to do this on scriptural terms alone, the bishops decided to formulate a creed that specifically excluded Arianism from the  scope of Christian belief. Key to it was a concept found nowhere in the Bible: homo-ousios (from the Greek ‘homos’, meaning “same”, and ‘ousia’, meaning “essence”). The anti-Arians wanted to insert this concept of Jesus being of the same substance as God into the official creedal statement of the Church. This  anti-Arian clause was proposed by Emperor Constantine himself [17]. Arius and his followers refused to accept it because they believed that Jesus was created by God and therefore they were materially separate from one another. Notice that the contention was not about passages of the Bible, but rather philosophy. This further reinforces the point that the Trinity is not a biblical concept but rather extraneous to the Bible. The Church had to come up with terms of “philosophical” (pagan/Greek) origin in order to explain it, as former Pope Benedict XVI states:

In order to articulate the dogma of the Trinity, the Church had to  develop its own terminology with  the help of certain notions of philosophical origin: “substance,” “person,” or “hypostasis,” “relation” and so on. [18]

Faced with the awe-inspiring presence of the emperor, there could be little opposition: the majority of the bishops on the council ultimately agreed upon a creed, known thereafter as the “Nicene Creed”: “[The] majority eventually acquiesced in the ruling of the Alexandrians [trinitarians]; yet this result was due… partly to the pressure of the imperial will.” [19]

When the creed was finished, eighteen bishops still opposed it. Constantine at this point intervened to threaten with exile anyone who would not sign for it. Two Libyan bishops and Arius still refused to accept the creed. All three were exiled [20].

Although Constantine is usually remembered for the steps he took towards making Christianity an established religion in the Roman Empire, it would not be wrong to consider him as one of the chief driving forces behind the Nicene Creed. It was he who proposed and perhaps even imposed the expression homo-ousios (“same essence”) on the Council of Nicea, and it was he who provided government aid to the so-called orthodox and exerted government pressure against non-conformists [21].

Councils of Rimini and Seleucia

The Council of Nicea, however, did not end the controversy, as many bishops of the Eastern provinces disputed the concept of homo-ousios, the central term of the Nicene Creed. The debates among these groups continued and resulted in numerous meetings, and no fewer than fourteen further creedal formulas between 340 CE and 360 CE, leading the pagan observer Ammianus Marcellinus to comment sarcastically: “The highways were covered with galloping bishops.” [22]

Emperor Constantine’s sons, among whom the empire was divided after his death, became even more embroiled in the theological disputes. The emperor in the West, Constans, sided with Nicea, while the emperor in the East, Constantius, was anti-Nicea. Thus, a pattern was being set for political interference with theological issues on the part of civil rulers. Whether Arianism  or  the Nicene Creed had the upper  hand at any particular time depended upon which one had the favour of the respective emperor.

With the death of Constans in 350 CE, his anti-Nicea brother Constantius became the sole ruler of the Empire. In 359 CE, he summoned two councils, one in the East at Seleucia and the other in the West at Rimini. These councils were attended by more bishops than at Nicea and were thus more representative of the entire Church. Like his father Constantine before him, Constantius also involved himself in the council proceedings, exerting pressure on the bishops attending. An anti-Nicean, pro-Arian creed was adopted, and thus Arianism gained the upper hand in the Roman Empire. Writing about these councils, Saint Jerome remarked that the world “awoke with a groan to find itself Arian” [23]. The balance of power was now in favour of Arianism, and it looked like it had triumphed over Trinitarianism. So, if Trinitarians want to argue that today orthodoxy is on their side on the basis of popularity, then at one point Arianism was in the dominant position and was therefore orthodoxy!

Council of Constantinople

The seeming triumph of Arianism was short-lived. In 381 CE, the Council of Constantinople was summoned by Emperor Theodosius I. The main business of  the council was  to re-establish the doctrine that had  been set forth in the Nicene Creed. They did this by writing a new creed to remove some of the language of the Nicene Creed that had proven controversial and problematic. This council “sealed the final adoption of the faith of Nicea by the entire Church” [24]. So, the Nicene Creed, first set out on the Council of Nicea 55 years earlier, was ultimately victorious over Arianism.

It’s important to note that on earlier councils, for example the Council of Nicea, they did not specify that the third person of the Trinity existed; they simply  said they believed in the Holy Spirit. While the Council of Constantinople reaffirmed the tenets of the faith which were established in Nicea, one specific area where the doctrine of the Trinity had developed was related to the Holy Spirit. The divinity of the Holy Spirit was an important issue, as the Church debated and formalised its emerging view of the Trinity. The council attributed a number of things to the Holy Spirit, such as a divine title, ‘Lord’, and supreme worship equal to that rendered to the Father and the Son. Thus, the Holy Spirit was voted as the third Person of the Trinity. It should be pointed out that the disciples of Jesus had all been dead for hundreds of years before this position was agreed upon. The Catholic Church states: “The apostolic faith concerning the Spirit was announced by the second ecumenical council at Constantinople (381 CE).” [25]

Trinitarian and evangelical scholar Harold Brown gives some reasons for the slow adoption of the Holy Spirit as a person of the Trinity:

The language of the New Testament permits the Holy Spirit to be understood as an  impersonal force or influence  more readily than it does the Son…The attempt to develop an understanding of the Holy Spirit consistent with the trinitarian passages…came to fruition at Constantinople in 381. There were a number of reasons why the personhood of the Holy Spirit took longer to acknowledge than the Son: (1) the term pneuma, breath, is neuter in general and impersonal in ordinary meaning;  (2) the distinctive work of the Holy Spirit, influencing the believer, does not necessarily seem as personal as that of the Father…in addition, those who saw the Holy Spirit as a Person, were often heretical, for example, the Montanists; (3) many of the early theologians attributed to the Logos or Word, the revelatory  activity later theologians saw as the special, personal work of the Holy Spirit. [26]

In other words, we can understand that:

1. A doctrine close to what modern Trinitarians teach about the Holy Spirit was not widely accepted until over 300 years after Jesus.

2. Normal understanding of the Greek of the New Testament suggests that the Holy Spirit is impersonal – not a person. This is in contrast to the portrayal of the Father and the Son.

3. The idea of treating the Holy Spirit as a person, as Trinitarians do today, was often associated with heretical groups in the early Church.

4. Early Christian theologians contradicted the current Trinitarian view of the Holy Spirit because they used to assign its functions, such as revelatory activity, to the Son.

At the close of the Council of Constantinople, Emperor Theodosius issued an imperial decree declaring that the churches should be restored to those bishops who confessed the equal divinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit:

…let us believe in the one deity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since in our judgement they are foolish madmen, we decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics, and shall not presume to give their conventicles the name of churches. They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of divine condemnation and the second the punishment of our authority, in accordance with the will of heaven shall decide to inflict… [27]

Historical scholar Jonathan Roberts wrote:

Until Theodosius commanded his subjects to believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, and enforced his commands upon them by the most inhumane ways, that doctrine was rejected and resisted by the Greek and Roman followers of the Christos… That so senseless and unnatural doctrine should have been forced upon any people, by any means,  however tyrannical is a mystery even  more mysterious than the arithmetic that can make one three, and three one. [28]

Thus, Arianism was officially outlawed. It was extinguished not by the force of scriptural truth, but by the force of imperial involvement. After over 55 years of battle, the Nicene Creed permanently gained the upper hand and Trinitarianism became the official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church.

Council of Chalcedon

Even after Arianism was defeated, debate raged on about the nature of the incarnate Jesus as he walked upon the earth. While the Council of Nicea focused on the precise relationship of the Son to God the Father, the question that now had to be settled was: did Jesus have a single nature, meaning a mixture of human and divine, or a dual nature – human and divine, both distinct and not blurred together?

In 451 CE, the council of Chalcedon was summoned to address the nature of Jesus. The bishops arrived at the understanding of the two natures of Christ in one person. They adopted the Creed of Chalcedon, which stated:

We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess  one  and  the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [coessential] with us according to the manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning him, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.

This concept of a dual human and divine nature in the person of Jesus is known as the Hypostatic Union, an essential component of modern Trinitarianism. Yet, it wasn’t until the Council of Chalcedon that we saw the emergence of an official doctrine of the Trinity in a form that is recognisable with what Trinitarians believe in today. This took place in the fifth century, over 400 years after Jesus.

Evangelical theologian and professor Wayne A. Grudem sums this up as follows: “[A] precise understanding of how full deity and full humanity” argues Grudem, “could be combined together in one person was formulated only gradually in the church and did not reach the final form until the Chalcedonian Definition in a.d. 451.” [29]

Some reflections on the Church councils

Regarding these various Church councils, I’d like to share with the reader some personal reflections:

1. The Trinity, as it is believed in today, did not emerge as the official doctrine of the Church until over 400 years after Jesus. Yet, today it is considered to be so pivotal to mainstream Christianity that anyone diverging from this is labelled a disbeliever or member of a cult. How central to the early Church could a doctrine, not fully formulated until a much later date, actually be? One would expect that anything that was truly fundamental to the Christian faith would have been clear and accepted by the Church from the first century.

2. The doctrine of the Trinity did not come into the Church easily, but rather through a great deal of dispute. Every fundamental aspect of the doctrine – the relationship of Jesus to God, the deity of the Holy Spirit, the dual nature of Jesus – was borne out of council proceedings spanning over a century. These were not dominated solely by scriptural  discussion; politics and philosophy played significant roles.

3. Imperial involvement played a large part in determining which theological view was dominant at any given moment. Emperor Constantine was not a minister or even a theologian, but a political figure. However, he was a pivotal figure in establishing the Nicene Creed. To him, it was not a matter of true doctrine, but what was politically expedient. If Constantine or any subsequent emperors had favoured Arianism, then the tides of history could very well have turned in its favour and Arianism could be orthodoxy today!

So far, we have analysed the Trinitarian  claim to orthodoxy from the historical angle. We will now look at the Bible to see whether it can stake a claim to orthodoxy from a scriptural standpoint.

IS THE TRINITY BIBLICAL?

Is the Trinity Biblical? To many people, this may sound like a strange question; in fact, many of the Christians that I interact with assume that everything they have been taught in church is based on the Bible. Is this really the case with the Trinity, is it Biblical? Through my research I was surprised to learn that the term ‘Trinity’ is not found anywhere in the Bible. Such terminology appears only in the writings of Church Fathers, much later in history. The position of the Catholic Church is that the term ‘Trinity’ was first mentioned late into the second century, about 150 years after Jesus:

In Scripture there is as yet no single term by which the Three Divine Persons are denoted together…The word trias (of which the Latin trinitas is a translation) is first found in Theophilus of Antioch about A.D. 180… Afterwards it appears in its Latin form of trinitas in Tertullian. [30]

Its absence from the Bible is striking when one considers that this is the core doctrine of Trinitarianism. The Oxford Companion to the Bible, which has entries from over two hundred and sixty Bible scholars and academics from leading biblical institutes and universities in America and Europe, states: “Because the Trinity is such an important part of later Christian doctrine, it is striking that the term does not appear in the New Testament…” [31]

I often ask Christians about the absence of the term “Trinity” in the Bible. A common response that I receive is that, although the specific word “Trinity” is not present, its concept is found throughout the New Testament. When we examine the New Testament, is it really the case that there is a concept of God being three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who are co-equal and co-eternal? Since the Trinity is a fundamental doctrine, it’s not unreasonable to expect to find a clear statement from the Bible that comprehensively defines the doctrine of the Trinity as it is believed in today. In my experience, the most common pieces of evidence put forward are the letters of Paul and the Gospels of John and Matthew. Here are some typical examples:

For in him [Jesus] dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. [Colossians 2:9]

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [John 1:1]

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.   [Matthew 28:19]

Let’s analyse each of these statements in turn to see if they are genuine proof texts for the concept of the Trinity as it is taught by the Church today. We will first deal with the statement by Paul: “For in him [Jesus] dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” [Colossians 2:9].  When one looks at other writings by Paul, we find mention of God “dwelling” in individuals other than Jesus: “and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” [Ephesians 3:19]. Here Paul prays that believers will be filled with “all the fullness of God”. Clearly, Paul is not implying that believing Christians are literally divine persons. In other places, Paul talks of there being government in the Godhead, he gives a hierarchy of authority and responsibility: “But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” [1 Corinthians 11:3]. Here Paul evidently states that the Father is the head over all creation, including Jesus. Remember that the doctrine of the Trinity states that Jesus the Son and God the Father are co-equal, which of course conflicts with Paul’s hierarchy of the Father as being the head of the Son. Even if we were to accept that Paul’s mention of “Godhead” in Colossians 2:9 indicates a plurality in the nature of God, can we conclude that God is three persons from this statement? We cannot; it is in fact ambiguous because it could mean two or more persons, there’s no reason to conclude three. Nor is there any mention of the Holy Spirit, so  Colossians 2:9 is insufficient as it does not comprehensively support the concept of God being three persons who are all co-equal and co-eternal.

Now, if Paul had really believed in there being three persons in the Godhead, then he would have mentioned all three members in his letters to the churches – he never did. Paul mentioned the Father and Jesus in every introduction of every letter he wrote (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians  1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Hebrews 1:1-2), but he never mentioned the Holy Spirit. If Paul were a Trinitarian, then such an omission is astounding. Clearly, Paul did not believe in a Triune God.

What about the Gospel of John, does it represent a proof text for the Trinity? The alleged proof text cited earlier was the following: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God [John 1:1]. At face value, this may seem like conclusive evidence of Jesus being God, because Trinitarians interpret the Word to be Jesus and the verse apparently states  “and the Word was God.” The English translation that this particular version of the Bible has chosen is subjective. If one was to analyse the original Greek of the New Testament, one would find that it is far less clear. The English word translated as “God”  (“and the Word was God”) lacks the definite article in Greek, so the verse can also be translated as “and the Word was divine” or “and the Word was a god”. Origen of Alexandria, a teacher of Greek grammar of the third century and arguably the most important theologian and biblical scholar of the early Greek Church, wrote about the use of the definite article in John 1:1:

In some cases he [John] uses the article, and in some he omits it… He uses the article, when the name of God refers to the uncreated cause of all things, and omits it when the Logos [Word] is named God…. The true God, then, is ‘The God’” [32]

Origen concluded that John’s intention in omitting the definite article was to show that Jesus is not truly God. Because of the ambiguity of John 1:1, we cannot use it as a basis to establish the divinity of Jesus. If we are serious about understanding Scripture, then we must interpret any ambiguous statements by an author in the light of their clear statements. The following verses of the Gospel of John provide the correct context for interpreting  John 1:1:

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”   [John 17:1-3]

Notice that Jesus is said to pray to the Father, evidently identifying the Father as the only true God to the exclusion of himself, the Son. If Jesus really were part of a Trinity, then he would have said “the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the only true God.” Remember that the doctrine of the Trinity states that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all fully God. Yet, Jesus isolates the Father as the only God to the exclusion of himself. Church Father Augustine, one of the greatest Trinitarian theologians in history, was so disturbed by these verses that he resorted to manipulating them in order to protect the doctrine of the Trinity. It was so difficult for Augustine to harmonise John 17:3 with his belief in the doctrine of the Trinity that he restructured the verse to make the Father and the Son equal in divinity. Augustine, in his “Homilies on John”, changed the wording of  John 17:3 to say: “This is eternal life, that they may know Thee and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent, as the only true God.” [33]  Notice how Augustine grouped the word “Jesus” with “Thee”  (“Thee and Jesus Christ”) in order for both the Father and Jesus to be identified as “the only true God”. Compare this to what John actually says: “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent”, which distinguishes Jesus from God. Augustine’s change was subtle, but it seriously distorted the original meaning of the words in order to make Jesus equal to the Father in divinity.

With regard to this statement from the Gospel of Matthew: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” [Matthew 28:19]. Now this verse does have Jesus mentioning the three persons of the Trinity; however, it says nothing about their relationship with one another. It does not say that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all equal, nor does it say that they are all eternal, or that they are even God. Just mentioning the persons collectively does not equate to the doctrine of the Trinity, as even Muslims believe in the persons of God Almighty, Jesus and the Holy Spirit (whom we believe is the angel Gabriel). What’s interesting about this verse in the Gospel of Matthew is that there are serious doubts about whether Jesus ever uttered the words attributed to him. The reason is, if Jesus really did say those words, then shouldn’t we expect his loyal disciples to obey  his command and baptise people using the formula that Jesus instructed? Although the Gospel of Matthew does not have any instances of disciples carrying out baptisms, other books of the New Testament, such as the Book of Acts, contain many such instances, and not once does any disciple baptise in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Rather, they consistently baptise in the name of Jesus only:

So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.   [Acts 10:48]

And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his [Jesus] name.’ [Acts 22:16]

Unless one is going to argue that the disciples of Jesus intentionally disobeyed him, then this indicates that the disciples were not aware of any such instruction, and therefore it is very likely that Jesus never uttered the words attributed to him in the Gospel of Matthew. We find support for this conclusion in the writings of the third century historian Eusebius. He wrote prolifically, quoting many verses of the New Testament in his writings. The verse in question, Matthew 28:19, is one that he happens to have quoted numerous times. However, he never quotes it as it appears today in modern Bibles, but always finishes the verse with the words “in my name”. For example, in his writings about the persecution of early Christians, we read:

But the rest of the apostles, who had been incessantly plotted against with a view to their destruction, and had been driven out of the land of Judea, went unto all nations to preach the Gospel, relying upon the power of Christ, who had said to them,  “Go ye and make disciples of all the nations in my name.” [34]

We can be confident that if the New Testament Eusebius had in front of him read  “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, he would never have quoted it as “in my name”. Thus, the earliest manuscripts must have read “in my name”, which explains why the disciples used those exact words and not a Trinitarian formula when performing baptisms.

This is the case with all such proof texts put forward by Trinitarians. At best, they only allude to the divinity of Jesus, but this is only when they are taken in  isolation. When we go beyond a superficial reading of Scripture, what we find is that all such proof texts fall short in comprehensively supporting the concept of the Trinity as it is believed in today. When Trinitarians try and argue for the divinity of Jesus as conclusive proof of the doctrine of the Trinity, they miss a big point. Even if, for the sake of argument, we grant the claim that there are some statements in the New Testament which can be interpreted to imply that Jesus is divine in some capacity, this in no way takes away from my point about the Trinity: nowhere do we find a clear definition of the doctrine of the Trinity, the idea that God is one Being consisting of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who are all co-equal and co-eternal.

The fact is that nowhere in the New Testament is there any explicit mention of any such Trinitarian formula. Nor is God ever spoken of using terms like ‘Being’ and ‘Persons’ which is the language used by Trinitarians. These are not only my personal conclusions after years of study into the Bible, but also the findings of Christian scholarship. The Oxford Companion to the Bible, written by Bruce Metzger, one of the most influential New Testament scholars of the 20th century, and containing entries from over two hundred and sixty scholars and academics from leading biblical institutes and universities in America and  Europe, states: “…the developed concept of three co-equal partners in the Godhead found in later creedal formulations cannot be clearly detected within the confines of the canon” [35]. Likewise, the New Catholic Encyclopedia explains that the doctrine of the Trinity is a product of history, developed over centuries:

There is the recognition on the part of exegetes and biblical theologians, including a constantly growing number of Roman Catholics, that one should not speak of Trinitarianism in the New Testament without serious qualification. There is also the closely parallel recognition on the part of historians of dogma and systematic theologians that when one does speak of an unqualified Trinitarianism, one has moved from the period of Christian origins to, say, the last quadrant of the 4th century. It was only then that what might be called the definitive Trinitarian dogma ‘One God in three persons’ became thoroughly assimilated into Christian life and thought…it was the product of three centuries of doctrinal development.[36]

The New Bible Dictionary, an evangelical Trinitarian source, states that while the concept of God becoming man is present in Scripture from the perspective of how it relates to our salvation, the authors of the dictionary concede that the theological formulation of the doctrine is puzzlingly absent in the New Testament:

The only sense in which the New Testament writers ever attempt to explain the incarnation is by showing how it fits into God’s overall plan for redeeming mankind…This evangelical interest throws light on the otherwise puzzling fact that the New Testament nowhere reflects on the virgin birth of Jesus as witnessing to the conjunction of deity and manhood in His person—a line of thought much canvassed by later theology. [37]

If the Trinity is the true nature of God, why does the New Testament not clearly support it? If this doctrine is so important, then shouldn’t it be evidently explained all over the New Testament, like other doctrines  such as the death of Jesus for our sins and his resurrection from the dead? The doctrine must be read into Scripture – it is not derived from it. It is not developed from clear scriptural references, but rather by beginning with a premise and then proceeding to develop “proofs” from ambiguous statements in Scripture.

Any speculation about ambiguous verses of the Bible can be put to rest when we look to the clear, explicit statements that Jesus made regarding God’s nature.

JESUS PREACHED PURE MONOTHEISM

There is an interesting incident in the New Testament where Jesus seems to affirm the theology of the Old Testament. One of the Jewish teachers of the law approaches Jesus and asks him which of the commandments is the most important:

“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 and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions. [Mark 12:28-34]

This incident was the perfect opportunity for Jesus to correct misconceptions about God’s nature and give the Jewish teacher of the law a Trinitarian understanding of God being three co-equal and co-eternal persons. As you can see, the exact opposite is the case; by quoting the Old Testament commandment about God being One, a direct quote of Deuteronomy 6:4 (“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one”), and by agreeing with the Jewish teacher’s interpretation, Jesus is affirming an understanding of God that is purely monotheistic and rejects all notion of God being a Trinity. Not only is the Jewish teacher’s wisdom about God acknowledged, but also Jesus goes so far as to compliment him, saying that he is close to the kingdom of God.

The reason why Jewish people do not believe in a Triune God is that He is never presented as such in the Old Testament. This is not surprising, given that God is described in purely monotheistic terms throughout the Old Testament. The Prophets of the Old Testament, such as Abraham, Noah and Moses, never preached that God is a Trinity. Their core message was simple: there is one God who is unlike His creation and He alone deserves our worship. Does it make sense that God sent countless Prophets, over a span of thousands of years, with a consistent message of pure monotheism, and then all of a sudden reveals that He is a Trinity, a radically different message which contradicts His previous Prophets’ teachings?

How do Trinitarians explain this juxtaposition between their beliefs and the portrayal of God in the Old Testament? They claim that God reveals Himself gradually in stages; this is known as the concept of “Progressive Revelation”:

The things that God revealed to humanity were not all given at once. His revelation was given in stages… Progressive revelation means that God did not unfold His entire plan to humanity in the Book of Genesis or, for that matter, in the entire Old Testament. The Old Testament revelation, though accurate, is incomplete. The fullness of certain teachings cannot be found in the Old Testament. [38]

This is the idea that the sections of the Bible that were written later contain a fuller revelation of God, compared to the earlier sections. So, the New Testament is to be used to better understand and interpret the Old Testament. Such an explanation must be rejected because the progression from a purely monotheistic concept of God, who is unlike His creation, to a Trinity where God becomes His creation, is anything but gradual. Rather it is a radical overhaul of everything that came before it. Moreover, such an appeal creates more problems than it tries to solve. Because of Progressive Revelation, the Trinitarian concept of God’s nature is, and continues to be, open to development. For example, when Trinitarians say that God is plural in personhood, how do they know to stop at three? Why not four or five? We’ve already seen that there is no verse in the Bible that says there are only three divine persons. At best, one can say that only three have revealed themselves to the Church so far.  But how do you know there isn’t a fourth lurking in the shadows, ready to reveal themselves? For example, couldn’t it be revealed that Mary is also God, perhaps the Mother in the Godhead? Or could it later be revealed that the Holy Spirit is in fact seven persons and not just one (see  Revelation 1:4 which mentions  “the seven spirits before his [God’s] throne”)? To reiterate, there is no explicit mention of ‘three’ either by name or concept, so with Progressive Revelation, there’s nothing to stop God becoming four or more persons at some point in the future. Thus, Trinitarians can never lay claim to having a correct understanding of God, because they can never know for certain that God has revealed the full picture about Himself.

The New Testament touches upon an incident with Jesus and a fig tree in the Gospel of Mark:

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it. [Mark 11:12-14]

Such an incident makes no sense in the light of the Trinitarian claim that Jesus is God. God is All-Knowing, so if Jesus really is God, then that would make him the creator of fig trees, in which case how could he have not known that it was not the season for figs? Moreover, why would God curse the fig tree for doing something He himself willed it to do? If Jesus is God, then wouldn’t it have been more befitting of him to command the tree to bear fruit? Why ruin a perfectly good tree? Come fig season, this tree would have had fruit and others could have eaten from it.

Some Trinitarians try to get around this problem by claiming that the verses about the fig tree and its lack of fruit are not to be taken literally but rather as a symbol of the nation of Israel and its lack of faith. Now, if the fig tree represents Israel in this particular incident, then this creates a problem. Notice that Mark makes it clear that the fig tree was not defective but just that it wasn’t the right season, yet Jesus admonished a perfectly functioning fig tree for obeying  God’s law by producing figs in certain seasons. This would mean that Israel was being punished by God for obeying him! Such interpretations must be rejected because Mark very clearly gives us the reason as to why Jesus approached the fig tree: “Jesus was hungry.” It doesn’t say that “Jesus approached the fig tree because he saw an opportunity for a parable.”

From the perspective  of  Trinitarian theology and the dual nature of Jesus, it would have been the limited human nature that made the mistake and the divine nature that had the power to curse the fig tree. However, this situation presents us with some difficult questions with regard to the interplay between the divine and human nature – why did the divine nature not inform him that there were no figs instead of acting upon the mistake of his human side? Is this a case of the human nature overriding the divine nature? Is such a thing possible?

Furthermore, such incidents bring to light the many paradoxes of the Trinity. For example, how can God be All Powerful and yet have weaknesses such as hunger? Such attributes are mutually exclusive. It would be like being asked to draw a square circle. Such a task is impossible, because each has incompatible properties: a shape cannot have four corners like a square and no corners like a circle at the same time. Yet, such paradoxes are what Trinitarians  have to believe in in order for Jesus to not only be God, All Powerful and All Knowing, but also human with limitations such as hunger and possessing limited knowledge.

From this incident we can see that when it comes to the knowledge of Jesus, it seems that the divine nature is either lacking or completely absent. How then can the claim be made that Jesus is fully God? From what we’ve seen it seems that Jesus is human but not divine because he lacks essential attributes of God, such as possessing All Knowledge.

The fig tree incident is by no means an isolated case. Jesus plainly says elsewhere that the Son and the Holy Spirit do not know the hour, meaning the time of the Day of Judgement, but only the Father: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” [Mark 13:32]. From this we can see that the divine shortcomings of lacking All Knowledge aren’t just restricted to Jesus; the Holy Spirit also lacks God’s perfect knowledge. How then can the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be said to be co-equal, as the doctrine of the Trinity teaches? If the Father possesses knowledge that the Son and the Holy Spirit lack, then the Father is a greater person of God than both Jesus and the Holy Spirit, in at least one area: knowledge.

In conclusion, we can see that the New Testament paints a picture of God and Jesus that is at odds with Trinitarian theology.

RECONCILING THE TRINITY WITH REASON

God is perfect in His knowledge, so it stands to reason that His true revelation will also be perfect. When we move beyond a basic understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity and dig beneath the surface even just a little, we will find that it is full of contradictions and inconsistencies. For example, the Bible says God is eternal and unchanging:

Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.   [Psalm 93:2]

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,  who does not change like shifting shadows. [James 1:17]

The Bible supports the notion that God does not change; indeed, God cannot change, because He transcends time altogether. Now the Trinitarian claim that God became flesh at the incarnation poses a problem. If the Son took on a dual nature, that is, a limited human nature alongside his divine nature, whilst at the same time still being God, then the implication is that in becoming man, the nature of God changed. The doctrine of the incarnation seems to contradict the Bible’s statements that God is eternal and unchanging.

Trinitarians try to get around this issue by arguing that at the incarnation, nothing changed about God, and a human nature was merely added to God’s divine nature. They reason that, since the two natures did not mix, the divine nature did not change at all in this “joining” and so God remained the same.

Can this be considered valid reasoning? Well, if God ‘added’ a new nature to Himself, then that is a change in state. Was God always a man? He was not. Did God later on become fully human? The answer, according to Trinitarian theology, is yes. Adding anything to oneself is clearly a change. To claim otherwise is nothing more than philosophical wordplay.

To illustrate why this is the case, let’s take the example of a human being called John. Consider a hypothetical scenario in which God granted John a second nature – a divine nature. You can see that this scenario mirrors the incarnation; John took on an additional divine nature, much like Trinitarians believe God the Son took on an additional human nature. Even if John’s first nature, humanity, remains unchanged and separate from his divinity, would you ever conclude that John has undergone no change at all? Would any reasonable person argue, “well, John hasn’t really changed in nature, his original finite human nature is only being complemented by an additional infinite nature.” Evidently, for anyone to claim that John, going from mere mortal to master of the universe, has undergone no change would be absurd.

Yet, the Trinitarian doctrine represents exactly the same scenario. In becoming divine, John has changed from one state (not being God) to another (being God). This mirrors the incarnation where God is said to have become flesh, which also entails a change from one state (not being human) to another (being human). The end result for both Jesus and John is the same; they’ve both become God-men. The only difference was their direction of change (God ➡God-man v.s. man  ➡God-man). We must conclude that the incarnation involved an intrinsic change to the Son, and since Trinitarians claim that the Son is God, the implication is that God has changed. This directly conflicts with the Bible’s statements that God is eternal and unchanging.

More issues with the doctrine of the incarnation emerge when we consider God’s perfection. God is perfect in every way possible; both Muslims and Christians believe this to be true. Recall that Trinitarians believe that, at the incarnation,  God entered  into the creation  as a human being  in the form of Jesus. Humanity has been permanently incorporated into the Godhead; the Son will forever have an inseparable divine and human nature. This is in contrast to the nature of the Godhead before the incarnation, with all persons of the Trinity being purely divine into eternity past. This raises some uncomfortable questions. Since God is the pinnacle of perfection, then there is no need for Him to become anything. If God is perfect and something needs to be added to His nature, then doesn’t that mean He lacked something before? Which state is considered more “godly”, the pre-incarnation God, or post-incarnation God? You can see that the doctrine of the incarnation puts Trinitarians in a blasphemous predicament.

We’ve seen that such contradictions and inconsistencies are rampant throughout Trinitarian teaching. Can such a theology really be a true revelation from God when He is perfect in His knowledge?

THE INFLUENCE OF PAGANISM ON THE TRINITY

We’ve seen that the Trinity is not present in the Bible in either name or concept, and that its claim of a Triune God not only conflicts with the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament, but it is also inherently contradictory and inconsistent and therefore unlikely to be God’s perfect revelation. So, where did the Trinity come from? In order to answer this question, we need to understand the world into which Christianity was born and developed. The disciples, the first believers in Jesus, were Jews. In fact, Christianity started out as a movement within Judaism. Like Jews since the time of Moses, these first believers kept the Sabbath, were circumcised and  worshipped in the Temple: “One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of  prayer—at  three  in  the  afternoon.” [Acts  3:1] The only thing that distinguished the early followers of Jesus from any other Jews was their belief in Jesus as the Messiah, that is, the one chosen by God who would redeem the Jewish people. Today, many Christian scholars agree that the authors of the New Testament, such as Matthew, were Jewish believers in Jesus. The influence of Judaism on the New Testament is important because it helps us to correctly understand its message. The New Testament is full of terminology like “son of God”. Such language is interpreted literally by Trinitarians to mean that Jesus is God the Son, but is this correct? What was the intention of the Jewish writers of the New Testament when they used such language? What did these terms mean at the time of Jesus?

When we turn to the Old Testament, we find that such language permeates its pages. For example, Moses calls God “Father”: “Is this the way you repay the Lord, you foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?”   [Deuteronomy 32:6]

Angels are referred to as “sons of God”: “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.” [Job 1:6]

The Old Testament even goes so far as to call Moses a god: “And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet” [Exodus 7:1].

The Israelites are also referred to as “gods”: “I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High’” [Psalm 82:6]. What we can conclude is that such highly exalted language was commonplace and was intended to serve figurative purposes; it is not a literal indication of divinity. Even as late as the end of the first century, when the New Testament writers started penning their accounts of the life of Jesus, Jewish people were still using such language figuratively. In a conversation between Jesus and some Jewish teachers of the law, they say to Jesus: “…The only Father we have is God himself” [John 8:41]. The Gospel of Luke calls Adam a son of God when it recounts the lineage of Jesus:  “the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God” [Luke 3:38].

Jesus even says that anyone who makes peace is a child of God:  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” [Matthew 5:9]. If the New Testament writers understood such language to be a claim to divinity, then they would have used it exclusively in relation to Jesus. Clearly, it denotes a  person that is righteous before God, nothing more.

The turning point in history came when Christianity ceased being a small movement within Judaism and Gentiles (non-Jews) started to embrace the faith in large numbers. We need to look at the pagan world of the Gentiles in order to understand the mindset of the people that received the New Testament message. Since the time of Alexander the Great, Gentiles had been living in a Hellenistic (Greek) world. Their lands were dominated by Roman  armies, with the Roman Empire being the superpower of the world at the time. The Roman Empire itself was heavily influenced by Hellenistic religion, philosophy and culture. Greek gods and goddesses, such as Zeus, Hermes and Aphrodite, as well as Roman gods and goddesses, like Jupiter, Venus and Diana, dominated the landscape. There were temples, priesthoods,  and feasts dedicated to the patron god or goddess of a city or a region; statues to the deities dotted the forums of the cities. Even rulers themselves were frequently worshipped as gods.

Gentiles from such a polytheistic background would have naturally understood Christian preaching about the “son of God” in the light of a Greek or Roman god having been begotten by another. We can see this mindset manifested in the New Testament. In the Book of Acts, there is an incident where the Gentile crowds think that Paul is a Greek god because he heals a crippled man:

When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!”

Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.

The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them. [Acts 14:11-13]

It is worthy of note that Paul and Barnabas did not take this opportunity to explain that it was not they but rather Jesus who was God come in human form. Such a clarification is what you would expect, if Trinitarian beliefs about Jesus are correct. Instead, they argued against such pagan beliefs and practices:

But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting:

“Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you.  We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.   [Acts 14:14-15]

Here we see that the Greco-Roman peoples that Paul and Barnabas were preaching to were in the habit of taking humans for gods. Despite Paul protesting that he was not a god, the people persisted in their belief: “Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them” [Acts 14:18].  From this example we can see that, according to Christian history, it was a common practice for people to attribute divinity to other humans. Inspite of Paul openly denying being a god, the people continued to worship and sacrifice to him. We can conclude that, even if Jesus himself rejected being God at that time, the mindset of the people was such that they would still have found a way to deify him. This is not an isolated incident, as we read elsewhere that Gentiles believed Paul was a god because he survived a bite from a venomous snake:

Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta.

The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold.

Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand.

When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live.”

But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects.
The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.  [Acts:28:1-6]

With this background in mind, it’s easy to see how Judaic phrases like “son of God” took on a different meaning when transported out of their Jewish monotheistic context into pagan Greco-Roman thought. The Trinity doctrine arose neither in a vacuum, nor strictly from the text of Scripture. It was the result of the influence of certain beliefs and attitudes that prevailed in and around the Church after the first century. The Church emerged in a Jewish and Greek world, and so the primitive Church had to reconcile the notions it had inherited from Judaism with those it had derived from pagan mythology. In the words of historian and Anglican bishop John Wand, “Jew and Greek had to meet in Christ.” [39]

It’s interesting to note that the Greco-Roman religions were filled with tales of gods procreating with human beings and begetting god-men. The belief that God could be incarnate, or that there were sons of God, was common and popular. For example, the chief god in the Greek pantheon, Zeus, visited the human woman Danae in the form of golden rain and fathered Perseus, a “god-man.” In another tale, Zeus is said to have come to the human woman Alcmena, disguised as her husband. Alcmena bore Hercules, another “god-man”. Such tales bear a striking similarity to Trinitarian beliefs of God being begotten as a man. In fact, the early Christian apologist Justin Martyr, considered a saint in the Catholic Church, said the following in response to pagan criticisms that Christianity  borrowed from their beliefs about the sons of God:

When we say that the Word, who is our teacher, Jesus Christ the first born of God, was produced without sexual union, and that he was crucified and died and rose again, and ascended to heaven, we propound nothing new or different from what you [pagans] believe regarding those whom you consider sons of Jupiter.[40]

According to ancient Roman myth, Jupiter was the king of all the gods. Here Justin Martyr is telling Roman pagans that what the Christians believe about Jesus being the son of God is nothing different from what they believe about the sons of the god Jupiter. That the Church Fathers’ conception of the Trinity was a combination of Jewish monotheism and pagan polytheism can be seen in the testimony of Gregory of Nyssa, a fourth century bishop who is venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. He also happens to be one of the great figures in the history of the philosophical formulation of the Trinity doctrine. He wrote:

For the truth passes in the mean between these two conceptions, destroying each heresy, and yet, accepting what is useful to it from each. The Jewish dogma is destroyed by the acceptance of the Word and by belief in the Spirit, while the polytheistic error of the Greek school is made to vanish by the unity of the nature abrogating this imagination of plurality. [41]

The Christian conception of God, argues Gregory of Nyssa, is neither purely the polytheism of the Greeks nor purely the monotheism of the Jews, but rather a combination of both.

Even the concept of God-men who were saviours of mankind was by no means exclusive to Jesus. Long before Jesus was born, it was not uncommon for military men and political rulers to be talked about as divine beings. More than that, they were even treated as divine beings: they were given temples with priests who would perform sacrifices in their honour. In Athens, for example, Demetrios Poliorcetes (Demetrios the Conqueror of Cities, 337–283 BCE) was acclaimed as a divine being by hymn-writers because he liberated them from their Macedonian enemies:

How the greatest and dearest of the gods are present in our city! For the circumstances have brought together Demeter and Demetrios; she comes to celebrate the solemn mysteries of the Kore, while he is here full of joy, as befits the god, fair and laughing. His appearance is solemn, his friends all around him and he in their midst, as though they were stars and he the sun. Hail boy of the most powerful god Poseidon and Aphrodite! For other gods are either far away, or they do not have ears, or they do not exist, or do not take any notice of us, but you we can see present here, not made of wood or stone, but real. So we pray to you: first make peace, dearest; for you have the power…[42]

The Athenians gave Demetrios an arrival that was fit for a god, burning incense on altars and making offerings to their new deified king. It must be pointed out that, as time passed by, he did some other things that the Athenians did not approve of, and as a consequence they revoked their adoration of him. It seems that, in the days before Jesus, divinity could be stripped away from human beings just as easily as it was granted. Perhaps the best-known examples of God-men are the divine honours bestowed upon the rulers of the Roman Empire, starting with Julius Caesar. We have an inscription, dedicated to him in 49 BCE and discovered in the city of Ephesus, which says this about him [43]:

Descendant of Ares and Aphrodite     

The God who has become manifest

And universal savior of human life

So, Julius Caesar was described as God manifested as man, the saviour of mankind. Sound familiar? Now, prior to Julius Caesar, rulers in the city of Rome  itself  were not  granted  divine  honours.  But  Caesar  himself  was  –  before he died, the senate approved the building of a temple and statue for him. Soon after his death, his adopted son and heir, Octavian, promoted the idea that at his death, Caesar had been taken up to heaven and been made a god to live with the gods. There was a good reason that Octavian wanted his adopted father to be declared a God. If his father was a God, then what would that make him? This deification of Caesar set a precedent for what was to happen with the emperors, beginning with the first of them, Octavian himself, who became “Caesar Augustus” in 29 BCE. An inscription, which survived from his lifetime and was found in the city of Halicarnassus (modern Turkey), calls Augustus [44]:

…The native Zeus and

Savior of the human race

This is yet another example of a divine saviour of mankind. Now, Octavian happened to also be the “son of God” by virtue of his divine father Julius Caesar. In fact, Octavian became known as ‘Divi filius’ (“Son of the Divine One”). These, of course, are all titles widely used by Christians today to describe Jesus. We must realise that the early Church did not come up with these titles out of the blue, for they are all things said of other men before they were said of Jesus. For early Christians, the idea was not that Jesus was the only person who was ever called such things; this is a misconception. The concept of a divine human being who was the saviour of mankind was a sort of a template that was applied to people of great power and authority. We’ve seen that the history of paganism is littered with such examples, and Jesus was just another divine saviour, in a long list of divine saviours who had preceded him.

THE STATE OF THE TRINITY TODAY

What is the situation with the Trinity today? Even after numerous councils and centuries of discussion and debate, there is still major disagreement among Trinitarians over the doctrine. The biggest issue relates to the Holy Spirit. As we’ve seen, the equality of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son was established on the Council of Constantinople in 381 CE. While the council concluded that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father, it said nothing concerning the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son. Here is the last section of the Creed of the Council of Constantinople:

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father,    

who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified.

Note that the second line only specifies the Father. This section of the creed was later translated into Latin with the addition, “and the Son”:

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,  

who proceeds from the Father and the Son, 

who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified.

This addition to the creed is known as the Filioque (Latin for “and the Son”), a phrase that has been the subject of  great controversy between Eastern and Western Churches. Whether one includes that phrase, and exactly how the phrase is translated and understood, can have important implications for how one understands the central Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

Eastern Churches believe that it proceeds from the Father only, whereas Western Churches believe that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son. Here is a diagram which illustrates the difference:

Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches reject the Filioque because it makes the Holy Spirit a subordinate, or a less important member of the Trinity. Thus, in their view it compromises the co-equality of the Persons of the Trinity. This issue is responsible for the largest schism in Church history. It divided Christianity into Western Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Differences over this doctrine still remain as a point of contention to this day [45].

Such lingering doctrinal disagreements are only one aspect of the issues with the Trinity today. Even after centuries of evolution and fine tuning, Trinitarians still walk a tightrope of heresy. To demonstrate this point, let us consider the question of who suffered and died on the cross, was it God or man?

If a Trinitarian claims that it is God who died, then this contradicts the Bible which teaches that God is immortal and cannot die: “I lift my hand to heaven and solemnly swear: As surely as I live forever” [Deuteronomy 32:40]. This is why many Trinitarians believe that it was only the human side of Jesus that suffered and died, as the crucifixion is only meaningful with reference to his human nature; you cannot crucify the divine nature. However, in doing so, Trinitarians separate the divine nature from the human one at the crucifixion. The problem is that this violates the creed that was adopted on the Council of Chalcedon which states that Jesus is:

“…acknowledged in Two Natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly…”

Recall that the Chalcedonian Creed, today considered orthodoxy in the Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches, established that Jesus has a dual nature, with his divine nature and his human nature being eternally united (the doctrine of the Hypostatic Union). So, when Trinitarians state that it is only the human that died in Jesus, they are isolating the human nature from the divine one on the cross. Trinitarians are separating the natures of Jesus that are supposed to be eternally united, thus falling into heresy. We can see that every Trinitarian falls into some form of heresy in relation to the crucifixion, either by taking the view that it was the divine side of Jesus that died on the cross, which is in clear contradiction to what the Bible teaches about God’s immortal nature, or by believing that only the human nature of Jesus was crucified, a violation of the “orthodoxy” of the Chalcedonian Creed. Trinitarians cannot avoid being involved in heresy; in practice, they almost have to decide which heresy they’re going to commit. You have to walk on such a sharp edge that you’re going to fall on one side or the other.

Today, such confusion is rampant throughout the Trinitarian doctrine. This is in spite of centuries of doctrinal fine-tuning by numerous Church councils and the collective efforts of the most brilliant minds that Christendom has had to offer. Is this really God’s perfect revelation, or is it the fallible teaching of man? God’s true guidance is surely perfect, free of conflict. This problem of holes appearing in one area of theology in the light of other areas is another sign that the doctrine of the Trinity is man-made. The whole doctrine is a patchwork; it joins things which cannot be joined, and the seams are always showing. Could this really be God’s final revelation, would mankind be left to linger in the darkness of confusion until the Day of Judgement? As we will see in the next chapter, God has sent forth a light to guide us back to the truth.

References:

[1] – James White, “Loving the Trinity,” Christian Research Journal, vol. 21, no. 22.

[2] – Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 234.

[3] – The Catholic Encyclopedia, Constitution, “De fide. cath.”, iv.

[4] – Harold Lindsell and Charles Woodbridge, A Handbook of Christian Truth, pp. 51-52.

[5] – Ehrman, Bart D., The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: the effect of early Christological controversies on the text of the NT; New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993, p. 48.

[6] – Tertullian, Against Praxeas,  chapter  9 – The Catholic  Rule of Faith Expounded in Some of Its Points. Especially in the Unconfused Distinction of the Several Persons of the Blessed Trinity.

[7] – Ibid., chapter 3 – Sundry Popular Fears and Prejudices. The Doctrine of the Trinity in Unity Rescued from These Misapprehensions.

[8] – W. H. C. Frend, The Rise of Christianity, p. 636.

[9] –  Mansi, III, col. 560.

[10]  –  Alister E. McGrath, A Life of John Calvin: A Study in the Shaping of Western Culture, 1990, pp. 118-120.

[11] – Keith Hopkins, A World Full of Gods: The Strange Triumph of Christianity, p. 191

[12] – W. H. C. Frend, The Rise of Christianity, p. 319.

[13] – R. Gerberding and J. H. Moran Cruz, Medieval Worlds (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004) pp. 55–56.

[14] – Diarmaid MacCulloch, A History of Christianity, p. 214.

[15] – Emperor Constantine as quoted in History of the Christian Church, vol. 3, p. 626.

[16] – Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 3, pp. 627-628.

[17] – Diarmaid MacCulloch, A History of Christianity, p. 214.

[18] – Catechism of the Catholic Church, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, p. 74.

[19] –  Encyclopedia Britannica 14th ed., vol. 16, pp. 410-411.

[20] – Richard E. Rubenstein, When Jesus Became God, p. 83.

[21] – Brown HOJ. Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1988, pp. 332 – 333.

[22] –  Ammianus Marcellinus, as cited by Schaff, History of the Christian Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), III:632.

[23] – Charles D. Levy, The Arian Christian Doctrines: The Origins of Christianity, p. 78.

[24] – The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, Vol. 1. Arianism, by V.C. Declercq, p. 793.
[25] – Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, p. 72.

[26] – Harold Brown, Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church, p. 140.

[27] – Theodosian Code XVI.1.2. Cited in Bettenson H, ed., Documents of the Christian Church, London: Oxford University Press, 1943, p. 31.

[28] – Roberts JM. Antiquity Unveiled: Ancient Voices from the Spirit Realms Disclose the Most Startling Revelations, Proving Christianity to be of Heathen Origin, University of Michigan, May 21, 2007, p. 468.

[29] – Grudem, Systematic Theology: Chapter 26 – The Person of Christ, 1994, p. 554.

[30] – The Catholic Encyclopedia,  “De pud.”, xxi.

[31] – Bruce Metzger and Michael D. Coogan (eds.), The Oxford Companion to the Bible (Oxford University Press, 1993) pp. 782 – 783.

[32] – Origen, Commentary on John, Book II, chapter 2.

[33] – Homilies on John, tractate CV, chapter 17.

[34] – Eusebius, Book III of his  History, Chapter 5, Section 2.

[35] – Bruce Metzger and Michael D. Coogan (eds.), The Oxford Companion to the Bible (Oxford University Press, 1993) pp. 782-783.

[36] – The New Catholic Encyclopedia – vol. 14, p. 295.

[37] – New Bible Dictionary, Grand Rapids, MI, 1975, p. 559.

[38] – See article by Don Stewart, BlueLetterBible.Org (accessed 22/11/2015): https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_1203.cfm

[39] – John William Charles Wand. 1955. The Four Great Heresies, p. 39.

[40] – Justin Martyr, The First Apology, Chapter 21.

[41] – Dr. H Wolfson, The Philosophy of the Church Fathers, pp. 361-363.

[42] – Angelos Chaniotis, The Ithyphallic Hymn for Demetrios Poliorcetes and Hellenistic Religious Mentality, p. 160.

[43] – Iris Sulimani, Diodorus’ Mythistory and the Pagan Mission: Historiography and Culture, p. 288.

[44] – Hans-Josef Klauck, Religious Context of Early Christianity: A Guide To Graeco-Roman Religions, p. 296

[45] – Walter Kasper, The Petrine ministry: Catholics and Orthodox in dialogue: academic  symposium  held at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, p. 188.

Advertisements

Christmas during Pre-Christianity Era

In ancient pagan times, the last day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere was celebrated as the night that the Great Mother Goddess gives birth to the baby Sun God. It is also called Yule, the day a huge log is added to a bonfire, around which everyone would dance and sing to awaken the sun from its long winter sleep.

In Roman times, it became the celebrations honouring Saturnus (the harvest god) and Mithras (the ancient god of light), a form of sun worship that had come to Rome from Syria a century before with the cult of Sol Invictus. It announced that winter is not forever, that life continues, and an invitation to stay in good spirit.

The last day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere occurs between the 20th and 22 December. The Roman celebrated Saturnalia between 17 and 24 December.

The early Christians
To avoid persecution during the Roman pagan festival, early Christians decked their homes with Saturnalia holly. As Christian numbers increased and their customs prevailed, the celebrations took on a Christian observance. But the early church actually did not celebrate the birth of Christ in December until Telesphorus, who was the second Bishop of Rome from 125 to 136AD, declared that Church services should be held during this time to celebrate “The Nativity of our Lord and Saviour.” However, since no-one was quite sure in which month Christ was born, Nativity was often held in September, which was during the Jewish Feast of Trumpets (modern-day Rosh Hashanah). In fact, for more than 300 years, people observed the birth of Jesus on various dates.

In the year 274AD, solstice fell on 25th December. Roman Emperor Aurelian proclaimed the date as “Natalis Solis Invicti,” the festival of the birth of the invincible sun. In 320 AD, Pope Julius I specified the 25th of December as the official date of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Christmas official, but not generally observed 
In 325 AD, Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman emperor, introduced Christmas as an immovable feast on 25 December. He also introduced Sunday as a holy day in a new 7-day week, and introduced movable feasts (Easter). In 354 AD, Bishop Liberius of Rome officially ordered his members to celebrate the birth of Jesus on 25 December.

However, even though Constantine officiated 25 December as the birthday of Christ, Christians, recognising the date as a pagan festival, did not share in the emperor’s good meaning. Christmas failed to gain universal recognition among Christians until quite recently. In England, Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas festivities between 1649 and 1660 through the so-called Blue Laws, believing that Christmas should be a solemn day.

When many Protestants escaped persecution by fleeing to the colonies all over the world, interest in joyous Christmas celebrations was rekindled there. Still, Christmas was not even a legal holiday until the 1800s. And, keep in mind, there was no Father Christmas (Santa Claus) figure at that time.

Christmas becomes popular
The popularity of Christmas was spurred on in 1820 by Washington Irving’s book The Keeping of Christmas at Bracebridge Hall. In 1834, Britain’s Queen Victoria brought her German husband, Prince Albert, into Windsor Castle, introducing the tradition of the Christmas tree and carols that were held in Europe to the British Empire. A week before Christmas in 1834, Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol (in which he wrote that Scrooge required Cratchit to work, and that the US Congress met on Christmas Day). It was so popular that neither the churches nor the governments could not ignore the importance of Christmas celebrations. In 1836, Alabama became the first state in the US to declare Christmas a legal holiday. In 1837, T.H. Hervey’s The Book of Christmas also became a best seller. In 1860, American illustrator Thomas Nast borrowed from the European stories about Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children, to create Father Christmas (Santa Claus). In 1907, Oklahoma became the last US state to declare Christmas a legal holiday. Year by year, countries all over the world started to recognise Christmas as the day for celebrating the birth of Jesus.

Today, many of the pagan uses are reflected in Christmas. Jesus was born in March or April, yet his birth is celebrated on 25 December, the time of solstice. The Christmas celebrations end the 12th day of Christmas (6 January), the same amount of days that the return of the sun was celebrated by ancient and Roman pagans. It thus is no surprise that Christian puritans – or even conservative Christians – often are upset that Christmas “is not as religious as it was meant to be,”  forgetting that Christmas was not celebrated at all until fairly recently.

 http://www.didyouknow.cd/xmas/xmashistory.htm

What Did Jesus Say About Christmas?

The Christmas Experience

The perfect Christmas tree is bought. Adorned with ornaments and glittering with tinsel, it stands by the window. The stores are crammed with shoppers hunting for presents and the little ones anxiously waiting for Santa.

Busy with Christmas fever, wonder did you ever, did the Bible or Jesus made any injunction on Christmas ever?

Ponder upon the following analysis on Christmas, and the Truth will become clearer and clearer.

Does Christmas have Biblical Evidence?

The word ‘Christmas’ does not exist in the Bible. The Bible has closed lips on the entire feast of Christmas, with one exception, the decoration of a tree. The Bible itself criticizes the decoration of the (Christmas) trees:

“The customs of the people are worthless, they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel, they adore it with silver and gold, they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter” (Jeremiah 10-3,4).

European Pre-Christian pagans superstitiously believed that the green trees had special protective powers. In fact the use of the Christmas tree began only in the 17th century in Strasbourg, France and from there it spread to Germany, Britain and then to the U.S.

“Tree worship was a common feature of religion among the Teutonic and Scandinavian peoples of northern Europe before their conversion to Christianity…German settlers brought the Christmas tree custom to the American colonies in the 17th century. By the 19th century its use was quite widespread”. (Compton’s Encyclopedia, 1998 Edition)

Was Jesus born on Dec. 25?

Neither the date 25th Dec. nor any other date on Jesus’ birth is mentioned in the Bible. It was not until the year 530 C.E. that a monk, Dionysus Exigus, fixed the date of Jesus’ birth on Dec. 25th. . “He wrongly dated the birth of Christ according to the Roman system (i.e., 754 years after the founding of Rome) as Dec. 25, 753”. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1998 ed.) This date was chosen in keeping with the holidays already indoctrinated into pagans beliefs.

Roman pagans celebrated Dec. 25th as the birth of their ‘god’ of light, Mithra.

“In the 2nd century A..D., it (Mithraism) was more general in the Roman Empire than Christianity, to which it bore many similarities” (The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, 1995 ed.)

Other pagan ‘gods’ born on Dec. 25th are: Hercules the son of Zeus (Greeks); Bacchus, ‘god’ of wine (Romans); Adonis, ‘god’ of Greeks, and ‘god’ Freyr of Greek-Roman pagans.

What about Santa Claus?

If aliens descended on earth during the Christmas season, they would undoubtedly believe Christmas as being Santa’s birthday. The words ‘Santa Claus’, appear nowhere in the Bible.

However, Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus) was a real person, a bishop, who was born 300 years after Jesus. According to legend, he was extremely kind and set out at night to bring presents to the needy. After his death on 6th of Dec., school boys in Europe began celebrating a feast day each year.

Queen Victoria later changed the celebration date from Dec. 6th to Dec. 24th eve.

Did Jesus or his Companions Celebrate Christmas?

If Jesus meant his followers to celebrate Christmas, he would have practiced it himself and enjoined it on his followers. There is no mention in the entire Bible that any of his followers ever celebrated Jesus’ birthday like Christians do today.

“The church did not observe a festival for the celebration of the event of Christmas until the 4th century” (Grolier’s Encyclopedia)

Thus we see that neither the Bible nor Jesus and his companions say anything about the celebration of Christmas which currently involves fanfare, commercialization, and extravagant spending, devoid of any spiritual relevance.

Ruling on Christmas & New Year

Praise be to Allah.

Ibn Taymiyah said in his commentary on the ayah (interpretation of the meaning), “And those who do not witness falsehood [al-zoor]…” [al-Furqaan 25:72]: As regards the festivals of the mushrikeen: they combine confusion, physical desires and falsehood, there is nothing in them that is of any religious benefit, and the instant gratification involved in them only ends up in pain. Thus they are falsehood, and witnessing them means attending them.This ayah itself praises and commends (those who do not witness falsehood), which has the meaning of urging people to avoid taking part in their festivals and other kinds of falsehood. We understand that it is bad to attend their festivals because they are called al-zoor  (falsehood). It indicates that it is haraam to do this for many reasons, because Allah. has called it al-zoor.

Allah condemns the one who speaks falsehood [al-zoor] even if no-one else is harmed by it, as in the ayah forbidding zihaar [a form of divorce in which the man says to his wife “You are to me like the back of my mother”], where He says (interpretation of the meaning): “… And verily, they utter an ill word and a lie [zooran]…” [al-Mujaadilah 58:2]. And Allah. says (interpretation of the meaning): “… So shun the abomination of idols, and shun lying speech (false statements) [al-zoor].” [al-Hajj 22:30]. So the one who does al-zoor is condemned in this fashion. In the Sunnah: Anas ibn Maalik (may Allah. be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah. (peace and blessings of Allah. be upon him) came [to Madeenah] and they had two days in which they would (relax and) play. He said, “What are these two days?” They said, “We used to play (on these two days) during the Jaahiliyyah.” The Messenger of Allah. (peace and blessings of Allah. be upon him) said: “Allah. has given you something better instead of them: Yawm al-Duhaa [Eid al-Adha] and Yawm al-Fitr [Eid al-Fitr].” (Reported by Abu Dawood). This indicates clearly that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah. be upon him) definitely forbade his ummah to celebrate the festivals of the kuffaar, and he strove to wipe them out by all possible means.

The fact that the religion of the People of the Book is accepted does not mean that their festivals are approved of or should be preserved by the ummah, just as the rest of their kufr and sins are not approved of. Indeed, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah. be upon him) went to great lengths to command his ummah to be different from them in many issues that are mubaah (permitted) and in many ways of worship, lest that lead them to be like them in other matters too. This being different was to be a barrier in all aspects, because the more different you are from the people of Hell, the less likely you are to do the acts of the people of Hell.The first of them is: The hadeeth “Every people has its festival, and this is our festival” implies exclusivity, that every people has its own festival, as Allah. says (interpretation of the meaning): “For every nation there is a direction to which they face (in their prayers)…” [al-Baqarah 2:148] and “… To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way…” [al-Maa’idah 5:48]. This implies that each nation has its own ways. The laam in li-kulli  [“for every”, “to each”] implies exclusivity. So if the Jews have a festival and the Christians have a festival, it is just for them, and we should not have any part in it, just as we do not share their qiblah (direction of prayer) or their laws. The second of them is: one of the conditions set out by ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allah. be pleased with him) and agreed upon by the Sahaabah and by all the Fuqaha’ after them is: that those of the People of the Book who have agreed to live under Islamic rule (ahl al-dhimmah) should not celebrate their festivals openly in Daar al-Islam (lands under Islamic rule). If the Muslims have agreed to prevent them from celebrating openly, how could it be right for the Muslims to celebrate them? If a Muslim celebrates them, is that not worse than if a kaafir does so openly?

The only reason that we forbade them to celebrate their festivals openly is because of the corruption involved in them, because of the sin or symbols of sin. In either case, the Muslim is forbidden from sin or the symbols of sin. Even if there was no evil involved apart from the kaafir feeling encouraged to celebrate openly because of the Muslim’s actions, how can a Muslim do that? The evil involved (in their festivals) will be explained below, in sha Allah.Al-Bayhaqi reported with a saheeh isnaad in Baab karaahiyat al-dukhool ‘ala ahl al-dhimmah fi kanaa’isihim wa’l-tashabbuh bihim yawmi nawroozihim wa maharjaanihim  (Chapter on the abhorrence of entering the churches of ahl al-dhimmah on the occasion of their New Year and other celebrations): From Sufyaan al-Thawri from Thawr ibn Yazeed from ‘Ata’ ibn Deenaar who said: ‘Umar said: “Do not learn the language of the non-Arabs, do not enter upon the mushrikeen in their churches on their feast-days, for the wrath (of Allaah) is descending upon them.” ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab said: “Avoid the enemies of Allaah on their festivals.” It was reported with a saheeh isnaad from Abu Usaamah: ‘Awn told us from Abu’l-Mugheerah from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr: “Whoever lives in the land of the non-Arabs and celebrates their New Year and their festivals, and imitates them until he dies in that state, will be gathered with them on the Day of Resurrection.” ‘Umar forbade learning their languages, and even entering their churches on the day of their festival, so how about doing some of the things they do on those days, or doing things that are a part of their religion? Is not going along with their actions worse than learning their language? Is not doing some of the things they do on their festival worse than just entering upon them? If divine wrath is descending upon them on the day of their festival because of what they do, then is not the one who does what they do, or a part of it, also exposed to the same punishment? Do not the words “Avoid the enemies of Allaah on their festivals” mean that we should not meet them or join them on those days? So how about the one who actually celebrates their festivals?

‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr clearly stated: “Whoever lives in the land of the non-Arabs and celebrates their New Year and their festivals, and imitates them until he dies in that state, will be gathered with them on the Day of Resurrection.” This implies that the one who joins in with them in all of these matters is a kaafir, or that doing this is one of the major sins (kabaa’ir) that will doom one to Hell; the former meaning is what is apparent from the wording.He mentioned – and Allaah knows best – the one who lives in their land, because at the time of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr and the other Sahaabah, they used to forbid open celebration of kaafir festivals in the Muslim lands, and none of the Muslims imitated them in their festivals; that was possible only when living in the lands of the kaafirs. ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) refused to even acknowledge the name of their festivals which were exclusively theirs, so how about actually celebrating them? Ahmad mentioned the meaning of the reports narrated from ‘Umar and ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with them) on this topic, and his companions discussed the matter of festivals.

Imaam Abu’l-Hasan al-Aamidi said: the one who is known as Ibn al-Baghdaadi said in his book ‘Umdat al-Haadir wa Kifaayat al-Musaafir: “It is not permitted to attend the festivals of the Christians and Jews. Ahmad stated this in the report of Muhannaa, and his evidence for that is the aayah (interpretation of the meaning): ‘And those who do not witness falsehood [al-zoor]…’ [al-Furqaan 25:72]. He said: (This is) al-Sha’aaneen and their festivals. He said: The Muslims are to be prevented from entering upon them in their synagogues and churches.”

From Iqtida’ al-Siraat al-Mustaqeem Mukhaalifat Ashaab al-Jaheem by Ibn Taymiyah, p. 183.

Greeting the kuffaar on Christmas and other religious holidays of theirs is haraam, by consensus, as Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy on him, said in Ahkaam Ahl al-Dhimmah: “Congratulating the kuffaar on the rituals that belong only to them is haraam by consensus, as is congratulating them on their festivals and fasts by saying ‘A happy festival to you’ or ‘May you enjoy your festival,’ and so on. If the one who says this has been saved from kufr, it is still forbidden. It is like congratulating someone for prostrating to the cross, or even worse than that. It is as great a sin as congratulating someone for drinking wine, or murdering someone, or having illicit sexual relations, and so on. Many of those who have no respect for their religion fall into this error; they do not realize the offensiveness of their actions. Whoever congratulates a person for his disobedience or bid’ah or kufr exposes himself to the wrath and anger of Allaah.” 

Congratulating the kuffaar on their religious festivals is haraam to the extent described by Ibn al-Qayyim because it implies that one accepts or approves of their rituals of kufr, even if one would not accept those things for oneself. But the Muslim should not aceept the rituals of kufr or congratulate anyone else for them, because Allaah does not accept any of that at all, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):  “If you disbelieve, then verily, Allaah is not in need of you, He likes not disbelief for His slaves. And if you are grateful (by being believers), He is pleased therewith for you. . .” [al-Zumar 39:7] “. . . This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islaam as your religion . . .” [al-Maa’idah 5:3] So congratulating them is forbidden, whether they are one’s colleagues at work or otherwise. If they greet us on the occasion of their festivals, we should not respond, because these are not our festivals, and because they are not festivals which are acceptable to Allaah. These festivals are innovations in their religions, and even those which may have been prescribed formerly have been abrogated by the religion of Islaam, with which Allaah sent Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to the whole of mankind. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

Whoever seeks a religion other than Islaam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:85] 

It is haraam for a Muslim to accept invitations on such occasions, because this is worse than congratulating them as it implies taking part in their celebrations. Similarly, Muslims are forbidden to imitate the kuffaar by having parties on such occasions, or exchanging gifts, or giving out sweets or food, or taking time off work, etc., because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.”

Ibn Taymiyah said in his book Iqtidaa’ al-siraat al-mustaqeem mukhaalifat ashaab al-jaheem: “Imitating them in some of their festivals implies that one is pleased with their false beliefs and practices, and gives them the hope that they may have the opportunity to humiliate and mislead the weak.” Whoever does anything of this sort is a sinner, whether he does it out of politeness or to be friendly, or because he is too shy to refuse, or for whatever other reason, because this is hypocrisy in Islaam, and because it makes the kuffaar feel proud of their religion. 

Allaah is the One Whom we ask to make the Muslims feel proud of their religion, to help them adhere steadfastly to it, and to make them victorious over their enemies, for He is the Strong and Omnipotent.

​Jesus is the Prophet of Allah, Say no to Merry Christmas

Jesus (Peace be upon him) is not the son of God, he is the chosen Messenger and Prophet of Allah.

(Not permissible to congratulate saying Merry Christmas)

By Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi 

The overall Code which is made by Allah, the Exalted, for the birth of mankind i.e. a man getting married to a woman and have intercourse with her, thereafter by Allah’s command, firmness of pregnancy and giving birth of a child. Under no circumstance, Allah Almighty has also created some humans by not following this Code. Allah Almighty created Adam in such a way in which He involved neither a man nor a woman. Since Hawwa (Eve) was created from Adam’s rib, so, somehow, a man was involved in her creation, but there was no involvement of a woman. Similarly, Allah, the Exalted, created Jesus (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) without a father, only from the mother (Maryam daughter of Imran) through His power, in the city of Bethlehem, Palestinian. As, Almighty Allah said in the Verse 59 of Surah A’al Imran (Indeed, the example of Jesus to Allah is like that of Adam. He created Him from dust; then He said to him, “Be,” and he was.)

In the light of Quran and Hadith, all Muslims believe that Jesus Christ (‘Eesa Masih alayhissalaam) is the chosen Prophet and Messenger of Allah. In the holy Quran, almost at 25 places, the name of Jesus Christ (‘Eesa alayhissalaam) is mentioned and he was not hanged/crucified, but he was lifted into the heavens and a person similar to him was hanged. As, Allah Almighty has stated in Surah An-Nisa Verses 157 & 158 (And (for) their saying,  “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but (another) was made to resemble him to them).

Furthermore, Allah, the Exalted, explicitly explained that Jesus Christ was not hanged/crucified, but he was lifted up. The full detail of this event is elaborated by the holy prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and can be found in Ahadith. It is also mentioned in Hadiths that before the day of Resurrection, he will be descended from heavens to the white minaret in the east of Damascus. Then, all nook and corner of the world will be ruled by Muslims under his patronage.
No certain date of Jesus birth is found in any religious authoritative book, even in the book of Christians, it is not mentioned that he was born on 25th December. Without any evidence, they recognized 25th December as Jesus date of birth. Although, what is estimated from texts of the Quran, Hadiths and the Bible is that Jesus was born in the summer season. As per Bible (chapter 2 verse 8), when Jesus was born at the night, at that time the shepherd was grazing his sheep outside. In the last days of December, it is snowing heavily in Bethlehem that no one can dare to go out of his house. And Bible says that the shepherd was grazing his sheep outside. In the month of December, due to heavy snowing in Bethlehem (Palestine), it is impossible to graze sheep outside at night. The holy Quran (Surah Maryam Verse 25) says that immediately after the birth of Jesus, Allah, the Exalted, told Marry “And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates. So eat and drink and be contented.”

The whole world knows that the dates become ripe in the summer season, not in winter. Besides, there are more evidence that denote that Jesus was born in the summer season. 

Christians believe that Jesus is given birth by Allah Almighty (Allah forbid), i.e. Jesus is the son of Allah, the Exalted. This was strongly denounced by Allah, the Exalted, in Surah Maryam: “And they say, “The Most Merciful has taken (for Himself) a son.” You have done an atrocious thing. The heavens almost rupture there from and the earth splits open and the mountains collapse in devastation. That they attribute to the Most Merciful a son. And it is not appropriate for the Most Merciful that He should take a son.”

In Surah Ikhlas, Almighty Allah has explicitly said: Say, “He is Allah, (who is) One, Allah, the Eternal Refuge. He neither begets nor is born, nor is there to Him any equivalent”.  

Thus, in the light of very open instructions/teachings of Quran and Sunnah, all Muslims believe that Jesus is not the son of Allah, the Exalted, but he is a man and there is no compromise in this matter at all.

Christians celebrate Merry Christmas on 25th December with the belief that Allah Almighty has given birth of Jesus on 25th December (Allah forbid). We don’t want to interfere in their religion, but it is our religious obligation that we should not participate in those religious parties/celebrations are being convened on this occasion, and also do not congratulate anyone saying Merry Christmas. As this sentence is totally averse of Quran and Sunnah.

Yes! In case, your neighbour or friend is a Christian and he congratulates you on this occasion, then you have to withdraw yourselves by saying other words such as (thanks, etc.) As, the base/belief on which the Merry Christmas celebrated, is quite contrary to Quranic teachings. You could be thoughtful about your neighbour or friend, but on the other hand, there is also the issue of God’s wrath and His severe punishment. So, it would be said to them openly that our belief is that Jesus besides being a chosen messenger and prophet, he is not Allah’s son at all. So that, I’m sorry to participate in the celebrations convened on this occasion.

There is substantial difference of opinion among Christians and Muslims on their belief in Isa (Alaihis Salam)

1)   Nasara (Christians) believe that ‘Isa (Alaihis Salam) is son of Allah, the Almighty, while in the light of Quran and hadith the whole Muslim Ummah (Nation) believes that Allah has no son or daughter, as Allah, the Almighty has repeatedly clarified this in the holy Quran.  In Surah Al-Ikhlas also this has been clearly asserted that Allah, the Almighty neither begets nor is He begotten. Allah, the Almighty had created Adam (Alaihis salam) without any role of a man and woman, and Eve (Alaihas salam) was created without any role of a woman merely by with Allah’s command. Allah, the Almighty created Isa (Alaihis Salam) by a woman (Maryam –Alaihas Salam) without any role of a male. Christians do not believe in Adam and Eve (Alaiham Assalam) as son and daughter of Allah, despite the fact that Allah, the Almighty had created Adam (Alaihis Salam) without any role of man and woman and created Eve (Alaihas Salam) without any role of a woman, then how come that Isa (Alaihis Salam) who was created without a man (in similar circumstances), is believed to be Allah’s son? Our intellect also demands that it is not befitting to the Almighty Allah Who is the Creator, Lord and Sustainer of the whole universe that He begets nor is He begotten. 

2)   Christians believe that Isa (Alaihis Salam) shares Allah’s right of being worthy of worship. Trinity is an integral part of Christianity, which means three in one or one in three. Christians believe that Allah is one but includes three entities in one; god father, god son, the holy ghost. The Christian till to date stick to this belief. As for Islam, there is no place of trinity in it. Hundreds of verses of the Holy Quran refute this belief. According to Islamic creed Allah is one and nothing is like unto Him neither in His self nor in His attributes.  In Surah Maryam, Allah strongly refutes this belief saying it is such a terrible evil thing whereby the heavens are almost torn.

3)   Christians believe that Jews had crucified Isa (Alaihis Salam). However, in the light of teachings of Quran and Hadith, the whole Muslim nation is unanimous that Isa (Alaihis Salam) was neither killed nor was he crucified, but rather he was ascended to heaven prior to his crucifixion and a person resembling him was crucified in his place. He will descend down on the earth prior to the doomsday. He will spend his life following the Shari’ah of Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and will enforce the teachings of the Holy Quran and Hadith.

4)   Christians believe that the last Messenger Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) who is from the descendants of Ismail (Alaihis salam) the second son of Ibrahim (Alaihis Salam) born in Makkah is not a Messenger of Allah, the Almighty and anyone who believes in Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) as a messenger of Allah exits from the fold of Christianity. On the other hand, in the religion of Islam besides believing in Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) as the last Messenger it is also necessary to believe in Ibrahim, Musa, Isa (Alaihim Assalam). Now, the reader can easily decide as to which religion subscribes to extremism.

Summary: To exchange greetings on the occasion of New Year is a practice of non-Muslims. However, the rituals and functions organized on this occasion are not motivated by a specific religion’s ideology and it has now become a social norm. Therefore, though it is not unlawful to exchange greeting on such occasion, however, the Holy Quran and Hadith are replete with teachings of not adopting the non-Muslims’ rituals. Therefore, we should avoid exchanging such greetings, because the leader of all prophets,  Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), his companions, mufassireen (Quran commentators), muhadditheen (scholars of Hadith) and other scholars of Islam, none of them has been reported to have exchanged greeting on the occasion of New Year even at the beginning of Hijri year. But to exchange greeting by saying “Merry Christmas” is a pure religious matter. The belief with which the people celebrate Christmas day saying “Merry Christmas” is absolutely contrary to Islamic teaching, for Christians believe that Isa (Alaihis Salam) was born on 25th December and fathered by Allah, the Almighty.

In addition they also believe in trinity, i.e. they believe that Allah, the Almighty instead of being one entity is comprised of three entities; god father, god son and the holy ghost. This belief is very dangerous and contrary to Islamic teachings. It is a matter of great sorrow that some Muslims initiate greeting each other saying “Merry Christmas” which has no room in the religion of Islam. Therefore, Muslims should not exchange greeting on this occasion. Those Muslims residing in Western countries or studying with Christians or employed with Christians or doing business with Christians should not proactively greet them on this occasion. However, if they are greeted by Christians they should say other words of prayer to them. It is worth mentioning that not a single reliable religious book even the bible itself having thousands of copies, mentions that  Isa (Alaihis Salam) was born on 25th December.

Refuting the Divinity of Jesus [Analysis of the Claim that the People ‘Worshipped’ Jesus and called him ‘Lord’]

Although Jesus never once says the words “worship me,”  Christians love pointing to verses in the Gospels (Matthew 2:11, 8:2, 9:18, 15:25, 28:9, 28:17; John 9:38, 20:28) where it apparently describes Jesus accepting the worship of human beings. Let’s look at one example and examine it closely. First of all, the word rendered “worship” in all of the  above mentioned passages is the koine Greek “proskuneo.”  According to the Lexicon Strongs’ Concordance, this word is most likely derived from a root meaning which denotes “a dog licking his master’s hand.” The  following, more applicable, definition reads as follows:

Proskuneo:  In the New  Testament by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication.
a) used of homage shown to men and beings of superior rank: 1) to the Jewish high priests 2) to God 3) to Christ 4) to heavenly  beings 5) to demons. 

It can be observed from the definition above that the word  proskuneo is the same word used to describe reverence of God as well as man. Even the Jewish priests and satanic demons are “worshipped” according to this definition! Also notice how God is mentioned distinct from Christ. So how do we ascertain the  matter in which people “worshipped” Jesus? We have to look at the historical context for that. 

Before the Muslims under Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) came along, the Children of Israel were the standard bearers of light and guidance in the world. They  possessed a very clear and uncompromising theology which stated that God was a Supreme Power who can never be represented by any form, shape, or graven image. They were told in very unequivocal words: “God is not a man that he should repent, nor the son of man that he  should lie…” (Numbers 23:19.  Also see ISamuel 15:29);

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments”   (Exodus 20:3-6).

Therefore, for a Jew to worship another Jew as God would be tantamount to insulting  everything that Judaism has stood upon for thousands  of  years!

The problem here is that we have an Eastern-Semitic revelation, the Gospel, being interpreted by Westerners and Gentiles. In the above cited New Testament verses most of those doing the worshipping were in fact Jews, some of whom worshipped Jesus in the presence of “multitudes.” If Jesus accepted worship as God, then he would not have found so much favor among the peasant Jewish populace who loved and revered the theology of their forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Let’s now look at one example from the scriptures. In Matthew 15:25, we are told that a Samaritan woman “came and worshipped him, saying, ‘Lord, help me!’” Before we continue, let’s shed some light on the usage of this word “Lord.” Rhodes defines this word (emphasis is mine):

“…the New Testament equivalent of  ‘Yahweh’ is Kurios.  Like Yahweh, Kurios means ‘Lord’  and usually carries the idea of a sovereign being who exercises absolute authority.” Whether or  not the word Yahweh is derived from the mystical tetragrammaton, YHWH, or from  the  phrase “I am” in Exodus 3:14, Jesus certainly does not say  “Before Abraham was, ego emi Kurios.” He simply says “ego emi.  This is important because  most Christians will tell you that  Yahweh is obtained from the name that God gave to Moses. Also, in Mark 12:36 Jesus quotes Psalm 110:1:

“For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.”  

The Greek word in both instances is “Kurios” in Mark, but the Hebrew translations of “LORD” and “Lord” are “Yahweh” (YHWH, Jehovah, GOD) and “Adon,” meaning master or lord, respectively. The words are different in Hebrew!

Therefore, Kurios and Yahweh cannot always be equivalents and contextual matter must be taken into consideration. In the Revised English Bible, Mark 12:36 appears as: “This is the Lord’s oracle to  my lord…” The commentary points out: 

A Royal Psalm, probably used at  the coronation ceremonies for kings 1) The Lord: Yahweh. My lord: the king who is taking office.
Jesus uses this verse to reveal his identity as the Messiah, a king,  not as God. Here’s the Strongs’ Concordance definition of Kurios:

Kurios:  1) he to whom a person or things belongs, about which has power of deciding, master, lord. 

a) the possessor and disposer of a thing. 1) the owner, one who has control of the person, the  master. 2) in the state: the sovereign, prince, chief, and Roman emperor.

b) Is a title of honor expressive of respect and reverence  with which servants greet their master.

c) The title is given to: God, the Messiah.

Just like with the word  proskuneo, the word kurios can be applied to both God and man. Notice Rhodes defines kurios as “Lord” with a big “l” while it is written as “lord” in the Concordance with a small “l.”

So again, how do we know in what way Jesus is kurios? We  must look at the context. This word is taken right out of the vernacular of seventeenth-century England, where the KJV  was first composed in 1611. Even in England today any Tom, Dick, or Harry is called “lord.” There is a House of Commons and a House of Lords! 

Let’s revisit Matthew 15:25 as it is translated in a more modern and accurate version: “But the woman came and fell at his feet, and cried, ‘Help me, Sir!’” – Revised English Bible. In the Revised Standard Version, the woman  “knelt before him,” meaning she begged him. Notice the word ‘worship’ has evolved into “knelt”  and “fell at his feet,” and “Lord” into “Sir.” It seems as if these contemporary Bible revisers are finally recognizing the true significance of these words in their proper contexts. 

If we were told that a Roman centurion called the Emperor  kurios and offered him  proskuneo, then we could say  due to the context, that the centurion intends to address him  as God Almighty and also worship him as such. Again, the problem  here is that we have an Eastern-Semitic revelation, the Gospel, being interpreted by Westerners and Gentiles.

Here’s an interesting tidbit: In Jesus’ parable of the Kingdom of God he relates in Matthew 18:23-34, he refers to the King in the story as kurios and the Christians scholars have it  translated as “lord” in verses 23-25 and 27-34 in the King James Version. This is obviously  a correct rendering since Jesus in no way intends to say that the  King is God. In verse 26, however, we read: “The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him  (the King), saying, Lord, have  patience with me, and I will pay  thee all.” Ask your Christian friend why the translators of  the Bible have suddenly made this poor servant an idolater! 

In Matthew 25, Jesus gives us a  parable of the bridegroom and his ten virgin brides. In verses 10-11, he states: “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.” Does this mean wives can refer to their husbands as GOD??!!!

Refutation Of the Christian Doctrines Of ‘Original’ Sin, Atonement, Etc.

‘Original’ Sin
Christianity propagates the belief that the sin of Adam (alayhis salaam) is passed through heredity to all of us, his descendants, and that this sin separates us from the pure and holy deity. The problem with such  a belief is that it totally undermines our personal responsibility before God. The Qur’an is quite emphatic regarding this idea:

“Every soul draws the mead of its acts on none but itself: no bearer of burdens can bear the burdens of another” [Qur’an 6:164].

Allah further tells us in the Qur’an that each of us will appear singularly before him on the Day of Judgment to give an account of how we spent the time that was allotted to us.

Make the Christian understand that this doctrine is very  obviously the creation of man. Adam (alayhis salaam)’s immediate shift of blame upon his wife (found only in the Bible) reveals that man is a coward by  nature, and what better feeling is there knowing that,

1)  your sinfulness is not your  own fault but rather Adam’s who passed it unto you and,

2)  your sins are forgiven by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross  who “became the embodiment of our sins” [I Peter 2:24].

We can imagine a teenaged drunk driver being pulled over by the police only to have the latter exclaim, “Oh it’s okay, teenage rebellion is only natural.” Even if the teenager does go to jail, he knows that mommy and daddy will pay  the fine and bail him out. What a warm and squishy feeling!

Such delusional beliefs not only insult the perfect justice of God, but also give people false senses of security while living in this world. As Ahmad Deedat remarked, “Adam did not ask my  permission before he ate of the tree!”

Christians believe that putting their trust in the merits of other human beings will land them in Paradise one day to “walk with the Lord.”

The Holy Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “People are born into a state of submission before God (Islam)  and it is only their  parents and society that make them Jewish, Christian, or Zoroastrian.”  

Contrast this with the Roman Catholics who believe that if a baby were to die before undergoing baptism, it would enter straight into Hell.

A “born-again” once tried to convince me that children throw tantrums due to their natural evilness, the taint of original sin. I quoted to him from Jesus and the conversation abruptly ended: “Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put [his] hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven’”   [Mark 9:13-14].

Children throw tantrums because they are immature and undisciplined, not inherently sinful.

Is there any Biblical basis for belief in original sin? Does the Bible expressly say that man is born in a state of inherited depravity? Although the religion of Judaism does not subscribe to such a belief, the Christian uses the story of Adam and Eve found in the modern day Torah as evidence of its legitimacy. The Old Testament teaching, however, is  very clear in this regard:

“The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die” [Ezekiel 18:20-21]; Also see Deuteronomy 24:16 & Jeremiah 31:30]. 

This is precisely what Islam  teaches as well. Let your Christian friend realize that the duty of man to be personally responsible for his own actions was distorted by  the Christians and then corrected and reinstated in Islam. 

Christians have looked long and  hard at the Gospels for sayings of Jesus which expound on the dogma of original sin and have failed miserably. The truth is clear: Original sin is advocated  neither explicitly nor implicitly by the Jesus of the Gospels. Here’s the best that the Christians could muster:

“O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh”   [Matthew 12:34];

“Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye,  blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man”   [Mark 7:22,23];

“Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” [Luke 15:10];

“And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” [Mark 1:15].

In the first case, Matthew 12, Jesus is referring to his generation, and is directly speaking about the iniquitous scribes and Pharisees. 

In Mark 7 Jesus is simply making a factual statement. Where does he say that Adam is the cause of all  these vices? 

In Luke 15 Jesus again is making a factual statement with no reference to man’s innate evil whatsoever.

Finally in Mark 1 he is simply exhorting the rebellious Children  of Israel to repent of their past sins and transgressions just as  any other prophet would. 

The real creator of original sin is in fact Paul. He clearly states:

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon  all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law). Nevertheless death reigned from  Adam to Moses, even over them  that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come” [Romans 5:12-14];

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” [I Corinthians 15:22].

But Ezekiel says that we can be saved from spiritual death and separation from God by “doing that which is lawful and right”?

In sharp contrast to what Christianity preaches, Islam  believes that Adam and Eve repented unto God for their human weaknesses and forgetfulness and were  both forgiven. In Genesis 3:17, however, it is very clear who was  at fault for the fall of mankind:

“And unto Adam he (God) said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed [is]  the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life.”  

It is little wonder why the Christian churches debated up until the Middle Ages as to whether or not a woman  possessed a soul! 

Are we as Muslims denying that man has a sin problem?  Certainly not. The Qur’an is very  clear:

“The (human) soul is certainly prone to evil” [Qur’an 12:53];

“Verily, man is given up to injustice and ingratitude” [Qur’an 14:34];

“Man becomes an open disputer”   [Qur’an 16:4];

“Man doth transgress all bounds” [Qur’an 96:6]. 

The solution to this problem, however, lies not in blaming the Prophet Adam (alayhis salaam) for disobeying God. Christians need to learn to point their fingers inward rather than out. Tell them to take heed of their “God”:

“And why beholdest thou the  mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam  that is in thine own eye”   [Matthew 7:3]? 

Christians claim to be liberated from the bondage of sin yet history has testified to the fact that no other religion on the face of the earth has as much blood  and torture on their hands as Christianity has. Obviously their solution for sin is not working.

The Nature Of Sin
As Muslims we believe that all people sin. We also believe that the sin problem  can be rectified by  our own personal struggle and trust in God. This is accomplished  by  purifying our hearts and minds of exactly  those vices that Jesus described in Mark 7:22. Allah the Almighty has revealed through His Prophet Muhammad (upon whom  be peace) that all must come into the presence of God with qalbis-saleem, or a “sound heart.” Allah further reveals:

“O ye who believe! Fear Allah, and (always) say a word directed to the Right: That He may make your conduct whole and sound and forgive you your sins: He that obeys Allah and His Messenger,  has already attained the highest achievement” [Qur’an 33:70-71].

In Islam we are taught that righteousness and perfection are  not synonymous terms; a person can be righteous and sinful simultaneously. The crucial point is that we realize our sins and toil  to correct ourselves in a process called the “struggle against the self.” Frequent repentance and absolute conviction in God as being our sovereign Lord who accepts the supplications of His servants accompany such struggle. This assures us that we do not grow heedless of our actions and intentions.

A Christian will exclaim, “But God does not allow sin in His presence!” You can surely agree with him  here. God tells us in the Qur’an, however, that He will purify the righteous of all their ills and admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow. However the presence of God or “seeking His Face,” that is the  supreme felicity. What need does God have to torture and murder his “Son” for iniquitous people that He hates? The Christian will rebut, “God loves all, even the worst of sinners. He hates no one!” Really? That’s not what the  Bible says. Quote the following verses and watch his facial expression turn from ecstatic to constipated in a matter of seconds:   

“The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy  them that speak leasing: the  Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man” [Psalm 5:5-6];

“Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy  fellows” [Psalm 45:7].

Let’s examine how the Biblical Jesus felt about the nature of sin and its role in human lives. We  are told:

“And when the scribes  and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, how is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard [it], he saith unto them, they that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call  the righteous, but sinners to repentance” [Mark 2:16-17].

In this verse Jesus equates the healthy with those who are righteous and the sick with those who are sinners. He admits very evidently that he was not sent for the righteous, but only to the sinners. In other words, there of  some that don’t even need his teaching! This concurs with his statement that he was only  sent for the lost sheep of the House of Israel (Matthew 15:24).

According to Christianity, however, all of us need the blood of Jesus to wash away our sins. Maybe someone should inform  Jesus of this idea because he seems to know nothing of it. In  fact, Jesus’ view of sin is exactly  identical to that of Islam and the Muslims. Allah has  revealed to us:
“(Satan) said: ‘Then, by Thy  power, I will put them all in the wrong,- except Thy Servants amongst them, sincere and purified by Thy Grace’” [Qur’an 38:82-83].

As is his style, Paul contradicts his so-called Master in his letter to the Romans:

“There isn’t a single one righteous, no not one…For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”  [Romans 3:10, 23]. 

It is purely out of his attempts to universalize the teaching of Jesus that causes Paul to make such jarringly contradictory statements about the originally  Jewish message of Christ. The tragedy lies in the fact that this  is the teaching that all of Christendom has adopted as truth.

Value of good works
Most Christians that you will encounter will have an absolutely  false conception of how Muslims attain salvation. For example, Rhodes says:

The Qur’an teaches that if a person has any hope of salvation,  it will be based on pleasing Allah  by good works. We read in Sura 23: 102-3: “In the day of judgment, they whose balances  shall be heavy with good works, shall  be happy; but they, whose balances  shall be light,  are those  who shall lose their souls,  and shall remain in hell forever.”

Salvation is based upon one’s own merit, for one’s good deeds must outweigh one’s bad deeds. First of all it should be noted that the words “good works” do not appear in the original Arabic, only “balance of good.” I can see why  Rhodes has chosen such a translation.

Secondly, the “good” that God is referring to here is not solely our physical acts such as prayer, alms giving, or fasting, but also the intention behind those  physical acts. The Qur’an teaches us:

“Allah will not call you to account for thoughtlessness in your oaths, but for the intention in your hearts; and He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Forbearing”   [Qur’an 2:225];

“But there is no blame on you if  ye make a mistake therein: (what counts is) the intention of your hearts: and Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful”   [Qur’an 33:5].

“Every man shall have as he  intends,” said the Prophet of  God ﷺ.

The Prophet ﷺ also said, “On the Day of Judgment, people will see mountains of good accredited to them and will wonder where it came from. It will be said that it came from their intentions.”

Allah takes account of every single little thing, with perfect justice [72:28].

Allah says:

“If God were to punish men for their wrong-doing, He would not leave, on the (earth), a single living creature: but He gives them  respite for a stated term”  [Qur’an 16:61].

With this verse in mind, if mankind were to be judged by  their good works alone, then how will anyone get to heaven? They  can’t! Therefore, the “balance of good” that the Qur’an is referring to includes works, intentions, hidden motives, and above all Beneficent Mercy. Allah reveals: 

“That Allah may reward them  according to the best of their deeds, and add even more for them out of His Grace: for Allah  doth provide for  those whom He will, without measure” [Qur’an 24:38];

“And if any one earns any good,  We shall give him an increase of good in respect thereof: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Ready to appreciate service” [Qur’an  42:23];

“If any does good, the reward to him is better than his deed; but if any does evil, the doers of evil  are only punished (to the extent) of their deeds” [Qur’an 28:84].

In Islam we believe that salvation is given only by the Mercy of God Almighty which He bestows upon us for bearing witness that He alone is God and that Muhammad is His Messenger. Our good works increase our worthiness to receive additional divine Mercy and elevate our spiritual stature in the next life. There are many ahadith  that the Prophet related to demonstrate this. Here are a few famous examples: 

1)  The Prophet told us of a man who had done many good works in the world. At his judgment God told him that he could enter into Paradise “bi rahmati (by My Mercy).” The man immediately  responded “bi ‘amali (by my  works)!” God then took him to account. He placed all of the man’s good deeds on one side of a scale and then only the man’s blessing of eyesight on the other. The scale tipped in favor of God’s blessing. God asked the man, “Do you want to continue this  reckoning?” The man cried, “by your Mercy,” and entered Heaven. 

2)  Some of the companions of the Prophet ﷺ came to him and told him of a woman who was exceedingly righteous in her works but extremely harsh and abusive to her neighbor. The Prophet ﷺ said, “She is in the fire.” Then they told him of a woman  who did only the bare minimum  of physical works but was kind and considerate to her neighbor. The Prophet said, “She is in Paradise.” 

3)  The Prophet ﷺ also related to his companions the story of a prostitute who gave water from  her shoe to a dying dog near a  well. The Prophet said that because of this one sincere act of goodness, she was forgiven. 

4)  In Sahih Muslim, it is narrated that the Prophet said, “No one is entered into Paradise due to his or her works.” A man asked, “Oh  Messenger of God, not even you?” The Prophet said, “Not even me unless my Lord wraps me in Mercy.”  

Just by looking at some of the verses that I have quoted in the preceding paragraphs, it becomes very clear that the God of Islam  is a God of Mercy: He is “Oft-Forgiving, Most Forbearing, Oft  Returning, Most Merciful, and most ready to appreciate service.”

Rhodes cites the example of the cross mate of Jesus whom the latter promised would receive him in Paradise (Luke 23:43). The thief “had no chance of going out and doing any good works” yet Jesus promises him salvation. This story is supposed to convince disheartened Muslims that there is still hope for them. We have a tradition that is somewhat  similar to this. When the Prophet’s uncle Abu Talib lay on  his death bed, the Prophet pleaded with him to utter the  Shahadah, or declaration of faith,  so that he would be saved. If salvation in Islam was based on good deeds as the Christian claims, then why is the Prophet ﷺ even bothering to convince his elderly uncle who had been an idolater his whole life that Islam was Truth? 

It is interesting to note that John of Patmos, the author of the apocalyptic Book of Revelation, advocated the belief of judgment through works. He writes:

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead  were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they  were judged every man  according to their works[Revelation 20:12-13].

There is nothing in the Qur’an or the whole of the volumes of hadith that even come remotely  close to the likes of these verses. Yet the Christian accuses us of what his scripture says.

What exactly do good works amount to for the Christian? As one Christian put it, “good works are the by-product of our faith.” Furthermore, good works have absolutely “no bearing on salvation” as Christians are saved through grace by faith alone (sola fide). Paul says: “For by grace are ye  saved  through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast”  [Ephesians 2:8-9; Also see Romans 4 & Galatians 3:6-14 by none other than Paul]. 

Christians enjoy quoting Isaiah 64:6 to Muslims which states  that our righteousness are as  filthy rags in the sight of God. Obviously Jews and Christians are very much at odds in their respective understandings of the significance of works and this is  yet another instance where the Christians graft their own  theology onto the Hebrew scriptures. 

Christian apologists accuse Islam as being a religion where God can arbitrarily forgive sins or punish sinners according to His whim or fancy. Don’t let the Christian dictate your religion for you. You will quickly learn from your interaction with them that the  vast majority of what they say is  supported by neither scripture nor logic but only emotional catharsis. The Qur’an teaches us that Allah will forgive any sin if sincere repentance is made. We  have to take the initial step forward, however. As the Prophet ﷺ said in a Hadith Qudsi, “Your Lord says, ‘If you walk toward Me, I will come running towards you.” If the individual does not make repentance, however, then Allah may chose to punish or forgive the sin based on His perfect  knowledge of the person, and  not simply arbitrarily as the Christian would have you believe. The only sin the Qur’an states that Allah will not forgive if repentance is not made is idolatry or associating  partnership to God (shirk) because a person who expires in such a dreadful state dies in open rebellion against God and His Messenger ﷺ.

According to Christianity, as long as faith in Christ as God and Savior is observed, whatsoever we do in this life is completely  and most definitely arbitrary and devoid of meaning. This may be  the very reason why Christians throughout history have perpetrated some of the most horrific acts of inhuman cruelty  and barbarism. As long as they  “keep on believing’”, they  are saved through grace. Accordingly, if Adolph Hitler believed in Jesus as Lord and Savior which he very  well could have, when he gave orders to his Nazi minions to begin the incineration of six million Jews called “Christkillers,” he did so with full assurance of salvation from Hell and righteous fellowship in the next life! Make sure that you warn your Christian friend not to be deceived by the life of this world. We only get  one shot, so make it count. Allah tells us of the Christian  mentality: “After them (the Jews) succeeded an evil generation: They inherited the Book, but they chose for themselves the vanities of this world, saying for excuse:  ‘Everything will be forgiven us.’  Even so, if similar vanities came their way, they would again seize them” [Qur’an 7:169].

But what says Jesus? Surely the son of Mary had an opinion as to the significance of good works. Matthew records him  saying: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your  good works, and glorify your  Father which is in heaven” [Matthew 5:16].

Are these the same good works that Christians call filthy rags? John records Jesus commenting:

“Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.  Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works  that I do in my Father’s name,  they bear witness of me” [John 10:24-25].

Again, according to Christians good works are essentially  meaningless and unnecessary.  Yet Jesus tells the Pharisees of his day that it is his works in his Father’s name that prove his identity as the Messiah. Nothing can be more meaningful and necessary!

The Qur’an repeats many times the refrain, “those who believe and perform righteous action.” Compare this to James:

“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father  justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was  called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.  Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received  the messengers, and had sent  [them] out another way? For as the body  without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also”  [James 2:20-26]. 

Compare the above verses from  James to Paul:

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” [Romans 3:28];

“For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath [whereof] to glory; but not before God”   [Romans 4:2];

“Was it because of his good deeds that God accepted him? If so, he would have had something  to boast about. But from God’s point of view Abraham had no basis at all for pride” (New  Living Translation, 1996). Here’s what  we can gather from all of this:

James believed that man was both justified by faith and works while Paul believed in faith alone.  Notice how each author uses the same story of Abraham to prove opposite points. Who should  we believe, the “Lord’s” brother and disciple of Jesus or a former Christian killer?

Atonement through Sacrifice? Strobel says: “As Jews in the Old Testament sought to atone for their sins through a system of animal sacrifices, here was Jesus, the ultimate sacrificial lamb of God, who paid for sin once and for all. Here was the personification of God’s plan for redemption.”

The most useful passage in the entire New Testament for you as a Muslim refuting Christianity will undoubtedly be Mark 12:28-34:

“And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments [is], Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy  mind, and with all thy  strength: this [is] the first commandment. And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love [his]  neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him  [any question].” – Mark 12:28-34.

Notice how the scribe mentions that God’s absolute unity, the love of God, and the love of neighbors is more than all whole offerings and sacrifices. Ask your Christian friend if he understands what the word “all” entails. If Jesus were to die for the sins of  mankind, why did he not correct the man’s bold assertion, or at least show disapproval? Instead Jesus is marveled by how “thoughtful” (Revised English Bible) the man had answered and actually tells the scribe that he is not far from the kingdom of God! Jesus doesn’t even say anything comparable to this to his chosen twelve disciples who, according to Christians, propagated the doctrine of atonement through  the sacrifice of Jesus until their  death. To them he lashes out, “Are ye even yet without understanding” [Matthew 15:16]?

“But there must be payment! Someone has to die!” you will hear Christians shout. Remind them what Jesus said to the Pharisees:

“But go ye and learn what [that] meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13).

It doesn’t get any clearer than that! Jesus was actually quoting the book of Hosea in the Old Testament:

“For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings”   [Hosea 6:6].

Amazingly, Paul calls Jesus both an “offering” and a “sacrifice” in Ephesians 5:2. Also see Hebrews 9:26. Reiterate to the Christian that the unity of God, the love of God, and the love of neighbors amount to far more than all  offerings and sacrifices. In  Matthew 12:7 Jesus obliterates the doctrine of original sin as well:

“If ye had known what [this]  meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.”

Once again Paul has  demonstrated his uncanny  ability to contradict his “Lord” in a  matter of religious significance. Even more astonishing is the fact that Christians all follow Paul’s  doctrine rather than Jesus’  despite the latter proclaiming:

“The disciple is not above his  master, nor the servant above his  lord.” [Matthew 10:24].

Ask your Christian buddy why he  has devoted himself to Paul over his professed Master, Jesus. Christian apologists have drawn  Muslim attention to the story of Abraham and his son as foreshadowing what they believe happened to Jesus on the cross.

Rhodes says, “Use Abraham’s story as a way of illustrating the need for a sacrifice to take another’s place and allow that person to be spared…Recall that in the Qur’an’s depiction of this  event, we are told that Abraham’s son was ‘ransomed’ from death by an animal ‘sacrifice’ (sura 37:102-7).”

Although the son ransomed was actually Ishmael and not Isaac, we will examine this parallel in a way that better fits the events that actually occurred to Jesus (See: The Child Of Sacrifice was Ishmael, Not Isaac – A Textual, Historical & Geographical Analysis for the truth about Ishmael’s legitimacy).

In Genesis as well as the Qur’an we are told that the son of Abraham was saved from the knife of his father and another was put in his stead to bear the brunt of the sacrifice. This is  precisely what happened to  Jesus! Respond to the Christian by saying, “Yes, just as Abraham’s son was saved by God and ransomed from death by an animal sacrifice, so was ‘God’s son’ saved by God and ransomed from death by someone else.” This is  also exactly what the Qur’an teaches (Qur’an 4:157; See ). Make sure that when you  use Christian lingo such as “God’s son,” you clarify to the Christian exactly  what this title entails (See: Refuting the Crucifixion and Resurrection). 

McDowell says: An incident that took place several years ago in California illuminates what Jesus did on the cross in order to solve the problem  God had in dealing with the sin of humanity. A  young woman was picked up for speeding. She was ticketed and taken before the judge. The judge read off the citation and said, “Guilty or not guilty?” The woman replied, “Guilty.” The judge brought down the gavel and fined her $100 or ten days. Then an amazing thing took place. The judge stood up, took off his robe, walked down around in front, took out his billfold, and paid the fine. What’s the explanation of this? The judge was her father. He loved his daughter, yet he was a just judge. His daughter had broken the law and he couldn’t  simply say to her, “because I love you so much, I forgive you. You  may leave.” If he had done that, he wouldn’t have upheld the law. But he loved his daughter so much that he was willing to take  off his judicial robe and come down in front and represent her as her father and pay the fine (pages 114-115).

This story, however, misses on a few vital points. Allow me to give a better representation of Christian belief. Let’s say that a burglar broke into an old woman’s house one night and was caught by police after fleeing the scene. The police ask the old woman if she would like to press charges because she was the one victimized. She says, “Yes.” In court, it comes out that the man  was simply trying to get some food or money to help his family currently living in a homeless shelter. The woman is overcome with mercy and decides not to press charges after all. The man who pleaded guilty is released due to a clean record and given a stern warning. He learned his lesson. Suddenly, the judge pulls his very own begotten son out of the crowd kicking and screaming and slices his throat ear to ear to atone for the burglar’s sin. Is this justice? Was this murder necessary? In McDowell’s example it would have been more fitting if the judge simply put his robe over his daughter and sent her to jail.

Another example: If you kill my dog then apologize and I forgive you, the matter is closed. Let’s say that you feel great remorse and offer to kill your own dog so that there could be justice. I would answer you: “Because I have forgiven you, killing your dog would be an injustice. You sinned against me, and I have accepted your apology. I don’t need the  blood of your dog to convince  me of that.”

Similarly, when man sins against God then makes sincere repentance unto Him, He and only He can decide to forgive or to exact retribution. However, a  Just and Holy God never ignores the sincere repentance of His servants. 

Torah Obedience
According to Pauline doctrine, Jesus’ death on the cross signifies the end of Torah “bondage,” as he puts it (Galatians 5:1). Believers were now “living in the grace” and had only to trust in the redemptive work of Christ at Calvary and nothing more. Paul says very clearly: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of  the law” [Galatians 3:13].

Paul also obliterates all of the Mosaic dietary restrictions as well as the practice of circumcision despite the latter being called “an everlasting covenant” by God in the Torah (Genesis 17:13). 

Be prepared to be scoffed at by  Christians you encounter with regards to this. They cannot help but feel rage in their  hearts when you order a cheese pizza or ask if the spaghetti sauce in your pasta is made with wine. Keep it clear  in your mind that the Christian does not want to invite you to a new religion or way of life but rather to a “relationship” with God where you can basically do  and eat anything you want without any fear of consequence. “The Law is nailed to the cross!” he shouts ecstatically. Ask him if his “God” ever sanctioned him to do such a thing. Jesus Christ,  a practicing Jew, held the Law of Moses as sacred and binding during all of his life. Let’s look at one example: The Christians of today have no qualms about eating the flesh of pigs. Please note that quoting to them from  the book of Leviticus regarding this is futile since the Christians believe that the Law has already  been abrogated by the death of Jesus (“And the swine, though he  divide the hoof, and be  clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he [is] unclean to you”  [Leviticus 11:7]). Such a tactic will only egg him on more. Rather  make it your practice to look at the Gospels to drive your arguments home. In all three synoptics we are told of a man who had his demons exorcised by  Jesus by the latter sending the unclean spirits into a herd of swine, 2,000 in all that Jesus drowned in the sea (Mark 5:12; Matthew  8:30; Luke 8:33). Ask your Christian friend why he enjoys eating the meat of an  animal that his “God” dubbed “swine” in the Torah as well as the Gospel. Enlighten him:  “What’s good enough for your God must be good enough for you too!” While Paul destroys the Law, Jesus demands its strict observance. Again, I encourage you greatly to memorize the  passage below verbatim and practice it on your Christian acquaintances:

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come  to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach  [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed  [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:17-20.

Jesus is basically saying: “I am  not here to abrogate the Torah, but to confirm it. In truth I tell you, as long as heaven and earth endure nothing will be gone from  the Law until all that must happen has happened. Whoever decides not to follow even the smallest of the commandments will be in the lowest rank in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps all of them and teaches  them to others will enjoy the highest rank in the kingdom of heaven. If your obedience to the Law is not greater than the Scribes and Pharisees, then you can not expect to enter Paradise.” 

There is no heaven for you if you are not better than the Jew! Are not the heavens and the earth still intact? Therefore, the Law is still in effect and must be followed. According to Judaism,  the Torah was the blueprint that  God used to construct His universe, His sacred Word that guided and shaped the lives of  millions of penitent Jews including Moses, David, Mary  and Jesus. St. John records Christ saying: “I have kept my Father’s  commandments, and abide in his love” [John 15:10].

Christians believe, however, that this great Law of God was suddenly superseded and deemed unnecessary on account of a dream of Peter, a man who denied knowing Jesus three times, and a vision of Paul, a man who tortured and killed many of the true followers of Jesus. Both of  these gentlemen are shady  characters, at best, yet their word is weightier in Christian eyes than the words of Christ and all of his prophetic predecessors!

Concerning the Torah, the Qur’an tells us of its relation to the Gospel of Jesus: “And remember,  Jesus, the son of Mary, said: ‘O  Children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah (sent) to you,  confirming the Law (which came) before me…’” [Qur’an 61:6]. 

The Christian will tell you, “The  Law and commandments act only as a means to make one conscious of sin, but we cannot be saved by it. Only by belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus can one attain salvation.” 

Let’s examine what exactly we  must do to be saved from God’s wrath in the next life. The Hebrew Bible gives us clear guidance. Here are just a few examples: 

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man”  [Ecclesiastes 12:13-14];

“And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments”   [Exodus 20:6];

“Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the Lord” [Leviticus 22:31];

“If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them” [Leviticus 26:3];

“But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your  soul abhor my judgments, so that  ye will not do all  my  commandments, [but] that ye  break my covenant: I also will do this unto  you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption,  and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause  sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it” [Leviticus 26:14-16];

“And if ye have erred, and not  observed all these commandments, which the Lord hath spoken unto Moses…”   [Numbers 15:22]; 

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you”   [Deuteronomy 4:2];

“O that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever” [Deuteronomy  5:29]!;

“Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your  God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he hath commanded thee”  [Deuteronomy  6:17]; 

“Praise ye the Lord. Blessed is the  man that feareth the Lord, that  delighteth greatly in his commandments” [Psalms 112:1];

“Lord, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments” [Psalms 119:166]. 

Also see I Kings 18:18; I Chronicles 28:7; II Chronicles 7:19, 31:21; Nehemiah 1:5-9;  Psalms 78:7, 89:31, 119:35, 119:115, 119:151.

Even as late as the book of Malachi we are told: “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, [with] the statutes and judgments” [Malachi 4:4].

Now compare this to Paul:

“Having abolished  in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace” [Ephesians 2:15];

“No man is justified by the law in  the sight of God, it is evident: for, the just shall live by faith”   [Galatians 3:11].

Also see Galatians 2:16, 3:24, 5:4;  Romans 2:13, 20, 28. But what says Jesus? In the Gospels we are told of a man who asks him a very direct question, essentially saying, “How do I become  saved?” Ask any Christian today  the same question and they will pump you full of exclusivist Pauline dogma. Let’s look at Jesus’ response as recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

•  Matthew 19:17 – “And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”

•  Mark 10:19  – “Thou knowest  the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.”  

•  Luke 18:20  – “Thou knowest  the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.”  

Ask your Christian friend how “keep the commandments” sounds at all like “I will die for your sins.” Just as we encountered with Mark 12:29, if Jesus was  truly sent by God to preach  salvation through his flesh and blood, then for him to advise his Jewish contemporaries to follow the Law and commandments to “enter into life” constitutes deception of the highest order. If  your Christian friend knows his Bible he might rebut, “But Jesus  says, ‘Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life’ in John 6:54.’” You may treat such a comment the same way as we did the “I am” statements also found only in John. Ask him how three evangelists seemed to miss all of the following highly theological declarations:

•  “Which were born, not of  blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of  man, but of  God.” – John 1:13.

•  “Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the  Son of man, and drink his blood,  ye have no life in you.” – John 6:53.

•  “For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” – John 6:55.

•  “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” – John 6:56.

It doesn’t take a Doctorate of Divinity to see the difference between the  three synoptics and the distinctive Fourth Gospel. It is of little wonder why second and third century Roman communities charged Christians for engaging in acts of cannibalism in their secret underground ceremonies! Today the Catholics enjoin upon  their congregations this practice in their services and celebrate it  as a “Holy Communion” between God and His children. They  actually believe that God in the person of the Holy Ghost comes down during the mass and transforms the bread and wine  into the literal flesh and blood of Christ in a process called Transubstantiation. Members of the mass then partake of the  Eucharist and go home feeling like they have just achieved eternal life. Please help your Christian friend see the error of his ways by pointing out to him  the very Pagan (Mithraic) elements of such practices. But if  he still wants only John, then we can still give it to him.

Despite the alleged statements of Jesus concerning his flesh and redeeming blood given above, John also records him providing  us with a very different definition  of eternal life; a definition that is identical to the first pillar  of Islam. He says: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). Allah records Jesus  in the  Qur’an saying: “Verily  God is my Lord and your Lord: Him  therefore serve ye: this  is a Way  that is straight” [Qur’an 19:36].

The appearance of such strikingly  opposed statements from the  synoptics as well as from the Fourth Gospel itself, bears  witness to the fact that the absurdities mentioned in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John were never actually uttered by Christ himself and are rather on the same footing as the first twelve verses of John 8, namely, they are a fabrication to the text. 

As we have examined and proven above, all of the doctrine Christians believe today to be “Gospel Truth” were created by  the infamous Paul and not by the so-called founder of Christianity, Jesus. Given the disparaging differences between the views of Paul and Jesus, we cannot help but to  be very  skeptical regarding Paul’s claim that he received his authority not from  man, “but only by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12). By his own admission Paul does not go immediately to converse  with the remaining disciples after experiencing his vision of the resurrected Jesus, but rather opts for Arabia and stays there for three years doing God only  knows what. It was perhaps in Arabia where Paul dreamed up many on his dogmatic and innovative interpretations of the  death of the Jewish Messiah on a  cross. Ironically, it was from this very land that the authentic teachings of the Gospel were vindicated some 575 years later by the thundering revelations of the Qur’an. 

It seems almost ridiculous that Jesus never prophesied the coming of the “Apostle to all nations” given Paul’s unparalleled influence and revolutionary views about his Lord and Savior. You  may get some Christians who will try to convince you that Paul is actually the Comforter that Jesus spoke of that will come after him to guide humanity “into all truth” in John 14 & 16. The identity of the Comforter, or Paraclaytos, will be fully revealed in a later post, but for now let’s quickly invalidate Paul as a possible candidate. Jesus further says regarding the Comforter: “for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever  he shall hear, that shall he speak.” In other words, the Comforter says nothing on his own authority. Paul tells us regarding men with unbelieving wives that the former  should retain their spouses if  “she be pleased to dwell with him.” He prefaces this injunction with, “But to the rest speak I, not the Lord” (I Corinthians 7:12).

God tells us in the Qur’an:

“And if the messenger (Muhammad) were to invent any  sayings in Our name, We should certainly seize him by his right  hand, and We should certainly then cut off the artery of his heart: nor could any of you withhold him from Our wrath”   [Holy Qur’an 69:44-47].

Knowing that his gospel may not easily find its way  into the  hearts of those who hear it, Paul warns his Christian community  in Galatia about those who preach to them a gospel different than what he has taught them (Galatians 1:8). Let’s now compare the gospel of Paul with that of Jesus:

image

image

Judeo-Christian Allegation on Sulayman Alayhis Salaam (Solomon) being a Magician

Claims Regarding Prophet Sulaymaan
It is widespread amongst the Jews, Christians and the Occultists that Prophet Sulayman (alayhis salaam) practiced magic, and some of them consider him to be a magician and not a Prophet. There are many other claims and associations made with respect to Sulayman (alayhis salaam) which he is free of. In this article we want to clarify the Qur’anic treatment of this subject which absolves and exonerates Sulayman (alayhis salaam) from the false things attributed to him.

The Qur’an on Prophet Sulayman, the Devils, Magic and Babylon
First the passage in the Qur’an on this subject, Allah, the Most High, said in Surah al-Baqarah:

وَلَمَّا جَاءهُمْ رَسُولٌ مِّنْ عِندِ اللّهِ مُصَدِّقٌ لِّمَا مَعَهُمْ نَبَذَ فَرِيقٌ مِّنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَابَ كِتَابَ اللّهِ وَرَاء ظُهُورِهِمْ كَأَنَّهُمْ لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ. وَاتَّبَعُواْ مَا تَتْلُواْ الشَّيَاطِينُ عَلَى مُلْكِ سُلَيْمَانَ وَمَا كَفَرَ سُلَيْمَانُ وَلَـكِنَّ الشَّيْاطِينَ كَفَرُواْ يُعَلِّمُونَ النَّاسَ السِّحْرَ وَمَا أُنزِلَ عَلَى الْمَلَكَيْنِ بِبَابِلَ هَارُوتَ وَمَارُوتَ وَمَا يُعَلِّمَانِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ حَتَّى يَقُولاَ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ فِتْنَةٌ فَلاَ تَكْفُرْ فَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مِنْهُمَا مَا يُفَرِّقُونَ بِهِ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَزَوْجِهِ وَمَا هُم بِضَآرِّينَ بِهِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِ اللّهِ وَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مَا يَضُرُّهُمْ وَلاَ يَنفَعُهُمْ وَلَقَدْ عَلِمُواْ لَمَنِ اشْتَرَاهُ مَا لَهُ فِي الآخِرَةِ مِنْ خَلاَقٍ وَلَبِئْسَ مَا شَرَوْاْ بِهِ أَنفُسَهُمْ لَوْ كَانُواْ يَعْلَمُونَ

And when there came to them a Messenger from Allah (Muhammad) confirming what was with them, a party of those who were given the Scripture threw away the Book of Allah behind their backs as if they did not know! They followed what the Shayaateen (devils) gave out (falsely of the magic) in the lifetime of Sulayman (Solomon).  Sulayman did not disbelieve, but the Shayaateen (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic and such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels, Harut and Marut, but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they had said, “We are only for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us).” And from these (angels) people learn that by which they cause separation between man and his wife, but they could not thus harm anyone except by Allah’s permission. And they learn that which harms them and profits them not. And indeed they knew that the buyers of it (magic) would have no share in the Hereafter. And how bad indeed was that for which they sold their ownselves, if they but knew. [Al-Baqarah 2:101-102]

We can turn to the classical commentaries of Ibn Jareer at-Tabari and Ibn Kathir for the explanation of these verses, part by part, so what follows will be based upon these commentaries.

Background to the Verse on Magic

وَلَمَّا جَاءهُمْ رَسُولٌ مِّنْ عِندِ اللّهِ مُصَدِّقٌ لِّمَا مَعَهُمْ نَبَذَ فَرِيقٌ مِّنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَابَ كِتَابَ اللّهِ وَرَء ظُهُورِهِمْ كَأَنَّهُمْ لاَ يَعْلَمُون

And when there came to
them a Messenger from Allah (Muhammad) confirming what was with them, a party of those who were given the Scripture threw away the Book of Allah behind their backs as if they did not know!  

Ibn Kathir explains that this refers to a faction amongst the Jews who threw the Torah behind their backs when they learned that the glad tidings of the Prophethood of Muhammad ﷺ are found within it, and that they abandoned it as if they did not know that this (knowledge) was in it. Instead they resorted to magic (witchcraft, sorcery), and Ibn Kathir makes mention of Labeed bin al-A’sam, the Jew who practiced witchcraft upon the Prophet ﷺ, with the use of a comb thrown into a well. At-Tabari explains likewise that this verse is in rebuke of the Jews who were in the time of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and rejected his prophethood despite knowing he was a messenger, and in rebuke of them not acting upon this knowledge which is in their hands (in the Torah), and their following of their ancestors who followed what the devils rehearsed to them in the kingship of Sulayman (of magic).

This verse leads into the next one which continues on the subject of magic.

The Devils in the Time of Sulaymaan (alayhis salaam)

وَاتَّبَعُواْ مَا تَتْلُواْ الشَّيَاطِينُ عَلَى مُلْكِ سُلَيْمَنَ

They followed what the Shayaateen (devils) gave out (falsely of the magic) in the lifetime of Sulayman (Solomon)…

At-Tabari brings narrations:

From Mujaahid: That this that the devils (shayaateen) used to listen to the revelation (in his time) and whenever they caught something of it, they added two hundred other words like it. So Sulayman consfiscated these books from them, and when Sulaymaan died, the devils found them and taught the people from them, which was magic.

From Qatadah: That this refers to soothsaying and magic, and that Allaah mentions here that the devils innovated books in which there was magic, and then they spread it amongst the people and taught it to them.

Ibn Abbaas: That the devils in the time of Sulayman wrote books in which there was magic and disbelief, then they buried them under the throne of Sulayman, and later they brought them out and read them to the people.

Magic Was Taught By the Devils and Sulayman (alayhis salaam) Was Free From It

وَمَا كَفَرَ سُلَيْمَانُ وَلَـكِنَّ الشَّيْاطِينَ كَفَرُواْ يُعَلِّمُونَ النَّاسَ السِّحْرَ

Sulayman did not disbelieve, but the Shayaateen (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic…  

At-Tabari explains that in this verse that what Allaah ascribed to the devils, the Jews ascribed to Sulayman (alayhis salaam), claiming that it was from his knowledge, and that he subjugated the men, Jinn and devils (shayaateen), and other creatures of Allaah through magic. And on account of this belief of their’s they justified to the people their own actions in doing what Allaah had made unlawful upon them of magic. And then they said that Sulayman (alayhis salaam) was not a Prophet but a magician, so Allaah absolved Sulayman bin Dawud (alayhis salaam) from magic and kufr against the claims made against him, and also declared as liars those justifying their practice of magic, and Allaah exposed them in that they were simply following the magic that the devils rehearsed to them during the era of Sulayman (alayhis salaam).

Ibn Kathir brings a narration:

Muhammad bin Ishaaq bin Yasaar: That the devils wrote books on types of magic, after they knew of Sulayman’s death, and so they wrote “Whoever wishes to attain such and such, let him do such and such”, and they put all of this into a book, and then placed a seal on it upon the seal of Prophet Sulayman and they wrote as its title, “This is What Aasif bin Burkhyaa the Friend of the King Sulayman Wrote of the Kept Treasures of Knowledge”. Then they buried it beneath his throne. Later, some of the Children of Israel found this book and they said, “By Allaah Sulayman’s (alayhis salaam) kingdom was not except by way of this (magic)”. So they spread this magic amongst the people, they learned it and taught it, and magic is not found amongst anyone more than amongst the Jews…

And at-Tabari brings a number of narrations:

Ibn Hawshab: He states similar to what was said by Ibn Ishaq above, and explains that the devils would write, “Whoever wants to arrive at such and such let him turn to the sun and let him say such and such. And whoever wants [to be able] to do such and such, let him face his back to the sun and let him say such and such.” So they wrote the likes of this and put it in a book, and gave it the same title as mentioned by Ibn Ishaq above. Then they buried it under Sulayman’s (alayhis salaam) throne.

When Sulayman died, Iblees  stood as a khateeb and said, “O people, verily Sulayman was not a prophet, but he was a magician, so hold to his magic which is in his place of retreat and in his houses”, then he showed them the place in which it was buried, and when they found it they said, “By Allaah, Sulayman was a magician, and this is his magic, with it shall we worship, and through it shall we subdue (others)”. However, the believers amongst those Jews said, “Rather, he was a Prophet, a believer”. Then, when Allaah sent the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, he mentioned the Prophets, until he mentioned Dawud and Sulayman, so the Jews said, “Look at Muhammad, mixing truth with falsehood, he is mentioning  Sulayman along with the Prophets, he was merely a magician who would carry the winds”, so Allah revealed the verse, Sulayman did not disbelieve, but the Shayaateen (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic…

Saeed bin Jubair: That Sulayman (alayhis salaam) use to follow up what was in the hands of the devils of magic, and he took it from them and put it all under his throne in his treasure house. The devils were not able to reach it, so they came to the men and said “Do you want the knowledge by which Sulayman used to subjugate the devils and the winds and other (things)?” They said, “Yes”, and so the devils directed them to the treasure house, under the throne. So the men found it and then began acting upon it. This (false claim) continued until the people of Hijaz said that Sulayman (alayhis salaam) used to also practice this, and that this is magic. Then Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, revealed, upon the tongue of Muhammad ﷺ the exoneration of Sulayman from that.

Qatadah: The devils innovated a book in which there was magic and they spread it amongst the people teaching it to them. When Sulayman (alayhis salaam) heard of it, he followed up those books, took them and buried them under his throne, hating that the people would learn from them. When Allaah took Sulayman (alayhis salaam) away, the devils took out those books from where they were and taught them to the people. They (the devils) said that this is the knowledge that Sulayman used to conceal and keep to himself. So Allaah excused Sulayman and exonerated him, saying, Sulayman did not disbelieve, but the Shayaateen (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic.”

Muhammad bin Ishaaq: That the book(s) they found after the death of Sulayman (alayhis salaam), they claim that it was a book revealed by Allaah from Sulayman, which Sulayman (alayhis salaam) kept hidden from them, so they took it and made it into their religion.

What happened was that the people fell into two groups. 

The first: Those amongst the believers who knew magic was kufr and unlawful, and so they reviled Sulaymaan (alayhis salaam), out of their wrong belief that he practiced magic, and some of them denied he was a Prophet. 

The second: Another group who held that since Sulayman (alayhis salaam) was a Prophet and he practiced magic (as they were misled to believe by the devils), then they considered it permissible to indulge in magic, so they took that as a religion to be followed, and this is what characterized these people from that time until the time of Prophet Jesus (alayhis salaam) through to the time of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, right until this day of ours.

Note here that in this verse Allaah is referring to the Jews contemporary to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and it is an indication that they continued upon that magic that the devils rehearsed to the people in the time of Sulaymaan in the 10th century BC. In this verse Allaah, is clearing Sulayman from that false accusation and recounting the historical facts and realities. In the 6th century BC. Nebuchadnezzar, the Chaldean king of Babylon (Baabil), conquered Judah (the Jews, Bani Israil) and put them into exile. When these Jews came to Babylon, in addition to the magic they had learned from the devils, they also learned of the magic at Baabil part of which came to the people through the angels Harut and Marut. Baabil was a center of occult science, and it was the place of the Chaldeans who were star and planet worshipers. Whilst in captivity in Baabil (Babylon) Jewish priests, after looking into and studying the “mystery religion” of those Babylonians developed their own sophisticated form of occultism.

The occult knowledge and codified magic practiced by the Jews historically and today is known as the Qabbalah (also spelt Kabbalah and referred to as “Jewish Mysticism” or “Jewish Esoteric Knowledge”). It is essentially (and in reality) a coded system of magic, of invoking the Jinn (and angels, as they believe), through words, numbers, symbols, geometry and so on. Also, the word Qabbalah, is from the hebrew root Q-B-L, (“to receive”), and it is similar to the Arabic root of qaaf, baa, laam (“to receive”). It means to receive “mystical knowledge”, or “secret teaching”, and it is expressed diagramatically through what is called the “Tree of Life”. The Qabbalah was transmitted orally and secretly through the centuries and was written down in the the Christian era. What was written is not the entire Qabbalah but just the rudiments of it. The essence, core and reality of the Qabbalah is only ever passed on through oral tradition and with conditions. It continued to be transmitted through the ages (picking up elements from other beliefs) right to this day and has been and still is behind the esoteric doctrines of most secret orders and sects. Iblees and his offspring the Jinn, have continued to deceive people into believing that there is “immortality” through “secret esoteric knowledge”, and that the practitioners of these esoteric mystery religions of Babylon and Egypt (magic and devil worship) can become “angels” and “live forever”. These people consider themselves “illuminated” and the rest of mankind as gullible, incapable, unfit, inferior people who must be hemmed in and ruled over.

Babylon and The Two Angels Harut and Marut

وَمَا أُنزِلَ عَلَى الْمَلَكَيْنِ بِبَابِلَ هَارُوتَ وَمَارُوتَ

… and such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels, Harut and Marut, but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they had said, “We are only for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us).”

Babylon (Baabil, Babel) is a region just south of Bagdhad in Iraq, and it was the place of Nimrod who is said by at-Tabari (and other sources) to have built the Tower of Babel, and the place of the Chaldeans and Assyrians, and the Sabean planet worshippers. It became a center of much learning, especially magic and astrology. Magic was integral to the functioning of the society. It should be noted that place-names are not generally mentioned in the Qur’an in relation to past events, and there are only a few that are mentioned, such as Midyan, Iram, Baabil, so the mention of Baabil in particular has significance and as we shall see, the verse we are discussing is extremely accurate in characterizing those Jews who simply followed the magic rehearsed to them by the devils in the time of Sulayman (alayhis salaam) and what they took from Babylon, and which they incorporated into the Talmud (the Babylonian Talmud).

At-Tabaree brings numerous narrations:

As-Sudee: That this was another type of magic by which they (the Jews) disputed with him (Muhammad ﷺ), through what was revealed upon the two Angels, and that the speech of the Angels between themselves, when it is taught to the men, crafted and acted upon, it is magic.

Qataadah: Magic is of two types: The magic taught by the devils, and the magic taught by Harut and Marut.

Ibn Zayd: The devils and the two angels teaching the people magic.

At-Tabaree explains:

So the meaning of the verse upon the explanation of this saying which we have mentioned from those whom we have mentioned it from is: That the Jews followed that (magic) which the devils rehearsed to them during the lifetime of Sulayman (alayhis salaam) which was (that magic) sent down upon the two angels at Baabil (Babylon), Harut and Marut, and they are two angels from the angels of Allaah.

And he says:

Indeed Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic, sent down (all) the good and the evil, and He explained all of that to His servants, and He inspired His Messengers (with revelation) and ordered them to teach His creation and to distinguish for them what is lawful from what is unlawful, such as fornication (adultery), stealing, and all the sins which they (the Prophets) informed them about and prohibited them from committing them. So magic is one of those sins which He informed them of and prohibited them from acting upon.

Then at-Tabari mentions an alternative reading of the verse:

So the explanation of the verse upon this saying is: And they followed the magic that the devils rehearsed in the lifetime of Sulayman and [that magic of] the separation between a man and his wife which was revealed upon the two angels at Baabil, Harut and Marut.

And he brings in this regard:

Mujaahid: As for magic, then the devils taught it, and as for what the angels taught, then it is separation between a man and his wife, as Allaah the Most High said.

Then at-Tabari brings about ten or so narrations from the early commentators regarding the two angels, and we will bring the information from those narrations together here:

Ibn Abbaas: Allaah open up the heaven so that the angels could look at the actions of sons of Adan.

[Ar-Rabee’]: When the people after Adam (alayhissalaam) fell into what they fell into of sins and disbelief in Allaah, the Angels in the heaven said, “O Lord this world, you created them for your worship and obedience, but they have fallen into disbelief, killing the unlawful soul, eating unlawful wealth, stealing and fornicating, and drinking intoxicant”, and so they began to supplicate against them, and did not make excuse for them.

[Mujaahid]: For the Angels became surprised at the oppression of the sons of Adan, and their had come to them Messengers and books and clear proofs. 

[Ibn Abbaas]: The Angels said, “O Lord, those children of Adam  whom you created with your own hand, and to which you made the angels prostrate,and to whom you taught all the names of all things, they commit sins.”

[Ibn Mas’ood]: The Angels supplicated against them, and against the earth, heaven and mountins, saying “O Lord, will you not destroy them?”

[Ibn Abbaas]: So Allaah said that if you were in their place you would have done actions just like theirs. 

[Ibn Mas’ood]: So Allaah revealed to the Angels: “If I sent down the lust, desire (shahwah) and the devils upon your hearts, and you descended (to the earth), you would have done (the same) also.” And so the angels conversed amongst themselves that if they were put to trial they would remain firm.

[Ibn Abbaas]: They (the angels) said, “Subhaanallaah, this is not something befitting for us to do.” So they were ordered to choose (from amongst them) who would be sent down to the earth, so they chose Harut and Marut,.

As-Sudee:  Harut and Marut reviled the people of the earth for their judgements (ahkaam), and it was said to them that the son of Adam was given ten desires by which they disobey Allaah. And Harut and Marut said that if these desires were given to them, and were then sent down (to the earth) they would have judged with (and abided by) justice. So Allaah said, “Descend, I have given you both those ten desires, so judge amongst the people with justice…”

[Ibn Abbaas]: They were sent down to the earth and everything was made lawful for them on the earth except that they should not associate partners with Allaah in worship, and nor steal, and nor fornicate, and nor drink intoxicants and nor kill a soul that Allaah had made unlawful except with due right. So they continued (upon the earth) until they came across a woman given half of beauty, called Beedhukht. 

[As-Sudee]: She came to them regarding a dispute with her husband.

[Ibn Abbaas]: When they saw her, they desired to commit zinaa with her. She said not unless you worship others alongside Allaah, and drink intoxicants and kill a soul and prostrate to this idol. So they said “We do not associate anything with Allaah (in worship)”.

[Ar-Rabee’]: When she saw that they refused to worship the idol, she said to them that you must choose one of these three, either worship the idol, kill a soul or drink intoxicants. 

[Ibn Abbaas]: So one of the angels said to the other “Go back to her” and she said, “No, unless you drink intoxicants”, so they did until they were intoxicated. Then a man came upon them (and saw them)…

[Ar-Rabee’]: So they feared that he might divulge this (their being intoxicated)… 

[Ibn Abbaas]: so they killed him. When they fell into this evil, Allaah open the heaven for His angels, and they said, “Subhaanaka, you are most knowledgeable”. 

[Ar-Rabee’]: When the angels saw what these two angels had fallen into, they were very surprised … and so they began to seek forgiveness for those in the earth after this. Then it was said to them to choose the punishment of the world or that of the hereafter, so they said (to themselves) that the punishment of the world expires but the punishment of the hereafter never ends. So they chose the punishment of the world, and so they were placed in Baabil  (Babylon), and they are punished there. 

[Mujaahid]: They were ordered to go to Baabil, where their punishment was to be given. 

As-Sudee: So they were restrained in Baabil where they began speaking to the people with their speech which was magic.

Ibn Katheer, after mentioning many of these narrations in his tafseer of this verse explains that the story of Harut and Marut has been narrated from a group amongst the taabi’een, such as Mujahid, as-Sudee, al-Hasan al-Basree, Qataadah, Abu al-Aaliyah, az-Zuhree, ar-Rabee’ bin Anas, Muqaatil bin Hayyaan and others, and that a portion of the mufassireen (exegetes) from the earlier and later ones have also reported them, and that the contents of them go back to the narrations that come from Banee Israa’eel, since there is no authentic, connected hadeeth, ascribed to the truthful, the believed, the infallible, who does not speak of his own desire [the Prophet (alayhis salaam)], and that the report in the Qur’an is given generally, without detail, and that we believe in what Allaah has related in the Qur’an upon what Allaah intended by it, and Allaah knows best about the reality.

Harut and Marut and the Tribulation of Magic

وَمَا يُعَلِّمَانِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ حَتَّى يَقُولاَ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ فِتْنَةٌ فَلاَ تَكْفُر

…but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they had said, “We are only for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us).”  

At-Tabari brings narrations:

Qatadah and al-Hasan: A (covenant) was taken from them that they would not teach anyone until they said, “We are a tribulation so do not disbelieve”.

Ibn Juraij: A covenant was taken from them bot that they do not teach anyone until they say, “We are a tribulation so do not disbelieve, no one ventures into magic except a disbeliever”.

At-Tabari explains that the tribulation (fitnah) is a trial, an examination, a test.

Learning What Separates a Man From His Wife

فَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مِنْهُمَا مَا يُفَرِّقُونَ بِهِ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَزَوْجِهِ

And from these (angels) people learn that by which they cause separation between man and his wife…

At-Tabari explains:

The meaning of the speech is that the angels would not teach anyone until they said they are a tribulation, but the people would refuse to accept this and proceed to learn from them what would separate a man from his wife.

And this type of magic occurs when a man (or woman) is made to imagine things about the spouse that which is not real, so he may see her as very ugly, or may perceive unbearable smells, and things of this nature, which are not real, but they are only in his own mind, so he is made to imagine things that are not real. This is from the type of magic that is called “imaginary”.

At-Tabari brings a narration:

Qatadah: The separation of them (husband and wife) is that he would bewitch each one from its partner,and cause each one of them to hate their partner.

Benefit and Harm Lies Only with Allaah and With His Permission and Decree

وَمَا هُم بِضَآرِّينَ بِهِ مِنْ أَحَدٍ إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِ اللّهِ

…but they could not thus harm anyone except by Allah’s permission…

At-Tabari comments:

Those who learned from the two angels, Harut and Marut, that by which they separate between a man and his wife, were not able to harm (anyone) with what they learned from them both (the angels) through which they (tried) to separate between a man and his wife in relation to anyone amongst the people, except for the one whom Allaah had already decreed that such (magic) will harm him. As for the one for whom Allaah has repelled its harm, and guarded him from the disliked magic, and blowing on knots and spells (incantations), then that will not harm him and its harm will not reach him.

And he brings a narration:

Sufyaan (ath-Thawree): Regarding His saying, “but they could not thus harm anyone except by Allah’s permission”, he said: By the qadaa (ordainment, decree) of Allaah.

And the qadaa (ordainment, decree) here refers to the qadaa al-kawnee, that which relates to all the occurrences in the creation, both good and evil – whilst noting that evil exists only within the occurrences in the creation and not in Allaah’s actions of decreeing them and bringing them into existence, since in Allaah’s actions are nothing but wisdom and justice, and they have a far-reaching purpose and lofty goals, tied to his wisdom and justice.

Magicians Only Learn What Harms Them

وَيَتَعَلَّمُونَ مَا يَضُرُّهُمْ وَلاَ يَنفَعُهُمْ

And they learn that which harms them and profits them not.

At-Tabari says:

They learn from them the magic which harms them in their religion, and it does not benefit them in their hereafter. As for this life in the world, then they used to earn through it and acquire a (means of) living through it.

The Practitioners of Magic Have No Share in the Hereafter

وَلَقَدْ عَلِمُواْ لَمَنِ اشْتَرَاهُ مَا لَهُ فِي الآخِرَةِ مِنْ خَلاَقٍ

And indeed they knew that the buyers of it (magic) would have no share in the Hereafter.

At-Tabari brings narrations:

Qatadah: The people of the book knew that from the covenant that Allaah took from them that the sorcerer will have no share on the Day of Judgement with Allaah.

As-Sudee: Meaning the Jews, He says that the Jews already know that whoever learned it or chose it, he would have no share in the Hereafter.

Mujahid: For the one who purchased (the knowledge) of what separates a man from his wife.

Ibn Zayd: The Jews knew that in the Book of Allaah, in the Torah, that whoever purchased magic and abandoned the deen of Allaah, he will not have any share in the Hereafter and so the fire is his destination.

And at-Tabari explains that this is in reference to the Jews at the time of Muhammad ﷺ for they knew from their own book, the Torah, these facts (as occurs in the above narrations) but despite knowing this they continued to follow the magic rehearsed at the time of Sulayman (alayhis salaam) by the devils and the magic revealed by Harut  and Marut to the people at Baabil  (Babylon), and they essentially threw the Torah behind their backs, even after knowing the Muhammad was mentioned therein.

As for “buying, purchasing” mentioned in the verse, there are numerous views on the meaning of “khalaaq” (خَلاَقٍ) such as “naseeb” (portion, share, part) or “hujjah” (proof), meaning such a one has no proof on the Day of Judgement or “deen” (religion), meaning that such a one has no deen. But at-Tabari says what is most correct is that it means “naseeb”, that such a one will have no share in the Hereafter.

At-Tabari then says:

He means that such a one will have no share of reward and recompense (jazaa’, thawaab) or Paradise, besides his share of the Hellfire… He means that they have no share of good deeds, as for evil deeds then they have their share of them.

Magicians Sell Their Souls

وَلَبِئْسَ مَا شَرَوْاْ بِهِ أَنفُسَهُمْ لَوْ كَانُواْ يَعْلَمُونَ

And how bad indeed was that for which they sold their own selves, if they but knew.

At-Tabari says:

So He informed about them that they knew that whoever purchased of magic, that he would have no share in the Hereafter, and He described them that they commit disobedience to Allaah, out of full knowledge of it, and they disbelieve in Allaah and His Messengers, and they prefer following the devils and acting upon what they have introduced of magic over His Book, His inspiration and His revelation, out of stubborn opposition on their behalf and transgression against His Messengers, and transgressing His limits, and with their full knowledge of the punishment that lies for them with Allaah for whoever does that….

And in clarification of Allaah first affirming knowledge for them and then negating knowledge from in the end of this verse, at-Tabari says:

Allaah negated knowledge from them by saying, “…if they but knew…”, after he had described tehm that they knew, by saying, “…and indeed they knew…”, for the reason that they did not act upon what they knew. And the aalim (scholar) is the one who acts upon his knowledge. When his action opposes his knowledge, then he falls amongst the meanings of “the ignorant”.

Also Read: The Mystery Beneath Masjid Al Aqsa and the Dajjalic “New World Order”

Why Does Allah Ta’ala Refer to Himself as We/He??

We already know Allah our lord is One. As in Surah al-Ikhlas 112:1-4. But why does Allah the Lord use the word “We” to refer to Himself in many verse or ayat in the Qur’an? For example He says in Surah al-Anbiya’ 21:107 “And We did not send you (O Muhammad) except as a mercy to the world.” The word “we” is plural, more than one. Why does Allah use “We” instead of “I” to refer to Himself?

Answer:
It is a feature of literary style in Arabic that a person may refer to themself by the pronoun nahnu (we) for respect or glorification. They may also use the word ana (I), indicating one person, or the third person huwa (he). All three styles are used in the Qur’an, where Allah addresses the Arabs in their own tongue.

Allah, the Glorified and Exalted, sometimes refers to Himself in the singular, by name or by use of a pronoun, and sometimes by use of the plural, as in the phrase (interpretation of the meaning):

“Verily, We have given you a manifest victory.” [al-Fat’h 48:1], and other similar phrases.

But Allah never refers to Himself by use of the dual, because the plural refers to the respect that He deserves, and may refer to His names and attributes, whereas the dual refers to a specific number (and nothing else), and He is far above that.” (See Al-‘Aqeedah al-Tadmuriyyah by Ibn Taymiyyah, p. 75.)

These words, inna (“Verily We”) and nahnu (“We”), and other forms of the plural, may be used by one person speaking on behalf of a group, or they may be used by one person for purposes of respect or glorification, as is done by some monarchs when they issue statements or decrees in which they say “We have decided…” etc. [This is known in English as “The Royal “We””]

In such cases, only one person is speaking but the plural is used for respect. The One Who is more deserving of respect than any other is Allah, the Glorified and Exalted, so when He says in the Qur’an – inna (“Verily We”) and nahnu (“We”), it is for respect and glorification, not to indicate plurality of numbers.

If an ‘aayah (verse) of this type is causing confusion, it is essential to refer to the clear, unambiguous ‘aayat (verses) for clarification, and if a Christian, for example, insists on taking ‘aayat such as (interpretation of the meaning)
“Verily, We: it is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e., the Qur’an)…” [al-Hijr 15:9] as proof of divine plurality, we may refute this claim by quoting such clear and unambiguous ‘aayat as (interpretation of the meanings): “And your God is One God, there is none who has the right to be worshipped but He, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.”   [al-Baqarah 2:163] and “Say: He is Allah, the One.” [al-Ikhlas 112:1] and other ‘aayat which can only be interpreted in one way. Thus confusion will be dispelled for the one who is seeking the truth.

Every time Allah uses the plural to refer to Himself, it is based on the respect and honor that He deserves, and on the great number of His names and attributes, and on the great number of His troops and angels.” [See Al-‘Aqeedah al-Tadmuriyyah by Ibn Taymiyyah, p. 109].

Alternate Answer:

This is a good question and one that Bible readers have also asked about. The term “We” in the Bible and in the Qur’an is the royal “We” – as an example when the king says, “We decree the following declaration, etc.” or, “We are not amused.” It does not indicate plural; rather it displays the highest position in the language. English, Persian, Hebrew, Arabic and many languages provide for the usage of “We” for the royal figure. It is helpful to note the same dignity is given to the person being spoken to in English. We say to someone, “You ARE my friend.” Yet the person is only one person standing there. Why did we say “ARE” instead of “IS”? The noun “you” is singular and should therefore be associated with a singular verb for the state of being, yet we say, “are.” The same is true for the speaker when referring to himself or herself. We say, “I am” and this is also in the royal plural, instead of saying, “I is.”

When Allah uses the term “HE” in Quran it is similar to the above answer. The word “He” is used when referring to Allah out of respect, dignity and high status. It would be totally inappropriate to use the word “it” and would not convey the proper understanding of Allah being who Allah is; Alive, Compassionate, Forgiving, Patient, Loving, etc. It is not correct to associate the word “He” with gender, as this would be comparing Allah to the creation, something totally against the teaching of Qur’an.