This article is a response to Randy Desmond's reply to "Who is the Father of Jesus?" The purpose is to answer his concerns and to clarify and elaborate on the original article.
We will not discuss his response section-by-section, as this would lead us astray into peripheral discussions. We are confident that the dilligent reader will be able to judge the merits of our respective positions.
"... A metaphorical/figurative one at best!" Randy fails to effectively refute the claim that Allah can be considered the Father of Jesus in a figurative sense. Figurative is good enough! If it is valid to consider Allah the Father of Jesus, on what basis can the Qur'an dispute that Jesus is the Son of Allah?
It would be possible for Allah to say that he does not wish to be considered the Father of Jesus and perhaps grant us an explanation for why Jesus was "Be!"gotten in this unique way. However, the explanations found in the Qur'an are disappointingly shallow.
Let's remind ourselves about the implications of Surah 3:45-49 again:
1) Allah caused Mary to become pregnant with Jesus.
2) Allah determined some of the physical characteristics of Jesus.
Allah decided that Jesus would be male.
3) All of the genetic characteristics of Jesus were determined by no
one other than Allah and Mary.
Randy draws attention to a fourth point:
4) Mary is called the Mother of Jesus.
This is important because Randy suggests that Mary may have merely acted as a surrogate mother. If this is the case, why is she not called by the more accurate term "surrogate mother" in the Qur'an? If no suitable word was available in Arabic, at least she could have been described as "the woman who gave birth to Jesus".
Randy says that (1) is a justified claim, (2) and (3) are questionable because God shapes everyone according to His will as He pleases. First of all, (2) and (3) are a direct inference from the Qur'an. Secondly, our genetic background is shaped by our parents. If the Qur'an contradicts modern genetic science, Randy is welcome to describe that. Finally, Randy is saying that Allah is pleased to inflict congenital diseases and birth defects on babies. That would make the work of pediatric doctors evil--they resist the will of Allah!
What kind of father is He? We assert that it is legitimate to consider Allah the Father of Jesus in a figurative sense. But he is also the Father in a more direct sense. Across cultures and throughout time, the word "Mother" refers to the woman who gave birth to the child. But humanity has known that women do not get pregnant alone; that person who initiated the pregnancy is called the "Father". Allah, by His actions which resulted in Jesus being born, fully deserves this title of "Father".
The Bible is full of figurative language. Here is a small sample, showing examples where figurative use is made of the "child" concept. The reader is encouraged to verify that there are many more examples like these:
Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father's desires.
So he also appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder)...
A crowd was sitting around him [Jesus]; and they said to him, "Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you." And he replied, "Who are my mother and brothers?" And looking at those who sat around him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."
You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
It is convenient for muslims to say that Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God in a literal sense, because this gives them an easy target. Sometimes the last verse, John 3:16, is used to demonstrate that Christians believe that Jesus was "begotten" in a literal sense. However, there is little justification for this within the context of the Bible. After all, the verse is talking about God's love, and not the way Jesus was conceived. The Greek word translated "only begotten" is monogenes, and Christians do not read very much meaning into this, except that it means that Jesus is special.
By Allah making Mary pregnant, but not claiming to be the father, the Qur'an puts itself in a logically precarious situation. This represents an opportunity for the Qur'an -- opportunity to grant us a brilliant insight worthy of Allah the Creator, or opportunity to fail. Therefore, the passages in the Qur'an describing why Allah should not be considered the father of Jesus are of particular interest.
A more detailed description of the weaknesses of the Qur'anic passages will be provided in this revised article.
They say: 'God has begotten a son.' Glory be to him! His is what the heavens and the earth contain; all things are obedient to Him. Creator of the heavens and the earth! When He decrees a thing, He need only say 'Be,' and it is.
Notice that the nothing in this verse supports the initial statement. The very same justification could be used to prove that Allah has a son, for example:
They say: 'God has not begotten a son.' Glory be to him! His is what the heavens and the earth contain; all things are obedient to Him. Creator of the heavens and the earth! When he decrees a thing (that he will have a son), He need only say 'Be,' and it is.
Therefore, we find this statement weak. The contradiction is implied -- Allah knows better than to make weak statements. No one can look at God's creation and find things that could have been done better.
He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. How should He have a son when He has no consort? He created all things and has knowledge of all things.
Why is Allah asking us? Allah is All-Powerful! (Surah 59:23), but too weak to have a son. When he decrees a thing, He need only say 'Be,' and it is -- unless it is something too difficult. Allah is limited from having a son. He can't find a consort, can't create one, can't have a son without one.
The Jews say Ezra is the son of God, while the Christians say the Messiah is the son of God. Such are their assertions, by which they imitate the infidels of old. God confound them! How perverse they are!
There is nothing in the Bible, Jewish or Christian, to suggest that Ezra was or is the son of God. And in place of an explanation of the reason for the virgin birth, we find an insult.
They say: 'God has begotten a son.' God forbid! Self-sufficient is He. His is all that the heavens and the earth contain. Surely for this you have no sanction. Would you say of God what you know not?
In writing "Surely for this you have no sanction", this Surah overlooks our position that Jesus can legitimately be considered the son of Allah, using 1) - 4) above. All of these four points are implied by Surah 3:45 and Surah 5:75.
Also, once again, the reasoning does not support the initial assertion. It could just as easily be used to "prove" the opposite! For example:
They say: 'Allah is unable to beget a son.' God forbid! Self-sufficient is He. His is all that the heavens and the earth contain. Surely for this you have no sanction. Would you say of God what you know not?
Those who say: 'The Lord of Mercy has begotten a son,' preach a monstrous falsehood, at which the very heavens might crack, the earth break asunder, and the mountains crumble to dust. That they should ascribe a son to the Merciful, when it does not become the Lord of Mercy to beget one!
In other verses it says, in effect, that Allah is unable to beget a son. But now "it does not become Him to beget one"? Does Allah have to answer to some council of ethical criticism? No! If Allah were to beget a son, nobody could object to it on any grounds.
People of the Book, do not transgress the bounds of your religion. Speak nothing but the truth about God. The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, was no more than God's apostle and His Word which He cast to Mary: a spirit from Him. So believe in God and His apostles and do not say: 'Three.' Forbear, and it shall be better for you. God is but one God. God forbid that He should have a son! His is all that the heavens and the earth contain. God is the all-sufficient protector. The Messiah does not distain to be a servant of God, nor do the angels who are nearest to Him. Those who through arrogance disdain His service shall all be brought before him.
How can anyone recite the Qur'an without saying 'Three' ???
To be applicable to Christians, the Qur'an must say why it is bad to call Jesus the Son of God in a figurative sense, because that is how Christians understand this relationship.
The Qur'an has a hard time to start with, because it makes it legitimate to call Allah the Father of Jesus in a figurative sense (at least) because he got Jesus' mother pregnant.
What the Qur'an actually does is talk about why it is bad to describe Jesus as the Son of Allah in a literal sense (Surah 6:101).
Even then, in addition to being inapplicable, the arguments the Qur'an puts forth are weak.
We find that these statements in the Qur'an do not exhibit any extraordinary insight, and are not worthy of being attributed to the Creator of the universe. Noticeably absent is an explanation for why Jesus was "Be!"gotten in the way he was.
Contradictions in the Qur'an
Answering Islam Home Page
Last edited: March 26, 1997