Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

A Muslim Polemic

Mohammad Jawad Chirri's Inquiries about Islam

A book review by Dallas M. Roark, Ph.D.

One of the observations that a friend has made about Muslims is that they do not know the Bible. This can be illustrated in the apologetic of the Muslims. One example of this is a recently revised book, Inquiries about Islam, written by Imam Mohammad Jawad Chirri, director of the Islamic Center of America in Detroit, Michigan. The latest revision was made in 1986. This analysis was made shortly thereafter and remained as unpublished material for several years. It is only after 9/11 that so much focus was directed toward Islam, and now it seems worthwhile to make this analysis available to a larger audience.

The book exhibits a deep misunderstanding of the Bible. There is little in the way of understanding apart from seeking to justify some form of approval for Islam. The bases sought in the Bible are often without any real link to the passages used. We shall look at some of the examples in this work, Inquiries about Islam.

1.   Attempts are made to link Islam to Abraham in the Old Testament. Quoting the Qur’an, "No; Abraham in truth was not a Jew, neither a Christian; but he was a Muslim and one pure of faith; certainly he was never of the idolaters." (p. 25)

In reply, Abraham was not a Muslim in the Qur’an sense of the term. Abraham was related to Yahweh on the basis of love, and faith in Yahweh’s promises. Islam is built on Mohammed and his law. Mohammed was not a prophet like Abraham for the relationship is different. There is a vast difference between a relationship based on faith and one based on submission as a slave.

2.   Islam is a religion of works, not grace. Imam Chirri notes, "A convert is considered, by his conversion to Islam, pure and free of any sin. All his previous sins are wiped out entirely. He will be responsible only for the sins which he commits after becoming a Muslim. Thus, if a person becomes a Muslim in the early morning, after sunrises, then he dies before noon, he is entitled to enter paradise without having practiced or performed any of the devotional duties which a Muslim is required to do." (p. 27-28)

This is contrary to the faith of Abraham in that Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him for righteousness.

3.   "The superiority of the Qur’an discourse was, and still is challenging. The Qur’an itself called upon its opponents to try to produce a discourse that measures up to it. The Qur’an repeatedly states that if the opponents will produce at any time a comparable discourse, they will automatically disprove the whole faith of Islam." (p. 31)

The truth of Islam does not depend upon producing a comparable qur’an, a term used also for specific revelations. The truth of a prophet is whether what is said comes to pass. Since Mohammed testified to the truth of Moses, then the standard of Moses stands. The key to a true prophet was whether his statements come to pass. (Deuteronomy 15:18)

Moreover, we have here a circular form of reasoning. The Qur’an says that a comparable revelation cannot be done, and in the judgement of all Muslims, there is nothing that equals the Qur’an, hence, no comparable revelation can be done.

In another way of looking at the issue, a non-Muslim could read the book of Job, or Isaiah, or Shakespeare and conclude that there is more grandeur of expression than in the Qur’an. But it is axiomatic that such comparisons will never be accepted by a Muslim as equal or better.

The Qur’an is written in Arabic and it is obvious that some translations are more readable than others, and one may never capture the beauty of the original. But consider Thomas Carlyle’s comments concerning the Qur’an: "I must say, it is as toilsome reading as I ever undertook. A wearisome confused jumble, crude, incondite; endless iterations, long-windedness, entanglement....insupportable stupidity, in short! Nothing but a sense of duty could carry any European through the Koran." (Quote in Malise Ruthven, Islam in the World, New York: Oxford, 1984, p. 102)

Hence, even though one can think of many great pieces of literature that one may judge as superior to the Qur’an, such could never be allowed because the Qur’an says it cannot be done. However, we must not lose sight of the truth of the nature of a prophet: it is not how something is said, but in whether it came to pass or not.

Actually, there is another dimension to the legitimate prophet. "If a prophet arises among you, or a dreamer of dreams, and give you a sign or wonder, and the sign and wonder which he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer..." (Deuteronomy 13:1-3) This was one of the reasons that Mohammed was rejected by the Jews in Medina. They did not recognize his god.

4.   Chirri says, "Islam tells us also that because God does not hold a person responsible for what his father did, He does not condemn the whole human race for a sin that was committed before the existence of any human generation....Instead of burdening mankind with the original sin Islam tells us that every human being is born pure and free of any sin, and will stay so, until he commits a sin as an adult." (p. 33-34)

Chirri overlooks the profundity of the idea of original sin. Why has mankind universally sinned? The only exception, for the Christian, is Jesus. Soon after birth a child begins to express selfishness that goes beyond normal needs. A child begins to express selfishness and will dominate the parents unless careful loving discipline is undertaken by the parents. Selfishness was the first sin and children express this very quickly after birth.

But there is another consideration in Chirri’s remarks. Although claiming that man is born pure and free from sin, this claim makes little difference in its effect. The Qur’an favors the doctrine of predestination in which God chooses and rejects whom he wills. Sura 81:27-29 declares: "Verily this is no less than a Message to (all) the Worlds, (With profit) to whoever among you wills to go straight: But ye shall not will except as God wills, - the Cherisher of the Worlds." (Ali) Sura 14:4 says, "We sent not an apostle except (to teach) in the language of his (own) people, in order to make (things) clear to them. Now God leaves straying those whom He pleases and guides whom He pleases: and He is Exalted in power, full of Wisdom."

Sura 18:101 says, "(Unbelievers) whose eyes had been under a veil from remembrance of Me, and who had been unable even to hear." Sura 64:1-2 says, "Whatever is in the heavens and on earth, doth declare the Praises and Glory of God: to Him belongs dominion, and to Him belongs praise: and He has power over all things. It is He Who has created you; and of you are some that are Unbelievers, and some that are Believers: and God sees well all that ye do."

This doctrine of determinism, or predestination, is worse than Calvinism because in Calvinism there is the implication that each person has sinned. In Islam, there is an arbitrary decision about what are believed to be innocent people from birth. Now there are some comments in the Qur’an that support free will, but many Muslim scholars explain these in a way of supporting predestination.

5.   Chirri suggests that the Almighty would not reveal contradictory messages. "It is inconceivable that the Almighty would reveal a certain doctrine to one messenger and then reveal to another messenger a doctrine that contradicts the first one." (p. 35)

Now, the Qur’an affirms the Bible to be true and accurate. For a well developed exploration of this topic refer to these articles. We can compare Exodus 20:17 which says that a man must not covet his neighbor’s wife. That was the command of Yahweh. But there is a situation where Mohammed happened to see Zeid’s wife, Zeinab, in a way that he marveled at her beauty, crying out, "God be praised, who turned the hearts of men as he pleaseth." When Zeid heard of this, he divorced his wife and Mohammed married her after a proper time. Mohammed claims that Allah gave him a revelation approving the divorce and marriage. (Sur 33:38) Yet the prophet Malachi declared that God hates divorce.(2:16)

If God is a God of truth, would he not know things true from things fictional?

What about the stories of the Thamudites and the story of a she-camel coming out of a rock or the story of the Christian youth who slept in a cave for years and then came out. (Sura 18, the chapter of the cave.) These are fables without reality. Yet they are given the stamp of approval by Mohammed in his claim of revelation.

The Qur’an does not give us a conception of consistency as Chirri claims. "When circumstances required, Mohammed did not hesitate to assert that Allah had rescinded His former revelation and had substituted another." (Tor Andrae, Mohammed, New York: Harper and Row, 1960, p. 66) Sura 2:106 is one verse speaking of cancelling one revelation by another: ":And for whatever verse We abrogate or cast into oblivion, We bring a better or the like of it; knowest thou not that God is powerful over everything?" (See these articles for more details.)

What happened to people who believed the first revelation only to be told that it was surpassed (in error) by another?

6.   Chirri dismisses the early chapters of Genesis as contradictory and degrading to the whole concept of God. This is particularly true in regard to the creation of man. "Muslims believe that God has no image and no form. He has neither a body, nor is He material, nor do the visions comprehend Him. To think that God has a form of a man, to the Muslims is degrading to the whole concept of God." (p. 45)

There is little interest in Muslim scholarship to understand ancient literature. There seems to be a total lack of appreciation and knowledge of the Bible except on a very superficial level. Passages are read for the purpose of immediate refutation because Islam disagrees with them. Anyone reading the Old Testament and knowing anything about the idea of God can understand that God is Spirit and in man’s creation there is expressed something akin to God that is highly removed from all other creatures. To be created in God’s image is to have a spiritual as well as physical existence. An image is only an image, and man is not God. A spiritual existence means that man has rationality because God has rationality. Man has morality because God is holy and man is responsible to God because of it.

If one compares the creation stories of the religion of the world, Genesis is head and shoulders above the crude, materialistic, pantheistic stories of so many peoples.

7.   The polemic that Chirri raises against the Trinity is based on misunderstanding of the doctrine as well as a style of reasoning that is not necessarily consistent with the nature of God.

For example, the oneness of God is affirmed because more than one administration of the universe would produce confusion and disorder. Such reasoning is obvious among men. But suppose God is perfect, which the Muslims accept; why could there not be perfect harmony in administrating the universe? The Muslim polemic is based on the confusion among men, not on the perfection of God.

Chirri says, "Islam denies Trinity because parenthood of God to any living or non-living being is inconceivable in bodily terms and degrading to the concept of God." (p. 57)

This is similar to the Platonic idea that God cannot be thought to be related to the physical world. Let us suppose that God wanted to enter into the life of his creation. Who says this is degrading? This would be the greatest compliment that man could ever have in knowing that God descended to his level without ceasing to be God. To take human form, to communicate knowledge of oneself, to experience the difficulties of man’s life and to experience the most terrible experience that man has–death What is degrading about this? Particularly if God wills to do this!

The Muslim polemic rejects the divinity of Jesus for the following reasons:

A). Jesus was a worshiper. Of course, he worshiped God, not himself. This proves that he was not a god but a humble servant of God. B). According to three of the gospels, the last words Jesus uttered were: "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" A person who has a God is not a God. C). God is Ever-lasting, but Jesus is mortal. God is the Almighty, but Jesus was persecuted." (p. 59)

If we examine these charges, they appear very superficial. What about Jesus as a worshiper? We have examples of Jesus praying, communing with His Father. He taught his disciples to pray the Lord’s prayer which they were to say, Our Father, but when he prayed in the Garden, he used a very personal word, My Father, very much like a child saying, "Daddy."

This sense of communion makes sense in the idea of the Trinity in which the Eternal Son now Incarnate, communes with the Eternal Father. In the context of communing with the Father, Jesus prayed, "Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your Son, so that the Son may give glory to you. For you gave him authority over all mankind, so that he might give eternal life to all those you gave him...Father! Give me glory in your presence now, the same glory I had with you before the world was made." (John 17:1-5) There are many other passages in the New Testament to support the divinity of Jesus.

The word from the Cross that Jesus uttered does not refute his being divine. The quote is from Psalms 22. There are many occasions in which Jesus quoted the Old Testament. This is one of them. Even while Christian affirm the divinity of Jesus they also affirm his incarnate humanity. There are statements that speak of his hungering, weeping, and thirsting. One would not say that God thirsts, but real human existence as the God-man means that Jesus thirsted.

Just as death is experienced in the God-man, so loneliness is experienced on the cross where the God-man died.

The third objection that Jesus is mortal in comparison to the eternal God is not really a problem. There is no doubt that Jesus existed, was born of the virgin Mary, and died in the reign of Pontus Pilate. No Christian would deny that Jesus was mortal, subject to death, and died on the cross in Jerusalem. However, Muslims reject his crucifixion. His death and resurrection are the very heart of Jesus’ life and ministry.

The real issue is this: Christians believe that the Word (Logos) was Incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth who is the person who created the world and all that is in it. The Logos is eternal, but the human nature of Jesus did not exist from eternity. The Qur’an does speak of the Word of God confirmed by John, whose name is Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary. (3:34,40) However, as long as Muslims fail to understand who Jesus really is, the son of God incarnate, they will be rejecting a perverted Gospel.

This misunderstanding is seen in Chirri’s comment: "The scientists say that the stars are more than four billion years old, and Jesus was born less than two thousand years ago. How can such an old universe be created by such a young creator?" This is the same type of reasoning Jesus rejected in the Pharisees when he told them that he existed before Abraham. It is not the human body of Jesus that existed before Abraham, but the Logos, the eternally divine Being Incarnate in Jesus.

8.   Chirri affirms that Islam believes in the holiness of Jesus, the holiness of Mary, the virgin birth of Jesus, and the miracles of Jesus. But Islam rejects the divinity of Jesus and the crucifixion of Jesus. The Muslim attitude toward the crucifixion of Jesus involves a historical struggle among the Christians concerning the nature of Jesus. Mohammed sided with one of the views and attempted to settle a Christian dispute. But the nature of that dispute has not been well understood by Muslims. There were monophysite Christians who tried to combine the human and divine in Jesus or fusing the two natures together with the implication that the Holy Trinity suffered death. By contrast, the Nestorian Christians believed that the Divine and human were both present in Jesus of Nazareth, but it is only the human nature that died. Not understanding the historical nature of the controversy, Muslim scholars attempt all kinds of explanations to avoid the crucifixion of Jesus. However, a free translation of the verse in the Qur’an removes this difficulty for them. "They slew Him not nor crucified Him but only His likeness (or flesh) (4:157). This means that they slew not the Logos, but his likeness, the body of Jesus of Nazareth.

If this theological controversy is not understood in the background of Mohammed, then Islam has some severe problems. Mohammed is placed in self-contradiction.

Consider the following situation. "This Koran could not have been forged apart from God; but it is a confirmation of what is before it, and a distinguishing of the Book, wherein is no doubt, from the Lord of all Being". (10:37, Arberry) Sura 2:41 urges the Jews to remember "…My blessing wherewith I bless you, and fulfil my covenant and I shall fulfil your covenant; and have awe of me. And believe in that I have sent down, confirming that which is with you, and be not the first to disbelieve it." Sura 42:14,15 notes, "And say, I believe in whatever book God has sent down; I have been commanded to be just between you....God it is who sent down the Book with the truth." Sura 29:47 affirms the Bible in the following way, "Even so we have sent down to thee the Book. Those to whom we have given the Book believe in it; and some of these believe in it." Without an understanding of the theological controversies in Mohammed’s time, Muslim scholars have propagated a solution to the matter that is untenable for them. They have argued that the Scripture have been corrupted. This is true concerning the crucifixion as well as other aspects about Jesus. But the Qur’an confirms the Bible during the time of Mohammed, and we have manuscripts that date long before Mohammed’s time.

Chirri goes to great lengths to deny the crucifixion. He claims that blood does not flow from a dead boy. This indicates that Jesus was still alive. But if Jesus died of a literal broken heart which is suggested by the details of the soldier who thrust his sword into his side, then the pericardium would have filled with blood serum which appeared to be water and clout.

Chirri claimed that if "Jesus were resurrected miraculously, there would have been no need for removal of the stone. God is able to raise him from the grave and keep the stone where it was. (p. 58) What is the purpose of keeping the stone where it was? The stone would have to be moved to show that the tomb was empty to the authorities as well as the disciples. One must raise the question to his question: what is fitting for God to do? When God acts, who can be his director? What is proper for God is really up to God, not man.

Chirri makes a statement that runs through the Muslim polemic, "A Christian, believing in the crucifixion of Jesus, would have a hard time reconciling two of the principles in which he believes, namely, Jesus is God, and Jesus was crucified..." (p.68) This kind of shallow understanding of Christianity will continue until the Muslim community understands what the Incarnation is and is not. The Incarnation means that God assumed the lowly status of a human being in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. As the God-man he lives in all the limitations of a human yet without sin. As the God-man he did not attempt, or claim to be almighty, all-powerful in the flesh. He experienced all human weakness, hunger, thirst, temptation, and death. There is no contradiction in saying that Jesus is the God-man, and that he was crucified. The statement does not mean that God died, rather it means that the God-man, God incarnate in Christ experienced death on the cross. Muslims will continue to play the role of the anti-Christ until they learn what Christology is all about.

9.   Muslims reject the doctrine of original sin and make the rejection on the basis of Calvin’s expression of original sin. Calvin is not the orthodox expression of original sin. It is Jesus himself who declared that the heart is evil, and out of it comes forth all kinds of sin. The rest of the New Testament is emphatic in saying that we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God.

Muslims do not know whether they are going to Paradise or not. Sura 19:71 declares, "Not one of you there is, but he shall go down to it; that for thy Lord is a thing decreed, determined. Then We shall deliver those that were godfearing; and the evildoers We shall leave there; hobbling on their knees."

While the Muslims fight feverishly against the crucifixion of Jesus, he should take careful understanding of Jesus’ words concerning the meaning of His death. "This is my body" and "this is my blood" of the New Covenant which is poured out for you "which seals God’s covenant, my blood poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:28) Does the Muslim want to know if he is going to heaven, to God’s presence? Consider the words of Jesus. If one turns away from the guarantee of forgiveness of sins and eternal life, to whom can one go?

10.   Chirri claims that God is just and rejects the doctrine of original sin as unjust.

Islam "considers every human being pure at the time of his birth and free from any sin. Actually, Islam offers the human infant as a perfect example of a pure and sinless being. Every human being, according to the teachings of Islam, is born pure and free of any sin and continues to be pure until he commits a sin as an adult." (p. 73) He adds that purity is lost when one sins but is regained when one repents.

Although Islam rejects the idea of original sin, there is the need to raise the question concerning why all men, even Muslims sin. Selfishness begins very early in the life of a child and is manifested in a variety of ways. But the seriousness of sin is not understood by Chirri in claiming that repentance brings purity of soul again. That is not true theologically nor psychologically. There is something about sin that is tainting to the depths of being, and once one is in a state of sin, one can never go back to Un-sin. One may be forgiven, but not return to a state of purity before.

11.   There is always a problem in polemics in being fair to the opponent’s position. Muslim’s must do unto others what they reserve for themselves. For example, Chirri notes,

"A truth never contradicts another truth. Whatever may seem to be a contradiction could not be genuine. It would only be an apparent contradiction. When there are two groups of Qur’anic verses appearing to oppose each other, they have to be treated in a certain manner. When one of the groups has a clearer indication on one side of the issue than the indication of the other group on the opposite side of the same issue, the clearer group will be followed. The other group ought to be interpreted in a way that will not disagree with the first one." Muslims maintain this idea in trying to explain the contradictions between free will and predestination in the Qur’an.

There is no such sympathetic feeling for the Christian in their isolating statement to use as disproving Christian ideas. For example, a tract published by the Institute of Islamic Information and Education in Chicago quotes John 1:18, "No man hath seen God at any time," as a refutation that Jesus is the God-man. The conclusion Muslim reach is that Jesus himself is not God. Not only does the Institute for Islamic Information and Education not allow this interpretative principle to work in the Christian sphere, but its propagandists do seek to ignore or twist the meaning of the New Testament. In the same passage, Jesus did say that no man has seen God at any time, but "the only Son, who is the same as God and is at the Father’s side, he has made him known."

12.   The Muslim polemic against the role of Israel involves also a lack of understanding of the Old Covenant. We must keep reminding ourselves that Mohammed declared the Old and New Testaments were to be consulted. The Jews of the Old Testament are regarded as failures because they were nationalistic and were not concerned with the nations of the world. This is to misunderstand the nature of the Old Covenant. Out of the Old Testament was to come the Messiah, and that involved racial purity, avoiding intermarriage, and their faithfulness to Yahweh. Jesus is quoted in Matthew 15 as being only interested in the household of Israel. Muslims need to understand that Jesus came as the Messiah to his own people first, and it was prophesied that he would be rejected by his own people before turning the Gospel to the Gentiles. (Isaiah 53)

Chirri makes a lot of Abraham and his importance for the Muslim past. There are some real problems with this. He quotes the Old Testament, Gen. 21, to show that Abraham raised the "Sacred House" of Mecca. There is no indication apart from the Qur’an that Abraham was in Mecca. In fact, Beersheba, where the Hagar incident took place, is a long way from Mecca. The recorded events of Abraham’s life keep him within the confines of Canaan from the time he arrived in Canaan until he died, except for a brief trip to Egypt during a famine. A detour to Mecca can only be a Muslim conjecture.

13.   Chirri claims that a prophet is a special person, a messenger of God to mankind with some "signs to demonstrate his truthfulness." Jesus did miracles, but Mohammed was equipped with superb speech which produced the Qur’an, which challenged mankind to produce its like in the Arabic language." (p.100)

This is not really a challenge to mankind, it was a challenge to the Meccans only.

Later, Muslims used it to challenge mankind. It is a value judgement by the Muslims that the Qur’an is superior to all other literature. It is equally a value judgement when I declare that the book of Isaiah contains some of the finest poetry in all the world. That does not prove either one true or false. As declared above, beauty is not the issue. Truth is the issue. True prophethood versus false prophethood is the issue. Is there prophecy for a prophet like Mohammed? These are the real questions.

14.   Chirri extols the virtues of the prophetic status of Mohammed. Some of what he claims about Mohammed is irrelevant. For example, he claimed that Mohammed defeated all his opponents and no party could defeat him. So what? All kinds of people have defeated other people and this declares nothing about whether they were good or evil. Moreover, he wrote that Mohammed declared religious freedom after he defeated his opponents. Religious freedom is a myth of Muslim propaganda. Although the Qur’an declares that there shall be no compulsion in religion (2:256) there is no religious freedom in Islamic countries. This statement means to the Muslim that one is free to embrace Islam, but one is not free to depart from Islam. One is not free to become a Christian or anything else, and moreover, one is not free to evangelize Muslims for Christ in these countries. Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, and other Muslim countries will not allow a Christian missionary into the country to preach the Gospel of Christ. To claim religious freedom is a fraud.

15.   The Muslim apologetic for the Qur’an begs the question. For example, Chirri quotes Sura 41:41-42, "It (the Qur’an) is an invincible book. Falsehood does not invade it neither from before it nor from behind it, a revelation from a Mighty, Praised God." Chirri concludes that the Qur’an will not be interpolated by words that had been said before the time of revelation nor by words that will be said after the time of revelation." (p.111) The argument runs something like this:

  1. The Qur’an is a pure book
  2. Anything contrary to the Qur’an cannot be true.
  3. Hence, the Qur’an is always right.

Even from the standpoint of the Bible this reasoning is achieved. If there is anything from the Bible that contradicts the Qur’an it is charged that the Bible has been corrupted. Consequently, nothing in any form or fashion can be admitted to count against the Qur’an. This makes the Qur’an a requirement for re-writing history to conform to the Qur’an.

Chirri also speaks of the fact that no changes have occurred in the Qur’an. The Muslim leaders dealt with this issue in the generation of the early leaders. There were once several different collections of the Qur’an, and all but one was destroyed so that there would be no question about diversity of readings. Who knows which Qur’an was the correct one? It is quite possible that the wrong one was destroyed. The Muslims charge the Christians with corrupting the Scriptures, but there are no instances in which the Church deliberately destroyed the Scriptures to avert any charge of diversity of reading.

16.   Chirri quotes the Qur’an as verifying life on other planets, something even scientists do not know. (Sura 42.29) One may read this passage and easily conclude that nothing more is meant than a poetic expression of the heavens and the earth and the life forms on earth. Since both subjects are mentioned in the sentence nothing more is required than life on the earth. The term heaven is so general it that it would be understood in Mohammed’s day as stars and nothing more.

In the same way Chirri claims that the Qur’an prophesied the sexuality of plants long before science did. Sura 36:36 is quoted to prove it. The passage talks about gardens, fruits, palms, and vines. The listener is questioned, why are you not thankful? Then it says, "Glory be to Him who created all the pairs of what the earth produces and of themselves. If one is to read the sexuality of plants into this, then we must require that Ezekiel was the first to prophecy the coming of the automobile because there are wheels mentioned in his prophecy.

Sura 6:125 is used to prove that outer space has no air. When one reads the Sura all that is required for understanding is that whoever closes his heart finds that his chest is close like a person ascending a mountain.

17.   The Muslim apologetic deals with the Bible prophecies in a contradictory way. First the Muslims regard the Bible as corrupted. Second, they regard alleged prophecies about Mohammed to be genuine. Can one imagine a conspiracy against Islam failing to to delete the most important passages that are supposed to refer to Mohammed? Now as a matter of fact these passages do not really refer to Mohammed. The Muslim exposition of these passages shows a desperation move to bring some legitimacy to Mohammed as a prophet.

The first one that is used is Deuteronomy 18:18-19. Only two verses are quoted in the Muslim claim. But the total passage must be read. Moses declares that they are going into the land, Canaan, and in that land (v. 15) he will send a prophet like me. This prophet will be from "among your own people." The Muslims contend that only the Arabs fit this since they are children of Abraham, but "their own people" can only refer to an Israelite. By the time Moses is speaking history has moved on from Abraham over 600 years. It is the people of Israel who were rescued by Yahweh from Egyptian slavery.

Chirri contends that Moses was a secular leader and Mohammed was a secular leader.

Unfortunately, for the Muslim perspective this is not true. Moses did not establish a state, nor did he rule in the sense that Mohammed did. With regard to Jesus, Chirri declares that Jesus "followed the dispensations of Moses and did not introduce new religious laws." (p. 135)

Such a statement lacks insight. Why did the Pharisees and Sadducees question Jesus and regard him as subversive of the Mosaic law. It was precisely because he set forth a new understanding of the law that Jesus was crucified.

Chirri avers that only Mohammed spoke the words of God. The five books of Moses are said to be Moses’ words, not the very words of God. (p. 136) Even Jesus spoke in his own words. "Only the Qur’an contains the words which Mohammed recited as the very words of God. Mohammed never claimed any word in the Qur’an." (p. 136)

If one wanted people to assume that one was a prophet, who would not claim that one’s words were God’s words. No one would claim that one’s own words were so important that God must take note of them. The claim is made directly that God has spoken thru me. Moses really did claim to give the people the direct words of God, contrary to Chirri’s comments. One may check Deuteronomy 5:4 where Moses quotes the words of God in the Ten Commandments as well as Exodus 20:1. Exodus 6:2, "And God said to Moses, "I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Issac, and to Jacob..." There are many passages in the books of Moses in which God speaks directly.

We need to return to the same passage in Deuteronomy that is quoted to support the coming of Mohammed. Moses told his people a problem they would have. ‘You may wonder how you can tell when a prophet’s message does not come from the LORD. If a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord and what he says does not come true, then it is not the Lord’s message. That prophet has spoken in his own authority, and you are not to fear him." (Dt. 18:21-22)

What did Mohammed say that came to pass? He did no miracles and this passage primarily involves miracles. There is no support for Mohammed here, and one may reach a negative conclusion about him from this passage.

18.   Another passage from Deuteronomy used by Chirri is 33:1-2. The Muslim interpretation is that the Lord’s coming "means the coming of his revelation." God spoke in three different places, Sinai, Seir, and Mt. Paran, and these three revelations were to Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed. There were ten thousand holy ones who were the 10,000 Muslims who subdued Mecca.

If we are to be fair to the Scripture, then the passages have nothing to do with Jesus or Mohammed. Verse 2 talks about the Lord of Mt. Sinai. Verse 3 talks about protecting his people, the tribes of Israel, verse 4 talks about obeying the Law that Moses gave, and verse 5 talks about the Lord as king of his people Israel. The ten thousand mentioned are his angels and he has the flaming sword in his hand.

If the Muslims would read the Old Testament with diligence, it would be seen that God’s glory was with Moses, the Tabernacle, and the people, and God’s glory moved with them on their journey from Sinai to the promised land Any detour by Mecca is not even implied. There is no way that a competent exegesis could come up with Mohammed here.

19.   Muslims seek support for Mohammed in the New Testament also. Matthew 21:42-44 is quoted about the taking away of the Kingdom of God from the Jews as a nation and giving it to another people, namely the Arab nation.

This passage has many things in it that are directly contrary to the Muslim teaching. But the Muslims do not read the whole passage. Chirri only quotes two verses. But they come at the end of a parable describing the Jews as people, not a nation, and this is the parable of the tenants in the vineyard. The tenants are given the land to tend, and they kill the servants who come to collect the rent. After doing this several times, the owner said, I will send my son, surely they will respect my son. Their response was to kill him also assuming that they would gain the property. Thus, the passage teaches what Muslims are denying, namely, that Jesus is the Son of God. The parable can only be understood from the standpoint of God as the owner, and the Jews are the tenants. When the rejection is pronounced by Jesus, it is not to the Arabs that he turns, but to the non-Jews, wherever they are, the Gentiles.

In summary, the Muslim apologetic is based on a misuse of the Bible. It is an attempt to give credence to Mohammed because he claimed that what he taught was the same as the teaching of Moses and Jesus. If there is any attempt to understand the Bible, it will not support the Muslim claim.

The sad feature of this polemic/apologetic is that Muslims are diverting people from knowing the Gospel, the Good News that God has come in Christ, making a new Covenant with man, giving him the seal of his Spirit, and guaranteeing eternal life to those who receive him. To have humanity subverted by a religion that is anti-Christ is serious. To forbid people the freedom of choice is a worse sin.

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