This chapter is probably the most unique in the book because Mr. Al-Kadhi not only disagrees with the teachings of the Bible, he even disagrees with the teachings of his own Qur'an! The first part of this response will examine the doctrinal basis for the belief that the Prophets are without sin and determine if the Qur'an and Hadith support this conclusion. The second part of this response will compare how God's Prophets reacted to their sins compared to the way in which Muhammad reacted to his. The final part of this response will answer some of the other issues raised by Mr. Al-Kadhi in this chapter.
Mr. Al-Kadhi is outraged at the Bible because it accuses the Prophets of God of "monstrous and preposterous" acts such as drunkenness, murder, and incest. Many Muslims believe that all of the Prophets enjoyed something called Isma - a complete and total protection against sin. According to the doctrine of Isma, Prophets are completely sinless. Mr. Al-Kadhi says:
"Muslims believe that God protects his messengers from erring in matters of faith. They can only err in matters of livelihood. For instance, a prophet can make a mistake in selecting which season to plant crops but he can not make a mistake in doctrine and worship."
"Why? Let us take the example of the most benign of these allegations, that of lying. When a prophet is sent by God to a group of people, he can expect the deck to be stacked severely against him. They will justly assume him to be a liar until proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to be otherwise. They will call him a liar even if they have no proof. A prophet's message rests solely on his truthfulness. If he were ever to lie, even to save his life, then this would prove that he is capable of lying and that he has established for himself guidelines under which it is permissible to lie. This would undermine his whole message as no one could then be sure he had not convinced himself that the end justifies the means, and that in order to get them to become decent people he might be willing to fabricate lies against God himself.""
Mr. Al-Kadhi is correct that the Prophets have "the deck stacked severely against them" and that they have a tremendous burden of proof placed upon them by the masses. The Prophets of the Bible proved their prophethood by giving prophecies - detailed predictions of events that would occur in the future. Some Prophets also performed miracles to prove their prophetic credentials. If someone claimed to be a prophet and their prophecies did not come true, the Jewish people would neither believe that person nor would they follow him. For this reason, most of the Jews and Christians in Arabia, during the time of Muhammad, rejected his claim to prophethood, and many paid with their lives.
Why do Muslims so desperately want to believe that the prophets are sinless? Please keep in mind that Muslims believe that Muhammad is the final, and greatest, prophet sent by God. Also keep in mind that Muhammad did not perform any miracles and did not give a single prophecy that actually came true. Muslims also have difficulty in respect to the Qur'an's teachings concerning Jesus. According to the Qur'an, Jesus was born of a virgin, performed miracles, and was sinless (Sura 19:19). No man, before or after Jesus, has ever been described in such a way! Perhaps out of the fear that Muhammad (who is supposed to be the final and greatest prophet) would appear grossly inadequate in comparison to Jesus, and other Prophets, Muslims formulated a creed (providing the Prophets an Isma) called the Fiqh Akbar II: "All of the Prophets are exempt from sins, both grave and light, from unbelief and sordid deeds. Yet stumbling and mistakes may happen on their part". (Wensinck, The Muslim Creed, p. 192).
Mr. Al-Kadhi believes: "A Muslim believes that when God selects a messenger, He chooses the best of the best. He chooses men who will be an inspiration and a good example for their followers. Why the insistence in the Bible that God has such poor judgment? If my prophets, which God sent to guide and teach me, are sinful people, can I not say "What is good enough for my prophet is good enough for me"?" Please keep Mr. Al-Kadhi's last quotation in mind - we will return to it in a moment.
God chooses Prophets for his own reasons to serve His divine will. No one, other than Jesus, is without sin and all fall short of the glory of God. How sinless are the Prophets mentioned by Al-Kadhi, according to the Qur'an and Hadith?
Muhammad said: "No child is born, but that, Satan touches it when it is born whereupon its starts crying loudly because of being touched by Satan, except Mary and her son" (al-Bukhari, Vol. 6, p. 54). In other words, all people are born sinners except Jesus. Muhammad is also reported as saying: Every son of Adam is a sinner, and the best of sinners are those who repent constantly" (Karim's Mishkatul-Masabih, Vol. 3, p. 360). Muhammad clearly did not believe in the doctrine of Isma. What about the Prophets? What were their sins according to the Qur'an? What does the Qur'an say about the Prophets?
Sura 20:121: "In the result, they both ate of the tree, and so their nakedness appeared to them: they began to sew together, for their covering, leaves from the Garden: thus did Adam disobey his Lord, and allow himself to be seduced."
Disobeying the commands of God is the very definition of sin! Later in this Sura, the Qur'an records an account of Adam's repentance. In spite of this repentance, the fact remains that Adam, considered the first Prophet by many Muslims, sinned against God.
Sura 11:47 tells us that: "Noah said: "O my Lord! I do seek refuge with Thee, lest I ask Thee for that of which I have no knowledge. And unless thou forgive me and have Mercy on me, I should indeed be lost!"
Why did Noah ask God to forgive and have mercy on him if he was sinless? If Noah was without sin, what did God forgive?
Sura 21:87 says: "And remember Sun-nun (Jonah), when he departed in wrath: He imagined that We had no power over him! But he cried through the depths of darkness, "There is no god but thou: glory to thee: I was indeed wrong!"
Jonah departed from God in wrath and admitted that he "was indeed wrong"! Jonah defied the commands of God and, in this passage, admitted his sin.
The Prophet Abraham, before God revealed Himself to him, worshipped nature!
Was Muhammad without sin? What does the Qur'an say about the sins of Muhammad? Sura 48:2 says: "That Allah may forgive thee of thy sin that which is past and that which is to come, and may perfect His favor unto thee, and may guide thee on a right path." Clearly, not only did Muhammad sin in the past, God knew that he would sin in the future!
Did Muhammad ever claim that he was without sin? No, in fact, Muhammad once prayed: "So forgive the sins which I have done in the past or will do in the future, and also those (sins) which I did in secret or in public, and that which You know better than I. None has the right to be worshipped but you". (al-Bukhari, Vol. 9, p. 403)
Clearly, the doctrine of Isma has absolutely no foundations in the teachings of the Qur'an or in the words of Muhammad.
Mr. Al Kadhi tells us that "Alcohol is the door to all evils. Once a person loses control of his faculties he will be capable of anything." I have seen alcohol destroy the lives, families, and careers of several people, however, I do not agree that it is "the door to all evils". Lust and greed should not be overlooked, or underestimated, as fatal human flaws.
Al-Kadhi correctly points out that "King David commits adultery with Uriah's wife and then murdered her husband (2 Samuel 11:3-4,15-18)." What did King David do after he committed these terrible acts? Did he compose a Psalm in which he claimed that God approved of his actions? No! David cried out to God: "Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned and done that which is evil in Thy sight" (Psalm 51:4). Many other Prophets of God also repented of their sins both in the aforementioned Qur'an texts and in the Bible. Job said "I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:6), and Micah also confessed his sins (Micah 7:9)
How did Muhammad handle a similar situation? One day, Muhammad lusted after Zainab, the wife of his adopted son Zaid, and wanted to marry her. Instead of repenting of this ghastly thought, Muhammad claimed that he received a revelation from God approving of the union:
Sura 33:37 tells us: "Behold! Thou didst say to one who had received the grace of Allah and thy favour: "Retain thou (in wedlock) thy wife, and fear Allah." But thou didst hide in thy heart that which Allah was about to make manifest: thou didst fear the people, but it is more fitting that thou shouldst fear Allah. Then when Zaid had dissolved (his marriage) with her, with the necessary (formality), We joined her in marriage to thee: in order that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the Believers in (the matter of) marriage with the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have dissolved with the necessary (formality) (their marriage) with them. And Allah's command must be fulfilled."
Also according to Muhammad, Allah had commanded that a man could marry up to four women at any one time:
Muhammad revealed to his followers: "Marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four" (Sura 4:3). However, four women were simply not enough for Muhammad, did he fight the temptation? No, he believed that he needed special permission from God to marry more and he (claimed that) that God gave it to him:
O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou has paid their dowers; and those whom thy right hand possesses out of the captives of war whom Allah has assigned to thee; and daughters of thy paternal uncles and aunts, and daughters of thy maternal uncles and aunts, who migrated with thee; and any believing woman who gives herself to the Prophet if the Prophet wishes to wed her - this only for thee, and not for the believers [at large]; we know what we have appointed for them as to their wives and the captives whom their right hands possess - in order that there should be no difficulty for thee. And Allah is Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful" (Sura 33:50).
Muhammad not only sinned, he usually did not repent. In fact, he always, conveniently, claimed to have received a "revelation" to get him out of any problem in which he found himself! Why would God allow one of his Prophets to have lower moral standards than the masses that he is supposed to inspire and teach? Please recall Mr. Al-Kadhi's question: "What is good enough for my prophet is good enough for me"?"
Mr. Al-Kadhi raises the issue: "If for a moment we are to believe that this was originally inspired by God and not a later insertion of mankind, and we are to believe that Noah (pbuh) would drink till he became falling-down drunk and naked. And we are to somehow assign the blame for this to Ham. Then, why curse Canaan (the son of Ham) why not curse Ham directly? Also, why curse only one of the four sons of Ham and not all of them."
Please notice that Mr. Al-Kadhi simply cannot resist the temptation to, once again, throw in his rhetorical accusations of textual corruption of the Bible. Also notice that he, once again, offers us no proof! Is Mr. Al-Kadhi's interpretation of this passage correct? Did Noah really blame Ham and curse his descendants because Ham saw him naked?
In the beginning of this passage, we know that Noah planted a vineyard. Perhaps, prior to the flood, Noah tilled the soil, and resumed farming after leaving the ark. Noah's drunkenness was, according to the Bible, the only stain on the character of this otherwise pious a man. Noah was only human! At this point, he was a very old man, not to mention that he witnessed the destruction of the entire world! I believe that age and depression probably drove Noah to drink too much. Also, the incident in verse 24 probably happened twenty years after the flood. Canaan, whose conduct was more offensive than his father's (Ham), was not born until after this incident. There is a long time interval between the verses 24 and 25, therefore, Noah's response is a prophecy. Noah said verse 25 near the very end of his life when the prophetic spirit came upon him. This assumption is strengthened by his death immediately after. Verse 25, "Cursed be Canaan", is a prophecy that was fulfilled with the destruction of the Canaanites. Verse 26 is another prophecy: "Blessed be the Lord God of Shem--rather, "Blessed of Jehovah, my God, be Shem." The descendants of Shem were to be honored in the service of God, because His Church was established among them (the Jews), and through them (concerning the flesh) Christ came.
Mr. Al-Kadhi asks: "Is this how a good Christian talks to his mother? The same mother who carried him in her womb for nine months and endured the pains of labor and birth for him. The same mother who endured the lies, accusations, and injuries of many with regard to her chastity because of him? The same mother who suckled him and raised him? Is this how the meek lamb of God is alleged to have responded to his mother's question? Can he find no better manner to address her than that which he used to address the adulteress in John 8:10: ".....Woman, where are those thine accusers?"?"
Did Jesus, a pious Jew, show disrespect to his mother Mary? No, he did not. To address someone as "Dear Woman" in those days was not a term of disrespect. When Jesus told Mary "My time has not yet come", it was a gentle rebuke for her interference. Mary realized what she had done and told the servants to "Do whatever he tells you." Jesus also called Mary woman in John 19:26, again with deep respect and love.
In John 8:10, the term "Woman", which Jesus called the woman caught in the act of adultery, was uttered with tenderness and grace , not condemnation!
The Rebuttal to "What Did Jesus Really Say?"
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