Responding to the Assertions of one Muslim Dawagandist
Bassam Zawadi "replies" (*) to my article concerning Jesus being the uncreated eternal Mercy and Word of Allah according to the Quran and the logic of certain Muslim polemicists (*).
Zawadi confidently boasts that a certain explanation given by,
a Muslim brother IS ENOUGH to refute Shamoun's argument... (Emphasis ours)
Let us see if this is really the case. All bold and capital emphasis will be ours.
There are two versions of this hadeth [sic]:
1) Allah made HIS Mercy in 100 parts, and;
2) Allah created HIS Mercy in 100 parts.
The Mercy being referred to here is not [sic] Allah's Attribute, rather it is referring to the object).
Such as [sic] Allah's statement about Jesus that He is His Word (Kalima), i.e. the object of His Word: Be!
Such is also the case when Allah refers to the Paradise and says: You are My Mercy, i.e. the object of mercy, not that Paradise is Mercy itself.
Take for example, the rain being referred to as Allah's Mercy, i.e. the object of Allah's Mercy.
Similar is the case with this Hadeeth; that Allah has divided His mercy (the object of His Mercy) from His creation, into 100 parts. A part of this mercy has been bestowed upon this world, and the rest of the 99 parts have been reserved for the Day of Judgement.
As far as infinity of Allah's Mercy is concerned, then it depends what one exactly means. If he means that Allah has been eternally, and forever will be Merciful, and will never run out of Mercy, then that is no doubt true.
If one claims that Allah's Mercy is unlimited, and therefore, there is no such thing as Allah's punishment based on His perfect justice, then such meaning is surely rejected.(Source)
Zawadi will say a little later:
We also know that there is mercy that Allah has created (e.g. rain), thus Muhammad and Jesus (peace be upon them) fall under the category of Allah's created mercy and not under His eternally existing attribute of Mercy.
It is apparent that both Zawadi and his source are reading into these narratives something which is simply not there, e.g. the reports are supposedly speaking of the creation of the manifestations of Allahs mercy, but not to his own attribute of mercy. As they correctly noted, both rain and paradise are not the attribute of Allah, but demonstrations of Allahs mercy. The problem, however, is that the narrations which we cited werent merely describing the manifestations of Allahs mercy but to the creation of mercy itself.
Here are the Quranic verses and ahadith once again in order to show why they are wrong:
Say: "To whom belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth?" Say: "To Allah. He has written/decreed/ordained mercy for his soul " S. 6:12
And when those who believe in our communications come to you, say: Peace be on you, your Lord has written/decreed/ordained mercy on his soul S. 6:54
For Allah to decree mercy upon himself implies that this is a characteristic which he later acquired. After all, if he always had it there would be no need for him to ordain it in the first place. This explains why Muhammad could say that Allah created mercy:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
I heard Allah's Apostle saying, Verily Allah CREATED Mercy. The day He created it, He made it into one hundred parts. He withheld with Him ninety-nine parts, and sent its one part to all His creatures. Had the non-believer known of all the Mercy which is in the Hands of Allah, he would not lose hope of entering Paradise, and had the believer known of all the punishment which is present with Allah, he would not consider himself safe from the Hell-Fire." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, Number 476)
Note how this says that Allah created MERCY, singular, which is clearly a reference to Allahs own attribute since all types of mercies step from this one mercy of Allah. And:
Chapter 4: THE MERCY OF ALLAH PREDOMINATES HIS WRATH
Abu Huraira reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: When Allah created the creation as He was upon the Throne, He put down in His Book: Verily, MY mercy predominates MY wrath. (Sahih Muslim, Book 037, Number 6626)
It is obvious that these narratives are speaking of Allahs own attribute of mercy and how he created it into one hundred parts and sent only one part to the earth.
Thus, although it is proper to refer to paradise and rain as Allahs mercy in the sense that they are manifestations of this specific attribute, it is improper to say that Allah created his mercy and divided that into hundred parts, unless, of course, one doesnt believe that Allahs attributes are eternal (or at least one of them isnt).
I understand why Zawadi and his source want to make it seem as if these are referring to the creation of the objects which demonstrate Allahs mercy, but not to mercy itself, since they (unlike their own prophet) see the dilemma of asserting that Allah created this particular attribute of his. It is rather unfortunate for them that Muhammad couldnt communicate his point in a far better and more eloquent manner, which would have prevented them from coming up with all of these convenient ad hoc explanations.
Yet these answers do nothing more than show that they are merely begging the question since they need to assume that the hadiths are not referring to Allahs own attribute of mercy but to manifestations of it. It seems that Muslims will pretty much say anything in order to avoid the problems that Muhammad has caused for them.
As if their argumentation couldnt get anymore circular they also erroneously assume that Jesus is called the Word of God in the sense that he is an object of Gods Word, being created by the command of Allah. We will show why this is simply erroneous a little later.
Zawadi then says:
al-Mudaf (construct state) is of two main types:
1. al-Mudaf depicting possession
2. al-Mudaf not depicting possession
The first type, includes examples such as: Kalam Allah, 'Ilm Allah, Qudrat Allah (Allah's Speech, Allah's knowledge and Allah's power)
The second type, includes examples such as: Ka'bat Allah, Naaqat Allah (Allah's Ka'bah, or Allah's she-camel)
This shows that not everything that is attributed to Allah in Idafa is necessarily His Attribute, for we all know that Ka'ba and the she-camel is NOT Allah's Attributes.
So how do we know whether the Mudaf such as Kalam, Ka'ba, 'Ilm, Naaqah, etc, is actually Allah's Attribute or not?
We only know this by knowing the meaning of the Mudaf.
Hence, because we know the meaning of Kalam, and know also that it does not exist independently, the fact that it is an Attribute to Allah makes Kalam Allah's Attribute.
On the other hand, because we know the meaning of Ka'bah, and therefore we know that it exists independently, we know that Ka'bah is NOT Allah's Attribute.(Source)
Thus, we can see that when we know the meaning of the construct state we would then be able to know whether the constructe [sic] state is referring to Allah's attribute or not.
As we shall demonstrate Zawadi has to beg the question by assuming beforehand that Gods Spirit isnt part of the first category in order to prove that the Spirit isnt eternal. He has to also assume something similar in the case of Christ, namely, Jesus isnt Gods Word but the byproduct of it, having been brought into existence by Gods creative command, which we will show is simply wrong.
Zawadi also sources al-Qurtubis comments concerning Q. 58:22:
Imam Qurtubi states...
The Spirit is from the creation of Allah that He has attributed to Himself in order to honor it, just as His saying "My land(Surah 4:97) and My sky (cannot find Qur'anic reference) and My House (Surah 2:125) and the camel of Allah (Surah 7:73) and the month of Allah (Saheeh Muslim hadith states that Muharram is the month of Allah, see here)"
As we said, a classic case of circular reasoning. Where is the evidence that the Spirit is a creature? What verses does Zawadi or his sources bring which conclusively demonstrate that the Spirit is created and not a necessary and eternal aspect of Gods own Being? In fact, to say that Allah created his Spirit implies that Allah didnt always exists with his Divine breath or attribute of life. For example, the Quran says that Allah breathed his Spirit into the first man, obviously for the purpose of animating him:
And when thy Lord said to the angels, 'See, I am creating a mortal of a clay of mud moulded. When I have shaped him, and breathed My spirit in him, fall you down, bowing before him! S. 15:28-29
who has created all things well. And He originated the creation of man out of clay, then He fashioned his progeny of an extraction of mean water, then He shaped him, and breathed His spirit in him. And He appointed for you hearing, and sight, and hearts; little thanks you show. S. 32:7-9
The Quran, at this point, is merely echoing the Biblical account of mans creation:
"This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens- and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth] and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground- the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." Genesis 2:4-7
"The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life." Job 33:4
The foregoing conclusively demonstrates that Allahs Spirit is the Agent or Divine breath of life, the means through which Allah gives life to his creation. Therefore, if Zawadi is correct regarding the Spirit being a creature then this implies that at some point in his existence Allah was incapable of imparting life since he didnt always have a life-giving Spirit or breath. Thus, not only did Allah have to acquire his attribute of mercy by creating it he further had to acquire the ability to grant life by producing a Spirit for himself! Yet by acquiring these essential attributes Allah had to experience changes to his nature and therefore cannot be perfect. After all, a perfect being doesnt change in his essential makeup since such an entity lacks nothing.
Since we know that Muhammad and Jesus (peace be upon them) are created according to Islamic sources, we can't then go ahead and say that they are eternal.
It may be true that certain parts of the Quran suggest that Jesus is created but this doesnt negate the fact that there are other verses which clearly portray Christ as being far more than a creature. Zawadi assumes, without any proof, that the Quran is a consistent scripture that is free from all errors and discrepancies, which is nothing more than wishful thinking on his part (*). And due to his unwarranted and unsubstantiated assumption Zawadi thinks that if one part of the Muslim scripture denies the Divinity of Christ then this somehow proves that the entire Quran does so.
This is what Zawadi states concerning the grammatical mistake in Q. 7:56 where the word for mercy is in the feminine case (rahmata) whereas the predicate for "nigh" is in the masculine case (qaribun), even though it should have been in the feminine (qaribatun):
I like the way how Shamoun then goes on to quote the refutation to his own accussation [sic] of a grammatical error in the Qu'ran and does not even bother to refute it!
Here is the verse in question so that the readers can follow along:
Do not corruption in the land, after it has been set, right; and call on Him fearfully, eagerly -- surely the mercy of God is nigh (rahmata Allahi qaribun) to the good-doers; S. 7:56
According to Muslim scholar Shaykh Gibril Fouad (G.F.) Haddad, the reason why the word for nigh is masculine is because mercy, although feminine, actually refers to Muhammad, a male, which therefore justifies the grammatical mistake!
With the foregoing in perspective Zawadis comments merely show that he simply cannot comprehend what he reads. I wasnt quoting G.F. Haddads explanation because I agreed with it. Rather, I quoted it to show just how desperate Muslims are in trying to explain away the discrepancies of the Quran and/or to prove Muhammads prehuman existence. This explains why my response to Haddad ended with an exclamation mark.
Is Zawadi saying he does agree with Haddads point? If so then he needs to be consistent and accept the rest of Haddads and Prince Zeds arguments that this then demonstrates that Muhammad actually existed before he became a man.
Zawadi tries to liken Jesus to Adam:
First of all, the Qur'an makes it clear that Jesus just like Adam was a creation...
Truly, the likeness of Jesus, in God's sight, is as Adam's likeness; He created him of dust, then said He unto him, 'Be,' and he was
Recommended Reading: http://www.call-to-monotheism.com/rebuttal_to_sam_shamoun_s_article__is_jesus_like_adam___
So now even if Shamoun could manage to show that Jesus was created before his bodily/human existence it still won't prove that he is divine since the Qur'an has made it clear that Jesus is a CREATION, while Allah is the CREATOR.
On the contrary, Jesus even according to the Quran is quite UNLIKE Adam and is MORE than a mere creature. To see whether Zawadi was really able to address any of my points concerning the major differences between Christ and Adam we suggest reading my article on this subject: http://answering-islam.org/Quran/Contra/jesus_unlike_adam.html
The majority of Qur'anic commentators are of the opinion that 'word' is referring to Jesus (peace be upon him), while Imam Tabari understood it to be referring to Allah's message and glad tidings to Maryam about the birth of Jesus.
However, let us assume that Surah 3:45 does say that Jesus is 'a word'. The verse says that Jesus is A WORD, not THE WORD of Allah. Jesus is not the speech of Allah (which is eternal), he is a created human being.
It is apparent that Zawadi didnt bother reading my article carefully since he would have seen the refutation of his assertion. The Quran doesnt merely identify Jesus as a Word from Allah but actually calls him the Word of Allah, his very own Word, in the following text:
People of the Book, go not beyond the bounds in your religion, and say not as to God but the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only the Messenger of God, and His Word (wa kalimatuhu) that He committed to Mary, and a Spirit from Him (roohun minhu). So believe in God and His Messengers, and say not, 'Three.' Refrain; better is it for you. God is only One God. Glory be to Him -- That He should have a son! To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and in the earth; God suffices for a guardian. S. 4:171
This explains why many an exegete and several hadiths call Jesus Allahs very own Word, which is simply another way of saying that he is the Word of Allah:
" Go to Moses, the slave to whom Allah spoke (directly) and gave him the Torah. So they will go to him and he will say, I am not fit for this undertaking. And he will mention (his) killing a person who was not a killer, and so he will feel ashamed thereof before his Lord, and he will say, Go to Jesus, Allah's Slave, His Apostle and Allah's Word and a Spirit coming from Him. Jesus will say, I am not fit for this undertaking, go to Muhammad the Slave of Allah whose past and future sins were forgiven by Allah. " (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 3)
Allah says: "Confirming a word from Allah." (3:39)
Yahya confirmed Isa when he was three years old. He testified that he was THE WORD OF ALLAH and His Spirit. It is said that he confirmed him when he was in his mothers womb. Yahyas mother said to Maryam, "I feel what is in my womb bowing to what is in your womb to greet him." (Qadi 'Iyad Ibn Musa al-Yahsubi, Kitab Ash-shifa bi ta'rif huquq al-Mustafa (Healing by the recognition of the Rights of the Chosen One), translated by Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley [Madinah Press, Inverness, Scotland, U.K.; third reprint 1991, paperback], p. 51; capital and underline emphasis ours)
After citing several expositors to show that Jesus is called Gods Word solely because he was created by Gods command, Zawadi then says:
Some may argue that even Adam and other creatures were created by Allah saying 'Be', yet no where do we see Allah giving them this title.
Exactly, which is a rather significant omission on the part of Allah.
However, the fact that this title was not given to anyone else does not mean that they don't fall under this category.
Zawadi needs to stop begging the question and start proving his position. He needs to first prove that Jesus is called the Word of Allah BECAUSE he was created by Allahs command, not simply assume that this is what it means. Only after he is able to prove this assertion can he then make the claim that Adam and the rest are also Allahs Word, even though the Quran never calls them that, since they too were created by Allahs command.
The fact of the matter is that this is another time where Muhammad "borrowed" Christian vocabulary without realizing the Christological ramifications and significance that this would have on the nature and Person of Christ.
For instance, Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) has the title "Khalil Allah" ("Allah's Friend"), for he was known as Allah's Khalil ...
Now just because we don't find this title being given to all the other Prophets, doesn't mean that they are not considered to be Allah's friends. Allah, due to His infinite wisdom selectively chose whom He would like to give certain titles to and Jesus (peace be upon him) was selected to receive specific titles as well.
There goes Zawadi again with his false analogies. It would be correct to assume that the title "friend of Allah" can also be applied to the other prophets since they obviously had a relationship with God and received revelations from him. The problem is that, as we already noted, Zawadi has assumed that his explanation of what it means for Jesus to be the Word is correct and then transfers this erroneous understanding over to his example of Adam also being created by the Word of God.
A better analogy with Christ would be the Quran, not Adam, since Muslims believe that their scripture is actually the uncreated speech of Allah. As such, the Quran is supposed to be eternal and temporal, uncreated and created at the same time, e.g. the book that contains it, the ink used to write it, the voices that recite it, the hearts that memorize it are all created whereas the words themselves are not.
Thus, whereas Jesus is Gods eternal Word become flesh the Quran is the eternal Word that became a book. Lest Zawadi accuse us of a false analogy notice what some Muslim scholars and writers say concerning this issue:
The problem of the nature of Christ, so central in the dogmatic development of the early church, has also influenced, in a certain way, the development of Islamic dogma. Christ's designation as logos, as the Word of God, "born not created," has most probably influenced Islamic theories about the Koran, which is regarded by the Muslim as the uncreated Word of God. Phenomenologically seen, the Koran has the same position in Islamic dogmatics as has Christ in Christianity. Harry A. Wolfson therefore coined the term "inlibration," the "Word become Book," in contrast to the Christian concept of incarnation, "the Word became Flesh." That explains why theologians emphasized the designation ummi for Muhammad; this term, first probably meaning "the prophet sent to the gentiles" was interpreted as "illiterate." The Prophet had to be a vessel unstained by external knowledge for the Word's inlibration, just as Mary had to be a virgin in order to be a pure vessel for the Word's incarnation. That is, the Koran is much more than simply a book ... (Annemarie Schimmel, Islam - An Introduction [State University of New York Press, Albany 1992], pp. 74-75; bold emphasis ours)
Muslim scholar, Mahmoud M. Ayoub, speaking of Muhammad's relation to the Quran, writes:
that the words that Muhammad conveyed to his people were not his own, but were revealed to him by God. It is also understood to mean that his mind was not contaminated by human wisdom. Rather it was a pure receptacle for the divine word in the same way that Mary's virginity means for Christians that her body was a pure vessel fit to receive Christ, the Word of God.
In fact, there is an interesting parallel between Christ and the Qur'an. Christ is, for Christians, the incarnate Word of God. While the Qur'an is, like Christ, the eternal divine word, it does not play a role in the creation of the world. It is the eternal word of God preserved for moral and spiritual guidance. It is an eternal book: "This surely is a glorious Qur'an, preserved in a well-guarded Tablet" (Q. 85:21-22). (Ayoub, Islam: Faith and History [Oneworld Publications, Oxford England, 2004], p. 41; underline emphasis ours)
John L. Esposito, Professor of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, writes concerning the Mutazila view of the Quran and God's attributes:
The Mutazila took issue with the majority of ulama over the doctrines of the divine attributes or names of God and the eternal, uncreated nature of the Quran. Both beliefs were seen as contradictory and as compromising God's unity (Islam's absolute monotheism). How could the one, transcendent God have many divine attributes (sight, hearing, power, knowledge, will)? The Mutazila maintained that the Quranic passages that affirmed God's attributes were meant to be understood metaphorically or allegorically, not literally. Not to do so was to fall into anthropomorphism, or worse, shirk, associationism or polytheism. Similarly, the Islamic doctrine that the Quran is the speech or word of God should not be taken literally, for how could both God and His word be eternal and uncreated? The result would be two divinities. The Mutazila interpreted metaphorically those Quranic texts that spoke of the Quran preexisting in heaven. Contrary to majority opinion, they taught that the Quran is the created word of God, who is its uncreated source. The Mutazila critique of those like Ahmad ibn Hanbal, who believed in the eternity of the Quran, was ably summarized by Caliph Mamun in a letter to his governor:
Everything apart from Him is a creature from His creation - a new thing which He has brought into existence. [This perverted opinion they hold] though the Koran speaks clearly of God's creating all things, and proves to the exclusion of all differences of opinion. They are, thus, like the Christians when they claim that Isa bin Maryam [Jesus, the son of Mary] was not created because he was the word of God. But God says, "Verily We have made it a Koran in the Arabic language," and the explanation of that is, "Verily, We have created it," just as the Koran says, "And He made from it His mate that he might dwell with her." (Esposito, Islam The Straight Path [Oxford University Press, New York Oxford: Hard cover, third edition], pp. 71-72; underline emphasis ours)
So Zawadi is correct in one sense. Jesus is not the only uncreated Word of God since the Quran is also supposed to be Gods eternal Divine Word.
For more on this subject please consult the following articles: 1, 2, 3
Zawadi now turns his attention to Jesus being a Spirit from God:
As for Jesus (peace be upon him) being a spirit from Allah, Imam Qurtubi in his commentary states one opinion...
And it is said: He is named 'Spirit' because of the blow of Gabriel (peace be upon him), and the blow is called 'Spirit' because it is a wind coming out of a Spirit.(Abu 'Abdullah al-Qurtubi's, Tasfir al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 4:171, Source)
Imam Qurtubi in exclusion to the above goes on to mention at least 7 other possible reasons as to why Jesus is called Spirit and all are sufficient enough to refute Shamoun who has the burden of proof upon himself to prove that only his interpretation is the correct one.
Al-Qurtubi is alluding to Q. 21:91 and 66:12 which say that Allah breathed his Spirit into Mary, which the expositors such as al-Qurtubi take it to mean that Allah sent Gabriel to blow into Mary in order to cause her to get pregnant.
There are several problems with this view, not the least of which is that the Quran never identifies the Spirit as Gabriel. In fact, when Muhammad was asked concerning the Spirit he didnt say he was Gabriel, but candidly admitted that he didnt have a lot of information and didnt really know much about his exact identity:
They will question thee concerning the Spirit. Say: 'The Spirit is of the bidding of my Lord. You have been given of knowledge nothing except a little.' S. 17:85
Why didnt Muhammad simply come out and say that the Spirit is Gabriel if this is what he really believed?
The second problem is that this view implies Gabriel, whom Muslims believe is a creature, is another god besides Allah since he has the same ability that the Muslim deity has such as creating and breathing life into things. Thus, this position turns a creature into a co-creator and life-giver with Allah (that is, unless Zawadi wants to change his position and assert that Gabriel isnt a creature!).
The third problem is that both Q. 21:91 and 66:12 emphatically say that it is Allah who breathed the Spirit into Mary, whereas al-Qurtubi implies that it was actually Gabriel who did so. This means that, a) Gabriel cannot be the Spirit since he is the one who breathed out the Spirit into Mary, clearly differentiating the two, and b) Gabriel is none other than Allah, the very one who breathed the Spirit into Jesus blessed mother. In other words, by having Gabriel breathe the Spirit this identifies him as Allah since the Quranic passages expressly teach that it was Allah, not some other, that did the breathing.
This is what we would have if we were to write this out as a logical syllogism:
Again, does Zawadi really want to make Gabriel Allahs coequal partner, or believe that his god is a multipersonal being since Gabriel happens to be one with Allah in power and characteristics?
Fourth, by having Gabriel breathe into Jesus the expositors have invariably turned him into the real father of Christ. After all, the Quran says that Allah cannot have a son without a consort:
Yet, they join the jinns as partners in worship with Allah, though He has created them (the jinns), and they attribute falsely without knowledge sons and daughters to Him. Be He Glorified and Exalted above (all) that they attribute to Him. He is the Originator of the heavens and the earth. How can He have children when He has no wife? He created all things and He is the All-Knower of everything. S. 6:100-101 Hilali-Khan
And yet Muslims want us to believe that a finite being, Mary, was capable of having a child without a husband!
This either means that Allah can have an offspring without a spouse or that Marys husband is Gabriel and the actual father of Jesus since he was the one who caused the blessed virgin to get pregnant.
For more on this specific point please read the following: http://answering-islam.org/Shamoun/filial_terms.htm
Finally, al-Qurtubis statements imply that Jesus is more than a man since he shares the very same nature of the one who breathed him into Mary. Notice his comments once again:
And it is said: He is named 'Spirit' because of the blow of Gabriel (peace be upon him), and the blow is called 'Spirit' because it is a wind coming OUT OF A SPIRIT.(Capital and underline emphasis ours)
If Jesus is called the Spirit because he came forth or was blown from a/the Spirit then this surely means that he has the same nature of that which begets him. After all, God begets God, flesh begets flesh, spirit begets spirit, humans beget humans, animals beget animals, angels beget angels etc. As the Holy Bible teaches:
"Then God said, Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds. And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morningthe third day And God said, Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky. So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth. And there was evening, and there was morningthe fifth day. And God said, Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind. And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good." Genesis 1:11-13, 20-25
"Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, You must be born again. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." John 3:6-8
Thus, the Spirit which blew into Mary begot a Spirit like himself/itself who, because he was born of a woman, was also a man. In other words, the Spirit birthed a Spirit into Mary who then begot that very same Spirit as a child that shared her very nature.
At this point al-Qurtubi comes very close in affirming the two natures of Christ, i.e. Jesus is both Divine and human, being a Divine Spirit that proceeded from God who then became a man from a young virgin maiden.
Clearly, al-Qurtubis interpretation is brimming with theological problems for Muslim dawagandists like Zawadi to contend with.
Since Zawadi says that al-Qurtubi mentioned seven other explanations we therefore challenge him to produce them all so we can examine to see just how solid these so-called responses are.
Zawadi tries to tackle my exegesis of Q. 58:22.
Shamoun appeals to Surah 58:22 and argues that the verse shows that...
the Spirit from Allah is present with all true believers in order to strengthen them in faith. This presupposes that this Spirit is both omnipresent and omnipotent, qualities which belong only to God.
First one must be aware that every time the word 'spirit' appears, this does not necessarily imply that it is talking about the same thing.
And so Zawadi claims without providing a scintilla of evidence. Zawadi needs to learn to start proving his position, not merely assume it.
For instance, the word 'Spirit' mentioned in Surah 2:87, 2:253, 5:110 (strongest opinion states that this is referring to angel Gabriel) does not necessarily have to be speaking about the same 'Spirit' mentioned in Surah 4:171 (i.e. Jesus), or Surah 12:87 (most commentators interpret 'Spirit' to be referring to Allah's mercy)
It doesnt? Let us see:
We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of apostles; We gave Jesus the son of Mary Clear (Signs) and strengthened him with the holy spirit (wa-ayyadnahu bi-roohi al-qudusi) S. 2:87
Those apostles We endowed with gifts, some above others: To one of them God spoke; others He raised to degrees (of honour); to Jesus the son of Mary We gave clear (Signs), and strengthened him with the holy spirit (wa-ayyadnahu bi-roohi al-qudusi) S. 2:253
Thou wilt not find any people who believe in God and the Last Day, loving those who resist God and His Apostle, even though they were their fathers or their sons, or their brothers, or their kindred. For such He has written Faith in their hearts, and strengthened them with a spirit from Himself (wa-ayyadahum bi-roohin minhu). And He will admit them to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow, to dwell therein (for ever). God will be well pleased with them, and they with Him. They are the Party of God. Truly it is the Party of God that will achieve Felicity. S. 58:22
In all three of these examples the Holy Spirit and the Spirit from Allah perform the same function of strengthening and assisting the believers. Besides, if the Holy Spirit isnt a Spirit from Allah then what is he? Furthermore, if the Spirit from Allah isnt holy then what is he?
Therefore, since the Holy Spirit and the Spirit from Allah are one and the same entity, and since the same expression found in Q. 58:22 is used of Christ in Q. 4:171, then this leaves Zawadi with one of two possibilities. Either the Quran identifies Christ with the very Spirit that strengthened him, which would therefore make Jesus the Holy Spirit, a blatant contradiction. Or he must accept the fact that according to his own religious scripture Jesus is a divine preexistent Spirit who existed alongside Allah with the Holy Spirit.
Moreover, the reason why expositors are confused concerning Q. 12:87 is because the wording is different:
Go, O my sons, and ascertain concerning Joseph and his brother, and despair not of the Spirit of Allah (rawhi Allahi). Lo! none despaireth of the Spirit of Allah (rawhi Allahi) save disbelieving folk. Pickthall
"O my sons! go ye and enquire about Joseph and his brother, and never give up hope of God's Soothing Mercy: truly no one despairs of God's Soothing Mercy, except those who have no faith." Y. Ali
Instead of roohi we find rawhi, which accounts for the confusion among the various English versions of the Quran. Thus, was Jacob (supposedly) saying that Allahs Spirit could and may have preserved Joseph and his brother? If so, this perfectly comports with the above passages which speak of Allahs Spirit strengthening and preserving believers. Or was Jacob saying that because of Allahs mercy he had hope that his sons were alive? Or could it be that Jacob wished for Allah to demonstrate his mercy by sending his Spirit to protect Joseph and his brother? This confusion in the meaning is simply a further illustration of the Qurans incoherence and unintelligibility.
Whatever the case may be, one point is certain from the above passages. Allahs Spirit is a Divine Being since he has many of the essential attributes of Deity such as omnipresence and omnipotence. After all, the only way for the Spirit to be able to strengthen all true believers no matter where they are at is if he can be at more than one place at the same time and has the power to insure that they are kept sound and secure in the faith. With such characteristics does it come as a surprise to the readers that Muslims such as the late Abdullah Yusuf Ali dared to call this Spirit Divine?
Cf. ii 87 and 253, where it is said that God strengthened the Prophet Jesus with the holy spirit. Here we learn that all good and righteous men are strengthened by God with the holy spirit. If anything, the phrase used here is stronger, a spirit from Himself. Whenever any one offers his heart in faith and purity to God, God accepts it, engraves that faith on the seeker's heart, and further fortifies him with the Divine Spirit, which we can no more define adequately than we can define in human language the nature of God. (Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Quran, p. 1518, fn. 5365; bold emphasis ours)
Yusuf Ali wasnt the only one since the Ahmadiyya scholar and Quranic translator Maulana Muhammad Ali said something similar in reference to Q. 15:29:
29a. This shows that man is made complete when the Divine spirit is breathed into him. It should be noted that the Divine spirit (Ar. ruh) does not mean here the animal soul in man, but the Spirit of Allah, that gives him perfection. (Source; bold and underline emphasis ours)
And Q. 32:9:
9a. This verse shows that the spirit of God is breathed into every man. This points to a mystical relation between human nature and Divine nature. The word ruh does not here mean the animal soul, because the animal soul is common to man and the animal kingdom. It is something that distinguishes man from the animal world. It is due to the spirit Divine that he rules creation and its due to the same Divine spirit in him that he receives a new life after death a life which he lives in God and with God the meeting with God or liqa Allah, as it is called in v. 10. (Source; bold and underline emphasis ours)
This is why Zawadis next assertion,
Secondly, the Spirit that Allah attributes to Himself is only for glorifying its greatness. Not that it is actually one of His eternal attributes
Is simply erroneous and begs the question. Allah is glorifying the Spirit because of the fact that his Spirit is all-powerful, present everywhere, the creator and the agent of life, all of which are exclusively Divine characteristics, just as the late Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Muhammad Ali correctly noted.
But this places Zawadi in quite a dilemma for at least three reasons. First, Allah must be a multipersonal Being in order for his Spirit to be both Divine and distinct from him. Otherwise, Zawadi must accept the fact that the Quran teaches that there is more than one god! Second, if Jesus is the Spirit from Allah than he must be all-powerful and present everywhere, and therefore Divine.
This leads us to the third problem since this essentially means that the Quran is contradicting itself for implying that Jesus is only a human being in certain passages, but describing him in a manner which clearly demonstrates that he is more than a mere man in other places. As noted Christian apologist John Gilchrist put it:
Jesus, however, is now called "a Spirit from him" (ruhun-minhu) from which he has received the title in Islamic traditions "Spirit of God" (Ruhullah). The expression in Surah 4:171, ruhun-minhu ("a spirit from him") is used in exactly the same form in Surah 58:22 where it is said that God strengthens true believers with "a spirit from him". Very significantly Yusuf Ali, commenting on this latter verse in his translation of the Qur'an states that here the "phrase used is stronger" than that for the Holy Spirit (Ruhul Quds). He implies that the Spirit from God is greater than the Holy Spirit and says that it is "the divine spirit, which we can no more define adequately than we can define in human language the nature and attributes of God" (note 5365).
This is a remarkable comment which is clearly a veiled implication that the ruhun-minhu is the very Spirit of the living God, uncreated and eternal in essence. Yusuf Ali says it is "the divine spirit" and that it is as incomprehensible as God himself. This language is unambiguous - the Spirit from God is clearly believed by him to be from the realm of deity and not from the created order. He is, according to this interpretation, practically synonymous with the Holy Spirit in the Christian Bible.
Now this is the very title that the Qur'an gives to Jesus in Surah 4:171. The exact same words are used - he is the ruhun-minhu, "a Spirit from God". If we merely apply Yusuf Ali's interpretation of the expression in Surah 58:22 to the very same expression given as a title to Jesus in Surah 4:171, we can only conclude that Jesus is the "divine spirit, which we can no more define adequately than we can define in human language the nature and attributes of God". He is, therefore, God in essence and nature. Because of the simultaneous denial in 4:171 that Jesus is the Son of God, Yusuf Ali is constrained to deny that the title ruhun-minhu when applied to Jesus implies deity, but he is hardly consistent in his exposition of the Qur'an when he teaches in another place that ruhun-minhu is indeed a divine spirit possessing the nature and attributes of God and is as incomprehensible as God as well.
For our part we believe that, as with the titles Messiah and Word of God, this title Spirit of God also strongly supports the Christian belief that Jesus is indeed the Son of God and that, not in any metaphorical sense, but in an eternal one which is based on the fact that he is very deity himself. The only way Yusuf Ali could avoid this admission when commenting on Surah 4:171 was to frankly contradict what he said in his commentary on Surah 58:22. (Gilchrist, Christianity and Islam Series No. 5 The Title of Jesus in the Qur'an and the Bible; source; underline emphasis ours)
In conclusion we must say that, as has been his consistent habit, Zawadi once again miserably failed to provide any reasonable arguments that pass careful scrutiny and continues to further highlight his inability to understand the points he claims to be addressing.
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