Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Allah: Truthful Or Deceiver?

By Cornelius

Dear Muslim Friend,

despite the fact that Muslims and Christians disagree about what the truth is, we both believe that there is such a thing as truth and that truth is important. Logic dictates that two people holding conflicting ideas cannot both be correct, at least one is deceived. Hopefully Muslims and the Christians who passionately disagree with one another are actually concerned about the fate of each other’s souls, not wanting each other to suffer the horrible consequence of following a deceiver. With this in mind, we seek to begin a dialogue concerning a passage of the Quran many Christians find disturbing. We ask that our Muslim friends consider our concerns and we welcome their response.

The passage Surah 3:54 is given below in Arabic.

Notice Allah refers to himself as "Khayrul-Makereen" which correctly translated means "Allah is the greatest of all deceivers." This is verified by looking up the root letters (Meem, Kaaf, and Rah) in an Arabic Dictionary such as Al-Mawrid:

If one still doubts the meaning of the term, consider Abu Bakr’s testimony to the deceptive character of Allah taken from the "Successors of the Messenger" by Khalid Muhammad Khalid, p. 70:

For those of you who don’t read Arabic Abu Bakr, though promised paradise by Allah and his apostle, while weeping says, "By Allah! I would not feel safe from the deception (same Arabic word) of Allah, even if I had one foot in paradise."

The testimony of Abu Bakr is consistent with the Quran which tells Muslims that they should not feel secure against the Makr or deception of Allah.

"Are they then secure from Allah's scheme (Makr)? None deemeth himself secure from Allah's scheme (Makr) save folk that perish." S. 7:99 Pickthall

The word translated "scheme" by Pickthall is the same Arabic word (Meem, Kaaf, Rah or Makr) which the dictionary tells us means deception. The Arabic of Surah 7:99 is given below.

Abu Bakr being a true believer in Islam could not feel safe from Allah’s deception (Makr) even though he was promised paradise by Allah and his apostle Muhammad!

Because of the devastating implications of the phrase "Allah Khayrul-Makereen" one prominent Muslim apologist claimed Makereen has a different meaning when applied to the divine. Below are a few problems with this position.

  1. The passage says Allah is the greatest of all makereen. Makereen describes all members of a class of which Allah is the greatest member. If someone is the greatest member of a set they must be a member of that set. Therefore, this Muslim argument is logically impossible.
  2. Neglecting for a moment the logical impossibility of this explanation, let us consider the broader discussion of applying descriptive language to God. Typically adjectives change the strength of their character when applied to greater beings but not the basic character of the word. For example, the word "good" might be applied as an adjective to a dog, a man, and God. Certainly the word "good" became much stronger as it was applied to greater beings. None the less, the word "good" did not have a transformation of its basic character when applied to different types of beings. Good may mean something different in each case but in each case it was something good. If the word makereen becomes stronger in its meaning as applied to greater beings then the objection of the Christian becomes even stronger with that change.
  3. Again neglecting the logical impossibility of the apologist’s explanation, consider the logical consequences of the claim that words have a different meaning when applied to Allah. If the word makereen is transformed from something horrible to something good when applied to Allah then there is no analogy with its usage as applied to men. If this hermeneutical approach is correct then the phrase "no partners" when applied to Allah also has a meaning that is different from its normal sense but any different meaning results in the conclusion that Allah has partners. Thus shirk is a logical consequence of adopting this approach to interpreting the Quran.
  4. If words are allowed to radically change the basic character by the fact that they are associated with Allah then how could one ever have any revelation about Allah in human language? Before such a "revelation" could be understood it would be necessary that mankind would be given a new set of meanings for words when applied to Allah, and perhaps a new set of grammatical rules as well. Can one really call a book a "revelation" if the meanings of the words used in that book have no relation to their previously understood meanings? How is it that one would even know that a word applied to Allah has a radically different type of meaning that it has when applied to man? Could not such a bold assumption if not based in revelation, be considered an act of unbelief, an attempt to reject what Allah has revealed about himself? I know of no record of Muhammad telling us any secret new meanings of words. If one believes that these meanings were revealed after Muhammad then they are in effect saying that they believe in prophets after Muhammad with the authority to change the meanings of words in the Quran.
  5. The context of Surah 3:54 is Allah allegedly deceiving people to believe Jesus died by crucifixion when according to Islam he didn’t. We know from the New Testament that Jesus’ disciples believed that Jesus died from crucifixion. Since in Surah 3:55 Allah tells Jesus, "I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the day of the resurrection", Muslims who believe the Quran can rest assured that the New Testament has been accurately preserved. Otherwise they would have to believe that those who reject faith not only had superiority over the those who followed Jesus, but had it to such an extent that they were able to distort the New Testament, which would of course mean that Surah 3:55 contained a false statement and an empty promise from Allah. Historical accounts indicate that many of Jesus’ disciples and loyal followers were put to death for preaching that Jesus was crucified, died, was buried and rose from the dead. Hence it was not just the unbelievers that Allah deceived but the believers as well. Why would Allah deceive the loyal followers of Jesus, whom the Quran claims is a prophet of Allah? If Allah would deceive Jesus’ loyal followers regarding what they thought they saw and heard, how can we be sure he didn’t deceive Muhammad’s loyal followers concerning what they thought they heard Muhammad saying and saw him doing? Since it was the followers of Muhammad who compiled the Quran, Hadith and Sirat how can we trust their sense perception and memory given that Allah deceived the sense perception and memory of prophet Jesus’ loyal followers? How could Muhammad claim he was confirming that which was before him when Allah in Surah 3:54 is called the greatest deceiver and the Bible says that God cannot lie?

The God revealed in the Bible portrays Himself as being truthful:

"so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us." Hebrews 6:18

"God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" Numbers 23:19

Jesus told us who the greatest deceiver is:

(Jesus speaking to the unbelievers) "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies." John 8:44

Contrast this to Surah 13:42. Note the word deceive (Meem, Kaaf, Rah) translated plotted and plotting:

"Those who were before them plotted (root = Meem Kaaf Rah); but all plotting (root = Mem Kaaf Rah) is Allah's. He knoweth that which each soul earneth. The disbelievers will come to know for whom will be the sequel of the (heavenly) Home." S. 13:42 Pickthall

Please meditate on the statements presented in this paper. They are not intended as personal attacks but are simply points to consider. The Quran itself testifies that Allah is the greatest of all makereen (deceivers). If this verse is true, what hope do we have that the rest of the Quran can be trusted? Why should anyone believe and follow a deceiver? Especially when the Bible tells us that Satan is the great deceiver. Please do not follow a deceiver, but follow the God who cannot lie. Jesus said "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through me." (John 14:6) We have all lied. We have all sinned. We are all guilty before God. We all deserve to be punished in Hell. But we can be forgiven of our sins if we repent of our sins, believe the gospel and follow Jesus. Abu Bakr didn’t even trust Allah would grant him paradise though he was promised paradise directly by name. He knew Allah was a deceiver, now you do also, wouldn’t you be better off trusting in the promise of forgiveness from the true God who cannot lie?