Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

More Evidence that Jesus and His Disciples Did Not Teach Islam

Sam Shamoun

Since the Quran argues that the followers of Christ were all Muslims (Q. 3:52; 5:111), this means that they would have adopted and espoused the basic tenets of Islamic theology, particularly as it relates to the nature of God.

We have, therefore, decided to provide additional evidence from the NT documents that Jesus and his disciples were anything but Muslims.

It is vitally important to keep in mind the fact that Islamic scholarship basically divides monotheism, called Tawhid, into three main categories or subsets. They are:

Tawhid is commonly divided into three categories: Tawhid al-Rububiyyah, Tawhid al-Uluhiyyah and Tawhid al-Asma w al-Sifat. Shirk can occur in all these categories of tawhid.

1. Shirk in Rububiyyah. Since Tawhid al-Rububiyyah entails affirming the Existence and Actions of Allah, there are a number of ways that shirk can occur in Rububiyyah.  

a. Shirk by denial. This can occur by one of three ways:

i. Denying that creation has a Creator. This was the belief of Pharaoh, as he questioned the very existence of Allah…

“And who is the Lord of the Worlds?” [Surah al-Shu‘ara: 23].

This is also the belief of atheists, communists and other philosophies that deny the existence of a creator.

ii. Denying the perfect existence of Allah by denying all of His Names and Attributes. By denying Allah’s Names and Attributes, one actually denies Allah’s Lordship, even if the person doing so verbally acknowledges the existence of a god. This is so because the denial of all attributes of anything is a denial of the existence of that thing. Everything that exists must be characterised by certain attributes which set it apart from other objects; it is only the non-existent that is beyond attribution. So denial of all [sic] Allah’s Names and Attributes is essentially a denial of Allah Himself. Such is the case with the majority of the philosophers (especially of the early Greeks), and the Jahmiyyah sect of old.   

iii. Denying the rights that He is entitled to by perfection of His Nature. Examples of this include: claiming that He is one with the creation, or that the world as we know it existed from eternity. The claim of those who propagate the theory of wahdat al-wujud, such as Ibn ‘Arabi, al-Hallaj, and other extreme Sufi schools of thought, in reality contradicts the belief in the existence of Allah. Likewise, the claim of many philosophers, including Ibn Sina, that the world existed from eternity, invalidates belief in Allah’s Lordship. If Allah did not create the world, then who did?    

b. Shirk by Affirmation. This occurs when one affirms another Creator or Lord besides Allah. An example of this type of shirk is the claim of the Zoroastrians that there are two creators: Ahriman, the creator of all-good, and Ahura Mazda, the creator of all evil. Certain extreme pseudo-Muslim sects partially fall into this type of shirk when they attribute to created beings powers that belong to Allah. For example, both the Shi’ites and the extreme Sufis consider their religious leaders to control certain aspects of creation. They believe that these people have the power to grant life and take it away, or to give some worldly benefit, or prevent a harm from occurring. So by attributing these powers of lordship (Rububiyyah) to other than Allah, these groups actually commit a type of major shirk

2. Shirk in Uluhiyyah. The concept of Tawhid al-Uluhiyyah necessitates that one direct each and every act of worship to Allah and only to Allah. Thus, to direct any act of to other than Allah is an example of shirk in Uluhiyyah. Examples of acts of worship that are due only to Allah are du’a, prayer, prostration, vows and oaths. Shirk in Uluhiyyah is the most common type of shirk amongst mankind. This is because most of mankind affirms the existence of One Creator, yet direct acts of worship to other than Him. Thus, Christians, while believing in God ‘the Father’, direct most of their worship to Jesus Christ.

Although the norm amongst non-Muslims is that they worship Allah and other than Allah (like the Christians), it is also possible that certain groups and religions always worship other than Allah. Thus, for example, most Buddhists do not worship the Creator, but rather show veneration to statues. Likewise, certain extreme Sufi groups never turn directly to Allah, and instead direct their acts of worship to saints and prophets.      

3. Shirk in Asma wa l-Sifat. The concept of Tawhid al-Asma wa l-Sifat involves affirming for Allah the Most Beautiful Names and Perfect Attributes. So shirk of this category can occur in a number of ways:

a. By comparing Allah to creation. For example, the claim of the Jews and Christians that Allah ‘tired’ after creating the Heavens and Earth, or that He ‘forgot’ certain matters are examples of shirk in Asma wa l-Sifat.

b. By comparing creation to Allah. When creation is given the Names or Attributes that belong solely to Allah, shirk occurs. So to claim that a certain saint knows everything, or can hear the plea of any worshipper, is in fact shirk in Asma wa l-Sifat.

c. By deriving the names of idols from Allah’s Names. This was the practice of the Jahiliyyah Arabs of old, for they named their idol al-Lat by feminising the name ‘Allah’, and al-‘Uzza by feminising al-‘Aziz, and al-Manat from al-Mannan

This categorisation, just like the three categories of tawhid, can be inferred and derived from various texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah. The Qur’an explicitly describes shirk in all of these three categories. In one verse, Allah states…

“Say: Call out to those whom you claim [as deities] besides Allah. They do not possess an atom’s weight [of control] in the heavens or on earth, nor do they have any share (shirk) therein, nor does He [Allah] have any helpers [from amongst them]” [Surah Saba’; 22]

In this verse, shirk in Rububiyyah is mentioned, since Allah negates them having any command or ownership of the heavens and earth.

A verse which mentions shirk in Uluhiyyah is…

“So whoever is hopeful for the meeting of his Lord – let him do righteous deeds, and not associate (yushrik) anyone in the worship of his Lord” [Surah al-Kahf; 110]

In this verse, Allah warns mankind from falling into shirk in Uluhiyyah by directing acts of worship to other than He.

Shirk in Asma wa l-Sifat is also negated frequently in the Qur’an. For example, Allah states…

“And he does not share (yushrik) in His legislation with anyone” [Surah al-Kahf; 26]

 And He states… 

“And there is no equal to Him” [Surah al-Ikhlas; 4]

So Allah negates the existence of any partner that resembles Him, or has His Names and Attributes. (An Explanation of Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul Wahhab’s Kashf al-Shubuhat - Critical Study of Shirk, translation and commentary by Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi [Al-Hidaayah Publishing & Distribution, Birmingham, UK], 6. The Categories of Shirk, 1. Shirk in Relation to the Categories of Tawhid, pp. 35-38; bold emphasis ours)

Therefore, if Jesus and his followers were truly Muslims then they would have surely subscribed to these categories of Tawhid. This means that we should not expect to find the NT writings attributing the sovereignty, worship and/or exclusive names and characteristics of Deity to Christ, especially since Islam teaches that he was nothing more than a human messenger, albeit a highly honored one at that.

However, if Christ did claim, and his disciples actually did believe, that Jesus was/is God in essence then this will be reflected by their ascribing all the major categories of Tawhid to him.

With the said, it is time to see whether the NT documents present a Muslim Jesus, and whether these writings portray his followers as proclaiming Islamic monotheism as understood and defined by later Muslim theologians. 

1. Tawhid al-Rububiyyah

Even though the Quran proclaims that the dominion of the heavens and the earth belong to Allah:

And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and Allah has power over all things. S. 3:189 Hilali-Khan

To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth. And verily, Allah He is Rich (Free of all wants), Worthy of all praise. S. 22:64 Hilali-Khan

The Christian Scriptures teach that Christ is the Sovereign Lord of all creation and the unique Son of God who owns the heavens and the earth as his rightful possession:

“When they saw Him, they worshiped, but some doubted. Then Jesus came near and said to them, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the NAME of the Father AND OF THE SON and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” Matthew 28:18-20

This passage not only affirms that Christ shares in God’s exclusive rule over creation (rububiyyah), it even ascribes the names and characteristics of Deity to him (al-asma wa l-sifat) such as omnipresence and omnipotence. It further depicts Christ as receiving worship from his disciples (uluhiyyah/ibadaah). Nor is this an isolated example of Jesus being worshiped:

All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him.” Matthew 11:27 – cf. Luke 10:22

In saying that he knows the Father in the same way that he is known by the Father, Jesus is basically claiming to be omniscient. By also stating that only the Father knows the Son, Jesus is making himself out to be an incomprehensible Being who can only be known by someone who has an infinite and omniscient mind.

Moving along:

“He still had one to send, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But those tenant farmers said among themselves, ‘THIS IS THE HEIR. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!’ So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.” Mark 12:6-8

“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hands.” John 3:35

“Jesus knew that the Father had given everything into His hands, that He had come from God, and that He was going back to God.” John 13:3

“He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. Everything the Father has is Mine. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you.” John 16:14-15

Everything I have is Yours, and everything You have is Mine, and I have been glorified in them.” John 17:10

“He demonstrated this power in the Messiah by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens—far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.” Ephesians 1:20-23

“Now that He has gone into heaven, He is at God’s right hand with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him.” 1 Peter 3:22

Christ is even depicted as the Agent and Sustainer of the entire creation for whom everything exists:

“He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Him. He is the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn (i.e. the One who is preeminent) over all creation. For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him AND FOR HIM. He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together. He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the Firstborn from the dead, so that He might have the preeminence in everything.” Colossians 1:13-18

Hence, Christ is the beloved Son who owns everything which belongs to God!

This explains why God’s kingdom is said to be the Son’s kingdom:

“For know and recognize this: Every sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of the Messiah and of God.” Ephesians 5:5

“The seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying: The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord AND OF HIS MESSIAH, and He will reign forever and ever!” Revelation 11:15

“He presented another parable to them: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in HIS FIELD. But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds among the wheat, and left. When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared. The landowner’s slaves came to him and said, “Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?” “An enemy did this!” he told them. “So, do you want us to go and gather them up?” the slaves asked him. “No,” he said. “When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn.”’ … Then He dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached Him and said, ‘Explain the parable of the weeds in the field to us.’ He replied: ‘The One who sows the good seed IS THE SON OF MAN; the field IS THE WORLD; and the good seed—these are the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Therefore, just as the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out HIS angels, and they will gather from HIS KINGDOM everything that causes sin and those guilty of lawlessness. They will throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Anyone who has ears should listen!’” Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Here, Jesus identifies himself as the Owner of the field with the field being the world. This means that Jesus is claiming to be the Owner of the entire world, an explicit claim to Deity since the Hebrew Bible testifies that the world belongs to Yahweh!

The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord; for He laid its foundation on the seas and established it on the rivers.” Psalm 24:1-2

“If I were hungry I would not tell you, For the world is Mine, and all it contains.” Psalm 50:12

So much for the Quran’s assertion that Allah has no son or partner that shares in his sovereign rule and ownership over all creation:

And say: Praise be to Allah, Who hath not taken unto Himself a son, and Who hath no partner in the Sovereignty, nor hath He any protecting friend through dependence. And magnify Him with all magnificence. S. 17:111 Pickthall

SAY: "Call upon those [beings] whom you imagine [to be endowed with divine powers] beside God: they have not an atom's weight of power either in the heavens or on earth, nor have they any share in [governing] either, nor does He [choose to] have any helper from among them.” S. 34:22 Muhammad Asad

2. Tawhid al-Uluhiyyah

Not only did people prostrate themselves in worship to Christ with his approval,

“And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’” Matthew 8:2

“While He spoke these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live.’” Matthew 9:18

“Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.” Matthew 20:20

 And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, ‘Rejoice!’ So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.” Matthew 28:9

“When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, ‘What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.’” Mark 5:6

And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.” Luke 24:52-53

“Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered and said, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.’ Then he said, ‘Lord, I believe!’ And he worshiped Him.” John 9:35-38

He himself stated that it was God’s will for all to honor him, the Son, in the same way that they honor the Father:

“The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all people will honor the Son JUST AS they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” John 5:22-23

The Lord Jesus even told his followers that they could pray to him directly once he returns to the Father, and that he would personally answer all their requests and invocations:

“I assure you: The one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, I WILL DO IT so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ASK ME anything in My name, I WILL DO IT.” John 14:12-14

This explains why the early Church would call on him in their invocations and worship:

“They were stoning Stephen as he called out: ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit! Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin!’” And saying this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:59-60

“‘Lord,’ Ananias answered, ‘I have heard from many people about this man, how much harm he has done to YOUR SAINTS in Jerusalem. And he has authority here from the chief priests to arrest all who call on YOUR NAME.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go! For this man is MY CHOSEN INSTRUMENT to take MY NAME to Gentiles, kings, and the Israelites. I will show him how much he must suffer for MY NAME!’ So Ananias left and entered the house. Then he placed his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road you were traveling, has sent me so that you can regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ At once something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. And after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul was with the disciples in Damascus for some days. Immediately he began proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues: ‘He is the Son of God.’ But all who heard him were astounded and said, ‘Isn’t this the man who, in Jerusalem, was destroying those who called on THIS NAME and then came here for the purpose of taking them as prisoners to the chief priests?’ But Saul grew more capable and kept confounding the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that this One is the Messiah.’” Acts 9:13-22

“To the church of God at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called as saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord—both their Lord and ours.” 1 Corinthians 1:2

However, the Muslim scripture is emphatically clear that invocations and prayers are to be made to Allah or God:

If My servants ask you about Me, I am near answering the calls of those who call to Me. So let them respond to Me and acknowledge Me that they may be guided. S. 2:186

Your Lord said, "Call on Me and I will respond to you." Surely, those who are too arrogant to serve Me, they will enter hell, forcibly. S. 40:60

And yet Jesus’ followers, who were supposed to have been Muslims, all worshiped and invoked their risen Lord at his express orders!

What makes this rather interesting is that Muhammad stated that he would be the first to worship God’s Son if he had one: 

Say, 'If the Merciful One has a son then am I the first to worship him. S. 43:81

Muhammad could see that for God to have a Son he would have to be divine, and therefore worthy of worship.

Lo and behold, this is precisely what the disciples did!

“Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’” Matthew 14:33

They, too, realized that being the unique Son of God meant that Jesus was/is truly divine, and therefore worthy of their worship.

3. Tawhid al-Asma wa l-Sifat

Christ is said to possess God’s essence in all its fullness, being the exact copy of God’s uncreated substance or nature:

For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, and you have been filled by Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.” Colossians 2:9-10

“Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and THE EXACT COPY of His nature, sustaining all things by HIS [the Son’s] powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Hebrews 1:1-3

As such, Jesus possesses every essential characteristic and title of Deity.

For instance, Jesus is said to be the Light of the world,

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12

A description which the Quran ascribes to Allah:

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The similitude of His light is as a niche wherein is a lamp. The lamp is in a glass. The glass is as it were a shining star. (This lamp is) kindled from a blessed tree, an olive neither of the East nor of the West, whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself) though no fire touched it. Light upon light. Allah guideth unto His light whom He will. And Allah speaketh to mankind in allegories, for Allah is Knower of all things. S. 24:35 Pickthall

Jesus is also the Truth, as well as the Resurrection and the Life who gives eternal life to all who believe in him:

 Jesus said to her, ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ she replied, ‘I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’” John 11:25-27

“‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:1-6

He is further said to be the One that shall raise the dead at the last day just by the sound of his all-sovereign voice, and who shall then proceed to judge every one of them in order to determine their eternal fate!

“For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him… Very truly I tell you, an hour is coming and has now come when the dead will hear THE VOICE OF THE SON OF GOD and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear HIS [the Son’s] VOICE and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.” John 5:21-23, 25-29

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up AT THE LAST DAY. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up AT THE LAST DAY.’” John 6:35-40

However, the Quran asserts that Allah is the truth that gives life to the dead, and that he shall be the one who will raise them up from their graves so as to judge them:

That is because Allah, He is the Truth, and it is He Who gives life to the dead, and it is He Who is Able to do all things. And surely, the Hour is coming, there is no doubt about it, and certainly, Allah will resurrect those who are in the graves. S. 22:6-7 Hilali-Khan

And the unbelievers will not cease to be in doubt of it, until the Hour comes on them suddenly, or there shall come upon them the chastisement of a barren day. The Kingdom upon that day shall belong to God, and He shall judge between them. As for those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, they shall be in Gardens of Bliss. S. 22:55-56 Arberry

That is because Allah is the Truth, and that what they call upon besides Him – that is the falsehood, and because Allah is the High, the Great. S. 22:62 Shakir

That’s not all. Jesus even referred to himself as the First and the Last, and the Living One who died and came back to life in order to live forevermore:

“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.’” Revelation 1:17-18

And yet the Muslim scripture says that it is Allah who is the first and the last, as well as the living one who does not die:

And trust thou in the Living One Who dieth not, and hymn His praise. He sufficeth as the Knower of His bondmen's sins, S. 25:58 Pickthall

He is the First and the Last, and the Outward and the Inward; and He is Knower of all things. S. 57:3 Pickthall

With the foregoing in perspective, could it be any clearer that Christ and his followers truly believed and proclaimed that Jesus is God in the flesh (even though he is not the Father or the Holy Spirit)? How could the Quran therefore claim that Jesus and his disciples were all Muslims when the reality is that his followers were Christians who worshiped him as their risen Lord and Savior?

“If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God IN THIS NAME.” 1 Peter 4:14-16

“but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18

“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

So much for the Quran being the word of God!

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