Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Jesus Christ – the Eternal King of Creation

One Muhammadan Polemicist’s War against Allah and his “messenger”

Sam Shamoun

In the cross-fire section of his debate with Dr. James R. White on the status of the Lord Jesus, dawagandist Sami Zaatari responded to White’s challenge to explain how can a mere human rasul (messenger) be given an eternal kingdom if he himself isn’t eternal:

“And then the point about eternal kingdom, easy! If he's eternal… heaven is eternal! We can say that kingdom is in heaven… why not? We can't?” (DEBATE Sami Zaatari vs Dr James White Jesus, Divine Son of God or Great Prophet of Allah 11)

With that said, let’s see if whether Christ’s enthronement as the eternal King of creation is compatible with the Islamic view that Jesus was nothing more than a human messenger/prophet of God.

According to the Hebrew Bible, a great light shall shine forth from Galilee of the Gentiles. That light shall be the Mighty God coming to be born as a Child for the express purpose of ruling on David’s throne forever:

“Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned…  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:1-2, 6-7

The Christian Scriptures identify Jesus as that great Light and Divine Child,

“When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali—to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: ‘Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.’ From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” Matthew 4:12-17

“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.’ ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’” Luke 1:26-35

As well as the God who is to be forever praised and who eternally reigns over all creation:

“the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.” Romans 9:4-5

But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God (ho Theos), will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.’” Hebrews 1:8-9

Jesus is also described as the divine Son of Man that the prophet Daniel saw in a prophetic vision,

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14

The One whose kingdom is indestructible and whom all the nations – in fact, the entire creation – must worship and serve forever and ever:

“Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’” Mark 14:61b-62 – cf. Matthew 16:27-28; 25:31-46; Luke 17:24-25; 21:27, 36; Acts 7:55-56

“and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:11

“And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.’ Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’ Then I heard EVERY CREATURE in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM, saying: ‘To him who sits on the throne AND TO THE LAMB be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’ The four living creatures said, ‘Amen,’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.” Revelation 5:8-14 – cf. 1:12-18; 14:14-16; 22:1-3

“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and HE will reign for ever and ever.’” Revelation 11:15

The God-breathed Scriptures further proclaim that, as the God-Man, Christ possesses the name that is above all names and has been exalted to the highest position in all existence, reigning alongside the Father from on high over the entire creation: 

“and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, FAR ABOVE ALL rule and authority, power and dominion, AND EVERY NAME that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Ephesians 1:19-23

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him TO THE HIGHEST PLACE and gave him the name THAT IS ABOVE EVERY NAME, that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BEND, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and EVERY TONGUE acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father’? Or again, ‘I will be his Father, and he will be my Son’? And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’” Hebrews 1:3-6

“… It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.” 1 Peter 3:21b-22

Christ is even said to be the King of all kings and the Lord over every other Lord:

“and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth…” Revelation 1:5a

“They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” Revelation 17:14 – cf. 19:16

To more fully appreciate the NT witness to Christ’s exalted status, one needs to keep the OT background in mind. For instance, one of the unique characteristics that make Yahweh unique and incomparable according to the Hebrew Bible is that he alone rules in/from heaven, and it is his name alone that is exalted above all creation. As such, this is a status which Yahweh does not share with any mere creature:

“Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord—that you ALONE are the Most High over all the earth.” Psalm 83:18

“For you, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.” Psalm 97:9

The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.” Psalm 103:19

Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high,” Psalm 113:5

The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to mankind.” Psalm 115:16

“Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name ALONE is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.” Psalm 148:13

“The eyes of the arrogant will be humbled and human pride brought low; the Lord ALONE will be exalted in that day… The arrogance of man will be brought low and human pride humbled; the Lord ALONE will be exalted in that day,” Isaiah 2:11, 17

“For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.” Isaiah 48:11

Yahweh is also said to be the Lord of all lords who reigns forever:

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.” Deuteronomy 10:17

“Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.” Psalm 136:3

“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.” Psalm 145:13

“You, Lord, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation.” Lamentations 5:19

“I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. ‘For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end.’” Daniel 6:26

In view of the above, Jesus Christ must be Yahweh God in the flesh (even though he is not the Father or the Holy Spirit) otherwise he could not share in the Father’s exalted status over all creation, nor could he possess the name above all names and receive the exact same worship that the Father receives from all creation.

Now is this compatible with the Islamic position? Absolutely not, since the Quran makes it emphatically clear that Allah does not share his sovereignty with any of his creatures:

And say, 'Praise belongs to God, who has not taken to Himself a son, and has not had a partner in His kingdom, nor had a patron against (such) abasement.' And magnify Him greatly! S. 17:111 Palmer

He, Whose is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, and Who did not take to Himself a son, and Who has no associate in the kingdom, and Who created everything, then ordained for it a measure. S. 25:2 Shakir

Say: 'None but God knows how long they stayed in it. His are the secrets of the heavens and the earth. Clear is His sight, and keen His hearing. Man has no other guardian besides Him. He allows none to share His sovereignty.' S. 18:26 N. J. Dawood

Here is another version of the above text:

“… His Authority, Sovereignty and Command are absolute and independent and no one does He permit to go shares with Him in any measure or degree.” Al-Muntakhab

Nor does Allah allow any prophet to share in his worship:

Not is for a human that Allah gives him the Book, and the wisdom, and the Prophethood, then he says to the people, "Be worshippers of me besides Allah, but (would say) "Be worshippers of the Lord because you have been teaching the Book and because you have been studying (it)." And not he will order you that you take the Angels, and the Prophets (as) lords. Would he order you to [the] disbelief after [when] you (have become) Muslims? S. 3:79-80

Neither does Allah tolerate any creature being called king of kings:

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "The most awful name in Allah's sight on the Day of Resurrection, will be (that of) a man calling himself Malik Al-Amlak (the king of kings)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 224)

Now unless Zaatari wants to argue that Jesus is Allah incarnate, his response to White shows that he is nothing more than a mushrik (idolater/denier of Islamic unitarianaism), kafir (infidel) and munafiq (hypocrite). Zaatari claims to believe Muhammad, and yet does not hesitate to employ arguments which outright contradict what his own prophet taught concerning these particular issues.

Therefore, to answer his question: No devout Muslim can say that a human prophet possesses an eternal kingdom where he reigns as king in heaven alongside Allah, and whom all nations serve and worship together with the Muslim deity. To say otherwise is to basically commit shirk, which is the unforgivable sin in Islam (cf. Q. 2:22; 4:48, 116; 39:65), since this ascribes a partner with Allah in his exclusive divine sovereignty and worship. 

It is perhaps for the best that Zaatari has chosen to retire from debating. For the sake of his fellow Muslims, he needs to stay away for good since he does much harm and great damage to the cause of Islamic dawah. In fact, I know this is going to offend some of my readers but I need to be blunt here and say that it is these kinds of arguments that lead me to place Zaatari among the worst of the Muslim dawagandists. Truth be told, along with Osama Abdallah, Jalal Abualrub, Nadir Ahmed, and Bassam Zawadi, Zaatari is one of the most inept and dishonest Muhammadan apologists/polemicists of them all.