Muhammad is not a prophet – 10 reasons (2)

 

Swearing in ceremony

Reason 2: Muhammad broke his oaths for immediate sexual gratification

“O Prophet, why do you prohibit [yourself from] what Allah has made lawful for you, seeking the approval of your wives? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. Allah has already ordained for you [Muslims] the dissolution of your oaths. And Allah is your protector, and He is the Knowing, the Wise.” Sura 66:1-2

This is one of those verses from the clear, detailed, well-explained Qur’an that is impossible to explain without the ahadith and the tafsirs to help us. What is it that Allah has made lawful to Muhammad? What was his oath that Allah released him from?

There are two possible contexts to the revelation. The first is that that Aisha was jealous of Muhammad for staying too long drinking honey at Zainab’s place, so she incited his other wives against him to ask if he had been drinking maghafir – a kind of sweet sap with a strong smell – implying “you smell, Muhammad.” Muhammad said, no, I’ve just been drinking honey, but to keep you happy, I promise I won’t drink it again. This is in Ibn Kathir. It’s also referred to in Bukhari and Muslim.

The other context, and the more popular among the classical tafsir writers, is the story of Mary the Copt. The Qur’anic commentators Al-Jalalyn (Tabari, Al-Badawi and Sunan an-Nisai as well) all refer to this story, as does Ibn Kathir, who – according to this Muslim – said the honey story was a “questionable” context of revelation for these verses. And if this Muslim is to be believed, the story of Mary the Copt has been expunged from the on-line version of his tafsir. If true, then why? Probably because it’s so embarrassing to the prophet of Islam.

The story goes like this. Muhammad used to visit his wives in turn; when it was Hafsa’s turn, he didn’t find her at home. Rather than wait for her, he decided to have sex with with his slave girl, Mary the Copt – a present to Muhammad from al-Muqawqis, the ruler of Egypt after the treaty of al-Hudaybiyah – in Hafsa’s bed. Hafsa is upset by this, after which Muhammad agrees to make Mary “unlawful” for him. Here is Al-Jalalyn’s tafsir:

O Prophet! Why do you prohibit what God has made lawful for you in terms of your Coptic handmaiden Māriya — when he lay with her in the house of Hafsa who had been away but who upon returning and finding out became upset by the fact that this had taken place in her own house and on her own bed — by saying ‘She is unlawful for me!’ seeking by making her unlawful for you to please your wives? And God is Forgiving Merciful having forgiven you this prohibition.

Then, conveniently, Muhammad receives Sura 66:1.

“O Prophet, why do you prohibit [yourself from] what Allah has made lawful for you, seeking the approval of your wives? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. Allah has already ordained for you [Muslims] the dissolution of your oaths. And Allah is your protector, and He is the Knowing, the Wise.” Sura 66:1-2

In other words, go ahead Muhammad: it doesn’t matter that Hafsa is upset, your instant sexual gratification is more important than your wives’ feelings. And if they complain, what does Sura 66:5 say?

“It may be if he divorced you that his Lord will give him instead of you, better wives than you.”

Quite apart from the murky light it sheds on Muhammad, what are ordinary Muslims to make of it? Why are these verses in the Qur’an, Allah’s eternal speech? How are they to apply these verses to their lives, given that Muhammad is their ‘exalted pattern of conduct’?

Muhammad’s sexual morality is a subject for another post, as is the convenience of his revelations, but for now let’s compare Allah’s casual rescinding of Muhammad’s oath with what the Bible says. The Old Testament affirms that making a vow to the LORD is a serious act, not to be taken lightly:

If you make a vow to the LORD your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the LORD your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty. Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the LORD your God with your own mouth. (Deu 23:21-23)

YHWH says it’s better not to make the vow at all if you don’t think you can keep it:

When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5-6)

Jesus goes further in Matthew 5:33-37:

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

Allah is not a god of his word and Muhammad not a man of his word, in flagrant disobedience to the previous Scriptures which the Qur’an claims to confirm (Sura 3:3, 4:136, 5:48, 5:68, 29:46).

YHWH of the Bible is a God of His word – He does what He says He will do. Jesus keeps His word to His Father and His followers, even to the point of sacrificing Himself on the Cross for the sake of a world that hated Him. Nothing self-gratifying about that.

“Jesus sinned” says Muslim. Allah disagrees!

Godwin and Daniel discuss with “John Rambo” – an aggressive member of the Islamic da’wah team – over whether Jesus was a sinner. John Rambo says yes – Islamic teaching says NO.

Find us on YouTube

 

Good Friday

Nails, crown of thorns

33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[a]

35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died,[b] he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Mark 15:33-40
Jesus, thank You that You suffered for us. Thank You that You died on the Cross. Thank you that You are the eternally begotten Son of God. Lord open our eyes to see that we are the ones worthy of punishment. We deserve that Cross.
But You don’t treat us as our sins deserve. Jesus, the Beloved Son,  took our place. He took our sin and shame in exchange for forgiveness and righteousness and eternal life. Lord, how can we begin to thank you? Take our lives as living sacrifices to your praise and glory for everything You’ve done.
Amen.
Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:4-6

Why Jesus is like Sleeping Beauty (according to Islam)

Sleeping Beauty

The recent debate between David Wood and Shabir Ally on ‘Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?’ exposed an uncomfortable fact for Muslims – that despite the Qur’an’s claim to be a ‘well-explained confirmation of the previous Scripture’ (Sura 10:37 ) neither it nor any of the other Islamic sources remotely explains what happened to Jesus. What you get instead is a big, confused mess.

There is only one ayah (out of 6,236) that mentions Jesus’ crucifixion, Sura 4:157 (Sahih International):

And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah .” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain.

Most Muslims presume from this that Jesus didn’t die by crucifixion; instead they go along with one of two theories. Substitution theory – that someone else died on the Cross,  disguised to look like Jesus while Jesus himself was raised to heaven alive; or Swoon theory, where Jesus passed out on the cross after which he was either taken up to heaven alive (Shabir Ally’s position) or he was laid in the tomb but revived, stumbled on his bloodied, nail-pierced feet unwitnessed and unassisted to Kashmir, where he continued to preach Islam until he eventually died (the Ahmaddi position.)

The earliest tafsir writers support substitution. So who went on this cross in Jesus’ place? According to Ibn Abbas (d.687 AD), it was  the Jew’s ‘man’,  Tatianos. Who is Tatianos? If Muslims were able to identify this person 7 centuries later, how come Christians have never heard of him? Or maybe Ibn Abbas got the wrong story.

Ibn Kathir (d.1373 AD) tells it differently. In his account, Jesus asked one of his friends to volunteer. He chooses a young, rather insistent chap- lucky him.

“Who volunteers to be made to look like me, for which he will be my companion in Paradise” A young man volunteered, but `Isa thought that he was too young. He asked the question a second and third time, each time the young man volunteering, prompting `Isa to say, “Well then, you will be that man.” Allah made the young man look exactly like `Isa, while a hole opened in the roof of the house, and  ‘Isa was made to sleep and ascended to heaven while asleep.

Al Jalalyn ( two writers, d.1459 and 1505 AD) say “he, the one slain and crucified , who was an associate of theirs the Jews was given the resemblance of Jesus.” Some Muslims argue it was a watchman, or Judas (some say Iscariot, others not.) For more detail on who Muslims think might have taken Jesus’ place, read this article by Sam Shamoun.

Identity issues aside, substitution theory creates a serious theological problem:  if it  wasn’t Jesus on the Cross, why did Allah allow millions of Christians throughout the centuries to believe he was? Allah must be very malicious to do that. And it goes against Allah’s own teaching – that no-one will bear the burden of another (Sura 6:164). This is why Shabir Ally doesn’t hold to the Substitution argument, although it remains the most commonly-held position by Sunni Muslims.

Ally’s position, that Jesus was taken up to heaven alive, is based on the verse following Sura 4:157, Sura 4:158:

Rather,  Allah raised him to Himself. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise.

This verse doesn’t say explicitly that Jesus didn’t die, so Dr. Ally is relying on an argument from silence. But the Qur’an isn’t silent, because in three other verses, it says Jesus dies. Sura 3:55 (see also Sura 19:33 and 5:117)

Lo! God said: “O Jesus! Verily, I shall cause thee to die, and shall exalt thee unto Me

(Note,  not all English translations have this phrase, but it is there in the Arabic– mutawaffeeka.)

Dr. Ally speculated that this verse doesn’t have to be interpreted chronologically: it could mean Jesus was exalted (taken to heaven), and will return one day after which he will die – only there are no other verses that support this interpretation. If anything, the chronological view is supported, as the same formula (reminiscent of the creed in 1 Cor 15:3) is applied to John the Baptist in Sura 19:15:

“And peace be upon him the day he was born and the day he dies and the day he is raised alive.”

No-one doubts that John the Baptist died. Instead Dr. Ally, like Ibn Kathir, speculates that Jesus was taken to heaven in his sleep, according to Sura 6:60

“And He it is Who takes your souls at night, and He knows what you earn by day, then raises you up therein that at an appointed term may be fulfilled. Then to Him is your return, then He will inform you of what you did.”

So Jesus was taken to Paradise in his sleep? Is he still sleeping, like Sleeping Beauty, until Allah wakes him up in time for judgement day? Or did he actually die? The Qur’an strongly suggests it. When he died, was it on the Cross? If not then and there, then where and when? Also, why does the Qur’anic Jesus get to be with Allah in heaven (despite being hopeless at preaching Islam) when Muhammad, the perfect example to mankind, wasn’t sure where he was going? And if Jesus was miraculously rescued from death, how come the same privilege wasn’t extended to Muhammad? Muhammad was fatally poisoned, only Allah didn’t swap him for a lookalike at the eleventh hour.

Dr Ally conceded that not everything in the Qur’an was meant to be interpreted historically, that a bit like “the Hulk shopping for stretchable underwear” (he really said that) just because something didn’t really happen doesn’t make it not true (or words to that effect).

Nice, humorous, vague sentiment – only the Qur’an doesn’t allow itself to be so loosely interpreted. What does Sura 10:37 say again?

And it was not [possible] for this Qur’an to be produced by other than Allah, but [it is] a confirmation of what was before it and a detailed explanation of the [former] Scripture, about which there is no doubt, from the Lord of the worlds.

What’s most tragic about this question is that it’s not something the Qur’an even needed to explain, because the Bible presents the death and resurrection of Jesus as historical fact. Not only does the Qur’an fail to explain these facts – it actively ignores them in favour of conflicting, unhistorical, unsubstantiated reports, therefore proving by its own logic that it can’t be from Allah.

David Wood quoted David Hume – “a wise man proportions his belief to the evidence” – and all the evidence for what happened to Jesus is in the Bible. The Bible also tells us why Jesus chose the Cross.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 (John 3:16)

Our Muslim friends at Speaker’s Corner tell us often how ‘logical’ Islam is. Isn’t it logical to go where the evidence leads?

Salvation in Christianity and Islam. Part 2: Repentance

Jesus said repent

by Lizzie Schofield

I said in part 1 that I would write about salvation in Islam in part 2, but there are a few thoughts I wanted to add on the Christian side before moving on. Apologies, and watch out for part 3.

In part 1, I asserted that salvation in Christianity starts from the basis of belief in Jesus, in his death on the Cross for our sins. But belief doesn’t simply mean unqualified theoretical assent: after all, even the devil believes in God. James 2:19:

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.”

Belief that leads to salvation isn’t simply a matter of intellectually affirming that something is true, but is something we act upon: I get on the plane because I believe the pilot can fly it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t get on the plane. So if we say we believe in Jesus, but allow Him to have no impact on our lives, we don’t really believe Him. When Jesus announces the start of his public ministry, he couples belief with repentance: “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15) If we say we are Christians, and have not taken our sin seriously enough to repent, we need to examine ourselves to see if we are really in the faith, just as Paul meant in 2 Cor:13-5-6.

Repentance is the bit we like to skate over because we feel awkward about the sin part.  Let’s skip to the good bit, the assurance of eternal life. Thank you Jesus!  Why dwell on the negative? But this is dangerous. By glossing over how catastrophic sin is, we gloss over God’s drastic, radical, uncompromising, torturous solution to it is – the Cross – and how it is the only cure to a deadly sickness that affects us all. Let’s not pretend that just because we’ve never punched anyone and always submitted our tax return on time that our sin isn’t that bad – the Cross says it is. Let’s not pretend that the unarticulated bitterness towards a family member doesn’t matter because it stays in our head – the Cross says it does. We might have been a Christian for years, but find some sins just too comforting to give up. The Cross says “I gave up my comfort for you.” And then this one (James 4:17): “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” Anyone else starting to feel a bit uneasy?

It is unfashionable to talk about sin these days, even in church. When not completely ignored, it is hastily brushed under the carpet,  The emphasis of church these days is inclusion. People need to understand how inclusive Jesus was. This did the rounds on Facebook recently, as an example of the “best’ church welcome notice ever (courtesy of All Saints Lutheran, Aurora, Colorado):

“We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, black and proud, y no habla Ingles.

We extend a special welcome to those who are new-borns, poor as dirt, skinny as a rail, got a hitch in their git-along, or just plain can’t sing. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing,” just woke up, or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Lutheran than Luther, or more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church since little Maria’s confirmation.

We extend a special welcome to those who are over 40 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters, and people who stay up too late at night. If you’re having problems, or you’re down in the dumps, or you don’t like “organized religion,” we’ve been there too. If you blew all your offering money at Black Hawk, you’re welcome here.”

This church wants to welcome everyone because  Jesus meets us where we’re at! Grace for all, right? Because Jesus died once for all this means I can believe and then 5 minutes later carry on sinning as much as I like, right? (This objection is frequently raised by Muslims.). Hebrews 9:26 says no, you can’t:

“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”

A church that is faithful to Christ welcomes people as they are, but should never expect them to stay that way. A Biblical church doesn’t water down or ignore Jesus’ call to repentance.  God isn’t a heavenly waiter who hovers ready to meet our spiritual demands. If we say we believe him, but carry on in our sins, it’s like saying you love your wife while having an affair with the neighbour and wondering why she might have a problem with that. Our sins cost Jesus His life; hence we should own up to them, and deal with them actively, ruthlessly. Who do you need to apologise to? What habits do you need to confront? (Personally, I can think of at least one in each category.)

And yet it is also true that Jesus died “once for all” (Hebrews 10:26). When we repent and believe in Christ, his sacrifice is enough for the sins of tomorrow as well as those of today. The fact I will (no doubt) sin tomorrow doesn’t change my salvation: but will I acknowledge my need of Christ to cleanse me on a daily basis in order to please him? Wilberforce used to keep a list of character flaws which he would pray through and monitor on a weekly basis.

The 19th century preacher, Charles Spurgeon put it this way:

“Too many think lightly of sin, and therefore think lightly of the Saviour. He who has stood before his God, convicted and condemned, with the rope about his neck, is the man to weep for joy when he is pardoned, to hate the evil which has been forgiven him, and to live to the honour of the Redeemer by whose blood he has been cleansed….A spiritual experience which is thoroughly flavoured with a deep and bitter sense of sin is of great value to him that has it. It is terrible in the drinking, but it is most wholesome to the bowels, and in the whole of the after life.” Spurgeon, c.1890, autobiography.

The fact that God cares so passionately about sin is good news. He hates the anger, greed, lust, slander and malice that ruin His world and there will be no sin in heaven because Jesus has dealt with all of it. He wants us to hate it too. Allah on the other hand, is not bothered by sin. As the South London Imam told the audience during a discussion on the topic last week, sin to Allah is in fact “not really a big deal.” So what exactly are Muslims saved from? How is sin dealt with? And what are the implications for Islamic paradise?

More in Part 3.