Allah is father to no-one

Father and child by a lake

We’ve been having discussions recently with a muslima who has got very annoyed at our suggestion that the name ‘Father’ only applies to the Christian God and not to the Islamic deity. She claims it’s OK to call Allah ‘Father’ because Allah ‘fathered’ all of us in the sense he ‘created’ all of us. So by that token, it’s OK for Muslims to call Allah their ‘father.’ But does this reflect what the Qur’an teaches?

Not in the least. If anything, Allah is at pains to point out that this is not how Muslims should perceive him:

He neither begets nor is born, Nor is there to Him any equivalent.” (Sura 112:3-4)

After dismissing the Christian belief in the divine Sonship of Jesus Christ, Allah says:

“Not one of the beings in the heavens and the earth but must come to (Allah) Most Gracious as a slave.” 19:93 (Hilali/Khan)

Nor is ‘Father’ one of Allah’s 99 names. In fact, calling Allah ‘Father’ is ‘a very grave sin’ according to this Muslim commentator:

No one has the freedom, no matter how well-intentioned, to ascribe to Allah Most High such false names and attributes as ‘father’ that they themselves create. That is a very grave sin indeed. Rather Allah Most High has Himself provided all His beautiful names (al Asma al-Husnah) in the Qur’an, and ‘father’ is most certainly not one of them, and can never be one of them. Neither is Allah Most High father, nor can He be even compared with father, since He is incomparable. Indeed elementary common sense reveals that He cannot be father since, although He created both the male and the female, He is neither male nor female. While the English word ‘He’ connotes masculinity, the Arabic word Huwa does not! The ‘moon’, al-Qamar, for example, is in the masculine gender in Arabic and yet is never considered to be male.

In the Qur’an Allah also takes Jews and Christians directly to task for their claim to be ‘children of God’:

But the Jews and the Christians say, “We are the children of Allah and His beloved.” Say, “Then why does He punish you for your sins?” Rather, you are human beings from among those He has created. He forgives whom He wills, and He punishes whom He wills. And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them, and to Him is the [final] destination. (Sura 5:18)

In so doing Allah reveals the deficiency of his knowledge about Christian Scripture. No Christian believes God punishes us for our sins; instead out of mercy, Jesus is punished on our behalf:

“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.”(Isaiah 53:5)

Allah also assumes fathers wouldn’t punish their children for their sins, when there are ahadith which clearly advocate punishing children when they do the wrong thing. For example:

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: The Messenger of Allah said: “Teach your children to pray when they are seven years old, and smack them (lightly) if they do not do so when they are ten, and separate them in their beds.”(Narrated by Abu Dawood, 495; classed as saheeh (authentic) by Shaykh al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 5868)

Allah seems to be confusing punishment with discipline, which Hebrews 12 speaks of in a positive sense. God disciplines us as a loving Father also disciplines his children:

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!”

It’s puzzling why Allah misunderstands fatherhood so much, given he is the creator of all things, including human relationships.  Christian Scripture doesn’t just have a different definition of fatherhood, the first person of the Trinity is a Father. There is evidence for this in the Old  Testament as well as the new:

Is this the way you repay the Lord, you foolish and unwise people? Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you? (Deuteronomy 32:6)

Jesus teaches his followers to call God ‘Father’ when they pray:

‘This, then, is how you should pray: ‘“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9)

How amazing that God wants this kind of intimate, familial relationship with weak, sinful creatures like us! But it’s a relationship that isn’t conferred on us automatically, but by choice, through repentance and faith in Jesus as the unique Son of God who died in our place. “Whoever does not honour the Son does not honour the Father, who sent him.” (John 5:23)

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

So if our Muslims friend wants to call god Father, she needs a different god.

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Is power given to Jesus in the Bible?

Is power given to Jesus in the Bible?

Muslims use John 5:19 (Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself) to claim that power was given to Jesus, in order to ‘explain’ how Jesus could create life in Sura 5:110. But passage doesn’t say that! The passage actually affirms Jesus is God in the flesh! 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but HE WAS EVEN CALLING GOD HIS OWN FATHER, MAKING HIMSELF EQUAL WITH GOD. 19 Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; HE CAN DO ONLY WHAT HE SEES HIS FATHER DOING, BECAUSE WHATEVER THE FATHER DOES THE SON ALSO DOES. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 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. 22 MOREOVER, THE FATHER JUDGES NO ONE, BUT HAS ENTRUSTED ALL JUDGMENT TO THE SON, 23 THAT ALL MAY HONOUR THE SON JUST AS THEY HONOUR THE FATHER. WHOEVER DOES NOT HONOUR THE SON DOES NOT HONOUR THE FATHER, WHO SENT HIM..

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Reclaiming martyrdom

Libyan martyrs
courtesy of the Catholic Exchange

It’s inevitable that the meanings of words evolve according to how society uses them – what’s interesting is what this says about society’s preoccupations. The sexual revolution changed the definition of ‘gay’;  our cynical postmodern weariness is changing the meaning of ‘virtue’, and so on. So it is with ‘martyr’. What is a martyr these days? A passive-agressive completer of menial tasks or a religious fanatic, bent on paradise, happy to blow themselves up and their enemies with them.

This is a fair enough definition – of Islamic ‘martyrdom’. Islam teaches believers to slay and be slain, that jihad – fighting in Allah’s cause -is the greatest of deeds, and that dying this way is so good you’ll want to come back to life just to do it all over again:

Qur’an 9:111—Surely Allah has bought of the believers their persons and their property for this, that they shall have the garden; they fight in Allah’s way, so they slay and are slain.

Sahih al-Bukhari 2785—Narrated Abu Hurairah: A man came to Allah’s Messenger and said, “Guide me to such a deed as equals Jihad (in reward).” He replied, “I do not find such a deed.”

Sahih al-Bukhari 2797—Narrated Abu Hurairah: The Prophet said, . . . “By Him in Whose Hands my soul is! I would love to be martyred in Allah’s Cause and then come back to life and then get martyred, and then come back to life again and then get martyred and then come back to life again and then get martyred.”

But because of our society’s woeful religious illiteracy, most people think that’s how Christians who are serious about their faith end up too: fanatics who slaughter people in the name of God. Twisted? Yes. But how did we end up in this situation? Why has the concept of Christian martyrdom been so successfully erased from public consciousness? Maybe because in the West, apart from some notable exceptions we don’t want to die for Christ anymore. We want full churches (who cares if they don’t teach the Bible), paid clergy in jobs for life, inclusive communities, uplifting meetings and guitar-led worship. What would Ridley and Latimer make of it all? Most of us – Biblically conservative Christians included – daren’t pipe up on social media in defence of Biblical truth, let alone go to the stake for it.

Then you hear stories from other parts of the world that bring us to our knees in  awe of the power of Christ in people’s lives and weeping in repentance for our own lukewarm love for our Saviour. Here is one, courtesy of Barnabas Fund from a couple of days ago:

“Pastor Stephen was asleep at home with his wife and two daughters in Darfur, Sudan, when six masked Islamists burst in, during the early hours of 2 March. They asked why he had continued to preach about Jesus, after they had warned him several times to stop. Stephen had a powerful evangelistic ministry and the day before had led 56 Muslims to Christ. Stephen‘s answer to the Islamists was simply to tell them about the Lord. The attackers tied up the family and chopped off their limbs until they died. Stephen, the last to die, sang “Hallelujah Hosanna” throughout it all. At their funeral, the powerful preaching caused another 214 people to give their lives to Christ. Praise God for the faithfulness of Stephen and his family and pray for all who have become Christians because of him, that they may glorify God by their lives and – if need be – their deaths.”

Martyrdom in Christianity is about laying down your life for the sake of Christ. It has nothing to do with ‘slaying others.’ You don’t do it for a better reward, but as a gift to the One who has given us more than we can ever possibly give Him back. Because of Pastor Stephen and his family’s faithfulness to the end, hundreds of people will now live eternally with Jesus.So let’s stop calling Islamic martyrdom ‘martyrdom,’ when it is a parody of martyrdom. Let’s call it what it is – jihad-inspired violence and terror.

One day, if we’re in Christ, we’ll meet Pastor Stephen face-to-face – and Latimer and Ridley and Cranmer and Stephen and the Apostle Paul and countless other brave Christian martyrs. What will we talk about? What we learnt at our last women’s conference? Whether Matt Redman was right to re-work “It is well with my soul?” Whether we were Calvinists or Armenians?

We pray for our Christian family in these countries, of course. But we pray too – God change us. Shake us out of our timidity and complacency with tears of repentance. May we never read these accounts, shrug our shoulders and carry on as before. And who knows what the consequence might be of a church that said- and meant – “to live is Christ, to die is gain?” (Phillipians 1:21)

Hugh Latimer was onto something with his (alleged) last words before going up in flames:  “Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.” Are we worthy torch-bearers of this flame today? Or are we slowly extinguishing it one compromise at a time?

Son of God conceived through sex?

Was the Son of God conceived through sex?

Hatun challenges Muslims’ false belief that the Bible teaches Jesus was conceived through sexual relations. But the Qur’an does teach something like that…

And [We have propounded yet another parable of God-consciousness in the story of] Mary, the daughter of Imran, [24] who guarded her chastity, whereupon We breathed of Our spirit into that [which was in her womb], [25] and who accepted the truth of her Sustainer’s words – and [thus,] of His revelations [26] – and was one of the truly devout. – Sura 66:12

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Why Muslims are not in the Garden of Eden

Why Muslims are not in the Garden of Eden.

There is no original sin in Islam – but in that case, how come Muslims are no longer in the Garden of Eden? And why is the doctrine of original sin hinted at in Islamic sources?

‘If God were to punish men for their wrong-doing, He would not leave upon the earth a single beast; but he gives them respite until a stated time; and when their time comes they cannot put it off an hour, nor can they bring it on.’ (Sura 16:61, Sura 35:45)

The Prophet said, “When any human being is born, Satan touches him at both sides of the body with his two fingers, except Jesus, the son of Mary, whom Satan tried to touch but failed, for he touched the placenta-cover instead.” www.sunnah.com/bukhari/59/95.

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