The Testimony of the Quran
LESSON EIGHT: THE QURAN’S TESTIMONY ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS
In this lesson we shall be looking at what the Quran says on a variety of topics. Several of the passages we shall look at have been difficult to reconcile with the teaching of the Previous Scriptures. Some have even been used in an attempt to refute clear teachings of earlier Scripture. We shall therefore be seeking to understand better how some of these problem passages are to be interpreted.
1. The religion of Ibrahim, the surrendered.
a. 3:95 – Say: Allah speaketh truth. So follow the religion of Ibrahim, the upright. He was not of the idolaters.
b. 4:125 – : Who can be better in religion than one who submits his whole self to Allah, does good, and follows the way of Ibrahim the true in Faith? For Allah did take Ibrahim for a friend.
c. 6:161-163 – Say: Lo! As for me, my Lord hath guided me unto a straight path, a right religion, the community of Ibrahim, the upright, who was no idolater. Say: Lo! My worship and my sacrifice and my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the Worlds. He hath no partner. This am I commanded, and I am first of those who surrender (unto Him).
d. 22:78 – And strive for Allah with the endeavour which is His right. He hath chosen you and hath not laid upon you in religion any hardship; the faith of your father Ibrahim (is yours). He hath named you Muslims of old time and in this (Scripture), that the messenger may be a witness against you, and that ye may be witnesses against mankind. So establish worship, pay the poor-due, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protecting friend. A blessed Patron and a blessed Helper!
e. In Study Five we looked at the followers of Isa al-Masih. What were they called in the Quran (If you do not remember, look at Study Five, Section ‘1’)?
f. Prophet Ibrahim, who lived 2,000 years before Isa al-Masih, was also the follower of which religion?
g. From the above, what do you conclude about the meaning of the term ‘Muslim’ or ‘Islam’? Does it refer only to the followers of the prophet Muhammad (pbuh), or does it have a broader meaning? Explain.
2. The Crucifixion and Resurrection of Isa al-Masih.
a. The Quran makes almost no reference to the crucifixion of Isa. The one passage that does mention it has often been used in an attempt to prove that he did not die on the cross. That reference is:
4:157-158 – And because of their saying: We slew al-Masih, Isa son of Maryam, Allah’s messenger – they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! Those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain. But Allah took him up unto Himself. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise.
b. To properly understand the above passage, we must first look at another Quranic passage. Read the passage below:
8:15-17 – O ye who believe! When ye meet those who disbelieve in battle, turn not your backs to them. Whoso on that day turneth his back to them, unless manoeuvring for battle or intent to join a company, he truly hath incurred wrath from Allah, and his habitation will be hell, a hapless journey’s end. Ye (Muslims) slew them not, but Allah slew them. And thou (Muhammad) threwest not when thou didst throw, but Allah threw, that He might test the believers by a fair test from Him. Lo! Allah is Hearer, Knower.
1) This Sura was given shortly after the Battle of Badr in which the Muslims gained a great victory and much loot (The Sura’s name refers to those spoils of war, Anfal means ‘spoils’). There was the danger of the Muslim warriors becoming proud and taking all the credit for the victory themselves, forgetting that Allah is the one who ultimately decides the outcome of a battle. In order, then, to keep the warriors from becoming too proud of their victory, these verses were given. According to this passage, it was not the Muslims that slew the enemy. Rather, who did it?
2) Did Allah actually shoot the arrows and wield the swords that killed the foes?
3) Why, then, does it say that Allah, not the Muslims, slew the enemy?
c. We now have some of the background necessary to understand our verse on the resurrection. Look back again at Sura 4:157,158 and answer the following questions:
1). Read 4:153–The people of the Scripture ask of thee that thou shouldst cause an (actual) Book to descend upon them from heaven. They asked a greater thing of Musa aforetime, for they said: Show us Allah plainly. The storm of lightning seized them for their wickedness. Then (even) after that) they chose the calf (for worship) after clear proofs (of Allah’s Sovereignty) had come unto them. And We forgave them that! And We bestowed on Musa evident authority.
According to this verse, who are “they” in 4:157,158 who did not slay Isa al-Masih?
2) The “People of Scriptures” are mentioned in verse 153, but not further specified. However, from the fact that these People of the Scriptures are making requests of the Prophet Musa, which group of people would they be – Jews, Christians or Muslims?
d. Before we can complete our analysis of this passage, we need to examine two Injil passages:
1) John 11:45-50 – Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Maryam, and had seen what Isa did, put their faith in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Isa had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
(a) The Pharisees and Sanhedrin consisted of people from what religious group?
(b) What did they desire to do to Isa?
2) John 18:28-32 – Then the Jews led Isa from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?” 30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.” 31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” “But we have no right to execute anyone,” the Jews objected. 32 This happened so that the words Isa had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled.
(a) The Jews desired to kill Isa. Why, then, did they have to take him to the Romans to be crucified?
(b) Who actually crucified Isa, the Jews or the Romans?
e. We can now conclude our study of the original Quran passage by answering the following questions:
1) In Sura 4:157, the Jews are boasting that they succeeded in slaying al-Masih. Were they, in fact, the ones who killed Isa? Why or why not?
2) Not only were the Jews wrong in their boasting of their killing Isa since it was the Romans who did it, they were also wrong in concluding it was their plotting that resulted in his death. According to Romans 8:32 (He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?), whose plan was it that Isa should die on the cross for the sins of mankind?
Thus, as the Quran notes, the boast of the Jews in Sura 4:157 is false for two reasons. To their proud and boastful eyes, it appeared that they had slain al-Masih. However, technically, it was the Romans who did the actual killing. And more importantly, it was in fact Allah’s sovereign plan and purpose that actually brought it about. Thus, from this understanding, the student of the Injil can agree with the Quran in saying, “They slew him not nor crucified, but it appeared so unto them.”
2. Killing of Allah’s Prophets. It is sometimes claimed by those who deny Isa’s crucifixion that a true prophet of Allah could not be killed. Allah would surely have protected him from such humiliation is the claim of such people. The verses below, however, deal with other prophets who were similarly killed.
a. 2:61 – And when ye said: O Musa! We are weary of one kind of food; so call upon thy Lord for us that He bring forth for us of that which the earth groweth – of its herbs and its cucumbers and its corn and its lentils and its onions. He said: Would ye exchange that which is higher for that which is lower? Go down to settled country, thus ye shall get that which ye demand. And humiliation and wretchedness were stamped upon them and they were visited with wrath from Allah. That was because they disbelieved in Allah’s revelations and slew the prophets wrongfully. That was for their disobedience and transgression.
b. 2:91 – And when it is said unto them: Believe in that which Allah hath revealed, they say: We believe in that which was revealed unto us. And they disbelieve in that which cometh after it, though it is the truth confirming that which they possess. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Why then slew ye the prophets of Allah aforetime, if ye are (indeed) believers?
c. 3:21 – Lo! Those who disbelieve the revelations of Allah, and slay the prophets wrongfully, and slay those of mankind who enjoin equity: promise them a painful doom.
d. 5:70 – We made a covenant of old with the Children of Israel and We sent unto them messengers. As often as a messenger came unto them with that which their souls desired not (they became rebellious). Some (of them) they denied and some they slew.
e. 3:112 – Ignominy shall be their portion wheresoever they are found save (where they grasp) a rope from Allah and a rope from men. They have incurred anger from their Lord, and wretchedness is laid upon them. That is because they used to disbelieve the revelations of Allah, and slew the prophets wrongfully. That is because they were rebellious and used to transgress.
f. 3:181,183 – Verily Allah heard the saying of those who said, (when asked for contributions to the war): “Allah, forsooth, is poor, and we are rich!” We shall record their saying with their slaying of the prophets wrongfully and We shall say: Taste ye the punishment of burning! (The same are) those who say: Lo! Allah hath charged us that we believe not in any messenger until he bring us an offering which fire (from heaven) shall devour. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Messengers came unto you before me with miracles, and with that (very miracle) which ye describe. Why then did ye slay them? (Answer that) if ye are truthful!
Apart from the above passages, it is the very clear testimony not only of the Injil, but also of the other books of the Previous Scriptures, that Allah’s Masih would come and suffer for the sin’s of others. Such was Allah’s gracious plan to call back to himself a rebellious and disobedient people.
3. Isa’s Death and Resurrection
The below Quran verses would seem to support the fact that Isa did, in fact, die and was raised to life. The verses are admittedly not too clear. However, considering the clear testimony of the Injil on this point, it would seem the most likely interpretation.
a. 19:33 – Peace on me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!
b. 19:15 – Peace on him the day he was born, and the day he dieth and the day he shall be raised alive!
1) About whom is the second verse speaking? (hint: read 19:12 — “And it was said unto his (i.e. Zakariyya’s) son: O Yahya! Hold fast the Scripture. And we gave him wisdom when a child,)?
2) In the first verse (Sura 19:33), the child Isa makes a similar statement about himself. It thus seems most natural to suppose that Isa, like Yahya, was or was not put to death?
4. Allah has no Son.
a. 5:75 – Al-Masih, son of Maryam, was no other than a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) had passed away before him. And his mother was a saintly woman. And they both used to eat (earthly) food. See how We make the revelations clear for them, and see how they are turned away!
b. 9:30 – And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: Al-Masih is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they!
c. 19:35 – It befitteth not (the Majesty of) Allah that He should take unto Himself a son. Glory be to Him! When He decreeth a thing, He saith unto it only: Be! And it is.
d. Read Study Four entitled “The Correct Interpretation of Scripture” from the course Allah’s Eternal Word. Then, in your own words, explain how the use of the term “Son of Allah” for Isa in the Injil differs from the use of the term in the above Quran passages.
e. How would you explain the term “son of Allah” to someone who claims it is blasphemy?
5. Marriage Regulations
a. Normal regulations for all Muslims
4:3 – And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that ye will not do injustice.
b. Special arrangement for the Prophet
1) 33:50,51 – O Prophet! Lo! We have made lawful unto thee thy wives unto whom thou hast paid their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesseth of those whom Allah hath given thee as spoils of war, and the daughters of thine uncle on the father’s side and the daughters of thine aunts on the father’s side, and the daughters of thine uncle on the mother’s side and the daughters of thine aunts on the mother’s side who emigrated with thee, and a believing woman if she give herself unto the Prophet and the Prophet desire to ask her in marriage – a privilege for thee only, not for the (rest of) believers – We are Aware of that which We enjoined upon them concerning their wives and those whom their right hands possess – that thou mayst be free from blame, for Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. Thou canst defer whom thou wilt of them and receive unto thee whom thou wilt, and whomsoever thou desirest of those whom thou hast set aside (temporarily), it is no sin for thee (to receive her again); that is better; that they may be comforted and not grieve, and may all be pleased with what thou givest them. Allah knoweth what is in your hearts (O men), and Allah is ever Forgiving, Clement.
2) 33:37 – : And when thou saidst unto him on whom Allah hath conferred favour and thou hast conferred favour: Keep thy wife to thyself, and fear Allah. And thou didst hide in thy mind that which Allah was to bring to light, and thou didst fear mankind whereas Allah hath a better right that thou shouldst fear Him. So when Zeyd had performed that necessary formality (of divorce) from her, We gave her unto thee in marriage, so that (henceforth) there may be no sin for believers in respect of wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have performed the necessary formality (of release) from them. The commandment of Allah must be fulfilled.
In this study we have looked at some difficult topics. Some passages in the Quran are very hard to correctly interpret. Even Islamic scholars often differ on proper interpretations. Thus, it is not too surprising if not all of our interpretations agree totally with that of others around us. What is important is that we actually read and study the passages for ourselves, not simply accept the explanations of some expert.
Directly relating to the statement above, we do not expect each person to agree totally with everything presented in this set of studies. While we have tried as much as possible to make sure you were the one drawing conclusions and interpretations for yourself out of the passages under study, there may have been times when you did not agree with one or more conclusions made. Total agreement is not necessary or even always desirable. What is very important is that we each interact with the passages ourselves and do not simply believe what others tell us.
It is our hope that on completing this set of studies you will go on to read through the entirety of the Quran on your own. See for yourself what it contains. And as you do so, compare and contrast what you find with what is written in the previous scriptures.