The Way of Truth
Study 2: TRUTH AND MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT AL-KITAB
We have seen in the last lesson that Almighty Allah in His mercy and grace preserved His word throughout the centuries for our benefit. In this lesson we shall be examining some of the basic and fundamental truths found in those Scriptures. At the same time we shall also see some common misconceptions many people have concerning those Scriptures. Such misconceptions can seriously hamper our correct understanding of the Word of Allah and will therefore be dealt with here.
Al-Kitab’s Foundational Truth – Allah is One.
First and foremost in the teaching of all Scripture is the foundational truth that Allah is one. He is without partner. There is no other worthy of worship beside Him. This is the teaching of all Scripture. The following two quotes from the Taurat and the Injil serve to illustrate what is found throughout Scripture.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)
“‘The most important one,’ answered Isa, ‘is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Mark 12:29)
Allah’s unity is the groundwork upon which all the rest of Scripture is built. Closely related to this teaching is the Scriptural truth that Allah is a spirit without form, and therefore cannot be seen. We also mention here a few other attributes of Allah which are attested to throughout Scriptures. Allah is eternal, everywhere present, all-powerful, unchanging, holy, all-knowing, love and the creator of all existing things. In addition to the creator, Allah is also the preserver and sustainer of all His creation. As is written in the Zabur, He knew us before we were born and it was he who formed us in the womb. He controls all of creation and raises up and puts down rulers and kings.
Because Allah is without form and has no co-partners, the making of images for worship and the worship of images are both condemned in Scripture as being hateful to Allah. We cite one such passage from the Law Allah gave to Prophet Musa.
“You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” (Exodus.20:3,4)
The Scripture teaches the existence of spiritual beings called angels. The angel Jibrail, for example, is mentioned throughout Scripture as Allah’s messenger and obedient servant in carrying out His commands. We shall see later in the Injil that it was Jibrail who announced to the virgin Maryam that she would miraculously have a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. Angels, we are told in Scripture, were created by Allah and worship Allah. Man’s worship of angels is expressly forbidden in Scripture.
In addition to the angels, Scripture also teaches the existence of Satan. He is also known as the devil, or Iblis. Created by Allah and originally good, Satan rebelled against Allah and attempted to put himself above Allah. As a result he fell under Allah’s curse. From the beginning of human history to the present he has been working to destroy the beauty of Allah’s creation and to lead men away from Allah’s path. However, Scripture also tells us that the final destiny of Satan is the eternal fire of hell.
“And Iblis who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Revelation.20:10)
Another teaching of Scripture is the coming of a final judgement by Allah. When that final and great day comes the angel will blow on his trumpet and all those who have died will be raised to life. They will join the living to stand before the judgement seat of Allah. On that day, Allah in His justice and righteousness will judge all men for what they have done during their lives. After the judgement it is recorded that there are only two possibilities for a man. Either Allah will put him in heaven for all eternity or he will spend all of eternity in hell. Heaven is a place where according to the Injil–
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
Hell on the other hand will be a place of eternal torment totally separate from the grace, mercy and love of Allah. Thus, it is written in the Injil,
“They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power.” (II Thessalonians 1:9)
“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)
The Position of Maryam in Scripture
We go on now to examine two common misconceptions people have about Scripture. The first is that the Scriptures teach the existence of more than one God. As we have already shown, it is the very foundation of Scripture that Allah is one. There have been at different periods those who have misinterpreted Al-Kitab so as to support polytheism. However, this is something that all honest students of the Word of Allah must abhor. For example, at different times in history some people have been tempted to place Maryam, the mother of Isa, in a position almost equal to Allah and worthy of our worship. As is clear from Scripture, however, such a position is wrong and hateful to Allah. Allah alone is worthy of our worship. To be sure, Maryam has a place of honour in the Word of Allah as one who received Allah’s grace to a special degree. Nevertheless, despite her obedience to and devotion to Allah she, like all other men and women, is not to be worshipped. She was a person created by Allah just as we are. Worship is reserved for Allah alone, the eternal, the one.
The Term – Son of Allah
At the same time, it is necessary that we deal with another term that occurs frequently in the Injil and which has been misunderstood and consequently has been a stumbling block for many people. That is the title given to Prophet Isa as being the “Son of Allah”. Perhaps it would be most helpful to first explain what the term does not mean and then we can go on to see from Scripture what the term actually implies. First of all, we must say with considerable emphasis that the term has no meaning in the physical sphere. It most certainly does not mean that in some way Allah had a wife and in a physical sense begot a son. Such an idea is abhorrent to any true follower of Allah. Allah has neither a wife, nor any form, hence the idea of physically begetting a son is as ridiculous as it is repelling. Thus, we must insist from the beginning that the term has no physical sense nor can it in any way deny the unity and oneness of Allah, which we have already seen is the very foundation upon which the whole of Scripture rests.
The Word of Allah
Perhaps an illustration here would help to make this clear. Besides being called the Son of Allah in the Injil, Isa is also called the “word of Allah” (Revelation 19:13). It is obvious that when we say Isa is the Word of Allah we do not imply a literal meaning. Isa was not a book, letter or sound. It was not the literal meaning of the term but the figurative, the symbolic meaning that is implied. Word means communication. To say Isa is the “word of Allah” means he is Allah’s means of communication with men. In the same way, when the Injil says Isa is the “Son of Allah” it in no way implies a literal physical sonship. Rather it implies a figurative, symbolic meaning of the term son. To see that this is true and to find out just what the figurative meaning is let us look at the Scriptures.
The Term ‘Son of Allah’ as Used for the Descendents of Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh).
First of all, we find the term “son” being used in the Taurat. Allah used the term in talking about His chosen people, the family of Prophet Ibrahim, the friend of Allah (Khalilullah). Thus, in talking about His own work in calling descendants of Ibrahim out of Egypt by the prophet Musa, Allah says,
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” (Hosea 11:1)
Similarly, in the writings of the prophet Jeremiah, Allah says the following about His future dealings with Prophet Ibrahim’s family,
“They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son.” (Jeremiah 31:9)
It is clear from these passages that when Allah calls the family of Ibrahim His “son”, He does not mean in any way a physical relationship. It is certainly not that Allah had physically begot the descendants of Ibrahim. Rather, it is clear that what is meant is a special relationship, one that is not at all physical.
Characteristics of a Father – Son Relationship
Let us compare this to a human father – son relationship. Such a relationship usually has two aspects – a physical relationship and a bond of closeness. The father has begotten the son and also has a close relation to the son characterized by love, dependence and obedience. There is love between the father and son, the son is dependent on the father, who in turn is committed to protecting and providing for the son. Finally, the son is obliged to be obedient and show respect to his father. This is usually what a father-son relationship implies. However, this is not always true. For example, a man can adopt a son. He is legally the father. They have a relationship including love, dependence and obedience, yet there is not a physical relationship between the two. Such is exactly the case when Scripture talks of the children of Ibrahim as being Allah’s sons. Among all the peoples of the world, Allah in His sovereignty chose the children of Ibrahim to have this special relationship to Him. This relationship had nothing whatever to do with the physical area because Ibrahim and his descendents were created by Allah exactly as are all other men. Rather, it was a relationship of mutual love and dependence on Allah by Ibrahim’s descendents. Allah promised to protect and provide for Ibrahim’s descendents and they promised obedience and respect for Allah.
The Term ‘Son of Allah’ Used for the King over the Descendents of Ibrahim
We find another example of this father – son relationship between Allah and His creation in the case of the king Allah chose to guide and rule over the family of Ibrahim. This man, chosen by Allah to be king, was to live in a special relationship to Allah characterized by the qualities already mentioned of love, dependence and obedience. Let us look at one such passage. When Allah’s servant Prophet Dawud (pbuh) is old, Allah gives him the following message concerning his son the prophet Sulayman (pbuh)–
“He said to me: ‘Sulayman your son is the one who will build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. I will establish his kingdom forever if he is unswerving in carrying out my commands and laws, as is being done at this time.’ (I Chronicles .28:6,7)
Thus, once again we see here an example of Allah using the term “son” in talking about one who has a special and unique relation to Himself; and yet, a relationship in no way related to the physical.
The Term ‘Son of Allah’ as used in the Injil
Let us go on to see how this father-son relationship is used in the Injil. Once again we see essentially the same thing. It is used of those individuals who have the special relationship to Allah characterized by the qualities we saw earlier of love, dependence and obedience. For example, when the disciples of Prophet Isa ask him how they should pray Isa begins a model prayer by saying “our Father in heaven”. It is obvious that there is no physical relationship to Allah implied. Rather, what Isa is trying to teach His disciples here is that our relationship to Allah should be characterized by that love, dependence and obedience seen in a father-son relationship. We see this same idea elsewhere in the Injil. In another place Allah tells the faithful that they must not be like the unbelievers. Rather, their relationship with Allah must be special and unique. It is written,
“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:18)
Thus, we see throughout the Word of Allah the father-son relationship is used of those uniquely related to Allah, but never in the physical sense. It implies that they are separate from the majority of mankind who live in unbelief and rebellion against Allah. Rather, Allah has called these people and separated them for a special relationship to Himself characterized by love, dependence and obedience.
The Term ‘Son of Allah’ as Used of Prophet Isa
Now let us look at one final aspect of this father-son relationship as found in the Injil. We often find Isa referred to as the “son” of Allah. What we have seen before is true here. This in no way implies a physical relationship. The very idea that Allah could have a physical son is to be rejected and abhorred. Rather, for Prophet Isa we find again the term means close relationship characterized by the qualities we saw before. Thus we find in the Injil that Isa says,
“‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34)
Again, when Prophet Isa is tested by Satan, Isa wards off Satan by saying the following,
“It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of Allah.” (Matthew 4:4)
Thus, we see that Isa’s relationship with Allah was supremely characterized by those traits seen earlier of dependence and obedience.
We saw earlier that when Allah called any person or group His “son” it implied they had a special and unique relationship to Him. Thus, the descendents of Prophet Ibrahim were Allah’s sons in that they were separate from all other people on earth. Others lived in rebellion to Allah but the family of Ibrahim was to live in obedience to Allah. Yet, among the family of Ibrahim Allah singled out one man and made him king. This man, also designated as Allah’s son, was in even more of a unique relationship to Allah. The traits of love, dependence and obedience were still there. However, being singled out to be king from among all other people in the nation, he had even a more unique relationship to Allah than did others of Ibrahim’s descendents. Similarly, we see that Prophet Isa’s relationship to Allah as signified by the term “son of Allah” was even more special and unique. Again it was not physical but one of love, dependence and obedience. Yet, Isa was the “Ruhullah”, born without human father by the Spirit of Allah. He was the “Kalimatullah”, the communication of Allah to man. We can say at this point that the term “Son of Allah” as used of Isa implies no physical relationship. It was again one characterized by the qualities we saw before. Yet, we have not in so saying, fathomed the full depth and uniqueness of his relationship to Allah. We shall be going on in coming lessons to see more of what the Injil says about the relationship between Allah and Prophet Isa.
1. What is the foundational teaching of all Scripture?
2. Give three attributes of Allah.
3. What did Allah forbid in the command given to Prophet Musa (Exodus 20:3,4)?
4. What is the final destiny of Satan?
5. What does Scripture teach about Maryam, mother of Isa?
a. She was like Allah
b. She was a person like us
c. She should be worshipped
6. Who announced to Maryam that she would have a son without a human father?
7. What are three characteristics of a father – son relationship?
8. When Allah calls a person or persons His son does this have a physical sense?
a. Yes b. No
9. Those whom Allah calls His sons are
a. To live in unbelief and sin.
b. To live like all other people
c. To live in obedience to Allah
10. Why do you think most people misunderstand the term “son of Allah”?