By Babatunde Jose
The 1991 Gulf War, codenamed Operation Desert Storm is a watershed in the history of the Arab world and its afterburner and attendant consequences are still being felt. But, it is not the first desert storm. A storm has been raging in the ‘desert’ for more than 2000 years over a prophet of God called Jesus and his mission. Disputes concerning the nature of Jesus have deluged the earth with the blood of millions of people since his birth: From the persecution of his followers to the adoption of his creed by the Roman Emperor Constantine as state religion, followed in time by the altercation with Islam and the crusades, the Great Schism, the Reformation and the Inquisition, to present day bad blood between his followers and the followers of Islam. The name of Christ has caused more persecutions, wars, and miseries than any other name has caused. The darkest wrongs are still inspired by it. The wails of anguish that went up from Kishinev, Odessa, and Bialystok pogroms still vibrate in our ears. Whole libraries have been devoted to academic discourse on the nature and mission of the man who his followers have elevated to a position of divinity and co-equal with God: A concept that was never contemplated during the lifetime of the man but was surreptitiously made into a creed three hundred years after his demise. Even the concept of Trinity is not mentioned or enunciated in the Bible: The Platonic term trias, meaning three, was Latinized as trinitas, which gave us the English word trinity which is neither biblical nor Christian. Therefore, it is only proper in this season of Christmastide for us to peep into the Jesus imbroglio from the perspective of Islam; seeing that Jesus is also a revered prophet of Islam. What then is the Islamic standpoint regarding the personality of the Prince of Peace – Jesus?
“We Muslims believe, that Jesus (Eesa) was one of the mightiest messengers of God; that he was the Christ and that he was born miraculously – without any male intervention. The miracles of Jesus are the supernatural deeds attributed to him in Christian and Islamic texts. The majority are faith healings, exorcisms, resurrection, control over nature and forgiveness of sins. However, in the Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke), Jesus refuses to give a miraculous sign to prove his authority: “. . . and said unto them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it. Matthew 12:39
Notwithstanding, no Muslim is a Muslim if he does not believe in Jesus!” But, Islam takes great exception to the concept of the ‘Sonship’ of God and the deification of Christ: Islam teaches the existence of a PERFECT God, meaning there is no sharer in His Nature and His Attributes: “Say: He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; and there is none like unto Him.” (Quran, 112:1-4)
As regards the sons of God, no prophet can claim exclusivity of that phrase as there are tons of ‘sons’ in the Bible: The Bible contains 2541 instances. Though John 3:18 mentioned “the only begotten Son of God”; Psalms, 2:7, says ” I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” This reference is to David which makes the ‘begotten son’ doctrine untenable as there are other instances of such references.
As for the deification of Christ and his divinity Deuteronomy 6:4 (which is the Shema recited by every Jew each morning) echoes Quran 112. Note in Mark 12:28-34 how Jesus and a Jewish scribe he encountered understood this text: “And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him; which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord. . . . . . . ” Mark 12:28-34. Jesus said ‘The Lord our God’.
There are many instances in the Holy Bible that corroborate the notion of one God and the messengership of Jesus. For, a messenger is defined as ‘he that is sent’; hear John: John 17:3 — “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
The oneness of God received emphasis in the following verses: Deuteronomy 32:39, 2 Samuel 7:22; 1 Kings 8:60; 2 KINGS 5:15; 2 Kings 19:15; 1 Chronicles 17:20; Nehemiah 9:6; Isaiah 43:10,11; Isaiah 46:9;Hosea 13:4 and also in Joel 2:27. Ephesians 4:6; 1 Timothy 1:17; And many other places.
We could call Jesus many things, even as in 1 Timothy 2:5 where it is said: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Yes! As a mediator between man and God; but not God! For, as James 2:19 says: Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
Two reasons have been advanced to prove that Jesus is God, according to them; Jesus is God because HE SHARES THE NATURE OF GOD, and HE IS IN EVERY WAY LIKE GOD.
Numerous verses from the Bible prove that Jesus neither SHARED THE NATURE OF GOD, nor is he IN EVERY WAY LIKE GOD. These verses negate the very concept of God in both its etymological and spiritual sense. What would God want to prove by subjecting His majesty to the challenges and tribulations Jesus was subjected to?
A “God” that was created from the seed of David: “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the SEED of David according to the flesh.” (Romans, 1:3) Haba! “The Fruit of the Loins of David”. (Acts, 2:30); For the ancestors of “God” (Matthew, 1:1); the sex of “God” (Luke, 2:21); How Mary conceived and delivered “God”(Luke, 2:6) which means that she went through all the normal stages of pregnancy. Nor was her delivery any different from other expectant mothers see (Revelation, 12:2) and (Luke, 11:27); the country of origin of “God”: Jesus (God) was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king. (Matthew, 2:1); Jesus (God) was a carpenter by trade (Mark, 6:3), and the son of a carpenter. (Matthew 13:55). Mental, physical and moral development of “God (Luke, 2:52); “God” Was Twelve Years Old when his parents took him to Jerusalem for Passover (Luke, 2:41-42); The powerless “God” said, “I can of mine own self do nothing.” (John, 5:30);
And the ultimate contradiction was when Jesus (God) was asked about the ‘Hour’, he said: “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” (Mark, 13:32)
The ultimate profanity and blasphemy was the supposedly ‘capture of God’ see John, 18:2-3, thereafter “God” was arrested, bound and led away see (John, 18:12-13); “God” was humiliated (Luke, 22:63-64). “They spit in his face”, (Matthew, 26:67). And “God” was defenceless (John, 18:22-23). And “God” was condemned to death (Mark, 14:64), (Matthew, 26:66). And “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth.” (Acts 8:32).
Finally: The Dying “God” cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.” (Mark, 15:37)
This definitely cannot be the God we worship and pray to five times daily and whose praise we sing in churches all over the world every Sunday. There is no iota of doubt; the primitive man is higher in his concept of God the Almighty than the millions of civilized men and women of both East and West who strut the world today.
The whole discourse is centred and premised on an erroneous and fallacious conception of God. It is a noxious notion of an anthropomorphic conception of God. God has become the creation of man in the image of man; a God that wrestles with a man, who imbibe wine, who eats and is romanced by a woman who uses oil to massage his feet; these are far from the conception of God in the holy books. No doubt, the discourse is a continuation of pre-biblical age, borrowed from the Sumerian/Babylonian conception of God as an extraterrestrial. It is this that informed the various references in the bible to the Nephilim: The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came into the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. The first mention of “sons of God” in the Hebrew Bible occurs at Genesis 6:1–4.
Yet we know from inference that Almighty God is Spirit and, in His usual glorified state, is invisible to the human eye (Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:27). That partly explains why John said, “No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18). God is spirit – His nature is not flesh and blood.
Though Jesus is mentioned by name in twenty-five places in the Holy Quran, he is also addressed with respect as: “Ibn. Maryam” – son of Mary; and as “Rasul-ullah” – Messenger of Allah. He is spoken of as “the word of God”, as “the spirit of God”, as a “sign of God”, and numerous other epithets of honour spread over fifteen different chapters. There is not a single disparaging remark in the entire Quran to which anyone can take exception.
The Holy Quran refers to Jesus as “Eesa”, and this name is used more times than any other title, because this was his name. Actually, his proper name was “Eesa” (Arabic), or “Esau” (Hebrew); classical “Yeheshua”, which the Christian nations of the West Latinised as Jesus. Neither the “J” nor the second “s” in the name Jesus is to be found in the original tongue – they are not found in the Semitic languages. The word is very simply -“E S A U” – a very common Jewish name, used more than sixty times in the very first booklet of the Bible, called “Genesis”. There was at least one “Jesus” sitting on the “bench” at the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin. Josephus the Jewish historian mentions some twenty-five Jesus’ in his “Book of Antiquities”. The New Testament speaks of “Bar-Jesus” – a magician and a sorcerer, a false prophet (Acts 13:6); and also “Jesus-Justus” – a Christian missionary, a contemporary of Paul (Colossians 4:11). These are distinct from Jesus the son of Mary.
After a description of the high position which Jesus occupies as a prophet, the jury is out to repudiate the dogma that he was God, or the son of God, or anything more than man. If it is said that he was born without a human father, so also was Adam. Indeed Adam was born without either a human father or mother. Eve his wife, was ‘manufactured’ from the ribs of Adam without a father or a mother. Finally, there was “Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God… Without father, without mother, without descent, having NEITHER BEGINNING of days, NOR END of life…” Hebrews 7:1-3. Here is a candidate for Divinity itself, for only God Almighty could possess these qualities. Adam had a beginning (in the garden), Jesus had a beginning (in the stable); Adam had an end and so had Jesus “and he gave up the ghost“. But where is Melchisedec?
The greatness of Jesus arose from the divine command of Allah ‘KUN’-“Be”: for after that he was – more than dust – a great spiritual leader and teacher.”
Barka Juma’at and Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas!