A silver bullet?
What if I were to tell you that there is a “silver bullet” for proving the Qur’an, and thus the Islamic faith, false?
What if I were to tell you that there is a “silver bullet” for proving the Qur’an, and thus the Islamic faith, false? Admittedly, I may be oversimplifying things, but, as Christians, we know that all other systems of belief will ultimately prove to be false before God. It may not be as simple as proving to someone that gravity exists or that the Earth is round, but it may not be as difficult as you might think. In lieu of sounding like some sort of expert, I want to say that I know very little about the Qur’an, and the Muslim faith, but I have begun to become a student of it so that I may be better equipped to evangelize my Islamic friends and neighbors.
Understanding Islam compared to Christianity
Inerrancy and Infallibility
Any Muslim worth their salt will tell you that absolutely everything in the Qur’an is true, always has been true, and always will be true – I expect the same statement about the Bible to come from my Christian friends, as well. Likewise, the Qur’an, which is claimed by traditional Islamic orthodoxy to be the un-created word of Allah, untainted by human hands, would be proven wrong at any given point, then any honest Muslim would have to accept the fact that Allah is wrong and thus not the true God.
The nature of God
This brings up an interesting difference between what Muslims believe about the Qur’an and what Christians believe about the Bible. Both Christianity and Islam claim that their God was never created. In Greek mythology, as a contrast, you have the god Chaos, who I guess embodied the empty void in their creation account, and the goddess Gaea (or, the goddess who embodied the earth) and they somehow procreated and started the process of producing other gods and goddess to rule different parts of our universe. My point is that the creation of a god in Greek mythology is not a difficult thing to accept or understand. This, however, is utter blasphemy for the Christian and Muslim. But what is the difference, then, with regard to how our Holy Books came into our hands?
The Holy Books
For the Christian, we believe that, over the millennia, God used human authors as his medium for writing down His words. Does this mean, then, that the words of God are tainted by human hands? If by tainted, you mean involving errors or untruths, then no. However, if you mean including the author’s individual touch, voice, and even intention then yes. The wonderous mystery of the Bible is that we have God’s Word transmitted through God’s people in a perfect way. This is not quite a shared view for the Muslim, however. Sheikh Abu Ammar Yasir Qadhi, author of Ulum Al Qur’an: An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an, offers the most widely held, orthodox view of the Qur’an.
He says in his book, “One of the more appropriate definitions is as follows: The Qur’an is the Arabic speech of Allah, which he revealed to Muhammad in wordings and meaning.”
He also says, “The words of the Qur’an are from Allah, and not from Jibreel, or even Muhammad, as some of the innovated sects of Islam…allege.”
Moving to Apologetics
How then does this understanding of the Qur’an help us, as Christians seeking to speak apologetically for the Bible and attempting to win arguments against the Qur’an? It lays a heavy load upon both the Word of God and the Qur’an. Both claim they are the Word of the only true God, so one must be completely true and the other completely false. For millennia, people have tried to prove the Bible wrong, and many have claimed they have done so, but time and time again all “evidence” against the Bible and the Word of God ultimately proves to be faulty. The main attacks against the Bible have come in the form of textual criticism, but the Bible is supported by far more early manuscripts than any other ancient writing that we have.
The silver bullet: The Trinity
Now, you may be asking, if the Bible has stood the test of time, has the Qur’an? Well, I titled this episode: A Silver Bullet, for a reason and in many ways, it’s straightforward, but, as with any debate lasting millennia, in many ways it’s not. Remember, just like the Christians claim with the Bible, the Muslims claim that the Qur’an is the unchangeable, perfect word of Allah and it must all be correct. So, what’s the Silver Bullet? It actually has to do with what the Qur’an says that Christians believe about the Trinity.
As Christians, as far back as the early church, have accepted as general orthodoxy that the Trinity consists of the Father God, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Regardless of the difference of our understanding of the Trinity, it has always been declared in all of accepted Christian orthodoxy, that the Trinity consists of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and anyone who has claimed otherwise has been labeled a heretic. This is very clearly not what the Qur’an claims that Christians believe.
What the Qur’an claims Christians believe
In the Qur’an, specifically in Surah 4:171, the Qur’an specifically calls to Christians to not believe in “three” or, as we would understand, the Trinity. It says, “O People of the Book! Commit no excess in your religion, nor say anything but the truth about Allah. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a Messenger of Allah, and His word which he conveyed to Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His Messengers, and say not “three.” Obviously, the Qur’an commands against the worship of a Triune God, but how does this contradict the Christian view? The Qur’an is notoriously difficult to understand as there is, oftentimes, little context or discourse offered on various topics.
Understanding Islamic texts
Because of this difficulty, there has arisen a vast and widely-accepted number of commentaries, narratives and explanations. These writings are broadly categorized into two groups: The hadith, or accounts about Muhammad as related by him or his companions, and the sunnah, or the practices that have been established based upon differing accounts and explanations offered by various Islamic priests and scholars. While these writings do not hold the full weight of the word of Allah, and thus do not necessarily condemn the entire Islamic religion if proved false, they are important to study as they give evidence into how the Muslims understand the writings of the Qur’an.
Examples from the Islamic Commentaries
I will provide two short examples from these writings that support my argument. First, in the Tafsir al-Jalalayn, it is written,
“So believe in Allah and His Messengers. Do not say, “Three gods: Allah, Isa and his mother.” It is better that you stop saying these things. Affirming the Divine Unity [is] better. Allah is only One God. He is too Glorious to have a son!”
As we have seen, the Qur’an claims that Jesus is not the son of God because God cannot have a son! It equates Allah having a son with the necessity of Allah having a consort. In the Qur’an it says this plainly in Surah 6:101,
“The Originator of the heavens and the earth! How can He have a child, when there is for Him no consort, when He created all things and has knowledge of all things?”
A 20th century Islamic theologian and commentator writes about the fact this is not how Christians understand the Trinity. He says,
“The (word) three is the predicate to an understood subject. If one accepts the Christian view that God exists in one nature with three divine persons, namely the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit… then one must supply the subject as follows: ‘God is threefold.’” However, as a faithful Muslim, he had to declare that this was in fact not the understanding of Christians because he would be contradicting the Qur’an! He says, “According the evidence of the Qur’an, the Christians maintain that God, Christ, and Mary are three gods, and that Christ is the child of God by Mary.”
This is overwhelming evidence, as far as the general understanding among orthodox Muslims are concerned, that the Qur’an completely misrepresents the Christian understanding of the Trinity.
Examples from the Qur’an
But what about the Qur’an? We have heard how the Muslims interpret the Qur’an, but that isn’t enough for us to have a “silver bullet.” What does the Qur’an say that we can point to when having debates with Muslims? In Surah 5:116 it says,
“And when Allah said: “O Jesus son of Mary! Did you say to mankind: ‘Take me and my mother for two gods other than Allah?” He said: “Transcendent are You! It was not mine to say that of which I had no right.”
Now, for those of us who are not so familiar with the Qur’an or how it’s general syntax, James White sums it up for us by saying,
“No other Qur’anic text is as blatant in its misrepresentation of the Trinity. The charge is [blatant] polytheism, and here alone is the “three” so listed (that being Allah, Mary and Jesus). Nowhere does the Qur’an ever give Father, Son, and Holy Spirit or even Allah, Son, and Spirit.”
Let’s recap. If the Muslims claim the Qur’an to be the un-created word of Allah, given through the passive prophet Muhammad, then everything within its pages must be completely and eternally correct. However, as we have seen, the Qur’an claims that Christians believe the Trinity to consist of God the Father, Mary the Mother and Jesus their son. No matter how much you want to say against the Catholics for their adoration of Mary, they have never declared her to be a god and never in Christian orthodoxy has this been an accepted position.
If Allah, the apparent all-powerful, all-knowing, one, true God, is wrong about what the Christians believe, then how can he be the one, true god? As we look at the Qur’an through a Christian worldview, we can understand that it’s much more likely that a false prophet named Muhammad witnessed the growth of the early church in first century Arabia, and without fully understanding what these Christians believed, wrote down these words to further deceive his followers.
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GreekMythology.com, The Editors of Website. “The Creation”. GreekMythology.com Website, 07 Apr. 2021, https://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/The_Myths/The_Creation/the_creation.html.
Hardy, Chad “A Brief Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism”
White, James R. What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Qur’an. (chp. 4) Bloomington, MN, Bethany House Publishers, 2013.