Some Notes on Islamic Theology | Quran | Muhammad

SOME NOTES ON ISLAMIC THEOLOGY1

Islam divides into two main groups, the Sunni (90%) and Shi‟ite (10%) but also includes the mystic Sufis and black Muslims. Crypto-Islam is the secret adherence to Islam while publicly professing to be of another faith; people who practice crypto-Islam are referred to as "crypto-Muslims." Related to this term are the concepts of cryptoMuslim subgroups, such as crypto-Sunni-Muslims and crypto-Shia-Muslims. Crypto-Muslims practice the doctrine of Taqiya which is the “precautionary dissimulation” 2 whereby Muslims could lie, conceal, deny, or downplay their faith or aspects of it while under observation, persecution, or questioning. Essentially, the end justifies the means and that a Muslim, or for that matter Islam generally, may deceive non-believers, for various purposes, such as conversion. Islam requires five fundamental, obligatory beliefs of all believers: 1) Reciting the creed of Islam: “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet.” 2) Ritual prescribed prayers, five times a day, in similar kneeling, face-down position. 3) Fasting during the month of Ramadan, which commemorates the first revelation of the Koran. 4) Giving of alms to the poor: 2.5% of currency, plus other donations. 5) Pilgrimage to Mecca at least once a lifetime by all those who are financially and physically capable. Muhammad had experiences and behaviour that is common among those who practice spiritism, such as a deeply religious disposition, mental disturbances (i.e. seizures, mood swings), and a personality disorder. “There is evidence in a Tradition which can scarcely have been fabricated that Muhammad suffered in early life from fits. Be that as it may, the adult Muhammad soon showed signs of a markedly religious disposition. He would retire to caves for seclusion and meditation; he frequently practiced fasting; and he was prone to [revelatory] dreams… He was generous, resolute, genial and astute: a shrewd judge and a born leader of men. He could, however, be cruel and vindictive to his enemies: he could stoop to assassination; and he was undeniably sensual.” 3 “At the same time, he was probably, more or less, throughout his whole career, the victim of a certain amount of self-deception. A cataleptic subject from his early youth, born - according to the traditions - of a highly nervous and excitable mother, he would be peculiarly liable to morbid and fantastic hallucinations, and alterations of excitement and depression, which would win for him, in the eyes of his ignorant countrymen, the credit of being inspired.” 4 Muhammad first considered himself as belonging to the category of shair - “men with a mysterious esoteric knowledge which was generally attributed to a familiar spirit called a jinn or shaytan.”5 “Muhammad himself was at first doubtful of the source of these revelations, fearing that he was possessed by one of the Jinn, or spirits.”6 Muhammad‟s foster mother, Halima, stated her conviction that “in answer to a direct question from his mother I admitted that I thought he was possessed by a devil.” 7 “Then the thought came to him that he must be a Sha‟ir or possessed… and he could not tolerate the thought that his tribesman would regard him as one of them [the possessed] - as in fact they afterwards did. Thereupon, he left the place with the intention of throwing himself over a precipice. But while on his way, he heard a voice from heaven hailing him as the Apostle of God, and lifting up his eyes, he

1 2

The majority of this article is summarized from John Ankerberg & John Weldon, The Facts on Islam, 1991. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taqiyya as of 9-17-2010. 3 J.N.D. Anderson, ed., The World’s Religions, 1966, p.54, 60. 4 J.M. Rodwell, The Koran, 1977, p.14. 5 Alfred Guillaume, Islam, 1977, p.28. 6 Anderson, Relgions, p.55. 7 Guillaume, Islam, 25.

saw a [supernatural] figure astride the horizon which turned him from his purpose and kept him rooted to the spot.”8 Muhammad recalls this first vision that both saved and terrified him: “Thereat I fell to my knees where I had been standing, and then with trembling limbs dr agged myself along till I came in to Khadija [his wife], saying: “Wrap ye me up! Wrap me ye up!” till the terror passed from me. Then [later] he [the spirit] came to me again and said: “O Muhammad, thou art Allah‟s Apostle,” {which so disturbed me] that I was about to cast myself down from some high mountain cliff. But he appeared before me as I was about to do this, and said: “O Muhammad, I am Gabriel, and thou art Allah‟s Apostle.” 9 “On the way back to Mecca a number of jinn or spirits are said to have jostled him in their eagerness to hear his prayers and eagerness to embrace Islam… Certainly the Quran asserts that Muhammad preached to these creatures and converted them. From the books of tradition we learn that the prophet was subject to ecstatic seizures. He is reported to have said that when inspiration came to him he felt as it were the painful sounding of a bell. Even in cold weather his forehead was bathed in sweat. On one occasion he called his wife to wrap him in a veil. At other times visions came to him in sleep… in its early stages Muhammad‟s verses were couched in the Semitic form of mantic oracular utterance… Veiling of the head and the use of rhymed prose were marks of the Arabian soothsayer, while the feeling o f physical violence and compulsion… the outward appearance of “possession”… seemed to the onlookers to indicate the madness of demonic possession.10 Muhammad came to believe his inspirations were of divine origin and responded to his critics that “by the favour of Lord” he was “neither soothsayer nor possessed.”11 Muhammad‟s supernatural revelations started at age 40 in 610 A.D. and continued until his death in 632 A.D. “Sometimes Muhammad saw the angel Gabriel, sometimes he only heard a voice, and sometimes he heard the sound of a bell through which the words of the angel were brought to him. Sometimes the message came in a dream, and at other times it came in the thoughts of his mind. When revelation came to him, his whole frame would become agitated, and perspiration would pour down his face. He would often fall to the ground and foam at the mouth. The messages always came to him in the Arabic language, and Muhammad spoke the words the he received…Muhammad was convinced that the words which came to him were not his own, but the very Word of God, and he was only the „reciter.‟”12 “The text [of the Koran] was transmitted to the Prophet Muhammad in portions of variable length while he was in a kind of trance. It is said that his companions could recognize from certain physical signs when a revelation was about to come.” 13 "The deviations [in the Koran] from the Biblical narratives are very marked, and can in most cased be traced back to the legendary anecdotes of the Jewish Haggada and the Apocryphal Gospel. Much has been written concerning the sources from which Muhammad derived his information; there is no evidence that he was able to read, and his dependence on oral communication may explain some of his misconceptions..." 14 “At a later period of his career no one would venture to doubt the divine origin of the entire book [the Koran]. But at its commencement the case was different. The people of Mecca spoke openly and
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Guillaume, Islam, 38-39. Arthur Jeffrey, ed., Islam: Muhammad and His Religion, 1975, p.16. 10 Guillaume, Islam, p. 37, 56. 11 Sura 52:29. 12 William Miller, A Christian’s Response to Islam, 1977, p.19-20. 13 J. Christy Wilson, Introducing Islam, 1965, p.26. 14 http://www.british-israel.ca/Islam.htm which quotes the Encyclopedia Britannica.

tauntingly of it as the work of a poet, as a collection of antiquated or fabulous legends, or as palpable sorcery.”15 Historical facts prove that it is the Koran and not the Bible that has been corrupted. Even the very earliest versions of the Koran contradicted one another. 16 These versions had copies made from them, but the copies also “led to such serious disputes between the faithful” that it was necessary “to establish a text which should be the sole standard.”17 “For some years after the death of Muhammad there was great confusion as to what material of all that had been preserved should be included in the Koran. Finally, in the caliphate of Uthman (644-656 A.D.) one text was given official approval, and all [other] material was destroyed.”18 “The recording of the prophet‟s words in the beginning was haphazard. Verses were written on palm leaves, stones, the shoulder-blades of animals - in short, on any material which was available… Before an authorized version was established under the caliph Uthman there were four rival editions in use. These have long since disappeared, but we are told that they differed from the authorized version.”19 “On account of the variations and confusions which had arisen among the reported sayings of Mohammed… a revision [was] made, and all existing copies of the previous compilation [were] destroyed. Thus, the present text of the Koran is not the first edition, but a second edition…” 20 “The Quran as we have it now is a record of what Muhammad said while in the [ seizure] state or states just mentioned. It is beyond doubt that his hearers recognized the symptoms of revelation… [However] One of the secretaries he employed boasted that he had induced the prophet to alter the wording of the revelations.”21 “The Quran‟s transmission is not free from errors and variant readings in significant points. There is concrete evidence in the best works of Islamic tradition (e.g., Sahih of Muslism, the Sahih of Bukhari, the Mishkat-ul-Masabih), that from the start the Qur‟an had numerous variant and conflicting readings. That these are no longer found in the Quran is only because they have been discreetly removed - not by direction of God, but by human discretion… there is similar evidence that, to this day, verses and, indeed, whole passages are still missing from the Qur‟an. 22 “It is not the Bible which is contradictory and confusing. No, it is definitely the Quran. If Muslims insist that the Bible is corrupt, I will have to declare that the evidence, much of which I have presented in this book, vindicates the Bible and condemns the Quran. No reasonable person presented with the evidence can believe otherwise.”23 Sir Hamilton A.R. Gibb, who has taught at Oxford and was professor of Arabic at Harvard University comments, “Carlyle‟s dictum on the Koran: “It is as toilsome reading as I ever undertook, a wearisome, confused jumble, crude, incondite. Nothing but a sense of duty could carry any European through the Koran‟ puts succinctly what must indeed be the first impression of any reader.”24

15 16

Rodwell, Koran, p.8. Rodwell, Koran, p.1; Guillaume, Islam, p. 57. 17 Rodwell, Koran, p.1. 18 Miller, Response, p.52; Elder, Approach, p.27 19 Guillaume, Islam, p. 57. 20 Robert E. Hume, The World’s Living Religions, 1959, p.229. 21 Guillaume, Islam, p. 56. 22 Josh McDowell and John Gilchrist, The Islam Debate, 1983, p.50-51. 23 Shorrosh, Revealed, p.197-98. 24 H.A.R. Gibb, Muhammadanism: An Historical Survey, 1978, p.25.

The translator of a respected English edition (Rodwell) refers to the Koran as “a dark and perplexing text.” 25 “Even to Muslims much of the text is unintelligible except through a commentary…. It is kept with the utmost reverence, only touched after ceremonial ablutions, and read or recited by many millions of Muslims who do not understand the meaning of its Arabic verses.”26 Since the Koran was originally written in the Kufic script and that there was therefore no indication of vowels or diacritical points, “Variant readings are recognized by Muslims as of equal authority” and “it ought to be borne in mind that the Koran contains many statements which, if not recognized as altogether obscure, lend themselves to more than one interpretation.”27 In Sura 2:100 the Koran itself teaches “and for whatever verse We abrogate or cast into oblivion, We bring a better or the like of it; however thou not that God is powerful over everything.” 28 This verse may serve the Muslim as a rationale for the contradictions between the Koran and the Bible or the Koran and itself, but what does that say about Allah and His ability to communicate His Word? Nowhere in the Koran does Allah identify those verses he has abrogated or destroyed. How then does one determine which verses are favoured, or abrogated, or exchanged, or tampered with? At least two early Muslim scholars, ibn Sa'd and an anonymous Persian historian, have related a legend which explains the origins of a group of apparently contradictory verses in the Qur'an, the so-called "Satanic verses." Surah 53.19-20 reads "Have you thoughts about al-Lat, al-Uzza, and the third, Manat, the other goddess?" Satan is supposed to have interfered here with the transmission of the holy words to Muhammad and tricked the prophet into interjecting an additional verse which allowed for a mixture of Islam and the indigenous polytheistic faith: "These are the exalted birds whose intercession is to be desired." [3] Through the archangel Gabriel God corrected this error in a later revelation (Surah 17.73-75) which restored the strict monotheism of Islam: "They had almost beguiled you away from what We had revealed to you with the temptation to invent something else against Us. On that score they would have taken you up as a friend. Had we not rallied you, you had almost conceded to them a little." 29 The Koran Sura 11 - Noah‟s son drowned in the Flood. Muhammad is declared in Bible. Disciples of Christ were called Christians. Abraham was a Muslim. Allah changed people into apes.30 Sura 26:55-60 - Israelites were a “scanty band” inferior to the Egyptians. Sura 2:56,57,61 - the Jews returned to Egypt after the Exodus Sura 3:41 - Zacharias would be speechless for 3 days. The Opposition Sura 21 - all of Noah‟s kinfolk survived. His absence in the Bible. “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” Acts 11:26 (KJV). The belief of the entire non-Muslim world that Abraham was a Jew. common sense. Ex. 1:7-10 - the Egyptians admit their inferiority to the Israelites. actual history. Luke 1:18-20 - Zacharias would be speechless until John‟s birth (i.e., 9 months).

Literary merits aside, however, the Koran can have a significant emotional impact. Even the unintelligible reading of the Koran can exert a strange effect: “It makes a tremendous impression on those who listen, even when

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Miller, Response, p.52-53. Stephen Neill, Christian Faith and Other Faiths, 1984 ed., p.63. 27 N.J. Dawood, The Koran, 1972, p.10-11. 28 Arberry, Interpreted, p.41. 29 Salman Rusdie, The Satanic Verses, 1988; Akhtar Shabhr, Be Careful with Muhammad, 1989, p.19; Kenneth Craigg, Readings in the Qur'an, p.183.
30

Dawood, Koran, p.254: “When they had scornfully persisted in what they had been forbidden, We changed them into detested apes.”

they do not fully understand the meaning,”31 and “the words seem to exercise an almost hypnotic power on the minds of even those who only imperfectly understand the meaning,” 32 and “… it has an almost hypnotic effect….” 33 Muslims believe that God‟s revelation includes the Old & New Testament s, and the Koran, which supersedes the Bible. The Koran teaches that Allah has sent 124,000 prophets, with 30 mentioned in the Koran, and the six principal prophets being Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammad. Muslims are absolutely forbidden by Allah to accept only part of his revelations. But the dilemma is that if Muslims accept what the Koran teaches, they must then accept the Bible - which rejects what the Koran teaches. But if a Muslim truly accepts the Bible and rejects what the Koran teaches, he can no longer remain a Muslim and should become a Christian. So how can a Muslim trust what the Koran teaches when it simultaneously undermines its own authority? Muslims circumvent this difficulty by claiming that the Bible‟s teachings have been corrupted and are therefore untrustworthy. However, the crushing force of the historical evidence bears no weight on this syllogism since for the Muslim, the image of Jesus and the Bible that is presented in the Koran is „the truth‟, and there can be no other way. The Koran so contradicts the Bible that if Allah inspired both then God‟s revelations is useless as we would be totally unable to discern his will and teachings. If Allah cannot clearly communicate his message without contradiction or abrogation then he is not perfect, not fully God. Furthermore, there is the debate as to whether or not the Koran itself is eternally existent or a created document. This is another point of separation between Christianity and Islam because the Bible, a fully inspired document, the spoken Words of Christ, and the Words by which all mankind will be judged. Muslims believe in one god, Allah, who was one of the many pre-Islamic pagan deities of Arabian pantheon. "The Arabian word AL-DE-BARAN, means the foremost or leading, stars and it could only have been so named, when it did precede, or lead, all others. The year then opened with the sun in Taurus; and the multitude of ancient sculptures, both in Assyria and Egypt, wherein the bull appears with lunette or crescent horns, and the disk of the sun between them, are direct allusions to the important festival of the first new moon of the year: and there was everywhere an annual celebration of the festival of the first new moon, when the year opened with Sol and Luna in Taurus. The crescent and disk combined always represent the conjunctive Sun and Moon." - Morals and Dogma, p.451. The Encyclopedia of Religion mentions that "Allah' is [a] pre-Islamic name...corresponding to the Babylonian Bel."… Allah was the moon god, who married the sun goddess. "Together they produced three goddesses who were called 'the daughters of Allah.' These three goddess were called Al-Lat, AlUzza, and Manat."34 A loving and holy god is a good god. But this is not Allah. Allah is transcendent, but not immanent, personal, or personally knowable. This means that Allah is not the God of the Bible (see John 1:1, 11-14, 15:9-15, 16:27, 17:2026) and is not a god of love (1 John 4:16). Allah only loves (i.e., is merciful to) those who do good, but is not merciful to those who do bad. But God loves the sinner (John 3:16, Romans 5:1-10). That Allah does not love is also a required consequence of Islam‟s strict monotheism. For if Allah was personable, then who did he love prior to creation? For if we say that he, Allah, loves, then in order to express his love he needs objects, living and free, to do so. But if Al lah „needs‟ something then he is somewhat dependent on them and hence not fully transcendent of them. So either Allah is immanent and loving or transcendent and impersonal, but not both transcendent and immanent like the Christian God. This is because God was in perfect harmony with Himself, expressing His attributes within the three members of the trinity. Also, Christ, being fully man and God, made God known and available to us.

31 32

A.J. Arberry, The Koran Interpreted, 1976, p.41. Rodwell, Koran, p.7. 33 Wilson, Introducing, p.29-30. 34 Robert A. Morey, Islam Unveiled: The True Desert Storm, 1991, p.46, 48.

Allah is characterized by his absolute power and supreme will that has predestined everything. Allah is said to be the author of both good and evil. Allah is also capricious, deceptive, and untrustworthy as he changes his mind & word and intentionally sends some people to hell, while favouring others. In this way Allah is also not the Good of the Bible since God is not the author of evil but is infinitely holy, righteous, and merciful (1 Sam. 2:2; Ps. 77:13, 99:9; Rom. 11:32; Rev. 15:4). Islam considers Jesus to have been a prophet of God, that is, to have brought a message from Him. However, miraculous and benevolent Jesus is said to be, Islam still considers him only as one in an endless line of prophets of whom Muhammad is superior. Islam denies that Jesus is God‟s only begotten son, was God incarnate, and is the second person of the trinity. Islam considers believing these things to be an unforgivable sin that would send a person to hell. Islam‟s understanding of the trinity is more akin to tritheism then to a simultaneous coexistent of a complex unity. That being said, Muslims will admit he was born of a virgin, since Islam is closely related to Catholicism35. Sura 43:59 reads: “He [Jesus] was naught but a servant on whom We [Allah] bestowed favor, and We made him an example for the children of Israel” 36. At Sura 19:30 Jesus apparently says, as a child, “I am a servant of Allah.”37 Muslims believe that those with sufficient personal merit/righteousness/Allah‟s favour go to eternal heaven and all else to eternal hell. Islam teaches that on the Day of Judgment one‟s good and evil deeds will be weighed on a scale. Good works are heavy and evil deeds are light. Thus the person whose balances are heavy with good deeds will go to heaven, while the person whose scales are light will go to hell. A Muslim assumes his chances for heaven are good if he 1) accepts Allah and Muhammad; 2) does good works and all that is required by Allah; 3) is predestined to Allah‟s favour. The Islamic reliance on good works leaves believers with no personal assurances of salvation, no way of knowing if his good works are sufficient or if he has found Allah‟s favour. In Islam there is no substitutionary atonement for forgiveness of sins so forgiveness is based solely upon both personal merit and Allah‟s choice of mercy. This off course is a markedly different teaching than Christianity because forgiveness is based on the death and resurrection of Christ. Once a person accepts Christ as his or her Saviour (as having paid for his or hers), all his or her sins are forgiven and each one is guaranteed a place in heaven (John 5:24, 6:47; 1 Pet. 1:3-5; 1 John 5:13). Islam has no saviour. Mohammad is rarely called Saviour. He is said to have brought God‟s laws to men, and they, by keeping those laws, must satisfy God‟s requirements and win His approval… Since many Muslims realize that they [fall short of Koranic standards]… they recite extra prayers in addition to those required each day, they make gifts to charity, and go on pilgrimages not only to Mecca, but also to other sacred shrines, in order to gain merit, and if possible, balance their account with God. But since God does not make known how the accounts of His stand, a Muslim facing death does not know whether he is to go to paradise or to hell. After all, the decision is made by the arbitrary will of God, and no one can predict what that decision will be… And so the Muslim lives and dies, not sure of his final salvation.”38 In fact, since Islam considers Jesus to be one of Allah‟s prophets and because it is unthinkable that Allah would permit one of his prophets to be crucified, the Muslim religion denies that Christ upon the cross. Because Islam denies Christ‟s crucifixion they are forced also to deny his resurrection (Luke 9:22, 24:44-47; Rev. 1:18). Islam denies Christ‟s redemptive acts first on historical grounds (i.e. that it didn‟t happen). Second, Allah has predestined everyman‟s fate and is not a loving god so he would not sacrifice his only son to atone for sinful mankind. Muslims suggest the existence of sin and pain and man‟s insignificance in the vastness of the universe as problems in believing that God is love. However, these two questions can be Biblically resolved, by for example, rereading the story of the Creation & Fall (Genesis ch.1-3).
35

For more on the Roman Church’s influence on the founding of Islam see the Chick comic #6 in the ‘Alberto’ series titled “The Prophet.” Or see the article prepared based on what Alberto Rivera learnt and taught: http://www.scribd.com/doc/29451882/Rivera-s-Revelation-Chick-s-Alberto-Series. 36 http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/k/koran/koran-idx?type=DIV0&byte=767330 as of 9-20-2010. 37 http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/k/koran/koran-idx?type=DIV0&byte=468143 as of 9-20-2010. 38 Miller, Response, p.82-83.

The Islamic concept of salvation is fatalistic with no assurances to be had for the believer. The impact of this crucial doctrine can be seen in its relation to jihad (holy war) because Islam teaches that any Muslim who is martyred is guaranteed eternal life. However, even this is qualified by the need for brave action in battle. Some Muslims include jihad as one of the fundamental duties of Islam. The purpose of jihad is to defend Islam against “infidels” and/or spread Islam. Islam‟s ultimate goal is to persuade or force convert the entire world, subjugate or eliminate infidels, and rule the world according to Sharia law. Islam, historically an imperialistic religion, is frequently known as the “religion of the sword” because it teaches that it alone is the true religion and therefore that all other religions are false and idolatrous. Islam now expresses its hatred, especially to Jews/Israel, through various asymmetric attacks including terrorism and economic jihad (i.e. through its dominance of Arab nations and OPEC). Most Arab nations consider Christian missions a punishable crime. Muhammad often displayed “a cold vindictiveness, a savage insistence upon vengeance and a severe ruthlessness in procuring or permitting the wholesale slaughter of his foes or of those whose property he needed for his followers.” 39 “Turning to the West, Islamic armies conquered the entire two -thousand mile stretch of Northern Africa, then crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and took Spain…About 90% of the population that the Muslims conquered was Christian. Muslim teaching, force, and political pressure all but wiped out the Christian fold. Historians calculate that during this first hundred years about 3,200 churches were either destroyed or converted to mosques. Eventually, at least 90% of the population became Muslim. Subsequently, these nations fell from their foremost position of civilization and progress to retardation and poverty.”40 “Historically, encounters between Islam and Christianity have never been happy. The result has often been war. Muslims, who confess that there is only one true God and that Muhammad is His only true prophet, view Christians as blasphemers for proclaiming that J esus Christ is the Son of God.”41 “Around one million Armenian Christians were savagely slaughtered by the Turkish Muslims at the beginning of the twentieth century… More than one thousand Dinka citizens, including women and children, were massacred in the western Sudan town of Diem in 1987. The Baptist Record newspaper of November 5, 1987, added that dozens of pastors have been killed and many churches destroyed since Islamic law was imposed in 1983, when Sudan was officially declared an Islamic republic… According to Surat al-Ma‟idah (Table Spread) 5:33: The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land.42

39 40

The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, vol. 7, p.438. John Elder, The Biblical Approach to the Muslim, 1978, p.28. 41 Ishak Ibraham, Black Gold and Holy War, 1983, p.10.
42

Anis A. Shorrosh, Islam Revealed: A Christian Arab’s View of Islam, 1988, p.171-175.

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