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Lecture Overcoming the Muslim Western Divide Seven Bridges to the Common Ground Presented to Regent's Park College, Oxford University November 28, 2006 By Mark D. Siljander, Ph.D.
I want to begin by expressing my deepest appreciation to Dr. Nicholas Wood and Dr. Davis Bunn for giving me the opportunity to speak before you today. There are two traditional approaches dealing with East/West relations. The first typically restates the betterknown commonalities of Islam and Christianityhistory, the prophets, with particular emphasis on Abraham, Moses, Noah, Jesus, heaven, hell, last days, and so forth. While this is positive, it has not succeeded in bridging the evergrowing divide. The other approach tends to focus on disagreements among the faiths and ultimately seeks to “convert” the other. They are very divisive. Please join me on a journey of discovery, of what I believe is new information that while challenging our existing thinking and even our fixed prejudices, may serve as a vehicle to begin the overdue need to bridge the divide. The discoveries have to do with seeking to expand common ground between Islam and Christianity. The concepts of this journey are drawn from over 24 years of traveling to nearly 130 countries. It is first hand knowledge and experience of what has and has not worked for me—and I learned from both. Allow me to anticipate some reactions to the very discussion of Islam and Christianity. This is not as much about what you and I already believe. It is more about issues that in the past 1400 years have been the root of discontent and mistrust between Muslims and Christians, between Islam and the West…and discovering how these very contentious issues can become helpful in finding common ground. This journey of discovery has the potential to inspire new thinking sufficient to instigate a counter movement mitigating militancy within Islam and bigotry and ignorance in the West. Permit me to take you back to a hot night in August 2006. I had the opportunity to meet with the President of Sudan, His Excellency al Bashir, a person I have courted friendship with over the last nine years. He is a man mostly recently known for saying “No” to a UN Force in Darfur. With President al Bashir were six of his trusted advisors including: the number two person of Sudan, the Speaker of the National Assembly the State Foreign Minister, Finance Minister and most importantly, the religious advisor, a Sheikh who heads the Sudanese Sharia Counsel.
Relevant to our talk today is that our conversation was not focused on politics. The conversation was shaped, in part, by the fact that the meeting with the President was on behalf of the United States Congress’ Congressional Prayer Breakfast Group. Formed over 55 years ago, it seeks divine guidance and builds personal relations in a spiritual context, leaving politics at the door for just one hour each week. The meeting with President alBashir went so well that after two hours of discovering common ground between the faiths, we ended up concluding our time together with dinner at 11 PM. The most lasting impact of the meeting held in President Bashir’s residence did not occur in that meeting. But the foundation was laid for a second dinner a few days later with the President’s Sheikh who asked followup penetrating questions about the critical issues that have in the past divided Muslims and Christians. For example, we discussed how the word Islam in the Qur’an means a surrender or submission to God. He was fascinated that Jesus had first used the concept when referring to “converts” in the Aramaic word shalem. It has the same Semitic root as Muslim or Islam.
I then asked him what the Arabic for “religion” was in the Qur’an. The Sheikh replied that it was “deen,” rooted in the word for “debt”. Then, for me, the Sheikh made a most memorable and earth shaking comment. Please listen carefully to his answer. The Sheikh’s answer is one of the basic pillars of the new bridges to the common ground between Muslims and the West. In referring to religion (deen) in general and to Islam in particular he said:
“Deen is not membership in a club, but a state of being.”
Not sure whether I heard him correctly, I asked him to repeat his statement—which he did, word for word: And I repeat it for you here:
“Deen is not membership in a club, but a state of being.”
I was startled. This was precisely the wording I had used for years….having argued that the Movement of Jesus of Nazareth during the first three centuries was NOT a membership in a club (institutional religion) but rather a state of being in terms of one ’s own personal relationship to God. Following up, I inquired whether certain verses in the Qur’an, such as sura 3:19 which says: “The true religion with Allah is Islam” is consistent with this notion. He responded with a resounding “yes”! Such verses are used by radicals to support their claim that everyone other than followers the religion of Islam are infidels. And infidels, you well understand, in their theology, are worthy of death. This is a critical issue indeed! To understand the vast implications of this, one has to know what makes one a Muslim. Traditionally, it is reciting what the Muslims call the Shahadah (meaning to proclaim or witness): “There is no God but Allah”1 along with the second part, “Muhammad is a messenger of Allah.” I asked the Sheikh, “What if both the Torah and the Gospel proclaimed that the greatest commandment is essentially the first part of the Shahadah?” The Sheikh promptly retorted, “It would change everything—but that is not possible!” I said, “Not only is it possible, it is clearly stated as such in both Holy Books.” I carefully and respectfully explained that the Gospel record in Mark 12:29 states: “And Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is, “Hear (shema), O Israel: the Lord (YHWH) our God the Lord (YHWH)2 is one.”3 4 The Hebrew word Shema means “to hear or witness,” just as the Arabic word Shahada means “to proclaim or witness.” Interestingly the linguistic root of the Hebrew and Arabic words for God is the same 5 in both the Qur’an and Gospel. So, the Shahadah, and Shema are “witnessing” to the same confession of faith to the “one God”. The next verse in Mark confirms the Sheikh’s definition of “the “religion of Islam”. He defined it as “one’s state of being” totally submitted to the one God. What could be reflective of this than what Jesus says after the Shema: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul and with all your strength (and love your neighbor as yourself).”6 The Sheik was flabbergasted. He said, “Do you mean to tell me that the statement of faith that makes us Muslims is both in the Torah and Gospel, and that it also contains a perfect definition of the ‘Religion of Islam’?” “It seems so, Your Excellency,” I replied. This next question may seem esoteric to some of us, but it is vital that we think in the frame of reference of the Islamic and Christian believers. “Do these same witnesses to the One God also believe in the last days and the prophets of Allah?” The Sheikh wondered. I told him many if not most (Christians) not only accept the “witness” and the prophets and last days, but moreover would additionally believe in a broad sense, in the other four Pillars of Islam: 1) Salat, regular prayer; 2) Zakah, giving to the poor; 3) Siym, fasting; 4) Hajj, pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I will never forget his look as he declared, “This is revolutionary.”
The question arises whom Islam considers as “infidels.” The militants argue that nonMuslims are infidels and therefore, worthy of death. Kafers (infidels) are those who do not accept the Shahadah. Think of it, if those who follow Torah and Gospels would witness and believe in their hearts that God is one, could they be removed from the list of who are considered as “infidels”? This new common ground can help undercut the radical’s message of hate and their view of the glory of martyrdom through killing of infidels. Our team departed a few days later to Manama, Bahrain, still inspired, feeling we were on the edge of a huge rethinking of what Islam could conceivably consider as an “infidel.” Qur’an 2:62 confirms this by stating: “Believers, Jews, Christians, and Sabaeans (Aramaic speaking Nestorians) whoever believes in God and the Last Day and does what is right shall be rewarded by their Lord; they have nothing to fear or regret.” The “CHRISTIAN JESUS” Questions I delivered the same message to six prominent Muslim intellectuals over dinner at the spacious home of a Muslim businessman in Manama. The guests were obviously stunned by the message about the simularity of the Shadahah and the Shema. However, they asked the “Christian Jesus” question—what I have repeatedly been asked by both Muslims and Christians. Our new friend asked:
“While your discovery is very exciting, before any major fatwas could be issued, the age old central disagreements must be addressed. We have to deal with the big questions we have about the “Christian Jesus”. We Muslims claim Jesus was a significant prophet. You cannot be a Muslim without venerating Jesus, but... … you Christians believe that ***JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD ****JESUS IS DIVINE ****** and YOU BELIEVE IN THE TRINITY and; ******JESUS died and was crucified. To believe as Christians’ believe….in the TRINITY, That JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD, JESUS IS DIVINE and Jesus died…would make us heretics.” This notion of the “Christian Jesus” has for centuries been an automatic separation, the unbridgeable divide…the feeder of
misunderstanding and mistrust. Yes, the “ Christian Jesus ” represented legitimate questions and brought automatic visceral responses. This is where we separate. There has been no common ground on these fundamental issues. I issued a personal challenge to the candid man who raised the tough questions. As we all rose from the dinner table I cautiously offered to the sincere questioner: “If we can come to an agreement IN PRINCIPLE on YOUR four issues, at least as much as Christian do among themselves, by the time we walk from this dinner table out through the HOUSE AND TO YOUR CAR, would you then join this movement for better understanding?” He replied, “We are so far apart that this would not be possible.” We stood and moved from the dining room out of the house, AND MUST ADMIT TO YOU, VERY, VERY SLOWLY. Ten minutes later, he was in total shock: “This is unbelievable!” Then he asked: “Why have we been so divided, when we in truth have so much more in common than we ever realized? Count me in as a partner in the work.” Hope is indeed what this message offers to so many who otherwise hold out little hope for anything but a horrific Armageddon through what
Bernard Lewis calls “the clash of cultures”. The bridges to the common ground discussed here reflect the discoveries and “paradigm crashes” which my Bahraini friend and I have personally experienced. Need to Open Our Minds (Ijtihad) There is an Arabic word, Ijtihad that means, as many of you know “to open ones mind”. This is a 500yearold Islamic concept that is appropriate as we work to build bridges between Muslims and the West. Particularly since 9/11 Islam is experiencing a profound and historical time of reassessment. What I am about to present to you now are the three foundational BRIDGES and four Barriers that become Bridges between the Holy Books of Islam and Christianity. Bridges that can enlarge the area of shared common ground. The linguistic relationship between the Arabic of the Qur’an and the Aramaic (sometimes referred to as Syriac) of the New Testament is one of the most ignored and under researched areas of Holy Book studies. This is in fact, our
First Foundational Bridge to the common ground: The Linguistic Relationship between the Aramaic of Jesus and the Arabic of the Qur’an.
When an Arabic speaking Muslim friend saw Mel Gibson’s movie, “Passion of Christ” with most of the dialogue in Aramaic, he was very surprised that he did not need most of the subtitles in English to understand the movie! This is a critical Bridge Builder: sister languages, the Arabic and the Aramaic, the written language which was once the global language, stretching from the Near East to Malabar in India and East China. It is intriguing to note that Dr. Sidney Griffiths, a Catholic Priest and noted Syriac scholar, says that “neither Qur’anic NOR Aramaic Scholars have seen fit to make the linguistic connection and it is about time that connection was made”. Western academia has been primarily concentrated on Biblical Greek. What we need now is to consider the Aramaic/Syriac 7 New Testament written in the language Jesus actually spoke, as an additional tool for comparative analysis. I have found this an invaluable tool working with the Islamic world in seeking bridges to the common ground. Muslims respect the similarity of words, meanings and relate to the Eastern traditions, and idiomatic nuances of the Aramaic. They are very similar to the Arabic of the Qur’an and the Hebrew of the Torah and can help unlock useful mysteries within the Eastern Holy Books. The Prophet Muhammad and Aramaic Some Islamic historians tell us that trusted Assyrian and Syriac speaking believers in Jesus interacted with the Prophet Muhammad and likely read to him from the Aramaic Eastern Text. The very word Qur’an, which means “The Recital”, is derived from an Aramaic/Syriac word qiriana. 8 Original Revelation of the Holy Books (Why Muslims can accept the Aramaic Gospel/Injil) The most compelling logic for use of the Aramaic New Testament in building bridges to the Common Ground deals with the Muslim view of “original revelation.” Islam holds that God, through the angel Gabriel, spoke the revelation to the Prophet Mohammed in Arabic and is considered the official language of “The Recital”. Thus, the only accepted written version is Arabic. Consistent with Islamic logic, since Jesus revealed the Gospel in Aramaic, the ONLY “Holy” written version of the Gospel to the Muslim would be the Aramaic.
It is helpful to note that Aramaic was the first written Semitic script of the three, followed by Hebrew and finally Arabic. This ever widening “gulf” separating the two sides is unfortunate, but it is my hope that studying the related Semitic languages of the East will serve as a key foundation, providing evidence that both faiths have more in common than not.
Second Foundational Bridge to the Common Ground: Could Allah & God be the Same Deity?
Every chapter of the Qur’an except one begins with: “In the Name of Allah the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.”
This is one of the most painful misunderstandings among Christians. Polls indicate that the vast majority of Christians universally feel that Allah is not the same God as the God of the Hebrews, or Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Ishmael. Many noted US Christian preachers have reinforced this idea by stating that "The God of Islam is not the same God.” Televangelist Benny Hinn also commented, “This is not a war between Arabs and Jews. It's a war between God and the devil." I recall speaking to an assembly of seminary students in Lancaster Bible College in PA a few years ago. When questioned, their view was unanimous that Allah was a false god and in fact, derived from a Moongod of ancient East. The Apostle Paul faced similar challenges with the Greek pagans as described in Acts 17. Paul used an idol to reflect the true God. While “some mocked…many followed and surrendered” to God. The point being, that the origins of a name do not always reflect on the later application.
Is the English, Greek & Latin “god” Pagan?
For example, the origin of the English word “God” has more historic baggage than Semitic words, such as Allah. “God” is derived from a protoGermanic pagan word for a water god (pronounced “gut”). Moreover, “Theos” (where we derive theology, theologian, etc.) has a heathen Greek origin with IndoEuropean root “dhes”. Finally the popular Latin words in Spanish “dios” and French “dieu” is totally pagan based on the Greek god Zeus. It has its origin in the early Latin Vulgate version of the Bible. So, while thousands of years ago, the ancient origin of Allah may have been perhaps based on a Moongod, the real question is: “What does the present use of the word mean today?” For over 500 years before the Prophet Mohammed, Arab Christians and even some Jews in the Arabian Peninsula used the word “Allah” for God. How about the nearly 20 million of Christian Arabs who use Allah every day as their Arabic word for God? Do they remotely consider that they are praying to a Moon god?
What About the Hebrew Name of “God”?
The general Hebrew term for God is “El.” It is a shortened version or root of Elohim 10. It is used throughout the Old Testament over 2,300 times. El was an ancient Canaanite name for a pagan deity. 11
The Aramaic Name for “God”
The Aramaic word for God is “Elahh,” or “Alaha,”12 also derived from the root “El.” Jesus, an Aramaic speaker, would naturally use Alaha just as all the other nearly five million Aramaic speakers do today. It would surprise many people to know that even Jesus used this form for God in Matt. 24:47 when he cried out in the Aramaic language, “Eli, Eli”, meaning “my God, my God.”
The Arabic Name for “God”
The Arabic word for God Allah is also derived from the Aramaic/Hebrew root word, El. It is a contraction of Al and Ilahi, which literally means “the God.” So, the Arabic Allah is rooted in the same Semitic word for God as the Hebrew and Aramaic. In fact, if one were to remove all the vowel markings (Semitic languages are all consonants and use markings to make vowels) from the Arabic AlIlahi and Hebrew Elohm, they both mean “the God”. Remove the plural of the words and they are transliterated nearly identically as AlAlh.
Third Foundational Bridge to the Common Ground: Is Jesus more than “Just another Prophet” in the Qur’an?
It never ceases amaze me the stunned reactions of Christians and Muslims when the vast Qur’anic references to Jesus are read to them. They number as high as 110. The typical reaction from a Muslim is that Jesus is venerated as a prophet of God and one cannot be a Muslim without believing in him. Simply quoting some of these verses in the Qur’an can create an uproar in both communities. For example in the Muslin Holy Book, Jesus is:
l l l l l
Supernaturally conceived through the Holy Spirit Sinless Messiah Word of God Word of Truth
l l l l l l l l
Clear Sign to all Men Healed the sick Rose the dead Breathed life into clay Mediator Died Taken up where he is near to God Returning as a Witness on Judgment Day…just to mention a few. (See Appendix 3 for additional references).
The General Meaning of Jesus’ Name
Why did God send the angel Gabriel to unequivocally instruct Mary to name her supernaturally conceived child a very specific name and title? (This is recorded nearly identically in both the New Testament and the Qur’an.) Why do Christians pray in the name of Jesus, as well as God? The answers to these questions could help remove certain stigmas and help in the construction of the bridge to the common ground. Semitic names very commonly have specific meanings. Yeshua (Hebrew for Jesus) is mentioned throughout the Bible, and in the prayer books of Judaism. It is a contraction of Yehoshua (Joshua of the Old Testament). The “shua” portion of “Yeshua” in the Hebrew language means salvation, and deliverer. The “Ye” in Yeshua is derived from the Hebrew letter yod, which is often used as an abbreviation for Yahweh.13 14 Jewish Rabbis have explained to me that out of reverence to God, YHWH15 is almost never spoken except by high priests one time per year during a high holy day. When written or used in names, it always abbreviated.16 His name meaning “God’s salvation” may help clarify why Christians pray in his name and consider it important and unique. Particularly when his title of Messiah is added, which some feel gives a special use over any other name, or similar names used in the East.
Jesus as “Mediator/Intercessor” in the Qur’an & Injil?
Lastly, while Islam does not generally adhere to the use of “intercessors” to get to God, the Qur’an may give further insight to the importance of Jesus’ name. It refers to him as a “Mediator.” Only twice in the entire Qur’an is the Arabic word wajih used in this context, once for Moses and the second for Jesus. 17 The root meaning refers to a person who is so connected to a figure of authority that if they ask for something they will get it. Moses was the “Mediator” of the first covenant, in part by building the tabernacle (Jeremiah 31:3134). Jesus was the “Mediator” of the second covenant since the people did not respond effectively to the first. (Hebrews 8:5). That is possibly why “mediator” is used exclusively for only these two prophets. One could argue when speaking or praying in “Jesus’ name”, it is linguistically calling on the name of YAWH, or God, His Messiah, one of the two “Mediators”, the Word of God and the numerous other “attributes” associated with him in the Qur’an. Now to the:
First Barrier that becomes a Bridge to the Common Ground: The “Heresy” of Jesus as the “Son of God”; can it be Overcome in Islam?
Muslims intensely believe that the notion of the “sonship” of Jesus Christ is heresy and blasphemy. The Christian’s corresponding view is that the Muslim is “hell bound” for not believing Jesus is the son of God. Is it possible to work out such seemingly antithetical positions between two great faiths? I think we can through the use of Aramaic. I had the rare privilege to sit with an Iranian Ayatollah at the request of a mutual friend to discuss common links in the two Holy Books. To my alarm, my American friend began my introduction by telling him “Mark has this thought that Jesus is the Son of God in the Qur’an and I wanted to know if you agreed with him.” I was horrified, knowing full well the Muslim view of this issue. After spending a few minutes apologizing for raising such a controversial issue at our first meeting we plunged right into the meat of the matter. What is truly remarkable is that the Qur’an’s Arabic and Injil’s Aramaic actually use identical verbiage in outlining the supernatural conception of Jesus the Messiah. 18 If an American Congressman and an Iranian Ayatollah can even come close to a “meeting of the minds” on such an issue, there is hope for everyone. How did we get that far? The Begotten Issue
We began with reading what the Qur’an says about the matter. “He neither begets nor is begotten.” Lum yalid wa lum yulud. Sura 112:3 And Sura 19:92 says; it is “Not consonant with the majesty of (Allah) Most Gracious that He should beget (take) a son.” Wama yanbaghee lilrrahmanian yattakhitha waladan. (See Appendix 2 for chart on Allah “taking a son”.)
Jesus not Conceived by Sexual Intercourse
Just what do these verses mean? “Begotten” used here in the Arabic are male forms. They all mean “birthed from him” in a sexual fashion. There is also a female form teled which means “birthed from her”, which could be interpreted there was no “him”. The Greek Bible uses one word for “begotten” gennao 19, which holds no gender in the way the Semitic languages do. This has led Muslims to assume the Bible suggests sexual intercourse occurred between God and Mary, causing the birth of Jesus, since the same word, begotten, is used for Jesus, as well as every other man or woman “birthed on the earth. The English translations also use one word to describe how all humans are begotten, including Jesus. Therefore, this genderless challenged Greek word translated into the single English word “begotten” creates a problem for Muslims when describing the birth of Jesus. Aly Gawhary expresses this dilemma in his Book Christ in Islam stating; “The Muslim takes exception to the word “begotten,” because begetting is an animal act, belonging to the lower animal functions of sex. How can we attribute such a lowly capacity to God?”20 This is understandably blasphemous in Islam, but also a blasphemy within orthodox Christianity. This confusing term is one reason some Muslims discredit the Greek translation as “distorted” and “corrupted.”
The Aramaic Language Sheds Light in the Problem
The exception to this universal male form of “begotten” is in the Aramaic version of the Bible. The Gospel establishes the genealogy of Jesus by an extensive listing of who was begotten by whom, from Abraham all the way to Joseph, the husband of Mary (See Matthew 1:116). However, please pay special attention to the Aramaic word used in Matthew 1: yalad, or awled is a word nearly identical to the Qur’anic word used in the cited verses and is a male stem meaning “from him”. This suggests birth sexually through a male and is used when describing every birth in the whole chronology of Matthew EXCEPT for Jesus the Messiah! In Matthew 1:16, after the repeated use of yalad from verses 116, the Aramaic word interestingly, and significantly, changes to: ettled which is a female stem “meaning from her” implying the birth of Jesus was supernatural through only a female. 21 This form of “begotten” may suggest there was no male or sexual intercourse in the birthing process. This is totally consistent with the Qur’anic representation of the conception and birth of Jesus Christ. One of the most popular Christian verses in the Bible is: “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life…” Aramaic translator Dr. George Lamsa points out the Aramaic word ykhidaya, used here is different from any other human birthing process. 22 It means “the only one”, “unique”.23 The same word is also used in its Hebrew form ykhiaday in a prophetic verse about the Messiah in Zechariah 12:10: “They shall look upon me, whom they have pierced…as they morn for an only son…” Also Psalms 2:7 uses the Hebrew Y’lidticha when referring to the birth of the Messiah.24 The Aramaic and Hebrew translations consistently choose words and word forms for Jesus as the “begotten” that demonstrate a clear difference in how he was “begotten” compared to everyone else in human history.
The Dead Sea Scrolls “Secret” of the “son of God” Unearthed
This term “son of God” is even used in the 1 st century Dead Sea Scrolls of Qumran. 25 One particular verse written in Aramaic, speaks of the Messiah as “the son of God” and refer to him as the “son of the Most High” and as the “chosen one”.26
The Conception of Jesus…New Common Ground
Now that we understand how Jesus was not “begotten” in the Qur’an, are there Semantic linguistic similarities in the Holy Books that present how he was conceived? They are in fact, surprising. Luke 1:3435 says: “Then Mary said to the angel, how can this be, for no man has known me. The angel answered and said to her, The Spirit of God (Aramaic: Rohka Alaha) will come and the power of the Highest will rest on you; therefore the one to be born of you is holy and he will be called the Son of God.”27 Qur’an in sura 21:91 and 66:12 both state: “We breathed into her our Spirit (Arabic: Ruhina or Rouh Allah) and made her son a sign to all
mankind.” Hence, Jesus was conceived in both Holy Books through the “Spirit of God”.
Qur’anic Arabic: Spirit of God: Rouh Allah or Holy Spirit: Rouh alQudus28 Gospel Aramaic: Spirit of God: Rohka Alaha or Holy Spirit: Rohka d’qudsha29 Torah Hebrew: Spirit of God: Rohah Elohem or Holy Spirit: Rohah d’ Qadash 30 The “Conception” of the Messiah a “sign”
Isaiah 7:14 prophesied about Jesus, “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel”. This Hebrew prophesy is identical to the many in the Gospels and the Qur’an such as Sura in 21:91 “And she who guarded her chastity, so we breathed into her Our Spirit and made her son a sign to all mankind.”
God’s Power to Speak things into “Being”
Other Suras in the Qur’an such as 3:47, 3:59, 19:20 and 19:35 use the, “to be” verb (Arabic: fia kun)31 when referring to the conception of Jesus. This is a very important concept in Islam. Jesus was conceived by this command. The Qur’an uses both the “Spirit of God” and the “to be” command as part of a miraculous process in the conception of Jesus, who was also as Isaiah points out “a sign”. In conclusion, is possible for Muslims and Christians to agree that Jesus was conceived by the Spirit of God and not sexually. He had no father and was birthed through a command of God by a virgin named Mary. In this spiritual context, Jesus could allegorically be considered the “Son of God” in the same custom the Arabs might say one is “the son of the Nile”. While no Muslim would hurry to share this new “revelation” in public, the process of building bridges of friendship through education and understanding can begin.
Second Barrier that becomes a Bridge to the Common Ground: The Trinity and Islam
The following Suras seem to conflict with the Bible and have created centuries of division: Sura 4:171 “And say not three (thalatha). Desist, it is better for you: Allah is only one God…” Sura 5:73 “Disbelievers are who say Allah is the third of the three, and there is no god but the one God.”
The Qur’an and 99 names (attributes) of God
The Qur’an ascribes as many as 99 different names to Allah in order to describe the vast/limitless attributes of His nature. While these are considered sifat (Arabic for divine attributes) they dogmatically hold to monotheism. Eastern Christians also believe in one God with many attributes, instead of many concept of “persons”. “Person” does not appear in the Aramaic Bible on the context of God, the Holy Spirit, or Jesus. It is interesting to note that the Bible has 46 attributes of God, such as love, just, wise omnipresent, all of which are essentially similar attributes of Allah in the Qur’an. 32 There are also 24 names of God, such as Jehovah, Yahweh, Elohem, et al. Yet, similar to the Muslim, few Jews or Christians would claim any more than one God. However, the three primary words central to this discussion are God/Father, Son/Christ/Jesus and Holy Spirit/Spirit of God. These are all frequently used and are identical in the Arabic of the Qur’an, the Aramaic of the New Testament and the Hebrew of the Torah. These Holy Books routinely refer to:
English Arabic Aramaic Hebrew God Allah Alaha), Elohem Holy Spirit Rouh alQudus Rohka d’qudsha Rouah ha Kadoish [(or Spirit of God) Rouh Allah Rohka Alaha Rouah ha Elohem] Jesus Christ Isa Mesiah Eshoo Meshikha Messiah
Since the Holy Books use all three indistinguishable words in their respective Semitic languages, where then is the division? It must lie in the interpretation and interactional aspects of each of these terms. The term “Trinity” however, is never mentioned in the Bible, but was adopted in the Fourth Century, just after the Council of Nicaea, which the Roman Emperor Constantine assembled in A.D. 325. 33 To fathom the infinite nature of God and His divine character attributes is
daunting. Perhaps, this is the perplexity that has led to such grave misunderstandings. St. Ephrem wrote in the fourth century: “Dogmatic “definitions” can be actually blasphemous when these definitions touch upon some aspect of God's Being; for, by trying to “define” God, one is in effect attempting to contain the Uncontainable, to limit the Limitless." After countless discussions with learned Christians asking questions from every angle I can think of, at the end of the day, they lament that our ability to grasp the actual interaction among the three is really “a mystery”. Perhaps Ephrem was right, however these three are in the all the Semitic Holy Books and can be considered at least divine attributes…any deeper understanding must be left to the few lucky ones who can comprehend the infinite.
Third Barrier that becomes a Bridge to the Common Ground: the “Deity” of Jesus?
The possibility of Jesus holding any aspect of deity is another critical issue dividing Islam and Christianity, yet a form of agreement is achievable. Most of the faithful agree that the flesh/body of Jesus was finite and no different from any other human, except that he was born sinless or pure as the Qur’an states. Muslims feel passionately that if Jesus was Allah, his normal human bodily functions are beyond Allah’s majesty to engage in. Since the Qur’an points out that the Allah’s Spirit (Arabic: Rouh Allah) supernaturally conceived Jesus through a virgin and the same Spirit resides within him, can one reasonably conclude that the Spirit of Jesus holds some aspect of deification? Perhaps at least as a starting point, one of the eternal attributes of Allah? Some Sufi mystics for centuries have suggested that if, Allah’s “Word” was in the Qur’an (Arabic: hulul, meaning “taking up residence”), why could it not also be hulul, or incarnate in Jesus? He was also referred to in the Qur’an as the “Word of God” (Arabic: Kalimatu Allah). Perhaps this prompted renown Islamic scholar Dr. Joseph Cumming of Yale to state, “Both the Gospel and Qur’an indicate that God’s kalmia which he caused to be manifest in the womb of Virgin Mary… is not something which God created or originated…since God in his love, wanted to reveal himself to humankind, he determined that his kalam should be manifest in the form of human flesh”34 In this light, the Qur’an indicates only two sacred “Words” came down from heaven (Arabic: nouzalat); the first was the Holy Qur’an and the second, Isa al Messiah. Further, one could retort that we all possess eternal “spirits,” so what is the difference between the Spirit in Jesus and the spirit in all other people? Our spirit, while eternal, is corrupted and in the “image” (copy, or facsimile) of Allah, but not Allah’s. Since Jesus was “sinless” and “pure”35 (Arabic: Zakiyyah), and “without vanity or wickedness”,36 could Jesus’ Spirit be said to possess the complete, pure, undefiled Spirit of Allah? The Arabic for “create” is Khaleka. This Qur’anic word is limited to two contexts in their Holy Book. The first, when Allah “creates” and the second when Jesus “creates”. Jesus used his “breath” to literally “create” or turn clay (mud) into a “living bird.”37 What “breath” has the authority and power to conceive life other than Allah’s? Most Muslim scholars, whom I have discussed this with, agree that the Spirit in Jesus was at least a divine attribute from Allah, and his flesh human, and the contribution of Mary. This position is close to where many Christians themselves tend to fall and at least an effective beginning of new common ground with Islam.
Fourth Barrier that becomes a Bridge to the Common Ground: Is there an Answer to the Crucifixion in the Qur’an?
AlUris saw in a deep sleep Christ Jesus son of Mary, who seemed to turn his face toward him from heaven. He asked him: “Did the crucifixion really happen?” Jesus said “yes.” AlUris then relayed his dream to an interpreter who said, “The man who saw this dream shall be crucified. For Jesus is infallible and can only speak the truth…because the Glorious Qur’an specifically states that Jesus was not crucified or killed. Accordingly, this must refer to the dreamer and it is he who shall be crucified.” This matter turned out as the interpreter said. 38 This poor dreamer, AlUris, we find in 7 th century Arabic writings, was himself crucified for even relaying his dream that Jesus was crucified. But, was he correctly condemned? Careful study of the issue particularly in the Islamic context, suggest at minimum, the event is shrouded in mystery. A close Muslim friend of mine, who was the top advisor to a president in North Africa, asked if I would take him to see Mel Gibson’s movie. After the movie, he asked to sit at the adjacent coffee shop to discuss what we had just witnessed. He asked how I could handle the crucifixion of Jesus, without tears, as he declared “I even cried and I do not believe Jesus was crucified.” I responded, “Why do you believe he was not crucified?” He retorted, “Because the Qur’an says he was not.” We proceeded to carefully read the Qur’an to see if we could discover what it really says about this highly inflammatory matter.
Sura 4:159, which unfortunately, is the only verse of 6,236 in the Qur’an that directly refers to the crucifixion, states: “They said in boast, ‘we killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Apostle of God’;
but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them… for of a certainty they killed him not.”
Step one of the Discovery: Did Jesus Die or Not?
This is a very sensitive issue in Islam, but a Muslim friend once commented, “Frankly, it’s amazing that we still dispute the death of Jesus, as the Holy Qur’an speaks of his (Jesus’) death over and over again.” He was referring to Sura 19:33; “So peace be upon me, (speaking about Himself) the day I was born, the day that I die and the day I shall be raised up to life again.”39 The Arabic used here for word “die” is amutu.40 It is rooted in an Aramaic word for “death”. The following verse, 34 reflects my friend’s comments: “Such is Jesus the son of Mary the sayings of truth about which they dispute.” Qur’an 4:158; “But there is not one of the people of the book but most certainly believe in him before his death; and on the Day of resurrection he (Jesus) shall be a witness against them.” Sura 5:117 further reiterates this by stating the death of Jesus, “you caused me to die.”41 In addition, Sura 3:55 says. “And when Allah said ‘Oh Jesus I am going to terminate 42 the period of your stay on earth’…” Use of “die” and “terminate” here is rooted in wafat, Arabic, “to die”, or “death”. Other Qur’an verses 3:185 and 21:34 both indicate that “no man is made immortal…every soul shall taste death.” So, this would include Jesus, as there was no exception mentioned for him. He implies his life is not indefinite in sura 19. If, Jesus died as it seems to suggest, then could it have been on the cross? Step two of the Discovery: If Jesus Died, why does the key Verse say “he was not killed or crucified”?
“but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them… for of a certainty they killed him not.” At first glance, it seems obvious that based on 4:157 that Jesus was neither killed, nor crucified until one understands whom the “they” are referring to. “They” is in reference to the Jews. Sura 4:153156 all clearly discuss the Jewish people and grammatically, Aya 157 is simply a continuation of a sequence of the same emphasis on the Jews. Historical evidence and the Gospels all insist it was the Romans alone who were empowered to carry out this style of death sentence. The Jews, according to the Quran, said and they made people think they killed Jesus, when, in fact, they did not. The Qur’an confirmed first century Jewish manuscripts in which some Jews falsely “boasted” and claimed credit for Jesus’ death. For example, Medinan Jews and their predecessors “were under an illusion when they took credit for and boasted of this accomplishment”.43 Step three of the Discovery: So if the Jews did not kill Jesus, who did? This imponderable question has plagued the two faiths since A.D. 923 when Islamic scholar AlTabari suggested various options to interpret the Qur’an regarding this question. 44 It is helpful to review the various interpretations of one of the most important, misunderstood and controversial verses in the Qur’an. This is the premise on which Islam insists it was not Jesus on the cross. Back to sura 4:157, now the second half; “…but it was made to appear to them so… (Arabic: shubbiha lahum) ” A careful view of the Arabic word Shubbiha will help in this process. It is from the Arabic root " shabah" which means to:
l l l
“Look like, in the image or likeness of, similar or identical to” or; “To leave in a state of confusion due to a mistaken identity of someone” or; “looked like someone else”
After numerous discussions with many Muslim scholars, the closest meaning in English for the Qur’anic words shubbiha lahum is: "It was made for them to look like." Or, for lack of better words, their eyes and minds were tricked to see and imagine something different. One could ponder, “What was made to look like what and to whom?” It seems that this verse does leave one somewhat “confused. Allow me to present five thoughts.
(1) It was not Jesus on the cross, but a substitute
Traditional Islamic interpretation of the very important word shubbiha lahum in 4:157, suggests that Jesus was not crucified, but rather, “it was made to appear to them so” that it was someone altogether different that was crucified in his place. On the other hand, the famous Sunni commentator, Imam Fakhru 'dDin arRazi, the medieval theologian, rejected this substitutionist theory as intrinsically unjust and unworthy of God. 46
(2) Just Jesus’ Dead Flesh
Taking the meaning of shubbiha lahum as: “ to look like, in the image or likeness of, similar or identical”, 1 Peter 3:18 says: “Wherefore he [Jesus] died in the flesh, he lives in the Spirit.”48 This situation reinforces the Islamic view that Jesus had an unusual mystical dual nature, 49 his flesh; physical/human (Arabic: nasut) and spirit/heavenly nature (Arabic: ruahani) were connected to the Rouh Allah (Spirit of God). Sufi mystics as did the Nestorian Christians suggest that it was only Jesus' human form that was crucified, whereas his aspect as Spirit was received by God into heaven, and that the Qur'an meant only to deny the death or crucifixion of the Spirit. 50 (3) Unrecognizable From Trauma This other meaning of shubbiha lahum “left in a state of confusion or mistaken identity.” could be indicating Jesus’ beaten body was unrecognizable having been bruised so severely. Isaiah prophesied about the Messiah, and boldly reinforces this concept that Jesus’ image would be difficult to identify and could have “looked like someone else”: “…his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness...” Isaiah 52:14
(4) It was Jesus’ Post Resurrection Body “Shown to Them”
“Shown to them” in this phrase may not mean on the cross. Perhaps it suggests how Jesus may have looked after the resurrection and does not pertain to the cross at all. Incredibly, Jesus was a “stranger” to the fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. Even Mary Magdalene and the disciples of Jesus failed to recognize him in his postresurrected body. They wrongly assumed his resurrected appearance was of a spirit nature, not of flesh. 51 The “doubting” disciple Thomas wouldn’t believe this was the resurrected Jesus till he touched the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and side. (5) As we previously discussed, it is a continuance referring to the confusion, or appearance that the Jews claim they killed Jesus, Influence of Historical Events. A possible logic for Islam’s narrow interpretation of shubbiha lahum may center on history. It is reasonable that the nearly 200year violent tenure of the Crusades caused Eastern cultural bias to permanently irradiate any preCrusade interpretation that Jesus was crucified. It is understandable considering that marauding Western armies, murdering and raping thousands of Muslims, dressed symbolically with crosses splashed across their chests, helmets and in particular, their very killing instruments (swords) shaped as crosses. After our discussion, my Muslim friend at the coffee shop had new ideas to consider and commented how “difficult it is for him”. Ultimately, the “real” interpretation is left to each of us to decide. “Hard is the way to which you (Muhammad) have called them to follow” Sura 42:13 Conclusion Crusades, Ottoman Conquests, slavery, colonization and the like have created an evergrowing fissure between Muslims and the West that seems unbridgeable. This paper hopes to challenge men and women of influence in the East and West to venture outside the comfort zone of their religious perceptions and revisit how we think about ourselves, our faiths, our cultures, and in the end, each other. The goal of the bridges effort is not to debate, convert, or impose our positions. In fact, what I have presented are perhaps to some, views and strategies for both sides of the divide to study and consider their relevance for themselves. These bridgebuilding techniques can, we know first hand, initiate a thawing of relationships between the East and the West. Further, it can lead to the seeding of a movement without guns and tanks that will affect the core of human nature and passionthe heart. Perhaps just the process of lovingly and excitedly discussing the challenges with what the Muslims call the “Christian Jesus” will in a way
release the mystical power behind the name that has so influenced the world over the last 2,000 years. Indeed this vastly expanded common ground can serve to bring us closer together; as friends, prayer partners, even brothers and sisters, yet allowing people of both faiths to retain their cultures and traditions. This process can stem the tide of religious militancy and mistrust. Otherwise, we are doomed to face the unimaginable impact of continuing conflict between the two. Ours is a simple but difficult objective: that each of us—believers and nonbelievers, Muslim and Christians—not burden our future with the misunderstandings and mistrust of the past.
Chart One Semitic Word Meaning for “Begotten Son”
Language / Text
Qur’an Suras 4:171 “He is above having a son” yakoona lahu waladun 6:101 “How can Allah have a son” lahu waladun walamtakun 9:30 “Christians call Christ the son of Allah” ibin 19:91 “That they should invoke a son for (God)” An daAAaw lilrrahmani waladan 37:152 “Allah has (not) begotten children…” Walada Allahu wainnahum 43:81 “Had not a son” “lilrrahmaniwaladun” 90:3 “And the begetter and whom he begot.” Wawalidin wama walada 112:3 “He neither begets nor is begotten.” lum yalid wa lum yulud 53 Torah & Zubor (Bible) Psalm 2:7 states “you are my son; today have I begotten 54 you”. Psalm 110:3 “Your people shall be glorious in the day of power; in holy array from the womb, from of old I have begotten 55 you as a child .” (Dr. H. E. Clem translation) Jesusiah 7:14 “Behold a virgin/young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and call his name Immanuel”.
Aramaic Peshitta Matthew 1:16 “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” (awled) Matthew 1:16 “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” (ettled & etthilidth) John 3:16 “For God so loved the world He gave is only (eykhhadaya) begotten Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life”
The following chart details the Qur’anic Suras, the English, and the transliterated Arabic for most verses dealing with Allah/God “taking a son” and miscellaneous related key words which are in bold. “Taken a son” 2:116 “They say ‘Allah has begotten (taken) a son’” itakhatha 59 Allahuwaladan 10:68 “Allah took not a son” ittakhatha Allahuwaladan 17:111 “Allah, who hath not begotten (taken) unto Himself a son” lam yattakhith waladan walam yakun 18:4 “Took not a son” qalooittakhatha Allahu waladan 19:35 60 “not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget (take) a son” anyattakhitha min waladin 19:88 “They say: ‘(Allah) Most Gracious has begotten (taken) a son!’" Waqaloo ittakhatha alrrahmanuwaladan 19:92 “Not consonant with the majesty of (Allah) Most Gracious that He should beget (take) a son” yattakhitha waladan 21:26 “They say: The Beneficent God has taken to Himself a son” ittakhatha alrrahmanu waladan 23:91 “No son did Allah beget (take)” Ma ittakhatha Allahumin waladin 43:16 “Has He taken daughters…for your sons” ittakhatha mimma yakhluqubanatin waas akum bialbaneena f
72:3 “Allah takes neither wife or son” ittakhatha sahibatan wala waladan Misc. uses and General References to Daughters & Jinns 9:30 “Jews call 'Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah” ibnu Allahiwaqalati…almaseehuibnu Allahiibin 16:57 “Allah has not sons & daughters” WayajAAaloona lillahi albanatisubhanahu walahum ma yashtahoona 37:149 “Thy Lord has (only) daughters, and they have sons?” albanatuwalahumu albanoona 37:153 “Did He (then) choose daughters rather than sons?” Astafa albanati AAalaalbaneena 37:158 “Allah has no “blood relationships with Jinns” [spiritual beings] wabayna aljinnatinasaban walaqad
Amazing Qur’anic Verses dealing with Jesus/Isa Statement (Qur’anic Arabic word) Suras Spoke from Mary’s womb 5:110, 19:24, 2933 Conceived supernaturally through a virgin named Mary; spoken into “being” (Fayakun) and by the “breath”, or “Spirit of God” (Rouh alqudis Allah) 2:87, 2:253, 3:47, 3:59, or “Holy Spirit” 5:110, 19:20+, 21:29, 66:12 Jesus is of Allah’s Spirit (Rouh ana Allah) 19:17, 21:29/91 & 66:12 Jesus is a Spirit of/from Allah (Rouh minhu from Allah) 4:171 Jesus, a son pure, without sin (Zakiyyah) 3:38 & 19:19 Had no vanity, or wickedness 19:32 Jesus is righteous (saliheen) 3:46 and 6:85 11 times called “the Messiah” 3:45, 4:157, 4:171 and 172, 5:17x2, 72x2 & 75, 9:30, 9:31 He is the Gospel, or “good news” 3:45 Jesus is considered a “mediator” (wajih) 3:4561 Jesus "intercessor”(shafa'a) 2:255 & 21:28 62 Noble (wagihan) now and hereafter 6:85 63 Jesus breathed life into clay 3:49 & 5:110 Jesus called the “Word of God” (Kalimatu Allah) 3:39 & 45, 4:171 Jesus the “Word of Truth” 19:34 “Tidings of things unseen” 3:44 Only two things sent from heaven, Jesus and the Holy Book 5:15 & 114115 Strengthened/led (Ayyada) by the Holy Spirit (Rouh Qudus) 2:87, 2:253, 5:110 God’s “favor” was on Him 43:59, 5:110 Given revelation from God 2:136, 3:59, 19:30
God revealed His will to Jesus 4:163 Jesus a “mercy from Allah” 19:21 Jesus had power to raise the dead 3:49, 5:110 Jesus, a “clear sign” (Beyinat)64 unto men (all mankind) 2:87, 3:49 & 50, 5:115, 19:21, 21:93, 43:61 Jesus showed clear “signs” (Beyinat) of God 2:253, 5:110, 43:63 “God gave clear miracles to Jesus” 2:253 Healed the sick and lepers 3:49, 5:110 Jesus died (Mutawafeka, rooted in Wafat & Amutu) 3:55, 4:159, 5:117, 19:33 Jesus resurrected (“day he was raised”) from the dead (Yum uba'athu) 2:7273 &19:33 Jesus resurrected or “present at Resurrection Day” (Yum alqiyama) 3:55, 4:159 Ascended up to God in heaven 3:55, 4:158 Coming back to judge the world 3:55, 4:159, 4:173?, 43:61 A sign of the hour of judgment 43:61 Near to Allah (mugarrabeen) (a special place of honor) 3:45 God “blessed Him wherever he was” 19:31 Given wisdom of the Old Testament and Gospel 3:48 & 110, 19:30 Had the favor of God 43:59 A servant and prophet of God 4:172, 19:30 Miraculously brings food to earth from heaven 5:112118 Jesus a “straight (right) path” 43:61 Jesus, a “witness” for God 4:159, 5:117 God made a covenant with Jesus 33:7 Jesus an Apostle 4:157, 71; 5:75 An example to the Children of Israel 43:59 Angels near to Jesus 4:172 Coming to attest the Law 3:50 Jesus like (is the 2 nd ) Adam 3:59 Jesus is the “right path to follow” 43:61 Jesus inspired disciples (alhawariyun) to have faith in God 5:111 Disciples of Jesus have power over their enemies 61:14 We are ordered to obey Jesus 3:50, 4:159, 5:111, 43:63 He came with “wisdom” (authority) of Allah 43:63 Ordered to follow Jesus 3:55, 43:61
Followers of Jesus superior 3:55 Disciples are God’s helpers of the revelation of Jesus 3:52, 61:14 Disciples “witnesses to the truth” of Jesus 5:113 Followers of Jesus acceptable (true believers) to God 18:10, 57:27, 85:4
This lā ilāhā illāallah, or La ilaha illa Huwa is stated in the Qur’an many times. E.G., see suras 3:18, 2:255, 3:02,3:62,3:64 and 20:14.
The Hebrew word YHWH is interesting as it is rooted in the “to be” verb which reinforces the notion of “religion” being a “state of being” (surrendered) toward God.
Common Hebrew prayers use “Lord” in place of the actual word used in the Torch “YAWH”.
Aramaic: Shmay Ahisrayil: Mariyah Alahan Mariyah Udhow.
Hebrew Elohiym (God) is rooted in El as is the Arabic Allah . See more in: Second Bridge to the Common Ground: What if…Allah, Alaha & God are the Same Deity?
Bracketed part is not in Deuteronomy 6:4.
Chaldean Arabic Dictionary; (Beirut Babel Center, 1975)
A Summary of the Qur’an, by Daniel Scot; P. 8.
The first alphabet was invented by Canaanites, later called Phoenicians. All subsequent alphabets are related in some way to this.
10 The Hebrew word translated "God" ('elohim) is a plural noun denoting majesty, and the writers of Scripture used it as an honorific title. Though it is a plural in form, it is singular in meaning when referring to the true God. This name represents the Creator's transcendent relationship to His creation. Notes on Genesis 2005 Edition by; Dr. Thomas L. Constable
“Lecture Notes on The Names Of God” By: M. James Sawyer , Th.M., Ph.D.
The determined form, meaning “the God,” although in later Syriac when the determined forms lose their force, “Alaha becomes the normally way of saying “God”.
Dr Eddon Clem, Aramaic/Syraic & Hebrew scholar comments that Yeho or Ye part of Yeshua means “Lord” and Shua means “help”. Jewish tradition in Numbers Rabbah 16:9 explains Joshua’s name midrashically as meaning “Yah Yoshia’ (“May the Lord save”), explaining it as, “May the Lord save you from the counsel of the other scouts.” The Bible often uses midrashic explanations of names in explaining their meaning, and it is possible that this is what was intended here.
See The Hidden Gospel Decoding the Spiritual Message of the Aramaic Jesus, By Neil DouglasKlotz, internationally known scholar; p 71 & The discussion in Jeffrey Tigay, “The JPS Torah Commentary: The Book of Numbers” (New York: JPS, 1996), fn 115, p. 346.
The divine name YHWH contains only consonants. Jewish tradition never preserved the pronunciation of this word and so scholars are left to guess based on ancient transcriptions in Aramaic and related languages, as well as the divine element of many personal names. Most scholars reconstruct it as something like “Yahweh,” but about the only thing we can be sure of is that it would not have been pronounced “Jehovah,” since that is based on a Christian misunderstanding of how to read the vowels the Jews intended to be pronounced with “Adonai ” (Lord).
Halleluyah is a composite of Hallelu and Yah. It literally translates from Hebrew as "Praise Yah, [you people!]" or simply "Praise Yah!" Yah is the shortened form of the name YHWH, referred to as the Tetragrammaton. Wikipedia, Encyclopedia.
Sura 3:45 “Since the angles said, ‘Mary, God gives you good news of a Word from Him whose name is Christ Jesus son of Mary. He is a Mediator (wajih) in this world and the next, and is stationed near to God.” The 2nd use is regarding Moses in Sura 33:69.
See Luke 1:34, Matthew 1:18 and Suras 21:92 and 66:12. ]p
Stong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible word # 1080
Christ in Islam by Aly S. Gawhary, p. 29, Cairo, Egypt.
The original Aramaic ettled (begotten) used in a female verb form, suggests a spiritually (Arabic: nafakhna) breathed (Arabic: feehi min) from the Spirit of God (Rouhallah) or in more simple terms, a miraculous conception.
More Light on the Gospel, Dr. George Lamsa, p.120.
The New Brown, Driver, and Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Hebrew, Aramaic & English) by Francis Brown, S.R. Driver & G.A. Briggs, p. 402.
Hebrew causes the word “born” [y ld] to be divided into seven stems (Paal, Piel, Hiphil, Niphal, Pual, Hophal, Hithpael). The first stem (Paal) is used for the mother who gives birth (yaladti or teled). This stem is the only stem used for a female giving birth. The other stems (Hiphil, Niphal, Pual) are used in the scriptures for males giving birth, that is, for male impregnated births. (And the remaining stems are not relevant, with Piel meaning midwife, Hithpael meaning pedigree/bloodline and Hophal meaning gender neutral usage.
4Q534536 “He will be called son of God, and they will call him son of the Most High. Like the sparks 2 of a vision, so will their kingdom be; they will rule several years over 3 the earth and crush everything; a people will crush another people, and a city another city. 4 Blank Until the people of God arises and makes everyone rest from the sword. 5 His kingdom will be an eternal kingdom, and all his paths in truth and uprigh[tness]”
Matthew 1:18 also uses the Aramaic: Rohka Alaha.
Holy’ or ‘Holy Spirit’ appears approximately 24 times in the Qur’an
Holy’, the five words from the Injil translated as ‘Holy’ occurs about 167 times.
Holy’, the six words from the Old Testament translated as ‘Holy’ occurs at least 342 times.
The Aramaic equivalent word is kum. The "N" and "M" alternate depending on dialect and tense. "N" typically would occur in passive or existential (existence) states, for example, while "M" occurs often in actions.
Dakes Annotated Reference Bible, p.51, concordance.
See The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language , Fourth Edition, by ‘]pl0p’l0’/l0’p “The doctrine is not explicitly taught in the New Testament, the idea of the Trinity has been inferred from the Gospel of St. John.”
Aramaic for “became flesh”: ethbassar is very similar to the Qur’anic Arabic: bsahar.
Suras 3:49 and 5:110113
Jamal alDin ibin Wasil in 697.
Note that Sura 19:15 uses the same verbiage for John the Baptist. There has been no doubt about this ays meaning his death, so why the doubt when it was said of Jesus?. “The day he was born, the day that he dies and the day he will be raised up to life again!”
The root word in Aramaic for dead is mt. When Allah/God says on the day Adam ate the fruit he would surely die – in Aramaic from the Targum, the verb "you will die" is "tamoot", "die" is "meet" and death is "motah" (see, e.g., Deuteronomy 33:6 in Aramaic for this word for "death"). This appears to correspond to the word used in the Qur’an for Jesus’s state after his death motah. Moreover the Coptic word for death is very similar to the Arabic and other Semitic words; Mooyt.
Tawaffa occurs 24 times in the Qur’an for death and two times for sleep.
Both words are rooted in the word wafat, to die, or death.
(Parrinder 105121; Robinson:106141; Lawson 1991).
Abu Ja'far Muhammad b. Jarir alTabari (839923) The History of Prophets and Kings; Translation by Moshe Perlmann titled, The History of AlTabari, Volume IV, The Ancient Kingdoms, State University of New York Press, Albany 1987.
45 shibh is from the same root as shabah. When the Arabs say "al walad shibh abeehi" that means " the son is almost an exact/duplicate/similar copy of his father"
Lawson 1991; cf. Ayoub 1980
“ It is the spirit give life the flesh counts for nothing” (NIV) John 6:63
Also see 1John 4:2 “The Spirit of God is known by this;…Jesus Christ is come of the flesh…”
Dr. Joseph Comming quotes Islamic scholar alRazi in one of the possible interpretations of shubbiha lahum as a “dual nature of Jesus. As both ruhani (spiritual/heavenly: Spirit from us) and badani (earthly). (see footnote Insert),
Robinson:5657, 184; Jandi:495512
John 24:37 “And they were confused and frightened, for they thought they saw a spirit.”
Walad (wld) is a noun and root for the nouns and verbs used in the vast majority of Qur ’anic verses mentioning “son ” or “begotten”. It also means “parenting in the natural sense”.
lam (particle) for “did not”, yalid means “give birth to, generate, produce, sire, beget” and ya is an imperfect prefix, the root is wld (walad)
This word “begotten” is in the Qal stem, which generally means the begetting act from a female, but additionally it also is in a special verb tense (the I class theme vowel of the preterite tense; rather than the typical aclass theme vowel), which further supports our view that no male act is implied. This Qal stem’s special verb tense is used, for example, to describe Moses having “begotten” the entire nation. (See Nu. 11:12).
Aramaic scholar Dr. Jame DeFransisco (Nov. 19, 2005), reinforces this Aramaic grammar: “awlidh is masculine and etthilidth is feminine. Meaning is "to generate" and "to cause to be born." Only males "beget". The scribe for the Gospel of Matthew used the masculine form in the lineage until he came to Joseph where he changed the form to feminine (etthilidh "of whom was born"). “
Stong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible page 49
Gospel Light; Dr. George Lamsa, p. 2930.
The Arabic verb form of the singular tense is "ittakhaza" which means, to take, adopt (according to HansWehr ArabicEnglish Dictionary). There is no meaning that "ittakhaza" also mean "to beget".
Yusuf Ali comments on Sura19:35 in this respect: “Begetting a son is a physical act depending on the needs of men’s animal nature. Allah Most High is independent of all needs, and it is derogatory to Him to attribute such an act to Him. It is merely a relic of pagan and anthropomorphic materialist superstitions.”
Only mention of wajih in the entire Qur’an other than Moses.
This is as an exclusive right of Allah who may pass it down to whomever he likes.
wagihn or wajih also means noble and exalted
Beyinat means something clear and without doubt