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The Story of Jesus in the Quran – Part 9

Story of Jesus in the Quran, part 9

Let’s continue to study the life of prophet Jesus and look into the following verse:

لَقَدْ كَفَرَ ٱلَّذِينَ قَالُوٓا۟ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ هُوَ ٱلْمَسِيحُ ٱبْنُ مَرْيَمَ ۖ وَقَالَ ٱلْمَسِيحُ يَـٰبَنِىٓ إِسْرَٰٓءِيلَ ٱعْبُدُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ رَبِّى وَرَبَّكُمْ ۖ إِنَّهُۥ مَن يُشْرِكْ بِٱللَّهِ فَقَدْ حَرَّمَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ ٱلْجَنَّةَ وَمَأْوَىٰهُ ٱلنَّارُ ۖ وَمَا لِلظَّـٰلِمِينَ مِنْ أَنصَارٍۢ

5:72 Those who say ‘God is the Christ, son of Mary” have certainly fallen into disbelief. The Christ himself said, “O Children of Israel! Worship God, my Lord and your Lord.” Whoever ascribes deity to anything other than God will surely be forbidden Paradise by God. Their home will be the fire. And the wrongdoers will have no helpers.

Although I may say that God is the creator of the world, it does not help me to avoid claiming that anything in the universe has the quality of God or saying that Jesus is God. According to the Quran’s definition, attributing God-like qualities to anything created makes me a disbeliever, i.e. for rejecting or denying the truth of God. This means that my claim to believe in God as the creator of the universe only does not save me from falling into disbelief. This is a serious matter for me to be careful in my living. Blaming the Christian doctrine for saying that Jesus is one of the three aspects of God does not really matter and should not be my concern. The verse hints at the fact that when I say something of this universe such as nature or anything has qualities to create. Or saying that this thing is necessary in my life and if I don’t have it, I would not have the existence of something else. For example, if it was not for the existence of the tree, water, sunlight, the resulting fruit would not be in existence which may be correct but the conclusion is dreadful; as if water has the power to create the tree or the tree having the power and knowledge to create the fruit. Another example is that a baby is not created without the mother; this does not mean that the mother is the creator of the baby. We may make this mistake and have to be careful with our daily language. We may use in our casual talk these kinds of phrases; it is better to be careful with our language. However, when one consciously chooses to use the language, one may fall into the category of disbeliever as defined by the Quran for rejecting the truth. The majority of the people are ignorant, including the ones that follow the Christian theology of trinity; but if one consciously follows trinity and defends it then they are in trouble according to the definition of the Quran.

The verse continues with “The Christ himself said, ‘O Children of Israel! Worship God – my Lord and your Lord.” Why is Jesus addressing the children of Israel? Because Jesus was employed to deliver the message of God to the Children of Israel. Someone may say that I am a Christian and not the Children of Israel. Practically speaking Jesus was sent to the most religiously influential people. Their understanding of religion, the interpretation of the message prophet Moses delivered was deviated or the Torah text may have been manipulated. The mission of the prophet is to ask people to worship God who is my Lord as well as your Lord, i.e. the One who takes care of us, the Creator of the universe. Jesus is not here anymore. Even if he was here, he needed to eat, grow from a baby to adulthood just like you and me, created as a human being in this world. What is important is that he (puh) received the message from God to deliver to other human beings. Receiving the message from God and delivering it does not make one a God, or one endowed with God-like qualities. Who is taking care of us now? Is Jesus the one taking care of us now? Where is Jesus now? What is confused in this understanding of Christian Theology is instead of being loyal to Jesus’s message, they take the personality of Jesus to be important, as the savior. We may say that we love Prophet Muhmmad, it is fair because we love the message and that he delivered the message of God to us. Instead of the message they took the personality of Jesus as the source of the message. We have to be careful as well as we love the prophet and some may neglect the message, i.e. follow the personality of the prophet rather than studying the message and declare his material body as sacred and prophet Muhammad as the savior and intercessor who would save us from the dreadful end in the hereafter. We cannot really expect any salvation from prophet Muhammad (pbuh); any saving function is from the message and the mission of the prophets.  

“Whoever ascribes deity to anything other than God” – The word used here is “Man” translated as whoever and is used for conscious beings. “Man Yushrik Billahi …”, whoever commits shirk, whoever ascribes deity to anything other than God will surely not be able to enter paradise, enter the immortal happiness, permanent happiness in the hereafter. Here as well my spirit is entertaining the qualities of my Lord in this life as the one taking care of me, fulfilling my needs. When I don’t feel the presence of my Creator in my life, seeing Him as the Lord, the Nourisher, Provider, Sustainer and Savior, then the permanent home will be the fire. “Wama li alzalimeena min ansar” – There will be no helpers for the wrongdoers. 

A concern raised is what if one does not believe in any deity such as agnostics that claim neither faith nor disbelief in God. This confusion stems from our definition of “shirk”, the association of partners with God, as understood from the literal meaning of some verses. As we studied above, taking some deities from some pieces in the universe beside God makes one fall into the category of a disbeliever. If one even claims to believe in God, the taking of Jesus as God constitutes disbelief even though they believe in God. How about those who don’t believe in God at all? For example, certain atheists take things as if they are happening randomly, they are defined as “Mushriq” not because they liken the things in the universe to God but because they are associating power, knowledge and will to things as if they are God.   The word “Shirk” means to give creative power to anything of this universe regardless whether I believe in God or not. 

The verse gives us the news that associating the qualities of Godhead, attaching it onto something of this universe, i.e. giving power to created beings will not enter paradise.


لَّقَدْ كَفَرَ ٱلَّذِينَ قَالُوٓا۟ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ ثَالِثُ ثَلَـٰثَةٍۢ ۘ وَمَا مِنْ إِلَـٰهٍ إِلَّآ إِلَـٰهٌۭ وَٰحِدٌۭ ۚ وَإِن لَّمْ يَنتَهُوا۟ عَمَّا يَقُولُونَ لَيَمَسَّنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا۟ مِنْهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

5:73 – Those people who say that God is the third of three are denying the truth because there is only One [Absolute] God. Unless they stop saying this, a painful punishment will happen to those of them who are determined to deny the truth.

Those who say God is the third of the three as we studied above could be any number of beings as having God-like qualities, i.e. reducing the divine qualities to the things in the universe. The verse also refers to the understanding of the Christian theology which reduces God to trinity. The prophethood of Jesus is confused with Jesus himself as having divine qualities. The verse is not particularly criticizing the Christian faith but is meant for you and I right now. Nowadays, Muslims mainly read this verse as if giving the examples of Christians. However, it is to draw my attention that I should not do the same thing in my living even though I claim to believe in God. As if Jesus, or any other prophet, or anything in the universe had some power, knowledge or wisdom of himself but they are all given to him by God. I cannot create knowledge in my mind. I have no quality of doing that. The prophets are like you and me and cannot create. Whenever a prophet’s acts are mentioned in the Quran, the word used is “Biiznihi” – meaning that He, God let it happen, that He creates the result. The prophets ask God to create what are called miracles, creating in a way that people were not accustomed with.

The verse continues with: saying God is one of three is denying the truth because there is only One God, an Absolute God. Unless they stop saying what they are saying, a painful punishment will happen to those that deny the truth continuously. If one corrects themselves that is good but if one keeps doing it knowingly then the painful punishment comes; I have to be careful. Those who may say at the church: oh Lord Jesus save me, they are innocent and don’t know what they are talking about. Ask them: is Jesus the creator of the universe? Jesus also prayed to God with his famous prayer: give us our daily bread, he was praying to God but the vocabulary was mixed up by certain theologians having a certain agenda. For example, in the time of emperor Constantine who wanted to establish the Eastern Roman Empire as having a distinct religion from the western Roman Empire. Nowadays another understanding of Christianity from the Western Christianity develops just to have a different identity from the Eastern Roman Christianity. Whenever political power is involved, religion is exploited for political purposes.

We have to be careful as well where the virtue of the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is not from him. When someone claims any virtue belonging to him, we should see that it is the gift of the Creator. We should not own any virtue, any quality that says I am a good man, I help others, I give to charity or I pray. We have to extend this understanding from prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to myself as well. No one can say that the intellect is from myself; it is created and given. 

If I want to benefit from prophet Muhammad (pbuh), I have to pay attention to the message that he delivered and how he practiced the message as an exemplary lifestyle called the tradition of the prophet. We need to follow the prophetic tradition just because it is the instruction of  God, not originating from the personality of the Prophet himself. Since God has chosen him for  the mission, we assume that he must have an appropriate personality for it. For example, there is a man with good knowledge and character. I should respect and benefit from him.  I should understand that this man is portraying a good character where the qualities and virtues are all from God. I respect everything as they are the qualities from God. I have to respect a plant, animal, a dog or a pig because it is the message from my Creator. If I want to benefit from a book, I am aware that what makes this book precious and valuable is the knowledge written in it. Can I say let’s not respect the book and burn it because the knowledge in it is not from the book but from the author of the book? No, I have to respect the book and be careful about not attributing the knowledge in the book to the pages of the book itself. We have to respect any person with good qualities, whereas the bad qualities are none of our business. If someone has a good attitude, I would say that it is from God, this man worked for it, I respect him. All the qualities belong to the Creator of the universe and not to created beings. 

The number three mentioned in the verse is historical from the Christian doctrine of trinity. Nowadays, material science does not say 3 or 4 creators but every law of nature, principles in creation according to them has the power and qualities, that means God. Some of them go beyond by saying that every being is the source of their qualities. There are no 3 gods anymore, every being has the qualities to create their own effect. This interpretation of creation has an endless number of Gods. We have to understand this number 3 from the general perspective where the numbers in the Quran don’t have numeric importance.


وَلَوْ أَنَّمَا فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ مِن شَجَرَةٍ أَقْلَـٰمٌۭ وَٱلْبَحْرُ يَمُدُّهُۥ مِنۢ بَعْدِهِۦ سَبْعَةُ أَبْحُرٍۢ مَّا نَفِدَتْ كَلِمَـٰتُ ٱللَّهِ ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌۭ

31:27 And if all the trees on earth were pens, and the sea [were ink], with seven [more] seas yet added to it, the words of God would not be exhausted: for, verily, God is Almighty, all-Wise.

This verse is to introduce us to the following verse that we will get into studying. Here in this verse the phrase “Kalimatullah” needs to be paid attention to which is translated as words of God. We will see the use of this “Kalima” (words) as applicable to Jesus; what the Quran means when it uses the word “Kalima” as used here in this verse as the words of God. I can put as many trees and oceans as I want, the words of God would not be exhausted. There would still be more words. It means that God’s speech “Kalima” is endless. The Quran describes each act of creation as “Kun Fayakun” where every existent being, every act of creating are actually many words of the Creator. In every being we see endless qualities (Asmaa). Every quality of God manifested in each and every being. It is the speech of God speaking to us action wise by demonstrating to us, not in verbal speech though. Just like an artist demonstrates his qualities of art though the physical painting showing that the artist has this art quality. The artist doesn’t have to speak to me verbally to tell me his qualities. This verse beautifully describes words of God through trees and seas. There is no end for God’s speech. Even if I study one cell, there can be volumes of study disclosing the qualities of its Creator speaking to me in a silent way; action speaks louder than words. If someone claims to be a handyman is just words, I would believe in his claim only when I see his work. Which is more influential: speech or action? We learn from the Quran that action is more influential than speech. The universe has more impact on the human intellect than the speech of God. I can confirm the message of the Quran and am more convinced in the verbal speech only after seeing the acts in the universe. This is how the Quran describes “Kalima” words as the writing of trees as pens and seas as ink to see the things through their existence in creation.


قُل لَّوْ كَانَ ٱلْبَحْرُ مِدَادًۭا لِّكَلِمَـٰتِ رَبِّى لَنَفِدَ ٱلْبَحْرُ قَبْلَ أَن تَنفَدَ كَلِمَـٰتُ رَبِّى وَلَوْ جِئْنَا بِمِثْلِهِۦ مَدَدًۭا

18:109 Say: “If all the sea were ink for the words of my Lord, the sea would indeed be exhausted before the words of my Lord are exhausted! Even if we were to add to it sea upon sea.”

Same words, “kalimati rabbi” are used in this verse as well. If all the seas were ink and wrote the words of my Lord, the seas would be exhausted before the words of my Lord disclosing His qualities are exhausted. The seas are not enough; nothing is enough. The whole universe is not enough. What else can I see? The hereafter or the next creation will also be the words of God demonstrated to me. Even if we were to add sea upon sea, get another ocean, keep writing because the next creation will have no end, it is a continuous manifestation of the qualities of God. 


إِنَّمَآ أَمْرُهُۥٓ إِذَآ أَرَادَ شَيْـًٔا أَن يَقُولَ لَهُۥ كُن فَيَكُونُ

36:82 When he wills something to be, He simply says, “Be” – and it is.

He just wills something to exist, He doesn’t have to speak. Just willing is enough for anything to exist. The universe in its entirety or in each being is the result of the Will (iraadah) of the Creator, who prefers it to exist. He doesn’t need any means or to follow any process. He is the creator of all processes, the order, the way things exist. We see that there are fundamental principles which we call laws, our way of saying or referring to the principles in creation which is the act of creation. 

Side note: The language we use is nothing but symbols. For example, the apple exists which I call apple or “faqiha” in Arabic. The words “apple” or “faqiha” are just symbols. Speech is just to remind us of the reality in creation. For example, the word apple is for me to remember the physical object that I label as apple. When I use the word apple, I would remember the object in creation. If I had never known and seen the object referred to by apple, the word apple would not mean anything to me. The existence of the object legitimizes the reference of the word apple to it. The object referred to as apple represents the universe which is the action wise speech. It is only after experiencing the real action wise existence of the universe would I be able to understand the symbols mentioned in the Quran which is the verbal speech. This is the foundation of the methodology in understanding the Quran; how we should read, understand and benefit from it. If there is no universe for me, the word apple would not make any sense to me, the Quran would not make any sense to me. The universe comes first as the action wise speech which relates to the verbal speech of the Quran. The universe speaks where everything is represented via action wise speech and the verbal speech uses the symbols to explain the reality. Without taking evidence from the universe, the Quran would not speak to me. In our belief the perception of the universe must be there.


إِنَّ مَثَلَ عِيسَىٰ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ ءَادَمَ ۖ خَلَقَهُۥ مِن تُرَابٍۢ ثُمَّ قَالَ لَهُۥ كُن فَيَكُونُ 

3:59 In the sight of God, [the creation of] Jesus is just like Adam: He created him from dust, said to him, ‘Be’, and he is.

Similar to the verse in section “Yaseen” (36:82) we looked at above, the “Kalima” (words) in the creation of prophets Jesus and Adam are coming from the “Irada” or Will of the Creator. Nothing can exist by itself. Jesus is the “Kalima” of God, the Will of the Creator. like any other creature.


يَـٰٓأَهْلَ ٱلْكِتَـٰبِ لَا تَغْلُوا۟ فِى دِينِكُمْ وَلَا تَقُولُوا۟ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ إِلَّا ٱلْحَقَّ ۚ إِنَّمَا ٱلْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ٱبْنُ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولُ ٱللَّهِ وَكَلِمَتُهُۥٓ أَلْقَىٰهَآ إِلَىٰ مَرْيَمَ وَرُوحٌۭ مِّنْهُ ۖ فَـَٔامِنُوا۟ بِٱللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِۦ ۖ وَلَا تَقُولُوا۟ ثَلَـٰثَةٌ ۚ ٱنتَهُوا۟ خَيْرًۭا لَّكُمْ ۚ إِنَّمَا ٱللَّهُ إِلَـٰهٌۭ وَٰحِدٌۭ ۖ سُبْحَـٰنَهُۥٓ أَن يَكُونَ لَهُۥ وَلَدٌۭ ۘ لَّهُۥ مَا فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَمَا فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ ۗ وَكَفَىٰ بِٱللَّهِ وَكِيلًۭا

4:171 O people of the Book, do not go to excess in your religion, and do not say anything about God except the truth: the Christ, Jesus, son of Mary was nothing more than a messenger of God. His word directed to Mary, a spirit from Him. So, believe in God and His messengers and do not say “three” stop! That is better for you. God is only one God. He is far above having a son, everything in the heavens and earth belongs to Him and He is the best One to trust.

The beginning of the verse mentions only saying the truth about God. Although known to Muslims, definitely see Christ, the son of Mary as nothing more than the messenger of God. We have to be careful like any other message bearers, Jesus was one of them charged with carrying and delivering the message of God as the verbal speech. All messengers of God are charged with delivering the verbal speech of the Creator to human beings. Just like the apple is carrying the message of its creator, Jesus is also carrying the message of his Creator. 

Jesus is God’s word “Kalima” and is directed to Mary. The word “Alqaha” means to throw but here it means to deliver or present to Mary. This “Kalima” or word of God is like the apple fruit that comes from a tree, Jesus came out from Mary, nothing different. As we studied above, this “Kalima” or word should not be interpreted in any other way but as the creational Will of God and given permission to perform or manifest His qualities by delivering the speech of God to people. It doesn’t make any being as having divine qualities. 

“So, believe in God and His messengers” – That is, see Jesus as the messenger of God. The Christian doctrine does not see Jesus as the messenger but only sees those names mentioned in the Old Testament or Torah as the people that prophesied as to what will happen to the children of Israel, if they follow the belief ideology or idolatry in their neighborhood. Basically, the Torah says that you have your message, don’t follow the message of your neighboring civilization which is meaningless. 

“Wa la Taqulu thalathah” – Do not say “three” – “intahoo!” stop! This is a clear statement not to assign divinity to anything. “Intahoo khairan lakum” – Stop, that is better for you.

“God is only one God”, not number one as “Wahid” is translated into English. One as in being the one who is Absolute, Infinite, one who is Peerless; no one can get an example of it in the universe. God cannot be represented with numbers but Infinite. Any number is finite and not comparable to Infinite. 

He is far above having a son – If something is created then it cannot be Absolute. No way for Absolute to produce another being as Absolute; to imagine this is only an oxymoron. If something is created, we cannot say that it has divine qualities. This is the foundation of Quranic monotheism.

Everything in the heavens and earth belong to Him – who else can be the source of existence of the heavens and earth? They all need to be created.

“Wa kafa billahi wakeelan” – And He is the best One to trust, He is enough for you to attribute your existence to and be dependent on Him, on His will. 


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