By Eusebio Tanicala, Ph.D.
This study seeks to provide our readers an objective comparison of some major teachings of the two great religions. We need to be well informed of each other’s major doctrines for better understanding.
This series #3 deals with what each one believes about Jesus the Messiah on His being the Son of God.
Christianity and Islam equally declare that Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Mary, is the Messiah. Judaism, however, denies that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. Christianity and Islam both recognize that Jesus the Messiah is a prophet, God’s messenger.
Deedat Vs. Yusuf Ali
On the one hand, Christianity believes that Jesus Christ is “the Son of God;” on the other hand Islam believes that Jesus Christ is “a son of God.” But Muslim apologists are not agreed on this point. Ahmed Deedat in his booklet “Christ in Islam” quotes A.Yusuf Ali’s translation of the Quran in English in its index and declares that Jesus Christ is “not son of God” by citing 9:30 (page 7). I get the quotation from the Qur’an’s translation of Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali & Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, “And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: Messiah is the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouths. They imitate the saying of the disbelievers of old. Allah’s curse be on them, how they are deluded away from the truth.” This means that A. Yusuf Ali considers Jesus the Messiah “not son of Allah.” Islam denies the sonship of Jesus even with the small letter s.
Another Qur’anic passage says this, “… And say: ‘All the praises and thanks be to Allah, Who has not begotten a son (nor an offspring), and Who has no partner in (His Dominion, nor He is low to have a Wali (helper, protector or supporter)…” (17:111). (See also Surah 18:4,5). In addition, Surah 43:59 says, “He (Jesus) was not more than a slave. We granted Our Favour to him, and We made him an example to the Children of Israel (i.e. his creation without a father).”
This means that Jesus the Messiah, to a Muslim, is not a begotten son.
Dr. Al-Hilali and Dr. Khan in the index of their translation of the Qur’an say, “Jesus never called himself Son of God as far as I know – but he used to call himself the ‘Son of Man’ (ref. Mark 2:10) although he heard himself being called by that name he did not object – as assumed in the Bible – and did not consider the title exclusively for him. According to the Biblical term in the Old and New Testament, every God-fearing righteous person is called ‘Son of God”. In Matthew 5:9, we read: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (p. 1027) Indeed, Dr. Al-Hilali and Dr. Khan did not know their Bible! In the Christian Bible, because of the uniqueness of Christ’s sonship, the term Son when applied to him is capitalized. Just as the Qur’an is a unique book so the Muslims capitalize the first letter. It is not true as Al-Hilali and Khan say that “every God-fearing righteous person is called Son of God.” A righteous person is a child of God but nowhere does the Bible say that that an ordinary person is the Son of God with capital S. Al-Hilali and Khan’s argument is misleading.
But on page 28, Ahmed Deedat makes this confession, “They know that according to their own God-given (?!) records, God has sons by the tons: ‘Adam. Which was the SON OF GOD,’ Luke 3:38; ‘That the SONS OF GOD saw the daughters of men that they were fair…’ Gen. 6:2, 4; ‘Israel is MY SON, even my firstborn’ Exodus 4:22; ‘for I (God) am a FATHER to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn’ Jeremiah 31:9; ‘the Lord hath said unto me (David) Thou art MY SON: this day have I BEGOTTEN THEE’ Psalm 2:7; ‘FOR AS MANY AS ARE LED BY THE Spirit of God, they are SONS OF GOD.” Romans 8:14.” Deedat cleverly misrepresents the Christian Bible (NKJV) in that he capitalizes in writing SONS OF GOD. But the Bible does not capitalize but write this way: “the son of Adam, the son of God” (Luke 3:38; “that the sons of God saw the daughters of men” (Genesis 6:2); “Israel is my son, My firstborn” (Exodus 4:22); “’You are My son,” Psalm 2:7; “these are sons of God” Romans 8:14. Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips is more truthful in his presentation in his booklet “The True Message of Jesus Christ,“ pages 42-46 because he writes in small letters the term “sons” as are found in the Bible.
Ahmed Deedat continues on page 28, “Can’t you see that in the language of the Jew, every righteous person, every Tom, Dick and Harry who followed the Will and Plan of God, was a SON OF GOD. It was a metaphorical descriptive term, commonly used among Jews.” Again, he writes with capital letters which is misleading. What does this mean? It means that Deedat accepts that Jesus Christ and other obedient people as metaphorically “sons of God” Not that God physically sired the obedient, physical people. And the sonship of Jesus Christ is metaphorical not physical. Jesus’ being begotten son is also metaphorical that expresses His uniqueness.
The above quotations clearly is a case of A. Yusuf Ali VERSUS Ahmed Deedat. One says Jesus is “not son of God” but the other says he is SON OF GOD.
Islam recognizes the Gospel
Another convergence of belief for Christianity and Islam is acceptance of the Gospel as God’s message to mankind. On one hand Christianity attaches two meanings to the term “Gospel.” First, it refers to the biography of Jesus Christ recorded in the four books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; and second, the term “gospel” refers to the work of Jesus Christ in the redemption of mankind: His incarnation, his sufferings, his death, his burial, his resurrection and his ascension into the heavens.
On the other hand, Islam declares that the Gospel should be accepted as God’s message but how the term “Gospel” is defined is not clear to this writer. Sometimes the Qur’an promotes acceptance and belief on the Gospel, but when a declaration in the Gospel is contrary to a Muslim’s faith and practice, the Gospel is conveniently set aside. This practice is misleading and dishonest.
The following is a declaration from the Qur’an, “… So believe in Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad), the Prophet who can neither read nor write (i.e.Muhammad) who believes in Allah and His Words [(this Qur’an), the Torah and the Gospel and also Allah’s Word: ‘Be!’ – and he was i.e. Jesus—son of Mary], and follow him so that you maybe guided.” (VII.158 Translation by Al-Hilali & Khan) You see, belief in the Gospel is commanded in the Qur’an. In the last part of the above passage, “follow him so that you maybe guided” by grammatical construction refers to Allah’s Word, Jesus Christ.
The reader sees the term Gospel on the third line. This Gospel record should be believed. In the following paragraphs, we are going to submit passages from the Gospel that the Qur’an says should be accepted and believed.
Christians who know their Bible don’t teach that Jesus the Christ was begotten in the sense of physical siring or generating a child through the natural, human activity of male and female intercourse. Deedat points out a “metaphorical” use of the term “begotten” because he knows that Adam, Israel, King David, all obedient Christians are called “sons of God” but were not physically sired by Allah. It is metaphorical and not physical sonship. Just as the term “firstborn” does not take the ordinary meaning of being born physically and not to mean first in chronological time. So if “firstborn” means uniqueness or rank, so does “begotten” mean uniqueness and elevated rank. Deedat and the Qur’an pitifully misrepresent Christian belief on this matter on the Sonship of Jesus the Christ.
Now we submit passages from the Gospel which the Qur’an says should be believed by Muslims:
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said,, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!… And John bore witness, saying, ‘I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. ‘I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.’” (Gospel of John 1:29 – 34, NKJV)
This testimony is from John the Baptist, one of the prophets recognized by Islam. If Muslims would not accept this testimony of John the Baptist, then they are disregarding a true prophet of God.
“Nathanael said to Him, ‘How do You know me?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’ Nathanael answered and said to Him, Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel! Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” (Gospel of John 1:48-50).
Nathanael, one of the apostles, made this confession and Jesus Christ confirmed the truism of that confession. Again this passage is from the Gospel which the Qur’an says should be believed. Jesus the Christ who is recognized by the Qur’an as a true prophet of God recognized the confession of Nathanael that his is the Son of God.
“No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” (Gospel of John 1:18).
This is John the Apostle giving the testimony written in a Gospel record which the Qur’an says should be accepted and believed.
Jesus the Christ made this confession, “I speak what I have seen with My Father… Jesus said to them ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself but He sent Me.” (Gospel of John 8:38, 42). This strongly suggests the procession of Christ’s non-human persona from God and from heaven which antedates His incarnation. Notice also John 16:27, “…I came forth from God.” In John 17:4-5, “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” His divine persona, the pre-incarnate persona of Jesus came from heaven, proceeded out from God and antedates his becoming a human being.
Notice the conversation in Luke 22:66-71. The elders of the Jews took Jesus into their session hall in Jerusalem and asked questions. “Then they said, ‘Are You then the Son of God?’ So He said to them, ‘You rightly say that I am.’” It was Jesus the Messiah Himself who declared that He is the Son of God. He said that the elders rightly pronounced his Sonship, the Son of God. This is a Gospel record which the Qur’an says should be accepted and believed.
The Sonship of Jesus the Messiah is the pillar of Christianity. John the Apostle makes this conclusion in his Gospel record: “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (Gospel of John 20:30-31). This is a Gospel record that the Qur’an says should be accepted and believed.
There are other passages in the Gospel record that state that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God. But the submitted verses above should be sufficient to prove the insufficiency of research done by Muslim apologists in their denial that Jesus the Messiah is the Son of God.
It is very clear that the Gospel records prove that Jesus the Christ is the Son of God. In Christian belief, the Gospel records are inspired by God so it should be true. Jesus clearly acknowledged that he is the Son of God. John the Baptist, a true prophet recognized by Islam, confessed that Jesus is the Son of God. The claim denying the Sonship of Jesus the Christ that is promoted by Muslim apologists who don’t know their Bible should be the one discarded.