Very few Christians have ever read the Qur’an, but the interest in the topic has grown steadily since 9/11. We have been looking at some passages from the Qur’an and comparing them with God’s Word, the Bible. One will find a great deal of the most important passages relating to Islam and the Christian faith in Surahs 4, 5, and 6. Here is an example from Surah 5:
72. Certainly they have disbelieved who say: “Allah is Christ the son of Maryam (Mary).” While Christ himself said: “O children of Israel! Worship Allah, my Rabb and your Rabb.” Whoever commits shirk (joins partners with Allah), Allah will deny him the paradise, and the hellfire will be his home. There will be no helper for the wrongdoers.
73. Certainly they are unbelievers who say: “Allah is one of three in a Trinity.” There is no god except One Allah. If they do not stop saying what they say, a painful punishment will befall the disbelievers among them.
74. Will they not then turn to Allah and seek His forgiveness? Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
75. Christ, the son of Maryam, was no more than a Rasool; many Rasools had already passed away before him. His mother was a truthful woman; they both ate earthly food like other human beings. See how the Revelations are made clear to them to know reality; yet see how they ignore the truth!
76. Ask them: “Would you worship besides Allah someone who can neither harm nor benefit you? While Allah is He who hears all and knows all.”
Just a few quick observations on the text:
1) Mohammed did not understand the doctrine of the Trinity. This could be due either to unorthodoxy on the part of the Christians he encountered earlier in his life, or simple ignorance on his part of what they were attempting to communicate to him. In either case, the Qur’an is seriously flawed in its view of the Trinity, and as a result, Muslims who accept the Qur’an as the final authority will not even allow for the correction offered by a Christian.
2) Once again, remember that to believe in the Trinity is to commit “shirk” in Islamic belief, the joining of partners with Allah (despite our constant insistence that we are monotheists to the core). And though it seemed the Qur’an had offered forgiveness to Christians in v. 68 of the same section, here we see that such mercy from Allah is only for those willing to “believe.” To believe in the Trinity is to “disbelieve” the message of the Qur’an.
3) Note the error of v. 73: Allah one of three in a Trinity? Even if one were to make the identification of Allah = the Father, it is clear that the author is operating on the misunderstanding that the Trinity posits three separate gods. And the Qur’an makes itself clear: Christians are to “stop saying” (stop teaching, believing) the central doctrine of their faith, the Trinity. There is no ground for compromise here.
4) Mercy is promised, it seems, only upon ceasing to be a disbeliever: i.e., upon renouncing one’s Christian faith!
5) Christ was “no more than” a Rasool (apostle). He was a mere human being, as was his mother, evidenced by the fact that they ate food. Now, it is hard to avoid the conclusion (and other passages lend support to this idea) that here the Qur’an is suggesting that the Trinity, as believed by Christians, is Allah, Jesus, and Mary. And since Jesus and Mary were human beings (evidenced by eating food, which God could never do—the Incarnation being denied as a presupposition of unitarianism) then Allah could have simply dispatched them, had he chosen to do so (disproving, in the Muslim mind, the Trinity).
6) The picture of Christ as the divine Judge in Revelation is a far cry from the Muslim picture of Christ. Sadly, many Christians skip the view of Christ as Judge, Ruler, and King, and the rather anemic view of Christ often found in Christian writings is not much of a challenge to Islam.
There is a lot more to look at in Surah 5, and we will do so in our next installments.