Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Islam and Christianity

There are quite a few distinct differences between Christianity and Islam even though they both claim to worship the one true God.  I believe that one of the most important distinctions can be found in the Quran in Surah 4.157-159. These verses are, to my way of thinking, foremost in a number of Quranic verses that divide the two religions with an unbridgeable chasm.  The reason for this is that these verses deny the death and therefore the resurrection of Jesus.  The resurrection of Jesus being the very heart and foundation of the Christian faith.

While these verses may seem difficult for the Christian, it also puts up quite a challenge for the Muslim because they are, in some ways, self contradictory and paint God as a liar and deceiver. Let’s look at these verses:

Surah 4.157-159 reads:
"And [for] their saying, "Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah." And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain. Rather, Allah raised him to Himself. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise. And there is none from the People of the Scripture but that he will surely believe in Jesus before his death. And on the Day of Resurrection he will be against them a witness."

While explicitly denying the death of Jesus on the cross, Surah 4.157-159 also confirms that Christians (or at least someone of the time) believed that Jesus died on the cross. This is quite a confronting section of the Quran, and as far as I can conceive, there are only four possible explanations as to why this verse says what it says the way it says it and why these thing contradict the Bible. These possibilities are as follows:

  1. Allah deliberately deceived the Jews and the Romans in order to save Jesus and then made a mistake, accidentally deceiving the disciples of Jesus.  Allah then left it to snowball for nearly 600 years until this mistake was corrected through Muhammad. 
  1. Allah did not care about the disciples or deliberately went out of His way to deceive the disciples of Jesus and then the disciples recorded this deception as the Gospel. 
  1. The Quran has errors or is incomplete. 
  1. The Bible has been somehow radically changed.

For obvious reasons, Muslims reject possibilities 1, 2 & 3. This leaves only possibility number 4. However this is actually the most impossible of all as explained below:

Impossible for the First Reason
For the first possibility to be true, the Bible would have to have been changed totally and dramatically. As stated above, the death and resurrection of Jesus is the very heart and foundation of Christianity and this event has been recorded in just about every book of the New Testament and foretold in some books of the Old Testament. For the Bible to have been changed after Muhammad received the revelations, one would have to gather up every copy of New Testament writings that were spread across Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa at the time and replace them with the new altered versions without anyone noticing. Don’t forget that the Jews have their own copy of the Old Testament scriptures. And this would also have to include the Dead Sea copy of the book of Isaiah – lost in the first century and not discovered until 1947.

Bible could not have been changed before Muhammad received the revelations otherwise the Quran would not have said in Surah 10.94:

"And if thou (Muhammad) art in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scripture (that was) before thee. Verily the Truth from thy Lord hath come unto thee. So be not thou of the waverers."

To get a full understanding of just how impossible it would be to change the Bible, I challenge you both to read the Gospel of John and the book of Acts.

Impossible for the Second Reason
If someone did in fact manage to change out all the Bibles across Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa, then please note that it would have to have been changed in such a way as align is with Surah 4.157-159 to make it look like Allah lied to the disciples of Jesus. And on top of this, Allah did not see it coming.

If God is God, then He is not bound by the things that constrain man. God created time; he is therefore not bound by it and can see the past, present and future as if an open book. The explanation provided in Surah 4.157-159 is very incomplete given that Christians everywhere believe that Jesus died on the cross and three days later rose from the grave thus conquering death and the grave.

If the Bible has been changed or corrupted, why doesn’t it clearly state that in the Quran?

Impossible for the Third Reason
"And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them."

According to the verse above someone else was put in the place of Jesus and made to resemble him and Jesus somehow went to his freedom and was raised up to be with God. But God is Almighty and Good and is not like sinful man. Why then would Allah resort to the use of a deception to save Jesus from the cross? Why did Allah need to put someone in Jesus' place? And if this action was not deception, what would you call it?

Impossible for the Fourth Reason
The requirement for there to be two eye-witness testimonies

There are many witnesses that testify that Jesus is what the Christians claim that he is:
  • The writers of the four gospels - Mathew, Mark, Luke and John.
  • The letters written by - Peter, James, Paul and Jude.
  • The prophetic writings of - Moses, David, Nathan, Isaiah, Daniel and Micah and others.
  • The historical writings of hostile witnesses - Josephus, Tacitus and Pliny the Younger.
  • Plus the many writings from the first century church.

I have named just 18 manes of witnesses, but as you can see there are many, many more.  Some of these were eye-witnesses of Christ's death and resurrection like Peter and John.   Others like Isaiah and Nathan were prophets of God and it was revealed to then ahead of time.  Paul on the other hand saw the risen Christ and was blinded for a time.  These people listed above bear witness that Jesus is the Messiah, the Alpha and the Omega, the Risen Christ, the King of kings, the one the Christians claim to worship, the Prince of Peace, the Holy one of God, the one who was killed on the cross and raised to life again.

But Muhammad said all of these things are not so and that Jesus was only a prophet of the God, a messenger of Allah and nothing more.  For certain offences under Islamic law, the testimony two eye-witnesses are required.  How could this not be the case for the accusation that someone had bared false witness about God or that someone changed the scriptures?  And yet the Muhammad is only one witness and not an eye-witness.  His testimony cannot stand? 

Impossible for the Fifth Reason - History. 
The Bible itself is regarded as historically accurate, particularly the New Testament (although there some historians who will discount the miracles).  There are also others historical documents written in the First Century that can be referenced.  These are the works of:

Josephus - a 1st century Romano-Jewish historian (37AD – 100AD)
Tacitus - a senator and historian of the Roman Empire (56AD – 117AD)
Pliny the Younger - lawyer, author and magistrate of Ancient Rome (61AD – 112AD)

The three authors listed above were all hostile to Christians, one was a Jew the other two were part of the Roman hierarchy (Pliny even had Christians torched and executed). The documents written by these men provide quite detailed information on life and the time in which they lived.  All three records record that Jesus Christ died by the order issued by Pontius Pilate. It is also recorded Christian community at the time believed in the death and resurrection of Jesus and that they celebrated communion with one another. All three are regarded as historically accurate.

This being the case would mean that for the Quran to be without error, ether Allah deliberately would have had to go out of His way to deceive the disciples of Jesus and through them all Christians, or made a mistake and the disciples of Jesus were deceived accidently.


Conclusion and a Challenge
Standard Muslim teaching asserts that the Injil, which is the prophetic Gospel delivered through the prophet Isa (Jesus of Nazareth), has been irretrievably corrupted and distorted in the course of Christian transmission; and that consequently, place no reliance on any text in the New Testament.

However there is existence today some 5,735 manuscripts of the whole or part of the Greek text of the New Testament (Injil) all of which pre-date Muhammad. Worldwide, there are 24,800 copies of these original manuscripts. These include the Codex Vaticanus (325-350 AD) located in the Vatican library and the Codex Sinaiticus (350 AD) located in the British Museum. There are also 80,000 quotations in the works of early Christian writers, which are so extensive that the New Testament could virtually be reconstructed from them without the actual New Testament documents. Then there is the obvious fact that the Christian Gospels were so widely distributed both before and after Muhammad, that any attempt to change (add/subtract) something in the Christian Gospels would have resulted in immediate discovery and condemnation.

Surah 10.94:
"And if thou (Muhammad) art in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scripture (that was) before thee. Verily the Truth from thy Lord hath come unto thee. So be not thou of the waverers."

According to the Quran the Bible was trustworthy at the time of Muhammad. With the 5,735 manuscripts pre-dating Muhammad, Moslems and anyone looking to Islam for answers have got to do some soul searching. Better still some reading.  I challenge Muslims everywhere to read part of the bible of the Bible: the Gospel of John and the book of Acts. Then you can explain to me how on earth Surah 4.157-159 cannot be in error.

The reason that the Bible is rejected by Islam is not because it’s inaccurate or because there are minor variances in the source documents, it is because they must reject it or else they must admit that the Quran has errors.

So out of the four possibilities the only possibility that makes logical sense, and that is possibility number 3 - “The Quran has errors or is incomplete.”

Please seek the truth in this regard,
it is the truth that is important not pride or saving face.

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