Monday, December 12, 2011

What does the Qur’an says about Jesus: The Word of God…

In the Qur’an 4:171 Jesus is called, God’s Word. In Chapter 3:45 the Quran states that the angels, when announcing the unique conception of Jesus to Mary, told her that Allah was giving her good tidings “of a Word from him.” The expression here used, in the original Arabic, is kalimatin-minhu. Broken up, it means kalima (word), min (from), hu (him). Note this—Jesus is the only human being who ever lived who is called a Word from God. The same title is applied to him in the Bible:

He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is the Word of God. (Revelation 19:13). See also John 1:1 and John 1:14.

Once again Jesus is given a title in the Qur’an which the Bible gives him as well. Like the Messiah, this is a very distinctive and remarkable title. It is important to emphasize two specific features of this title. Jesus himself, in his actual person, is the Word. Secondly, the source of this Word is God. Neither book says that he delivered the word of God as other prophets did, or that he was learned in it, or that he embodied and represented it. He is expressly declared to be a Word from God, or THE Word of God. Other prophets received the messages of God, but Jesus, in a unique way, is himself the message of God to the world!

There is obviously something about the person of Jesus himself that makes him the Word of God in a way no other man has ever been or ever will be. Key to understanding the title is the emphasis of deity as its source. The Word is from God. He himself is the communication and revelation of God to men. He does not merely bring the word of God, he is the Word of God.

We have to turn to the Bible to find the ultimate meaning of the title in view of the fact that the Qur’an attributes it to Jesus without explanation. We go to the very beginning of John’s gospel where this subject is treated in more detail:

In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God. And the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made (John 1:1-2).

But why is Jesus the Word of God? In what way was Jesus uniquely the communication of God in himself to mankind? We go a bit further down the first page of John’s gospel and find these words:

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

The title signifies two unique things about Jesus, and distinguish him from all other prophets of God:

1.      Every word of Jesus was the word of God. All the prophets who went before him spoke the Word of God when moved by the Holy Spirit, but in general conversation their speech was entirely their own. Muslims are taught to distinguish between the Quran—which Muhammad received and conveyed as the word of God—and his own teachings which are recorded in the Hadith as inspirational but not divine. Jesus, however, at all times spoke the word of God, whether in public preaching or in private conversation. He confirmed this on various occasions, such as:

I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me (John 12:49-50).

The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works (John 14:10).

2.      Jesus himself is God's message to mankind. Being the Word of God, Jesus himself is the complete revelation of God to the human race. The following text expresses this perfectly:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:15-19).

Jesus himself is the Word of God. There is no independence, therefore, between God and His Word. In human form Jesus embodied the divine being. He was not a created messenger. He is, and for all eternity will be, the eternal Word of God.

The Word which proceeds from God gives expression to God's will and to His acts, and also reveals what He is like in a comprehensible way. Thus the Bible says:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.... No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known." (John 1:1-4,14,18)

Qur’an 4:171 tells Christians not to exaggerate in their religion and to say nothing of Allah but the truth. “O People of the Book! Commit no exaggerate in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ (The Messiah) Jesus the son of Mary was a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit from Him: …”  We have already seen that the titles Messiah and Son of God are synonymous. The title Word of God is also interchangeable with the title Son of God. But the verse continues: “… so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not "Trinity"…”  The Qur’an obviously confirms the Son of God but denies the pagan teachings called “Trinity”. The Trinity denies the Father and the Son and teaches three role playing gods! 

For Muslims, as for Christians, the Word of God is eternal, even as God is eternal. It is through His Word that God acts, creating and sustaining the universe and revealing His will. Even though the Muslims regard Jesus as only a prophet! could not their idea about His being "the word of God" be filled with the Biblical significance of the same expression? As He is God's eternal Word, so He is God's eternal Son (John 1:14). Muslims must know that there are some of the People of the Book believe in only one God, and they do not set up the Son as another God, nor do they displace God by the Son, nor do they make a man into God.

1 comment:

  1. This Ayah contains the glad tidings the angels brought to Maryam that she would give birth to a mighty son who will have a great future.

    Allah said,

    إِذْ قَالَتِ الْمَلآئِكَةُ يَا مَرْيَمُ إِنَّ اللّهَ يُبَشِّرُكِ بِكَلِمَةٍ مِّنْهُ ...

    (Remember) when the angels said: "O Maryam! Verily, Allah gives you the glad tidings of a Word from Him,

    a son who will come into existence with a word from Allah, `Be', and he was.

    According to the majority of the scholars, this is the meaning of Allah's statement (about Yahya) مُصَدِّقًا بِكَلِمَةٍ مِّنَ اللّهِ (Believing in the Word from Allah) (3:39).

    ... اسْمُهُ الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ ...

    His name will be Al-Masih, `Isa, the son of Maryam,

    and he will be known by this name in this life, especially by the believers.

    `Isa was called "Al-Masih'' (the Messiah) because when he touched (Mash) those afflicted with an illness, they would be healed by Allah's leave.

    Allah's statement, عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ (`Isa, the son of Maryam),

    relates `Isa to his mother, because he did not have a father.

    ... وَجِيهًا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالآخِرَةِ وَمِنَ الْمُقَرَّبِينَ ﴿٤٥﴾

    Held in honor in this world and in the Hereafter, and will be one of those who are near to Allah.

    meaning, he will be a leader and honored by Allah in this life, because of the Law that Allah will reveal to him, sending down the Scripture to him, along with the other bounties that Allah will grant him with.

    `Isa will be honored in the Hereafter and will intercede with Allah, by His leave, on behalf of some people, just as is the case with his brethren the mighty Messengers of Allah, peace be upon them all.