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The Name of Jesus (pbuh)

A Refutation to Quennel Gale's Article "Is Jesus the ISA of Islam?"

Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi

BISMIKA ALLAHUMA, All Rights Reserved.

Last Modified: 3rd February 2001


Introduction

Mr. Quennel Gale in his latest reincarnation of rehashed idiocrasy attempts to trace the name "`Eesa" () to pagan sources by basing his whole argument on a Jewish writer, Mr. Nick Perelman, who writes that "Yeshua" () is not "`Eesa" (), but "Eesa" (Arabic) is equivalent to "E'sau" (Hebrew) and compares both "Yeshua" () and "E'sau" as two distinct entities. Interestingly, Mr. Gale had to resort to the arguments of a Jew who neither believes in Jesus (peace be upon him) as a Prophet nor as a "God-incarnate", to justify his own Triune God! 

In the Qur'an, God Almighty tells us about the sincere Christians:

"And nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, "We are Christians": because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant." (al-Qur'an, Surat al-Maa'idah (5):82)

In the light of the above verse, as well as considering the common ground that we Muslims and the Christians share, e.g. the Messiahship of Jesus (peace and blessings of God Almighty be upon him), one would expect Mr. Gale to be more courteous towards Muslims who respect and honour the Messiah Jesus (pbuh) rather than the Jews who would prefer to curse and spit on Mr. Gale's "God-incarnate". But then, I digress. 

Anyway, we would proceed to only address this particular claim of equating "`Eesa" () with "E'sau" and the attempts of Mr. Gale and his cronies to pass onto us the fallacy of Jesus' name being "Yeshua" (). We would also study the claims of one Mr. "Faisal", a Christian Arab whom Mr. Gale heavily used his material, that "Yaso'a" () should be the correct Arabic name of Jesus, since the Christian Arabs have been using this name long before the advent of Islam. The rest of Mr. Gale's "arguments" are either dependent on the fallacy of the Hebrew or not related at all (such as the charge that the Qur'an "wrongly" calls Mary "the sister of Aaron") to the issue at hand.

 

The Name of Jesus (pbuh) in the Qur'an

In the Qur'an, we are told that God gave Mary, the mother of Jesus (pbuh), the following favour:

"When the angels said to Mary, 'O Mary! Allah gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him. His name will be 'al-MaseeHu `Eesa'*, the son of Mary; Honorable in this world and in the hereafter, and from those who are near (to Allah)." (al-Qur'an, Sura' Aal-`Imraan (3):45)

al-MaseeHu `Eesa*, al-MaseeH = The Messiah + `Eesa = Jesus

 

Ahmed Deedat And "E'SAU" ()

Mr. Gale originally tries to claim the following:

If you go and look around the Internet on Islamic websites you will see a common name used for Jesus in the Qur'an, called ISA. Muslims assert that this is the same Arabic equivalent to Jesus name. However all linguists will agree that ISA isn't Arabic nor is it even an Arabic form and it surely doesn't mean "Yahweh is Salvation" like Jesus name means...The Arabic equivalent for Jesus in the Qur'an is actually Esau!! Leave it to Muhammad to screw up everything. If Muhammad was literate it would be impossible for him to make this mistake.

Apparently this whole idea to equate "`Eesa" and "Es'au" comes from Ahmed Deedat, a well-known Muslim orator. In a recent update of his paper, Mr. Gale berated me for not mentioning about Ahmed Deedat.

However Mohd never mentions to his reader that it was Ahmeed Deedat, an Arabic speaker who immediately saw this. He interpolates to his reader that I'm the one who invented this idea when it was Deedat who first mentioned it! We must wonder if Mohd is so sure of his arguments why did he have to add these little comments and leave out Ahmeed Deedat? Is it because more Muslims find Deedats arguments sounder than his? Yes so he elminated Deedat to make his argument look better than what it actually is.

The only reason I have not included Brother Deedat in this paper is because I originally felt that he has nothing to do with the issue. But since the Critic "admires" him very much and since many people seek to slander Brother Deedat, I will provide an assessment of Brother Deedat and his claims.

In his booklet Christ in Islam, Brother Deedat states that

The Holy Quran refers to Jesus as "Eesa", and this name is used more times than any other title, because this was his "Christian" name. Actually, his proper name was "Eesa" (Arabic), or "Esau". (Hebrew); classical "Yeheshua", which the Christian nations of the West Latinised as Jesus. Neither the "J" nor the second "s" in the name Jesus is to be found in the original tongue - they are not found in the Semitic languages.

The word is very simply - "E S A U" - a very common Jewish name, used more than sixty times in the very first booklet alone of the Bible, in the part called "Genesis".[1]

However, Brother Deedat makes the mistake of equating both names by sound alone, and did not trace the name "E'sau" to its etymological roots. I have great respect for Brother Deedat's work, but most of his material, astonishing as it was in the 1970s and 1980s, are now mostly inaccurate in view of modern scholarship today. It is unfortunate that the Critic and his missionary goons seek to capitalize on this mistake by claiming that a Muslim support their views without weighing the time frame during which Brother Deedat conducted his research. However, if the Critic seem to accept this statement of Brother Deedat (that "`Eesa" is actually "E'sau"), why does he reject the other works of Brother Deedat, especially on the "Crucifixion" and "Resurrection" of Jesus (pbuh)? From this, we can see that the Critic is a hypocrite; he is selective in choosing whatever statements he wants from Brother Deedat that fits his own goals but discards other arguments that disagrees with him.

 

But Is "EESA" () really "E'SAU" ()?

The claim that "E'sau" is a Hebraic equivalent of "`Eesa" is completely ridiculous as they are completely unrelated etymologically and lexically (leave it to Quennel Gale, an American who is not even from Asia, to screw things up). "E'saw" is Latinization of the Biblical Hebrew name for Jacob's twin brother, "E'saw", who was disavowed. This name is spelled:

"E'sau" - "AYN, SHIN, WAW"; Pronounced "`Ee" (like "see") + "shaw" (like "saw" with additional stress).

This is an archaic word which literally means "hairy". It connotes being of a hirsute, and dark ruddy body covered with hair. We have this fact illustrated in the following Biblical verse:

"The first came forth red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they called his name E'sau." (Genesis 25:25, RSV)

Due to Esau's dark and ruddy color, and the hair which enveloped his body, he was named "`Eshaw" meaning "covered with hair".[2]

The corresponding word for this in Arabic is "`ATHAA" ( ) spelled "AYN, THAA, YAA". This word, likewise, means covered with hair. In Ibn ManTHoor's cohesive and authoritative work on the Arabic language entitled "Lisaan al-`Arab" (The Arabic Tongue), he states:

athaa: al-`athaa: Having a murky color with an abundance of hair...[3] 

About the name of Jacob's twin brother "E'sau", Gesenius' Hebrew Lexicon states:

[4]

Note that Gesenius himself refers to the Arabic word "`Athaa" as it is the obviously correlating word to "`Eshaw". The Qur'anic name for Jesus is not related by any stretch of etymology to the words "`Eshaw" or "`Athaa'".

Thus, for the Critic, or for that matter, Christian missionaries, to argue any further that the Qur'anic name "`Eesa" for Jesus has any relation to the Hebrew name for Jacob's disavowed twin brother is to dispute canonized authorities in Semitic etymology and to further discredit themselves.

 

"E'SAU" () In Arabic

Let us add the last nail to the coffin of the Critic's ridiculous theories that "`Eesa" is related to "E'sau". The following is from the Arabic Bible translation of Genesis 25:25.

Interestingly, the last word of this verse, "`Esuwaa" ()  is the Arabic transliteration of "E'sau" from the Hebrew (). Christian Arab translators do not use the Arabic word "`Athaa" and yet they claim that their Bible is pure Arabic (this by itself disproves the claim). Now let us compare the Arabic transliteration of "E'sau" ()  with "`Eesa" () to see if it is even remotely similar.

"`EESA", spelled AYN , YAA, SEEN, YA/FATHAH

"`ESUWAA", spelled AYN, YAA, SEEN/DHAMMAH, WAW

Again, we can see that "`Esuwaa" in the Arabic Bible is certainly not the same as the Arabic "`Eesa" as they have distinct and different root words. So how could the Critic or even anyone who knows Arabic claim otherwise?

 

The Claim That "YASO'A" () Is the Correct Arabic Name of Jesus (pbuh)

An Arab Christian who goes by the handle "Faisal" writes in a post (and was quoted by Mr. Gale in his paper) the following comment:

If we agree with you that Isa is taken from "EESHO" (Aramaic), why the Quran used it, when Christian Arabs before Quran used "YESUA" (Hebrew)? That’s something that you have failed to tackle. And the problem is that the Arabic name is similar to the Hebrew name but S (In Arabic) instead of SH (Hebrew)!

What had Faisal actually failed to tackle is his own admission that "Yaso'a" () is merely a rendition of the Hebrew "Yeshua" (), which in short means that it is borrowed from Hebrew and is therefore not Arabic! Furthermore, he has not quoted any Arabic lexicons to back his claims and has actually  avoided the issue of lexicons because it does not support his claims! In the Arabic lexicon Lisan Al-Arab by Ibn Manthoor, there is no definition of "Yaso'a" as an Arabic word. However, in the same lexicon, the root word of "`Eesa" is the Arabic word "'EES" [AIN, YA'A, SEEN] which stands for something white in colour mixed with darkness/blackness or reddishness. By this, we have proven beyond doubt that "`Eesa" is indeed totally Arabic, unlike "Yaso'a". Another fallacy we notice about Faisal's claims is that it is accepted by Western scholars that the Arabic Bible came into being (translated) sometime in the 10th century A.D. for the first time, long after the advent of Islam, whereas Christian Arabs claim that it was in use long before that.  In his posting, Mr. Faisal claims that "Yaso'a" was "inspired" by the Christian Arabs through the Holy Ghost from the time of Acts. If we ignore the linguistic issues here, we wonder if Faisal can provide any material evidence to his claims of "inspiration".

Interestingly, the word "Yeshua" (meaning "safety" in the Hebrew language), whom  Christians attempt to proselytize their theories of a "man-god" Jesus by saying this name of his meant "Salvation", does not have a static definition of "Salvation" but also means "Saved"

Another problem is that the type of "safety" which "yasha`" refers to is in a very worldly sense, and mostly having to do with being saved from the hands of Israel's worldly enemies. Every single usage of "yasha`" in the Bible has to do with warfare and violence. There is not a single reference to deliverance from sin, or salvation of the ethereal soul. It only refers to salvation of the physical body and life.

Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. [Exodus 14:30]

"For the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you." [Deuteronomy 20:4]

"And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the LORD our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines." [1Samuel 7:8]

David laments in reference to something similar to an ethereal salvation:

"Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake." [Psalms 6:4]

Only to later clarify:

Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. [Psalms 22:20]

However, there is a complete void of information linking Jesus to the name "Yeshua" in his lifetime. The Talmud was written between 300-600 A.D. Other commonly quoted books like the "Toledoth Yeshu`" were satires written to defame Christianity as late as the 10th century A.D. nearly 1000 years after Jesus. Ironically, from the disparaging writings against Jesus came the Arabic "Yaso'a" () as they are the only source for this name being attributed to Jesus in the Middle East. The Christian world is left at a loss to find a historical Jesus who fits the description given in their sadly sparse Biblical sources.

So What is His Name Historically? 

Jesus and even the earliest Christians spoke Aramaic. Much of the Old Testament, such as the Book of Daniel, was originally in Aramaic though a large bulk of those codices are lost forever. Neither the Greek of the Textus Receptus upon which the New Testament is based, nor the Hebrew of the standardized Tanach upon which the Old Testament is loosely based were their native tongues.

..portions of the Old Testament books of Daniel and Ezra are written in Aramaic...Jesus and the Apostles also spoke this language.

In the early Christian era, Aramaic divided into East and West varieties. West Aramaic dialects includ Nabataean (formerly spoken in parts of Arabia), Palmyrene (spoken in Palmyra, which was northeast of Damascus), Palestinian-Christian, and Judeo-Aramaic. West Aramaic is still spoken in a small number of villages in Lebanon.[5]

We also read that

Parts of the books of Ezra and Daniel in the Bible were written in an Aramaic dialect, as were some notable Jewish prayers, such as the kaddish. Other important documents in Aramaic include portions of the Palestinian and Babylonian Talmuds and the Targum Onkelos, a commentary on the Pentateuch. Nabataean (the form of Aramaic current among the Nabataean Arabs), Samaritan, and Palmyrene were other significant ancient dialects of Aramaic.[6]

Jesus spoke Aramaic. Thus, the New Testament would have to be dependent upon it. Much of the Old Testament was in Aramaic as well, and the earliest Christian societies throughout Arabia from Palestine, to Syria, to Nabataea spoke Aramaic. So what is Jesus' name in Aramaic?

"EESHO M'SHEEKHA" meaning Jesus the Messiah.
- "Eesho M'sheekha" in Syriac. Syriac is a late variant of Aramaic widespread in Christendom, thus coined "Christian Aramaic".
- "Eesho M'sheekha" in Aramaic, taken directly from the "Peshitta". The "Peshitta" is the Aramaic New Testament and closely resembles the language of Jesus.
Thus, Jesus would have even called himself "Eesho" or more specifically "`Eesaa" since the Northern Palestinian Jews pronounced the letter "shin" as "seen"

A further discussion on Mr. Gale's opposition to the fact that Jesus (pbuh) spoke and taught in Aramaic to his disciples is dealt here.

 

The Word "EESA" ()  in the Bible

Below is an image of a page taken from the International Bible Society translation in Farsi of the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. The words which are underlined mean `EESA MASIH or `EESA respectively. Nearly all Bible translations which are non-English (including the Arabic Bible) uses the Hebrew name "Yeshua", therefore it is surprising to see `EESA MASIH being used in the Farsi Bible. The usage of EESA MASIH in the Farsi translation is prove by itself that the Christian translators do accept the Qur'anic name of Jesus (pbuh).

Is Mr. Gale now going to say that the Christians who read the Bible in Farsi are actually worshipping "E'sau"? That would certainly be a magnificent charge, for these Christians would then be (according to Mr. Gale) worshipping "E'sau" as "God the Son" in their Trinity!

 

Is "EESA" () From Hindu Scriptures?

As in the tradition of Christian misassumptions, twisting and the misuse of sources for their own agenda, Mr. Gale had to assume the following:

Muhammad in his wisdom believed that ISA was the Messiah of both the Christians and Jews. However, ISA doesn't come from neither. ISA is actually derived from the Hindus!!! This is religion that predated ISLAM for thousands of years!!! Upanishads were a group who originally came from Persia or Modern Day Iran. They later were found in India taking with them their religious beliefs with them...

Firstly, Mr. Gale had not shown to us that Muhammad (pbuh) is the author of the Qur'an, having based this assertion upon the common Christian fallacy. Secondly, the rest of the material provided by Mr. Gale that follows this assertion from his obscure source Allah : Divine or Demonic by an unknown who calls himself Steve Van Netton is lengthy but offers no real proof for the influence of Hinduism in Arabia or how and why had the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) taken this name and incorporate it in the Qur'an. Thirdly, Mr. Gale's own error that the Isha Upanishads is a claim that the name "`Eesa" comes from "Isha" in Sanskrit.What Mr. Gale doesn't realize is that the Isha Upanishads were called "Isha" simply because the first sentence starts with the words "Ishavasya" which has nothing to do with any character in history. This naming method is common in Eastern scriptures and even the early Qur'anic commentators would refer to a Sura` by its first sentence. For example the 29th Juz is called "Juz' Tabaarak" because of Surat al-Mulk which starts with "TABAARAKallathee bi-yadihil mulk...". This Sura` is also called "Surah Tabarak allathee bi-yadihil mulk". I also notice that Mr. Gale had originally thought that the "Upanishads" were a group of people (refer to the above quote: "Upanishads were a group who originally came from Persia or Modern Day Iran. They later were found in India taking with them their religious beliefs with them..."), when it is actually part of Hindu scripture, but then later quietly adjusted his reference to it as a book. And finally, since we have firmly established the fact that the name "Eesa" () has an Aramaic origin and has no relation to Sanskrit, we have to dismiss Mr. Gale's ludicrous assertion as having little merit for acceptance. Mr. Gale have not even shown to us how the  alleged word ISA MASIH in Sanskrit could even be related to a Semitic language like Arabic!

 

Mr. Gale's Logical Fallacy 

As have been shown in another article, Mr. Gale had committed the fallacy of equivocation, just as he did with his arguments in "ALLAH AKBAR". In this argument, Mr. Gale tries to pretend that `akbawr (mouse) in Hebrew is the same as akbar (great, emphatic form) in Arabic, but this is fallacious since the Arabic akbar is derived from the Arabic word kabeer and the Hebrew kabar, or otherwise, the Prophet Job (pbuh) would suddenly have to MOUSE his words (Job 35:16).  

Mr. Gale, spurred on by his imagination, is reading too much in word similarities. Word similarities exist in most languages. A word of the same or similar pronunciation may be found with the same or different meanings in different languages. Historical facts of certitude cannot be deduced from such similarities of ambiguity. Such flimsy theories which are the product of mere imagination and wishful thinking cannot constitute facts and grounds for the negation of historical and religious facts supported by the testimony of generations of authorities. 

To conclude we are compelled to observe that the so-called "findings" of Mr. Gale are amazing in absurdity and in their degree of fallacy.  Brother Shibli Zaman, a scholar who had studied the Bible for 15 years in its original languages, had said in his response on Mr. Gale's tactics in pseudo-etymological "scholarship":

This word play is for school children and illiberal people but has no place in any scholarly discussion.

Perhaps Mr. Gale should take this advice and return to the school where he had learned his childish games.

 

Conclusion

In short, let us break down the whole argument so as to elucidate it better for the readers to understand:

Thus, the Qur'an's historical accuracy in its usage of "`Eesa" rather than the Arabic "Yaso'a" for the name of Jesus is indeed noteworthy to say the very least. "Yaso'a" is actually based upon a problematic Hebrew nomenclature for Jesus which is littered with disagreement and controversy.  There is no historical agreement or resemblance on what Jesus' name was in Hebrew or even if those references are indeed referring to Jesus! There have been a plethora of explanations attempting to rectify this variance in the Hebrew versions of Jesus' name, but all are based on conjecture and none are based on historicity or textual evidence. All such flawed etymological gymnastics are already defeated by the mere fact that Hebrew was not even Jesus' language.  Indeed, the burden of proof is upon the Christian world to produce documented evidence of Jesus' existence from his own time period. As God has promised in His Word:

"And from each people shall We draw a witness, and We shall say: "Produce your proof"; then shall they know that the Truth is in Allah (alone), and the (lies) which they invented will leave them in the lurch." (al-Qur'an, Sura' Al-Qashash (28):75)

 

Acknowledgements 

The author (MENJ) would like to thank Brother Shibli Zaman for his kind permission in allowing part of his material on the true name of Jesus (pbuh) to be displayed in this article. More information on the name of the Messiah `EESA could be found in the said article. The article of Brother Shibli can be found at the following URL: http://shibli.zaman.net/eesa  [also can be found at The original name of Eesa peace be upon him].

 

References

[1] Ahmad Deedat, Christ in Islam, Islamic Propagation Centre International (IPCI), pg. 7-8

[2]  I reproduce a commentary on E'SAU from Eaton's Bible Dictionary, which shows that he was named because of his hairy body.

E'sau 

Text: hairy, Rebekah's first-born twin son (Gen. 25:25). The name of Edom, "red" ,was also given to him from his conduct in connection with the red lentil "pottage" for which he sold his birthright (30, 31). The circumstances connected with his birth foreshadowed the enmity which afterwards subsisted between the twin brothers and the nations they founded (25:22, 23, 26). 

In process of time Jacob, following his natural bent, became a shepherd; while Esau, a "son of the desert," devoted himself to the perilous and toilsome life of a huntsman. On a certain occasion, on returning from the chase, urged by the cravings of hunger, Esau sold his birthright to his brother, Jacob, who thereby obtained the covenant blessing (Gen.27: 28, 29, 36; Heb. 12:16, 17). He afterwards tried to regain what he had so recklessly parted with, but was defeated in his attempts through the stealth of his brother (Gen. 27:4, 34, 38). 

At the age of forty years, to the great grief of his parents, he married (Gen. 26:34, 35) two Canaanitish maidens, Judith, the daughter of Beeri, and Bashemath, the daughter of Elon. When Jacob was sent away to Padan-aram, Esau tried to conciliate his parents (Gen. 28:8, 9) by marrying his cousin Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael. This led him to cast in his lot with the Ishmaelite tribes; and driving the Horites out of Mount Seir, he settled in that region. After some thirty years' sojourn in Padan-aram Jacob returned to Canaan, and was reconciled to Esau, who went forth to meet him (33:4).

Twenty years after this, Isaac their father died, when the two brothers met, probably for the last time, beside his grave (35:29). Esau now permanently left Canaan, and established himself as a powerful and wealthy chief in the land of Edom (q.v.). Long after this, when the descendants of Jacob came out of Egypt, the Edomites remembered the old quarrel between the brothers, and with fierce hatred they warred against Israel. 

[3] Ibn Manthoor, Lisaan al-`Arab (The Arabic Language),  under `Athaa

[4] H.W.F. Gesenius, Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon of the Old Testament,  6215, page 658

[5] Encyclopedia Britannica, Reference Index I, "Aramaic Language", page 476

[6] Source: http://www.infoplease.com/ce5/CE002726.htmlat Infoplease.com

[7] This is in line with several verses which states that the Qur'an is perfect/clear Arabic (refer to verses 9:28, 12:2 and16:103)


Further discussions on the language of Aramaic and Jesus (pbuh).

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