Author Topic: Does the Qur'an contradict monotheism?  (Read 3746 times)

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Offline adeel.khan

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Does the Qur'an contradict monotheism?
« on: December 28, 2013, 06:31:16 AM »
It has been alleged that there are a number of passages in the Qur'an which indicate that Islam is not a monotheistic religion and that there are a number of verses which indicate so.

Let us examine the verses claimed to contradict monotheism.


Allegation 1

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That is Jesus, the son of Mary, the word of truth about which they are in dispute. It is not [befitting] for Allah to take a son; exalted is He! When He decrees an affair, He only says to it, 'Be,' and it is. 'And indeed, Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. That is a straight path.' [1]

It is claimed that since the speaker at the start is Allah, hence the ending words are also the words of Allah i.e. it is Allah who is saying And indeed, Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him which would indicate that Allah is referring to someone else as Allah and His Lord. If only the selected passage is seen as it is, the outcome would most certainly appear to be as claimed. However, one needs to see the context as well. Let us understand these verses again with the context i.e. by selecting a few preceding verses.

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[Jesus] said, 'Indeed, I am the servant of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet. And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and zakah (obligatory charity) as long as I remain alive And [made me] dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me a wretched tyrant. And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I am raised alive.' [2]

The passage quoted here immediately comes before the first passage quoted above. Here we see that it was Prophet Eisa (Jesus) (peace be upon him) who was the one speaking. As soon as it is mentioned that he spoke in the cradle, the following verse mentions that this is the truth about Prophet Eisa (Jesus) (peace be upon him) about which they doubt. In other words, the miracle of the cradle is mentioned followed by a clarification from Allah about the truth. Then that truth is further explained in the next verse as to how Allah decrees an affair. Then when the matter is stated and explained, the context goes back to the speech of Prophet Eisa (Jesus) (peace be upon him) where he states And indeed, Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. Notice that the words of Prophet Eisa (Jesus) (peace be upon him) in both the passages above start with Indeed. His sentence starts with Indeed, I am the servant of Allah followed by clarification and explanation from Allah and then again the words of Prophet Eisa (Jesus) (peace be upon him) continue with And indeed, Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him.

It does not require too much of a brain to understand the way of explaining here. The context and the words of Prophet Eisa (Jesus) (peace be upon him) themselves clarify who the speaker is in each verse.

There are similar passages in the Qur'an where an incident or event is mentioned preceded by a break to explain that incident or event and then continuing back with that incident or event and therefore the passages quoted above are not an exception. The only way to find problems in them is to look at them out of context in isolation.


Allegation 2

Quote
'And we descend not except by the order of your Lord. To Him belongs that before us and that behind us and what is in between. And never is your Lord forgetful. [3]

It is argued that since the entire Qur'an is the word of Allah in first person and there not being a mention of someone else's speech before the above quoted verse, the speaker is Allah and He describes His own descending by the order of the Lord of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who is other than Allah. They argue that the structure of the sentence is in such a way that this is the only conclusion derived from the verse.

To assume that this is the only and correct conclusion derived from this verse would be trickery. For the Qur'an, the entire book is the context. If a matter has been established somewhere in the Qur'an, then that cannot be ignored in other parts of the Qur'an. The Qur'an explicitly establishes that the Lord of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is none other than Allah.

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The unbelievers _ be they among the people of the scriptures, or among the idolaters _ would not like to see any blessings ever conferred upon you by your Lord. But, for His mercy Allah selects whom He wants. Allah is the Lord of Infinite Grace and Bounties! [4]

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(Tell them), 'Are you going to argue with us concerning Allah? He is our Lord, and your Lord! We have our deeds, and you have yours to account for. We have devoted ourselves (exclusively) to Him.' [5]

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That definitely is the truth from your Lord. Allah is not unaware of anything you do. [6]

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'Truly! Allah is my Lord, and your Lord! Therefore, worship Him (alone); that is the straight path!' [7]

This message is repeated hundreds of times in the Qur'an. If this is kept in mind while understanding the verse in question, no one would arrive at the faulty conclusion that there is a Lord other than Allah or that Allah Himself has a Lord.

Another question that may arise could be that how one can be sure that those that descend are the angels as the text is ambiguous. As has been explained before, the entire Qur'an is the context. When that is kept in mind, there appears no confusion, contradiction or ambiguity. The Qur'an states:

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The angels and the Spirit (Jibreel) descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter.

And we descend not except by the order of your Lord are the words of Angel Jibreel. The sentence takes a grammatical shift. Grammatical shift or Iltifāt is a feature of the Arabic language. [8] The concept requires a separate topic for explanation and the link is highly recommended.

Indeed, Allah knows the best.


Footnotes:

[1] Qur'an 19:34 to 36

[2] Qur'an 19:30 to 33

[3] Qur'an 19:64

[4] Qur'an 2:105

[5] Qur'an 2:139

[6] Qur'an 2:149

[7] Qur'an 3:51

[8] Grammatical Shift For The Rhetorical Purposes: http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Text/Grammar/iltifaat.html
« Last Edit: December 28, 2013, 10:12:33 AM by adeel.khan »

Offline ThatMuslimGuy

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Re: Does the Qur'an contradict monotheism?
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2013, 08:00:58 AM »
Great post. I was surprised to hear there are people out there making these claims haha.

Offline adeel.khan

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Re: Does the Qur'an contradict monotheism?
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2013, 09:52:48 AM »
There are more such allegations that some passages of the Qur'an appear to contradict monotheism.

Servants of Allah or of the Messengerﷺ?

The verse under discussion is as follows:

Quote
قُلْ يٰعِبَادِيَ ٱلَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُواْ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ لاَ تَقْنَطُواْ مِن رَّحْمَةِ ٱللَّهِ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ ٱلذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعاً إِنَّهُ هُوَ ٱلْغَفُورُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ

Qul (Say/Proclaim/Declare), 'O 'Ibadi (My servants/slaves) who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.'[1]

The argument derived from the quoted verse is as follows:

Quote
Adding 'Qul' before the statement in quotation marks means that the speaker (Allah) asks/ orders/ informs the recipient of the revelation (the Prophet) to say or declare to the people the message spoken after 'Qul' and hence the speaker then changes from Allah to Prophet Muhammad (on him be peace and blessings of Allah) and hence 'O My servants' would mean the servants of Prophet Muhammad (on him be the peace and blessings of Allah).

Abul A'la Maududi mentions, for this verse, in his tafsir of the Qur'an as follows:

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Some commentators have given a strange interpretation to these words. They say that Allah Himself has commanded the Holy Prophet to address the people as 'My servants' therefore, all men are the servants of the Holy Prophet. This interpretation is no interpretation at all but a worst distortion of the meaning of the Qur'an and indeed tampering with the Word of Allah. If this interpretation were correct, it would falsify and negate the whole Qur'an.

For the Qur'an, from the beginning to the end, establishes the concept that men are the servants of Allah alone, and its whole message revolves around the point that they should serve none but One Allah alone. The Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) himself was Allah's servant. Allah had sent him not as rabb (sustainer, providence) but as a Messenger so that he should himself serve Him and teach the other people also to serve Him alone. After all, how can a sensible person believe that the Holy Prophet might have one day stood up before the disbelieving Quraish of Makkah and made the sudden proclamation: 'You are in fact the slaves of Muhammad and not of al `Uzzah and ash'Shams.' (We seek Allah's refuge from this).

The explanation for the verse can be sufficient for a Muslim but for someone having a bias against Islam, this could be a confirmation of his allegation that this mistake has negated and falsified the whole Qur'an. We find answers to their claims in the second part of the same verse:

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Do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful: The address here is to all mankind. There is no weighty argument to regard only the believers as the addressees. As has been observed by Ibn Kathir, to address such a thing to the common men does not mean that Allah forgives all sins without repentance, but Allah Himself has explained in the following verses that sins are forgiven only when the sinner turns to Allah's worship and service and adopts obedience to the message sent down by Him. As a matter of fact, this verse brought a message of hope for those people who had committed mortal sins like murder, adultery, theft, robbery, etc. in the days of ignorance, and had despaired whether they would ever be forgiven. To them it has been said: 'Do not despair of Allah's mercy: whatever you might have done in the past, if you sincerely turn to your Lord's obedience, you will be forgiven every sin.' The same interpretation of this verse has been given by Ibn `Abbas, Qatadah, Mujahid and Ibn Zaid.[2]

Non Muslims who have not accepted Islam or who even hate the Messenger of Allah (on him be the peace and blessings of Allah) cannot and will not accept to be servants of him whereas the verse speaks of all mankind. We can therefore, conclude based on the same verse that the servants mentioned are none other than the servants of Allah as also understood by the companions of the Prophet and earliest scholars. A person who denies Allah is still under the complete Lordship of Allah. Allah mentions elsewhere which further confirms our understanding:

Quote
أَلَمْ يَعْلَمُوۤاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ هُوَ يَقْبَلُ ٱلتَّوْبَةَ عَنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَأْخُذُ ٱلصَّدَقَاتِ وَأَنَّ ٱللَّهَ هُوَ ٱلتَّوَّابُ ٱلرَّحِيمُ

'Know they not that Allah accepts repentance from His servants.'[3]

The theological aspect to the argument should be clear to everyone by now since it is also approved by the Prophet and his companions themselves. However, another issue that still remains under question and that is the linguistic part. Those having further questions on the My servants part, state either the Qur'an made a mistake in choice of words while it meant something else or it uses casual human way of explaining the matter both indicating serious issues regarding the Qur'an.

It appears that this criticism comes up with the understanding whenever Allah says 'Qul' in the Qur'an, the next words are of that of the Prophet (on him be peace and blessings of Allah). This is, however, not exactly true. The Qur'an is the complete word of Allah without a single letter being from anyone else. With this in mind, consider the following verse:

Quote
قُلْ يَتَوَفَّاكُم مَّلَكُ ٱلْمَوْتِ ٱلَّذِي وُكِّلَ بِكُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكُمْ تُرْجَعُونَ

Say, 'The angel of death will take you who has been entrusted with you. Then to your Lord you will be returned.'[4]

Here, Allah is the One who speaks after Say. He mentions to the Prophet Muhammad (on him be peace and blessings of Allah) to proclaim to the people what Allah is saying. The speaker of these words becomes Prophet Muhammad (on him be peace and blessings of Allah) but he is merely conveying or forwarding the words of Allah. Allah is speaking through the Prophet. When Allah says Say, the words spoken afterwards do not become the words of the speaker.

In fact, the greatest example where Allah changes the grammatical person from third person to second person could be the first chapter of the Qur'an i.e. Fatiha (The Opening) where All praise is [due] to Allah (Qur'an 1:2) changes to It is You we worship and You we ask for help (Qur'an 1:5). Here Allah is praised at the start and then the Servant addresses His Master directly.

The key is in the context and the translation:

An earlier verse of the same chapter speaks in similar words:

Quote
قُلْ يٰعِبَادِ ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ ٱتَّقُواْ رَبَّكُمْ لِلَّذِينَ أَحْسَنُواْ فِي هَـٰذِهِ ٱلدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةٌ وَأَرْضُ ٱللَّهِ وَاسِعَةٌ إِنَّمَا يُوَفَّى ٱلصَّابِرُونَ أَجْرَهُمْ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ

Qul (Say/Proclaim/Declare/State/Mention), 'O My servants who have believed, fear your Lord. For those who do good in this world is good, and the earth of Allah is spacious. Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account.'[5]

The word Qul has several meanings. If translated as 'Say' in every verse, it does give rise to questions of the kind discussed above. However, if it translated using a different words such as Proclaim or Declare or Tell them, then the reader would not have any question at all and would simply understand it as an order of Allah to declare to the people His words or message. Translations have their limitations and this is the reason anyone conversant with the Arabic literature does not raise such silly questions.

Indeed, Allah knows the best!

Footnotes:

[1] Qur'an 39:53
[2] Ibn Jarir, Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Da'ud, Tirmidhi
[3] Qur'an 9:104
[4] Qur'an 32:11
[5] Qur'an 39:10
« Last Edit: December 28, 2013, 10:01:42 AM by adeel.khan »