DEBATE ON TV
At the end of the debate - "Christianity and Islam" - which appeared on the SABC-TV program "cross (+) questions" on Sunday 5th June 1983, the chairman, Mr. Bill Chalmers commented:
"I think it can be said from this discussion that there is ,at present, somewhat more accommodation on the Islamic side for the founder of christianity than there is on the Christian side for the founder of Islam. what the significance of that is, we leave it to you, the viewer, to determine, but I do think you will agree that it is a good thing that we are talking together." "bill" as he is popularly addressed, without any formalities, on all his programs, by all his panelists, is extremely charming and stupendous in
his humility. he is a picture of what the holy quran portrays of a good Christian:
"...and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, "we are Christians": because among these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world. and they are not arrogant." holy quran 5:58
JESUS - HIS STATUS
were the Muslims on the panel, trying to placate the viewers out of policy, deceit or diplomacy ? nothing of the kind! they were only arti-culating what god almighty had commanded them to say in the holy quran. as Muslim they had no choice. they
had said in so many words - "we Mus-lims believe, that Jesus was one of the mightiest messengers of god, that he was the Christ, that he was born miraculously - without any male intervention (which many modern-day Christians do not believe
today), that he gave life to the dead by god's permission, and that he healed those born blind and the lepers by god's permission. in fact no Muslim is a Muslim if he does not believe in Jesus!"
over 90% of the people who witnessed this debate must have been pleasantly, but sceptically, surprised. they might have not believed their ears. they must have surmised that the Muslims were playing to the gallery-that they were trying to curry favour with their fellow Christian countrymen; that if the Muslims would say a few good words about Jesus, then in reciprocation the
Christians might say a few good words about muhummed (may the peace and the blessings of god be upon all his righteous servants-like Moses, Jesus, muhummed ); that I scratch your back and you scratch my back - which would be a sham or
we cannot blame the Christians for their scepticism. they have been so programmed for centuries. they were trained to think
the worst of the man muhummed (PBUH) and his religion. how aptly did Thomas Carlyle say about his Christian brethren over a hundred and fifty years ago - "the lies which well-meaning zeal has heaped round this man (muhummed) are
disgraceful to ourselves only." we Muslims are partly responsible for this staggering ignorance of the 1,200,000,000 Christians of the world. we have not done anything substantial to remove the cobwebs.
OCEAN OF CHRISTIANITY
south Africa is an ocean of Christianity. if Libya boasts the highest percentage of Muslims on the continent of Africa, then the
republic of south Africa would also be entitled to boast the highest percentage of Christians. in this ocean of Christianity - the
R. S. A. - the Muslim is barely 2% of the total population. we are a voteless minority-numerically we count for nothing; politically, we count for nothing, and economica-lly, one white man, as Oppenheimer, could buy out the whole lot of us,
lock, stock and barrel.
so, if we had feigned to appease, we might be excused. but no! we must proclaim our master's will; we must declare the truth,
whether we liked it or not. in the words of Jesus (PBUH): "seek ye the truth, and the truth shall set you free" - (John 9:32).
Chapter 2: JESUS IN THE QURAN
The Christian does not know that the true spirit of charity which the Muslim displays, always, towards Jesus and his mother Mary spring from the fountainhead of his faith- the holy quran. he does not know that the Muslim does not take the holy name of Jesus, in his own language, without saying hazrat Eesa (meaning revered Jesus) or Eesa alai-hiss-salaam i.e. ( Jesus peace be upon him).
every time the Muslim mentions the name Jesus (PBUH) without these words of respect, he would be considered disrespectful, uncouth or barbaric. the Christian does not know that in the holy quran Jesus (PBUH) is men-tioned by name five times (5x) more than the number of times the prophet of Islam is mentioned in the book of god. to be exact - twenty five time as against five. for example:
"..we gave Jesus the son of Mary clear signs and strengthened him with the holy spirit" holy quran 2:87
"..o Mary! god giveth thee glad tidings of a word from him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary.." holy quran 3:45
"..Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of god.." holy quran 4:171
"..and in their (the previous prophets') footsteps we sent Jesus the son of Mary.." holy quran 5:49
"and Zakariya and John, and Jesus and Elias: all in the ranks of the righteous:" holy quran 6:85
JESUS - HIS TITLES
Though Jesus is mentioned by name in twenty-five places in the holy quran he is also addressed with respect as:"ibne Maryam" - son of Mary;as Masih (Heb) messiah - translated as Christ; "abd-ullah" servant of Allah; "rasul -ullah" -
messenger of Allah.
he is spoken of as "the word of god", as "the spirit of god", as a "sign of god", and numerous other epithets of honour spread over
fifteen different chapters. the holy quran honours this mighty messenger of god, and the Muslims have not fallen short over the
past fourteen hundred years in doing the same. there is not a single disparaging remark in the entire quran to which even the most jaundiced among the Christians can take exception.
"EESA" LATINIZED TO JESUS
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 latinized 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". there was at least one "Jesus" sitting on the"bench" at the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin.
Josephus the Jewish historian mentions some twenty five Jesus' in his "book of antiquities". the new testament speaks of "bar-Jesus"- a magician and a sorcerer, a false prophet (act 13:6); and also "Jesus-Justus" - a Christian missionary, a contemporary of Paul (Colossians 4:11). these are distinct from Jesus the son of Mary. transforming "Esau" to (j)esu(s) - Jesus -
makes it unique. this unique (?) name has gone out of currency among the Jews and the Christians from the 2nd century after Christ. among the Jews, because it came to be the proper name of their god(?) - their god incarnate. the Muslim will not hesitate to name his son - "Eesa" - because it is an honoured name, the name of a righteous servant of the lord.
At the end of the most popular translation of the holy quran in English, i.e. by A. Yusuf Ali , there is a very comprehensive index. while browsing through (3), we will discover, on page 1837, i.e. Jesus, a righteous prophet, vi.85;
birth, iii. 45:47; xix. 22-33; apostle to Israel, iii. 49-51; disciples, iii. 52-53; v.114-118 taken up, iii. 55-58; iv.157-159;
like Adam, iii.59; not crucified, iv.157;
no more than apostle, iv.171; v.78; xliii 59, 63-64; not god, v.19,75; sent with gospel, v.49;
not son of god, ix.30; message and miracles, v.113; xix.30-33; prays for table of viands, v.117; taught no false worship, v.119-121;
disciples declare themselves Muslims, v.114;
mission limited, n.1861 to xiii.38; followers have compassion and mercy, lvii.27: disciples as god's helpers, lxi.14; as a sign, xxiii. 50; xliii.61; prophesied Ahmed, lxi.6.
Chapter 3 : MOTHER AND SON
The second above mentioned topic - "his birth" - are described in two places - sura 3 and sura 19. reading from the beginning of his birth, on page 134 of the translation under reference, we come across the story of Mary, and the esteemed
position which she occupies in the house of Islam before the actual annunciation of the birth of Jesus is given:
behold! the angels said: "o Mary! god hath chosen thee and purified thee- chosen thee above the women of all nations."
holy quran 3:42
"chosen thee above the women of all nations." such an honour is not be found given to Mary even in the Christian bible! the verse continue:
"o Mary! worship thy lord devoutly: prostrate thyself, and bow down (in prayer) with those who bow down." holy quran 3:43
divine revelation what is the source of this beautiful and sublime recitation which,in its
original Arabic, moves men to ecstacy and tears? verse 44 below explains
this is part of the tidings of the things unseen, which we reveal unto thee (o apostle!) by inspiration: thou wast not with them when they cast lots with arrows, as to which of them should be charged with the care of Mary: nor wast thou with them when they disputed (the point). holy quran 3:44
The story is that the maternal grandmother of Jesus, Hannah, had hitherto been barren. she poured out her heart to god: if only god will grant her child, she would surely dedicate such a child for the service of god in the temple.
God granted her prayer and Mary was born. she was disappointed. she was yearning for a son, but instead she delivered a daughter; and in no way is the female like the male, for what she had in mind. what was she to do? she had made a vow to
god. she waited for Mary to be big enough to fend for herself.
when the time came, Hannah took her darling daughter to the temple, to hand over for temple services. every priest was clamouring to be the god father of this lovely child. they cast lots with arrows for her - like the tossing of the coin - head or tail ?
eventually she fell to the lot of Zakariya, but not without a dispute.
THE SOURCE OF HIS MESSAGE
This was the story. but where did muhummed (PBUH) get this knowledge from? he was an ummi (unlettered). he did not know how to read or write. he is made by god almighty to answer this very question in the verse above, by saying that it was all "by divine inspiration". "no!", says the controversialist. "this is muhummed's own concoction. he copied his reve-lations
from the Jews and Christians. He plagiarized it. he forged it."
knowing full-well, and believing as we do, that the whole quran is the veritable word of god, we will nevertheless agree, for the sake
of argu-ment, with the enemies of muhummed (PBUH) for a moment, that he wrote it we can now expect some cooperation from
ask him, "have you any qualms in agreeing that muhummed (PBUH) was an Arab?" only an opinionated fool will hesitate to agree. in that case there is no sense in pursuing any discussion. cut short the talk. close the book!
with the man of reason, we proceed. "that this Arab, in the first ins-tance, was addressing other Arabs. he was not talking to Indian Muslims, Chinese Muslims, or Nigerian Muslims. he was addressing his own people - the Arabs. whether they agreed with him or not, he told them in the most sublime form - words that were seared into the hearts and minds of his listeners that Mary
the mother of Jesus - a jewess - was chosen above the women of all nations. not his own mother, nor his wife nor his daughter, nor any other Arab woman, but a jewess! can one explain this? because to everyone his own mother or wife, or daughter would come before any other women. why would the prophet of Islam honour a woman from his opposition! and a jewess at that! belonging to a race which had been looking down upon his people for three thousand years? just as they still look down upon their Arab brethren today.
SARAH AND HAGAR
The Jews get their cock-eyed racism from their holy bible, where they are told that their father, Abraham, had two wives - Sarah and Hagar. they say that they are the children of Abraham through Sarah his legitimate wife; that their Arab brethren have descended through Hagar, a "bond-woman", and that as such, the Arabs are an inferior breed. (in fact, Hagar was not
a bond-woman but an Egyptian princess)
will anyone please explain the anomaly as to why muhummed (PBUH) (if he is the author) chose this jewess for such high honour? the answer is simple - he had no choice - he had no right to speak of his own desire. "it is no less than an inspiration
sent down to him." (h.q.53:4)
There is a chapter in the holy Quran, named sura Maryam "chapter Mary" (xix) named in honour of Mary the mother of Jesus Christ (PBUH); again, such an honour is not to be found given to Mary in the Christian bible. out of the 66 books of
the Protestants and 73 of the roman Catholics, not one is named after Mary or her son. you will find books named after Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul and two score more obscure names, but not a single one is that of Jesus or Mary!
if muhummed (PBUH) was the author of the holy quran, then he would not have failed to include in it with Maryam, the mother of Jesus, his own mother - Amina, his dear wife - Khadija, or his beloved daughter-Fatima. but no!no! this can never be. the quran is
not his handiwork!
Chapter 4 : THE GOOD NEWS
behold! the angels said:
"o Mary! god giveth thee glad tidings of a word from him: his name will be Christ Jesus the son of Mary held in honour in this world and the hereafter and (of the company of) those nearest to god; holy Quran 3:45
"nearest to god," not physically nor geographically, but spiritually. compare this with - "and (Jesus) sat on the right hand of god."(mark - 16:19). the bulk of Christendom has misunderstood this verse as well as many others in the bible. they imagine the father (god) sitting on a throne - a glorified chair - and his "son", Jesus, sitting on his right hand side. can you conjure up the picture? if you do, you have strayed from the true knowledge of god. he is no old father Christmas. he is a spiritual being, beyond the imagination of the mind of man. he exists. he is real, but he is not like anything we can think of, or imagine. in eastern languages "right hand" meant a place of honour, which the holy quran more fittingly describes as - "in the company of those nearest to god."
the above verse confirms that Jesus is the Christ, and that he is the word which god bestowed upon Mary. again, the Christian reads into these words, a meaning which they do not carry. they equate the word "Christ" with the idea of a god incarnate; and the word from god to be god!.
CHRIST NOT A NAME
The word Christ is derived from the Hebrew word messiah, Arabic-masih. root word m-a-s-a-h-a, meaning to rub, to massage, to anoint. priests an kings were anointed when being consecrated to their offices. but in its translated, Grecian form
"Christ", it seems unique:befitting Jesus only.
the Christian has a knack of transmuting baser metals into shining gold. what he is wont to do is to translate names into his own language like "Cephas" to Peter, "messiah" to Christ. how does he do that? very easily messiah in Hebrew means anointed. the Greek word for anointed is "chris-tos". just lop off the 'os' from Christos and you are left with Christ. now change the little 'c' to a capital 'c', and "hey, presto!" he has created a unique (?) name! Christos means anointed, and anointed means appointed in its
religious connotation. Jesus (PBUH) was appointed (anointed) at his baptism by John the baptist, as god's messenger.every prophet of god is so anointed or appointed. the holy bible is replete with the "anointed" ones. in the original Hebrew - made a "messiah". let us keep to the English translation - "anointed." not only were prophets and pri-ests and kings anointed (Christos-ed), but horns, and cherubs and lamp-posts also.
I am the god of beth-el, where you anointed a pillar..... genesis 31:13
if the priest that is anointed do sin....
and Moses.anointed the tabernacle and all things that was therein... leviticus 8:10
...the lord shall....exalt the horn of his anointed 1 Samuel 2:10
thus saith the lord to his anointed to cyrus....
thou art the anointed cherub....
there are a hundred more such references in the holy bible. every time you come across the word anointed in your English bible, you can take it that that word would be Christos in the Greek translations, and if you take the same liberty with the word that the Christians have done, you will have - Christ cherub, Christ cyrus, Christ priest and Christ pillar, etc.
SOME TITLES EXCLUSIVE
Although, every prophet of god is an anointed one of god - a messiah, the title "masih" or "messiah" or its translation "Christ" is exclusively reserved for Jesus, the son of Mary, in both Islam and in Christianity. this is not unusual in religion. there are certain other honorific title which may be applied to more than one prophet, yet being made exclusive to one by usage: like
"rasul-lullah", meaning messenger of god, which title is applied to both Moses (19:51) and Jesus (61:6) in the holy quran. yet "rasul-lullah" has become synonymous only with the prophet of Islam among Muslims.
every prophet is indeed a friend of god, but its Arabic equivalent "kha-lil-lullah" is exclusively associated with father Abraham. this does not mean that the others are not god's friends. "kalimul-lah" (one who spoke with god) is never used for anyone other than Moses, yet we believe that god spoke with all his messengers, including Jesus and muhummed (may the peace and blessings of
god be upon all his servants). associating certain titles with certain personages only, does not make them exclusive or unique in any way. we honour all in varying terms.
whilst the good news was being announced (verse 45 above) Mary was told that her unborn child will be called Jesus, that he would be the Christ, a "word" from god, and that.....
"he shall speak to the people in childhood* and in maturity. and he shall be (of the company) of the righteous." holy quran 3:46
this prophecy found fulfillment within a very short time. we find this in sura Maryam below:
at length she brought him (the babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). they said:"O Mary! truly an-amazing thing hast thou brought! O sister of Aaron thy father was not a man of evil nor thy mother a woman unchaste!" Holy quran
There is no Joseph the carpenter here. the circumstances being peculiar, Mary the mother of Jesus had retired herself to some remote place in the east (h.q.19:16). after the birth of the child she returns.
"the amazement of the people knew no bounds. in any case they were prepared to think the worst of her, as she had disappeared from her kin for some time. but now she comes, shamelessly parading a babe in her arms! how she had disgraced the house of Aaron, the fountain of priesthood!
"sister of Aaron: Mary is reminded of her high lineage and the unexcep-tionable morals of her father and mother. how, they said, she had fallen and disgraced the name of her progenitors!
"what could Mary do? how could she explain? would they, in their censorious mood accept her explanation? all she could do was to point to the child, who, she knew, was no ordinary child. and the child came to her rescue. by a miracle he spoke, defended his mother, and preached -to an unbelieving audience."
A. Yusuf Ali, comments in his notes 2480-2482 on page 773 of his translation.
but she pointed to the babe. they said: "how can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?" Holy quran 19:23 and by a miracle he spoke:
he said: "i am indeed a servant of god: he hath given me revelation and made me a prophet; "and he hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and he hath enjoined on me prayer and charity as long as I live "(he) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable; "so peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)!" holy quran 19:24-33
HIS FIRST MIRACLE(S)
Thus Jesus (PBUH) defended his mother from the grave calumny and innuen-does of her enemies. this is the very first miracle attributed to Jesus in the holy quran - that, he spoke as an infant from his mother's arms. contrast this with his first
miracle in the Christian bible which occure when he was over thirty years of age:
and the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: and both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. and when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, they have no wine.
Jesus saith unto her, woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. his mother saith unto the servants, whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. and there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
Jesus saith unto them, fill the waterpots with water. and they filled them up to the brim. and he saith unto them, draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. and they bare it. when the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and saith
unto him, every man at the beginning both set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse:but thou hast kept the good wine until now. John 2:1-10
Since this miracle, wine has flowed like water in Christendom. many a fool reasons that what was good for his master is good enough for him. Jesus was no "kill-joy" they say. didn't he make good potent wine, that even those "well drunk", those whose senses had been dulled could make out the difference? - "that the best was kept for the last." this was no pure grape juice. it was
the same w-i-n-e that, according to the Christi an bible, enabled the daughters of lot to seduce their father (genesis-19:32-33). it was the same w-i-n-e which the Christian is advised to eschew in Ephesians 5:18 - "and be not drunk with wine...."
It is that innocent (?) 1% potency that eventually leads millions down into the gutter. America has 10 million drunkards in the
midst of 70 million "born-again" Christians! the Americans call their drunkards - "problem drinkers". in South Africa, they are called "alcoholics" - drunkard is too strong a word for people to stomach.
But the prime minister of Zambia, Dr.Kenneth Kaunda, does not hesitate to call a spade a spade. he says, "i am not prepared to lead nation of drunkards" - referring to his own people who drink intoxicants.
Whether the water "blushed" or not "seeing" Jesus, we cannot blame him or his disciples for the drinking habits of his contemporaries. for he had truly opined, "i have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now" (John 16:12).
mankind had not reached the stage of recei-ving the whole truth of Islam. did he not also say - "you cannot put new wine into old bottles"? (Matthew 9:17)
"MOTHER" OR "WOMAN"?
"According" to St. John, in the fourth verse above, describing the marri-age feast at Cana, we are told that Jesus (PBUH) behaved insolently to-wards his mother. he calls her "woman," and to rub more salt into the wound he is made to say - "what have I to do with thee?" what connection is there between you and me, or what have I got to do with you? could he have forgotten that this very "woman" had carried him for nine months, and perhaps suckled him for 2 years, and had borne
endless insults and inju-ries on account of him? is she not his mother ? is there no word in his language for "mother"?
strange as it may seem, that while the missionaries boast about their master's humility, meekness and long-suffering - they call
him the "prince of peace" and they sing hat - "he was led to the slaughter like a lamb, and like a sheep who before his shearer is dumb, he opened not his mouth yet they proudly record in the same breath, that he was every ready with invectives for the elders of his race, and was always itching for a show down i.e. if their records are true:-
"ye hypocrites!" "ye wicked and adulterous generation!" "ye whited sephulcres!"
"ye generation of vipers!" and now to his mother - "woman....."
Muhammad (PBUH) the messenger of god, is made to absolve Jesus (PBUH) from the false charges and calumnies of his enemies.
"and he (god almighty) hath made me (Jesus) kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable" holy quran 19:32
on receiving the good news of the birth of a righteous son (end of h.q. 3:46 ), Mary responds:
"o my lord! how shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?"
the angel says in reply:
he said" "even so: god createth what he willeth: when he hath decreed a plan, he but saith to it, 'be,' and it is! "and god will teach him the book and wisdom, the law and the gospel, holy quran 3:47-48
Chapter 5 : QURANIC AND BIBLICAL VERSIONS
MEETING THE REVEREND
One day, I was visiting the "bible house" in Johannesburg, south Africa. whilst browsing through the stacks of bibles and religious books, I picked up an Indonesian bible and had just taken in hand a Greek/English new testament - a large,
expensive volume. I had not realized that I was being observed by the supervisor of the bible house. casually, he walked up to me. perhaps my bread and my Muslim headgear were an attrac-tion and a challenge? he inquired about my interest in that
costly volu-me. I explained that as a student of comparative religion, I had need for such a book. he invited me to have tea with him in his office. it was very kind of him and I accepted.
over the cup of tea, I explained to him the Muslim belief in Jesus. I explained to him the very high position that Jesus (PBUH) occupied in the house of Islam. he seemed sceptical about what I said. I was amazed at his seeming ignorance, because only retired reverend gentlemen can become supervisors of bible houses in south Africa. I began reciting from verse 42 of sura 3 -first in
Arabic then in English
behold! the angels said: "o Mary! Allah hath chosen thee...
I wanted the reverend to listen, not only to the meaning of the quran, but also to the music of its cadences when the original Arabic was recited. Rev. Dunkers (for that was his name) sat back and listened with rapt attention to Allah's kalaam (god's word). when I reached the end of verse 49, the reverend commented that the quranic message was like that of his own bible. he said, he
saw no difference between what he believed as a Christian, and what I had read to him. I said: "that was true". if he had come across these verses in the English language alone without their Arabic equivalent, side by side, he would not have been able to guess in a hundred years that he was reading the holy quran. if he were a Protestant he would have thought that he was reading the roman catholic version, if he had not seen one, or the Jehovah's witness version or the Greek orthodox version, or the hundred and one other versions that he might not have seen; but he would never have guessed that he was reading the holy quran the
Christian would be reading here, in the quran, everything he wanted to hear about Jesus, but in a most noble, elevated and sublime language. he could not help being moved by it.
in these eight terse verses from 42 to 49 we are told:
(a) that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virtuous woman, and honored above the women of all nations.
(b) that all that was being said was god's own revelation to Muhammad
(c) that Jesus was a "word" from god.
(d) that he was the Christ that the Jews were waiting for.
(e) that god will empower this Jesus to perform miracles even in infancy
(f) that Jesus was born miraculously, without any male intervention.
(g) that god will vouchsafe him revelation.
(h) that he will give life to the dead by god's permission, and that he will heal those born blind and the lepers by god's permission, etc.etc.
CHALK AND CHEESE
The most fervent Christian cannot take exception to a single statement or word here. but the difference between the biblical and the quranic narratives is that between "chalk and cheese"!
"to me they are identical, what is the difference?" the reverend asked.
I know that in their essentials both the stories agree in their details, but when we scrutinize them closely we will discover that the difference between them is staggering.
now compare the ......cont. on next posting part (II)