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True Islam: True devotion

True Islam from a Christian perspective

The first Surah in the Qur’ān speaks of the knowledge planted in every person’s heart by God that He is the highest, to whom alone all praise is due. It contains a prayer to be led on the right path:

“In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Praise belongs to God, the Lord of all Being,
the All-merciful, the All-compassionate,
the Master of the Day of Doom.
Thee only we serve; to Thee alone we pray for succour.
Guide us in the straight path,
the path of those whom Thou hast blessed,
not of those against whom Thou art wrathful, nor of those who are astray.”
(Sūrah 1: Al-Fātihah)

Everyone who seeks God with his whole heart and with a sincere attitude will find Him. In this article we would like to offer help in recognizing the straight path which God revealed through his prophets and through Jesus.

Who teaches us true Islam?

“What, do they desire another religion than God’s, and to Him has surrendered whoso is in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly, and to Him they shall be returned? Say: “We believe in God, and that which has been sent down on us, and sent down on Abraham and Ishmael, Isaac and Jacob, and the Tribes, and in that which was given to Moses and Jesus, and the Prophets, of their Lord; we make no division between any of them, and to Him we surrender.” Whoso desires another religion than Islam, it shall not be accepted of him; in the next world he shall be among the losers.” (Sūrah 3: Ali ‘Imrān 83-85)

This passage from the Qur’ān uses the term “Islam” not in the sense of belonging to a particular religious community. Here it means devotion and surrender to God. It is the faith of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, the faith of the prophets and of Jesus, Mary’s son. A person who wants to devote himself to God with his whole heart will, therefore, follow the examples of Abraham and the prophets and the example of Jesus of Nazareth. They devoted themselves completely to God and were, in this sense, the true Muslims, those who surrendered to God. Through them the Almighty spoke to the world and revealed his will and his being. To follow their devotion is true Islam, perfect submission to the will of the one and only God.

“Surely We sent down the Torah, wherein is guidance and light; thereby the Prophets who had surrendered themselves gave judgment for those of Jewry….” (Sūrah 5: Al-Mā’idah 44)

“And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus son of Mary, confirming the Torah before him and We gave to him the Gospel, wherein is guidance and light, and confirming the Torah before it, as a guidance and an admonition unto the godfearing. So let the People of the Gospel judge according to what God has sent down therein. Whosoever judges not according to what God has sent down – they are the ungodly.” (Sūrah 5: Al-Mā’idah 46-47)

“And when Jesus came with the clear signs he said, “I have come to you with wisdom, and that I may make clear to you some of that whereon you are at variance; so fear you God and obey you me.” (Sūrah 43: Az-Zukhruf 63)

Everyone who wants to submit to God follows the word of the Torah, the Prophets and the words of Jesus confirming the Torah. A true Muslim desires to get to know the whole revelation of God. Therefore he cannot ignore the Torah, the Prophets and the Gospel. A true Muslim will obey the words of Jesus. It is only in this way that he can receive guidance and light from the Almighty. This is also testified by those very scriptures:

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105 ESV)

“For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.” (Proverbs 6:23 ESV)

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV)

So the Qur’ān testifies unanimously with the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments that we can find light and guidance in both the Torah and the Gospel. Can anything then hinder a Muslim from getting to know the whole revelation of God, devoting himself to the intensive study of the words of the Torah and the Gospel?

What does devotion mean?

God said to Abraham,

“I am God Almighty, walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” (Genesis 17:1-2 ESV)

For Abraham devotion meant living in God’s presence and striving for a blameless life.

In the Torah we find following commandment:

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart…” (Deuteronomy 6:4-6 ESV)

God spoke through the prophet Micah:

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 ESV)

Jesus confirmed the commandment of the Torah and called it the greatest commandment:

“And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:35-40 ESV)

Jesus’ own life was the best realisation of this commandment. He was totally filled with love for God. He was faithful to God in everything and, unlike any other person, was able to ask his adversaries without any pride,

“Which one of you convicts me of sin?” (John 8:46 ESV)

Jesus’ life was a demonstration of God’s compassion and mercy. The Qur’ān also relates how these characteristics were evident in the lives of his followers:

“Then We sent, following in their footsteps, Our Messengers; and We sent, following, Jesus son of Mary, and gave unto him the Gospel. And We set in the hearts of those who followed him tenderness and mercy.” (Sūrah 57: Al-Hadeed 27)

The Bible describes how this compassion and mercy became reality in the lives of the followers of Jesus in the following words:

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. …And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing their proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favour with all the people…” (Acts 2:42,44-47 ESV)

“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.” (Acts 4:32 ESV)

For the first Christians, devotion to God also meant devotion to the brothers. That was their reason for sharing their lives in daily fellowship and even sharing their goods with one another.

“If anyone says, “I love God”, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:20-21 ESV)

Even as the official Christian religion moved away from the path of Jesus and adapted more and more to the world, there remained a number of faithful followers of Jesus who continued to honour God faithfully, reading the Bible and praying together every day:

“Yet they are not all alike; some of the People of the Book are a nation upstanding, that recite God’s signs in the watches of the night, bowing themselves, believing in God and in the Last Day, bidding to honour and forbidding dishonour, vying one with the other in good works; those are of the righteous.” (Sūrah 3: Ali ‘Imrān 113-114)

The “Five Pillars” of Islam

According to Islamic tradition, Islam, i.e. devotion to God, is primarily expressed by living according to the “five pillars” of Islam:1

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: Allah’s Apostle said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles):
1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s apostle.
2. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly.
3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity).
5. To perform Hajj (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca).
4. To observe fast during (the month of) Ramadan.

What did God declare to us through Jesus concerning these five points, and what corresponding practices can we find in the life of the first Christians?

1) The Confession of God’s unity and uniqueness forms the unmovable basis of the doctrine of Jesus and his disciples. There is no other God than the One and Only, He who created the universe and revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to all the prophets, and to him who will judge mankind on the Last Day. No disciple of Jesus ever accepted him as a deity beside God (as Sūrah 5:116 suggests). We believe in him

“who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honour and eternal dominion.” (1 Timothy 6:15-16 ESV)

Christians, however, don’t confess God mainly by a ritual recitation, but by living their lives according to his commandments and by constantly striving to help lead others to the knowledge of God in living according to his will.

None of the Muslims (i.e. people who surrender to God) from Abraham until the seventh century AD ever confessed Muhammad as the prophet. Of course, he didn’t even appear on the scene until much later. On the other hand, all the believers who lived after the time of Jesus understood clearly that God’s revelation to mankind had reached its climax in Jesus and they did not expect any new revelation in the future.

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son…” (Hebrews 1:1-2a ESV)

Jesus promised to send his Holy Spirit to the disciples:

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26 ESV)

Jesus fulfilled this promise to his disciples approximately 50 days later. The Holy Spirit led the disciples to a deeper understanding of the words of Jesus by reminding them of the very words he had spoken to them2.

2) For every believer prayer is the daily essence of his spiritual life.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God!” (Philippians 4:6 ESV)

“…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints3!” (Ephesians 6:18 ESV)

Jesus himself lived a life of prayer. Again and again he turned to his Father in prayer:

“In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12 ESV)

His disciples followed his example:

“All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer…” (Acts 1:14 ESV)

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42 ESV)

For the first Christians, and for all Christians since, prayer was and is the basis and the expression of their constant relationship with God. Having spiritual life means having a relationship with the God who loves us. Our prayer is our loving response to His love for us. Therefore prayer cannot be pressed into the rigid forms of a ritual. Love surpasses all rituals. The prayers of Jesus and his followers are not bound to special forms, times, places or directions. We are constantly surrounded by the eternal God. The content of all our words and our whole life is the praise of his love.

3) Christians don’t have a tax for the poor. The Old Testament contained different regulations for the care of the poor. E.g. every third year the whole tithe should be at the disposal of the poor. (Deuteronomy 14:28-29) The basic rule was:

“You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.” (Deuteronomy 15:11 ESV)

The believers in the New Testament far exceeded this regulation. God’s love filled their hearts and compelled them. So they did not merely give alms to their brothers and sisters, but they shared with them:

“And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” (Acts 2:44-45 ESV)

“There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of land or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” (Acts 4:34-35 ESV)

“Your abundance in the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness.” (2 Corinthians 8:14 ESV)

When various “Christian” groups later reintroduced the Old Testament tithe (giving a tenth), they departed from the standard taught in the New Testament. Similarly the “zakat”, while admittedly having a positive effect on many Islamic nations, is in fact a backward step from the level of devotion shown in the New Testament. The readiness of a Christian to give is directed by love and cannot be regulated by percentages.

4) There is no rule about fasting in the New Testament. Jesus spoke against the public demonstration of fasting practised by the Pharisees:

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18 ESV)

God requires our complete devotion and love, being ready to serve Him and our brothers every day, all the year round. This devotion also requires self-discipline. A Christian’s spirit controls his body and overcomes its desires. We eat our food with gratitude, knowing that we can abstain from food if the tasks we have from God demand it. This discipline is our way of life regardless of time or season. Addictive drugs (such as nicotine) have no place at all in the life of a Christian.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body!” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV)

5) The believers in the Old Testament had the command of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year:

“Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God that he has given you.” (Deuteronomy 16:16-17 ESV)

In the time of Jesus there was disunity between the Jews and the Samaritans concerning the “place that the LORD will choose”. The Jews made their pilgrimage to Jerusalem. For the Samaritans, however, Mount Gerizim was the mount of worship.

While Jesus confirmed the Jewish viewpoint as being the original one, he went a step further by saying to a Samaritan woman,

“Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. …But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and truth.” (John 4:21-24 ESV)

Christians, therefore, have neither holy places nor holy times. Every place and every hour, day and year are sanctified by the presence of the Almighty God. Our whole life is a pilgrimage to the heavenly Jerusalem.

“…but you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect…” (Hebrews 12:22-23 ESV)

Soon you can find more information about the place of worshipping God here.

A closer investigation of these “five pillars” shows that Jesus did not teach precise rules about various religious practices, but that he brought love – love that far surpasses all religious rules and which leads us to perfect devotion to the eternal God in the service of the believers. He leads us to true “Islam”, a true submission to God’s will that will fulfil us for all eternity with the abundant joy of fellowship with our Creator. True Islam is the way that Jesus showed us. Indeed he himself is the way. We want to invite all Muslims to walk this way and so to become true Muslims.

“We sent not any before thee, except men to whom We revealed: “Question the people of the Remembrance, if it should be that you do not know.” (Sūrah 16: An-Nahl 43)

At that time Jesus declared,

“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
That you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding
and revealed them to little children;
Yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father,
and no one knows the Son except the Father,
And no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden,
And I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,
For I am gentle and lowly in heart,
And you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:25-30 ESV)

ps. The term “Christians” is used in this article exclusively to refer to people who have decided to devote their whole life to walk the way of Jesus. We certainly cannot call our sinful western consumer society “Christian”. Furthermore we have to make it clear that all institutions generally known as “Christian Churches” are far from biblical Christianity.

  1. According to M. Muhsin Khan’s translation of Sahih al-Bukhari’s Hadith collection, Vol. 1, Book 2, Number 7. In this hadith the 4th and 5th pillars are placed in a different sequence from that which is usual today. 
  2. The term “remembrance” presupposes that those who are led to this “remembrance” were eyewitnesses of Jesus. Others could not be reminded of his words by the Spirit. We must, therefore, exclude a priori any interpretation of this promise of Jesus as referring to Muhammad. 
  3. The New Testament uses the term “saint” not in the Roman-Catholic sense. The New Testament calls all Christians saints (holy ones) because everyone who follows Jesus is sanctified by him. 

Who we are

“O believers, be you God’s helpers, as Jesus, Mary’s son, said to the Apostles. ‘Who will be my helpers unto God?’ The Apostles said, ‘We will be helpers of God.’”
Surah 61 (As-Saff):14

We are friends, Christians, disciples of Jesus. The Qur’an calls such people “helpers of God”.

Our community is small in number and consists of people from different religious and social backgrounds with different professions. We simply want to serve God as brothers and sisters according to the words of Jesus, just as we find them in the Injil.

For many people faith means the cultivation of religious and cultural traditions and rituals that have been handed down from their forefathers, often without an understanding of their deeper meaning. Many of these traditions obviously contradict the words of Jesus. For us, however, faith is a reality that fills all areas of our lives.

We do not belong to any denomination or organisation. We gather daily to think about the Word of God together and through this to understand God’s will better.

We reject hierarchical structures as they clearly contradict God’s word and brotherly love. We are convinced that unity, which God wants to be the reality among believers, cannot be secured by human authoritarian structures but only by the fruit of the obedience of every single disciple to the Holy Scripture. We are in unity with each other because each of us puts his own self aside and wants to follow what God has revealed in the Bible and made recognisable for all.

Our faith in the one and only God, the Lord and Creator of the Universe, unites us. God, who created us because of His love, is the origin and the aim of our lives. He revealed Himself to Abraham and then spoke to the people through the prophets. The last and final revelation was in Jesus of Nazareth. He is the eternal Word of God (Surah 3:45). He became man for our sake in order to lead us on the way to God.

We follow the way that He showed us in His Words. In giving himself for us completely, Jesus shows us what true devotion to God and to our brothers and sisters means.

On our website we address Muslims because we know that God has sent Jesus to teach us true devotion to God through His example and His Words, in others words: to teach us true Islam. We would like to encourage Muslims to read and understand the Words of Jesus. Unfortunately, the message of these words has often been distorted and misinterpreted throughout history, so much so that many Muslims become acquainted with a Christianity that has nothing to do with the real Jesus.

We wish to draw your attention to the original message of Jesus, which is valid and unchangable for all times, addressing all people of every nation, and to put this message into practice in daily devotion just as the first disciples of Jesus:

“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. …And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people….” (excerpt from Acts of the Apostles 2:42-47)

Why we quote the Qur’an

Sometimes we are asked why we Christians quote the Qur’an in talks with Muslims – and on this website – if we don’t regard the Qur’an to be Holy Scripture. We would like to respond to this question in the hope that our Muslim readers can understand our position.

As Christians we believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Word of God in person1, a belief also held by Muslims according to the Qur’an2, albeit with significantly differing content. If Jesus is the Word of God, everything he said and did is the unsurpassable climax of God’s revelation. In Jesus, who is God’s Word, God spoke to us directly, without the mediation of an angel or a prophet. In the words of Jesus, God has told us everything that is necessary for our relationship with him. For this reason we believe that, with the coming of the Word of God in the person of Jesus Christ, the revelation is complete. That is why for us there cannot be any new revelation.

Jesus’ coming into this world had such a far-reaching influence that after his coming anyone who wanted to say something about God could not ignore him. So it is not surprising for us that the Qur’an also deals with Jesus. As the Qur’an claims to confirm the Torah and the Gospel3, we consider it justified to test the Qur’an according to the Torah and the Gospel. The Bible also encourages us to test everything and to hold on to what is good4.

Through Jesus God put his love into our hearts. This love for all people motivates us to find out what people around us consider important so that we can understand their way of thinking and their life better. Our love for Muslims is what spurs us on to take a closer look at the Qur’an. We are interested in what Muslims, who base their beliefs on the Qur’an, think about God, Jesus, judgement, heaven, hell, living a godly, holy life, and other questions that are addressed in both the Qur’an and the Bible. We want to test the statements made in the Qur’an concerning these questions by comparing them with the words of the prophets and primarily in the light of the perfect and complete revelation brought by Jesus.

In conclusion we would like to point out a statement from the Qur’an

“We sent not any before thee, except men to whom We revealed: ‘Question the people of the Remembrance, if it should be that you do not know.’” Surah 16:43

If we Christians, the “people of the Remembrance”, are to inform the Muslims of what they do not know, it is helpful for us to get to know the Qur’an and to assess it according to the reminders given to us in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.

  1. Gospel of John 1:1, 14 
  2. Surah 3:45; 4:171 
  3. The frequently held opinion that the books of the Bible were falsified is, from what we know from the Qur’an, not supported by the Qur’an. For more on this topic see: No Man can change the Word of God 
  4. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 

Trinity and the Qur’an

The belief in the triune God is one of the essential differences in the doctrine about God between Christianity and Islam. That is why we want to deal with the statements of the Qur’an which concern this aspect of Christian doctrine. Our aim is not to give a comprehensive explanation of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, but we want to examine to which extent the Qur’anic statements concern this Christian teaching at all.

We shall look at the most important passages of the Qur’an concerning this topic and consider them from the point of view of the following aspects:

1 The texts

We find especially the following passages that deal either directly or indirectly with Trinity:
“O followers of the Book! do not exceed the limits in your religion, and do not speak (lies) against Allah, but (speak) the truth; the Messiah, Isa son of Marium is only a messenger of Allah and His Word which He communicated to Marium and a spirit from Him; believe therefore in Allah and His messengers, and say not, Three. Desist, it is better for you; Allah is only one Allah; far be It from His glory that He should have a son, whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is His, and Allah is sufficient for a Protector. (Surah 4:171 – Shakir)1

“They have certainly disbelieved who say, “Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary”, while the Messiah has said, “O Children of Israel, worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” Indeed, he who associates others with Allah – Allah has forbidden him Paradise, and his refuge is the Fire. And there are not for the wrongdoers any helpers. They have certainly disbelieved who say, “Allah is the third of three.” And there is no god except one God. And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment.” (Surah 5:72-73)

“And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah?'” He will say, “Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen. I said not to them except what You commanded me – to worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. And I was a witness over them as long as I was among them; but when You took me up, You were the Observer over them, and You are, over all things, Witness.” (Surah 5:116-117)

“And they say, “The Most Merciful has taken [for Himself] a son.” You have done an atrocious thing. The heavens almost rupture therefrom and the earth splits open and the mountains collapse in devastation That they attribute to the Most Merciful a son. And it is not appropriate for the Most Merciful that He should take a son. There is no one in the heavens and earth but that he comes to the Most Merciful as a servant.” (Surah 19:88-93)

“Never did Allah take to Himself a son, and never was there with him any (other) god – in that case would each god have certainly taken away what he created, and some of them would certainly have overpowered others; glory be to Allah above what they describe!” (Surah 23:91 – Shakir)

“Say, “He is Allah, [who is] One, Allah, the Eternal Refuge. He neither begets nor is born, Nor is there to Him any equivalent.” (Surah 112:1-4)

2 Is God the Third of three?

Surah 5:73 is right in calling people who say, “God is the third of three” unbelievers. For Christians people who call God the first of three are also unbelievers. God is unique and beyond all comparison. He is the Creator, the Only one who is eternal, without beginning and without end.

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

“Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me. …Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses: Is there any God besides Me, or is there any other Rock? I know of none.” (Isaiah 44:6,8)

“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17)

Faith in the triune God is not the belief in three gods among whom God is one of the three, whether the first, second or third. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not three separate beings. There is only one eternal God, whose inmost being is love and devotion which is why he revealed himself as the triune God – as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Perhaps a comparison, albeit imperfect, with our created world can help. When we speak of the sun we think of the celestial body around which our planet, Earth, is orbiting. But we might also think of the rays originating from the sun as well as the warmth and light they give us. Does this mean that there are three suns: the celestial body, the rays and the warmth they cause? This image is imperfect because the sun, its rays and the effect caused by them are all something impersonal and created. God, the eternal Creator, however, is not lifeless impersonal matter. He is Life, he is Love. Our belief as Christians in the triune God means that we confess that God is the One whose inmost being is life, love, and overflowing vitality. He expressed the depths of his being through the incarnation of the Eternal God in the person of Jesus Christ, and He shapes and renews our lives through the Holy Spirit. He changes us into holy, God-pleasing people so that his love becomes visible in the love of brothers and sisters, who are one in heart and mind.

Within the triune God, the Father is the origin of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, which is why in the New Testament the term “God” often refers to the Father. The Son and the Holy Spirit receive their eternal divinity from him. This, however, does not mean, that the Father is the first of three gods. Within the one God, he is the origin of godhead in a similar way as the orb of the sun is the origin of the sun rays, sunlight and warmth – without asserting that there are three suns.

When we speak about an “origin” in God we don’t mean a temporal origin, as if at first only the Father existed and later the Son and the Holy Spirit came into existence. In the eternal God there cannot be a temporal “earlier” or “later”. The word “origin” expresses that the Son and the Holy Spirit (through the Son) proceed from the Father in eternity2.

We don’t believe in three gods. The teaching refuted in Surah 5:73 is not the Christian doctrine. It raises the question why the teaching which the Qur’an wants to refute was obviously not properly understood.

3 Is Jesus a god besides God?

Surah 5:116 presupposes that Christians worship both Jesus and Mary as two gods besides God. We will deal with the position of Mary in section 7 of this article. Concerning Jesus, we Christians believe that he is God who became man for us. But we do NOT believe that Jesus is a second God besides the eternal Creator of the universe, as supposed in Surah 23:91 which draws the conclusion that if God had a son, his son would be his rival.

Jesus is not a god besides the Father. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one God in inseparable unity. Jesus expressed the inseparable closeness between the Father and the Son in the following words:

“He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)

This does not mean that Jesus is the Father. But the bond between Jesus and the Father is so strong that in encountering Jesus we encounter God in his fullness.

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form. (Colossians 2:9)

This was not only Paul’s doctrine – Jesus himself testified:

“All things that the Father has are Mine.” (John 16:15)

A mere man would never be able to possess God’s fullness (all things that the Father has) as his own. Thus Jesus expresses that he bears God’s fullness within himself.

That is why Jesus was able to claim the honour that is due only to God:

“…that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father, who sent him.” (John 5:23)

When Jesus claimed this honour for himself, it was not because he was flagrantly making himself out to be God, but because by virtue of his eternal divine nature this honour belongs to him. This becomes visible through the fact that the Father confirmed the words of Jesus through numerous miracles.

“We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.” (John 9:31)

The clearest confirmation of Jesus claim on divinity was his resurrection. Even the disciples understood this clearly. For instance Thomas, when Jesus appeared to him as the resurrected Lord, said to Jesus:

“My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)

Jesus did not reject this divine homage. Just the opposite. He accepted it and considered it a sign of the faith of the formerly disbelieving disciple:

“Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” (John 20:29)

In the book of Revelation we can read how John wanted to pay homage to an angel whose glory he was allowed to behold. The angel strictly rejected this, as this honour belongs only to God.

“Then I fell at his feet to worship3 him. But he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10)

Jesus accepted it and approved of Thomas calling him his Lord and his God. He reacted in a different way than the angel. He did this because this honour is due to him. Nevertheless he is not a second god besides God. He is the Word of the only God who became man for us:

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

More on this question in section 5.

4 Is there a begotten God?

He begets not, nor is He begotten. And none is like Him.

Such is the drift of Surah 1124. Even if some western scholars emphasize that this surah is not directed against Christianity but against pagan polytheism which ascribed a partner and children to Allah, there are many Muslims who use this text in order to accuse Christians of polytheism. Christians, too, consider the thought of God taking a wife with whom he begets children – or even Jesus – blasphemy against the holy God. It is unfortunate that many Muslims still hold such a view on the Christian belief in Jesus’ divine sonship. But a love for truth – without which we cannot be saved – leads all who follow it to pursue an objective view, even of a teaching that he rejects.

God does not beget a third god together with a godess! God does not beget a god outside of himself! There is and can be only one God!

When the Gospel calls Jesus the “only begotten God” (John 1:18)5, it is not speaking of a different god. We do not believe that God was first alone and then he begot a son. We believe that within the one inseparable godhead the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are equally eternal, equally almighty, equally omniscient. The term “beget” expresses that the Son has the same divine nature as the Father. When a human begets, another human comes into existence. What is begotten by God is God. But this is not a different God. This “begetting” means the eternal proceeding of the Son from the Father. This does not mean a process within time. God is eternal. What “happens” in God is eternal, without beginning, without end. Within the one divine being the Son exists only because of the Father. But the Father was never without the Son although the Son proceeds from Him. If we return to the image of the sun: The sun never existed without its rays. It shone from the very first moment of its existence. In a similar way the Son proceeds from the Father from all eternity to all eternity.

As Christians we wholeheartedly agree with the deep indignation expressed in Surah 19:88-93 at the thought that God “has taken for himself a son”, such that even “the heavens almost rupture therefrom and the earth splits open and the mountains collapse in devastation”. God did not “take a son for himself”. He himself came to us in Jesus, God’s word in person.

5 Jesus, the Word of God

In Surah 4:171 we read the following remarkable statement about Jesus:
“The Messiah, Isa son of Marium is only a messenger of Allah and His Word which He communicated to Marium and a spirit from Him6.”

Here we find three descriptions of Jesus: the messenger of God, his Word, a spirit from him. Let us turn our attention to the term “Word”. God “communicated” his Word to Mary. This Word is Jesus.

We can read similar statements in Surah 3:45:

“[And mention] when the angels said, “O Mary, indeed Allah gives you good tidings of a word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary – distinguished in this world and the Hereafter and among those brought near [to Allah].”

and in Surah 19:34:

“That is Jesus, the son of Mary – the word of truth about which they are in dispute.”

Muslims often try to explain these verses in a way that it is not Jesus who is the word, but that these verses speak about the creative word of Allah which brought Jesus into being. In Surahs 4 and 3, however, it seems to be clear that Jesus is the one who is called the Word. The Qur’an thus continues a tradition that leads back to God’s revelation in the New Testament. There John writes in the beginning of his Gospel about the eternal Word of God that became man:

“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 came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. …There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'” For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” (John 1:1-5,9-18)

We know that not all statements of John’s gospel about the Word are comprehensible for Muslims, especially the statement that the Word was God. But even for Muslims it is clear that God created the world by his word, as it is expressed for instance in Surah 2:117:

“Originator of the heavens and the earth. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, “Be”, and it is.”

If God is eternal, then so is his word. That is why many Muslims believe that the Qur’an is eternal, that the “mother of the book” is kept with God without beginning and without end, without calling this eternal book God7. The inevitable consequence of this statement is that there are two absolutely eternal beings without beginning and without end: God and the “mother of the book”.

We Christians believe that God’s word cannot be separated from God and that his word participates in his eternal being. His word is not something he created, nor “something” outside of God. It is the expression of his infinite unchangeable being. It is not a book consisting of letters, but it is just as alive as He who speaks the word is alive. God did not send his eternal unchangeable word to earth in the form of a book. His word became man and brought God’s glory, his grace and his truth very close to us. We do not associate Jesus, the incarnated word of God, with God. When we worship him, we are worshipping the one indivisable, eternal God, the only Creator of the universe.

6 Rebellion or love?

“Never did Allah take to Himself a son, and never was there with him any (other) god – in that case would each god have certainly taken away what he created, and some of them would certainly have overpowered others; glory be to Allah above what they describe!” (Surah 23:91 – Shakir)

According to the Qur’an the belief in a son of God amounts to the belief in two rival gods. One god would overpower the other. If God had a son there would be rebellion in God’s house. A power struggle dominates.

In the Bible God revealed himself as the one who is Love:

“We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16)

Because God’s very nature is love, so too the relationship between the divine persons is nothing other than pure love.

“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.” (John 3:35)

In the triune God there is no rivalry in which each takes hold of that which is his, instead:

“…and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine….” (John 17:10a)

God’s nature, love, is reflected in the lives of all who believe in the God of love, in all who follow Jesus:

“And We placed in the hearts of those who followed him (i.e. Jesus) compassion and mercy …” (from Surah 57:27)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

“…that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:21)

“And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.” (Acts 4:32)

7 Is Mary a part of the Trinity?

“And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah?'” He will say, “Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen. I said not to them except what You commanded me – to worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. And I was a witness over them as long as I was among them; but when You took me up, You were the Observer over them, and You are, over all things, Witness.” (Surah 5:116-117)

It is a sad fact that in the course of “church history” people who called themselves “Christians” deviated increasingly from the teachings of Jesus Christ and his apostles. By mixing Christian and pagan elements the “Cult of the Virgin Mary” came into existence. Jesus’ mother, who is a great example for us, was exalted to the position of a cult object. This “veneration” of Mary does not have anything to do with the Mary we know from the Bible. “Mary” became the person people addressed their prayers to. She received titles that are not due to her in spite of her obedience and holiness. But even the most ardent “Mary” venerators do not claim that she is a goddess or a part of the Trinity. At least in theory they distinguish between creator and creature. As false and impious as it is, the “veneration” of Mary is nevertheless distinguished, even by “Mary” venerators, from the worship of God and Jesus Christ. The question posed in Surah 5:116 is without any base and presupposes an understanding of Christianity that does not accord with reality. It is quite possible that a superficial observer living in the seventh (or even the 21st) century might have concluded from the practice of some “Christians” that they had exalted Mary to a divine being. But this is not, and has never been the content of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, which is obviously being targeted by this verse.

8 The Holy Spirit

It is interesting that the Christian doctrine on the Holy Spirit is obviously not reflected in the Qur’an. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Muhammad and the early Muslims only came into contact with heretical forms of Christianity. The “Spirit of God” is indeed mentioned in the Qur’an, albeit with various meanings.

(a) concerning all people:

– at creation God breathed his Spirit into man:

“So when I have made him complete and breathed into him of My spirit….” (Surah 15:29 – Shakir)

– the believers are strengthened by the Spirit:

“…Those – He has decreed within their hearts faith and supported them with spirit from Him….” (from Surah 58:22)

(b) concerning Jesus

– the Spirit of God (Gabriel) was sent to Mary:

“So she took a veil (to screen herself) from them; then We sent to her Our spirit, and there appeared to her a well-made man.” (Surah 19:17 – Shakir)

– God breathed his Spirit into Mary:

“And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her of Our spirit, and We made her and her son a sign for all peoples.” (Surah 21:91 – Yusuf Ali)

“And Mary the daughter of ‘Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into (her body) of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (servants).” (Surah 66:12 – Yusuf Ali)

– Jesus is God’s Spirit:

“O followers of the Book! do not exceed the limits in your religion, and do not speak (lies) against Allah, but (speak) the truth; the Messiah, Isa son of Marium is only a messenger of Allah and His Word which He communicated to Marium and a spirit from Him;” (Surah 4:171 – Shakir)

– Jesus was strengthened with the Holy Spirit, e.g. in Surah 2:87:

“…We gave Jesus the son of Mary clear (Signs) and strengthened him with the holy spirit….8

Similar passages can be found in Surah 2:2539 and 5:110

Furthermore there are also passages mentioning the Spirit in the context of the sending of the Qur’an.

Among the passages mentioning God’s Spirit in connection with Jesus we cannot find a uniform concept of God’s Spirit. On the one hand he is identified with Gabriel (19:17), on the other hand Jesus’ conception is described as resulting from God’s Spirit being breathed into Mary (21:91; 66:12). Here the Spirit can obviously not mean Gabriel. Finally Surah 4:171 calls Jesus himself a “spirit from Him” (parallel to the term “Word” – see above). There are obviously still some remnants of the biblical revelation that speaks about the conception of the man Jesus by the Spirit of God (Matthew 1:18,2010; Luke 1:3511), but also traces of the Christian doctrine about the divine nature of Jesus, when he is called “Word of God and Spirit from him”. In contrast to the Qur’an, however, the Bible and the biblically based doctrine of the Trinity, always distinguish clearly between Jesus and the Holy Spirit, although both participate in the same divine nature. Thus the fullness of the work of the one and only God is visible in the work of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

9 Conclusions

We observe that, in a certain way, the Qur’an reacts to the Christian doctrine of the Trinity – and this reaction is one of rejection. When we take a closer look at this rejection, it becomes visible that there is a clear lack of knowledge of the doctrine being rejected. Especially the charge of polytheism, or that Christianity condones the divine worship of other beings beside the only God, misses the mark completely. The Christian faith is monotheistic. The belief in the triune God does not associate other beings with the only God and Creator, but points to the innermost being of God, who from eternity to eternity is a sole, infinite, unchangeable, indivisible God. We Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the incarnate Word of God. In him God himself came to us in order to call us in his love out of our sins and to transform us into people whose lives glorify him. Jesus is God’s Word for all people. That is why we also want to invite Muslims to get to know this Word of God, whose words are recorded in the scriptures of the New Testament, and through getting to know him, also to get to know and love the only God more deeply.

“The LORD is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?” (Ps 27:1)

“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12)

“And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel, in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous.” (Surah 5:46)

Let us follow this light!

  1. Unless otherwise indicated the Qur’an quotations are taken from Saheeh International. 
  2. See 4. Is there a begotten God? 
  3. In this context the Greek word “proskyneo” has the meaning “to render homage”, and not “to adore”. John was a monotheist and did not have the intention of revering the angel in a way that is due only to God. But even this kind of veneration was rejected by the angel. 
  4. Quoted according to Shakir. 
  5. “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” John 1:18. 
  6. quoted according to Shakir. 
  7. This is the position of the Sunnites, compare: The Uncreatednes of the Divine Speech – The Glorious Qur’an
  8. Yusuf Ali. 
  9. “Then will Allah say: O Jesus the son of Mary! Recount My favour to thee and to thy mother. Behold! I strengthened thee with the holy spirit, so that thou didst speak to the people in childhood and in maturity….” – acc. to Yusuf Ali. 
  10. “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit… But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” 
  11. “The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” 

No Man can change the Word of God

What does the Qur’an say about the falsification of the Bible?

Talking with Muslims we are again and again confronted with the view that the Bible in its present form has been falsified. That is why we want to examine this view with the help of statements from the Qur’an. We, as Christians, have many reasons to believe that the Bible has not been falsified – independently of what it says in the Qur’an. In this article we want to examine what the Qur’an really says about this question. It will become clear that the Qur’an does not contain the reproach that the Bible has been changed. Maybe our thoughts can also be a help for Muslims to reconsider the passages mentioned within their context. We appreciate every positive contribution to this topic.

We have collected different passages from the Qur’an and arranged them into three groups. We will start with:
a) Passages showing the immutability of God’s Word, followed by
b) Passages that seem to contain the allegation of a change and falsification of the scripture, after this we will look at
c) statements in the Qur’an about the Gospel (Injeel).
Finally we would like to think about
d) the implications for us today.

In this article we will focus on dealing with Qur’anic statements. Additionally we want to point to the excellent tradition of the Bible, especially the writings of the New Testament in a large number of manuscripts that were already written centuries before the Qur’an. For example, Papyrus 66, written in the second century AD, contains the complete Gospel of John. All present Bibles are based on manuscripts written before the 7th century. So it is impossible to say that the Bible was still authentic at the time of Muhammad, but was changed later.

a) No Man can Change God’s Word

“Messengers indeed were cried lies to before thee, yet they endured patiently that they were cried lies to, and were hurt, until Our help came unto them. No man can change the words of God; and there has already come to thee some tiding of the Envoys.” (Surah 6:34)

“Perfect are the words of thy Lord in truthfulness and justice; no man can change His words; He is the All-hearing, the All-knowing.” (Surah 6:115)

“[…] for them is good tidings in the present life and in the world to come. There is no changing the words of God; that is the mighty triumph.” (Surah 10:64)

“Recite what has been revealed to thee of the Book of thy Lord; no man can change His words. Apart from Him, thou wilt find no refuge.” (Surah 18:27)

All these four passages speak in their direct context about the Qur’an and not about the Bible. Surah 6:34, however, also mentions the Messengers1 before Muhammad. This includes Moses and Jesus.

In these verses the statements about the immutability of God’s Word are expressed in such an absolute way that they are not only intended to be applied to the Qur’an but concern every revelation of God. For this reason, they also apply to the revelations of God that we find in the scriptures of the Bible, which indeed the Qur’an also accepts as revealed scripture.

When we read the New Testament we can see that in numerous cases the words of the Old Testament have their fulfilment in Jesus and in the Church of his disciples, in truth and righteousness (as Surah 6:115 expresses).

b) Passages concerning Falsification and Changing of the Word

“Are you then so eager that they should believe you, seeing there is a party of them that heard God’s word, and then tampered with it, and that after they had comprehended it, wittingly?” (Surah 2:75)

It is not so easy to grasp the context of this passage. Verses 67-71 speak about a cow that should be slaughtered by the Israelites at the command of Moses. Obviously they were not willing to do so. After a man who had been killed was smitten with part of the cow, God is praised for bringing the dead back to life (verses 72-73). Afterwards verse 74 says: Then your hearts became hardened thereafter and are like stones, or even yet harder. Then it continues about different stones. Some are split open, so that water issues from them. Others crash down in the fear of God. In this mysterious context it is not easy to say who is being reproached for tampering with God’s word wittingly (verse 75). The context seems to suggest that it speaks about Jews. Wittingly tampering with God’s word would mean, that (in verses 68-70) they behaved as if they did not understand what God wanted to tell them through Moses. If this understanding is correct, this text does not want to accuse the Jews of falsifying the text of the Torah, but the charge was that they disregarded the word after hearing it. Thus this text testifies that the Torah is God’s word. It also only speaks about “a party of them.” The Gospel is not mentioned here, its falsification is not the topic.

“So woe to those who write the Book with their hands, then say, ‘This is from God,’ that they may sell it for a little price; so woe to them for what their hands have written, and woe to them for their earnings.” (Surah 2:79)

The context of this verse speaks about contemporaries of Muhammad who obviously tried to sell their own works as God’s word. Verse 80 addresses them directly: “Or say you things against God of which you know nothing?“ This text does not speak about an event before the time of Muhammad. All our Bibles are based on manuscripts written centuries before him. So this charge does not concern the Bible.

“[…] whom We have given the Book, and they recognize as they recognize their sons, even though there is a party of them conceal the truth and that wittingly.” (Surah 2:146)

“Those who conceal the clear signs and the guidance that We have sent down, after We have shown them clearly in the Book — they shall be cursed by God and the cursers, save such as repent and make amends, and show clearly — towards them I shall turn; I turn, All-compassionate.” (Surah 2:159–160)

“There is a party of the People of the Book yearn to make you go astray; yet none they make to stray, except themselves, but they are not aware. People of the Book! Why do you disbelieve in God’s signs, which you yourselves witness? People of the Book! Why do you confound the truth with vanity, and conceal the truth and that wittingly?” (Surah 3:69–71)

These passages speak about concealing the truth, as it was done again and again in the course of “church history” by different religious leaders. These verses, however, do not speak about a manipulation of the written word. Surah 3:69 speaks only about “a party of the People of the Book”. So not all “People of the Book” are concerned. But all “People of the Book” have the same Bible (Jews and Christians have the same Torah, all who call themselves Christians have the same New Testament = Injeel), thus this verse does not speak about a falsification of the text.

“And there is a sect of them twist their tongues with the Book, that you may suppose it part of the Book, yet it is not part of the Book; and they say, ‘It is from God,’ yet it is not from God, and they speak falsehood against God, and that wittingly.” (Surah 3:78)

Also here there is no reproach of having falsified the written text, but only that somebody manipulated it when reading and explaining a text.

“Some of the Jews pervert words from their meanings saying, ‘We have heard and we disobey’ and ‘Hear, and be thou not given to hear’ and ‘Observe us,’ twisting with their tongues and traducing religion. If they had said, ‘We have heard and obey’ and ‘Hear’ and ‘Regard us,’ it would have been better for them, and more upright; but God has cursed them for their unbelief so they believe not except a few.” (Surah 4:46)

The content of this verse shows that the topic here is not falsification of the text of the Torah, but some of the Jews are accused of dishonesty and perverting words from their meaning in their discussions with Muhammad or Muslims. It says, that they are “twisting with their tongues”, which means that they are saying something wrong, but not that they falsify the written text of the scripture.

“12 God took compact with the Children of Israel; and We raised up from among them twelve chieftains. And God said, ‘I am with you. Surely, if you perform the prayer, and pay the alms, and believe in My Messengers and succour them, and lend to God a good loan, I will acquit you of your evil deeds, and I will admit you to gardens underneath which rivers flow. So whosoever of you thereafter disbelieves, surely he has gone astray from the right way. 13 So for their breaking their compact We cursed them and made their hearts hard, they perverting words from their meanings; and they have forgotten a portion of that they were reminded of; and thou wilt never cease to light upon some act of treachery on their part, except a few of them. Yet pardon them, and forgive; surely God loves the good-doers. 14 And with those who say ‘We are Christians’ We took compact; and they have forgotten a portion of that they were reminded of. So We have stirred up among them enmity and hatred, till the Day of Resurrection; and God will assuredly tell them of the things they wrought. 15 People of the Book, now there has come to you Our Messenger, making clear to you many things you have been concealing of the Book, and effacing many things. There has come to you from God a light, and a Book Manifest […]” (Surah 5:12-15)

Here the Children of Israel are accused of (a) perverting words of their meanings and (b) having forgotten a portion of that which they were reminded of. Those who call themselves Christians are only accused of having forgotten a portion of that which they were reminded of. But they were not accused of having falsified the scripture.

Also in the case of the “Children of Israel” it is not clear what is meant by “perverting words of their meanings”. This formulation rather suggests that the Jews are accused of a wrong interpretation than of a falsification of the text. In a similar way we can understand the “forgetting” of “a portion of that they were reminded of.” The word “forget” rather shows a direction of not taking seriously parts of the words they received as an admonition, but not that these words were deleted from the text.

Also the reproach to those who call themselves Christians is not falsification, but only “forgetting”. Thus even the most negative interpretation can only mean that some parts of the Gospel were deleted, but not that the extant text was falsified. So the extant parts of the New Testament have to be accepted as authentic in any case. The text rather suggests that the “forgetting” should not be understood as deleting the text, but as the ignoring of important statements. Verse 15 speaks about the “concealing” of many parts of the books. This presupposes that the concealed information still exists. So neither do these verses say that Christians have falsified the scripture.

“41 O Messenger, let them not grieve thee that vie with one another in unbelief, such men as say with their mouths ‘We believe’ but their hearts believe not; and the Jews who listen to falsehood, listen to other folk, who have not come to thee, perverting words from their meanings, saying, ‘If you are given this, then take it; if you are not given it, beware!’ Whomsoever God desires to try, thou canst not avail him anything with God. Those are they whose hearts God desired not to purify; for them is degradation in this world; and in the world to come awaits them a mighty chastisement; 42 who listen to falsehood, and consume the unlawful. If they come to thee, judge thou between them, or turn away from them; if thou turnest away from them, they will hurt thee nothing; and if thou judgest, judge justly between them; God loves the just. 43 Yet how will they make thee their judge seeing they have the Torah, wherein is God’s judgment, then thereafter turn their backs? They are not believers. 44 Surely We sent down the Torah, wherein is guidance and light; thereby the Prophets who had surrendered themselves gave judgment for those of Jewry, as did the masters and the rabbis, following such portion of God’s Book as they were given to keep and were witnesses to. So fear not men, but fear you Me; and sell not My signs for a little price. Whoso judges not according to what God has sent down – they are the unbelievers. 45 And therein We prescribed for them: ‘A life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds retaliation’; but whosoever forgoes it as a freewill offering, that shall be for him an expiation. Whoso judges not according to what God has sent down — they are the evildoers.” (Surah 5:41-45)

The context of these verses shows clearly that – although the Jews are accused of perverting words of their meanings – they do not speak about a falsification of the text of the Torah. Verses 43 and 44 state clearly that the Torah contains God’s judgement, guidance and light. The Torah has not changed since the time of Muhammad. So we can confidently say that we also find God’s judgement, guidance and light in the present Torah. The reproach of “perverting words from their meanings” can only refer to a wrong interpretation.

“The Bedouins who were left behind will say, when you set forth after spoils, to take them, ‘Let us follow you,’ desiring to change God’s words. Say: ‘You shall not follow us; so God said before.’ Then they will say, ‘Nay, but you’ are jealous of us.’ Nay, but they have not understood except a little.” (Surah 48:15)

This verse does not speak about Jews or Christians but about people in the surrounding area of Muhammad who desired to take part in one of the campaigns of his followers. So this text is not relevant for our question.

Supplement: Falsification by Translation?

God loves all people in the same way. That is why it is his will that all people can hear and understand his word. On the other hand it is also clear that if God sends a prophet or a messenger this messenger will be a specific person belonging to a specific nation speaking a specific language. The Qur’an says quite clearly that he is a sign for all people, even for all beings:

“And she who guarded her virginity2, so We breathed into her of Our spirit and appointed her and her son to be a sign unto all beings.” (Surah 21,91)

All people should have the possibility to get to know him who is this sign, even if they do not speak the language of Jesus.

Jesus himself sent his disciples to all nations so that they can hear his words and believe in them:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, […] teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV)

In order to reach all people we have only two options: Either everybody needs to learn the language of the revealed words or the revelation needs to be is translated. As God revealed his word in different languages the second possibility would mean that all people should have to learn several languages. A muslim is obliged to believe in all holy Scriptures3. So he would have to learn besides the Arabic language also Hebrew in order to read the Torah and Greek in order to read the Gospel. As far as we know not even Muhammad had tried to learn the Biblical languages.

From the outset Christians have chosen a different way. They wrote down the words of Jesus in that language that was understood by most people of their time, in Greek, although Jesus himself had spoken Aramaic.

Even the Qur’an sometimes quotes the words of men of God from earlier times like Abraham (e.g. Surah 19:42-48), Joseph (e.g. Surah 12:4), Moses (e.g. Surah 2:54), Zechariah (e.g. Surah 3:37-40) or Jesus (e.g. Surah 19:30-33). The quotes of these previous messengers, however, are not written in the languages they themselves spoke (Hebrew or Aramaic), but in Arabic, a language that those men of God did not speak. Thus also the Qur’an contains translated texts. When the Qur’an emphasises that it was sent down in Arabic, the reason given is not, that Arabic was the “original language” but that Arabs should understand it and be warned by it:

“We have sent it down as an Arabic Koran; haply you will understand.” (Surah 12:2)

“Even so We have sent it down as an Arabic Koran, and We have turned about in it something of threats, that haply they may be godfearing, or it may arouse in them remembrance.” (Surah 20:113)

If the Almighty God declares his will, if He calls all people to Himself he is able to do this with clear words that cannot be falsified by a translation. Of course a translation will never be able to express all subtleties of a text. But all of us know that it is able to communicate with people of another language by the help of translation. Usually someone who learns a language only as his second language is unable to understand all nuances of a text written in the foreign language. Thus somebody who studies Hebrew, Greek of Arabic will not be able to understand all fine details of the original text of the Bible or the Qur’an. The basic message of these books, however, can be clearly understood even in a translated text.

Unfortunately there were and are still translations of the Bible that were consciously manipulated. But God cared for his message. Many old manuscripts survived. In this way the original text is still available and false translations can be uncovered. Important messages of faith can be found not only in one passage of the Bible, but are expressed in different ways. So even for a translation that has been manipulated it is not so easy to hide the truth of the Bible.

c) Statements concerning the Gospel

“He has sent down upon thee the Book with the truth, confirming what was before it, and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel.” (Surah 3:3)

This text expresses clearly that the Torah and the Gospel come from God. There is not a word about any kind of falsification.

“And He will teach him the Book, the Wisdom, the Torah, the Gospel.” (Surah 3:48)

This verse says that God will teach Jesus. If the Torah and the Gospel are mentioned an unbiased reader would think that these terms refer to those texts generally known as the Gospel and Torah at the time of Muhammad.

“46 And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus son of Mary, confirming the Torah before him and We gave to him the Gospel, wherein is guidance and light, and confirming the Torah before it, as a guidance and an admonition unto the godfearing. 47 So let the People of the Gospel judge according to what God has sent down therein. Whosoever judges not according to what God has sent down — they are the ungodly.” (Surah 5:46-47)

This text clearly presupposes that the Gospel which existed at the time when Qur’an was written is authentic. Therein is guidance and light. If the “People of the Gospel” should judge according to the Gospel, the Gospel which they have must be authentic and reliable. This passage confirms the authenticity of the Gospel at the time of Muhammad and also in our time, because our modern versions are based on manuscripts that already existed centuries before Muhammad.

“Had they performed the Torah and the Gospel, and what was sent down to them from their Lord, they would have. eaten both what was above them, and what was beneath their feet. Some of them are a just nation; but many of them — evil are the things they do.” (Surah 5:66)

Contemporaries of Muhammad are expected to “perform the Torah and the Gospel”. Thus these people must have known the Torah and the Gospel in their original state without falsification. Otherwise they would not have been able to follow these scriptures. This passage also suggests that the Torah and the Gospel had not been falsified at the time of Muhammad and consequently – as already explained – they cannot have been falsified to this day.

The same is valid for following passage:

“Say: ‘People of the Book, you do not stand on anything, until you perform the Torah and the Gospel, and what was sent down to you from your Lord.’ And what has been sent down to thee from thy Lord will surely increase many of them in insolence and unbelief; so grieve not for the people of the unbelievers.” (Surah 5:68)

“Then We sent, following in their footsteps, Our Messengers; and We sent, following, Jesus son of Mary, and gave unto him the Gospel. And We set in the hearts of those who followed him tenderness and mercy. And monasticism they invented — We did not prescribe it for them — only seeking the good pleasure of God; but they observed it not as it should be observed. So We gave those of them who believed their wage; and many of them are ungodly.” (Surah 57:27)

Similarily, this passage does not describe the gospel as a document which existed in the past but has since been lost or falsified. The Gospel is a reality that causes tenderness and mercy in the hearts of those who follow Jesus. Even if among those who call themselves “Christians” there are many who are evildoers, not only according to the Qur’an’s assessment, but much more according to the words of the Gospel, there are still people who follow Jesus with all their hearts and all their lives. The power and authenticity of the Gospel is visible in their lives.

“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God,we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practise cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:1-2 ESV)

The Qur’an calls these people in whose lives the words of Jesus become reality “those who possess the Message”. Muslims are encouraged by the Qur’an to ask the people who possess the Message:

“Before thee, also, the messengers We sent were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: If ye realise this not, ask of those who possess the Message4.” (Surah 21:7)

This verse also shows that the Message received by the Christians is still unadulterated.

d) Implications for us today

As the Qur’an does not support the theory of a falsification of the Holy Scripture by Christians, but rather confirms that we can find guidance and light in the Gospel we would like to encourage all readers of this article – both Muslims and Non-Muslims – to do away with their fear of the Gospel, and to open their hearts for the light brought by Jesus. Everyone who loves the truth will recognize full of gratitude that Jesus was right when he said:

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Mark 13:31 ESV)

If Jesus – as Muslims believe – is a prophet of God, then God cares for the truth of this saying. If the words of Jesus had been falsified Jesus would have uttered a false prophecy in Mark 13:31. He would be a false prophet. Both Christianity and Islam who accept Jesus as prophet and messenger from God would be only a human concoction (a botch-up). If, however, Jesus was a true prophet of God, His words remain authentic and will never pass away.

“The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63 ESV)

“If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.” (John 7:17 ESV)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” (John 8:51 ESV)

Everyone who reads the words of Jesus and accepts them with faith and receives a new life from him will find in his words the words of God and will confess together with Simon Peter:

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68 ESV)

  1. In Muslim thought a Messenger is a man chosen by God, who received a revelation from God and was charged to proclaim it publicly. In contrast to the prophets every messenger received a revealed scripture. Thus every messenger is also a prophet, but not every prophet is a messenger. Messengers are mainly Moses, David and Jesus whose words we can read in the writings of the Old (Taurat) and New (Injeel) Testaments. 
  2. Mary, the mother of Jesus. 
  3. This is the so called Third Pillar of Iman based on following verse of the Qur’an: “Say, ‘We have faith in Allah, and that which has been sent down to us, and that which was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus were given, and that which the prophets were given from their Lord; we make no distinction between any of them, and to Him do we submit.’” Surah 2,136. 
  4. Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur’an, 1934 

Love for the Enemies in the Bible and in the Qur’an

1 In the Old Testament

“If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey wandering away, you shall surely return it to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying helpless under its load, you shall refrain from leaving it to him, you shall surely release with him.” (Exodus 23:4-5)

“When they came down to him, Elisha prayed to the LORD and said, “Strike this people with blindness, I pray.” So He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.Then Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, nor is this the city; follow me and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he brought them to Samaria. When they had come into Samaria, Elisha said, “O LORD, open the eyes of these men, that they may see.” So the LORD opened their eyes and they saw; and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria.Then the king of Israel when he saw them, said to Elisha, “My father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?” He answered, “You shall not kill them. Would you kill those you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.” So he prepared a great feast for them; and when they had eaten and drunk he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the marauding bands of Arameans did not come again into the land of Israel.” (2 Kings 6:18-23)

“But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded; and he went out to meet the army which came to Samaria and said to them, “Behold, because the LORD, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, He has delivered them into your hand, and you have slain them in a rage which has even reached heaven. Now you are proposing to subjugate for yourselves the people of Judah and Jerusalem for male and female slaves. Surely, do you not have transgressions of your own against the LORD your God? Now therefore, listen to me and return the captives whom you captured from your brothers, for the burning anger of the LORD is against you.” Then some of the heads of the sons of Ephraim—Azariah […] arose against those who were coming from the battle, and said to them, “You must not bring the captives in here, for you are proposing to bring upon us guilt against the LORD adding to our sins and our guilt; for our guilt is great so that His burning anger is against Israel.” So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the officers and all the assembly. Then the men who were designated by name arose, took the captives, and they clothed all their naked ones from the spoil; and they gave them clothes and sandals, fed them and gave them drink, anointed them with oil, led all their feeble ones on donkeys, and brought them to Jericho, the city of palm trees, to their brothers; then they returned to Samaria.” (2 Chronicles 28:9-15)

“If I have rejoiced at the ruin of him who hated me, or exulted when evil overtook him, I have not let my mouth sin by asking for his life with a curse…” (Job 31:29-30 ESV)

“If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.” (Proverbs 25:21-22)

2 In the New Testament

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

“Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, […] forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.[…] For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:9,12,14-15 ESV)

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. […] But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven…” (Luke 6:27-29,35-37)

“While He was still speaking, behold, a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” When those who were around Him saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, “Stop! No more of this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.” (Luke 22:47-51)

“Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52)

“When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” […] (Luke 23:33-34)

“They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:59-60)

“But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:20-21)

“Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:18-23)

3 In the Qur’an

“…those who are patient for the sake of their Lord’s pleasure, maintain the prayer, and spend out of what We have provided them, secretly and openly, and repel evil [conduct] with good. For such will be the reward of the [ultimate] abode …” (Surah 13:22)

“He said, ‘Abraham! Are you renouncing my gods? If you do not relinquish, I will stone you. Keep away from me for a long while.’
He said, ‘Peace be to you! I shall plead with my Lord to forgive you. Indeed He is gracious to me.” (Surah 19:46-47)

“Not equal are the good deed and the evil deed. Repel with that which is fairer and behold, he between whom and thee there is enmity shall be as if he were a loyal friend. Yet none shall receive it, except the steadfast; none shall receive it, except a man of mighty fortune.” (Surah 41:34-35)

We are not aware of any other passages. We welcome your comments if you know of others.

4 Summary

Even in the Old Testament we find several hints at love for enemies. This prepared the way for Jesus’ command in the New Testament. Jesus himself displayed love for his enemies in his suffering and death. Stephen’s behaviour shows that the early Christians followed the words and example of Jesus.

Apart from the Surahs mentioned above, we were not able to find any other passages in the Qur’an which speak about loving our enemies. The Qur’an seems to touch on this command rather as a side issue, whereas the New Testament explains it as something essential and characteristic of Jesus’ teaching and of the lives of Christians. Therefore, in order to get to know the full revelation of God, we need the words of Jesus – who is the only one that can change people’s hearts.

That is why it says in Surah 57:27:

“[…] and We put in the hearts of those who followed him [Jesus] kindness and mercy.[…]”

Jesus lived and taught the goodness and mercy of God. We have the privilege of being able to learn from him.

Whose coming did Jesus predict?

“And when Jesus son of Mary said, “Children of Israel, I am indeed the Messenger of God to you, confirming the Torah that is before me, and giving good tidings of a Messenger who shall come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad.” Then, when he brought them the clear signs, they said, “This is a manifest sorcery.” Sūrah Aş-Şaff (The Ranks) 61, 6

This passage from the 6th verse of Sūrah Aş-Şaff has often been referred to some passages in the Injeel (John 14:15,26; John 15:25 and John 16:7,12) to argue that Jesus promised that Ahmad would come. We think it is important to give an answer to this.

In John’s Gospel we find many statements made by Jesus that point to a person who will come after him, especially in chapters 14-16. Jesus calls him “Parakletos”, “Holy Spirit”1 and “Spirit of Truth”.

Whose coming did Jesus announce?

Jesus says:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father2, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:15-18 ESV)

From these verses we can see that the one Jesus promises will come is a person because he calls him “another Helper”. This person however, is not human:

…to be with you forever (man does not live forever on earth)

…Spirit of truth (“Spirit” is not usually used for a man)

…whom the world cannot receive (how can this refer to a man?)

…because it neither sees him nor knows him (a human being is visible)

…for he dwells with you and will be in you (no man can dwell inside another, so this cannot refer to a man)

Jesus continues:

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:25-26 ESV)

The task of the one Jesus promised would come is to teach the disciples3 and to remind them of everything that he said to them. This happened ten days after Jesus left the earth (Jesus is now with God). We will explain this in more detail later.

Reading on in John, we find further hints about the Parakletos in the following passages:

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.” (John 15:26-27 ESV)

“…going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, “Where are you going?” But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world4 is judged. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:5-15 ESV)

The passages quoted below shed light on the task of the Helper, the Parakletos:

15:26 …he will bear witness about me.

16:8-10 …he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.

The three things listed here, that the Parakletos will convict the world of, all refer to Jesus. The Parakletos will show that it is a sin to not believe in Jesus in way that he revealed himself, and that it is righteous in front of God that Jesus does not continue living on earth and that Jesus has defeated and judged the devil. So the task of the Parakletos is to point to Jesus the Messiah (‘Īsā al-Masih).

16:13 …the Spirit of truth…will guide you into all the truth….

When we read these passages we can see that there is no other way to understand Parakletos other than that God wants to guide the believers through him.

Jesus revealed a lot about God’s loving nature. He showed how much God loves us, his creation, and wants to lead5 us. God sees that we need his help and does not want to leave us like lost sheep without a shepherd (this is described extensively in the Injeel, in John ch. 106). Even in the so-called Old Testament (Torah [Taurāt], Psalms [Zabūr] and Prophets [Nabiyyūn]), we find prophecies that God will guide his people and instruct them in a new way. This will be stronger than what was given through the law or the prophets. God says through his prophet Ezekiel (Nabiyy Du-l-Kifl):

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV)

Here we can see that even at that time the people were told that one day God will show his will to all believers and not only to a few prophets or teachers (by the word “believer” we do not mean those who observe religious traditions but those whose highest aim in life is to honour God).

When he says he will “put his Spirit” in man, he means that God places the knowledge of his will right into the inner being of man – directly together with man’s will. Those who have the Spirit will do good out of their inner motivation and allow themselves to be led by God.

Once the prophet John the Baptist (Yaḥyā) said to the people:

“I baptise you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:11-12 ESV)

They understood that John was announcing the imminent coming of the Messiah Jesus (‘Īsā al-Masih). This would be the one who judges and enables people to know God more deeply and live obediently.

Being baptised with the Holy Spirit means to be provided with a God-honouring (spiritual) understanding.

This is what we read from Luke’s report – the so-called Acts of the Apostles, the 5th part of Injeel:

“And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5 ESV)

The Spirit came ten days after Jesus said this….

God-fearing men of different nations were gathered for the “feast of the weeks” in Jerusalem. The Parakletos enabled people from different countries and languages to understand each other. Jesus’ message was that all God-fearing people should strive for unity and live as God’s spiritual nation, as one community (Ummah). This miracle is reported in Acts chapter 2.

The Parakletos, the Holy Spirit, enabled them to recognise that Jesus wanted to be known as the spiritual Messiah.

The same Holy Spirit caused the believers to love each other. No man told them that they should share their goods and meet daily. But their common interest in the truth – and the common understanding of God’s kingdom (a spiritual kingdom) and his Messiah Jesus, was the work of the Parakletos, whom Jesus also called the “Spirit of Truth”. They examined the Scriptures daily and were deeply devoted to each other. This is the same among true Christians today.

Another important aspect of the “pouring out of the Holy Spirit” is that it is not restricted to Jews. All nations can receive the Spirit.

In the Old Testament it was already shown that not only Jews were able to recognise God’s will, but also Gentiles. If they separated themselves from idolatry they could belong to God’s nation too (that is to say, to his community; Arabic = Ummah).

Jesus showed that although God wants to help everybody, he can only help those who are conscious of their sins and realise how dependent they are on God. Those who are self-righteous and think they do not need God’s help cannot receive it. This is also the work of the Spirit, to lead people to understand their guilt and turn to God in repentance.

God wants to help all people. He wants to be the God of everyone and to teach everybody the way of righteousness. During his life on earth, Jesus could only speak to a relatively small number of people. He said that it is good that he goes away because then he can send the Parakletos who helps everyone who allows themselves to be taught by God and wants to be God’s friend. He helps us to understand what Jesus taught and to put it into practice. Understanding God is not a matter of intelligence or particular feelings, but requires an upright and honest attitude.

We can therefore draw the conclusion that Sūrah Aş-Şaff 61, 6 has no connection with the passages in John about the one Jesus promised would come, the Holy Spirit.

  1. Holy Spirit – Christians do not think of the Holy Spirit simply as a divine power but as “the one who comforts” and “God’s invisible presence”. 
  2. Father – by this Jesus expresses the closeness of the relation in God and by no means fatherhood in a sexual sense! 
  3. Disciple – another word for pupil; the twelve men who were together with Jesus are meant here. They followed his life and teaching. 
  4. Ruler of this world – this refers to the devil (Satan or Iblīs). 
  5. Leading – in terms of giving a directive; guiding, providing thoughts, not like a puppet. 
  6. Injeel, John 10:1-42 – If you do not have access to a Bible please write to us.