February 14, 2008
Jesus Christ, the Messiah: A Muslim point of view
Hameed Abdul Karim
I agree with Lucien Perera when he dismisses the myth that it was Judas who was crucified and not Jesus Christ. This is a belief among only a few Muslims but it has no historical validity at all and it’s more to do with ignorance than anything else.
I don’t intend to hurt my Christian brethrens’ feelings, but as much as a Christian is entitled to correct a misrepresentation of the Revered Jesus Christ, I feel that I should be given the opportunity to present a crucial point which Mr. Perera raises under the heading ‘Islamic Jesus: Setting the Record Straight’ (DM 31 January 2008). And that point is the divinity of Jesus. At the beginning it was not the Muslims who contested his divinity, but devout Christians who have written many books on the subject. One that is of great interest is the ‘Myth of God Incarnate’ edited by John Hick. The essays of the authors in this book argue that it was possible to be Christian without believing in the incarnation as did those Christians until 325 CE at which point the Council of Nicaea conferred divinity of Jesus Christ.
Besides the mere expression of the phrase ‘Son of God’ does not in any way denote divinity. The phrase in the Jewish language during the times of Jesus Christ was used to describe a pious person just as much as the English idiom ‘son of the soil’ is meant to describe a farmer or a native.
In the days of the prophets, Jews coined the phrase ‘Son of God’ to describe a pious person. Genesis chapter 6 verses 2 and 4 mention people who came from heaven as ‘Sons of God’ who saw the daughters of men and took them for wives.
It is true the Bible says of Jesus Christ ‘This is my son with whom I am well pleased’ but one should exercise a degree of caution before attributing any divine aspect to such a statement, because in the 2nd psalm verse 7 God says just about the same thing with regard to David . ‘I will declare the decree, the Lord has said unto me ‘Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten thee’. And there are many more verses in the Bible where you would find the expression ‘Son of God’. Matthew describes peace makers as ‘Sons of God’ as does Paul of those who are led by the ‘Spirit of God’.
If divinity is ascribed to the Revered Jesus because he didn’t have a father then that criterion should be applied to the prophet Adam who had neither a mother nor a father. Both Muslims and Christians, and even Jews, will have no difficulty in agreeing with this. And indeed the Bible does call Adam a ‘Son of God’ in Luke 3:38. If divinity is attributed to any person merely because he doesn’t have a father or a mother, then there is a holy personage who deserves this title more than anybody else. He is Melchisedec whom the Bible describes as a person ‘without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor the end of life, but made unto like the Son of God….’ (Hebrews 7:3)
There is no place in the Scriptures which categorically states that Jesus is God. Instead there are numerous verses which confirm the Muslim belief that Jesus Christ was indeed a prophet. In John 9:17 there is this wonderful story of the blind man whom Jesus had cured. When the people asked him what he thought of Jesus he said ‘he is a prophet’. This is in perfect conformity with the Islamic belief. Moreover, in recent translations of Bibles like the New International Version (NIV) the Revered Jesus Christ is called a ‘Servant of God’ in Acts 3:13, 3:26, and 4:27. In previous translations he was described as a ‘Son of God’ in the very same verses. Besides, the Bible makes it quite clear that ‘no one has ever seen God’ (1 John 4:12).
The suicide of Judas that Mr. Perera refers to is described in two different ways by the Bible writers. Mathew 27:5 says that he hanged himself whereas Acts 1:18 says he fell headlong in a field. Such variations in narrations has prompted Christian scholar John Hick to say ‘...the books of the Bible were written by a variety of human beings in a variety of circumstances and cannot be accorded a verbal divine authority’. Hans Kung in his book ‘Infallible-an Inquiry’ says the Bible is not a miraculous book like the Koran (sic) …Nowhere do the books of the New Testament claim to have fallen from heaven: on the contrary, often enough, they quite candidly emphasise their human origin. Luke 1-2 is especially revealing on the origins of the Gospels’.
The Qur’an describes the Revered Jesus Christ as a Messenger of God. This is in perfect harmony with the Bible when it says Jesus is a ‘man approved of God’ (Acts2:22). And yes, Muslims believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and that he will be making his second coming. If they don’t subscribe to this article of faith they cease to be Muslims.
Daily Mirror Thursday February 14, 2008.