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The Incarnation of Allah the Word

The Koran and the Bible are in agreement regarding the Incarnation of the Word of God. Both books teach that Jesus is the Word of Allah and that He was conceived by a Jewish virgin, the Virgin Mary.

Being a Christian and one of the People of the Scripture, I am, according to the Koran, supposed to “observe the Torah and the Gospel and that which was revealed” to me from my Lord. (Koran 5:68) and not “forge a lie against Allah.” (Koran 6:94) So, first of all, I will talk about what the Bible says about the Word of Allah in the Old Testament.

The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Only one or two books were originally written in Greek. Tobit, Judith, parts of Daniel, parts of Esther, and a few verses in Jeremiah were originally written in Aramaic. Most of the books were originally written in Hebrew consonants with no vowels. In the third century B.C., an Egyptian king got some Palestinian Jews to come to Alexandria, Egypt and translate the Hebrew and Aramaic Scriptures into Greek. According to a traditional account, a miracle occurred during the translation. Each of the seventy translators worked separately on the project translating the same texts into Greek. All seventy had the exact word for word translation. This miraculous translation is called the Greek Septuagint. During the first century, there were Jews who lived outside of Israel. They spoke Greek and used the Greek Septuagint in the synagogues. Most of the quotes from the Old Testament which are found in the New Testament come from the Greek Septuagint. The prophecies of Christ are much clearer in the Septuagint.

In the Psalms, there are two verses which talk about the Word of God, that is the divine Logos.

By the Word (Greek, Logos) of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the host of them by the Spirit of His mouth. (Psalm 32:6, LXX)

My heart has uttered a good Word (Greek, Logos). (Psalm 44:1, LXX)

The Psalms in the Septuagint are numbered differently than in the Hebrew Masoretic text. These texts are Psalm 33:6 and Psalm 45:1 respectively in the Hebrew. The Word in both texts is interpreted by the Church Fathers as referring to the Second Person of the Trinity. All Three Persons are mentioned in Psalm 32:6, LXX.

Now to digress a little here for those who may not understand Christian doctrine. We Orthodox Christians do not worship three gods. In our Creed, the first words are, “I believe in one God…” Although we worship one God, we still believe that this God of ours has three hypostases. Each hypostasis is God in His entirety. The Father is God in His entirety. The Word is God in His entirety. The Holy Spirit is God in His entirety. We do not believe that each hypostasis of the Godhead is one-third God.

I will use three mathematical equations to illustrate what we believe. The first two do not illustrate the doctrine of the Trinity. The last one will.

1/3 + 1/3 + 1/3 = 1 (Mathemtically correct, but no, this is not what we believe about each hypostasis of the Trinity.)

1 + 1 + 1 = 3 (Mathematically correct, but this would indicate the existence of three distinct gods, which of course is a heresy.)

1 + 1 + 1 = 1 (Mathematically incorrect, but theologically true. Three wholes make one whole. This is a mystery. We do not try to explain it.)

Each hypostasis is distinct from the other two. The Father is neither the Word nor the Holy Spirit. The Word is neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Word.

All three hypostases share the same essence. If we could divide the divine essence (i.e., substance) into tiny particles, each particle would belong to all three hypostases. Everywhere one hypostasis is, there are the other two as well. All three hypostases are omnipresent.

The Word is often called in Scripture the Son. According to our belief, the Father eternally begot the Son. The Son has an origin but no beginning. (The Holy Spirit, likewise, has an origin but no beginning.) This terminology often confuses non-Christians. Many might think that we think that the Father has a wife and had sex with her. However, that is not true. We do not believe that Allah the Father had sexual relations with anyone. The Son was begotten of the Father, but not sexually begotten. The terms beget and begotten are theological terms which describe something we cannot begin to understand with our limited intellects. We use the language of Scripture when we talk about the Deity because the Bible contains a record of God’s revelation to man.

Before the mountains were settled, and before all hills, He begets Me. (Prov. 8:25, LXX)

No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. (John 1:18, KJV)

Now, I wish to cite four places in the Old Testament prophets where the Word of Allah is mentioned.

And the Word (Greek, Logos) of the Lord came to me, saying… (Jeremiah 1:11; 13:8; Ezekiel 6:1; 7:1, LXX)

The Logos of the Lord came to Jeremiah and to Ezekiel, saying… The Logos of the Lord is a Person. He came and He spoke. He also assisted the Father and the Holy Spirit in the creation of the heavens. (Psalm 32:6, LXX)

In the Old Testament there are also prophecies about the incarnation of the Word of Allah. Look at these prophecies in Isaiah and Baruch.

14 Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive in the womb, and shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Emmanuel. 15 Butter and honey shall He eat, before He knows either to prefer evil or choose the good. 16 For before the Child shall know good or evil, He refuses evil, to choose the good; and the land shall be forsaken which thou art afraid of because of the two kings. (Isaiah 7:14-16, LXX)

35 This is our God, and there shall none other be accounted of in comparison of Him. 36 He hath found out all the way of knowledge, and hath given it unto Jacob His servant, and to Israel His beloved. 37 Afterward did He shew Himself upon earth, and conversed with men. (Baruch 3:35-37)

So now we see that God has a plan. Allah the Word, therefore, needs a vessel in order to become incarnate for our salvation and fulfill His plan. The Koran speaks highly of the one chosen to conceive the Word of Allah. Her name is Mary.

And when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah hath chosen thee and made thee pure, and hath preferred thee above (all) the women of creation. (Koran 3:42, Pickthall)

And We made the Son of Mary and His mother as a Sign: We gave them both shelter on high ground, affording rest and security and furnished with springs. (23:50, Yusuf Ali)

And His mother was a saintly woman. (Koran 5:75, Pickthall)

God chose the best woman to be His mother. There is a saying among us Orthodox Christians. God gave us His Son and we gave Him a virgin Mother. We do not believe that God had sex with Mary. We do not believe that she is a goddess. We do not worship three gods.

Before looking at the Koran’s account of the incarnation, let us first look at the account in the Gospel according to St. Luke.

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 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. 36 “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 “For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38, NASB)

Mary was “engaged to a man whose name was Joseph.” After the angel told her she was going to become pregnant with the Son of the Most High, she asked, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” Mary had taken a vow of perpetual virginity. She was not planning on having sex with her fiancé, Joseph, after they got married. She “guarded her chastity” (Koran 21:91) and her “body was chaste” (Koran 66:12).

In the Koran, it says:

(And remember) when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, Son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (unto Allah). (Koran 3:45, Pickthall)

In St. Luke’s Gospel it says that the Archangel Gabriel gave Mary the good news. The Koran says that more than one angel said this to her. Maybe another angel spoke to her at some other time prior to Gabriel’s announcement. Maybe there was another angel with Gabriel, but the Gospel account is silent about the other angel. We do not know. We only know that there is this discrepancy between the two accounts. Of course, when one thinks further about this matter, there was another angel present with Mary when Gabriel visited her – her guardian angel.

The Koran says in verse 3:45 that Jesus is a Word from Allah. Remember Psalm 44:1, LXX. Allah uttered a good Word.

The next passage from the Koran is in the Fourth Surah.

O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus Son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not “Three” – Cease! (it is) better for you! – Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender. (Koran 4:171, Pickthall)

“People of the Scripture” here refers only to the Christians since the Jews did not accept the New Testament and did not believe that Jesus is the Messiah. The Koran frequently calls Jesus the “Son of Mary” to emphasize that He has no biological father and that His conception and birth were miraculous. Jesus is also called in this verse “His Word.” He is the Word of Allah. Allah conveyed His Word to Mary. In the Arabic, the word translated “conveyed” is alqāhā. It literally means threw or cast. This, of course, is an anthropomorphic expression. One should not think that the divine essence possesses hands and actually threw His Word to Mary. All three hypostases are omnipresent. The Word of Allah was already present with Mary. This expression in the Koran describes an activity of the Omnipresent Deity.

In the Gospel according to St. John, it says:

1 In the beginning was the Word (Greek, Logos), and the Word (Greek, Logos) was with God, and the Word (Greek, Logos) was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (John 1:1-3, NASB)

The Word of Allah is Allah. St. John who wrote this was one of Jesus’ twelve Apostles and a worshiper of Allah. (Matthew 10:2; Koran 3:52) He was on Mount Tabor with three other Apostles when Jesus was transfigured. (Matthew 17:1-8) Therefore, St. John was rightly guided.

The Koran says that Jesus is “a spirit from Him.” Allah the Father is the “Father of spirits.” (Heb. 12:9) Allah forms the spirit of man within him. (Zech. 12:1) The humanity of Jesus is created, but His divinity is uncreated. “A spirit from Him” is referring to the creation of His human spirit and soul. All three hypostases are involved in the creation of human spirits and souls. It is prophesied that “Wisdom has built her house.” (Prov. 9:1) Wisdom is another word for the second hypostasis of the Godhead. (See I Cor. 1:24.) So, the Word of Allah was involved in the creation of His own humanity. In Job, it says, “The Divine Spirit is that which formed me.” (Job 33:4, LXX) So, the Holy Spirit who is the third hypostasis of the Godhead also creates spirits and souls

The Koran says to believe in Allah and His messengers (that is, all of the prophets) and say not “Three.” In the times of Muhammad, there was a heresy called Tritheism, which John Philoponus and a couple of bishops propagated. The Tritheists taught that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were three different gods. This heresy is rejected by the Orthodox Church. “Allah is only One God.” Actually, the word Allah does not have a plural form in Arabic. It does not possess gender either. It is a special word in Arabic used for God. So, Allah can only be one in Arabic. “Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son.” The Arabic text here is: “Sub’hānahu an yakūna lahu waladun.” “Glory be to Him to be for Him a begotten Child.” An yakūna is translated “to be” in verse 4:172. “The Messiah will never scorn to be a slave unto Allah.” (Koran 4:172, Pickthall) “Lan yastankifa al-masîhu an yakūna abdan lillahi.” In Pickthall’s translation as well as other English translations, the words, an yakūna, are translated “should have” in verse 4:171. Actually, the Koran says that Jesus is a begotten Child of Allah, but not sexually begotten. (Walada means begot. Waladun is derived from this Arabic word.) Like the word, alqāhā, one should not interpret the word, waladun, literally. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are theological terms. Beget and begotten as well as proceed are also theological terms. Sub’hānahu waTa’ala is an appellation that Muslims frequently place after the name of God, Allah. It means “Glory be to Him and He, The Most High.” So, “sub’hānahu,” does not mean “Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty.”

Another text in the Koran

And Mary, daughter of ‘Imran, whose body was chaste, therefore We breathed therein something of Our Spirit. And she put faith in the words of her Lord and His Scriptures, and was of the obedient. (Koran 66:12, Pickthall)

All three hypostases of the Godhead are mentioned in this verse. We, that is, the Father and the Son, breathed therein something of Our Spirit. The Holy Spirit is called the “Spirit of Christ” and the “Spirit of the Son” in the New Testament. (See Romans 8:9, I Peter 1:11, and Galatians 4:6.) He is also “the Spirit of your Father” (Matt. 10:20) and “the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead.” (Rom. 8:11) Jesus said, “All things that the Father has are Mine.” (John 16:15, NKJV) The Holy Spirit belongs to both the Father and the Word.

Breathing the Spirit on someone is something that Jesus did a week after His resurrection.

He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22, NASB)

Again, this is another anthropomorphic expression. The Holy Spirit is omnipresent. The Holy Prophet David asked, “Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit?” (Psalm 138:7, LXX)

In the Gospel according to St. Luke, it says:

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. (Luke 1:35, NASB)

Both the Koran and the Bible are in agreement about the Holy Spirit facilitating the conception of the Word of Allah in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

Mary is called the daughter of Imran in the Koran. According to Church tradition, Mary’s father’s name is Joachim. Imran is probably another name for Joachim just like Idris is another name for Enoch in the Koran. (See Koran 19:56 and 21:85.)

The text from the 66th Surah says, “She put faith in the words of her Lord and His Scriptures, and was of the obedient.” In the Gospel, it says, “And Mary said, ‘Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.’” She agreed to cooperate with God and conceive the Word of Allah.

The next passage is from the 19th Surah.

And make mention of Mary in the Scripture, when she had withdrawn from her people to a chamber looking East, And had chosen seclusion from them. Then We sent unto her Our spirit and it assumed for her the likeness of a perfect man. She said: Lo! I seek refuge in the Beneficent One from thee, if thou art God-fearing. He said: I am only a messenger of thy Lord, that I may bestow on thee a faultless Son. She said: How can I have a Son when no mortal hath touched me, neither have I been unchaste? He said: So (it will be). Thy Lord saith: It is easy for Me. And (it will be) that We may make of Him a revelation for mankind and a mercy from Us, and it is a thing ordained. And she conceived Him, and she withdrew with Him to a far place. (19:16-22, Pickthall)

Here, the whole Trinity sends their spirit who assumed the likeness of a perfect man. This might be the Archangel Gabriel or maybe another angel who came after Gabriel. The angel said to her, “I am only a messenger of thy Lord, that I may bestow on thee a faultless Son.” Remember the prophecy in Isaiah:

For before the Child shall know good or evil, He refuses evil, to choose the good. (Isaiah 7:16, LXX)

The Word of Allah is Allah who never sins. Therefore, after He became incarnate He was faultless.

Jesus is also said to be a “revelation for mankind” and “a mercy from Allah.” In the Gospel according to St. John, it says:

And the Word (Greek, Logos) was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, KJV)

No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. (John 1:18, KJV)

Remember the prophecy in Baruch:

Afterward did He shew Himself upon earth, and conversed with men. (Baruch 3:37)

The prophecy is that God (Baruch 3:35) would show Himself on earth and converse with men. After Jesus was born, He conversed with men. Jesus is the incarnate Word of Allah who is Allah.

So Jesus is a physical, bodily revelation for mankind. He is also a mercy from the Father and the Holy Spirit. After all, it was the Father and the Holy Spirit who sent Jesus.

Draw nigh to Me, and hear ye these words; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning: when it took place, there was I, and now the Lord, even the Lord, and His Spirit, hath sent Me. (Isaiah 48:16, LXX)

Jesus is the name that Joseph gave Him after He was born, because an angel told him in a dream to name Him that.

And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21, KJV)

Jesus saved His people from their sins by dying for them on the Cross. St. John says:

And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (I John 2:2, KJV)

And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. (I John 4:14, KJV)

So, the Koran confirms the Bible when it says that Jesus is “a mercy from Us.”

Finally, how are the human and divine natures of Jesus joined together? Here is what the Council of Chalcedon said. It is the Fourth Ecumenical Council of the Church. This council met in 451 A.D. – 158 years before Muhammad started receiving his revelations.

This wise and salutary formula of divine grace sufficed for the perfect knowledge and confirmation of religion; for it teaches the perfect [doctrine] concerning Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and sets forth the Incarnation of the Lord to them that faithfully receive it. But, forasmuch as persons undertaking to make void the preaching of the truth have through their individual heresies given rise to empty babblings; some of them daring to corrupt the mystery of the Lord’s incarnation for us and refusing [to use] the name Mother of God (Θεοτοκος) in reference to the Virgin, while others, bringing in a confusion and mixture, and idly conceiving that the nature of the flesh and of the Godhead is all one, maintaining that the divine Nature of the Only Begotten is, by mixture, capable of suffering; therefore this present holy, great, and ecumenical synod, desiring to exclude every device against the Truth, and teaching that which is unchanged from the beginning, has at the very outset decreed that the faith of the Three Hundred and Eighteen Fathers shall be preserved inviolate. And on account of them that contend against the Holy Ghost, it confirms the doctrine afterwards delivered concerning the substance of the Spirit by the One Hundred and Fifty holy Fathers who assembled in the imperial City; which doctrine they declared unto all men, not as though they were introducing anything that had been lacking in their predecessors, but in order to explain through written documents their faith concerning the Holy Ghost against those who were seeking to destroy His sovereignty. And, on account of those who have taken in hand to corrupt the mystery of the dispensation [i.e. the Incarnation] and who shamelessly pretend that He who was born of the holy Virgin Mary was a mere man, it receives the synodical letters of the Blessed Cyril, Pastor of the Church of Alexandria, addressed to Nestorius and the Easterns, judging them suitable, for the refutation of the frenzied folly of Nestorius, and for the instruction of those who long with holy ardour for a knowledge of the saving symbol. And, for the confirmation of the orthodox doctrines, it has rightly added to these the letter of the President of the great and old Rome, the most blessed and holy Archbishop Leo, which was addressed to Archbishop Flavian of blessed memory, for the removal of the false doctrines of Eutyches, judging them to be agreeable to the confession of the great Peter, and as it were a common pillar against misbelievers. For it opposes those who would rend the mystery of the dispensation into a Duad of Sons; it repels from the sacred assembly those who dare to say that the Godhead of the Only Begotten is capable of suffering; it resists those who imagine a mixture or confusion of the two natures of Christ; it drives away those who fancy His form of a servant is of an heavenly or some substance other than that which was taken of us, and it anathematizes those who foolishly talk of two natures of our Lord before the union, conceiving that after the union there was only one.
Following the holy Fathers we teach with one voice that the Son [of God] and our Lord Jesus Christ is to be confessed as one and the same [Person], that He is perfect in Godhead and perfect in manhood, very God and very man, of a reasonable soul and [human] body consisting, consubstantial with the Father as touching His Godhead, and consubstantial with us as touching His manhood; made in all things like unto us, sin only excepted; begotten of His Father before the worlds according to His Godhead; but in these last days for us men and for our salvation born [into the world] of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God according to His manhood. This one and the same Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son [of God] must be confessed to be in two natures, unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, inseparably [united], and that without the distinction of natures being taken away by such union, but rather the peculiar property of each nature being preserved and being united in one Person and subsistence, not separated or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son and only-begotten, God the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Prophets of old time have spoken concerning Him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ hath taught us, and as the Creed of the Fathers hath delivered to us. (Definition of Faith of the Council of Chalcedon, vol. 14, pp. 263-265, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., P.O. Box 3473, Peabody, Massachusetts 01961-3473, ISBN 1-56563-130-7)

The two natures of Christ are joined together by diffusion, not confusion. The divine nature permeates the human nature. They are joined together without change. The divine nature remains uncircumscribed while the human nature is circumscribed. The two natures are joined together without separation or division. They can never be separated from each other again. Jesus continues to share the same essence with the other two hypostases. Jesus is one Person who has two natures. He is fully God and fully human. Whenever we speak of the two natures of Christ, we have another mathematical equation for explaining them: 1 + 1 = 1. That is another mystery.

In the Koran, it says:

He hath ordained for you that religion which He commended unto Noah, and that which We inspire in thee (Muhammad), and that which We commended unto Abraham and Moses and Jesus, saying: Establish the religion, and be not divided therein. Dreadful for the idolaters is that unto which thou callest them. Allah chooseth for Himself whom He will, and guideth unto Himself him who turneth (toward Him). And they were not divided until after the knowledge came unto them, through rivalry among themselves; and had it not been for a Word that had already gone forth from thy Lord for an appointed term, it surely had been judged between them. And those who were made to inherit the Scripture after them are verily in hopeless doubt concerning it. Unto this, then, summon (O Muhammad). And be thou upright as thou art commanded, and follow not their lusts, but say: I believe in whatever Scripture Allah hath sent down, and I am commanded to be just among you. Allah is our Lord and your Lord. Unto us our works and unto you your works; no argument between us and you. Allah will bring us together, and unto Him is the journeying. (42:13-15, Pickthall)

Orthodox Christians were called “believers” in the 30th Surah. (See Koran 30:2-4.) The Holy Trinity is the true God of Muhammad. One of the problems that I see with Islam today is that their religious leaders ignore all of those passages in the Koran about the Bible and do not use the Bible to help them understand the Koran. I will end this blog with this warning from the Koran.

Lo! those who disbelieve in Allah and His messengers, and seek to make distinction between Allah and His messengers, and say: We believe in some and disbelieve in others, and seek to choose a way in between; such are disbelievers in truth; and for disbelievers We prepare a shameful doom. But those who believe in Allah and His messengers and make no distinction between any of them, unto them Allah will give their wages; and Allah was ever Forgiving, Merciful. (4:150-152, Pickthall)

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