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Surah 112: The Surah of the Holy Spirit

In this blog, I want to provide two possible interpretations for chapter 112 of the Koran. The name of this surah (that is, chapter) is The Sincerity. Some copies of the Koran call it the Unity. I think this has become somewhat of a creed for Muslims. Most probably see this as a statement denying the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, but I do not think that that is what it is actually doing.

I have chosen three translations of this surah. It is really very short, only four short verses.

Say: He is Allah, the One!
Allah, the eternally Besought of all!
He begetteth not nor was begotten.
And there is none comparable unto Him.
(Surah 112, Pickthall)

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, Sahih International)

Say: He, Allah, is One.
Allah is He on Whom all depend.
He begets not, nor is He begotten.
And none is like Him.
(Surah 112, Shakir)

The first verse in Arabic is:

Qul Huwa Al-lahu aḥadun.

Translated literally it is:

Say: He Allah one.

One can dispute as to where one should insert the verb. The verb, is, is understood. I like Shakir’s translation. “Say: He, Allah, is One.” The doctrine of the oneness of God is taught in several places in the Bible. (Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:28-34; I Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 4:6; James 2:19; etc.) Also, in the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed, we say, “I believe in one God…” The first verse of this Creed teaches what Jews, Orthodox Christians, and Muslims believe to be true. God is one.

The next verse in Arabic is:

Al-lahu al-ṣamadu.

The word, al-ṣamadu, occurs only once in the entire Koran – in verse 112:2. So, there may be some significant differences in how it is translated into English. I like the translation of Sahih International. “Allah, the Eternal Refuge.” It could be translated, “Allah is the Eternal Refuge.” The verb, is, is understood like it is in the first verse.

The next verse is the one that seems to be denying the doctrine of the Trinity, but I disagree. There are two possible false doctrines that it is denying to be true: the Maryamite heresy (See Koran 5:116.) and the polytheistic doctrines regarding gods having sex and begetting other gods. It may also be referring to the Holy Spirit, the third hypostasis of the Deity. The Arabic of the verse is:

Lam yalid walam yūlad.

Both verbs in the verse are in the jussive mood. The jussive mood is an imperative mood for the first and third person. It can also be translated into English as the subjunctive mood. So, a possible translation is:

Should not beget and should not be begotten.

Or another possibility is:

Let Him not beget and let Him not be begotten.

The basic idea, regardless of which translation one prefers, is that God does not sexually beget, nor was He sexually begotten. This interpretation would be a rejection of the Maryamite heresy which taught that God the Father had sex with the Virgin Mary and Jesus was sexually begotten. It would also be rejecting the pagan doctrines about gods having physical acts of sex with goddesses and even humans and having offspring by them. Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythology are full of such examples.

There were polytheistic Arabs in the seventh century and Muhammad preached against polytheism.

If it is speaking about the theological concepts of begetting and being begotten as used in the Bible and by Christians when speaking about the mode of procession of the Son from the Father, then this whole chapter of the Koran is really about the third hypostasis of the Deity – the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, but the Father did not beget in the theological sense the Holy Spirit, nor was the Holy Spirit ever begotten in the theological sense.

I have already said in former blogs, no Orthodox, Roman Catholic, or mainstream Protestant Christian believes that God had sex with anyone. The words, beget, begotten, and proceed, are used in speaking about the relationships among the three hypostases of the Deity. What these terms actually really mean is really a mystery. These are terms found in the Bible. Therefore, they are the ones that are used.

I have also said in previous blogs that we believe that each hypostasis of God is God in His entirety, but there are not three gods. There is only one. 1 + 1 + 1 = 1. Three wholes make one whole. This is a mystery. One needs to admit that the human mind will never be able to comprehend all of the mysteries shrouding the Deity. Whenever one tries to understand such mysteries and explain them like a scientist does after he has analyzed the biological processes occurring in the body of a frog, one falls into a grave error. God is so big that He can never be scientifically and rationally explained in complete detail. Trying to do so is essentially trying to exalt oneself above God. That, of course, is sin. So, the doctrine of the Trinity is a mystery, but we, Orthodox Christians, still believe it. Do not ask any of us to philosophically prove or explain this doctrine. “God is the Lord and has revealed Himself to us.” Our religion is a revealed religion.

The last verse of this surah in Arabic is:

Walam yakun lahu kufuwan aḥadun.

“And should not be for Him an equivalent one.” I like the translation of Marmaduke Pickthall here:

And there is none comparable unto Him.

When I first read these words, I thought about this verse in the Old Testament.

This is our God, and there shall none other be accounted of in comparison of Him. (Baruch 3:35, LXX)

God is unique. The Koran and the Bible agree. Each hypostasis of the Deity is also unique. So, nothing is comparable to either of Them. Nothing is comparable to our God.

I think that this surah is speaking about the Holy Spirit, the third hypostasis of the Trinity. He neither begets, nor was begotten. He is unique. He is God in His entirety. There is only one God. 1 + 1 + 1 = 1. The mystery of the Trinity is that three wholes make one whole. God, of course, never had sex with anyone. So, the Maryamites and the polytheists are in grave error.

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