Home > Islam > An Exegesis of Koran 9:28-31

An Exegesis of Koran 9:28-31

Now, I am going to do an exegesis of Koran 9:28-31. In this passage is the “Jizya Verse” — another controversial verse in the Koran. The translation that I am providing here is Pickthall’s translation.

28 O ye who believe! The idolaters only are unclean. So let them not come near the Inviolable Place of Worship after this their year. If ye fear poverty (from the loss of their merchandise) Allah shall preserve you of His bounty if He will. Lo! Allah is Knower, Wise.
29 Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.
30 And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they!
31 They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One God. There is no God save Him. Be He Glorified from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him)! (Koran 9:28-31, Pickthall)

28 O ye who believe! The idolaters only are unclean.

Those who worship false gods like the polytheists who lived in seventh century Arabia are unclean. However, there is more than one way to practice idolatry according to the New Testament. Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24) Mammon is money. St. Paul said that covetousness is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5) However, according to St. John the Theologian, who was one of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles and a Muslim (Matthew 10:2; Koran 3:52), said that someone who believes that Jesus is God is not an idolater. He said:

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. (John 5:20,21, NKJV)

Jesus Christ is the true God and eternal life. Anyone who worships Him is not an idolater. St. John worshiped Him. He called Him the “true God.”

I have explained the doctrine of the Holy Trinity many times in previous blogs. Briefly, the Trinity is one God, not three. Each hypostasis of the Trinity is God in His entirety, but not the other two hypostases of the Deity. 1 + 1 + 1 = 1. Jesus is the incarnation of the second hypostasis (the Word). He is 100% God and 100% Man, but one Person. The Word and the Holy Spirit proceed from the Father, but in different ways. The procession of the Word (or Son) from the Father is called “being begotten.” The procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father is called “proceeding.” The divine essence does not possess genitals. Therefore, the Son was not sexually begotten. Every particle of the divine essence belongs to all three Persons of the Godhead. Wherever, the Father is, there is also the Son (or Word) and the Holy Spirit. Likewise, wherever the Son is, there is the Father and the Holy Spirit. Wherever the Holy Spirit is, there is the Father and the Son. Jesus’ divinity is uncreated and infinite. His humanity is created and finite.

Muhammad said to the People of the Scripture in the seventh century: “We believe in that which has been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our God and your God is One, and unto Him we surrender.” (Koran 29:46, Pickthall) Muhammad believed that Jesus Christ is the true God and eternal life. He worshiped the Holy Trinity.

Jesus said to His Twelve Apostles:

He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. (Matthew 10:40, NKJV)

Anyone who rejects what St. John has told us in his First Catholic Epistle, rejects Jesus. Anyone who rejects Jesus, rejects Allah the Father.

In the Fifth Surah of the Koran, it says:

And when I inspired the disciples, (saying): Believe in Me and in My messenger, they said: We believe. Bear witness that we have surrendered (unto Thee). When the disciples said: O Jesus, son of Mary! Is thy Lord able to send down for us a table spread with food from heaven? He said: Observe your duty to Allah, if ye are true believers. (They said:) We wish to eat thereof, that we may satisfy our hearts and know that thou hast spoken truth to us, and that thereof we may be witnesses. Jesus, son of Mary, said: O Allah, Lord of us! Send down for us a table spread with food from heaven, that it may be a feast for us, for the first of us and for the last of us, and a sign from Thee. Give us sustenance, for Thou art the Best of Sustainers. Allah said: Lo! I send it down for you. And whoso disbelieveth of you afterward, him surely will I punish with a punishment wherewith I have not punished any of (My) creatures. (Koran 5:111-115, Pickthall)

We should not disbelieve Jesus’ words in the Gospels.

“So let them not come near the Inviolable Place of Worship after this their year.”

The polytheists were forbidden to go near the Kaaba stone in Mecca. However, according to the verses I cited from the New Testament and the Koran, the Orthodox Christians and the Jews were not forbidden to go near it. The greedy, covetous Muslims, however, should examine themselves and repent before going near it. Covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5) and no one can serve Allah and money (Matthew 6:24). Christians and Jews should do the same, too. God knows what is in people’s hearts. No one should pass judgment in such matters, however. (Matthew 7:1.2)

One of the reasons for forbidding the polytheists from worshiping near this place is because they would worship their false gods while the Muslims worshiped Allah.

“If ye fear poverty (from the loss of their merchandise), Allah shall preserve you of His bounty if He will.”

Jesus said:

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:31-34, NKJV)

The Muslims should not worry about losing business from the polytheists. They should obey God and keep the idolaters away from the Inviolable Place of Worship. God will provide for them. So, they should not worry.

Allah is Knower, Wise.

God knows everything. Like Jesus said, “For you heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” (Matthew 6:32, NKJV) God does not want His people to go hungry. God is wise. His commandments are wisely given to us. We should trust Him and obey.

29 Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.

The Arabic text is:

Qātilū alladhīna lā yu’minūna bil-lahi  walā bil-yawmi al-ākhiri  walā yuḥarrimūna mā ḥarrama al-lahu warasūluhu walā yadīnūna dīna al-ḥaqi mina alladhīna ūtū al-kitāba ḥattā yuʿ’ṭū al-jiz’yata an yadin wahum ṣāghirūna.

“Fight against those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger forbid and do not acknowledge the religion of truth among those who received the Scripture until they pay the jizya from the hand while being humbled.”

The previous verse mentioned the idolaters. Christians and Jews were not mentioned. Those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day were most probably the idolaters. If the idolaters broke their treaty with the Muslims and persecuted them (Koran 2:193; 9:13), oppressed them (Koran 4:75), or initiated a military conflict against them (Koran 2:190; 9:13), then the Muslims were supposed to fight them. Offensive military jihad is Satanic (Koran 17:53; 24:21). There is no compulsion in religion. (Koran 2:256) and Muhammad was not a compeller over them (Koran 50:45). The idolaters were not required to fight against the enemies of the Muslims, but they had to pay for the protection of the Muslims. This was fair. The Muslims fought wars for religious reasons. People of other faiths were not required to defend militarily the Muslims’ religion, but since the Muslim army was protecting them from hostile forces that would want to invade the land, they had to pay a tax. They paid a tax and were not required to pay with their lives.

This tax, the jizyah, is really more applicable to seventh century Arabia than to today. In modern societies, there are government agencies which collect taxes from the citizens. A lot of wars are fought for non-religious reasons.

However, the principle of not requiring people to fight for a religion they do not adhere to and requiring non-combatants to pay a tax for the military protection of those of another faith seems fair. The Koran does not specify how much is the jizyah, nor does it say how often or how long it should be regularly paid. All of this was worked out in a treaty. (See Koran 9:1,4,12. A treaty with the idolaters is mentioned in those verses.) If there is no such treaty, then there is no such tax.

The idolaters received the Scriptures, that is, the Bible, but still did not believe in Allah and the Last Day. This passage from the Fourth Surah helps to explain this verse better.

See, how they invent lies about Allah! That of itself is flagrant sin. Hast thou not seen those unto whom a portion of the Scripture hath been given, how they believe in idols and false deities, and how they say of those (idolaters) who disbelieve: “These are more rightly guided than those who believe”? Those are they whom Allah hath cursed, and he whom Allah hath cursed, thou (O Muhammad) wilt find for him no helper. (Koran 4:50-52, Pickthall)

The idolaters in Koran 9:28,29 are the same idolaters spoken of this passage from the Fourth Surah.

30 And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah.

Actually, the Jews would say that Ezra is the son of Allah and the Christians, of course, have been calling the Messiah the Son of Allah since the first century.

In the Old Testament, it says that God has sons and daughters.

And the Lord saw, and was jealous; and was provoked by the anger of His sons and daughters, and said, I will turn away My face from them, and will show what shall happen to them in the last days; for it is a perverse generation, sons in whom is no faith. (Deuteronomy 32:19,20, LXX)

Fear not; for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and will gather thee from the west. I will say to the north, Bring; and to the south, Keep not back; bring My sons from the land afar off, and My daughters from the ends of the earth; even all who are called by my name: for I have prepared him for My glory, and I have formed him, and have made him: and I have brought forth the blind people; for their eyes are alike blind, and they that have ears are deaf. (Isaiah 43:5-8, LXX)

The New Testament teaches the same thing.

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.”  Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (II Corinthian 6:14-18, NKJV)

God, being our Creator, is our Father. This teaching can be found in both the Old and New Testaments.

They have sinned, not pleasing Him; spotted children, a froward and perverse generation. Do ye thus recompense the Lord? Is the people thus foolish and unwise? Did not He Himself thy Father purchase thee, and make thee, and form thee? (Deuteronomy 32:5,6, LXX)

And now, O Lord, Thou art our Father, and we are clay, all of us the work of Thine hands. (Isaiah 64:8, LXX)

For in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. (Acts 17:28,29, NKJV)

Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? (Hebrews 12:9, NKJV)

Although God is everyone’s Father in the sense that He their Creator, He is not everyone’s Father in a religious and spiritual sense. One becomes a child of God in this spiritual sense through regeneration. Regeneration is called “circumcision of the heart” (Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6; Romans 2:29; Colossians 2:11), “being born again” (John 3:3-8; I Peter 1:22,23), and “becoming a new creation” (II Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). In Deuteronomy, there is a curious verse that I encountered. It appears in the Septuagint as this:

Thou hast forsaken God that begot thee, and forgotten God who feeds thee. (Deuteronomy 32:18, LXX)

St. Athanasius lived in the third century and the early part of the fourth century. He wrote this explanation of regeneration and quoted this verse in it.

    Thus does divine Scripture recognise the difference between the Offspring and things made, and shew that the Offspring is a Son, not begun from any beginning, but eternal; but that the thing made, as an external work of the Maker, began to come into being. John therefore delivering divine doctrine about the Son, and knowing the difference of the phrases, said not, ‘In the beginning has become’ or ‘been made,’ but ‘In the beginning was the Word;’ that we might understand ‘Offspring’ by ‘was,’ and not account of Him by intervals, but believe the Son always and eternally to exist. And with these proofs, how, O Arians, misunderstanding the passage in Deuteronomy, did you venture a fresh act of irreligion against the Lord, saying that ‘He is a work,’ or ‘creature,’ or indeed ‘offspring?’ for offspring and work you take to mean the same thing; but here too you shall be shewn to be as unlearned as you are irreligious. Your first passage is this, ‘Is not He thy Father that bought thee? did He not make thee and create thee?’ (Deuteronomy 32:6, LXX) And shortly after in the same Song he says, ‘God that begat thee thou didst desert, and forgattest God that nourished thee.’ (Deuteronomy 32:18, LXX) Now the meaning conveyed in these passages is very remarkable; for he says not first ‘He begat,’ lest that term should be taken as indiscriminate with ‘He made,’ and these men should have a pretence for saying, ‘Moses tells us indeed that God said from the beginning, “Let Us make man” (Genesis 1:26), but he soon after says himself, ‘God that begat thee thou didst desert’ (Deuteronomy 32:18, LXX), as if the terms were indifferent; for offspring and work are the same. But after the words ‘bought’ and ‘made,’ he has added last of all ‘begat,’ that the sentence might carry its own interpretation; for in the word ‘made’ he accurately denotes what belongs to men by nature, to be works and things made; but in the word ‘begat’ he shews God’s lovingkindness exercised towards men after He had created them. And since they have proved ungrateful upon this, thereupon Moses reproaches them, saying first, ‘Do ye thus requite the Lord?’ and then adds, ‘Is not He thy Father that bought thee? Did He not make thee and create thee?’ (Deuteronomy 32:6, LXX) And next he says, ‘They sacrificed unto devils, not to God, to gods whom they knew not. New gods and strange came up, whom your fathers knew not; the God that begat thee thou didst desert.’ (Deuteronomy 32:17, LXX)
For God not only created them to be men, but called them to be sons, as having begotten them. For the term ‘begat’ is here as elsewhere expressive of a Son, as He says by the Prophet, ‘I begat sons and exalted them;’ and generally, when Scripture wishes to signify a son, it does so, not by the term ‘created,’ but undoubtedly by that of ‘begat.’ And this John seems to say, ‘He gave to them power to become children of God, even to them that believe on His Name; which were begotten not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’ (John 1:12,13) And here too the cautious distinction is well kept up, for first he says ‘become,’ because they are not called sons by nature but by adoption; then he says ‘were begotten,’ because they too had received at any rate the name of son. But the People, as says the Prophet, ‘despised’ their Benefactor. But this is God’s kindness to man, that of whom He is Maker, of them according to grace He afterwards becomes Father also; becomes, that is, when men, His creatures, receive into their hearts, as the Apostle says, ‘the Spirit of His Son, crying, Abba, Father.’ (Galatians 4:6) And these are they who, having received the Word, gained power from Him to become sons of God; for they could not become sons, being by nature creatures, otherwise than by receiving the Spirit of the natural and true Son. Wherefore, that this might be, ‘The Word became flesh’ (John 1:14), that He might make man capable of Godhead. This same meaning may be gained also from the Prophet Malachi, who says, ‘Hath not One God created us? Have we not all one Father?’ (Malachi 2:10) for first he puts ‘created,’ next ‘Father,’ to shew, as the other writers, that from the beginning we were creatures by nature, and God is our Creator through the Word; but afterwards we were made sons, and thenceforward God the Creator becomes our Father also. Therefore ‘Father’ is proper to the Son; and not ‘creature,’ but ‘Son’ is proper to the Father. Accordingly this passage also proves, that we are not sons by nature, but the Son who is in us; and again, that God is not our Father by nature, but of that Word in us, in whom and because of whom we ‘cry, Abba, Father.’ (Galatians 4:6) And so in like manner, the Father calls them sons in whomsoever He sees His own Son, and says, ‘I begat;’ since begetting is significant of a Son, and making is indicative of the works. And thus it is that we are not begotten first, but made; for it is written, ‘Let Us make man’ (Genesis 1:26); but afterwards, on receiving the grace of the Spirit, we are said thenceforth to be begotten also; just as the great Moses in his Song with an apposite meaning says first ‘He bought,’ and afterwards ‘He begat;’ lest, hearing ‘He begat,’ they might forget their own original nature; but that they might know that from the beginning they are creatures, but when according to grace they are said to be begotten, as sons, still no less than before are men works according to nature. (Four Discourses Against the Arians, Discourse 2, chapter 21, St. Athanasius the Great, vol. 4, pp. 380-381, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

What I have found interesting is the terminology. The concept of being “begotten by God” spiritually or “born again” was an Old Testament concept, and not just a New Testament one. In St. John’s First Catholic Epistle, there are these verses about “being born of God.”

If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him. (I John 2:29, NKJV)

Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. (I John 3:9, NKJV)

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. (I John 5:1, NKJV)

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (I John 5:4,5, NKJV)

We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. (I John 5:18, NKJV)

Ezra practiced righteousness. Therefore, he was born of God. He was a son of God. He lived before the coming of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I John 5:1,4,5 did not apply to him while he was alive.

Regeneration is also described in the New Testament as going from death to life. People become dead to God because of their sins. When they are regenerated, they become alive to God.

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:3-11, NKJV)

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-6, NKJV)

In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
(Colossians 2:11-15, NKJV)

The Koran also speaks of regeneration using this metaphor.

How disbelieve ye in Allah when ye were dead and He gave life to you! Then He will give you death, then life again, and then unto Him ye will return. (Koran 2:28, Pickthall)

Thou causest the night to pass into the day, and Thou causest the day to pass into the night. And Thou bringest forth the living from the dead, and Thou bringest forth the dead from the living. And Thou givest sustenance to whom Thou choosest, without stint. (Koran 3:27, Pickthall)

Lo! Allah (it is) Who splitteth the grain of corn and the date-stone (for sprouting). He bringeth forth the living from the dead, and is the bringer-forth of the dead from the living. Such is Allah. How then are ye perverted? (Koran 6:95, Pickthall)

Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Who provideth for you from the sky and the earth, or Who owneth hearing and sight; and Who bringeth forth the living from the dead and bringeth forth the dead from the living; and Who directeth the course? They will say: Allah. Then say: Will ye not then keep your duty (unto Him)? (Koran 10:31, Pickthall)

Is he who was dead then We raised him to life and made for him a light by which he walks among the people, like him whose likeness is that of one in utter darkness whence he cannot come forth? Thus what they did was made fair seeming to the unbelievers. (Koran 6:122, Shakir)

“Bringing forth the living from the dead” is regeneration. “Bringing forth the dead from the living” means that God takes people’s souls in death. He will give them life again (Koran 2:28) when He resurrects the dead on the Last Day.

Jesus is the Son of God in a special way. He “proceeded forth and came from God.” (John 8:42) This procession from God the Father is called “being begotten.” (John 1:18) Jesus is not a partner with Allah. He is Allah, but He is not the Father and not the Holy Spirit. The Father is Allah, but He is not the Son and not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is Allah, but He is not the Father and not the Son. All Three are distinct from each other, but one and the same God. There is only one Allah. In the Koran, Allah often uses the first person plural pronouns in reference to Himself. Whenever one sees Allah using We, Us, and Our,  either two or all three hypostases of the Deity are speaking. Whenever Allah uses I, Me, and My, only one hypostasis of the Deity is speaking.

Surah 112 is the Surah of the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit neither begets nor is begotten. I would encourage Christians to read it sometime and  then they will see what I am saying.

I have seen lots of evidence in the Koran for the doctrine of the Trinity. I do believe that Muhammad was a Trinitarian monotheist like the Orthodox Christians whom he called “believers.” (Koran 30:2-5; 85:7)

“That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they!”

There is nothing wrong with calling Ezra the son of God. There is nothing wrong with calling Jesus the Son of God. Ezra practiced righteousness. Therefore, he was regenerated. God had circumcised his heart. (Deuteronomy 30:6) Jesus called Himself the Son of God. (John 10:36) He even attributed titles of God to Himself. (John 8:58 with Exodus 3:13,14; John 8:12 with Koran 24:35; John 14:6 with Koran 22:6; Revelation 1:17 with Isaiah 44:6 and Koran 57:3)

A clue to understanding this verse is the last words in the Arabic text.

Qātalahumu al-lahu annā yu’fakūna.

“May Allah fight them. How are they deluded!” These same Arabic words appear in Koran 63:4. Here is Koran 63:1-4:

When the hypocrites come unto thee (O Muhammad), they say: We bear witness that thou art indeed Allah’s messenger. And Allah knoweth that thou art indeed His messenger, and Allah beareth witness that the hypocrites indeed are speaking falsely. They make their faith a pretext so that they may turn (men) from the way of Allah. Verily evil is that which they are wont to do, that is because they believed, then disbelieved, therefore their hearts are sealed so that they understand not. And when thou seest them their figures please thee; and if they speak thou givest ear unto their speech. (They are) as though they were blocks of wood in striped cloaks. They deem every shout to be against them. They are the enemy, so beware of them. Allah confound them! How they are perverted! (Koran 63:1-4, Pickthall)

Koran 9:30 like Koran 63:1-4 is talking about hypocrites. These Jews and Christians say the right things with their mouths, but do not have genuine faith. They believe with their mouths and not with their hearts. Koran 63:1-4 is talking about hypocritical Muslims.

31 They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One Allah.

Ittakhadhū aḥbārahum waruh’bānahum arbāban min dūni al-lahi wal-masīḥa ib’na maryama.

The original Arabic text of the Koran was only consonants and no vowels. I think that the wrong vowels were added to two words near the end. The text, in my opinion, should say:

Ittakhadhū aḥbārahum waruh’bānahum arbāban min dūni al-lahi wal-masīḥi ib’ni maryama.

“They have taken their rabbis and their monks as lords instead of Allah and the Messiah the Son of Mary.”

The Jews believed their rabbis instead of God. The Christians believed their monks instead of Jesus. The Jews may have been heretical Jews. The Christians may have been heretical Christians.

If, however, the first version of the Arabic text is correct, then the Christians were not Trinitarian monotheists. They were worshiping Jesus as a separate deity from Allah instead of as Allah. There were heretical Christian sects during the time of Muhammad. Maybe the Christians were Nestorians or Arians. If the Jews were worshiping their rabbis instead of God, they were heretical Jews. Christians who worship monks seem to be a bit odd. They must have been heretics.

“When they were bidden to worship only One God.”

The Old Testament and the New Testament strongly stress the existence of only one God. (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 45:5; Matthew 4:10; I Corinthians 8:6; James 2:19)

There are several instances in the Gospels where people worshiped Jesus. He never once forbade them to do that. We Trinitarian monotheists also worship God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, but we do not think of them as being three different gods. They are different hypostases of the same God.

“There is no God save Him. Be He Glorified from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him)!”

I think that every monotheist can say “Amen” to that. Jesus never claimed to be a separate God from the Father. He said, “I and My Father are one.” (John 10:30, NKJV)

Before I conclude this blog, I will say some things about the “Last Day.” Orthodox Christians do believe like Muslims in the Last Day. On the Last Day of this present age, all of the dead will resurrected and judged. The wicked will receive eternal damnation. The righteous will inherit the Kingdom of God and enjoy eternal bliss.

The resurrection of the dead was made possible by Jesus.

Yet the divine Apostle teaches plainly that the Creator, pitying this nature not only seized cruelly by death, but throughout all life made death’s slave, effected the resurrection through a body for our bodies, and, by means of a mortal body, undid the dominion of death; for since His own nature was immortal He righteously wished to stay the sovereignty of death by taking the first fruits of them that were subject to death, and while He kept these first fruits (i.e. the body) blameless and free from sin, on the one hand He gave death license to lay hands on it and so satisfy its insatiability, while on the other, for the sake of the wrong done to this body, he put a stop to the unrighteous sovereignty usurped over all the rest of men. These firstfruits unrighteously engulfed He raised again and will make the race to follow them. (The Eranistes, Dialogue III, by Blessed Theodoret of Cyrus, vol. 3, p. 223, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

Martha spoke about the resurrection of the dead on the Last Day, before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (John 11:23,24, NKJV)

Many of the Church Fathers and ancient Christian writers spoke of the resurrection of the dead.

The resurrection of the dead is the Christian’s trust. By it we are believers. To the belief of this (article of the faith) truth compels us — that truth which God reveals, but the crowd derides, which supposes that nothing will survive after death. (On the Resurrection of the Flesh, by Tertullian, vol. 3, p. 545, Ante-Nicene Fathers)

“Wherefore not before the passion, but after the passion, the Lord stood in the midst of the disciples when the doors were shut, that thou mayest know that thy natural body after being sown is ‘raised a spiritual body,’ and that thou mayest not suppose the body that is raised to be a different body. When Thomas after the resurrection doubted, He shews him the prints of the nails, He shews him the marks of the spears. But had He not power to heal Himself after the resurrection too, when even before the resurrection He had healed all men? But by shewing the prints of the nails He shews that it is this very body; by coming in when the doors were shut He shews that it has not the same qualities; the same body to fulfil the work of the incarnation by raising that which had become a corpse, but a changed body that it fall not again under corruption nor be subject again to death.” (The Eranistes, Dialogue II, by Blessed Theodoret of Cyrus, vol. 3, p. 209, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

The root of all good works is the hope of the Resurrection; for the expectation of the recompense nerves the soul to good works. For every labourer is ready to endure the toils, if he sees their reward in prospect; but when men weary themselves for nought, their heart soon sinks as well as their body. A soldier who expects a prize is ready for war, but no one is forward to die for a king who is indifferent about those who serve under him, and bestows no honours on their toils. In like manner every soul believing in a Resurrection is naturally careful of itself; but, disbelieving it, abandons itself to perdition. He who believes that his body shall remain to rise again, is careful of his robe, and defiles it not with fornication; but he who disbelieves the Resurrection, gives himself to fornication, and misuses his own body, as though it were not his own. Faith therefore in the Resurrection of the dead, is a great commandment and doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church; great and most necessary, though gainsaid by many, yet surely warranted by the truth. Greeks contradict it, Samaritans disbelieve it, heretics mutilate it; the contradiction is manifold, but the truth is uniform. (Catechetical Lectures, Lecture XVIII, by St. Cyril of Jerusalem, vol. 7, p. 134, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

We believe, say they, in the resurrection of the body. This confession, if only it be sincere, is free from objection. But as there are bodies celestial and bodies terrestrial and as thin air and the æther are both according to their natures Called bodies, they use the word body instead of the word flesh in order that an orthodox person hearing them say body may take them to mean flesh while a heretic will understand that they mean spirit. This is their first piece of craft, and if this is found out, they devise fresh wiles, and, pretending innocence themselves, accuse us of malice. As though they were frank believers they say, “We believe in the resurrection of the flesh.” Now when they have said this, the ignorant crowd thinks it ought to be satisfied, particularly because these exact words are found in the creed.3 If you go on to question them farther, a buzz of disapproval is heard in the ring and their backers cry out: “You have heard them say that they believe in the resurrection of the flesh; what more do you want?” the popular favour is transferred from our side to theirs, and while they are called honest, we are looked on as false accusers. But if you set your face steadily and keeping a firm hold of their admission about the flesh, proceed to press them as to whether they assert the resurrection of that flesh which is visible and tangible, which walks and speaks, they first laugh and then signify their assent. And when we inquire whether the resurrection will exhibit anew the hair and the teeth, the chest and the stomach, the hands and the feet, and all the other members of the body, then no longer able to contain their mirth they burst out laughing and tell us that in that case we shall need barbers, and cakes, and doctors, and cobblers. Do we, they ask us in turn, believe that after the resurrection men’s cheeks will still be rough and those of women smooth, and that sex will differentiate their bodies as it does at present? Then if we admit this, they at once deduce from our admission conclusions involving the grossest materialism. Thus, while they maintain the resurrection of the body as a whole, they deny the resurrection of its separate members. (Letter LXVIII, by St. Jerome, vol. 6, p. 178, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

At the Fifth Ecumenical Council (553 A.D.), there were anathemas issued against the heretical teachings of Origen regarding the resurrection of the dead and eternal punishment.

If anyone shall say that after the resurrection the body of the Lord was ethereal, having the form of a sphere, and that such shall be the bodies of all after the resurrection; and that after the Lord himself shall have rejected his true body and after the others who rise shall have rejected theirs, the nature of their bodies shall be annihilated: let him be anathema. (Anathema X Against Origen, Second Council of Constantinople, 553 A.D., vol. 14, p. 319, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

If anyone shall say that the future judgment signifies the destruction of the body and that the end of the story will be an immaterial ψύσις, and that thereafter there will no longer be any matter, but only spirit (νοῦς): let him be anathema. (Anathema XI Against Origen, Second Council of Constantinople, 553 A.D., vol. 14, p. 319, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

If anyone says or thinks that, at the resurrection, human bodies will rise spherical in form and unlike our present form, let him be anathema. (Anathema V of Emperor Justinian Against Origen, Second Council of Constantinople, 553 A.D., vol. 14, p. 320, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

If anyone says or thinks that the punishment of demons and of impious men is only temporary, and will one day have an end, and that a restoration (ἀποκατάστασις) will take place of demons and of impious men, let him be anathema. (Anathema IX of Emperor Justinian Against Origen, Second Council of Constantinople, 553 A.D., vol. 14, p. 320, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

In the first century there was a Jewish sect that did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. They were called the Sadducees.

For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection — and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both. (Acts 23:8, NKJV)

See also Matthew 22:23.

Finally, whenever one sees the words “People of the Scripture” or similar words in the Koran, one should remember that this term is being used generically for Christians and Jews. The negative remarks regarding Christian beliefs in the Koran are the beliefs of heretical Christian sects and not the beliefs of Orthodox Christians. In the Fifth Surah, it says:

Lo! those who believe, and those who are Jews, and Sabaeans, and Christians – Whosoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day and doeth right – there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve. (Koran 5:69, Pickthall)

Also, not all Christians and Jews were bad in the seventh century. The Koran says in the Third Surah:

They are not all alike. Of the People of the Scripture there is a staunch community who recite the revelations of Allah in the night season, falling prostrate (before Him). They believe in Allah and the Last Day, and enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency, and vie one with another in good works. These are of the righteous. (Koran 3:113,114, Pickthall)

There are good Christians and Jews today, too.

So, the text from the Koran of which I have done this exegesis (Koran 9:28-31) is talking about idolaters and heretical Jews and Christians. Those heretical Jews and Christians were apparently hypocrites, too. Whenever one reads the words, “People of the Scripture,” or something similar in the Koran, one should not think that it is describing the beliefs of all Christians and Jews.


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