Response to Pope Benedict XVI -II

Response to Pope Benedict XVI -II

The Quranic arguments against God being a father are based on this essential attribute of Him. These arguments can be paraphrased as follows:

1. Firstly, if God is the creator of every thing He must be the creator of the person called His son. A father does not however, create his child, he begets it. One cannot be a father of someone whom He creates.

2. Secondly, a father can have a son only if he has a wife, “How can He have a child seeing that He has no spouse?” says the Quran. Muslims agree with the Christians that Mary is Jesus’ mother. But Mary is not God’s spouse; she is one of His creation.

3. Thirdly, If God is the creator of everything, He is necessarily self-sufficient. But if He is self-sufficient, He is not in need of having a child. “They say that God has a child. Exalted above that be He. He is the Self-sufficient,” says the Quran.

4. Fourthly, This problem is further aggravated by the belief that Jesus is coeternal with God the Father. How can someone who is coeternal with another be his child? A child must necessarily come after its father.

5. Fifthly, Christians also believe that Jesus died and was resurrected. How can someone who is eternal, who has no beginning, die? Muslim intellectuals have long ago pointed to the logical truth that eternity (having no beginning) logically implies everlastingness (having no end). Why? Because a being that has no beginning is necessarily self-sufficient; that it does not depend for its existence on something outside itself. It cannot therefore cease to exist, because a thing ceases to exist only when it lacks some of the external conditions of its existence. But if it is itself the cause of its existence, it cannot cease to exist.

When faced with such rational arguments, some Christians retort by saying, “but you are taking the word “son” literally” OK, we say, we will not quarrel with you over words. Give us the non-literal meaning of ’son’ that is immune from those contradictions. That non-literal meaning has never been forthcoming.

Sixth. In Islam we do not have to resort to any source outside God’s Book to prove that faith is compatible with reason because this compatibility is demanded by faith itself. The Quran acknowledges the testimony of rational principles, of empirical evidence and of sound moral values, and uses them to prove that it is the word of God.

The Quran says about itself in 4:82 that, “had it been from other than God they would have found therein much discrepancy”

It censures those who deny the testimony of the senses, in 6:7 “If We had sent down to you a written (message) on parchment, so that they could touch it with their hands, the Unbelievers would have been sure to say: “This is nothing but obvious magic!”

It stresses the fact that God enjoins good and never does he enjoin shameful deeds. In 16:90, it reads, “God commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, that you may receive admonition”

Biblical scholars tell us however that there are many contradictions in the New Testament and that there are factual mistakes in it. The Old Testament imputes to prophets like Lot and David the sort of immoral behavior that only the most deviant of human beings would commit. It is partly because of this that many people, including some Christians and Jews, no longer believe that every thing in the Bible is the word of God.

Seventh, the Pope quotes professor Khoury as saying, “But for Muslim teaching God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.” God is indeed absolutely transcendent, and cannot therefore be bound by any thing external to himself. He is the creator of everything including our categories. But being absolutely free from any external influence does not mean that His actions are haphazard, that he says or does something that is contrary to the reason with which He endowed us. God is absolutely free, but His actions are governed by His attributes of perfection. He does not therefore contradict himself; he does not enjoin something that is immoral, he does not say something that is belied by the empirical facts which He himself created. Can He do otherwise? Of course He can, and He is praised because He can, and because He chose not to behave in ways that are contrary to reason or moral principles. This has to be so. You do not praise someone for not doing an evil that he is incapable of doing anyway.

Eighth, true religion is a religion based on a message from God conveyed to us by His chosen Messengers. Our task is to endeavor to understand this message and to act according to its dictates. We may make mistakes in doing so, but we should not intentionally make any changes in it by additions or subtractions, because once you do this you will not be following a divinely revealed message but a message of your own making. “O Messenger, convey what has been sent down to you from your Lord; if you do not you will not be conveying His Message.” [Quran, 5:67]

A religion that is tampered with becomes a man-made religion, an ideology like any other secular ideology. But this tampering is what Jews and Christians have always been accustomed to doing. And this is exactly what the Pope is now doing with what has remained of Christianity. He wants to mould it into a Eurocentric ideology of which Greek philosophy and the renaissance are inseparable elements. What about Christians in other parts of the world whose cultures have no affinity to European thought? Would they now be obliged to study this thought and make it part of a religion which they know had its origin in the East?

It might be said that some Muslims are now doing the same with their religion. Indeed they are. But the consolation is that their attempts are futile. Islam is a religion that God promised to preserve and make available for truth seekers until the end of this world. “It is we who sent down the message and it is we who will preserve it.” [Quran, 15: 9] The original text of the Quran will always be available; the Sunnah of the Prophet that explains it will always be preserved. And there will always be honest learned people who would present this religion as it truly is. There will be deviations from this truth, and there will be many people who would believe in and follow them; but those deviations will never replace a truth that God has promised to preserve. He has preserved it for fourteen hundred years, and is sure to continue preserving it for the rest of time on this earth.

By Jafar Shaikh Idris

Response to Pope Benedict XVI -I

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