In one of his articles1 Mr Jochen Katz has pointed out a
contradiction in two sets of verses of the Qur’ān. According to Mr Katz, 2:62
and 5:69 contradict with 3:85 and 5:72.
These verses are presented below:
those who have believed [in this Prophet] and those who became Jews and
Christians and the Sabians who [truly] believe in God and the Day of Judgment
and do good deeds, they shall have their reward with their Lord and they shall
neither have fear [for the future] nor any remorse [for the past]. (2:62)
those who have believed [in this Prophet] and those, who became Jews and Sabians
and Christians, who [truly] believe in God and the Day of Judgment and do good
deeds, they shall have their reward with their Lord and they shall neither have
fear [for the future] nor any remorse [for the past]. (5:69)
prefers a religion other than Islam, it shall definitely not be accepted from
him; and in the Hereafter, he shall be among the losers. (3:85)
rejected who say that God is the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary. And the Messiah
[actually] said: O Children of Israel, worship God, my Lord and your Lord.
Whoever ascribes partners to the One God, God shall forbid Paradise for him and
his abode shall then be the great Fire. And the unjust shall have no helpers.
In his article, Mr Katz has implied that according to the
first two verses, Christians, besides the Jews and the Sabians and the believers
in the new Prophet – Mohammad (sws) – shall be rewarded with Paradise, while the
third verse2 states that only the adherents of Islam shall be rewarded with the
eternal bliss of Paradise and the fourth verse has condemned the Christians for
their saying that Jesus (sws) is God.
In the opinion of this writer, Mr Katz’s contention that
according to the first two verses, all the mentioned groups are promised
paradise is quite questionable. The verse does not say that all the mentioned
groups shall enter Paradise; on the contrary, it says that Paradise is not the
right of any group – as the adherents of the respective groups would like to
believe – but is the right only of those who truly believe in God and in the Day
of Judgment and do good deeds. Thus, whether a person be from amongst the
believers in the new Prophet, the Jews, the Christians or the Sabians, he would
only be admitted into the eternal bliss of Paradise, if he truly believes in God
and the Day of Judgment and does good deeds.
Seen in the correct perspective, the verse promises eternal
bliss to those who truly believe in God and the Day of Judgment and do good
deeds. If a person qualifies on the stated criteria, then whether he be from
among the Jews, the Christians, the Sabians or the believers in the new Prophet,
he shall be inducted into the eternal bliss of paradise3.
should remain clear that according to the Qur’ān, knowingly ascribing partners
to God is, in effect, a rejection of God. Thus, if a person believes in God and
also ascribes partners to Him, his belief would not be accepted on the Day of
Resurrection. The Qur’ān (40:42) says:
people,] you call me toward rejecting God and to ascribe to Him partners about
which I do not have any knowledge, while I call you to [the path of] the
Powerful, the Oft-forgiving.
The above verse
is a clear evidence of the fact that according to the Qur’ān, ascribing partners
to God is effectively a rejection of God.
The foregoing explanation should clarify the correct
implication of the first two cited verses. As far as the third verse (3:85) is
concerned, it is quite clear from its context that the word ‘Islam’ in this
verse is used in its literal sense (implying submission to God), rather than as
a term to denote the Islamic religion. The cited verse, with its two preceding
verses reads as:
prefer a religion other than the one ordained by God, while to Him submits all
that is in the heavens and the earth – whether willingly or unwillingly – and to
Him shall all be returned. Say: ‘We believe in God and in that which has been
revealed upon us and in that which was revealed upon Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac,
Jacob and the groups, and in that which was given to Moses and Jesus and the
Prophets from their Lord. We do not differentiate between these Prophets
[believing in some and rejecting others] and we stand submitted to Him’. And
whoever prefers any religion other than that of submission to God, it shall not
be accepted from him and on the Day of Judgment, he shall be among the losers.
As should be clear from the given translation, the referred
verses are a call to submission to the Almighty, which incidentally, is
precisely the call of the Islamic religion as well. Seen in the correct
perspective, these verses shall be seen to imply nothing contrary to the message
found in 2:62 and 5:69.
As far as 5:72 is concerned, its alleged contradiction with
2:62 and 5:69 should stand completely resolved after the clarification of the
correct implication of the first two cited verses.
Mr Katz writes:
would ever say that Jesus is ‘another god’ as this verse mistakenly says, nor
that ‘God is Jesus’. It is only the other way around: ‘Jesus is God, but not
“all of God” ’.
In the referred verse, the Qur’ān does hold the Christians
guilty of saying that Jesus is ‘another God’. This is an incorrect translation
of the referred verse. On the contrary, the particular doctrine condemned by the
referred verse of the Qur’ān is of believing that God is Jesus (sws). However,
Mr Katz has stressed that no Christian ascribes to the belief that God is Jesus.
It should be kept in mind that the Qur’ān has commented
only on the beliefs of the Christians, who lived in the particular environment
in which the Qur’ān was revealed. There is some evidence, which suggests that
the Nasārā (Christians), who lived in the environment of the revelation of the
Qur’ān did ascribe to a few beliefs, which were generally not ascribed by the
Pauline Christians. Explaining this point, in one of earlier responses to a
question, I have written:
It is not
correct to assume that all the Christian sects gave up adherence to the Law of
the Old Testament. On the contrary, in my opinion, it actually seems more
realistic to believe that the Christians living in the Arabian peninsula during
the times of the Prophet (sws) and the revelation of the Qur’ān adhered to the
Mosaic laws of the Old Testament in letter and spirit. My opinion is based on
the following points:
has criticized the Jews and the Christians for their malpractices and incorrect
beliefs. These criticisms of the Qur’ān focus on the malpractices and incorrect
beliefs of the Jews and the Christians living in the environment in which the
Qur’ān was being revealed. For instance, the Qur’ān has criticized the
Christians of holding Jesus (sws) and his mother – Mary (sws) – to be divine
(5:116). However, this was (an incorrect) belief only of the Christians living
in that region. We are well aware of the fact that the general Christian
population does not ascribe to the belief of the divinity of Mary.
has not criticized the Christians of holding the law to be abrogated. If the
Christians of the times and region of the revelation of the Qur’ān had actually
held the law to be abrogated, the Qur’ān would definitely have criticized them
for it. We see that the Qur’ān has criticized the Christians on a number of
issues, but these issues, generally, pertain to the divinity of Jesus (sws).
Thus, it should seem safe to assume that the Christians living in the Arabian
Peninsula during the times of the revelation of the Qur’ān lived their lives
according to the Mosaic laws. Just as it would be safe to assume that those
Christians did not ascribe to the belief of ‘atonement’, for if they had, the
Qur’ān, most definitely, would have criticized them for it.
has called the Christians by the name of ‘Nasārā’. While, it is known that the
general Christians had come to be known as ‘Christians’ or ‘Masīhī’ from a very
early period (as is mentioned in the ‘Acts of the Prophets’). In view of this
fact, it seems quite plausible that the Christians living in the Arabian
Peninsula at the time of the revelation of the Qur’ān were generally those who
ascribed to the Nazarene creed4. The Nazarenes were a Syrian Judeo-Christian
sect that came to be recognized in the fourth century AD. According to the
they [the Nazarenes] accepted the divinity of Christ and his supernatural
birth, the Nazarenes also maintained strict observance of Jewish laws and
customs, a practice that had been dropped by the majority of Jewish
Christians. They used a version of the Gospel in Aramaic called the Gospel
According to the Hebrews, or the Gospel of the Nazarenes.
extremely unfortunate that the Gospel according to the Hebrews or the Gospel of
the Nazarenes is nowhere to be found anymore. Had it been available, we would
have known more about the beliefs and practices of this sect.
I hope the above explanation should raise a few questions
in Mr Katz’s mind regarding his objection,.
Courtesy: Understanding-Islam (http://www.understanding-islam.com/articles/responses/wcepogth.htm)