Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

The Rise and Fall of Islam’s Greenhorn! Pt. 2

Sam Shamoun

We continue with our reply to greenhorn.

The reason why Q. 3:7 was “revealed”

Muslims like greenhorn never bother to mention the reason why Muhammad decided to contradict his repeated assertion that his scripture was clear and fully detailed. This is because they either don’t know or are too embarrassed by what the Islamic sources teach concerning this matter.

According to the Muslim expositors and biographers, Q. 3:7 was composed in response to a Christian group from Najran who were using Muhammad’s own teachings concerning Jesus to refute him.

For instance, here is what the early 8th century Muslim biographer Ibn Ishaq wrote:

“… ‘The plain verses are the mother of the Book; the rest are obscure.’1

“I heard a scholar above suspicion mentioning that these verses were sent down about the people of Najran when they came to the apostle to ask him about Jesus the son of Mary.”

1. Sura 3.5. (Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad, p. 257; bold emphasis ours)


When the two divines spoke to him the apostle said to them, ‘Submit yourselves.’ They said, ‘We have submitted.’ He said: ‘You have not submitted, so submit.’ They said, ‘Nay, but we have submitted before you.’ He said, ‘You lie. Your assertion that God has a son, your worship of the cross, and your eating pork hold you back from submission.’ They said, ‘But who is his father, Muhammad?’ The apostle was silent and did not answer them. So God sent down concerning their words and their incoherence the beginning of the sura of the Family of ‘Imran up to more than eighty verses… (Ibid., p. 272; bold emphasis ours)

Noted Muslim expositor Ibn Kathir concurs with Ibn Ishaq:

Surah Al `Imran was revealed in Al-Madinah, as evident by the fact that the first eighty-three Ayat in it relate to the delegation from Najran that arrived in Al-Madinah on the ninth year of Hijrah (632 CE). We will elaborate on this subject when we explain the Ayah about the Mubahalah [3:61] in this Surah, Allah willing. We should also state that we mentioned the virtues of Surah Al `Imran along with the virtues of Surat Al-Baqarah in the beginning of the Tafsir of Surat Al-Baqarah

<He it is Who shapes you in the wombs as He wills.> meaning, He creates you in the wombs as He wills, whether male or female, handsome or otherwise, happy or miserable.

<La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Almighty, the All-Wise.> meaning, He is the Creator and thus is the only deity worthy of worship, without partners, and His is the perfect might, wisdom and decision. This Ayah refers to the fact that `Isa, son of Mary, is a created servant, just as Allah created the rest of mankind. Allah created `Isa in the womb (of his mother) and shaped him as He willed. Therefore, how could `Isa be divine, as the Christians, may Allah's curses descend on them, claim `Isa was created in the womb and his creation changed from stage to stage… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; bold emphasis ours)


The reason for the call to Mubahalah and the revelation of the Ayat from the beginning of this Surah until here, is that a delegation from the Christians of Najran (in Yemen) came to Al-Madinah to argue about `Isa, claiming that he was divine and the son of Allah. Allah sent down the beginning of this Surah until here, to refute their claims, as Imam Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Yasar and other scholars stated. (Q. 3:61; bold emphasis ours)

These Christians were successfully using Quranic texts to prove that Christ is the divine Son of God. They did this by focusing on statements from the Muslim scripture which calls Jesus the Word of God that was sent to Mary and God’s Spirit which proceeded from God himself:

O ye who have received the scriptures, exceed not the just bounds in your religion, neither say of God [any other] than the truth. Verily Christ Jesus the son of Mary [is] the apostle of God, and his word, which he conveyed into Mary, and a spirit [proceeding] from him. Believe therefore in God, and his apostles, and say not, [there are] three [Gods]; forbear [this]; it will be better for you. God is but one God. Far be it from him that he should have a son! Unto him [belongeth] whatsoever [is] in heaven and on earth; and God is a sufficient protector. Christ doth not proudly disdain to be a servant unto God; neither the angels who approach near [to his presence]: And whoso disdaineth his service, and is puffed up with pride, [God] will gather them all to himself, [on the last day]. Q. 4:171-172 Sale

The angels said, ‘Mary, God gives you news of a Word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, who will be held in honour in this world and the next, who will be one of those brought near to God. S. 3:45 Sale – cf. Q. 3:39

Here is another English version of the above text:

“Behold,” the angels told Mary, “God has given you the glad news of the coming birth of a son whom He calls His Word, whose name will be Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, who will be a man of honor in this life and the life to come, and who will be one of the ones nearest to God.” Muhammad Sarwar

At this point, the Quran is simply echoing some of the things that the inspired Scriptures of God teach concerning Christ.

According to the Holy Bible, Christ is the Apostle whom the Father sent into the world:

“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.” Hebrews 3:1

As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” John 17:18

“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’” John 20:21

The God-breathed writings also proclaim that Christ is the eternal Word of God who created all things:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind… The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-4, 9-10, 14

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:1-3

“He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.” Revelation 19:13

The Christian Scriptures even go so far as to call Jesus a life-giving Spirit:

“So it is written: ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.” 1 Corinthians 15:45

The Holy Bible further teaches that Christ voluntarily humbled himself to become a servant of God the Father:

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 – cf. Matthew 20:28

“For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” Luke 22:27 – cf. John 13:3-17

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8

Hence, there is nothing in Q. 3:45 and 4:171 which contradicts what a Bible-believing Christian already knows and affirms about Jesus.

After seeing how the Christians were successfully using his very own teachings concerning Christ against him to prove the Divinity of Jesus, Muhammad realized that he needed to find a way out of the dilemma that he had created for himself.

Muhammad solved this problem (or so he erroneously thought) by coming up with Q. 3:7. He pretty much used this text to argue that the passages that refer to Jesus as God’s Word and Spirit are unclear and should therefore not be used to establish one’s position!

In his exegesis of Q. 3:7, Ibn Kathir mentions that this verse addresses those Christians who utilize the Quran to prove that Jesus is Divine:

<So as for those in whose hearts there is a deviation> meaning, those who are misguided and deviate from truth to falsehood…

<they follow that which is not entirely clear thereof> meaning, they refer to the Mutashabih, because they are able to alter its meanings to conform with their false interpretation since the wordings of the Mutashabihat encompass such a wide area of meanings. As for the Muhkam Ayat, they cannot be altered because they are clear and, thus, constitute unequivocal proof against the misguided people. This is why Allah said…

<seeking Al-Fitnah> meaning, they seek to misguide their following by pretending to prove their innovation by relying on the Qur'an -- the Mutashabih of it -- but, this is proof against and not for them. For instance, Christians might claim that [`Isa is divine because] the Qur'an states that he is Ruhullah and His Word, which He gave to Mary, all the while ignoring Allah's statements…

<He [`Isa] was not more than a servant. We granted Our favor to him.> [43:59], and…

<Verily, the likeness of `Isa before Allah is the likeness of Adam. He created him from dust, then (He) said to him: "Be!" and he was.> [3:59].

There are other Ayat that clearly assert that `Isa is but one of Allah's creatures and that he is the servant and Messenger of Allah, among other Messengers. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; bold and underline emphasis ours)

These quotations make it abundantly clear that the only reason why Muhammad claimed that the Quran contains unclear passages is because the Christians were using his own words against him, showing how he contradicted himself concerning Jesus. He therefore needed some way out of the mess that he created for himself. And yet, prior to that time, Muhammad was constantly boasting of just how clear and fully detailed the verses of his book actually were.

With that said, greenhorn has a lot of explaining to do.

It is now time to move on to the third part of our rebuttal.

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