Academic Steps Trust - أمانة الخطوات التعليمية لتعليم اللغة العربية والإسلام






In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.


GOD has revealed the unbroken chain of belief and guidance through His Prophets to humanity. This book shows how previous Paths converge into THE STRAIGHT PATH. The writer approaches this subject through (a) objective writing and (b) group discussions to clear the mist of misunderstanding held by Muslims and non-Muslims about Islam.

This work attempts to unite the spiritual with the secular both in private and in public life after their long divorce. Religious belief is to be translated into moral action supported by all social systems; ethical, political, economic and in our duty towards God, to oneself and to others. All of these are sustained by a Divine Moral Decree that links the temporal world with the spiritual to save the welfare state of humanity and its destiny.

These writings hope to persuade Muslims, in particular the youth, to adapt a spiritual infusion, to safeguard their beliefs in relation to moral action. To non-Muslims and researchers in this field of study, it allows them to distinguish clearly the differences between Muslim thought, the behaviour of Muslims and Islamic theology and its conduct. It is also directed to assist students who need a reference book for use in Religious Studies and also as a source of reference in public libraries. It is an introduction to study the principles of Divine Decree in the Qur’an.


“And verily this is my Straight Path, so follow it, and follow not other ways, lest they cause you to deviate from His way. This has He enjoined upon you, so that you might remain conscious of Him” [Qur’an, 6:153].


H.M.Abbara is an Educationist specialising in Moral and Religious Development.



2nd Step on the Straight Path


v    1st Step

v   2nd Step

v    3rd Step

v    4th Step

v    5th Step

v    6th Step

v    7th Step

v    8th Step

v    Introduction

CONTENTS of 2nd Step on the Straight Path


Chapter 3.          The Qur'an.                          page:

     3.1    The Qur'an is Divine Revelation.

     3.2    The classification of the Qur'an.

     3.3    The collection of The Qur'an.

     3.4    The Characteristics of the Qur'an.

     3.5    Makkah and Madinah Revelations.

     3.6    The objective of the Qur'an.

              3.6.1  The teachings of the Qur'an .

               3.6.2  The source of legislation.

     3.7    The exegesis of the Qur'an.

              3.7.1  Translation of the Qur'an.

              3.7.2  Translators' testimony.

     3.8.   Evidence of the Quranic Revelation .

              3.8.1  The natural evidence.

              3.8.2  The scientific evidence.

              3.8.3. The historical evidence.

     3.9.   Discussion.

     3.9.1  The Qur'an.

     3.9.2  Occasion of revelation.

     3.9.3  Abrogation.

     3.9.4  Understanding the Qur'an.

     3.9.5  The interpretation of the Qur'an.

     3.9.6  Translation of the Qur'an.


Chapter  4.       Creation and communication.           page:

     4.1    The story of Adam.

               4.1.1  Conclusions from the story.

     4.2    The chain of the Prophets.

     4.3    Discussion.

     4.3.1  The creation.

                 4.3.2  The origin of Humanity.

                 4.3.3  Characteristics of human.

     4.4     Prophets.

              4.4.1  The identity of Jesus in the Qur'an.


Chapter 5.        The Prophet Muhammad.           page:

     5.1    Muhammad.

     5.1.1  Childhood,

     5.1.2  Adulthood.,

     5.1.3  Marriage,

     5.2    The Revelation.

              5.2.1  The mission,

              5.2.2  The Boycott.

              5.2.3  The emigration to Abyssinia.

              5.2.4  The mission to Ta'if.

              5.2.5  The Night Journey.

     5.3    The emigration to Madinah.

              5.3.1  The Muslim Calendar.

              5.3.2  The settlement at Madinah.

              5.3.3  Building the Mosque.

              5.3.4  The society at Madinah.

              5.3.5  The Universality of the Message

              5.3.6  The farewell pilgrimage.

     5.4    The Tradition, sunnah, of the Prophet.

              5.4.1  Selections from Hadith.

     5.5    Comment on the life of the Prophet.

     5.6    Discussion.

     5.6.1  Early life of Muhammad.

     5.6.2  The Revelation and Muhammad.

     5.6.3  The authority of Muhammad

     5.6.4  The Night of Ascension.

     5.6.5  The place of Sunnah in Islam.

5.6.6  The authenticity of hadith.

 5.7       Islam as a Continuous Message.         page:

     5.7.1  Discussion on:

     5.7.1  The relationships between revealed religions.

     5.7.2  Fatherhood.

     5.7.3  Doctrine of salvation.

     5.7.4  Doctrine of original sin.

     5.7.5  The Divine Scripture.



2nd Step on the Straight Path

3.   The Qur'an. An Arabic word means ‘recitation’ The Qur'an defines itself; it is the final Divine Revelation to mankind, combines the previous revelations and confronts by itself to prove that is the true Word of God in Arabic. It is a spiritual literature gives explanations to the spiritual consciousness within us and the spiritual world; it is the standard of true and false belief, spiritual guidance and moral, the Criterion of social life principles to maintain equilibrium in all affairs of human life. We try to examine that from different angles, i.e., its attributes, contents, its presentation, its spiritual teachings, its exegesis, all copies apart from Arabic are interpretation not translation, so we refer to translators’ testimonies and to evidence of its Divine Revelation, the natural, scientific, and historical evidence. It pointed out the Spiritual Moral Law in relation to law of Guidance and misguidance, law of belief and disbelief; consistent with law of cause and effect and its laws for human life, morally, socially, economically and educationally. Finally, we have discussion about these theme. We concentrate initially at start, on the Knowledge the Qur’an provides, such as:

4. The Creation and The Messages. The origin of man, the story of Adam and the conclusions we can draw from it, followed by the chain of the Prophets, in the discussion we refer to the creation and original of mankind, then prophets, their mission is one, their argument with their people and God’s Decree is a practical lesson for human being. We discuss the real identity of Jesus (peace be upon him) in the Qur'an, which leads us to evaluate the relationship between the Qur'an and:

5.   The Prophet Muhammad. (Peace be upon him). His life, how receiving the Revelation, the Mission, his emigration from Makkah to Madinah and other aspects of his life; the Sunnah; his tradition practical and his saying; Hadith. Then the relationship between him and the Qur'an; we refer to the stylishness of the Qur’an and style of the Hadith. In the discussion we contest about the above topics and at last we dicussed “Islam is a continuous massage, then, the relation between revealed religion. We then attempt to demonstrate the relationship of the Prophet to the basic principles and pillars of Islam, which are:



{Between Abbara and Dina expressing the Islamic view whilst Badr and Charles the opposite side of the argument}

3.9.  The Qur'an


                                                        ·"Behold, as for those who call God's Messages in question without having any evidence therefore, in their hearts is nothing but overwhelming self-conceit, which they will never be able to satisfy." (40:56).


Charles:   As mentioned before, the Muslims believe that the Qur'an is the infallible Book of the Word of God. God gives His Word - as a special ability - to Muhammad, so that he is the author of the Qur'an with special permission from God, as many geniuses are empowered by special gifts and ability.

Abbara: The Muslim has never questioned the authenticity of the Qur'an as the Word of God and would not fail to convince the world of its Divine Origins.

Charles: Nevertheless, non-Muslim scholars claim that while its style, in terms of classical Arabic, is unique, some of its content seem derived from the Bible and various Arab traditions. There are some scholars who have come to the conclusion that the Qur'an was the product of the Prophet's imagination.

Abbara:  Creative work challenge by others!. This Book has challenged the world during fourteen centuries. Today the challenge remains take, for example, the Prophets Moses and Jesus. Their Revelations are delivered as though they are mediums speaking on behalf of God, while in the Qur'an the Prophet Muhammad never himself speaks. He is always referred to in the third person, or addressed directly. Of course the Qur'an is related to the Bible, in that  the Bible is related to God, and the Qur'an is from God. The relation is there in that respect only. but the later book is more accurate.

Dina: Why is there a different style between verses revealed in Makkah and  those of Madinah?

Abbara: The Makki Revelations were concerned with belief. The style was designed to stimulate the higher emotions, to calm the soul and its passions, so as to permit access to the spirit. When it links up with it, then the mind starts to function,  cognition builds up more knowledge, then reason starts looking for clear evidence, as the content of the Madina’s  Revelation. The Makki were highly experienced in stylised Arabic with its embellishments; hence, when they were faced with the highest level of eloquence in the Qur'an, they were puzzled and found it intelligible.

Dina:  Allow me to tell you the story of how 'Umar Ibn al-Khattab became a Muslim, through the first impression received from the Qur'an. One day the non-Muslims decided to kill Muhammad and appointed 'Umar to do so. On his way, he met a man who asked him," Where are you going?"  'Umar answered: "I am off to kill this boy who has created such disunity among us." The man said "Is it not better for you to put your family right first?"  'Umar asked, "What do you mean?"  The man said, "Your sister and her husband have become Muslims."  So 'Umar changed direction and want towards his sister's house. Before entering it, he heard that they were reading the Qur'an. Then when he entered, he asked: "What was that voice I heard whilst I was at the door?"  They answered:  "You have heard nothing but good."  'Umar said: "I have heard that you have become Muslims "... and struck his brother-in-law, as well as his sister.  While he was doing so 'Umar saw the tablet from which he was reciting the Qur'an and studying it. and he said to his sister, "Give it to me".  His sister said, "You are neither clean nor pure enough, to touch it."…So he agreed to have a wash.  Then he started to read it. It read, "Taha. We have not sent down the Qur'an upon you to cause you distress, but only as a reminder to him who stands in awe (of God)as a Revelation from Him who has created the earth and the high heavens; the All-Compassionate set Himself upon the Throne...." (20:1-5). 'Umar was astonished in its style and wisdom and he changed from being a bitter opponent to become a close companion of the prophet. He went to where Muhammad was hidden and declared his acceptance of Islam.

Abbara: may I add; the first cause of 'Umar's conversion was the eloquence of the Qur'an, which struck him before he appreciated the reasoning behind it. The most important thing he did was to prepare himself to understand it by taking a wash and (ablution) to purify himself before reading it. Of course, the English bears do not do such justice any similarity to the original. "So the highest eloquence occurs at the level only in the best of forms, which is the eloquence of the Qur'an, and the highest level of eloquence belongs to it alone,"29.

Dina: What does the word "Taha" at the beginning of the verse mean?

Abbara:  These two letters (t and h) belong to the groups of letters prefixed to 29 of the Qur'an's Surahs. None yet know their meaning, but here Taha some commentators of the Qur'an think it to be the name of the Prophet, while others say it denotes "O Man."

Charles: But these letters, according to Western scholars, were put at the beginning of some Surahs of the Qur'an by those who arranged the Qur'an, e.g., Zayd bin Thabit... as initials for their works.

Abbara:  This allegation has weak basis. It ignores the extent to which Muslims are extremely careful about God's Words and copy them meticulously. Had those arranging the Qur'an done as you suggest, even supposing the Prophet's companions agreed, their opponents would never have kept silent. Such an accusation has never been reported before.

Dina:  Could you say more about the Qura’nic style.

Abbara:  The Qur'an uses different rhymes, strophes, and tunes according to the Message to be conveyed; you could read 2:1-5, when it speaks to believers or 2:6-7 to non-believers or 2:8 onwards, about ignorance while on criminality it is thrilling... Its tone changes according to be conveyed.

Badr:  Please return to the second part of the question about the Madani Revelations. Do you mean that the style of verses related to faith is different from those related to legislation?

Abbara: The style is still super-human, but the Madani Revelations are related to legislation, so each word has to have precise meaning to serve its application. In Makkah revelations, which are related to faith and, metaphysical matters the style altars accordingly.

3.9.2.  Occasions of Revelation


"We come not down, save at the Commandment of thy Lord. To Him belongs what is before us and what behind us " (19:64)


Badr:  The Qur'an was revealed over twenty-three years. Most of it was revealed in relation to particular circumstances, called "the cause, or reason, of revelation".  Hence the application or its original intent was related to those events, so why do we have to involve ourselves in its implications?

Abbara: The Qur'an was related to: The disbeliever, who rejected the belief, to the hypocrites who said one thing and did another, there were, in Madinah, Jews and Christians who had to argue on behalf of their belief in addition to that the general events. These events and their counterparts exist in every place all the time -

     The occasions of Revelation are often incidents unimportant in themselves, the important thing being their application. Though a text relates to particular circumstances, its lessons are applicable in all times.

      Thirdly: most of the Qur’an arguments between the prophets and their people to draw lessons to us to follow, not a stories to read. 

Charles:  But the occasion of Revelation of verse 2:144 is the request by Muhammad about the direction of prayer. When he was in Makkah he prayed in the Ka’abah. When he emigrated to Madinah, he prayed towards Jerusalem to please the Jews. After about a year and–a-half, when he realised they would not believe in his Message, he changed the direction of prayer to the Ka’abah in Makkah, despite its still being used by pagans of Makkah as a shrine dedicated to idol worship, Muslims were, in effect directing themselves to the idols, not to God. The occasion of this Revelation was important to teach people to accept God's decree and do what they were told, no matter whether it seemed right or wrong.

Abbara:  You refer to the verse which states: "We have seen thee turning thy face to the heavens (for Guidance); now we will surely turn thee to a direction that shall satisfy thee. Turn thy face towards the Holy Mosque."(2:144) The question and the answer is recorded in the preceding verse: "The fools among the people will say: "What has turned them from the direction they were facing in their prayer aforetime?" Say: "To God belong the East and the West; He guides whomsoever He will to a Straight Path."(2:142). Indicate that Jerusalem belongs to God and He will gave to the believers.

     A scholar should not repeat an accusation first made fourteen centuries ago. Please note that the verse does not say "the Ka’abah" but Holy Mosque". In those days, it was not a mosque - they did not exist- so the injunction here was not for Muhammad but for Muslims and the Ka’abah is simply a unifying direction.

      The Muslim, when he or she commences prayer, says:  "I have turned my face to Him who originated the Heavens and the earth and I am not of those who ascribe divinity to ought beside Him, so that "true piety does not consist in turning one's face toward East or West (2:177)  "and wherever you turn, there is the Face of  God". (2:215) The Revelation which established the Ka’abah as the qiblah of the  Muslims should not be a matter of contention for people of other faiths, nor a cause of their disbelief in  the truth of the Qura’nic Revelation as such.30.


3.9.3.  Abrogation:

                                  "My Word cannot be changed, nor am I unjust to My servants." (50:29)


Badr:    Can you tell me about some of the verses in the Qur'an in relation to abrogation?

     According to my knowledge, the rule of conduct was cancelled or replaced by other verses. But the question remains of how to know which verses were abrogated and which were still in place?

Charles:  Such abrogation indicates that Muhammad is the author of the Qur'an and that he changed his mind after a while Or we have to say that the Qur'an is inconsistent. In other words, the verse contradicts other verses.

Abbara:  First of all, we refer to the verse (2:106), which states "whatever ayah (verse) we abrogate. "We said before that ayah also means "sign". Here ayah means "sign", not "verse". If we read this verse with the previous one, which says, "Those unbelievers of the People of the Book (Jews and  Christians) and the idolaters wish not that any good should be sent down upon you from your Lord."(2:105), we can see that this verse indicates that the Jews and Christians were unhappy with this revelation because it abrogated "their Signs" i.e., the earlier Divine Messages. Hence it is related to abrogation of the previous Messages, as "God sent down the Gospels, Jesus confirming the truth of that which was before him, and to make lawful to them certain things that before were forbidden unto them" (3:50) So the Gospels both confirmed and abrogated what was in the Torah. But Jesus' Message was rejected in the same way, as God revealed the Qur'an to confirm the basic truths still discernible in the Bible and abrogate the rest. These Messages are related to God and He has the Absolute Freedom to reveal what is more suitable to His creatures at any time. This verse is related to earlier messages, not to the Qur'an itself. Many commentators on the Qur'an refer it to the Qur'an but they have no evidence, except a few verses like those about prohibition of alcohol.

Dina:   Would you please continue and clarify these stages as we always misunderstand such stages of management in administering the life of the people.

Abbara: They are not stages, but events linked with intoxicants.  The first verses revealed concerning this matter say, "They will ask thee about intoxicants and games of chance. Say: 'In both there is great evil as well as some benefit for man; but the evil which they cause is greater than the benefit which they bring'"(2:219). Here they ask and God gives the answer, but not legislation.

   The second event was the Message: "Do not attempt to pray while you are in a state of drunkenness" (4:43).  This indicates that legislation has not yet been revealed but a recommendation "O, you who believe. Intoxicants.... a loathsome evil of Satan's doing; avoid it ..."(5:90). In the circumstances it is not that one verse abrogates another, but that it is God's Scheme, as  the Law-giver, to give an example to those in legislative assemblies and education of how to legislate on a matter which has not only become a habit in man's sub-consciousness but has a biological connection. You cannot tell a man to stop smoking suddenly, but must plan to show him how he can do so. Therefore it is a matter of educational stages and processes, not "God changing His Word"

Dina:  How do we know there are not some verses which are invalid, in regard to the rule of conduct?

Abbara:   As we mentioned there are very few verses which do not correspond with others, to understand the immediate meaning of such verses it is very important that you should refer to one of the main references of interpretation of the Qur'an.


3.8.4.  Understanding the Qur'an


"Will they not, then, try to understand this Qur'an? Had it issued from any but God, they would surely have found in it many an inner contradiction" (4:82)


Dina: Geoffrey Parrinder says, "The teaching of the Qur'an is still little known in the Christian and Western world. There are historical reasons of separation and enmity that led to misunderstanding and neglect, and these ought no longer to apply if we are to live as neighbors and friends in one world; but there are literary reasons too. The Qur'an has rarely been well translated, and in translation it loses its poetic form and flavor. It is not an easy book to read... It is not possible to understand Islam without studying all the Qur'an which brings its own reward and gives at least an impression of the religious favour, originality and depth of this holy book.35

Abbara:  The Qur'an was not revealed for educated elite but for ordinary believers. Believers whether they speak Arabic or not, can develop a profound relationship with the Qur’an. It can easily be assimilated by those who have "pure spirit". In other words, if they free their hearts from bad intentions and refrain from evil actions, they can attain access to the Qur'an, whether they read Arabic or not. When they recite it, they increase their faith and purity and are guided further along the Straight Path. This increases harmonious relations generally.

      The second step is to access its wisdom through studying it. Special benefits accrue to such believers, as the Qur'an states: e.g., "It is an Arabic Qur'an for people having knowledge" (41:3); " that you might encompass it with your reasoning" (12:2) and "a Guidance for all the God-conscious" (2:2) These verses indicate that it needs reliable thinking on the one hand and a good knowledge on the other, attentive reasoning, supported by God consciousness..

Charles:  There are many scholars have not all agreed on the Wisdom you are referring to!

Abbara:  Their judgements are clouded by personal viewpoints.  Our reason is usually limited to knowledge related to our experience in this life, whereas other factors beyond our perception should be taken into account in our judgements and these can only be revealed God's Inspiration for those desire to.

Badr:  What do you mean?

Dina: It means that perhaps people judge a subject and weigh its consequences from within their own circumstances.

Abbara:  As we mentioned above, the Qur'an's Spirit and Light, the first correlating with Pure Spirit, the second with God's Light or Inspiration are given to those have pure mind, good hearted, who deserve it.

Charles:  But God's Inspiration is not only for believers. All people have spirit, which can communicate with its Origin, and thus obtain Inspiration.

Abbara:  The Qur'an is God's Word, Light and Spirit, which can only communicate with the pure spirit of a believer. It satisfies the spirit of every believer in relation to his or her level of belief. For believers, it is the source of spiritual life. For those whose spirit is clouded by wrong actions and disbelief, God's Light would not pass through their darkness. For them the Qur'an is meaningless, except perhaps as the supreme classic of Arabic literature.

Badr: This implies to me, that God preventing people from getting throw.

Dina:  Maybe you have misunderstood the relationship between man and the Qur'an. It is similar to the relationship between man and God. Such a relationship requires purity, belief and virtuous behaviours. True believers are those whom "He (God) has written Faith in their hearts and strengthened them with Inspiration from Himself"(58:22). O God makes us one of them!

Abbara:  The Qur'an is flexible and its unique aspect is that it deals with every individual according to his knowledge, reason and faith, including his moral behaviour. Every one has his or her evidence own spiritual relationship with the Qur'an, which usually corresponds with his relationship with God according to his or her own level of belief.

Charles:  If the matter is dependent on faith, the scholars' attempt to change attitudes from faith to academic perception is useless.

Abbara:  The Qur'an demands faith or right intention as a first step. This helps to purify the inner self. The second step demands determined study to gain the wisdom necessary to combine theory and practice.

Dina:  I would like to add that some non-Muslim scholars believed that this life was a temporary stage in preparation for the next, purified their hearts, and gained attentive reasoning and a spiritual link with the Qur'an and embraced Islam; e.g. Marmaduke Pickthall, who wrote The Meaning of the Glorious Qur'an, and Muhammad Asad, who wrote The Message of the Qur'an, as well as David Benjamin Keldoni, a Roman Catholic priest of the United Chaldean sect,  Sir A. Hamilton and  Sir J.L. Brunlon, who was both an English statesmen and Baronet, and hundreds of other educated scholars who do not blindly believe but, by reasoning and comparative study learn to discriminate between truth and untruth.

Dina: In contemporary time, there are lots of computer researches about the words in the Qur’an, and discover some words and their counterparts mentioned in equal numbers, for example man mentioned 24 time and woman 24 times, Angels = Satan = 88, are equal numbers 88. Life = death; 145.  And so on. What des means that?  

Abbara:  it is very interesting finding, I have, I have no idea, God knows best



3.8.5.  The Interpretation of the Qur'an


"We have revealed it to thee in slow, well-arranged stages, gradually, that they (who deny the Truth) might never taunt thee with any deceptive half-truth without Our conveying to thee the (full) Truth with the best explanation."  (25:33)


Abbara: As we emphasised earlier, nothing can equal an interpretation of the Qur'an made with a profound knowledge of all the sciences related to it. Best way to understand a verse from the Qur'an; by its related verses, by the Prophet interpretation and his Companions. Also the advance of various branches of knowledge has helped in the understanding of the Qur'an. Some scholars say that the Qur'an contains inexhaustible springs for scientists as well as scholars.

Dina:  It is easy to see, how, for centuries, commentators on the Qur'an (including those writing at the height of Islamic culture) have made errors of interpretation. in the case of certain verses whose exact meaning could not possibly have been grasped.  It was not until much later, at a period not far from our own, that it was possible to translate and interpret them correctly. This implies that a thorough linguistic knowledge is not in itself sufficient to understand these verses from the Qur'an. What is needed along with this is a highly diversified knowledge of science."36

Charles:  This indicates interpretations differ from one age to another. Doesn’t this have profound implication?

Abbara: You cannot generalise about this. as we said before, the Qur'an contains clear-cut decisive verses on the fundamental principles of Islam above which there is no argument. On the other hand, it contains verses which are allegorical and therefore controversial. The first are basic and were translated into action by the Prophet. The others are beyond human perception, and have been left for us to exercise our mental ability on. In the due course, their explanations prove that the Qur'an is Divine Writ for coming generations. Understanding of the ambiguous verse is related to our advance knowledge and discovery as we said before

    The Qur'an can be understood by comparing verses dealing with the same subject, thus providing the key to the meaning of any word. The word sultan, for example, gives the impression of knowledge in the following verse:     "No sultan (knowledge or authority of knowledge) have you for this. What! Do you say concerning God what you know not? (10:68) This verse indicates that the original meaning of sultan is knowledge.

Dina: Dr. Maurice Bucaille commented on the word amshaj that is mentioned in the Qur'an in: "Verily, we fashioned man from a small quantity of mingled liquids (amshaj)." (76:2). "This last word used to be understood to mean the male and female agents, but our more accurate knowledge shows that the spermatic liquid is composed of secretions from the following glands:  the testicles the seminal vesicles, the prostate and the glands annexed to the urinary tract."37

Abbara:  All previous interpretation is simply a reflection of the ideas current at the time. The Qur'an was communicated to man in a period which had, quite naturally, no knowledge of female physiology or embryology. The advance of knowledge indicates the accurate meaning.

Charles: If you believe that the Qur'an is consistent with scientific facts held to be valid now, if in the future they should discovered not to be valid after all, what will be the position then?

Abbara:  The Qur'an, as we have said, is not a book of science but science is referred to indirectly, in proving that God created everything and that the Qur'an was revealed from Him. It refers to creation, astronomy, the explanation of certain matters concerning the earth, animals and vegetables and human reproduction from earth, as in the evolution of the human embryo. These are all described in the Qur'an similarly to the results of modern science. So it corresponds with definite results, not with scientific theory which has not yet been proven as scientific fact. Science helps to prove what is already defined in the Qur'an. We mentioned before how, in the interpretation of the word amshaj, research made for new understanding. This calls upon the scientific man to build up a relationship with the Qur'an, in other words, with the Author of the Qur'an, God. So the Qur'an is a book of Guidance for mankind and neither a book of science nor a mine of cryptic notes on scientific facts.

Badr:  But we have heard a lot about "science in the Qur'an" and "medicine in the Qur'an", and so on.

Abbara:  The Qur'an includes all aspects of life: spiritual, material, physical and even historical. It is not a book of science but a Divine Decree and Law. What is referred to correspond with and does not contradict science, thus showing that the Author is God alone.

Dina:  I would like to give another example of how the interpretation of the Qur'an is related to man's development of his perception and comprehension. In summer 1987, a popular Muslim scholar came to London for treatment. The opportunity was taken to give a lecture about Islam. The lecturer then offered to answer questions. I found it a good chance to ask him to interpret the following verse. "Noah said 'O my people! I am unto you a clear Warner, saying that you should worship God and be conscious of Him and pay heed unto me so that He will forgive some of your sins and grant you respite until a stated term. But, behold, when the term appointed by God does comes, it can never be put back. If you only knew” (71:2-4).

     One of the Imams said, "Brother and sister why do you ask such a question? It is not an important question", indicates that this person missed God's Wisdom in this verse. The other said "I know what the one who asked this question meant, he meant that there is a disagreement between the two readings and interpretations: 'defers you to a stated term'; and 'God's term when it comes, cannot be deferred.'" The scholar said loudly, "He has no right to say, 'God said.'" (He meant that he did not believe what God said).  "It is clear enough that "when the term comes, it cannot be deferred."

Badr:  But his interpretation is right. Everyone's term of life is fixed; his age is written, God's Decree is definite and final, neither man nor any other authority can alter or, in any way modify it. Don't you believe so?

Dina:   All Muslims believe so in theory but not in practice.  Everyone, if he needs treatment, goes to the best physicians or surgeons. If he is in need of heart surgery, he does not trust surgeons in his own country but prefers to go to the West. If he believed his term was fixed he would never pay attention to choosing the best.

Badr:  This is the normal procedure, that every one does his best in case of illness. The treatments do not guarantee to prolong his life.

Charles:  This indicates that God appointed special rules for each person rather than a universal rule for all human beings. However, if the average life span - from 45 to 72 years - differs from one country to another, this is related to health systems and natural systems which affect man's life

Abbara:  Well, we try here to understand God's Wisdom from the verse mentioned above. It is related to God's Decree in a comprehensive manner, and is a highly difficult topic to speak about. However, I understand it as follows.

     The verse commands, "Worship God, obey Him and be conscious of Him." Anyone who is conscious of God and worships Him lives rightly and obeys Him, that is, no drink, no smoking, no drugs, no sex outside marriage and no abnormal sex; he avoids their respective diseases. As we know, more than 50% of road accidents are caused by drunken drivers. Smoking causes life to be shortened by from 10% to 25%, unlawful sex spreads disease at different levels and can cause death. Being conscious of God; leaves no time for depression or wish to commit suicide or desire for abortion, or infanticide. All things which stand against life are forbidden by Islam. Thus God demands Man's relationship with Him for Man's own safety.

     So whoever is conscious of God and obey Him will leave aside all things which cause death, directly or indirectly and live his normal term as decided by God's Decree or Law for all human being. No one's term is decided by a special law or decree. Each man has his own term according to his genetic potentialities  inherited from his parents, his way of living, the climate, the way he treats his health, and knowing what things harmful, including medicine,  etc.

Badr:  So you do not believe that God appointed a fixed term for every man on earth.

Abbara:  God the Just appointed the general term for human to live on earth according to genetic ability, but man destroyed this ability by his misbehaviour. Anyone who has a relationship with God and lives according to His rules is guaranteed his term of life in full. Hence, the fixed term is general for all mankind; it is not random in that every individual has an arbitrary share. We will discuss God's Decree in its turn, but here we are explaining the above verse and the Absolute Wisdom referred to. There is no contradiction, as the speaker thought.

Badr: What is the evidence for such an interpretation?  Some Muslim scholars do not agree that "God gives a respite for a stated term," but believe in what the Qur'an states: "When their term comes, they shall not put it back by a single hour, nor put it forward."(7:34)

Abbara:  Ibn Kathir's interpretation says "And respite you till an appointed time" meaning that He extends your life and the evidence for that is the Prophet's saying: "Benevolence towards the ties of kinship extends the age (life)."38 As we said before, the Qur'an is explained by the Qur'an or by a saying of the Prophet, and the closing sentence in the verse always refers to the meaning. "Would that you understood this" means that it does not have a straightforward meaning, but needs attentive understanding. God knows best

Charles:  So it is right to agree with Frederick Denny of the University of Colorado, who says, "there is, however, a persistent tradition, or pattern of thinking, down through the Islamic ages which insist that the fundamental authority in all matters is the Revelation as it is contained in the Qur'an.  But often the Qur'an has been the prisoner of the interpreters rather than their source and guide."39

Abbara:   As we said before, it is not an easy task to deal with God's Words and their Intention because we are in ignorance of the interrelationship between His Decrees.

       The Qur'an is God's Word; He alone knows what is intended in some verses beyond our perception. Therefore a true believer has not the courage to betray his responsibility before God by giving his opinion. So the true interpreter always tries to say what is authentic in relation to the Truth, and not give random opinions. No doubt those who made mistakes have given a bad impression of the Qur'an itself to people who have taken their word as a guarantee. But God has promised to explain it Himself in time to man, according to the subsequent development of mankind and to those who are conscious of Him. The Prophet translated most of its principles into action, while those which are ambiguous relate to things beyond our knowledge or perception. Scholars trying to interpret them may not succeed.





3.8.5.  Translation of the Qur'an


"... but they have cried lies to that whereof they comprehended not the knowledge, and whose -interpretation has not yet come to them." (10:39)


Charles:  An accurate translation of the Qur’an is not possible since many verses have different interpretations. Surely God meant His Revelation just for Arabs or those who know Arabic.

Abbara:  It is wrong to use the word "translation", but you could use the word 'interpretation'. Everyone has his own notions, according to his faith, knowledge and reasoning, of rendering its meaning in to other languages. In other words, they often contradict one another in their interpretations. I find it very difficult to depend on any one version in English, since one is often better in some places than another. So I use a combination of translations. Sometimes I quote half a verse from one translation and the remainder from another.

     Translation word for word is impossible, because it is not Arabic literature as such but a Spiritual merge from God; only He knows its ultimate meaning. Any “translation” is limited by the understanding of the translator. It is particularly difficult to convey allegorical verses in their deep meaning. It is relay not acceptable to label such an effort The Koran, as Dawood did, or The Holy Qur'an as Shakir (1986, edition) did,.

     As to your other point, that the Qur'an is directed only at Arabs or those who understand Arabic, the passages which relate to theology or public affairs are clear enough and have been translated into action. If a Muslim does not know Arabic, that does not affect his or her faith. Nevertheless, anyone wishing to increase their faith should learn Arabic rather than rely on interpretation of others. But each interpretation has its own usefulness.

Dina: You are right. For example, you could take four or five versions of the English translation and you will find every one has differences in the words chosen. Sometimes there is no relationship between them or with the original meaning, because some verses have so many meanings to choose from that a translation can never take the place of the Arabic word, nor is it meant to do so. Therefore, according to Islamic Jurisprudence, prayer salah should be performed in Arabic, in its actual words in their intended meaning.  Translation or Interpretation


Abbara:. Let us take some word to find out the different between the translation, the interpretation and the original meaning

     Translators render the meaning of many words differently. For example:

Ruoh the meanings of the word ruoh in the Arabic language is 'spirit'. The following 'translations’ or interpretations are examples of how this word is used.

      For verse 85, chapter 17, Pickthall says:  "They will ask thee concerning the spirit", which indicates the human being's spirit, as understood generally by Arabs.

        A. Yusuf Ali says:  "They will ask thee concerning the spirit (of inspiration)", which indicates the Holy Spirit, Gabriel, coming with Revealed Inspiration. In the same sense in the Holy Qur’an in English Translation

      M. Asad says:  "They will ask thee about (the nature of) Divine Inspiration," which indicates the Qur'an itself, the phenomenon of Divine Revelation. Hence, for one word, ruoh, everyone renders a different aspect of spiritual massage. All them could be right and makes no difference for right belief.

. Let us take another example Taqwa:.

         A.Yusuf Ali translated the word Taqwa as "fear of Allah" among others to restraint from evil, while the word literally denotes, "to be cautious, to guard against, to be conscious, take care of."

       M. Asad translated it as "God-consciousness" but there is a difference between fear of God, God-fearing, guarding (against evil) and "God-consciousness". The word is repeated more than 250 times in the Qur'an. Therefore the Western reader understands that "fearing God" is meant throughout the Qur'an from cover to cover, whereas this is only the interpretation, rather than  

    However, there is still the highest common denominator of sincerity between the translators.

Badr:  Which version can the reader rely on more than others?

Abbara: It is difficult to say. Each interpreter has his own level of ability, comprehension; awareness which depends on his relation with God, None of the present translations can be taken for granted. For example:

    M. Pickthal's use of biblical English tends to be a stumbling block for an average reader. He made some mistakes e.g. in verse 2:12, he says: "Are not they indeed the mischief-makers? But they perceive not." He translates the sentence as a question, but it is a statement. Arberry correctly translated this verse as: "Truly, they are the workers of corruption, but they are not aware".

    A.Yusuf Ali  translated the verse 2:26 "God disdains not to use the similitude of things lowest as well as highest," while Arberry translates it: "God is not ashamed to strike a similitude even of a gnat, or aught above it". While, Khan interpret it: “Allah is not ashamed to forth a parable even of a mosquito or so mach more when it is beggar…”

     In Shakir's Holy Qur'an 40, Shi'a doctrines have been indicated in the Subject Index of the Qur'an e.g., Husain, (Great Sacrifice-Zibh-e-Azeem), on verse (37:107) which reads "And We ransomed him with a tremendous sacrifice". This sacrifice refers only to the ram which Abraham subsequently found and slaughtered in behave of his son Ismael's refer to as well in (Genesis XXII,13). This is also referred to elsewhere (37:104) and (37:109).

     N.J.Dawood translated the last part of verse 2:187 "Then resume the fast till nightfall and do not approach them, but stay at your prayers in the mosques". This indicates that a Muslim should stay in the mosque during the time of fasting and should not approach the wife. But this statement is related to those who are making retreat in the mosques, which usually takes place during the last ten days of Ramadan. Thus, A.Yusuf Ali's translation is more accurate, which says, "But do not associate with your wives while you are in retreat".

     Also Dawood mistranslated the word fitnah which means temptation or causing trouble in (2:191) as "Idolatry is worse than carnage." While Yusuf Ali says "For tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter;" Asad says "Oppression is even worse than killing". Arberry says "Persecution is more grievous than slaying." In the Presidency edition “for persecution is worse than slaughter”. Khan use the same word “Al-fitnah is worse than killing”, in the foot note comment; Al-fitnah: (polytheism, to disbelieve after one has believed ii God, or a trial or calamity or an affliction, etc.) Each translator gives a different impression, but none of them is accurate enough to give exactly the right meaning, it mean also; sedition, mislead, guide into error , tale bearing etc.

    A. J. Arberry translates part of verse 2:61, "And abasement and poverty were pitched upon them," while Asad presented its meaning in a way more related to the original: "And so, ignominy and humiliation overshadowed them" Khan “and they were covered with humiliation and misery,” Hence, poverty and humiliation; each one gives a different impression. Also he translated (7:158) "...the Prophet of the common folk", instead "the unlettered Prophet"

Al-Hilali and Khan, their comment on verse [68:42] irrelevant to theme of the Qur’an and their comment on verse [44:28] “Thus (it was) And We made other people inherit them”. Their comment (I.e. We made the Children of Israel to inherit the kingdom of Egypt). This wrong interpretation, it is not relevant to verse [26:57-60] which refer to the “Treasure and every kind of honourable place”[26:58], which verse [7:137] gives details to blessed land not Egypt.

    Other versions in English such as The Holy Qur'an, Arabic Text, Translation and Commentary by Maulana Muhammad Ali (1918) and the same title edited by Malik Ghulam Farid, and The Koran, Arabic text with a new Translation, by Muhammad Zafrulla Khan. belong to the Qadiani sect, the main group of the Ahmadi sect, which tries to interpret the Qur'an in such a way as to serve their interests.

    Therefore, every interpretation conveys the meaning according the background of the interpreter in knowledge and theology and spiritual life. Hence, I use the interpretation which serves whatever topic we discuss. Sometimes you may find one verse quoted twice, each time from a different translation. The later one relay on previous translation. George Sale depended largely on Maracci a Latin version, and those who came after him depended on his translation or followed the same line of thinking, like Rodwell, J.M. The Koran(1861) who invents a new so-called chronological order of surahs.  Palmer (1880) and Richard Bell (l937), The Qur'an translated with a critical rearrangement of Surahs, apart from describing the Prophet as the author of the Qur'an, he believes that the Qur'an in its written form was 'actually written by Muhammad himself'(

     The honest work and true sincerity of Arberry cannot be ignored by scholars and Muslims, but still the publisher should have used the word "interpreted" on the cover rather than just The Koran.  

Charles: But in fact most of the commentaries published in the West were the work of scholars with a deep understanding of the Qur'an and without their works the Qur'an would never have reached the Western reader. If we had waited for a native Arabic speaker to translate the Qur'an in a thoughtful way, we would have to wait more decades instead of this work having been done centuries ago.

Abbara: Actually, we cannot ignore the fact of previous interpretations some, creating more confusion than pure academic works. It is enough to quote the introduction, of R. Bell who says: "I assure you the Muhammad is the Author of the Qur'an". This is based on an imperfect understanding of Arabic or the Qur'an. Everyone builds his interpretation on the older ones, the wrong basis. This, naturally, has given rise to various misconceptions. The other mistake of Western scholars is to believe that many words in the Qur'an cannot be explained from Arabic and must be traced back to the sources in Hebrew or Syriac before they can  judge their meaning, although Arabic was the original language it was revealed in and preceded the Hebrew which borrowed from it. Hence, because they are most familiar with Hebrew from the Old Testament, when they deal with the Qur'an they create confusion in it. Therefore, the disadvantage outweighs the advantage. But we have to admit again, that the most satisfactory English interpretation was done by Arthur Arberry, a non-Muslim.

Badr:  Academic studies or research, of course, relate words to their origin or facts to their similarities. So, if they trace some words to Hebrew or some event to its origin, no harm is done as long as it is related to the truth.

Dina:  In the name of research, the truth is twisted to serve the self interest. For example, take The Koran Translation from the Arabic by The Rev. J. M. Rodwell and its Forward by the Rev. G. M. Margolouth, who prepares the mind of the reader to relate the Qur'an to Muhammad, while Rodwell stresses this meaning whenever he finds an access to it in his comments, in addition to misrepresenting the actual meaning of the text.

Charles:  However, there is no need to refer to such mistakes because the version is so old, that readers have no interest in using it.

Dina:  Dr. Maurice Bucaille says: "Unfortunately, passages from the Qur'an, especially those relating to scientific data, are badly translated and interpreted, so that a scientist has every right to make criticisms - with apparent justification - that the Book does not actually deserve at all. This detail is worth nothing henceforth. Inaccuracies in translation or erroneous commentaries (the one is often associated with the other) which would not have surprised anybody one or two centuries ago offend today's scientists. When faced with a badly translated phrase containing a scientifically unacceptable statement, the scientist is prevented from taking the phrase into serious consideration."41

Charles:    Why do such errors in translation exist?

Abbara: "They may be explained by the fact that modern translators often resume, rather uncritically, the interpretations given by older commentators. In their day, the latter had an excuse for having an inappropriate definition of an Arabic word containing several possible meanings; they could not possibly have understood the real sense of the word or phrase, which has only become clear in the present day, thanks to scientific knowledge. In other words, the problem is raised of the necessary revision of translation and commentaries. It was not possible to do this at a certain period in the past, but nowadays we have knowledge that enables us to render their true sense."42

Dina:    God stated in the Qur'an:  "And if you are in doubt as to that which We have revealed to Our servant, then produce a Surah like unto it and call your helpers other than God if you are truthful. But, if you do it not, and you can never do it, then be on your guard against the Fire." (2:23-4). This Divine challenge has never been met, despite several attempts to do so. If the Qur'an had been from Muhammad this challenge would have been in vain. The relationship with God is a result of our trial in this world and to follow the Straight Path leading to Him.

The Qur’an sustained by presenting knowledge about the creation and communication between God and His creations through the Prophets and in particular the Prophet Muhammad, which comes next.




{Between Abbara and Dina expressing the Islamic view whilst Badr and Charles the opposite side of the argument}


"And (know that) we have not created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in mere idle play." [21:16].


4.3.1. The Creation

Charles: Islam look like it copy out what stated in the Bible about the creation of the earth and heavens.   

Abbara: Genesis. [1:1-3] indicates that God created the earth in six days. The Qur'an says: "It is God who has created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in six aeons Ayam; a universe day, (not an earthly one)" [32:4].

     The word "yaum" usually means "day”. Sometimes it means aeons or 'periods', e.g. "in a period of time yaum the measure whereof is (as) fifty thousand years" [70:4] and "on a day "yaum" the length whereof will be (as) a thousand years of your reckoning [32:4]. There are other verses which would indicate that this "day" is different from our normal days on earth.  So the formation of the Universe can be said to have six stages. God also says: "Go all over the earth, then behold how He originated creation" [29:20]. The Qur'an refers to the creation as "Signs" for the Creator. God created everything, in other words, as pointers to the Truth.

Badr:  But the Qur'an says that God created the Universe in two periods, not six; "Say, would you indeed deny Him who has created the earth in two aeons?” [41:9]

Abbara: Commentators such as .Ibn Kather  consider these two periods (please see 41:9,11,12) as part of the four periods mentioned later which, in addition to the two periods for creating the heavens, bring the total to six. These periods overlap, so we cannot say that earth was created first or the Heavens. The Qur'an sometimes indicates that God created the Heavens first: "God is He who created seven firmaments and of the earth a similar number." [65:12] This would also indicate the existence of seven earths, or planets like the earth. 

Charles:  Al-Tirmidhi said that the first thing God created was the Pen, made from Light, its length being the distance between Heaven and Earth. Then He created the Book, made from the milky pearls, its pages made from rubies; its length was likewise the distance from Heaven to Earth, and its width was the distance from the East to the West. Malik Ibn Anas  said that "one side of the Book was made of rubies and the other side of emeralds. While God was seated on His Throne (according to some), He saw the beauty of the Pen. He split it at the tip and created ink to flow through it, this ink will be sufficient until The Day of Judgment. Then God spoke to His Pen:  'Write' and it wrote everything from the beginning of the Universe to the end..."2

Abbara:  In Islam when God says something, He does not allow anyone to say something else. Such statements, if not related to the Qur'an, cannot be considered authentic Islamic theology.  This shows the difference between man-made stories of the Creation, which start with legends, and end with legends, no matter if the story is mentioned by a Muslim or a non-Muslim.  The Qur'an, the Divine Writ, gives definite statements about creation which are backed by scientific discovery. Islam is only the Qur'an and authentic Hadith or the best interpretations of learned Muslim theologians. You can find more legends in Western literature about Islam than good Islamic books.

Charles: One more thing, about rain. A writer says that God has created angels, half of whose bodies is snow and the other half fire. When they want it to rain they just put them close together.  Ibn-Abbas says that God has placed angels in charge of the rain and they will drop it where He wants it.

Abbara: Our evidence is taken from the Qur’an not from others. There is a difference between Muslims thought and Islamic theology. We listen to God, Who tells us how He causes the Winds to collect the water by evaporation. "It is God who sends forth the winds, so that they raise a cloud - whereupon He spreads it over the skies as He wills, and causes it to break up, so that thou seest rain issue from within it" [30:48]. As mentioned earlier, God sent the wind to fertilize the cloud as well, something that is proven in science. “ And We send the winds fertilizing (to fill heavily the clouds with water), then caused the rain to descend from the sky, and We gave it to you to drink,…” [15:22] If Muhammad had been the author of the Qur'an, how could he have known such things?

Dina:  The Qur'an predates Copernican theory by nine centuries, yet many verses state that the earth is round and revolves on its own axis. One verse contains an analogy that the earth is like an ostrich's egg. [79:30] This is what the latest astronomic information confirms. The fact that the earth is like an egg was believed by Galileo, who was in conflict with the Church over his support of the Copernican theory that the planets revolve around the sun.

      Another analogy goes, "He rolleth the night around the day and rolleth day around the night," [39:5] and there can only be one interpretation of this: that the earth must be round to allow them to roll. One more verse which confirms the revolving of the earth is: "And thou seest the mountains, and thinkest firmly, fixed, but they shall pass away as clouds pass away, a Work of God, who has ordered all things to perfection" [27:88].

Abbara:  The Qur'an is not a scientific book but refers to material creation in an allegorical way. God creates everything with its own characteristics and purpose. Nothing exists in vain. When we extol ourselves, rather than praise our Creator, we betray God’s trust.


4.3.2.  The Origin of Humanity


“We created man of an extraction of clay, then We set him, a drop, in a receptacle secure. Then We created of the drop a clot, then We created of the clot a tissue. Then We garmented the bones in flesh; Thereafter We produced him as another creature. So blessed be God, the fairest of creators!” [23:12-14]


Charles:  What can we learn from the story of Adam?

Abbara:  First of all, the Oneness of God: that He Alone makes all decisions. He teaches us that behind this world is the Unseen world and invisible beings such as angels and jinn, and that we are created from clay or soil.

Badr:  That may apply to Adam, but all of us are a product of male and female, while the Qur'an stresses that we are fashioned from sticky clay.

Abbara:  Yes, but we are still created indirectly from earth. The Qur'an says: "Now, indeed, We fashioned man from the quintessence of clay" [23:12].  The word sulalah, which means "one thing extracted from another thing", indicates that this body is composed of various organic substances existing on or in the earth, and is maintained by the continuous transmutation of those substances, through the intake of earth grown as food, into reproductive cells. However, the sperm and the egg started to be produced about forty days before being fertilised and, during its growth, the body is affected by the kind of food and its relation to the earth.  As the earth produces different qualities of each fruit, vegetable, grain, so human beings differ from one environment to another or from one time to another.   Even twins may differ to some extent because the sperm may relate to different substances and psychological effect at an early stage of existence.

Badr: But this interpretation refers to Darwin's theory of the origin of man and the biological theory of evolution: that man originated from the earth, was created from earth and then developed from one species to a higher one and the final stage is man. And his theory was welcomed by the West as a new discovery, so we return to the same story.

Abbara:  You misunderstood me. We cannot ignore that our original body was from the earth and that we are going back to it. Science has concluded that the body of man has the same elements as that of the earth. In this regard what Darwin said in relation to the biological facts is right. The Qur'an states: "Are, then, they who are bent on denying the Truth not aware that the heavens and earth were (once) one single entity, which We then parted asunder, and that we made out of water every living thing? Will they not, then, believe?" [21:30]

      It is interesting to note that the second son of Darwin, Sir George, supposedly originated the theory that the Moon was once part of the earth, until it was pulled free to form a satellite.3 Doesn’t this agree with the idea that this universe  originated as one entity from one single element?

    The second part of the verse clearly states that every living thing is fashioned of water; showing that all are connected to one origin.

Dina: This in relation to the material side, what about the Mind?

Abbara:  When God created Adam, He 'breathed into him of His Spirit', and the unique faculties which we have are derived from the spirit, which plays the part of inspiration in creativity as well as in moral guidance. In traditions the spirit enters the embryo when the fetus is about 120 days old.

Dina:  Hence, God creates us from three elements, the body from earth, the soul from the parents and the spirit from God. Since none of us can claim a better origin than another, why do we get individual differences?

Abbara:  There is no difference in people's status, but just as the earth produces different products in quantity and quality, so it is with human beings. Through our parents we inherit qualities going back many generations. The spirit uses them and the potential depends on the quality of the inherited characteristics, which also correlate with the environment.

Dina:       How does Satan have his effect on us?

Abbara:  As we said, man's faculties are controlled by his spirit and the spirit is related to the spiritual world, as Satan is.  So it is easy for Satan to communicate with our spirit and whisper to us On the other hand, believers receive inspiration and guidance from God or His angels. Hence the difficult task for us is living with dual possibilities; to progress forward with God’s help or going backward by satanic ways.

Badr: What about the tree from which Adam ate? There are different ideas about what it was.

Abbara: The only tree. This was an earthly tree and was not an evil tree.  When they ate from it, they became conscious of their sexual desires. Similarly we create from earth food and drink, which nourish our sperm. When Satan told Adam that if they ate from the tree, it would cause "a kingdom that never decays" [7:19-23], it was true; it would produce sexual desires, which, in turn, would result in procreation, thereby bringing them down from heaven to earth.

Charles: What about the sin committed by Adam and Eve?

Abbara:  The doctrine of forgiveness of sins is stated by God in the Qur'an. Its opposite is the Christian dogma that the sin of Adam and Eve was redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ (peace be upon him) on the cross. According to Islam, everyone receives the seed of his spirit from God, is born free from sin, and is accountable for his or her deeds - after maturity during lifetime: "And whatever wrongs any human being commits rests upon himself alone, and no bearer of burdens shall be made to bear another's burden." [6:164]. Neither can anyone make atonement for another's sins.  Adam and Eve each had to seek forgiveness separately; and God granted them forgiveness.

Dina:  So male and female are equal in doing good or committing sins and God is always willing and ready to pardon the sinner when he or she repents, without intercessors or mediator.

4.3.3.  Human Characteristics


                                                                    ·          "Verily, it is We who have created man, and We know what his innermost self whispers within him; for We are closer to him than his neck-vein." [50:16]


Abbara:  We are each unique in our characteristics, in attitude, behaviour, and thought. The good person sometimes commits bad acts; the evil one sometimes does good deeds. There is no set formula. Therefore behaviourists, psychologists and psychiatrists fall into a paradox about the complexity of man. The distance between the very top and the very bottom, however is very great: "We indeed created Man in the fairest stature, then We abased him to the lowest of the low, save those who believe and do righteous deeds." [95:4-6]. His Moral actions ascend him above his egocentric, and evils descend lower than outrageous beast.     

Badr: Maybe I am wrong, but it seems unfair to be treated like that, to be pushed from highest to lowest.

Abbara: Some commentators consider “the highest” refers to Adam and Eve in Heaven. When they committed sin, they were sent down for a while on earth to prove that they deserved their original place in the heavens and that they had to undertake great responsibilities for that. Satan was appointed as challenger: "Satan is man's open foe" [17:53] who tries to misguide us from the right way.

Charles: But how can man know the Right Way leading to Him?

Abbara: God is just and has equipped everyone with an essential part, "it [the human self] is imbued with moral failings as well as with consciousness of God" [91:8] "(Have We not) shown him the two highways? But he would not try to ascend the steep uphill road. And what could make thee conceive that steep uphill road? (It is) the freeing of one's neck (from the burden of sin)" [90:10-13].  Furthermore "Verily, We have shown him the Way (and it rests with him to prove himself) either grateful or ungrateful" [76:3].

Dina: The Right Way is hard and the individual who wants to follow it must sacrifice part of his comforts, desires and his worldly passions. Admittedly, the way of temptation is enjoyable for the body and soul, but the Way of God is a spiritual delight to the spirit and has to resist the temptation of awful desires.

Abbara:  Please note that: "God does not burden any human being with more than he is well able to bear." [2:286]

Badr.  But God says: "We created man to try him with affliction" [90:4]

Abbara: We have been put to the test not only by affliction but by His blessing wealth and powers. "But as for man, whenever his Sustainer tries him by His Generosity, and by letting him enjoy a life of ease, he says 'My Sustainer has been (justly) generous towards me'; whereas, whenever He tries him by straitening his means of livelihood, he says: 'My Sustainer has disgraced me." [89:15-16].

Dina: Humans are always amazingly arrogant: "Verily, man becomes grossly overweening, whenever he believes himself to be self-sufficient." [96:6-7] And "towards his Sustainer man is ungrateful" [100:6] So our character is in a state of imbalance.

Badr: How is passion, sentiment, and intellect divided between soul and spirit?

Abbara:  Passion is related to the soul, intellect to the spirit; but sentiment depends on motives. If one loves the Truth, it is related to spirit, but if one loves evil acts, it is related to evil desires, i.e., the soul. Anger is related to the soul, but if it is used in defence of Truth that means an act has disturbed the spirit, which is stirred up to put things right. So there is no borderline which defines each category. We function as a whole, and function best when there is balance between soul, and spirit between passion and intellect. So often, however, we fail in our duty of intellect: "Most of them are averse to the Truth.  But if the Truth were in accord with their own likes or dislikes, the heavens and earth would surely have fallen into ruin." [23:70].

Badr:  God has given us the ability to judge things according to reason. Aren’t we right to follow it?

Abbara:  Reason can be clouded by likes and dislikes. We are the most disputatious of beings: "Man is above all else, always given to contention" [18:54]. "He has created man: He has imported into him articulate thought and speech" [55:3-4]. If the reason is not related to Original Reason it will deviate from the Truth, and God withdraws His support to reach right judgment: "I will turn away from My Signs the arrogant and the unjust, so that even if they witness each and every Sign, they shall deny them. If they see the Right Path, they shall not walk upon it; but if they see the path of error, they shall choose it for their path" [7:146]. Reason is grounded in this life, while God plans for the good of not just this life but also the next.

Charles: Even if you submit yourself to God and do your religious duty, still you cannot guarantee guidance and forgiveness for yourself.

Abbara:  God knows my inner-self and judges my sincerity. If my actions are clouded by hypocrisy, ostentation, social influence, to gain personal benefit, of course such actions cannot guarantee forgiveness; God's Grace is involved. A very well-authenticated saying of the Prophet is, "Actions will be (judged) only according to the conscious intentions (which prompted them); and unto everyone will be accounted only what he consciously intended."5 

Charles: Man in Islam seems to me rather like a feather blowing about in the wind.

Abbara: This is a misunderstanding. Are we free to choose? God stated clearly, "Verily, we have shown him the Way; (and it rests with him to prove himself) either grateful or ungrateful" [76:3]. He guides us not only by having endowed us with reason but also by means of Revelation.

Badr: So why is mankind arrogant, like you?

Dina: Because they do not believe in the next life as they should. If we believe, we will purify our present existence. "With all this, man (often) says 'What? Once I am dead, shall I again be brought forth alive?'" [19:66]. If he believes, his motivation will be purer and this will result in good acts.

      God says, "Consider the flight of time. Verily, man is bound to lose himself unless he be of those who attain to Faith, and do good works, and enjoin upon one another the keeping to Truth, and enjoin upon one another patience in adversity." [103:1-3].

Abbara: Our life is only one the present time and our destiny depends on this moment; we will cultivate what we have planted in it; if it is good we gain goodness, if it is immoral we reap evilness. The past is like past dream and the future time is a daydream, so your life is like a bird flying towards its destiny you cannot hold it, but you can control this flash of time and you are able to grow the seeds of belief to associate with you creator.


4.4.  The Prophets


"Not an apostle did We send before thee without this Inspiration sent by Us to him: that there is no god but I; therefore worship and serve Me." [21:25]


Abbara: God helps us by all means.  He has endowed us with an inner sense of Himself and gives us faculties which lead to Him through observation, research and exercise of mental ability. He has provided us with spirit; our vision may be clouded by evil and may easily be deceived by any phenomenon appearing in the name of religion. Therefore, God sent Prophets and Messengers, at times when people were particularly diverted from His Way, to call us back to the Right Way. In the case of the last Prophet, He granted that He would guard His Message and that there would be true believers to the end of the world.

Badr:  To me Prophet and Messenger are synonymous. Is there a distinction between them?

Abbara:.  A Prophet's Message is for his tribe, kin or his particular area, while a Messenger's Message is universal, like that of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Therefore, every Messenger is a Prophet, but not vice versa. A Messenger is the recipient of a Divine scripture which he is obliged to transmit, while a Prophet receives inspiration and commandments.

Badr:   Why did God choose a human being to convey His Message? Most prophets come from the Middle East, while other parts of the world have not received a Message; they seem to have been ignored by God.

Abbara:  Using an actual human being as an intermediary is more effective than using angels or sending a Book. The Prophets were not delivering a new Message, and it was necessary for them to perform miracles in order for people to believe. But they were only reminders to warn us to return to the Right Way. The inner self, the spirit with its consciousness of God, recognises that.

     As to why the Prophets arose in the Middle East, God stated "And indeed, within every community have we raised up an Apostle to worship God and shun the powers of evil," [16:36], but they are not mentioned in the Qur’an by name. This last message was well known at the time of revelation. The Prophet Muhammad sent his messengers to rulers in neighbouring lands, but the Message could have come indirectly as well.

     Regarding your comment about those who search for Truth being easily mislead, maybe you are right in regard to the past, but now the information is widely available for those searching for the Truth.

Dina:  All Prophets called humanity back to God, all taught the same Message and all experienced the same kind of rejection by the people they addressed. Muslims do not believe that there has been any change in what was revealed then and now. The same was revealed to Moses (in the Torah), through Jesus (in the Gospel Injil) and to David (in the Psalms Zabu), but Muslims believe that these books have been corrupted or not preserved in their original form; they may have been added to, parts substituted, and alterations made. There’s research evidence extant on this. But there is no doubt that the last Message has been preserved by God, exactly as it was originally revealed and has been kept safe from human additions.

Abbara:  The Message of God developed in concert with human social development, as humanity acquired the ability to keep the Message intact. A recent expression of this notion was by Muhammad Abduh (d. 1905), who spoke of the three ages of mankind: its childhood with Moses and the Torah (Old Testament); its youth with Jesus and the Gospel, which speaks to the heart and appeals to the sentiments; and its adulthood with Muhammad and the Qur'an, the age of Islam,6 a religion conforming to the reason that is written in every one's heart.

Dina:  The Prophet's role is to point out the way to follow by word and example, to warn of perils, illusions and deceptions, and to bring us closer to God through His Law, walking in the Straight Path leading to Him.

Charles: Most of the Prophets mentioned in the Qur'an are already mentioned in the Bible, to link the Message with previous Revelations. The exceptions are those sent to Arab tribes, e.g., Hud, Shu'aib etc. The Qur'an repeatedly recounts the stories of the Prophets and the catastrophes that overcame Pharaoh and the Egyptians and the peoples of Lot, Noah and Thamud. Muhammad used these examples to warn his opponents of the Wrath of God that they would have a similar end if they did not accept His Message. This tactic is used repeatedly.

Abbara:  Whenever the Qur'an mentions previous Prophets it is confirmation from God that they were true Prophets. The Bible does not give them the same treatment as in the Qur’an. Repeating the stories is the explanation the practical God’s decree and how demonstrate God’s ruled in the life of His creations. In other word; the Ways [Sunnah] of the Prophets give explanation to the Way [Sunnah] of God.    

Charles:  The Qur'an refers to other Prophets, e.g., Dhul-Qarnayn, "the two-horned", which refers to Alexander III (b.356 BC) King of Macedonia, and to Mary as a Prophetess. Besides that, it confuses Mary, the mother of Jesus, with Miriam, the sister of Aaron and Moses. Though, of course, Muslims would not accept the suggestion that there is error or confusion here.

Abbara:  Dhul-Qarnayn is mentioned only once [in 18:94]. Neither the Qur'an nor any authentic tradition says anything about him nor refer to him as a Prophet. If any commentator on the Qur'an refers to him as being Alexander of Macedonia, it is not acceptable to Islamic theologians; we can safely dismiss speculations that he was a prophet.

     The Virgin Mary was never a Prophetess. In regard to the verse that refers to the "sister of Aaron in belief": the Qur'an exalted her as a believer and the Qur'an always stated that, "All believers are but brethren" [49:10].



4.4.A. Jesus as an Ideal in the Qur'an


"'Oh Mary! Behold! God sends thee the glad tidings of a Word from Him (of a son), who shall become known as the Christ, Jesus, son of Mary, of great honour in this world and in the life to come, and (shall be) of those who are drawn near unto God. And he shall speak unto men in his cradle, and as a grown man, and shall be of the righteous.' Said she: 'O my Sustainer! How can I have a son when no man has ever touched me?' The angel answered: 'Thus it is: God creates what He wills: when He wills a thing to be, He but says to it "Be", and it is.'" [3:45-47].


Abbara: The Qur'an gives a greater number of venerable titles to Jesus than to any other figure. He is a 'sign', a 'mercy' [19:21], a 'witness' [5:17], and an 'example' [43:57]. He is called by his proper name 'Issa (Jesus) [2:87], by the titles Messiah (Christ) [4:157], 'Messenger' [4:157], 'Prophet', 'servant' [4:172], 'Word', 'Spirit of God' [4:171], and son of Mary [4:171]. The Qur'an gives two accounts of the annunciation and birth of Jesus [19:23], and refers to his teaching [19:30] and healing, and his death and exaltation [3:55]. The ideality of Jesus in Islamic theology is pure and clean; he birth was miraculous. He was the chosen, a human being of a higher status than others.

Dina: The Qur'an states that Jesus would "speak to men while yet in his cradle" [3:46], was imbued with wisdom from early childhood and would become a Prophet when he grew up, since it is not conceivable that anyone, including Muhammad, could be granted Divine Revelation and made a Prophet before attaining maturity.

Charles: What does the Qur'an say about Jesus and Mary?

Abbara: God has, in Mary’s honour, entitled one chapter of the Qur'an in her name "Maryam" (Mary). This Surah was revealed in Makkah, where no Christians were living. The Qur'an mentions Mary in several places. She was consecrated to God while still in her mother's womb. The Qur'an gives details of her origin and her background. She devoted herself to God and was innocent of all sin. Chastity was her special virtue; therefore she was honoured by having a 'son of virgin birth'. "And remember she who guarded her chastity, whereupon We breathed into her of Our Spirit and chose her, together with her son, to become a symbol (of our Grace) unto all people" [21:91].

    The Qur'an stresses in many places that Jesus is like Adam, created without a father by the power of the Creative Word of God alone. "Verily, in the Sight of God, the nature of Jesus is as the nature of Adam, whom He created out of dust and then said unto him 'Be' and he was.” [3:59]. 

Dina:  According to the Qur'an, Jesus, in his role of Prophet, was sent to the Sons of Israel to recall them to strict monotheism. The Message of Jesus was not a new message called "Trinitarianism" but the same Message that Moses brought, that is, to believe in One God. If his Message had not complied with Judaism, he would not have confirmed the Old Testament. His message was in fact the same message of other prophets to serve One God; the Straight Path to God.

Abbara: Such arguments will never end. However, let’s continue with what the Qur'an says. Jesus spoke from his cradle: "When she returned to her people, carrying him, they said to her, 'O Mary, you have done an amazing thing!' She pointed to him, (but) they said, 'How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?' He said: 'Behold! I am a servant of God; He has vouchsafed unto me Revelation and made me a Prophet." [19:27-30]

     God sustained him and accomplished marvelous miracles with the sons of Israel. "I have come unto you with a Message from your Sustainer. I shall create for you out of clay, as it were, the shape of a bird, and then breathe into it, so that it might become a bird by God's leave, and I shall heal the blind and the leper, and bring the dead back to life by God's leave..." [3:49]. In spite of this, the Jews did not believe in his Message, his followers later on raised his status from Prophet to the rank of divinity, while Islam, confirmed his true original status.

Charles: The mystery of the Person of Christ is a mystery of faith, which only becomes apparent through the experience of a life of faith and not through theological discussions.

Dina:  The Qur'an calls us to reason rather than to rely on faith alone, but the aim of Christianity and Islam is the same, to call people back to God and bid they live in peace and unity. There is thus no essential difference between them, as the meeting point is God, whom you call Father. To say that Jesus is raised up to equal God, however, defies reason.

Abbara:  God appeals to Christians through the Qur'an as follows:  "O followers of the Gospel! Do not overstep the bounds (of Truth) in your religious beliefs, and do not say of God anything but the Truth. The Christ, Jesus, son of Mary, was but God's Apostle, (the fulfillment of) His Promise which He had conveyed unto Mary - and a soul created by Him. Believe, then, in God and His Apostle, and do not say '(God is) a trinity.' Desist (from this assertion) for your own good; God is but One God. Utterly remote is He, in His Glory, from having a son.  Unto Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth; and none is as worthy of trust as God." [4:171].

Charles:  It is a matter of belief. Everyone has his or her belief. Theology cannot be applied like scientific data.

Dina:  Pure reason is free from all pre-conceived ideas. If the mind is clear from prejudiced opinion, we can reach the Truth and nothing but the Truth.

Badr:  You are right, one should clear one's mind, but it is not possible because faith is based on experience.

Dina:  Yes, faith is part of experience, but knowledge results from this. When I obtain new knowledge, I assess it, compare it with previous knowledge, and adopt a new approach. If you can postpone belief and look at the matter logically, you will come to know the Truth, regardless of belief.

Abbara:  It is true that everyone has his or her own religion and is satisfied with it. However, as we have seen, the Qur'an gives accurate statements without prejudice. If Muhammad, as a human being, were the author of the Qur'an, he could not have stated these facts precisely, as naturally accepted by those who are blessed with insight. The Qur’an is free from prejudice towards Mary and Jesus and all the Prophets.

Charles:  There is a Hadith about Jesus that Muslims believe in that at some time in the distant future, he will return to earth and he will judge the world justly at the end of time. Do you believe this?

Abbara:  There is no reference in the Qur'an to this matter. It is a tradition in the Old Testament that said that the Messiah was coming. When Jesus came the Jews did not believe in him. In the New Testament it is said that the saviour would come. Periqlytos in Aramaic, the praiseworthy one referred to Muhammad; when Muhammad came, neither Jews nor Christians believed in him as the saviour. Hence, the idea of Messiah; the saviour still exists even though it was abrogated by the coming of Jesus. The Christian belief was also abrogated when the Prophet Muhammad was sent and God made him: “The Seal of all Prophets” [33:40]. And God stated again that His Mercy has been sent to all mankind: “And [thus, O Prophet,] We have sent thee as [an evidence of Our] grace towards all the worlds.” [21:107].

     Asad commented on this verse: “The universality of the Qura’nic revelation arises from three factors: firstly, its appeal to all mankind irrespective of descent, race or cultural environment; secondly, the fact that it appeals exclusively to man’s reason and hence, does not postulate any dogma that could be accepted on the basis of blind faith alone; and, finally, that fact that - contrary to all other sacred scriptures known to history - the Qur’an has remained entirely unchanged in its wording ever sine its revelation fourteen centuries ago. It is by virtue of three factors that the Qur’an represents the final stage of all divine revelation and that the Prophet through whom it has been conveyed to mankind is stated to have been the last or “the seal” of all prophets”. If Jesus comes again he should have with him a revelation from God which abrogates the last Message, and there is no reference to that.

Charles: What a surprise, everyone, Christians; Jews and Muslims believe in Jesus’ coming, while you disbelieve!

Abbara: If God says a thing it is definite confirmation from Him, while others follow their own speculations and assumptions. However, Jews do not believe in Jesus but they still believe in the Christ who’s yet to come. God indicates there is no return to Jesus after his death to witness the truth against the people of the Book as they claimed. God says: “There is no one of the people of the Book who does not, at the moment of his (Jesus) death, grasp the truth about him (he was truly a mortal prophet); and on the Day of the Resurrection he will be a witness against them” [4:159]; If Jesus peace be upon him will come back to bear witness to the truth of their belief in this life, God would not have mentioned his witnessing only on Resurrection Day.

Dina: This is confirmed by God when He says, “What, shall I seek after any judge but God? For it is He who sent down to you the Book well-distinguished; and those whom We have given the Book known it is sent down from they lord with the truth; so be not thou of the doubters. Perfect are the words of thy Lord in truthfulness and justice; no man can change His words; He is the all-hearing, the all-knowing.”

Charles: Do you believe in Jesus then?

Abbara: Yes, every Muslim believes he is a Prophet of Islam or Messenger of God whose Message was abrogated by God through His Final Message in Islam.

Charles: Who, in your view is superior, Jesus or Muhammad?

Abbara:  Muslims follow God's command: "We make no distinction between any of His Apostles". [2:285]. In the Qur’an Jesus is praised and given attention more than Muhammad. He is mentioned by name twenty-five times while Muhammad is mentioned only four times. Jesus was supported by the Holy Spirit, so he could prove that he was the Messenger of God, while Muhammad was only supported by the Qur'an. Jesus' miracles died with him, while Muhammad died leaving a living miracle - the Qur'an - forever.

Dina: All the Prophets were working in the same line, calling mankind to walk on the Straight Way to God, to save their destiny.



{Between Abbara and Dina expressing the Islamic view whilst Badr and Charles the opposite side of the argument}


 The Life of Muhammad.


"But those who believe and do righteous deeds and believe in what is sent down to Muhammad- and it is the Truth from their Lord- He will acquit them of their evil deeds and dispose their minds aright." [47:2]


5.6.1. Early Life


Abbara: Some literature or biographies about Muhammad’s life are admittedly, irrelevant stories, and paradoxical. I believe such stories were made up to influence people to follow his teaching.

Charles:    May I quote you the following: "He was born pure, circumcised, his umbilical cord cut by the hand of Divine Power. He was born fragrant and endured with pomade, his eyes coloured with Kohl of divine care".10 And his mother miraculously gave birth without pain but she felt that the help of God was with her.

Abbara:     In fact he was born a normal child.

Badr:   There are reports that the Prophet’s mother dreamed that light came forth from her body and that she was directed to call the baby Muhammad. Furthermore, the palaces of kings of Byzantium were lit up. The historian Ibn Kathir says that a Jewish tradesman living in Makkah went out the night the Prophet was born and said: "Listen and remember what I will now tell you. The last of the Prophets was born this night and on his back, between his shoulders, is the Seal of Prophethood." Next morning, when he saw it, he said, "The honour of the Prophethood has gone from the Children of Israel, and you, O Quraysh [Muhammad’s tribe] have inherited it."

Abbara: The stories foretelling his Prophethood indicate that it was well known to people that he would be a Prophet, and his tribe would be proud of him. But his normal life as an orphan or his adulthood is not in fact mentioned in historical accounts or by poets. What we know about his reputation is that he was trustworthy. When he received the first Revelation he was alarmed, not pleased that he’d been appointed a Prophet. He thought something bad had happened to him.

Dina: Why was it the custom to send babies to the desert to be nursed?

Abbara: This was said to be for the child, so that he’d be healthy and gain eloquence. Muhammad was nursed by a lady called Halimah for about six years. In the desert a child grows pure in heart and clean. The soul and spirit develop free from the malign influences of society.

Charles: I recently listened to a programme on the radio called "Heart washed by snow". When Muhammad was under the care of his nurse it was reported that while he was out tending some sheep with his foster brother at the back of their house, two men (angels) in white came to him with a golden basin filled with snow. These men opened his chest and washed his heart with the snow until it became clean and pure. What do you think of that?

Abbara:  Such stories add little to his standing as a Prophet. It is not reported in any authentic Hadith, nor is it fully accepted or disputed by scholars. My view is that this story contradicts with one of the earliest revelations which said, “And thy inner self purify!” [74:3] God asked him and every one to be true believers, firstly by purifying the heart of all that is blameworthy not with snow but with true belief and right deeds. If his heart had been washed before, then there was no necessity for this commandment to be washed again!. Some Muslims exaggerate about the position of the Prophet more than what is already in the Qur’an.

Dina: When was Muhammad born? What does his name mean in Arabic?

Abbara: Briefly, he was born in the year 570 C.E., the twelfth day of the Muslim month of Rabi' al Awwal. His father died before he was born, so he was an orphan. His mother and grandfather, who took care of him, both died before he was eight, and he spent six years in the desert with his foster mother.

     In his early childhood he did not get the care and affection that is given to the average child. The uncle who later took care of him had a large and poor family. Once his uncle took him on a business trip to Damascus, and when he returned to Makkah, he tried to look after himself and become a shepherd, living in isolation from society.

     He was ill treated and had no education of any kind.  His name means 'the highly praised one'. It was the first time this name had been used for anyone in Arabic. Muslims believe that his grandfather and his mother obtained this name from inspiration from God. It was intended that past Scriptures be linked with the Last Message. But his mother and grandfather of course did not plan the path of Prophethood for him.

Charles:    What do you mean?

Abbara:     I mean that his name was mentioned in the Old and New Testaments in such texts as "And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Periqlytos, that he may stay with you forever." [John XIV, 16 etc.]

Charles:    But that does not refer to Muhammad directly.

Abbara:     True. But this is not the actual word of Jesus in the Aramaic or Hebrew language. Muslims believe that what is stated in the Gospel is the same as what God says in the Qur'an in the verse: "And (this happened too) when Jesus, the son of Mary said, 'O children of Israel!  Behold!  I am an Apostle of God come unto you, (sent) to confirm the truth of whatever there remains of the Torah, and to give (you) the Glad Tidings of an Apostle who shall come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad (The praised).'"  [61:6].

Charles.  This a reference to the Qur'an but not to the Gospel…

Abbara. The two are linked because Jesus said that the Father would send another Apostle, whose name would be Periqlytos (Periqlytos), which means, "the much praised" and that must refer to the names Muhammad or Ahmad, because these two names are derived from the verb hamada, meaning "praised".

Dina:  He gained a reputation for honesty and they called him "The trustworthy". He led a normal life and gave no indication that he was to become a great man. He was just a mortal like all human beings and his greatness was not in him but in the Message he conveyed and the greatness of the Message.

     I am sure that it will soon become clear that mankind's development can be seen to correlate with this message. If it had derived from Muhammad himself it would never have survived, or become so widespread, then and now, but the Message has eternal life within human life.

Charles: So you are not happy with the study that placed him at the top of the list. In fact, the same man who did the evaluation placed Jesus in third place.

Dina: Of course, you cannot compare Prophets with ordinary people. I believe it is illogical to use such standards. There is a difference between one who achieve greatness by their own work and those chosen by God to guide man to the Straight Path.


5.6.2. The Revelation and Muhammad


"And who could be more wicked than he who invents a lie about God, or says, 'this has been revealed unto me,' while nothing has been revealed to him? - or he who says 'I will send down the like of what God has sent down'?" [6:93].


Abbara:     Muhammad used to retreat to a cave outside Makkah. He would take with him provisions and consecrate a certain number of nights to the worship of God. Then he would return to his family. In his late thirties, he experienced powerful inward signs in the form of "true vision", which came to him in his sleep, and he said that they were "like the breaking of the light of dawn". In his fortieth year, when he was alone in the cave at the end of the month of Ramadan, there came to him the Angel Gabriel in the form of a man and said to him, "Recite", and he said, "I cannot recite". Revelation – Wahy - has become a technical term in Islamic theology meaning "communication of the Message", or "Revelation". On the other hand inspiration reaches man by different means as well. The Wahy takes different forms, as indicated in the Qur'an.

      The highest form of Wahy is  "Revelation", in which God conveys His Word not one to one, but through a medium; "It belongs not to any mortal that God should speak to him, except by Revelation, or from behind a veil, or that He should send a Messenger (Angel) and he reveal whatsoever He will by His leave." [42:51]. The Qur'an was revealed in this way: the Angel of Revelation, Gabriel, descended with it from God, as He said, "... nor speaks he out of caprice, this is naught but a Revelation sent down to him: he was taught by One terrible in Power (Gabriel)" [53:3-4].

    The second level of Wahy is inspiration, as in, "We inspired The mother of Moses".[28:7] In this category, the Sunnah, the tradition of Muhammad, might be considered Inspirations from God directly or through the Angel Gabriel, not in God's Words but by His Instruction. Muhammad expresses it in his sayings and by translating the Qur'an into action. There are other forms of inspiration, such as prophetic dreams, as happened to Abraham in the matter of sacrificing his son, etc.

Dina.   Well, we could define the Islamic concept of Revelation as follows "Revelation, in the Islamic framework, is primarily and predominantly a Divine, Self-disclosure of His Person, of the Divine Spirit as such, not mainly the Revelation of His Purpose in the form of a people whose history and experience became embodiments of the Divine to an extent that the 'Word of God' is subsumed in the 'Act of God' as articulated in the history of a specific, chosen people. Instead, it consists in the revelation of the Divine Will, so that man knows and learns what is expected of him and tries to realize it in actuality.  This Will is primarily embodied in the Message communicated by God through His Prophets, who convey it to mankind and who also try to translate it into practice, setting a model before them all."11

Charles:    One Western writer says, "Three theological interpretations of Revelation may be identified.

a).  The handing down of prepositional truths about God resulting in an objective body of knowledge expressed in scriptural and doctrinal statements which can be added to as time passes; 

b).  The Self-manifestation of absolutely mysterious God as subject and person (not as the philosophical Absolute) by means of a person or persons, whereby new life is offered to man and not the mere intensification of present life; and

c).   Subjective, interactive relationship of an individual person with God within the community of God's people, whereby that person's life is enriched, fulfilled and saved."12

Dina:   These definitions give different conceptions about Revelation: Divine Revelation as scripture or Revelation as disclosure from God. The former is a special form from God which reveals to man His Divine Guidance, expressed in His Scripture through his Prophets, while the latter is general for all human beings particularly as moral guidance for those who live righteously and try to be close to Him.

Abbara:     The spirit plays an intermediate part between its Origin and the human level. Human knowledge is obtained gradually according to the development of the field of knowledge. If you ask a creative man how he came to his discovery, his answer is "I do not know; it just came to me, and he may say unconsciously, "from God", no matter whether he believes in God or not, this type of discovery is called ‘inspiration’

Charles:    Well, Muhammad apparently enjoyed intimate, direct, personal contact with God. He became a symbol of a certain spiritual Reality, but some claim that he deliberately used "Revelation" as a device for imposing his will upon the community or for solving the problems with which he was called upon to deal in Madinah13. However, could you tell us when Gabriel came to Muhammad, how the people saw him, and how he came to deliver the Message to him.

Abbara:     To your first point, we could say that he had no choice about receiving Revelation because it was an act of God and he had no problems before the Mission. The problems in Madinah arose from the Mission itself. As for the second point, I don't think the people saw Gabriel. It was reported that once while they were sitting with the Prophet, there appeared before them a man in white...  After he left, the Prophet said it was Gabriel who came to teach them their religion. We will quote the Hadith later in full.

Dina: One of the Prophet’s Companions, once asked, "O God's Apostle, how is the Divine Inspiration revealed to you?" He replied, "Sometimes it is (revealed) like the ringing of a bell, this form of inspiration is the hardest of all to bear, but then this state passes off and he leaves me, but I remember what he has said. Sometimes the Angel comes in the shape of a man and talks to me and I remember what he says."14 These were two of the ways, but other inspirations may take a different shape.

Charles:    But why did it take two different forms? The Qur'an is in only one form, but here you indicate two different styles of Revelation, heavy and light.

Abbara:     God knows best. God says in the first  Revelation: "We shall bestow upon thee a mighty Message" [73:6] It may be that of  these two kinds of Revelations, the soft may be related to a Revelation which has no Commandment while the hard one contains a Divine Commandment; but it is hard to apply this principle. Life, according to Islam, is given to us to strive for good and struggle against all kinds of evil, resist temptations and make efforts in the Right Way for self-development. Man has to sacrifice in His Cause therefore a weighty Revelation could be one that is hard to bear. Man needs patience in adversity and to be conscious of God.

Charles: It is said that as time went on, Muhammad began to feel physical discomfort, such as perspiring on a cold day whenever he experienced one of these Divine Revelations. This gave rise to the suggestion, now agreed to be unwarranted, that he suffered from epileptic fits.15

Dina: The truth of the matter is that Muhammad, like the biblical Prophets, suffered the physical discomforts that accompany Divine Messages.

Charles:    But some scholars interpret the Hadith quoted above to indicate a sort of epilepsy, particularly "grand mal", the serious one, which would correspond with a "hard" Revelation.16

Dina:   Such accusations are the easiest way to create doubt in the minds of non-Muslims that Muhammad was a Prophet. Nevertheless, it seems that scholars who claim this have no idea what an epileptic fit is and what Revelation is.  In the former, the epileptic falls to the ground, losing consciousness, of which he later has no memory, followed by a semi-conscious state and maybe a deep sleep. If he speaks, he produces unrelated ideas as facts. But the Prophet was in a state of full consciousness; he comprehended what he was told and the grand truth in the Qur'an testifies to each aspect of it.

Charles:    Muhammad assumed that it was God who had appeared to him, as referred to in verses 53:5-9.17

Abbara:  What do you think? We can believe what Watt 20 reported or believe what God stated. No mortal could see Him in this life. The verse referred to "Gabriel (an Angel) endowed with surpassing power, who, in time, manifested himself in his true shape and nature." [53:6].

Charles:    Bell said that the composing the Qur'an at night made the best impression.18

Abbara:  Verses 73:1-6 advise believers to keep awake in prayer at night, because "the hours of night impress the mind most strongly and speak with the clearest voice" [73:6]. The Revelations took place at different hours of the day. This verse indicates the wisdom of praying at night as well as for reciting the Qur'an, not composing the Qur’an.

Charles:    Actually, from the way he is portrayed by researchers we might conclude that he was an epileptic, hysterical madman or soothsayer. But he was in reality a creative personality, a spell-binding poet and he portrayed himself in the line of Israelite Prophets, which is why he was accused of repeating the fables of ancient times and recounting confusing dreams. It is claimed that he was the author of the Qur'an and had never received any revelation. "He is a false prophet, who pretended to receive Messages from God. This and other falsifications of medieval war-propaganda are only slowly being expunged from the minds of Europe and Christendom."19

Abbara:     All these allegations are not new but were made by infidels in his life-time according to the testimony of the Qur'an [52:29, 25:6, 5:21]. But many of those who made these accusations afterwards saw the Truth and became true believers, whereas the researchers of the twentieth century are repeating the same things without realizing the gap between falsehood and Truth. According to the principles of research the researchers must search for the truth, not accept fabrications and produce imaginary concepts. However, this same story repeated itself with every Prophet; the battle between  falsity and the Truth will continue "And thus it is that against every Prophet, We have set up as enemies the evil forces from among humans as well as from among invisible beings that whisper unto one another glittering varnished falsehoods, half-truths meant to delude the mind" [6:112]. And so we shall leave them in their overwhelming arrogance, blindly stumbling to and fro" [6:110]. So the allegations are not opposed to Muhammad but to their Creator. If Muhammad had been the author, he would simply have omitted such accusations from the Qur'an, but God placed them there to distinguish between what is false and what is trustworthy.

Dina:  Some researchers have come to accept some of the truth. As Watt said: "Recent writers have, on the whole, been more favourable and have taken the view that Muhammad was absolutely sincere and acted in complete good faith.”20  Another says, "Muhammad was the victim of a very bad press. Western writers of all kinds have engaged in every form of slander against him. Happily, scholars have recognised the futility of such efforts, and just as the historicity of Jesus has again been firmly established, so we now possess firm documentation for virtually every phase of Muhammad's life...As Frithjof Schuon has put it 'his spiritual reality is wrapped in certain human and earthly veils.'"21

Abbara: But we cannot ignore those who tell the truth, e.g., Thomas Carlyle says: "It is shameful that a civilised member of the present age should listen to the allegation that Islam is false and that Muhammad was a cheat. Have you ever seen a liar able to invent a religion and make people believe in it?" 22


5.6.3.  The Authority of Muhammad


"We know that what such people say grieves thee indeed. Yet, behold, it is not thee to whom they give the lie, but God's Messages do these evildoers deny" [6:33].


Abbara:     When the career of Muhammad is carefully and accurately looked into by unprejudiced eyes, the truth will emerge that he was a normal man but a Prophet. Neither he nor the Muslims claim that he is a Divinity, but his career was part of a Divine Plan.

    God inspired him: "Say (O Muhammad):  'I am but a mortal man like all of you....'" [18:110]. But he was different from all other human beings in that God chose him to convey his Message: "... it has been revealed unto me that your God is the One and Only God." [18:110]. Muhammad always sought refuge in God and asked forgiveness for his lack of devotion in delivering the Message. He was a conveyor, chosen by God to receive and pass on the Final Revelation destined from the Creator to His creation.

Dina:   Hence the incomparable greatness of Muhammad is not related to himself, as a man, but to the greatest miracle of all, which is the Revelation, that is the Qur'an, which stated, "We have revealed to thee this Qur'an though before it thou wast one of the heedless." [12:3]

Charles: Many western scholars admit that his religious system is suitable for all men.  Moreover, no founder of a religion has been left in such eminence as the Muslim Apostle.  "Not all of the ideas he proclaimed are true and sound but, by God's Grace, he has been enabled to provide millions of men with a better religion than they had before they testified that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.'23

    Gibb however said, "The hold which Muhammad gained over the wills and affections of his Companions was due to the influence of his personality, it was because of his moral qualities, not because of his religious teaching.24

Abbara: Muhammad’s personality died with him, but people continued to become Muslims even after his death. So their link is with the Lord of Muhammad. In God's Religion all are equal and there’s justice for all before God, the Ever-living. There is no deity save Him. All praise is due to God. On this basis the Muslim surrenders himself to the Sustainer of all the Worlds.  If you study the Qur'an, it will tell you about the Prophet's personality. As we saw earlier, he could not win converts at the beginning of the mission merely by his own personality. The deciding factor came from God in His words in the Qur'an.

Dina: Actually, some Western writers called Islam "Muhammedanism", Gibb used this name as a title for his book when it was published the first time, but later changed it to Islam. God chose the word 'Islam', not Muhammad. Frithjof Schoun wrote, "Muhammad had a complete absence of any kind of ambition and a striking purity of intention" 25 He lived a life of exemplary piety, accepted poverty and eschewed wealth.

Badr: But some Muslims say “Ummah Muhammadiya”; means “Muhammad’s nations” So the word Muhammedanism comes from Muslims.

Dina: The first refers to Islam and the second refers to Muslims; the difference clear.

Charles: In this regard, Fry and King say, "Muhammad was far too complex a person to make any simple final estimate possible. It should be apparent, too, that the danger of overestimating his achievement is just as great as the danger of underestimating it."26

Abbara: Muhammad was a Messenger, his responsibility being only to deliver the Message [13:40] and not to guide people by force. God guides those who are virtuous and who want to be guided, not Muhammad: “Verily! (O Muhammad) guide not whom you like, but guides whom He wills.” [28:56]. God, the Lord of mankind and Who loves righteous people who are  guided by His Divine Law.

Charles: Could you give us an example to show that Muhammad was only instrumental in delivering the Message? Abbara:  It is well known from traditions, that one day Muhammad went to a filed of palm-trees and saw farmers tending to them. He asked what they were doing. They replied, "We are fertilising the female palm-tree by putting the pollen of the male tree onto the ovaries of the female tree. The wind, rain and insects perform this work for many flowers. He said, "If you leave it, it will fertilise itself." Time passed and the trees produced nothing; they were fruitless. The men concerned came to tell him about what had happened. He said in reply: "You know best about your worldly affairs." This indicates that he had no knowledge whatsoever about fertilising trees.

Charles: What do we learn from that?

Abbara:  If Muhammad was the author of the Qur'an, he would not have shown his lack of knowledge by making such an incorrect statement. The Qur'an not only talks about plants and trees, but also about clouds. For example, "And we send the fecundating winds, then cause the rain to descend from the sky."  [15:22].

From that incident we know that Muhammad had no knowledge at all of plant fertilisation. But even then suppose he had had some experience of palm trees, flowers and plants, etc., how could he have known about the wind fecundating the clouds, since it is only recently that we know about clouds having a positive and negative charge in their upper and central regions respectively, and that when the wind moves the clouds, these positive and negative parts come together and the fecundation of vegetation takes place.

The massive surge of current in a flash of lightning causes tremendous heat and the sudden expansion of air results in rain descending from the sky, which causes plants to fertilise as well. That is what the Qur'an clearly stresses and this knowledge came only from Revelation. Muhammad could not have stated that on his own, from his own background or any scientific knowledge that he could have had.

Dina: The Qur'an is God's miracle par excellence, and it validates Muhammad’s status as a Prophet sent by God.

Abbara:  The Qur'an is "A Book whose verses are set clear, and then distinguished, from One All-wise, All-aware:  ‘Serve you none but God." [11:1-2] 

But most people are spiritually blind, so they cannot see God's Signs on the earth and within themselves [51:20-1]. God questions them. "What! Have they not journeyed in the earth, so that they have hearts to understand with and ears to hear with?  It is not the eyes that are blind, but blind are the hearts within the breasts." [22:46]. If the spirit is clouded with misconception and veiled by evil action it becomes blind and cannot see its way in this life or receive Guidance according to the Divine Decree. "I shall turn from My signs those who wax proud in the earth unjustly; though they see every Sign, they will not believe in it, and though they see the way of rectitude they will not take it for a way, and though they see the way of error, they will take it for a way. That, because they have rejected Our Signs and heeded them not." [7:146]. God’s Guidance is given to those of pure spirit who shuns evil and search for the truth.


5.6.4. The Night of Ascension


"Then he drew near and came closer, two bows-length away, or nearer, so did (God) reveal to His servant what he (meant to) reveal; his heart lied not of what he saw; what, will you dispute with him what he saw? [53:8-12].


Abbara:  All Muslims believe that God honoured His Messenger Muhammad in a "Night Journey" al-isra from Makkah to Jerusalem and in al-Miraj, his ascension to heaven. Since neither the Qur'an nor the Prophet gave a clear-cut explanation of it, Muslims differ widely about many aspects of it. Why did it start in Makkah and end in Jerusalem? Was it a physical or a spiritual journey? Muslims believe that it took place and we are not in a position to ask God what He did. The important thing is that prayer, salah, the connection of man's spirit with God, was ordained in that night. God honoured him by letting the Prophet see what is beyond our perception so that he might convey some of it to us.

Charles: What was the purpose of the journey from Makkah to Jerusalem?

Abbara:  It is difficult to give a precise answer. The first thing we may conclude is that it signifies that the three monotheistic religions are one; their  places of worship are linked together and these two places should be preserved for freedom of worship above all places in the world and not  be controlled by man but by God, for to Him ascend all good deeds.

Charles: Some scholars do not believe that the night journey took place and confusion has arisen about the authenticity of the verse [17:1] in which reference is made to the night journey to Jerusalem. They say that it is contrary to Muhammad's usual claim to be simply a Messenger and not a wonder worker, so it must be merely a dream or vision."28

Abbara: Muhammad had no choice about this journey or about its reference in the Qur'an. As it is mentioned in the Qur'an, it is authentic. We believe everything is from our Lord, planned by Him.

Charles: But if it was both physical and spiritual, how did he lead the congregational prayer with the earlier Prophets? Were they descended from heaven physically as well? If not, how could the physical communicate with the spiritual?

Abbara:  This is to do with knowledge of the Unseen. Neither of us have any experience of it, but when we die we will get the answer. However, you raise a good point, so, in the circumstances, I have to admit that it was by the soul and the spirit, as we pointed out above, man in his spirit, soul, and not in his bodily form. The verse quoted at the beginning of this section [53:11] said that the Prophet's heart (spirit, mind, vision) did not lie as to what it saw." This indicates a spiritual journey not a dream.

Badr: But all Muslims believe that the journey took place in the spirit and the body.

Dina: Yes, perhaps they are right, but in my opinion the body is nothing but the tool of the soul and the spirit, it is their container for earthly use. We do not see by the physical eyes; they are the instruments of vision and we interpret by them. We do not hear by our ears but they are instruments of hearing. The brain too is an instrument of the mind and the mind is an instrument of the spirit, but people who are involved in this physical world cannot comprehend that what is behind their eyes is not their vision. So it is not surprising to find underestimation, and misinterpretation.

Charles: The story, according to some Western scholars, was modelled on Luke's account of Christ's ascension, or on St. Paul's experience of being caught up into the third heaven. [II Corn.12:2]. Most of the great religions ascribe similar experience to their founders."29

Abbara:  If they believe that it happened to a Saint why do they find it strange that it should happen to the last Messenger?  Is it because they do not believe that this is God's Message revealed? The purpose of the ascension was not to show a miracle, because it happened at night. God honoured His Messenger by showing him that which is beyond the reach of perception and, in particular, what the next life will be like. So he gained certainty of belief in next life in advance, so that he could intelligently explain to mankind our destiny.


.5.6.5.  The place of Sunnah in Islam


"We have sent down to thee the Remembrance that thou mayest make clear to mankind what was sent down to them; and so happily they will reflect." [16:44]


Abbara: The Sunnah is the second source of Islamic teaching after the Qur'an. The word Sunnah literally means "a way of action" or "a mode of life" or 'tradition'. A collection of Hadiths tells us what the Prophet had said, done or refrained from doing in different circumstances on the purported authority of his immediate companions.. The Qur'an is the Word of God revealed to His Messenger, but the Hadith, reporting the Prophet’s own speech and style is different from the Qur'an. If Muhammad was the author of the Qur'an, the style or method of expression would be the same, as everyone has his or her own individual style, but anyone who reads the Hadith can recognise that those expressions are human, while the Qur'an is completely different. All Hadiths considered to be authentic are accompanied by the names of a chain of authorities who transmitted them, people whose trustworthiness has been thoroughly investigated by jurists over the years.

Dina:  Indeed, the Sunnah can be regarded as equivalent to the Gospels, which are a collection of short anecdotes. The latter are nothing more than the Traditions of Jesus and his way of life, his sayings and what he reported from his Lord. They are what Jesus is purported to have said in indirect speech, while the Qur'an is the Direct Speech of God. Therefore the Gospels differ from the Injil, which is in the Aramaic language, the Word of God which corresponds to the Qur'an.

Charles: But the Gospels are similar to the Qur'an, which contains stories and teachings.

Dina:  The stories in the Qur'an are similar, but not identical, to the Bible stories. In the Qur’an stories are used as a means to strengthen the faith of believer, as illustrations of an ethical principle or principles, or as moral lessons and warnings of the dangers of following in the steps of disbelievers, evil people and Satan. The Qur'an does not present complete stories (for instance, the story of Adam appears in part in five different chapters), but only certain aspects of them, with a slight variation of stress in each one of the fundamental Truth underlying the Qur’anic Revelation as a whole.

Abbara:  Indeed, when we read a story in any book many times, it is boring, but we never feel bored reading a Qur’anic story, because each time we read it, something new occurs to us and is related to a new moral lesson.

Charles: To come back to the hadith, are they similar to the Qur'an in that they  render many meanings?

Abbara:  As we said, the style and language of hadith, no matter how superior they are to other literature, are still statements of human origin. They are clear and point directly to the meaning they are aiming for. But the meaning depends on the occasion. Some hadith may correspond to others or seem to abrogate each other. However, final authority rests with the Qur'an.

Charles: Could you give an example?

Abbara:  There is a hadith where the Prophet said "I have been commanded to fight against the people until they testify that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God."30 This is an authentic hadith. But as to when he said it, or in what situation, we do not know.

However, the term "the people" (in Arabic al-nnas) indicates the people of Arabia, not all people. If it meant that, it would contradict God's Words: "Let there be no compulsion in religion" [2:256] and "Call thou (all mankind) unto thy Sustainer's Path with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and argue with them in the most kindly manner."  [16:125].

 This hadith, I believe, is related to the verse "Say unto those Bedouin who stayed behind, "you shall be called against a people possessed of great might to fight them, unless they become Muslim." [48:16] or "Permission (to fight) is given to those against whom war is being wrongfully waged" [22:39]. So it is not a general statement, as suggested some Muslims, to kill in the name of Islam; or, as alleged by non-Muslims, that Islam spread by the sword.

This shows that to extract the meaning of a hadith is more difficult than understanding a verse in the Qur'an, because it is difficult to know which hadith abrogates which; which ones are general and which ones specific; which are absolute, and which ones are derived from limited judgement. However, most Muslims use them indiscriminately.

Dina:     The Prophet pointed out that when a hadith appears to disagree with the Qur'an, one should ignore the hadith and accept the Qur'an. In this regard, he is reported as saying:  "Don't write down what I say; whoever writes down what I say other than the Qur'an should destroy it. [Bukhari V8: p.229] There is no harm in relating what I say." This shows that he was strictly conveying God's Message. If he were the founder of a religion, there would have been no harm in writing down everything he said.

Charles: But as long as the Sunnah is taken as the source of guidance for all Islamic thought and life, the Prophet is seen as infallible. Allegiance to his Sunnah is submission to God, as the Qur'an stated repeatedly, "Obey God and obey the Messenger." [4:59] So Muslims follow Muhammad's thoughts.

Abbara:  Islamic theology and jurisprudence is the Qur'an translated into action by the Prophet under God's Authority. Yes, he is infallible in matters of religion because his religion is from God. The Qur’anic words were interpreted into human life by his action, so to obey him is to obey what God commanded him to do.

Charles: But Muhammad adopted some social practices and customs of Arabia for which there are no references in the Qur'an.

Dina:     This is because those practices were related to the standards of universal morality. In every society, not all customs are evil; some are moral. For instance, there is no harm in being generous to your guest.

Abbara:  Islamic ideology sprang from the Qur'an, so the Prophet trained, educated and disciplined the Muslims and commanded them morally, socially, spiritually and religiously according to the Qur'an, and its teachings and interpretations as inspired by Gabriel. He became an example of virtuous character, developing the dual aspects of life, religious and social, for this life and the Hereafter under God's Guidance - the Qur'an - interpreted by Divine inspiration as God stated "Verily, in the Apostle of God you have a good example" [33:21]. It is true that the Qur'an speaks of the Sunnah of God as denoting "God's Principles of Action", these being linked with the practice -`Sunnah- of the Prophet.

Charles: What does that mean, Sunnah of God? 

Abbara:  It is God's Divine Law i.e., Divine Natural Law and Divine Spiritual Moral Decree and its Measurement. Thus: "God's original nature fitrah upon which He originated mankind. You will find no change in God's Way" [30:30] i.e. in His Divine laws and Decrees.

Charles.  Muhammad was both a political as well as a spiritual leader. He used his spiritual knowledge to guide his political polices.

Abbara:  As regards his poverty, his wife, 'A'ishah, said, "The Messenger of God bought some food from a Jewish merchant on credit and gave him his armour as security."  As to the political aspect, he was the Messenger of God to humanity, not the founder of the Arab states. If he had had any intentions of that nature, he could have appointed his son-in-law as a religious and political leader after him and the ruling house would have remained inn the hands of his descendants.


5.6.6  The Authenticity of the Hadith  


"We have sent you  as an apostle, and God is sufficient as a witness. Whoever obeys the Apostle, he indeed obeys God;” [4:79-80]


Charles: You mentioned earlier that Muslims accept the set of six canonical collections of hadith, which comprise more than twenty-four volumes. But as many unreliable and absurd traditions could not possibly stand up to logic and reason, how can anyone judge whether a hadith is authentic or not, and if it is proved so, how do we know that its commandment is not abrogated by the Qur’an or by another hadith later on? Also, if a hadith is mentioned by Muslim and al-Bukhari, why do you find that they do not correspond in exact words as well as meaning?

Abbara:  Such questions really need a specialist scholar to answer, but I’ll try. The science of hadith consists of two essential parts.(1)  Isnad, the knowledge of the character of the narrators of the Hadith. This provides the names of those who transmitted the report from Companions of the Prophet to the followers and to the next generation down to the compilation of the Hadith book. Muslims have developed this science of examining the biography of every narrator, his private and public life, his moral reliability, etc., i.e., the science of impingement and justification.

(2)  The Matn classifies each Hadith into its proper section. The main three categories, according to their quality, are:

A). The Sahih or "authentic" Hadith. These are genuine traditions so declared after applying all the tests.

B). The Hasan or "good" Hadith. These are the "fair" fully accepted traditions, although inferior in the matter of authenticity to the Sahih.

C). The Dhaif or "weak" Hadith. These are those traditions which are not very reliable, but considered as genuine, when dealing with morals.

       In regard to one Hadith being abrogated by another, according to the instruction of the Qur'an, it needs a great deal of research to find out, but the difference in the text may be related to the different persons who narrated the Hadith, on the one hand, and on the other, each may have been said by the Prophet on different occasions.

Dina: Hence the sciences of Hadith are accurately designed to distinguish authentic Hadith from weak ones and some books have been written on this subject. These Hadith we are referring to are related to Islamic thought. But as regards Islamic practice, there is no doubt about any Hadith in this regard because their authenticity was proved by the practises of all Muslims over time, where no changes took place. In regard to metaphysical Hadith which do not correspond with the Qur'an, they can be ignored, as some Muslim scholars used to. In previous centuries Muslims used them to create wonder and awe in people but now educated persons prefer reason and the Qur'an as the source of all reason.

Charles: What is the difference between a Hadith and a Hadith Qudsi?

Abbara:  A Hadith is a saying of the Prophet based on his knowledge from the Qur'an, inspiration and teachings of Gabriel. Hadith Qudsi means a "Sacred Hadith," a saying of the Prophet divinely communicated, though the actual wording is not necessarily from God.

Charles: If the Hadith Qudsi is divinely revealed, then it is like the Qur'an surely?

Abbara:  No, the Qur'an is God's Words, while the Hadith Qudsi may be in Muhammad's words. But the meaning is from God; it may be by direct inspiration or by Gabriel conveying its meaning. It is similar to when a verbal message is sent from one president to another, the actual meaning is there, but the conveyor can use either his own words or the words of the one who sent it through him, so it is different from the written message, which always contains the  words of the sender.

Dina:     If Muhammad was the author of the Qur'an, why was he so careful about differentiating between his sayings and God's Words particularly the Hadith Qudsi?  Man is most sophisticated in arguing about the Truth as revealed to him from his Lord to guide him to the Straight Way. This Truth started with Adam and completed with Muhammad, and it calls humanity to One God and only "Absolute One".


5.7.                     Islam Is A Continuous Message


"We have revealed to thee as We revealed to Noah and the Prophets after him." [4:163]


    In order to put the themes of the previous two chapters into context, let us analyse the similarities and differences between the three monotheistic religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism. 

Muslims admit that there are certain similarities between them, since they believe that all Divine Revelations came from the same Source, the One Universal God. They also believe that there was relationships between the authentic original Scriptures, but those Scriptures in their present form have been adapted according to changing beliefs and conceptions. The Bible, for instance, is found in several versions.

Some parallels are bound to exist in the various moral systems but there are nevertheless certain basic points of discord.  As Dr. G. Badawi has pointed out, some of these many essential differences refute the thesis of the Judaeo-Christian origin of Islam.

Such differences cover a wide spectrum of topics, including the concept of "original sin", the necessity of blood sacrifice, forgiveness of one's sins through someone else, the question of intermediaries between man and God, the necessity for the authority of a religious hierarchy, the concept of the Sabbath, the concept of Prophethood, essential information about previous Prophets, the presence or absence of an inherent conflict between matter and spirit, and between body and soul, the concept of man's role on earth and the meaning of "religion", and whether religion covers just the spiritual aspect of man's life or the totality of it. 

A discussion on such differences could extend to almost any lengths.31   

       Islam reaffirms all the previous Messengers, including both Moses and Jesus, as proponents of Islam, since they preached the worship of One God. Muslims, therefore, are urged by their faith to respect all Prophets and revere all of them in equal measure, giving them as much reverence as they give Prophet Muhammad. "And verily We gave unto Moses the Scripture and We caused a train of Messengers to follow him and We gave unto Jesus, the son of Mary, clear proof of (God's) Sovereignty and We supported him with the Holy Spirit.  Is it ever so, that, when there cometh unto you a Messenger (from God) with that which ye yourselves desire not, ye grow arrogant? Some ye disbelieve and some ye slay." [2:87].

       Christians believe that Christianity is the only true religion, with Judaism as its precursor. "Both Jews and Christians say, 'We are God's children and His beloved ones.'  Say:  'Why then does He cause you to suffer for your sins?  Nay, you are but human beings of His Creation.'" [5:18].

The Jews believe that God chose the Children of Israel of all races and people for the purpose of revealing His religion. It is confirmed by the Qur'an that God blessed them and favoured them above all other people, and sent Prophets to them, but when they rejected the message of Jesus because it was not in accordance with their desires, they denied the Truth. All who deny the Truth are rejected by God. "Shame and misery were stamped upon them and they incurred the Wrath of God.  This is because they went on rejecting the Signs of God." [2:61].

 The Jews did not accept Muhammad, the Last Prophet of God, any more than the Christians do. The Muslim believes in the Divine Origin of the other two monotheistic religions, viz. Judaism and Christianity, and in their Prophets, and has a profound love and respect for both Jesus and Moses, believing that God is the loving Creator of all the peoples of the world without discrimination.

"Verily, the noblest of you in the Sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him." [49:13]. This verse refers to people of all religions and places, not just the Arabs or those who call themselves Muslims but are without true belief and piety.

There are many uncertainties in the New Testament. The Gospels tell the life of Jesus in different ways. "He has left no written law. His Gospel was written on the tablet of his heart and he delivered his Message of 'Good News', not in script, but orally."32   The Children's Encyclopaedia Britannica teaches us that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, were written for Christians who did not know the full story of the life of Christ.

 John, who wrote his Gospel last, took it for granted that the story was well-known. The Books of the New Testament began to be collected together in the second century and were finally declared to be the Word of God in 397 C.E.  (after the Roman Empire had become Christian). They were probably written in Greek, though Jesus himself spoke Aramaic. This may be why, in many places, the Gospels conflict with one another. There is no Gospel extant which is written in the language Jesus spoke.

       The Old Testament was written in the 10th Century B.C.E. and additions were made to it over the next few centuries.33 

       The Qur'an, on the other hand, was immediately memorised and written down by Muhammad's companions and remains the same to this day. In any case, the very words of the Qur'an are, in terms of form and content, beyond the ability of the highest scholar, in so far as its content observes the genuine previous content of the Old and New Testaments.

As God is the Author of the Qur’an, its words are superior to those of the previous Books.  It has been preserved intact, rather than collected by different scholars in different languages, and this is especially important since spiritual literature cannot meaningfully be translated into another language. For example, if any translator could translate the Qur'an from Arabic to English, his work would fall short by several degrees of the original.

       The Old Testament and the Qur'an condemn the doctrine of Three Persons in God:  God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost.  The New Testament does not expressly hold or defend it, but, even if it contains hints or traces concerning the Trinity, this is no authority at all, because it was neither seen nor written by Christ himself, nor was it in the language he spoke. For at least the first two centuries after him it did not exist in its present form and content.34 

The idea of the Trinity conflicts with Jesus' teaching, for Mark 12, 29-30 says, "Hear O Israel! The Lord thy God is One God."  In the Old Testament, God is called the Father because of His being a loving Creator and Protector, but, as the Churches have abused the Name, the Qur'an has justly refrained from using it. 

The Qur’an reaches the plain, simple Unity of God. "Say: 'He is the One God, the Eternal, the Uncaused, Cause of all being. He begets not neither is He begotten; and there is nothing that can be compared with Him.'" [112:1-4].  The Qur'an addresses in different places an appeal not merely to the Christians, who attribute divinity to Jesus and certain aspects of divinity too to their saints, but also to the Jews of Arabia, who assign quasi-divine authority to Ezra and even to some of their great Talmudic scholars.

It says: "Say: 'O followers of earlier Revelations! Come unto that tenet which we and you hold in common: that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall not ascribe divinity to aught beside Him, and that we shall not take human beings for our Lords beside God.'" [3:64].

The ascribing of divinity to others besides God is levelled against both Jews and Christians to add to the statement that they "do not follow the religion of Truth which God has enjoined upon them. The Qur'an elucidates their intention when it says, "And the Jews say, 'Ezra is God's Son,' while the Christians say, 'The Christ is God's Son.'" That is what they say with their mouths, following in spirit assertions made in earlier times by people who denied the Truth. They have taken their Rabbis and their priests - as well as the Christ, son of Mary - for their lords besides God, although they have been bidden to worship none but the One God, save Whom there is no deity: the One Who is utterly remote, in His Limitless Glory, from anything to which they may ascribe a share in His Divinity." [9:30-1].   

       The third Christian dogma is that Jesus was the Son of God in a special, exclusive sense.  Many earlier Prophets were referred to as Sons of God, such as Moses.  In Exodus 4,22, Israel was referred to thus: "And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, 'Thus saith the Lord, Israel is My son, even My Firstborn.'" On the other hand, the Qur'an describes them as "far from any imperfection."

When people assert, "God has taken a Son. He sent a Messenger to the Virgin Mary to have a son," the Qur'an answers, "It is not conceivable that God should have taken unto Himself a Son: limitless is He in His Glory. When He wills a thing to be, He but says unto it, 'Be!' and it is.  And (thus it was that Jesus always said), 'Verily, God is My Sustainer as well as your Sustainer, so worship (none but) Him: this alone is a Straight Path." [19:34-6].   

       The Fourth Christian dogma is that of Atonement. Christianity declares that by disobeying God's Order not to eat of the forbidden fruit of knowledge, Adam sinned.  They believe that the sin of Adam is inherited by all the children of Adam, in other words that all human beings are born sinful and that the only way of wiping out sin is by the shedding of blood. 

As St. Paul said, "Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission" [Hebrews 9,22]. However, they also believe that Jesus Christ shed His holy sinless blood and died to pay the penalty for the sins of man and that therefore no one can be saved unless he accepts Jesus as his Redeemer.

Muslims consider the doctrine of the Crucifixion to be contrary to Divine Mercy. In contrast to the above belief, Islam regards children as pure and sinless at birth. Besides that, every child's inborn, intuitive ability to discriminate between right and wrong derives from man's instinctive cognition of the True God. But, as the Prophet said: social influences and parents dispose these intuitions in different ways. "Every child is born in the natural disposition (Muslim); it is only his parents that later turn him into a Jew, a Christian or a Pagan."  

God revealed the verse:  "In accordance with the natural disposition which God has instilled into mankind: no change (let there be) to corrupt what God has thus created. This is the (purpose of the one) ever true Faith; but most people know it not." [30:30].   

       Inasmuch as God endows man with immediate mental  (or spiritual) apprehension, insight and a weakness to fall into sin, accordingly, God the Just promises forgiveness for anyone who seeks it, as He stated:  "Yet he who does evil or (otherwise) sins against himself, and thereafter asks God to forgive him, will find God much-forgiving, a Dispenser of Grace.  For he who commits a sin commits it only to his own hurt." [4:110-111].

       This is repeated in the Qur'an in various places and constitutes a categorical rejection of the Christian doctrine of original sin and vicarious atonement and the idea that a human being can mediate between the sinner and God. It occurs for the first time in the chronological order of Revelations in 53:38-7: "No bearer of burdens cans bears the burden of another... man can have nothing but what he strives for."   

       The Jews assert that Jesus was an illegitimate child and disbelieve his Message. But they also believe that they put Jesus to a shameful death on the Cross.  Also, the Christians believe that Jesus died on the Cross in order to atone for the original sin with which mankind is allegedly burdened. 

       Islam respects the chastity of Mary and dismisses the dogma of the Crucifixion of Jesus and refers to it thus:  "God hath set a seal on their hearts for their blasphemy... that they rejected Faith; that they uttered against Mary a grave false charge; that they said (in boast), 'We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Apostle of God'; but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not: nay, God raised him up unto Himself;  and God is Exalted in Power, Wise."  [4:155-158].    This denotes the elevation of Jesus to the Realm of God's Special Grace. Therefore, it might be argued from this the Muslims have more respect for Jesus than the Jews or the Christians.

       Contrary to the beliefs of both the Christians and the Muslims, the Jews continue to repudiate the concept of Jesus being a Messenger of God (as believed by the Muslims) or a Son of God (as believed by the Christians) and they are still awaiting the arrival of their Messiah. Therefore Jews do not see the fulfilment of the so-called Messiah prophecy either in the person of Christ or in that of Muhammad. They have stubbornly rejected both of them and have disregarded both the Revelations to Jesus and Muhammad.

Jesus, on the other hand, did not abrogate the laws of Moses, but distinctly declared that he had come to fulfil it.  Nor was he the last Prophet.

       The Qur'an says: "Furthermore, the Jews assert, 'The Christians have no valid ground for their beliefs', while the Christians assert, 'The Jews have no valid ground for their belief.', and both quote the Divine Writ.  Even thus, like unto what they say, have (always) spoken those who were devoid of knowledge." [2:113]. Muhammad Abduh comments that the Qur'an maintains throughout that there is a substantial element of truth in all faiths based on Divine Revelation and that their subsequent divergences are the result of "wishful beliefs" and of a gradual corruption of the original teaching.35 

       Accordingly, the Qur'an indicates that God ordained for every nation a ritual which they should observe. "Among those who have broken the unity of their faith and have become sects, each group delights in but what they themselves hold (by way of tenets)." [30:32].    So, "Unto every community have We appointed (different) ways of worship, which they ought to observe. Hence (O Believer), do not let them draw thee into dispute on this score, but summon (them all) unto thy Sustainer. For, behold, thou art indeed on the Right Way. And if they (try to) argue with thee, say (only): 'God knows best what you are doing.'" [22:67-68].

The Qur'an represents the culminating, point of all Revelations and offers the final, perfect Way to spiritual fulfilment.

    A Muslim, whilst believing in all the Prophets of the three monotheistic religions, believes that Islam, the continuous Message received by the Last Prophet, Muhammad, is the most comprehensive and final form of God's Message to all mankind. As God stated, "Today have I perfected your religion for you, and have bestowed upon you the full measure of My Blessing, and willed that self-surrender (Islam) unto Me shall be your religion." [5:4] 

           This verse is like a seal on the Message of the Qur'an.



{Between Abbara and Dina expressing the Islamic view whilst Badr and Charles the opposite side of the argument}

5.7.1 The Relationship between Revealed Religions


                       "The true religion by God is Islam.  Those who were given the Book did not dissent there-from only after knowledge had come to them." [3:19]

Abbara:     Frederick Denny says "God's relations with His Creatures is a continuing theme from Adam down through the generations; that is, God brings the same Truth and Guidance always, but humans pervert it and refuse it and go astray  'but if they turn away, it is they who are in schism.' [2:137]. God mourned and heard and observed in the past, and He does the same now."36 There is no special race or community which can claim superiority over others. All are His Creatures, but there are some who have relations with Him and some who turn away. His Message always contains the same Truth and the teaching that people have to live in equity and justice and preserve the previous Teaching.

Charles:    But there is quite a battle between those who think that Judaism was the main source of Islam and those who think that it was Christianity, while others try to relate it to Abraham's religion. Each group has a part of the Truth.

Dina:  Prince Charles, heir to the English throne,  has said this about Islam: “ More than this, Islam can teach us today a way of understanding and living in the world which Christianity itself is poorer for having lost. At the heart of Islam it is preservation of an integral view of the universe. Islam refuses to separate man and nature, religion and science, mind and matter, and has preserved a Metaphysical and unified view of ourselves and the world around us… This crucial sense of Oneness and trusteeship of the vital sacramental and spiritual character of the world about us is surely something important we can relearn from Islam” 37

Abbara:     Islam, Judaism and Christianity, the three monotheistic religions, originate from One God. Differences mainly arise from their interpretation. Denny says: "The Qur'an views itself as the final record of God's Ways with humankind, authenticating the scriptural warnings and promises to former peoples and correcting their errors and distortions so as to keep the original and enduring message intact. The Muslims are commanded to follow the example of the primordial Ummah of Abraham, which was prior to, and independent of, the Jews and the Christians... But the new community would neither benefit from the good or the bad; each was to be judged according to its own acts.38

Dina:   Abraham, the spiritual father of all Jews and Christians, was also, according to both the Old Testament and the Qur'an, their physical father through Jacob. He was also the physical father of the Arabs through Hagar and Ishmael. So the difference between the three monotheistic religions is like differences between brothers regarding their inheritance. But here there is no heritage from Abraham; it is from God Who gave His religion to true believers. “God knows best with whom to place His message. [6:124]

Abbara:     The Qur'an revealed to the last Prophet was but a restatement of the faith delivered to the Prophets before him.  Yet the originality of Islam is nonetheless real. Hence the Qur'an appealed to the People of the Book to return to the original revelation "that we worship none but God, and that we shall not ascribe divinity to aught beside Him, and that we shall not take others as lords, apart from God" [3:64].

           This is a reference to those who follow others and apply their systems rather than God's System, which is just. Other systems are designed to serve their designers. Therefore the differences are not just about true belief itself but also about how much this or that religion serves the interests of the community, besides true belief in God Himself.

Charles:    But Islam absolutely denies the Fatherhood of God, the Divinity of Jesus Christ, the Redemption, the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the Trinity, Original Sin and the Resurrection…

Abbara:     It is God Who denies it, not Islam in the way that you’re saying. God teaches many things about Jesus – a Prophet of Islam - in the Qur’an that are consistent with the teachings of Christianity. As M. Abduo: pointed out: "Many scholars in the West know its validity and confess that Islam has been the greatest of their mentors in attaining their present position."39 By inspiring them with their civilisation.

5.7.2. Fatherhood


"Whenever the One God was invoked, you denied this Truth, whereas, when divinity was ascribed to ought beside Him, you believed (in it). But all judgement rests with God, the Exalted, the Great." [40:12]


Abbara:     Muslims do not accept the Fatherhood of God, because they accept what God said in the Qur'an, that He is free from all physical relationships: "He does not beget, and is not begotten." That the word "father" is not mentioned in the Qur'an in relation to God, as in the Old Testament, denotes that, He is the Creator of all mankind.

    As we mentioned before, most religions direct their faith to the same God, Who created us and the universe, but they take different mystical approaches towards Him or use mediators.

Dina: That happens in most religions. Islam builds up a direct link with the One and Only God. The Bible says, "YHWH is God indeed, and there is no other."  [Deut. 4,35].  "There is no God but the One." [1 Cor. 8,4]. This is the Original Message revealed to Adam, Abraham, Moses Jesus and other Prophets.

Charles: Christians also believe in the One God, that is, the Father, Who is Three-in-One, the Trinity. The Incarnation and Redemption are far from obscuring the Reality of the One and Only God. I know it is very difficult for Muslims to believe in that, but this is the only way of salvation.

Abbara:     But this contradicts the previous Messages of God. Why did the Incarnation not happen to Adam or the other Prophets? Does this mean that all people before Jesus were sinful? Do Christians believe that Jesus was sent with his Message to fulfil the Message of Moses, who confirmed that God is the Only God? If you believe in the Trinity, it contradicts that part of your belief which derives from the Old Testament.

Charles:    Belief in the Trinity does not mean belief in several gods, but in Three in One. When you have a cup of coffee, it contains water - this is the original element - coffee and sugar, so there are three things in one. You cannot say "I drink water and coffee and sugar", but you can say "I drink coffee", one thing.

Abbara:     That’s an interesting comparison, but, as you know, many people do not like coffee - or coffee with sugar in this metaphor. In other words they divorce themselves from religion. But nobody can live without pure water physically, and pure spiritual nourishment for the spirit development; that is, the pure nourishment, the Purity of God, rather than made up.

Dina:  If we look to the origin of the Trinity; this doctrine was adopted at the Conference in Nicaea and was strongly resisted by the Eastern church, whose bishop was thumped by a man from the Western Church called Nicholas, who later went on to become St Nicholas, Santa Claus.

Charles:    It seems to me that it is beyond your comprehension to understand the union between the spiritual and the temporal. You admit that Jesus was born without an earthly father, from the Spirit of God, as the Qur'an states: "Jesus was...His Word which He conveyed unto Mary and a Spirit proceeding from Him." [4:171]. But this implies the Incarnation, which you do not believe.

Dina: Your interpretation is incorrect because you quote only part of the verse in question. The verse concludes: "Believe then, in God and His apostles. Do not say,'(God is) a Trinity.  Desist (from this assertion) for your own good. God is but One God. Glory be to Him (Far exalted is He) above having  a son." [4:171].

Charles:    Nevertheless, the Qur'an concedes that Jesus is the "Word" of God delivered to Mary. So, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are related to the Original, and the belief is in the One, not in Three, as you imagine.

Dina:  The Qur'an says further: "He Alone is Infinite as well as Absolute and no one whatsoever is associated with His Government." [18:26]. This verse I'm going to quote now sums up our argument:

     "...they are unbelievers who say 'God is the Christ, Mary's Son. For Christ said, 'children of Israel! Serve God, my Lord and your Lord. Verily, whoso associates with God anything but God, He shall prohibit him entrance to Paradise...They are unbelievers who say that God is the one of three. No god is there but One God...The Christ, son of Mary, was only a Messenger, Messengers before him passed away. His mother was a woman of the truth: they both ate food.  Behold, how We make clear the Signs to them; then behold how they are deluded away from the Truth... Say: 'O People of the Book! Do not go beyond the bounds of Truth in your religion and follow not the caprices of a people who went astray before, and led astray many, and now again have gone astray from the Right Way." [5:72-77].

Badr:  So Jesus is one of the Apostles. Like normal human beings he ate food, and his physical body was the same as ours. God supported him by means of the Holy Spirit, to enable him to perform miracles to teach the Children of Israel that he was the Messenger to guide them to the Right Way, from which they had strayed.

Charles:    As we said, the doctrine of the Divinity of Christ, in particular the dogmas of sonship, intercession, crucifixion and Resurrection are beyond the conception of Muslims. However, anyone who believes in Jesus will gain salvation.

Dina: We Muslims believe he is the messenger of God, and we are following his true teachings.


5.7.3.  The Doctrine of Salvation  


                                  "Now there has come unto you from God a Light, and a clear Book, through which God shows unto all that seek His Goodly Acceptance the paths leading to salvation" [5:16]


Abbara: Salvation hinges on actions. If a one does good, one earns good; if one does wrong, one meets a bad end.

Charles:    Some Muslims however believe in Muhammad to the extent of venerating him as the mediator between God and Muslim, whose intercession is decisive.

Dina: Yes, in a Tradition, it is reported that in the Hereafter, he will seek forgiveness from God. "Who is there that can intercede with Him, unless it be by His Leave?" [2:255]. The Prophet Muhammad categorically admonished his daughter to do good deeds, pointing out that the doctrine of personal responsibility means that one has a paramount duty to work for one's salvation in this world and the Hereafter. So he cannot intercede on his daughter’s behalf. It gives the impression that God alone has the Authority, so how can Jesus guarantee salvation?

Abbara:  The idea of intercession is an interpretation by some Muslims so they can do what they like. They conclude that Muhammad, like Jesus, will intercede with God. But God says: “A Day comes when there will be no bargaining, nor friendship, nor intercession. And it is the disbelievers who are the evildoers.” [2:254]

Charles:    It seems that in Islam there is no guarantee of salvation, since God said that on the Day of Judgement, "some men will go to Heaven and others to Hell." [42:7]

Abbara:     Yes, but the closing sentence in His verse cannot be taken on its own. The beginning of this verse says: "So we have revealed unto thee a discourse in the Arabic tongue in order that thou mayest warn the foremost of all cities and all who dwell around it –to wit- warn (then) of the Day of the Gathering, ... a one shall find themselves in paradise, and some in the blazing flame" [42:6] this is the problem, those in their heart a disease, taking part of a verse, or a verse, its meaning explains by other verse. 

           It is known not only to God but also to us that some believe and some do not.  Those who believe and do good will find themselves in Paradise, and those who disbelieve will find themselves in Hell. So it is up to each one to find salvation or to lose it.

Charles:    This indicates that salvation is the monopoly of Muslims.

Abbara:  Not at all. God stated in the Qur'an: "For thus it always happens: We seal the doom of all who deny the Truth and give the lie to our Messages; and thereupon We save our Apostles and those who have attained to Faith. Thus have we willed it upon Ourselves; We save all who believe (in Us)." [10:103]. This indicates salvation for those believers who embraced the Message before it is abrogated by last one. 

Dina:  Life is a mixture of good and bad; no one does solely pure acts or is free from evil things, but those who live in God-consciousness will find their reward waiting for them, and those who do bad find their punishment waiting for them. It is our own decision and no one else's. Those who believe otherwise defy the principle of Divine justice.

Badr:   Solomon Nigsian says "The notion of justification by faith in Christ is, according to Islamic thinkers, preposterous and utterly disastrous to human morals. All such teachings, Muslims insist, were once borrowed from foreign, mainly pagan, sources and interpolated with the teaching of Jesus.  In fact, Muslims see the idea of vicarious suffering and atonement in Christianity as a survival of the concept of the appeasement of an angry god through the offering of a sacrifice - a concept which prevailed among the nations of antiquity.  Accordingly, Muslims believe that "Islam represents true Christianity" 40



5.7.4.  The Doctrine of Original Sin


"Your Lord has prescribed for Himself Mercy, if any of you does evil in ignorance, and thereafter repents and makes amends, Lo! He is All forgiving, All-compassionate [6:54].


Dina:  It is almost certain that people follow religions from self interest, to gain something in this world and in the Hereafter. The greatest advantage of Christianity is redemption from the damnation caused by Adam's behaviour. Every Christian believes in the Incarnation of Jesus, his atonement on the Cross, and the salvation of those who believe in Him. He prepares Heaven and Paradise for his followers. So, most people are looking for salvation out of self- interest. So they believe.

Charles:    You do not automatically gain salvation. Salvation comes only through your belief in the effect of the crucifixion. Christ shed his holy, sinless blood and died to pay the penalty for the sins of man. Therefore no one can be saved unless he accepts Jesus as his Redeemer.

Dina:   But logically, one cannot be responsible for the sin of another. A judge only sentences those who have committed an evil act. Belief in the Redemption is like loose end in the ethical and moral law. It encourages people to do more and more evil, relying on Christ, the Redeemer, to save them; this is injustice. Yet God is the Just, who judges people justly. This doctrine enfeebles and weakens the Power of Almighty God, Who created the whole universe, but is thought incapable of forgiving one person, i.e., Adam, for one simple sin. How could He forgive us from limitless sins only through sacrificing His son? He would need limitless sons to forgive us!

Abbara:     In contrast to the above belief, God, according to the Qur'an, regards children as pure and sinless at birth and grants forgiveness until they reach the age of maturity, so there is no reference to sinful nature or inheritance of sin, and this is stated repeatedly. For example, "And whatever (wrong) any human being commits rests upon himself alone; and no bearer of burdens shall be made to bear another's burdens." [6:164]. This constitutes a categorical rejection of the Christian doctrine of "original sin" and "vicarious atonement," in favour of the wider ethical implications of this statement, which, moreover corresponds with the view of the Old Testament.

Dina:   M. Asad comments, on a similar verse in the Qur'an [53:38], that its implication is threefold: Firstly, it expresses a categorical rejection of the Christian doctrine of "original sin", with which every human being is allegedly burdened from birth;  secondly, it refutes the idea that a person's sins can be atoned for by a saint or a Prophet's redemptive sacrifice (as evidenced, for instance, in the Christian doctrine of Jesus' vicarious atonement for mankind's sinfulness, or in the earlier Persian doctrine of man's vicarious redemption by Mithras); and, thirdly, it denies, by implication, the possibility of any "mediation" between the sinner and God.

Charles:    The crucifixion of Christ was not for the sake of Christianity, but for the sake of all mankind. If there had been no crucifixion, would all human beings be burdened with sin, with no means of purification? Could anyone gain salvation when every soul was laden with sin?

Dina:  The dogma of the crucifixion was created after the disappearance of Christ and not during his lifetime, and if he had known that his Mission was Redemption, why should he have been afraid of crucifixion or tried to hide himself and why should his disciples have felt sorry for him, as long as he did good? If he gained honours for the redemption of all human beings, the Jews should be rewarded for helping him to do so. And yet, until now, this event has been remembered with pity in the Church, instead of pride. So it appears that the interpretation of the story of the crucifixion, that he died on the Cross in order to atone for the "original sin" with which mankind is allegedly burdened, was made up after the time of Jesus.

Abbara:     God is the only witness to the Truth. In the Qur'an, He categorically denies the story of the crucifixion of Jesus and so the Jews are discharged of any guilt for his blood, not only after twenty centuries but right from the beginning.

     On the other hand, the Jews continue to repudiate the concept of Jesus being a Messenger of God and born of Immaculate Conception. Truly, God is the Most Just of all judges. He stated that the facts were not in accordance with the Jewish assertion that Jesus was an illegitimate child, or that of the Christians, who believed in the crucifixion. He said in the Qur'an:

     "... that they refused to acknowledge the Truth, that they uttered awesome calumnies against Mary, that they said (in boast) 'We killed Jesus Christ, the son of Mary the Apostle of God.' However, they did not slay him and neither did they crucify him, but it only seemed to them (as if they had), and those who hold conflicting views thereon are indeed confused, having no (real) knowledge thereof, and follow mere conjecture; For certainly they did not slay him. Nay, God exalted him unto Himself; and God is indeed Almighty, Wise." [4:156-8].

     These verses preserve the honour of Jesus not only from the accusations of the Jews but also of the Christians who did him wrong by raising him to divine status.

Charles:    Nevertheless, in this sense, the Qur'an attacks the Christian doctrine: If there is no crucifixion, there is no Redemption. Hence, there is no salvation in this world from suffering and evil or the raising up of the natural world to a higher realm or state.

Abbara:     As we said before, God created man with the ability to distinguish between good and bad and gave him freedom and responsibility to choose between right and wrong. He can choose to be virtuous, or take the path of evil which diverts him from the right one. That is God's Divine Decree: everyone is personally responsible for the development of his spirit by accepting the true spiritual teaching.


5.7.5.  The Divine Scripture


"O followers of the Bible! Now there has come unto you Our Apostle, to make clear unto you much of what you have been concealing (from yourselves) of the Bible... Now there has come unto you from God a (New) light, and a clear Book."  [5:15].


Abbara:     Muslims believe in the earlier Revealed Books from God, but the Qur'an teaches that previous scriptures have been changed. These changes happened either through human intervention over the years, or God Himself has abrogated them according to His Divine Decree.

           So Muslims believe that the Qur'an is the true Word of God revealed to His Prophet Muhammad. Furthermore, God stated in the Qur'an that both Jews and Christians had broken their solemn pledge. The former distorted the meaning of the Revealed Words, taking them out of context, while the latter had forgotten much of what they had been told to bear in mind [5:12-13].

Dina:   There is no better argument for not believing in the authenticity of the Gospels than the words of the scholar Sayyid Amir Ali: "It is an article of faith among Muslims of all shades of opinion that the Christian Gospels in their present shape give an imperfect and erroneous view of the life and preaching of Jesus and that his sayings have been garbled and tampered with according to the idiosyncrasies of individual compilers, the environment of the times and the requirements of sections and sects. 41 

Charles:   We admit that there are statements in the Qur'an which are truthful. But do you not believe completely in the Bible as Divine Writ?

Dina:   However, but you yourself do not believe in the Bible as one Scripture; you believe in part of it and others believe in other parts. If you try to believe in it as a whole, as a Holy Book, then how will you will solve the problems of the disagreements and divergences contained in different statements. But in the Qur'an, all its statements point in one direction, bringing mankind close to God.

Abbara:     Muslims believe that parts of the Bible derive from Revelation. Many theologians on the other hand, question the authenticity of the Bible. Another fundamental difference between the Scriptures of Christianity and those of Islam is the fact that Christianity does not have a text that was both revealed and written down in the time of the Prophets. Every Bible claims to be the original teaching, but no two 'originals' are identical. However, in Islam, the Qur'an is original because it has not been altered. It fits this description, that is, it was both revealed and written down in the time of the Prophet.

Charles:    Some scholars may question it but the majority of Christians believe in its genuineness.

Abbara:     Muslims follow what the Prophet Muhammad said:  "Do not believe the People of the Book; do not disbelieve them; but say, 'We believe in God and whatever is revealed to us and whatever is revealed to you.'"42 This indicates that there is no need for argument on this matter.

Dina:   You are right, because all they believe that to criticise the Bible is a great sin.

Charles:    Yes. We cannot ignore the fact that there are some changes, in every religion over several thousand years. We can only conclude that there are misunderstandings, and that everyone is prejudiced in favour of his religion.

Dina:   Indeed, everyone in this world is prejudiced by his or her own ideas. The prejudice for a particular religion can arise from many things, but Muslims generally incline towards seeking a true relationship with God, the Absolute.

Abbara: I agree with Asad says: Thus, while Muslims are expected to argue against the false beliefs of others, they are not allowed to abuse the objects (or their sacred book) of those beliefs and to hurt thereby the feelings of their erring fellow-men (not 92 on verse 6:106).

The authenticity of religion depends on the validity of its principles of belief and practice. Surely the test of a religion’s validity can only be its Divine Provenance. That is what we are going to next, that the Message revealed to the Prophet Muhammad is sustained by these principles:







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