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Q / A
Answering Common Misconceptions
 

08. Is Jesus Incarnation of God? 

Question:

I am a Christian who is very interested in Islam. Although it is said that Islam denies the Incarnation of God in Jesus, there are many modern theologians—Tillich, Rahner, Kung—whose understanding of the Incarnation would seem, at face value, to be compatible with the Muslim understanding of Jesus.

Muslims always seem to talk about fundamentalist Christian ideas, but I've never seen a Muslim addressing more "liberal" theologians. Would modern formulations of the Incarnation, such as those proposed by Marcus Borg or Bishop John Spong, be compatible with Islam? Is not the Qur'an itself an "incarnation of the Word"? And when the Qur'an calls Jesus a "word" and "spirit" of God, isn't that suggesting that Jesus is of the same divine essence of God, in that God's Word and Spirit must partake of God's divinity?

And, remember, there is no place in the Qur'an which calls Jesus merely human—he is given titles which place him above other prophets, not the least of which is his virgin birth—he comes directly from God. I'm not sure that I would need to change any of my current beliefs to become a Muslim. Indeed, I believe I am surrendered to God already, and that my ideas of Incarnation are in no way shirk, but are compatible with both the Qur'an and the Gospel. So, I want to ask what you think.

Answer:

To properly understand the nature of Jesus, one has to resort either to a divine source or to what Jesus himself has declared and emphasized. It can be proved that Qur’an is the word of God remaining intact as revealed. Refer for example to:

www.islam-for-everyone.com

www.it-is-true.com

www.islamguide.com

In contrast, it can be proved that both the Old Testament and the New Testament are not divine but “human” writings, and so are the writings of “modern” and “liberal” theologians.

 Islam emphatically asserts that there is no deity but Allah. Qur’an is abound of explicit statements of this fact, that leaves no room for re-interpretation or twisting the meaning in any direction, e.g.:

·                    Allah. There is no God except He, The Ever-Living, The Superb Upright Sustainer (2: 255)

·                    Say, O population of the Book, come to a level word between us and you, that we worship none except Allah, and we do not associate anything with Him, and that some of us do not take to themselves others as lords, apart from Allah.

Similarly, both the Old Testament and Jesus words in the Gospels confirm the Islamic concept of pure monotheism. Few examples are:

* Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is a jealous, God (Exodus 34: 14)

* You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them (Exodus 20:1-5)

* Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and him only (Matthew 4: 10)

* “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “ is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one (Mark 12; 32)

 Jesus also asserts his humanity:

* As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God (John 8: 40)

* By myself I can do nothing: I judge only as I hear (John 5: 30)

* But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men (Matthew 15:9)

 Referring to Jesus as a “Word” of Allah is an expression of the Will of Allah in creating him in the womb of  Virgin Mary without a father, by the word “Be”. The same description “Word from Allah” was applied to Yahya (John the baptist) in the Qur`an:

·                    So, the Angels called out to him (as) he (Zakariyya) was upright praying in the Chamber, Allah gives you the good tidings of Yahya, sincerely (verifying previous scriptures) with a “Word” from Allah … (2: 29)

Similarly, Adam was created by the Word of Allah “Be”:

·                    The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him “Be”: and he was (3: 59)

Are these references to Adam and John the Baptist any different from the same descriptions of Jesus?:

·                    As the Angels said,”O Maryam (Mary), surely Allah gives you good tidings of a Word from Him whose name is the Masih, Isa (Jesus) son of Maryam … (3: 45)

·                    O population of the Book (Jews and Christians), do not go beyond the bounds in your religion and do not say concerning Allah (anything) except the Truth. Surely the Masih, Isa (Jesus) son of Maryam, was only the Messenger of Allah, and His Word that He cast forth to Maryam, and a Spirit from Him. (4: 171)

 The word “Spirit” in this verse (see also 21: 91 and 66: 12) is a reference to the Willful power of  Allah in creating the fatherless Jesus. The more miraculous creation of Adam, without father nor mother was also a “Spirit’ from Allah, according to the Qur’an:

·                    (Remember) as your Lord said to the Angels, “Surely I am creating a mortal of a clay. So when I have molded him and breathed into him of My “Spirit”, then fall down to him prostrating!” (38: 71-72). Similarly read verses (15: 28-29) and (32: 7-9).

Could one claim that Adam, and hence all humanity, was an incarnation of God for that same argument !!!

Again the Qur’an explicitly affirms the humanity of Jesus:

·                    In no way is the Masih (Messiah) son of Maryam (anything) except a messenger. The Messengers before him already passed away, and his mother was constantly sincere; they both used to eat food. Look how evident We make the signs to them; (then) thereafter look (again) however they are diverged (into falsehood). (5: 75)

Read also: (3: 59), (5: 72-73), (5: 17), (5: 116-118), (19: 30-36).

 Similarly, the Gospels portray Jesus as a human man in all respects:

* On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus (Luke 2: 21)

* The son of man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a gluttonous man … (Matthew 11: 19)

* Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man has no place to lay his head.” (Matthew 8: 20)

* One of those days, Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. ( (Luke 6: 12)

* Jesus wept (John 11: 35)

 Jesus, as well as other Messengers and Prophets of Allah are mentioned with high esteem in the Qur’an, but not as much as was Ibrahim (Abraham) and Muhammad (peace be upon them all). Read e.g.:

·                    And who has a fairer religion than he who surrenders his face to Allah, and is a fair-doer, and closely follows the creed of Ibrahim, the unswervingly upright? And Allah took to him Ibrahim for a close fellow. (4; 125)

·                    Surely, Ibrahim was a nation, devout to Allah, unswervingly upright, and he was not of the associators. (16; 1200

·                    How then will it be when We cause to come from every nation a witness and cause you (Muhammad) to come as a witness against these? (4: 41). Read also: (2: 143), (16: 89), (22: 78).

·                    And surely you (Muhammad) are indeed of a magnificent character. (68: 4)

 To conclude, the incarnation of God in Jesus is incompatible with Qur’an, as well as with what Jesus himself proclaimed and stood for. Other tenets of current (man-made) Christianity such as the Divine Sonship of Jesus, Trinity, Crucifixion, original sin and atonement are all strongly rebutted by Islam. You cannot amalgamate Islam and Christianity in any self-consistent framework. For further reading visit:

www.todayislam.com

www.sultan.org