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Q / A
Answering Common Misconceptions

40. Virgin Mary and the Christian trinity

Question:


As-salamu `alaykum.

 

I was once confronted with a question that kept me wondering. I hope that you can help me with it. The Qur'an told us about the holy trinity that the Christians worship. It says that they are: Jesus, Mary and Father God. The Qur'anic verse says what means:

*{O Jesus, the son of Mary, didst thou say unto men, 'Worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of God,?' He will say: 'Glory to Thee! Never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, Thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, though I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden.'}* (Al-Ma'idah 5:116)

However, the Christians' holy trinity is: Jesus, Father and the Holy Spirit. It doesn't include Mary.


The question actually came up in a debate I was having about proving that the Qur'an is the words of God. The guy I was debating with came up with this point and I left it unanswered as I couldn't find the defense.

 

Please provide me with the clarification so that I can get back to him. Thanks a lot for your time and jazakum Allah khayran.

Answer:

Starting with the verses in question (English meaning):

- And as Allah said, “O Jesus son of Mary did you say to mankind, “Take me and my mother to your selves as two gods, apart from Allah?” He said, "All Extolment be to You! In no way is it for me to say what I have no right to. In case I ever said it. then You already know it. You know whatever is within my self, and I do not know what is within Your Self; surely You, Ever You, are The Superb Knower of the Things Unseen. In no way did I say to them (anything) except whatever You commanded me (saying), “Worship Allah, my Lord, and your Lord.” And I was a witness over them, as long as I was among them; then as soon as You took me up, You, Ever You, have been The Watcher over them, and You are Ever-Witnessing over everything. In case You torment them, then surely they are Your bondmen; and in case You forgive them, then surely You, Ever You, are The Ever-Mighty, The Ever-Wise.” (Meaning of Qur'an 5: 116-118)

The text above, to start with, says nothing regarding the Christian trinity. It simply says that Christians, after Christ, have falsely deified both Jesus and his mother; and that Jesus will be witness over them before Allah in the Hereafter. The wording of the verses cannot be twisted any further to serve the purpose of an imaginary conflict with historical facts; a technique often practiced by Christian missionaries and orientalists.

Truth is always simple, crystal clear and straightforward; while fallacies are always complicated, mysterious and tortuous. Few words can describe a fact, but you have to go at length to postulate a false statement. The straight forward fact of the One Omnipotent God (Arabic: Allah) is simple, clear and acceptable to any sound mind, whether a layman or a scientist. Taste the strength and clarity of how God is defined in the shortest Surah (Chapter) of the Qur'an, meaning:

 - Say, “He is Allah, The Only One, Allah, The Everlasting Sovereign. He has not begotten and has not been begotten, And to Him none could be co-equal.” (Meaning of Qur'an 112: 1-4)

Compare this to the concepts of dual or triune gods, that have their origins in ancient Egyptian, Greek and other old world pagan beliefs; and then crept in and was coined with Christianity more than three centuries after Christ. Try, in vain, to find a sound reasoning behind! Yet; for Christians, including their clergy, it is simply a mystery they have to dogmatically accept. Quoting few Christian authorities (after: M. A. C. Cave, "Is the Trinity doctrine divinely inspired):

- "God is one, and God is three. Since there is nothing like this in creation, we cannot understand it, but only accept it." (Monsignor Eugene Clark)

- "We know that it is a very profound mystery, which we don't begin to understand." (Cardinal John O'Connor)

- "The inscrutable mystery of God the Trinity" (Pope John Paul II)

Still, nowhere in the Gospels, could we find the word or concept of trinity mentioned; nor been referred to the sayings of Jesus (Peace be upon him). It was the  Nicea Council in 325 CE who invented this concept based on the words of John, not Jesus, in his vision: "For there are three that bear record in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth: the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one." (I John 5: 7-8). However, the phrase, "the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one," has been expunged in "The Revised Standard Version" (RSV) of 1952 and 1971 and in many other Bibles. The New American Standard Bible reads as follows: "And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear witness, the Spirit and the water and the blood, and the three are in agreement." Also, in The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, used by the Jehovah's Witnesses, it reads: "For there are three witness bearers: the spirit and the water and the blood, and the three are in agreement."

The deifying of Jesus and his mother has similarly crept into Christianity, gradually after their departure. First, the status of Jesus was changed from: a human prophet, one of a long string of prophets, to be the "son of God" then to "God incarnate". Jesus himself has never claimed to be divine or semi-divine. To the contrary, he repeatedly affirmed his human nature and role; and warned those who might unduly ascribe such false attributes to himself:

*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)

*“What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. (Luke 24:19)

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

* "I do nothing of myself" (John 8:28)

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

This conforms with the Qur'anic description (English meaning):

- Surely the likeness of Jesus in the Providence of Allah is as the likeness of Adam. He (Allah) created him of dust, thereafter He said to him, “Be!” so he is (i.e., he was). (Meaning of Qur'an 3: 59)

- In no way is the Messiah son of Mary (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). (Meaning of Qur'an 5: 75)

Later,  the status of Virgin Mary has similarly been unduly elevated, to different extents by different Christian denominations. Some claim her to be the 'Mother of God', the 'Spouse of the Holy Spirit', 'Mary as Coredemptrix' (i.e. that Mary participated in some way in Christ's redemption of mankind), or 'Mary as Mediatrix of All Graces' (i.e. that all graces Christ obtains for humanity are dispensed by and through Mary. Others claim that: "God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation.” (from "Catholic Online"). Other groups have more explicitly taken her as a full deity, addressing her as:  "Woman! Thou art God. She is Love! She Provides! Pray to Her! She is Powerful! She Comforts!;" and calls on their followers: "How to worship Mary? Pray with Her and to Her!  (from the site: www.womanthouartgod.com).

In contrast, the Qur'an, being the eternal book of monotheism, refutes and shuns away all sorts of polytheism, whether in earlier pagan beliefs or in the successor concepts of Christian trinity, e.g. as in the following verses (English meaning):

- O population of the Book, do not go beyond the bounds in your religion and do not say concerning Allah (anything) except the Truth. Surely the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary was only the Messenger of Allah, and His Word that He cast forth to Maryam, and a Spirit from Him. So, believe in Allah and His Messengers, and do not say, “Three.” Refrain; most charitable is it for you; surely Allah is only One God. All Extolment be to Him-that He should have a child. To Him (belongs) whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth; and Allah suffices for an Ever-Trusted Trustee. The Messiah will never disdain to be a bondman of Allah, neither the Angels who are near-stationed (to Him). And whoever disdains to do Him worship (Literally: worshiping Him) and waxes proud, then He will soon muster them altogether to Him. (Meaning of Qur'an 4: 171-172)

- Indeed they have already disbelieved, the ones who have said, “Surely Allah, He is the Messiah (Jesus) son of Maryam.” And the Messiah (Jesus) said, “O Seeds of Israel (Jacob) worship Allah, my Lord, and your Lord; surely whoever associates with Allah (anything), Allah has already prohibited him (entrance to) the Garden, and his abode will be the Fire; and in no way will the unjust have any vindicators.” Indeed they have already disbelieved, the ones who have said, “Surely Allah is the third of three.” And in no way is there any god except One God. And in case they do not refrain from what they say, indeed there will definitely touch the ones of them that have disbelieved a painful torment. (Meaning of Qur'an 5: 72-73)

Also, the Qur'an holds Mary in high esteem, as in the following verses (English meaning):

- And Allah has struck a similitude for the ones who have believed: the wife of Pharaoh as she said, “Lord! Build for me a house in your Providence in the Garden, and safely deliver me from Pharaoh  and his deed (s), and safely deliver me from the unjust people!” And Maryam (Mary) daughter of `Imran, who kept safe her private parts, (i.e., safeguarded) so We breathed in it of Our Spirit, and she sincerely (believed) in the Words of her Lord, and His Books; and she was one of the devout. (Meaning of Qur'an 66: 11-12)

Suggested Links:

Who invented the trinity?

Virgin Mary in Islamic Teachings?

Was Mary married?

What is the Holy Spirit?

Muslim-Christian Dialogue