Javed Ahmad Ghamidi (Urdu: جاوید احمد غامدی, romanized: Jāvēd Aḥmad Ghāmidī; April 7, 1952) is a Pakistani philosopher, educationist, and Scholar of Islam. He is also the founding President of Al-Mawrid Institute of Islamic Sciences and its sister organisation Danish Sara.
He became a member of the Council of Islamic Ideology (responsible for giving legal advice on Islamic issues to the Pakistani Government and the country’s Parliament) on 28 January 2006, where he remained for a couple of years. He also taught Islamic studies at the Civil Services Academy for more than a decade from 1979 to 1991. He was also a student of Islamic scholar and exegete, Amin Ahsan Islahi. He is running an intellectual movement similar to Wasatiyyah, on the popular electronic media of Pakistan. Currently he is Principal Research Fellow and Chief Patron of Ghamidi Center of Islamic Learning in United States. Javed Ahmad Ghamidi was named in The Muslim 500 (The World’s Most Influential Muslims) in the 2019, 2020 and 2021 editions
The Originator of the heavens and the earth! How can He have a son when He has no consort, and when He has created everything and has knowledge of all things?
Such is Allah, your Lord. There is no God but He, the Creator of all things, so worship Him. And He is Guardian over everything. (Al Quran 6:102-103)
Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
Jesus is perfect man and fully divine according to the official Christian doctrine.
This is beyond the comprehension of a Muslim or a Jew. How can a man made of 46 chromosomes, proteins, fats and carbohydrates, someone who is flesh and bones, can also be the Transcendental God, who is beyond time, space and matter, at the same time?
This is precisely the reason, why the Muslims and the Jews are not Christians.
The irony is that even though a faithful Christian can profess and claim on blind faith that Jesus is perfect man and fully divine, but, the moment he or she tries to comprehend and grasp this alleged reality, he or she is no longer a faithful Christian and instantaneously becomes a heretic.
I will introduce you to at least four of them from history, in this article.
Apollinaris was born in 315 and was too young to be present in the Council of Nicaea, which was held in 325, when Nicene Creed was developed and agreed upon by 318 present. But, as he grew, he became friends with Athanasius, who had a prominent role in the Council and rose quickly through the ranks and became bishop of Laodicea, in Syria. He became a strong supporter of the ‘orthodoxy’ and fully embraced the Nicene Creed, which excluded Arian’s teachings of Jesus, being a subordinate God.
In his zeal to defend Nicene Creed, Apollinaris was consumed with the question of how Jesus could be God and human at the same time. If Jesus was a man-god or a god-man hybrid, then was a part of him God and another part of him a man?
Like others at his time, Apollinaris appears to have understood that humans are made up of three parts: the body; the ‘lower soul,’ which is the root of our emotions and passions; and the ‘upper soul,’ which is our faculty of reason with which we understand the world. Apollinaris evidently maintained that in Jesus Christ, the preexistent divine Logos replaced the upper soul, so his reason was completely divine. And so, God and human are united and at one — there is only one person, Christ — but they are united because in the man Jesus, God had a part and a human had a part.
In other words, Apollinarius’ eagerness to emphasize the deity of Jesus and the unity of his person led him so far as to deny the existence of a rational human soul (νοῦς, nous) in Christ’s human nature, this being replaced in him by the Logos, so that his body was a glorified and spiritualized form of humanity.
Apollinaris attempts to rationalize and understand nature of Jesus could not drive a consensus, as a consensus is not possible around an absurdity, except under duress.
It was alleged that the Apollinarian approach implied docetism, that if the Godhood without constraint swayed the manhood there was no possibility of real human probation or of real advance in Christ’s manhood. The position was accordingly condemned by several synods and in particular by that of Constantinople (381).
However, some of Apollinarius rhetoric did stick. He made a lasting contribution to orthodox theology in declaring that Christ was consubstantial (of one substance) with the Father as regarding his divinity and consubstantial with us as regarding his humanity. This formula, which originated with Apollinarius, later became official orthodox doctrine.
Apollinaris was also one of the first to claim that God suffered and died on the cross, a claim which received immediate condemnation but later became acceptable in orthodox theology.
Additionally, the condemnation of his position did not prevent him from having a considerable following, which after his death divided into two sects, the more conservative taking its name (Vitalians) from Vitalis, the Apollinarist claimant to the see of Antioch, the other (Polemeans) adding the further assertion that the two natures were so blended that even the body of Christ was a fit object of adoration. The Apollinarian christology, along with Eutychianism, persisted in what was later the radically anti-Nestorianmonophysite school.
Apollinaris The Younger, Latin Apollinarius (born c. 310—died c. 390), bishop of Laodicea who developed the heretical position concerning the nature of Christ called Apollinarianism. …
Apollinaris denied the existence in Christ of a rational human soul, a position he took to combatArianism. Excommunicated from the church for his views, Apollinaris was readmitted but in 346 excommunicated a second time. Nevertheless the Nicene congregation at Laodicea chose him as bishop (c. 361).
Just like Apollinaris, Marcellus also had the audacity to try to comprehend the nature of Jesus and he had a similar fate of becoming a heretic.
He realized that the decisions leading to the creed of Nicea left considerable room for development, especially on the question of how Christ-who was co eternal and equal with God-actually related to the Father. Were Christ and the Father two separate but equal beings, or hypostases (a term that now meant something like “person” or “individual entity”)?
Sabellianism (also known as modalism, modalistic monarchianism, or modal monarchism) is the nontrinitarian belief that the Heavenly Father, Resurrected Son and Holy Spirit are different modes or aspects of one monadic God, as perceived by the believer, rather than three distinct persons within the Godhead.
The term Sabellianism comes from Sabellius, a theologian and priest from the 3rd century. Modalism differs from Unitarianism by accepting the Nicean doctrine that Jesus is fully God.
Marcellus did not want to be a modalist.
Prof. Bart Ehrman explains:
Marcellus fully realized that a modalist view could no longer be accepted. But was there some way to preserve the oneness, the unity, of the godhead without falling into the trap of Sabellius and others like him, so that no one could charge the Christians of having more than one God?
Marcellus’s solution was to say that there was only one hypostasis, who was Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In his view, the Christ and the Spirit were eternal with God, but only because they were resident within him from back into eternity and came forth from the Father for the purposes of salvation. In fact, before Christ came forth from God-when he was resident within him-he was not yet the Son; he could be the Son only when he came forth at the incarnation. And so before that time he was the Word of God, within the Father. Moreover, on the basis of his interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:24-28, which says that at “the end” of all things, Christ will “hand over the kingdom to God the Father,” Marcellus maintained that Christ’s kingdom was not eternal. Ultimately, God the Father is all sovereign; Christ will deliver his kingdom to the Father; and then he will return to be resident within him.
This view obviously toed the line on the major Christological issues of the second, third, and early fourth centuries. Christ was God, he became man, and he was only one person. And it was not a modalist view. But other church leaders thought it sounded too much like modalism and condemned it as a heresy. The matter was discussed and finally decided at the Council of Constantinople in 381. That is when the line was introduced into the Nicene Creed that is still said today, that “his [Christ’s] kingdom shall have no end.” This line was added to demonstrate the theological rejection of the views of Marcellus. Other church leaders disagreed with this rejection. And so the debates continued.
A few years after the Council of Nicaea (in 325) Marcellus wrote a book against Asterius the Sophist, a prominent figure in the party which supported Arius. In this work (only fragments of which survive), he was accused of maintaining that the Trinity of persons in the Godhead was but a transitory dispensation. According to the surviving fragments, God was originally only One Being (hypostasis), but at the creation of the universe the Word or Logos went out from the Father and was God’s Activity in the world. This Logos became incarnate in Christ and was thus constituted Image of God. The Holy Ghost likewise went forth as third Divine Personality from the Father and from Christ according to John 20:22. At the consummation of all things, however (I Corinthians 15:28), Christ will return to the Father and the Godhead be again an absolute Unity.
Despite him being one of the delegates, at the Council of Nicaea, Marcellus was condemned by a council of his enemies and expelled from his see, though he was able to return there to live quietly with a small congregation in the last years of his life.
Let us move on and find our third ‘heretic.’
The term, “the mother of God.” was in wide use, for mother Mary, by the time of Nestorius in the early fifth century, but he came to object to it, publicly. What were his views and what happened to Nestorius is well described by Prof. Bart Ehrman:
In Nestorius’s view, to call Mary the mother of God sounded too much like Apollinarianism-that Mary gave birth to a human being who had the Logos of God within him instead of a human soul. Nestorius believed that Christ was fully human, not partially so, and also that Christ was fully God, not partially so. Moreover, the divine and the human cannot intermingle, since they are different essences. Both the divine and the human were present in Christ at the incarnation.
In stressing this view that Christ was both fully God and fully human, Nestorius came to be seen as someone who wanted to argue that Christ was two different persons, one divine and one human-with his human element tightly embracing the divine so that they stood in a unity (much like a “marriage of souls”). But by this time orthodox Christians had long maintained that Christ was just one person. In the end, Nestorius’s enemies attacked this “two-person” Christology by arguing that it divided Christ and thereby made him a “mere man” rather than some kind of “divine man.” As a result, Nestorius and his views were condemned by Pope Celestine in 430 and by the ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431.
Our fourth and the final heretic for today, is none other than Arius himself, without whose presence the Nicene Creed could not have been articulated or even superficially understood.
Although virtually all positive writings on Arius’ theology have been suppressed or destroyed, negative writings describe Arius’ theology as one in which there was a time before the Son of God, when only God the Fatherexisted. Despite concerted opposition, ‘Arian’, or nontrinitarian Christian churches persisted throughout Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, and also in various Gothic and Germanic kingdoms, until suppressed by military conquest or voluntary royal conversion between the fifth and seventh centuries.
Although “Arianism” suggests that Arius was the originator of the teaching that bears his name, the debate over the Son’s precise relationship to the Father did not begin with him. This subject had been discussed for decades before his advent; Arius merely intensified the controversy and carried it to a Church-wide audience, where other “Arians” such as Eusebius of Nicomedia (who was not Eusebius of Caesarea, although they lived in the same period) proved much more influential in the long run. In fact, some later “Arians” disavowed the name, claiming not to have been familiar with the man or his specific teachings. However, because the conflict between Arius and his foes brought the issue to the theological forefront, the doctrine he proclaimed—though not originated—is generally labeled as “his”.
Prof. Bart Ehrman has done justice to him in his recent book, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee:
Arius’s interpretation was one that may well have been acceptable in the theological climate of orthodox Christianity during the century or so before his day, but by the early fourth century it proved to be highly controversial. He, like other interpreters, understood the Wisdom of God to be the same as the Word of God and the Son of God-that is, the preexistent divine Christ who was with God at the beginning of the creation. But in Arius’s opinion, Christ had not always existed. He had come into existence at some point in the remote past before the creation. Originally, God had existed alone, and the Son of God came into existence only later. He was, after all, “begotten” by God, and that implied-to Arius and others who were like-minded-that before he was begotten, he did not yet exist. One further implication of this view is that God the Father had not always been the Father; instead, he became the Father only when he begot his Son.
In Arius’s view, everything except for God himself had a beginning. Only God is “without beginning.” And this means that Christ-the Word (Logos) of God-is not fully God in the way that God is. He was created in God’s own image by God himself; and so Christ bears the title God, but he is not the “true” God. Only God himself is. Christ’s divine nature was derived from the Father; he came into being at some point before the universe was made, and so he is a creation or creature of God. In short, Christ was a kind of second-tier God, subordinate to God and inferior to God in every respect.
As we have seen, Christological views such as this were not merely academic exercises but were connected at a deep level with Christian worship. For Arius and his followers it was indeed right to worship Christ. But was Christ to be worshiped as one who was on a par with God the Father? Their answer was clear and straightforward: absolutely not. It is the Father who is above all things, even the Son, by an infinite degree.
Over the centuries the Church has condemned every attempt to oppose or even rationalize the Nicene Creed, and called it a heresy. We have seen at least four examples here.
The Christian apologists have occasionally conceded that Trinity or nature of Jesus is a mystery, which cannot be understood. The more honest and rational among the Christian apologists, have yielded even more.
It is not the business of any Christian writer or preacher to dilute Christianity to suit the general educated public. The doctrine of the incarnation was to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, and so will it always be, for the doctrine not only transcends reason; it the paradox par excellence; and it can be affirmed only by faith, with passionate inwardness and interest. The substitution of reason for faith means the death of Christianity.
The Nicene Creed is indeed a collection of paradoxes. If you are a Christian and believe it, I am afraid, you are a heretic, for believing in paradoxes, as God is All Knowing and cannot be contradictory.
On the contrary, if you do not believe in the Nicene Creed, then you have gone against the orthodoxy and you are again a heretic.
Only way out of this quagmire seems to be to become a Unitarian Christian, a Jew or a Muslim.
This is what is meant by the following verse of the Holy Quran:
Say, ‘O People of the Book! come to a word equal between us and you — that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partner with Him, and that some of us take not others for Lords beside Allah.’ But if they turn away, then say, ‘Bear witness that we have submitted to God.’ (Al Quran 3:65)
Nature of Jesus is a mystery and cannot be rationally understood, therefore, I believe, all attempts at trying to understand the dual nature of Jesus, perfect man and fully divine, are bound to lead to heresy of one kind or another or contradictions. If I have over stated my case, I would invite Christian apologists to explain the dual nature, in the comment section or endorse my humble attempt at explaining the Christian doctrine.
In summary, an apple cannot be a rock and a monkey at the same time, likewise, a man cannot be God at the same time.
All the different Paradoxes of the Nicene Creed will be examined in a separate article, until then I rest my case.
1. Prof. Bart Ehrman. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. HarperOne, 2014. Pages 368-369.
2. Prof. Bart Ehrman. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. HarperOne, 2014. Pages 366-367.
3. Prof. Bart Ehrman. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. HarperOne, 2014. Pages 369.
4. Prof. Bart Ehrman. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. HarperOne, 2014. Pages 340-341.
The term “knowledgeable ignorance” is used by the authors of a book titled “Why do People Hate America” to refer to Western view of Islam and Muslims. A view based on a body of orientalists’ researches and writings characterised by representing an erroneous image of the East in general and the Arab Islamic culture in particular.
In this article I am going to examine and expose some of the most flagrant examples of orientalists’ misrepresentations of Islamic doctrines and values. In his book Modern Islam: The Search for Cultural Identity, Gustave von Grunebaum writes:
It is essential to realise that Muslim civilisation is a cultural entity that does not share our primary aspirations. It is not vitally interested in the structural study of other cultures, either as on in itself or as a means towards clearer understanding of its own character and history.
Grunebaum’s thesis that Muslim civilisation is not interested in the study of other cultures, which is, unfortunately, considered an authoritative statement on Islam, betrays stark ignorance of a cardinal Koranic doctrine encapsulated in the a verse from surat Al Hujurat: ”Oh mankind! We created you from a single pair, of a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you, and God has full knowledge and is well acquainted.”
Equally misguided, Bernard Lewis, in a context related to jihad in Islam, maintains that Islam endorses jihad as a holy war: “The crusades could more accurately be described as a limited, belated and in the last analysis, ineffectual response to jihad- a failed attempt to recover by a Christian holy war what had been lost to a Muslim holy war.” Obviously, for Lewis, jihad is associated with the concept of a holy war that is waged in the name of God against unbelievers. The Koran and the Hadith emphasise that Muslims may fight those who fight them, but they also insist that Muslims may not transgress. One may cite a large number of verses to this effect. Yet, it is a well-established fact that Islamic tradition does not have a notion of holy war.
As the Islamic scholar Khaled Abou Al Fadl rightly observes, in Islamic religion war is never holy; it is either justified or not.
Inspired by orientalists, Western historians, journalists and politicians are all involved in a kind of an orchestrated campaign to portray a distorted image of Islam. For example, in an article entitled “History and September 11”, Francis Fukuyama writes: “The Islamic world differs from other cultures today in one important respect. In recent years it alone has repeatedly produced significant radical movements that reject not just Western policies but the most basic principle of modernity itself, that of religious tolerance.” The last part of this statement provides another latent example of ignorance of Islam, especially its remarkable emphasis on tolerance and freedom of faith. In surat Al Baqara, for instance, we read: “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error.” Another important verse in Surat Yunus stresses further the notion of the freedom of religious belief: If it had been thy Lord’s will, they would all have believed, all who are on earth! Will thou then compel mankind, against their will, to believe!”
In the light of these two verses, the claim that Islam does not embrace tolerance falls to the ground.
To cite a final example of misconception of Islam, John Aschroft former Us attorney general, maintains: “Islam is a religion in which God required you to send your son to die. Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you.” This ill-advised remark betrays a sheer misconception of the reality of Islam which more than any other religion celebrates the sanctity of human life. The Koran abounds in verses which emphasise the sacredness of human life. One of these verses in Surah Maida goes so far as to state that the killing of one person tantamounts to slaying the whole of mankind: “… if any one slew a person- unless it be for murder of for spreading mischief in the land — it would be as if he slew the whole people: And if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people” Had Aschcroft realised this fact, he perhaps would not have made his unthoughtful remark.
It is He who enables you to travel on land and sea until, when you are sailing on ships and rejoicing in the favoring wind, a storm arrives: waves come at those on board from all sides and they feel there is no escape. Then they pray to God, professing sincere devotion to Him, ‘If You save us from this we shall be truly thankful.’ Yet no sooner does He save them than, back on land, they behave outrageously against all that is right. People! Your outrageous behavior only works against yourselves. Take your little enjoyment in this present life; in the end you will return to Us and We shall confront you with everything you have done.
The life of this world is like this: rain that We send down from the sky is absorbed by the plants of the earth, from which humans and animals eat. But when the earth has taken on its finest appearance, and adorns itself, and its people think they have power over it, then the fate We commanded comes to it, by night or by day, and We reduce it to stubble, as if it had not flourished just the day before. This is the way We explain the revelations for those who reflect. But God invites [everyone] to the Home of Peace, and guides whoever He will to a straight path. Those who did well will have the best reward and more besides. Neither darkness nor shame will cover their faces: these are the companions in Paradise, and there they will remain. As for those who did evil, each evil deed will be requited by its equal and humiliation will cover them– no one will protect them against God– as though their faces were covered with veils cut from the darkness of the night. These are the inmates of the Fire, and there they shall remain.
On the Day We gather them all together, We shall say to those who associate partners with God, ‘Stay in your place, you and your partner-gods.’ Then We shall separate them, and their partner-gods will say, ‘It was not us you worshipped– God is witness enough between us and you– we had no idea that you worshipped us.’ Every soul will realize, then and there, what it did in the past. They will be returned to God, their rightful Lord, and their invented [gods] will desert them.
Say [Prophet], ‘Who provides for you from the sky and the earth? Who controls hearing and sight? Who brings forth the living from the dead and the dead from the living, and who governs everything?’ They are sure to say, ‘God.’ Then say, ‘So why do you not take heed of Him? That is God, your Lord, the Truth. Apart from the Truth, what is there except error? So how is it that you are dissuaded?’ In this way, your Lord’s word about those who defy [the Truth] has been proved– they do not believe. Ask them, ‘Can any of your partner-gods originate creation, then bring it back to life again in the end?’ Say, ‘It is God that originates creation, and then brings it back to life, so how can you be misled?’ Say, ‘Can any of your partner-gods show the way to the Truth?’ Say, ‘God shows the way to the Truth. Is someone who shows the way to the Truth more worthy to be followed, or someone who cannot find the way unless he himself is shown? What is the matter with you? How do you judge?’ Most of them follow nothing but assumptions, but assumptions can be of no value at all against the Truth: God is well aware of what they do.
Nor could this Quran have been devised by anyone other than God. It is a confirmation of what was revealed before it and an explanation of the Scripture– let there be no doubt about it– it is from the Lord of the Worlds. Or do they say, ‘He has devised it’? Say, ‘Then produce a Sura like it, and call on anyone you can beside God if you are telling the truth.’ But they are denying what they cannot comprehend– its prophecy has yet to be fulfilled for them. In the same way, those before them refused to believe– see what was the end of those evildoers! (Al Quran 10:22-39)
Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times Abū ‘l-Muġīth Al-Ḥusayn bin Manṣūr al-Ḥallāj was a Persian mystic, poet and teacher of Sufism. Al-Hallaj gained a wide following as a preacher […]
Muslim scholars coming from all denominations and sects now and over the centuries have highlighted that there are more than 700 verses in the Quran using the phenomena of nature as metaphors and inviting the believers to study them with a promise that such pursuit will yield rich dividends in all spheres of human interest.
Given such constant focus of the literal word of God, it is self evident to me that in our age of scientific advancement, the best way to understand the Divine message is through the lens of modern science.
Such study also has the potential of getting us beyond the myopic Muslim leaders with divisive, monopolistic and hateful agenda.
Albert Einstein, the man of the 20th century according to the Time magazine, once said, “All of science is nothing more than the refinement of everyday thinking.” (1)
So, if Islam be a true religion from All Knowing God, it should stand the test of science. In fact the same argument was advanced by St. Augustine of Hippo, in favor of Christianity, a few centuries before the dawn of Islam. Saint Augustine said, “Let the Bible be a book for you so that you may hear it; let the sphere of the world be also a book for you so that you may see it.” (2) In this saying he suggests a paradigm that word of God or scripture should be in accord with the act of God, our world or what we broadly label as nature.
Saint Augustine became convinced of Christianity by finding evidence for it in another tradition, that of Paganism as described by the Platonists of Athens. Describing this, in his book Confessions, he provided a bridge from Paganism to Christianity.
Why does Augustine become convinced that Christianity is true? What does Augustine propose that Athens have to do with Jerusalem? What does Plato have to do with the Bible and more specifically with the Gospel of John? How can you examine the truth of one tradition of thought and reasoning in light of another parallel tradition? William R. Cook and Ronald B. Herzman answer these questions for us:
Augustine tells us that he read books ‘written by the Platonists’ … he parapharases these books, rather than quoting them directly. His parapharase is also a parapharase of one of the most important texts of the Christian Scripture, the beginning of the gospel according to John. The surprising and, to some extent, shocking claim that he makes is that these Platonists teach the same thing as the Gospel of John. Augustine’s claim is that even though these words may not have been exactly what was said in the text of these philosophers, they accurately represent the substance of what he saw in them. Thus, in these pagan philosophical texts, he finds a way of articulating Christian beliefs. (2)
His paradigm still lives on among the Christian apologists.
“We think that since God is the author both of his Word the Bible and of this universe, there must ultimately be harmony between correct interpretation of the biblical data and correct interpretation of scientific data.” Prof. John C Lennox, in Seven Days that divide the World.
Perhaps we needed a new bridge to lead us to the eternal truths. Dr. Maurice Buccaile came to our rescue almost a century later, but now he was serving Islam and his scripture of choice was the Quran. Bucaille (1920 – 1998) was a French medical doctor and author, he was the senior surgeon in a French study on mummy of Pharaoh, he converted to Islam from Christianity, while serving in Egypt. In 1973, Bucaille was appointed family physician to King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. His patients included the members of the family of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
I was in the third year of my medical school, in King Edward Medical College, Lahore, Pakistan, when someone introduced me to the above book. It was in 1982 that my study of the Quran and science started and has continued since. Over the decades I have familiarized myself with the Bible and Christianity as well, by devouring every thing worth while available in YouTube and the Great Courses on these subjects.
Bucaille is primarily known for his book The Bible, The Qur’an and Science that he wrote following his study of the mummy of the Egyptian pharaohRamesses II. The book contained multiple references to the Quran, which gave rise to speculations that Bucaille had converted to Islam; a fact that he never confirmed or denied.
The book gave rise to a movement called Bucailleism, which tries to relate modern science with religion, especially Islam. Since the publishing of The Bible, the Quran and Science, Bucaillists have promoted the idea that the Quran is of divine origin, arguing that it contains scientifically correct facts.
For centuries the Christian apologists have called the Holy Quran a forgery of the Bible and I had some reasons to think that the Bible itself is a forgery, and in a recent book a New Testament scholar, Prof. Bart Ehrman, presents evidence and claims that half of the New Testament is a forgery. After reading Bucaille’s book I thought to myself, how could an alleged forgery of a forgery, the Holy Quran, get its facts straight in the court of science, as Maurice Bucaille presented? Over time I have come to admire the Holy Quran more and more!
In presenting the Islamic scriptures to the agnostics and atheists, now I also realize that as they mostly grew in Christian background, they learn about the vulnerabilities of the Bible and without genuinely studying the case for the Holy Quran, attribute those vulnerabilities and some more, to the Quran also.
Additionally, when interpreting a given verse of the Quran, they invariably accept the most cynical interpretation of the Holy Quran without trying to determine which interpretation is more probable. However, if they were to objectively and honestly study the Holy Quran they may relive the experience of the famous German philosopher, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:
As often as we approach the Quran, it always proves repulsive anew; gradually, however, it attracts, it astonishes, and, in the end forces admiration.
The Holy Quran states:
The disbelievers say: This Quran is naught but a lie that Muhammad has fabricated, and other people have helped him with it. They have, thereby, perpetrated an injustice and an untruth. They also say: These are fables of the ancients which he has got someone to write down for him and they are recited to him morning and evening. Say to them: The Quran has been revealed by Him Who knows every secret that is in the heavens and the earth. Indeed, He is Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful. (Al Surah Al-Furqan 25:5-7)
Many Christian writers and clergy claim that the Holy Quran is borrowed from the Bible. Allah refutes this allegation in the words, “The Quran has been revealed by Him Who knows every secret that is in the heavens and the earth.”
The most effective proofs of this Quranic claim were to come after the scientific revolution. Dr. Maurice Bucaille’s book is indeed a landmark achievement in this regards. By showing that the Quran co-relates with modern science, whereas, the Bible often does not and is self contradictory, one can put to rest propaganda of the Christian apologists!
However, it needs to be understood that the Holy Quran is a book of ‘religion’ and not a ‘book of science’ and Bucaille’s book is a book of ‘metaphysics’ and not of science. Metaphysics is a term, which means literally ‘what comes after physics.’ So, it is a branch of philosophy that studies the ultimate structure and constitution of reality, correlating religion and science.
A certain amount of humility is in order to comprehend the distinction between religion, science and metaphysics.
In the words of Charles Darwin, as he quoted Francis Bacon from his book Advancement of learning in the later editions of On the Origin of Species, to establish the proper relationship between religion and natural science:
To conclude, therefore, let no man out of weak conceit of sobriety, or an ill-applied moderation, think or maintain, that a man can search too far or be too well-studied in the book of God’s word, or in the book of God’s works; divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavor an endless progress or proficiency in both.
If we read the book of Dr. Maurice Bucaille with this humility there is much room for learning for both the Muslim and the non-Muslim audience.
He writes in the introduction to his book, The Bible, the Quran and Science:
Like Saint Augustine for the Bible, Islam has always assumed that the data contained in the Holy Scriptures were in agreement with scientific fact. A modern examination of the Islamic Revelation has not caused a change in this position. As we shall see later on, the Quran deals with many subjects of interest to science, far more in fact than the Bible. There is no comparison between the limited number of Biblical statements which lead to a confrontation with science, and the profusion of subjects mentioned in the Quran that are of a scientific nature. None of the latter can be contested from a scientific point of view. This is the basic fact that emerges from our study. We shall see at the end of this work that such is not the case for the Hadiths. These are collections of the Prophet’s sayings, set aside from the Quranic Revelation, certain of which are scientifically unacceptable. (4)
His book, in my estimation, is one of the best apologies for the holy Quran, from the last century (5).
Sometimes, critics of Bucaille’s work argue that science is ever changing then how can you judge the word of God on that matrix. These critics forget what Einstein advised in so many words, “All of science is nothing more than the refinement of everyday thinking.” Human wisdom and criteria are ever changing and Word of God, has to be dynamic enough to stand the test of time.
I became one of the pioneer members of the Intelligent Design movement, in USA. For me, the search of truth has never been a divisive or sectarian pursuit. Perhaps there was only one other Muslim in the association at that time and majority of them were Christians.
In their discussion forum there was obviously talk about God the Creator and science and often the Bible was quoted. I once quoted the Quran and the comment was censored on some made up ground that it was in bad taste. I stopped being an active member.
For me the search of God the Creator is a common pursuit in the Abrahamic faiths and the holy Quran also frames the discussion in that fashion by quoting him, in a verse, that has been memorized by almost every Muslim, as it is the prescribed intention of five time daily prayer or Salat: “For me, I have set my face, firmly and truly, towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allah.” (Al Quran: 6:79)
Mirza Tahir Ahmad is not considered to be a hero by the majority of the Muslims in Pakistan, in their sectarian paradigms. But, the Muslim readers do not have to agree with a writer completely to benefit from him or her. Two of the previous authors in this article are Christians and Albert Einstein was a reformed Jew, on whose quote about science, I am basing my article.
My main suggestion to the open minded readers is to read on and in the words of Sir Francis Bacon, “Read not to contradict … but to weigh and consider.”
Mirza Tahir Ahmad wrote a book, Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth in 1998 and felt that it was the greatest achievement of his well lived life.
The back cover of the book states:
Any divide between revelation and rationality, religion and logic has to be irrational. If religion and rationality cannot proceed hand in hand, there has to be something deeply wrong with either of the two.
Does revelation play any vital role in human affairs? Is not rationality sufficient to guide man in all the problems which confront him? Numerous questions such as these are examined with minute attention.
All major issues which intrigue the modern mind are attempted to be incorporated in this fascinatingly comprehensive statute.
Whatever the intellectual or educational background of the reader, this book is bound to offer him something of his interest.
It examines a very diverse and wide range of subjects including the concept of revelation in different religions, history of philosophy, cosmology, extraterrestrial life, the future of life on earth, natural selection and its role in evolution. It also elaborately discusses the advent of the Messiah, or other universal reformers, awaited by different religions. Likewise, many other topical issues which have been agitating the human mind since time immemorial are also incorporated.
The main emphasis is on the ability of the Quran to correctly discuss all important events of the past, present and future from the beginning of the universe to its ultimate end.
Aided by strong incontrovertible logic and scientific evidence, the Quran does not shy away from presenting itself to the merciless scrutiny of rationality.
It will be hard to find a reader whose queries are not satisfactorily answered. We hope that most readers will testify that this will always stand out as a book among books – perhaps the greatest literary achievement of this century.
The book was published in 1998 and the author passed away in 2003. The Quran is for eternity and the scientific process and accumulating knowledge continues.
My journey of understanding the Quran, obviously, started with the reading of the previous authors that I am celebrating here. In the famous words of Sir Isaac Newton, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Lest readers find me guilty of arrogance and self deceit, I am talking here only in terms of understanding of the holy Quran in the light of modern science. I have also had the simple advantage of living in an age of Google search and easy access of each and every book in Amazon and else where online.
In the three great Monotheistic religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, God is viewed as a supreme, transcendent being, beyond time, space and matter, and yet the foundation of all that meets our senses that is described in terms of matter, space, and time. That is the Al Batin or the Hidden God of Monotheism. Furthermore, this God is not the god of deism, who created the world and then left it alone, or the god of pantheism, who is equated with all of existence. The Islamic and the Judeo-Christian God is a nanosecond-by-nanosecond participant in each event that takes place in every cubic nanometer of the universe. He has full knowledge of all things. God listens to every thought and participates in each action of His very special creation, a minute bit of organized matter called humanity that moves around on the surface of a tiny pebble in a vast universe. The Holy Quran declares: “Allah’s is the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth; and to Allah are all affairs returned for the final judgment.” (Al Quran 57:5)
While there are several articles written from the theist perspective for the agnostic or atheist audience, I also aim to invite the Christian brethren and sisters to the Muslim theology, banking on the latest science.
Evidence for evolution has been piling in the last few decades especially in the field of molecular biology and has been a topic of several articles in the Muslim Sunrise. Not to speak of our human family, all life forms on our planet earth, plants and animals, 350,000 species of flowers, bacteria and viruses and elephants and rhinoceroses have common ancestry.
The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey is a 2002 book by Spencer Wells, an American geneticist and anthropologist, in which he uses techniques and theories of genetics and evolutionary biology to trace the geographical dispersal of early human migrations out of Africa. The book was made into a TV documentary in 2003.
An article in 2016, Biology of Our Human Family: Who are We Related To? examined the human origins: “It is believed, on the basis of genetic evidence that all human beings in existence now descend from one single man who lived in Africa about 60,000 years ago. The earliest groups of humans are believed to find their present-day descendants among the San people, a group that is now found in western southern Africa. The San are smaller than the Bantu. They have lighter skins, more tightly curled hair, and they share the epicanthal fold with the people of Central and South East Asia.” Biology of Our Human Family: Who are We Related To?
With the Biblical Adam being only 6000 years old, it can now be conclusively proved from molecular biology that he is not the father of all of humanity. In light of such evidence, I clearly demonstrated with scientific proofs in a 2008 article that Original Sin, a fundamental dogma of Christianity, does not hold water anymore.
It is not every day that one comes up with scientific reasoning against a religion followed by almost 2 billion people. In that sense, this 2008 article of the Muslim Sunrise, Evaluating Original Sin against scientific discoveries, has historic and landmark significance, in guiding the Abrahamic faiths to more pure Monotheism and enlightened theology. Review the article in the Religion and Science section of the Summer 2008 volume of the Muslim Sunrise, the longest serving Muslim publication of North America: Original Sin and Evolution.
Now, I will list some of my articles on the theme of religion and science or Quran and science, many of which have been published in peer reviewed journals, but for the sake of promoting the Muslim Times, I am linking from our international blog:
What I have not told you yet is that he is not only the autocratic secular leader, but also extreme spiritual leader, if he had been a leader 2-3 millennia ago, he would have been a demi-God, with supernatural powers:
The Guardian Jurist office was established by the Constitution of Iran in 1979, pursuant to the concept of the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist. As the Guardian Jurist (Vali-ye faqih), the Supreme Leader, guides the country, protecting it from heresy and imperialist predations, and insuring the laws of Islam are followed. According to the Constitution, the powers of government in the Islamic Republic of Iran are vested in the legislature, the judiciary, and the executive powers, functioning under the supervision of the Supreme Leader. The style “Supreme Leader” (Persian: رهبر معظم, romanized: rahbar-e mo’azzam) is commonly used as a sign of respect – although the Constitution simply designates them as “Leader” (رهبر, rahbar).
The story does not end there. He is Marja’ as well. What is a Marja’?:
Marji’ (Arabic: مرجع, transliteration: marjiʿ; plural: marājiʿ, short for Marjaʿ al-taqlid), literally meaning “source to follow” or “religious reference”, is a title given to the highest level of TwelverShia authority, a Grand Ayatollah with the authority given by a hawzah to make legal decisions within the confines of Islamic law for followers and lower-ranking clerics.
From the perspective of Shia jurisprudence, during the occultation of the Mahdi, the highest ranking Shiahawzah clerics are bestowed with responsibility for understanding and explaining Islamic religious jurisprudence.
Shiite authorities in the history of Shi’ism have an important role in the religious, political and social thought of their communities. One example is the fatwa of Mirza Mohammed Hassan Husseini Shirazi imposing sanctions on the use of tobacco during Qajar rule, which led to the abolition of the tobacco concession.
Shiʿi “biographical compilations generally” consider Muhammad ibn Ya’qub al-Kulayni (d. 940 or 941), (one of the first compilers of Shiʿite hadith), to be “the first” post-occultation marja al-taqlid.
The Supreme Leader is every thing and you are nothing, if you are an Iranian Shiite. How can you understand anything in the Quran if he does not endorse it?
But, have courage. Stand your ground. Allah has bestowed you a good thinking brain and mind. You have already been fairly successful in many walks of life and thinking for yourself.
He is not only a teacher of the Quran, but also a barrier in your understanding. Think about it for a moment, he does not have monopoly over the understanding of the Quran and no human does.
The Quran is revealed for every human, male or female or of no specific gender, child or old, scholar or novice, intellectually challenged or a genius, any nationality or race.
I made an example out of him. But, I think I could as easily do it for every leader of every Shiite or Sunni sect. I do not want to offend each and every Muslim out of the 1.8 billion.
So, without offending many more, let me proceed with the rest of my thesis.
On a happier note my above caricature of the Supreme Leader will not offend all of the 84 million Shiite Muslims in Iran. Only 20% of them, whom we can call the fundametalists, for a lack of better word.
According to some experts the rest of the 80% are as sick and tired of him as many Islamophobes in the West.
I will just want to make one other example of a Sunni scholar, lest I am accused of a sectarian bias.
No human being is all knowing and so cannot be exclusive teacher for the literal word of All Knowing God.
So, without further adoo, I want to state that if you choose to learn about the Quran from scholars of all denominations, nationalities and race, and even scholars of other Abrahamic faiths, your journey of scholarship will be so much faster, easier and fascinating. Try to remove the contraindications in your understanding and reject what does not seem right and consistent, no matter what the station or the popularity of your teacher.
No human has a monopoly over the Quran. If you are not confident enough to accept this, your choice. You will be slave to your leader or scholar of your choosing, something I do not wish for anyone.
If you are confident of your God given protentional, please join me for the intellectual, religious and spiritual journey.
Now I include a collection of videos and articles:
Source: TheQuran.Love Introduction We believe that the most important verse of this surah is: “Indeed We have made the Qur’an easy to understand and to remember. But is there anyone who would receive admonition?” (54:17) […]
At the present time we have commentary of only portion of the holy Quran and new segments are being added periodically. Below is a listing in the numerical order of the surahs available, after the introductory section:
“What we are, teaches our children far more than what we say.” This statement stands out as an excellent reminder for all parents. There is no denying that we all intend to instill values such as compassion, love, empathy in our children from an early age but there are times when or words do not match our actions. To fulfill the challenges of teaching our children kindness and nurturing it in their characters, we need to look to the lessons from our beloved Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, who has been the greatest role model for humanity. His exemplary personality which was reflective in his conduct and speech, serves as a universal guidance for mankind and one which we can gain inspiration from. The Prophet said:
“Indeed among the believers with the most complete faith is the one who is the best in conduct and the most kind to his family.”
Before we go on to instruct our children to be kind toward others, it is imperative that we reflect on ourselves and be mindful of our own interactions and speech. Here are six strategies that parents can adopt to foster the spirit of kindness within the family and community at large.
1.Make acts of kindness a daily habit.
Anything that is done with consistency stands a greater chance to be imbedded within the personality. By being conscious of our own dealings, such as with other family members, our neighbors, friends, co-workers, and even complete strangers, we are bound to set the bar of values and standards for our children to observe and learn from. According to Ali ibn Talib, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“Allah is Kind and loves kindness, and He rewards for kindness in a way that He does not reward for harshness.”
There are plenty of opportunities that we can make use of in our day-to-day lives to ingrain kindheartedness in our children. These can be simple acts such as helping around the house, being considerate toward each other’s feelings and not letting our ego’s consume us, helping out a sick neighbor, giving the elderly a hand with the groceries at the store, baby-sitting for a new mom, picking up trash from the street and making sure not to dump yours to cause inconvenience to anyone in any way, etc. These acts of kindness also serve as a means of charity, for which there is great reward.
Abu Dharr narrated that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“Your smiling in the face of your brother is charity, commanding good and forbidding evil is charity, your giving directions to a man lost in the land is charity for you. Your seeing for a man with bad sight is a charity for you, your removal of a rock, a thorn or a bone from the road is charity for you. Your pouring what remains from your bucket into the bucket of your brother is charity for you.”
2. Show compassion for all living things.
Kindness and compassion are not just something we should reserve for our fellow human beings. Our beloved Prophet, peace be upon him, taught us that even animals and plants deserve to be well treated. Narrated Abu Huraira, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“A man felt very thirsty while he was on the way, there he came across a well. He went down the well, quenched his thirst and came out. Meanwhile he saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. He said to himself, ‘This dog is suffering from thirst as I did.’ So, he went down the well again and filled his shoe with water and watered it. Allah thanked him for that deed and forgave him. The people said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?’ He replied: ‘Yes, there is a reward for serving any animate (living being).’”
(Sahih Al Bukhari)
And, it was reported by Shaddib b. Anus:
“Two are the things which I remember Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, having said: Verily Allah has enjoined goodness to everything; so when you kill, kill in a good way and when you slaughter, slaughter in a good way. So every one of you should sharpen his knife, and let the slaughtered animal die comfortably.”
Parents can reinforce the concept of kindness toward other beings by showing compassion, love and care toward animals and plants. Feeding stray animals or birds or looking after a friend’s pet or garden while they are away are also some ways to extend kindness. Moreover, it helps to nurture the essence of being responsible, from an early age.
3. Practice what you preach.
Children generally tend to take parents as their role models. They are always watching us, trying to make sense through those observations, and consciously or subconsciously reciprocating those act.
This is why parents need to be ever watchful of their actions and speech before we begin to have differing expectations from our children. For instance, generally we tend to go out of the way to help a friend in need, but when it comes to helping a member of the family, we begin to look for an escape. This sends across a biased message to children, who may not necessarily speak up but are subconsciously normalizing the set principle. When modeling kindness, we must demonstrate and ingrain the principle to do for others what you would want them to do for you. Genuine kindness is one of the most important virtues in developing good character in your children.
Narrated Aishah, the mother of the believers, may Allah be pleased with her:
“I have not seen anyone closer in conduct, way, and manners to that of the Messenger of Allah in regards to standing and sitting, than Fatimah the daughter of the Messenger of Allah. Whenever she would enter upon the Prophet he would stand to her and kiss her, and he would sit her in his sitting place. Whenever the Prophet entered upon her she would stand from her seat, and kiss him and sit him in her sitting place.”
4. A little empathy goes a long way.
Being empathetic compliments being kind.
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, loved children very dearly. He would also take an active interest in their lives. One such instance was when the pet bird of a young child Abu Umair died and he went out of his way to try and console him. Anas bin Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated the instance and said:
“The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, used to come to visit us. I had a younger brother who was called Abu ‘Umair by nickname (kunyah). He had a sparrow which he played with, but it died. So one day the Prophet came to see him and saw him grieving. He asked: ‘What is the matter with him?’ The people replied: ‘His sparrow has died.’ The Prophet then said: ‘Oh Abu ‘Umair! What has happened to the little sparrow?'”
(Sunan Abi Dawud)
Sometimes on account of similar instances, adults tend to brush aside the feelings of young children without realizing how deep an impact that might leave on their personality and growth. The lack of validation can damage the trust and hinder communication as the child may then become fearful of sharing their feelings and emotions. This negatively impacts a child’s emotional development.
Bearing this in mind, we must be mindful of allowing ourselves to not only be empathetic toward our children but also reinforce and nurture empathy toward other creations of Allah. For instance, bringing home a sick animal and providing it shelter till it regains health or letting an ant cross its path and not treading on it.
“As often as we approach the Quran, it always proves repulsive anew; gradually, however, it attracts, it astonishes, and, in the end forces admiration.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
For the Western Islamophobe and for the Islamomaniac Islamist, the Quran is a book of do’s and dont’s. No wonder they want to fight out each other with a sword and sometimes with hate filled speech.
But, for a mystic like me, the Quran is a book of love, my daily meditation, my hope, my ambition, the rhythm of my heart and software of my mind.
It is a book that has convinced me of the validity of a Hadith that in itself was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, as it is called Hadith Qudsi: “I am as My servant expects or conceives Me to be!” This is mentioned in at least four of the most popular original books of Hadith. What a poignant expression of Monotheism and a direct relationship between the seeker and the Sought. My understanding is not constrained by the imagination or words of any other human. My teachers are my guides, but my understanding of my relationship with my Creator, Who loves me more than a mother and a father combined, is pure and unadulterated, not marred by any other human’s imaginations.
How can an Islamophobe and and an Islamist read only a list of do’s and don’ts in a book of some 6000 verses and a mystic see nothing but love and compassion? Could it be that for the former it is one verse at a time, he or she is looking at one tree at a time, divorced from the jungle, the environment, the ecosystem?
Individual verses of the Qur’an can only be understood in relationship with the entirety of the book’s message of mercy and love. Just as studying the heart outside of the human body would give you an incomplete picture as to the purpose of the organ, a verse of the Quran, cherry-picked and studied separately from the historical context and overall message of revelation, would give you an incomplete interpretation.
Now, thinking in the poetry mode, I found, Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Persian poet from the 13th century, who is the best selling poet in USA these days. He wrote 3,000 love songs to his mentor Shams of Tabriz, the prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, and God. His monumental Mathnawi has been called the Quran in the Persian language. According to William C. Chittick, Professor of Asian and Asian American Studies at Stony Brook University, as he highlights love in both the Mathnawi and the Quran,“This is not because it bears any outward resemblance to the Divine Word, but rather because Rumi was able to capture in a non-technical, everyday language, understandable to any Persian speaker, what he himself calls, ‘the roots of the roots of the roots of the religion’ – which is an apt description of the Quran itself, the foundation of every thing Islamic.” A beautiful one line summary by Rumi of the love in the Quran, an epitome of love, compassion and justice.
Now, I am reading the third chapter of the above book, which is about the holy Quran, where in I found the above quote of Rumi that I am using as my title here.
I believe, that when I start studying the Quran from teachers of all sects and denominations and all different bends of mind with different strengths and pick up good ideas from all, without prejudice, as the best of the prophets, Muhammad, advised, “A word of wisdom is lost heritage of a believer, he or she takes it wherever he or she finds it,” then I truly will have a perfect recipe to overcome sectarianism, and restore the Muslims to the universal brotherhood and sisterhood that was the grand vision of our Prophet.
The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary. Syed Hossein Nasr, Editor-in-Chief. HarperOne: An Inprint of Harper Collins Publishers. 2015. Page 1744.
The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary. Syed Hossein Nasr, Editor-in-Chief. HarperOne: An Inprint of Harper Collins Publishers. 2015. Page 1745.