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A Conversation with a Muslim

I had the pleasure of conversing with a Muslim over the internet recently. I knew beforehand that Muslims are very knowledgeable & devout, sure. But one thing that was evident from this conversation, something that Christians can learn from Muslims, is their zeal; Muslims are extremely zealous for God. This particular Muslim man was trying to make me see things his way; most of the time I was on the defensive. We argued back and forth over some major points of faith, in particular, whether Islam and Christianity are that far apart, theologically speaking.

He brought up some points that I think could easily confuse a new believer; several of his points would have many average church-goers dumbfounded. I'd like to write a little here and go over some of the points this Muslim man raised because they can easily confuse the central, basic ideas of our belief in God and our faith in the Messiah. Without a knowledge of these things, Islam can seem like it really is God's One True Religion®.

Our conversation started with the Muslim man's assertion that Islam believes Jesus to be not only a prophet, but the Messiah, and is referred to as such in the Qur'an. I was aware that Islam believes Jesus was a prophet sent to Israel, but I was unaware Islam accepts Jesus as the Messiah.

That came as a shock to me: if Islam believes Jesus to be the Messiah, hasn't Christianity just doubled its ranks? To a new believer, it would seem the simple idea of "believing in Jesus" is all that is required. But what is this belief that is the Christian mandate to joining Christianity? That itself varies between sects of Christianity, unfortunately, no unified front here. Looking at Jesus' words in the New Testament, I'd personally define "belief" in Jesus as accepting him as the Messiah, the one who was prophesied by the Old Testament prophets over several hundred times to be the center of the plan to keep men from sin and give a permanent, accessible way to forgiveness of sin, turning people from our humanistic ways back to God. That is who the Messiah is, that is who Jesus was. It would seem to me that the only thing required for this "belief in Jesus" is the acceptance of his status as the promised Messiah and his divine status as God's only son (I'd like to hear anyone's feedback on this point, please post a comment if you have thoughts on this).

As I later discovered after the conversation, the Qur'an is full of denunciations of the divinity of Jesus. Take for instance Al-Tawba 9:30:

YUSUFALI: The Jews call 'Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!
PICKTHAL: And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they!
SHAKIR: And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!

And again in An-Nisa 4:171,

YUSUFALI: O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not "Trinity" : desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs.
PICKTHAL: O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not "Three" - Cease! (it is) better for you! - Allah is only One Allah. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender.
SHAKIR: O followers of the Book!Doo not exceed the limits in your religion, and do not speak (lies) against Allah, but (speak) the truth; the Messiah, Isa son of Marium is only a messenger of Allah and His Word which He communicated to Marium and a spirit from Him; believe therefore in Allah and His messengers, and say not, Three. Desist, it is better for you; Allah is only one Allah; far be It from His glory that He should have a son, whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is His, and Allah is sufficient for a Protector.

Here we see the Qur'an's denunciationn of Jesus as the son of God, part of God, or a deity. Furthermore, Islam believes it is somehow "below" God to have a Son. Reminds me of the inscription in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem:


But I wonder, would Islam likewise agree that if God does not need a son, why would he need a prophet in Mohammed? Still, I agree with Islam, God doesn't need a son. It is the humanistic, ungodly world that we live in that needs Him.

Islam believes Jesus was a messenger from God, nothing more. To put it bluntly and without any political correctness, our Muslim man was lying when he said the Qur'an does not denounce Jesus, because in fact it denounces him in the utmost way: by saying Jesus is not God.

Getting back to the Qur'an passage, the author here seems to imply that Christianity believes Jesus, God, and the Spirit of God ("Holy Spirit") are 3 separate, distinct god figures. It's true that Christianity has the idea of a "trinity" even though that word does not exist anywhere in Scripture. I would correct the Qur'an author, and say that the general Christian thought agrees with the Qur'an: that is, God, the God of Abraham, is one God, and there is none other. There are not multiple Gods, only one God (see Deuteronomy 6:4). The idea of the Messiah, the Spirit, and the Father, from which Christians have derived the idea of a "trinity God", is based in the Messiah's own words, in which Jesus says many times how He and the Father are one (see John 14).

So the Muslim man tried to convince me that Christianity has misunderstood the idea of the messiah: a holy messenger, but not a god. He claimed this idea of messiah as a non-deity has been the Jewish position also for many generations.

I countered, if Jesus is not God, then how can his blood atone for the sin of mankind? How can one be saved from spiritual death by believing in an ordinary man? If Jesus was an ordinary man, then his sacrifice-death could not possibly atone for the sins of the world. If His death can't atone, then the prophecies about him are also false and the prophets spoke falsely. Finally, if the prophets spoke falsely, Jesus fulfilled false prophecies, further invalidating his messiahship.

By looking at quotes from the Muslim book, we know that one of these must be true:
  • Jesus was a liar.
  • The New Testament writers have written a fabrication.
  • The Qur'an is wrong.
It's not PC to say, I know. Enraged unitarians might've just crapped their pants that such could be the case, but, looking solely at facts -- forget what actually happened in ancient times -- but looking at what Islam says and what Jesus says conflicts; one of them is wrong.

What then, was Jesus just an ordinary man, as the Muslim man would have me believe? This isn't the first time I've heard this idea before: I've spoken to a Jewish believer in Christ some time ago who also subscribed to this theory that Jesus was not a deity, but a messiah: a great prophet who will come again, ala the prophet Elijah (who the New Testament claims was John the Baptist, forerunner of Christ, and who the Jews believe will return again).

As aside notee, to this day, Jews celebrating the Feast of Passover traditionally leave the door open for Elijah and leave a place for him to sit at the Passover table, in hope of his return.

Let's keep our minds open for a second: maybe Jesus wasn't God, but just a plain old messenger, as Islam claims. For starters, to deny the divine status of Jesus is quite the big leap: one has to deny the Christian writings of the New Testament as a lie, which is pretty fundamental to the Christian religion, so ouch, that's a tough one for a Christian to swallow. Did Christianity invent the idea of Jesus-as-God? I looked this one up, and it is not an invention of men, but Jesus' own words. He affirms his own "from God"-status. Allow me to point you to a few examples:

  • John 14, in verse 3, Jesus says to his followers, "I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also."

    If Jesus is nothing more than a messenger, how can he go and prepare a place for us in Heaven? Well, that might be a good stretch of miracle-workin' for a messenger, but let's look deeper.

  • A few verses down, in 6, Jesus lays this whopper on us: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.

    Whoa! No one can get to the Father without Jesus? Some messenger! If we knew Christ, we would also know the Father; that sounds like a relationship much closer than one between a prophet or messenger and his God. No wonder the Pharisees called him blasphemous; he is saying that knowing him [Jesus] is the same as knowing God, and that no one can come to God except through him. Big stuff there.

  • Later in John, Jesus says to Philip, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. So how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."

    Well hot diggity dog, Jesus is in the Father, and the Father is in Jesus. Lo and behold, Jesus' own words conflict with Islam, before Islam was even invented. And wow! Jesus will be doing things if we ask in his name. Can a dead man perform acts on behalf of other men? Can an ordinary man be glorified after his death? It would seem Christ is not dead. Additionally, Jesus calls himself "the Son" in this passage, and calling God "the Father" -- how can a human messenger be the son of God himself?

This is all from just one chapter in John! How much more conflict with Islam in the entire book, how much more in all the gospels, orwritingss of the apostles? So the idea of Jesus-as-God isn't a recent, man-made invention. Unless you are to throw out the entire New Testament as a fabrication, it seems Jesus' own words confirm his divinity.

Simply put, Islam does not believe Jesus is the son of God, or the messiah, at least in the sense of the term of what a messiah really is. They may call Jesus "prophet" or say "the messiah from Marium", yet to denounce him as a false god is to denounce him in the utmost way, and invalidates him as the Messiah.

Islam would have us yet further denounce another facet of our faith. This one is quite subtle; it seems rather unimportant to many Christians because most Christians do not fully understand the implications of it. Further, on the surface, this one sounds pretty harmless.

Islam would have us believe that Isaac did not receive the blessing of God. Instead, Isaac's brother from another mother, Ishmael, got the blessing.

Well, big deal.

What's the problem then? In Jewish and Christian Scripture, Abraham was promised a big old whopping blessing from heaven for his faithfulness and righteousness to God. What was this blessing? That his descendants would fill the earth, so much that they would be as uncountable as the sand on a seashore. Wow! That's a lot of people. Furthermore, many nations, kings, prophets, the people of God, and the Messiah would descend from him. See Gensis 12. Now we're getting somewhere. There's a lot at stake here.

But there was a problem for Abraham: his wife Sarah couldn't have kids, she was too old. As was common practice in that day, Abraham had a child through his wife's servant, Hagar. Woops, say hello to the father of modern Arabs, Ishmael. So yay! Abraham now has a son, and the blessing will go through Ishmael, and nations and prophets, and kings, priests, the righteous people of God, the messiah, the messengers of God, all things from God will come through Ishmael!

Then again, maybe not. Instead of Abraham making his own way, God figured he'd break out his miracle working skills, and gave Abraham's wife, Sarah, a child, despite her old age. Boom, say hello to the father of modern Israelites and Jews, Isaac.

18Then he [Abraham] asked God, "Why not let Ishmael inherit what you have promised me?" 19But God answered:

No! You and Sarah will have a son. His name will be Isaac, and I will make an everlasting promise to him and his descendants. 20I have heard what you asked me to do for Ishmael, and so I will also bless him with many descendants. He will be the father of twelve princes, and I will make his family a great nation. 21But your son Isaac will be born about this time next year, and the promise I am making to you and your family will be for him and his descendants forever. (Genesis 17)

Isaac and Ishmael, two brothers, two sons of Abraham. It is written that God blessed both people (indeed, as an modern-day example of fulfilled Biblical prophecy, both Arabs and Jews have been blessed to this day, being 2 of the world's major religions, making up a really big portion of humanity), however, it was through Isaac that the promise to Abraham would come to fruition. Well whaddya know, God kept his promise: through Isaac was born Jacob, who's name was changed by God to Israel, who had 12 sons, the 12 tribes of Israel, from whom the nation of Israel was comprised of, that gave birth to David, Solomon, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Samuel, all the kings and prophets, John the Baptist and the disciples, and finally, the Messiah, Jesus, whom we believe to be the son of God and savior of the world.

Now it becomes a little more clear why my Muslim friend asserted that Ishmael, not Isaac, got the blessing: because then the Old Testament is a lie, the prophets spoke falsely (after all, they prophesied to God's people), the Jews are not God's people, and Jesus' messiahship is further invalidated because he was not born into the promise. As an added bonus, Mohammed's idea that Ishmael got the blessing meant that, brace for this one: Arabs are the people of God! Hurray, now we can do away with the Jews, they aren't God's people, and we Arabs are, yippie.

Our Islamic man tried to convince me of Ishmael's blessing:

I asked, "so you believe the Old Testament is a lie?"

"Well no", he replied, "but it is easy to see there are problems with the book of Genesis."

"If it's just Genesis, why does the entire Old Testament and most of the New Testament deal almost exclusively with Israel, Isaac's descendants? Why is there nothing on Ishmael? Why are all the prophets, kings, and the Messiah all descended from Isaac?"

The Jews must've changed it over the centuries, to favor them instead of Arabs, then, sure.

How much more likely it is that the man-invented religion called Islam, created thousands of years after the fact, and first published the idea of Ishmael receiving the promise, has published a lie by its founder Mohammed in order to make themselves the holy people, the blessed ones of God. I know if I was inventing my own religion, like Mohammed, I'd certainly change Scripture to favor my ethnic group.

It is an absolute fundamental of faith in Christ that the people of Israel are the people of God. Not Arabs, not Christians, not the Church, sorry folks. Israel is God's people, and it is only by God's grace through Christ that we who were not born into the promise have been grafted into the tree of Israel.

Footnote: Christians have a hard time wrapping their heads around this one: aren't WE God's people, since we believe in Jesus? Aren't the JEWS condemned to hell, because they do not believe? Simply put, we are artificial branches of Israel, grafted into the tree of Israel, inheriting the blessings of Abraham by our faith in the Messiah. Paul warns though, don't be haughty or proud of this fact; God cut off the many of the natural branches (physical Israel, including the Jews) for a time being, so that the Gentiles can come into the Kingdom of God -- do not think for a moment God will hesitate to cut us, the artificial branches, off the tree if we fall into unrighteousness. See Romans 11.

There cannot be any teeter-tottering on this one, it is in fact a very black & white issue: it's either Scripture is right, and God keeps his promises, or the Qur'an & the Christian idea of Replacement theology, is right.

It's one of those situations where you'd like to be politically correct and say that everyone has their own way to God that works just as well as everyone else's. But if such a belief rejects the Messiah, how can we reconcile Muslims being equal brothers in faith? They are physical brothers of Jews, and spiritual brothers of Christians, but for a time our Islamic brothers are lost. I hope that with the return of the Messiah, not only our Jewish brothers, but our Muslim ones as well will graft into the tree of Israel that is God's Kingdom.


  1. Hey there!

    This is cavemanf16 from over on Slashdot where we were bantering back and forth about Constantine, the "changing of the guard" from Judaism to Christianity, etc. in a completely unrelated thread to the main story. That's just how Slashdot goes sometimes. ANYWAYS...

    I started reading this post, and while I only got about 2 pages into it, I have to say that I admire your thought processes on this whole issue. Especially your ability to converse civilly with others. I too am a Christian, so it's refreshing to have an actual Christian disagree with me on Slashdot. Usually it's someone spouting off about how evil organized religion is and breaking so many logical trains of thought all in one post that it makes it damn near impossible to carry on any sort of intellectual dialog with them.

    So, what I think I was trying to say over on Slashdot about the Judaism/Christianity thing is this (to put that thread in a more sensible place for dialog):

    Jesus brought about a lot of unpopular, and to the Pharisees of His time, downright "hypocritical" teachings about God, Himself, and how one ought to conduct himself if he wished to follow God. THAT is the crux of my argument that Constantine did not bring about Christianity, Jesus did. Add to this that Jesus explicitly told his disciples to reach ALL men, "...first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles, and to the whole world." So while Constantine may have been instrumental in the organizational and political structures of our current Christian religion, I do not think he was much of an instrument of the core issue at the heart of Christianity, which is exactly as you have said early on in your post: Jesus was the Son of God, the only way to eternal life with God, and The Messiah that was promised to Abraham and the entire Jewish nation as the salvation of the whole world's sins.

    Check out my blog if you wish. I have some choice words to say from time to time about some of the more well known pop-culture Christian "leaders," and you might find my thoughts to be an interesting perspective from a fellow Christian.

  2. Thanks for stopping by and posting, I appreciate it.

    It was great talking with you on Slashdot. You've got some interesting ideas; I'm in agreement with most of what you've said. We agree on the core issues, to say the least. :-)

    I've subscribed to the RSS feed on your blog. Keep in touch, God bless.

  3. There is a major problem with the idea that belief in Jesus is all that is required. It is the core thing required, but we are also commanded to repent, put on Christ through baptism, and remain faithful until death. If you truely believe in Jesus and love him, you will obey his commands, which I mentioned above. The book of James says that even the demons believe, but I really doubt that they are saved. So this pretty much makes Muslims non-believers of Jesus along with what you pointed out as well.

    Its really quite easy to refute the Muslims, but the difficult part is doing it in a non-offensive way. I commend you for your courage and open heart toward this person.

  4. Hi Judah

    My name is Adnan Siddiqi and i am from Pakistan,i got the link of your blog from Codeproject,as my name indicates,i am a muslim,i saw postof my christian and jew brother,let me getinto this issu

    first of all i would like to answer a part of blog,qouted below:

    "But I wonder, would Islam likewise agree that if God does not need a son, why would he need a prophet in Mohammed? Still, I agree with Islam, God doesn't need a son. It is the humanistic, ungodly world that we live in that needs Him.

    well thats true,God(Allah) don`t need anyone,and when i say anyone means He doesn`t need any medium to perform His tasks,why He chosen Muammad(SAW),answer is simple

    if there is a Owner of any company or a director,would he go himself to thousands of people to advertise his products or he will hire employees for this dedicated task?sama analogy works with Muahammad(SAW) and other prophets came before Muhammad,whether He was Abraham or Jesus,Uzair or Muhammad,all were human being like us but have blessings of God that`swhy they were called Messenger,the reason why this universe was created,as mentioned in Qur`an,God wanted to be know,,thus he created the Universe.

    Regarding difference between Christians and Muslims,I would recommendyou a book,which is also available online,the URL is:

    hope it would help to figure out lots of things



  5. Adnan, thanks for posting and voicing your ideas.

    I agree with you that God can use anyone He pleases to do his work, messengers, prophets, whatever we decide to call them.

    However, there are false prophets, people that speak falsely in the name of God, or speak of a false god altogether. Muhammed belongs to the former: he was an Arab who saw the people of the promise, Israel, following God, and non-Jewish believers in Christ grafting into the promise of Abraham.

    Muhammed tried to reconcile the differences between these two (by saying Jesus was a messenger only, and not the son of God, as the messiah must be), and finally created a new religion in which he accepts parts of the real truth, but infuses it with his own ideas: the people of promise gets switched from Israel to Arabs, and the divinity of Jesus is denied. Thus Muhammed invented a new religion: taking truth of the one real God, and infusing it with his own beliefs that happen to favor Mohommed's ethnic group, Arabs.

    If Muhammed created a religion on his own, how can we deny that he is a false prophet? God doesn't need religion inventors, does he?

    Keep the faith in Yahweh, the God of Israel. Believe in the Messiah, Jesus, who was prophesied to come hundreds of years before, and whose death & coming back from death to life fulfills the Mosaic Law, giving mankind a way to atone for sins. For without a messiah, our sins our on our heads, and there is no atonement. Where is the atonement of sin in Islam? Where is grace in Islam? How come none of the prophets spoke of Mohammed?

    Mohammed spoke of God, yes, but in his speaking are falsehoods, fabrications created by a mere mortal who glorified himself with riches, power, and many wives before his mortal death. Contrast this with the Messiah, who lived in humility and servitude, fulfilling the Mosaic Law further with his message of love, and fulfilling the prophets with his atonement for sin.

  6. Even Jesus said, "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only."
    He did not say to worship him or serve him. So he is not at the same level of esteem as God. As for Mohammed being chosen because he came from the lineage of Abraham, the Quran does not put an emphasis on it, as the lengthy debate about this topic might suggest. Note in Luke 3:7-9 (New International Version)
    "For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham."

  7. Worship the Lord only, of course, as I noted in Deut 6:4.

    The New Testament doesn't change this, but rather, claims that the Messiah and the Father are one.

    As far as Muhammed being a descendant of Abraham, it's widely accepted among all 3 major Abrahamic faiths that Muhammed was an Arab, a descendant of Ishmael, son of Abraham.

  8. Hi
    i had missed your blog link,after googling hard,i found it atlast:

    "Mohammed spoke of God, yes, but in his speaking are falsehoods, fabrications created by a mere mortal who glorified himself with riches, power, and many wives before his mortal death. Contrast this with the Messiah..."

    hey,have you ever read life history of Prophets like David or David?if yes,then didnt they(either one of them i am not sure at the moment) have more than one wives?I would like to know what your religious books talk about it,if you say NO,then i must say that you are not aware of of life history of mentioned people.

    Muhammad didn`t comeup with somethnig new and crispy that people started following HIM,whtever he presented to others,was the continuation of techings started from Abraham or you may say from Adam,coz we believe that Adam was the first Prophet aswell.what were Abraham`s teachings or others(David,Jacob etc),very simple, "Worship one God,noone else",you call em God,we call HIm Allah,Hindus call HIM "Eshwar",different names but same person,
    what were difference in teaching b/w Muhammad and others?didn`t Abraham warned His dad NOT to worship and create Idols?didnt David,Jacob spreaded teachings to ask Help from God only,rest are false entities?what Jesus tried to teach to Children of Israels,give me the difference in teaching to me. Yes the reason Islam or Quran got appeared was the changing made by people in other holy books like Torah and Bible,can you say with challenge that the Torah or Bible exist in their orignal forms?if you talk about Quran,we dont have such terms like Old and New testaments,we have only one testament and would be till the last day on earth,many attempts was made to alter it,even by jews,i am eyewitness myself that i saw some engineered verses created by jews,but its silly as Quran is learnt by heart by millions of people and its been happening since beginning,we ve lots of witness to fix issue if someone tries to alter the Quran,even if we suppose that Quran is totally disappeared from the face of earth,still it woundt take more than a week to make it in Print format.

    Let me tell you one thing more,the way we respect the all Prophets,are nt respected by other religion due ti dispute,

    for jews,David,Jacon are most important and beliving and followin them is enough to be a jew

    for Christians,Jesus is enuff,no other person need to be followed.

    and now lets come to Muslims,it might be a surprise for you,but its truth like the existance of earth tht we will NOT be considered muslims by God if we DONOT follow ALL the Prophets,from Adam to Mohamamd(SAW),its true,
    in every prayer of muslims,the last section of salat(prayer),we are asked to recite "Darood",trnaslation is given below:

    "Bless, O Allah, Muhammad and his people as Thou didst bless Abraham and his people. Thou art indeed Praiseworthy, the Exalted."

    you can find anywhere else for the proof

    ,read it out,"Abraham and His people" ,this small sentence covered everyone from Abraham,whether David,ishamile,jacob,give me some source that either yours or chiristianity religion covers and send blessings to these people?

    now how can you say tht Islam is some new religion invented by a guy named Muhammad,this multple wives issue,David had 6 wives,Solomon had 600+
    i DONT ask to believe this site coz this was made by some muslim,here you would find reference of Bible this issue,for example:

    Kings 11:3 , Chronicles 11:21

    Also,read the reasons to get married with them.



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