January 22, 2014 Leave a comment
It’s been long overdue since I wrote on theology. I apologize to my readers for that, had a lot going on in life. I have a lot of catching up to do. I was just wondering on what to write but my good friend is always there to provide me a topic. In the latest article which I am afraid is more than a year old, the writer seems to be replying to a Muslim’s inquiry regarding the God-ship of Jesus Christ.
The topic under discussion is regarding the Christian concept of God. Evidently, both the Christian and the Muslim participant agree to one thing i.e. God is without contradiction (hence God is immutable). Next the writer discusses the Hypostatic Union which states that the Son of God(Jesus) took on Human nature, which according to the writer does not depict change. The writer first provides a definition of change and then goes on to claim that:
“By definition, to take on a second nature does not imply changing the first nature at all”-ibid.
The writer is trying to claim here that while Jesus is already God, taking up human nature for him does not necessarily means that the nature of God is changed. One may agree, but I think the writer does not seem to fully grasp the very concept of change. Logically anything which has a beginning and an end, is always in a state of change. For something to be immutable, it should be free of time. (Hence the saying, “Change is the only constant in life”)
God is eternal in (almost) all religions because time does not apply to God. Keeping this logic in mind, now let’s re-visit the first claim that Jesus is God. For Jesus to be God, he should be present in his original form(a God-man) from the start. Which according to the writer is not true since he took the human form later on. If however, I am mistaken and Jesus was a God-man from the start, then that begs the question if the Father (is also a God-man) (refer to my article [Son-ship of Jesus-Christ])
Furthermore, the writer goes on to explain this via a ‘Triangle-box’ analogy.
“Keeping in line with my wish for simplicity, let us imagine a triangle. Now we all know the nature of a triangle i.e. it’s attributes, the things that make a triangle a triangle as opposed to a rectangle or circle. Good. Now let us at this point imagine a box. Once more we know what is the nature of a box and furthermore, we are also aware that the nature of a box is in direct contradiction to the nature of a triangle. Now suppose that we were to place the triangle within the box, would we then have a confusion, a mixing, an intermingling of the two essences/natures? No, we would possess one unit (the Triangle-Box if you would like) with the essences of both objects intact.
The triangle would not cease to be a triangle and neither would the box cease to be a box—on the contrary we would now have a unit that possesses in its being the very attributes of both in that it is not half a box and half a triangle but rather a full (perfect) triangle and a full (perfect) box. A veritable Triangle-Box, wherein the unit is one but the essences are two.” –ibid
Now, this is a very simple analogy and I get it, that it seems to the the writer that there is no contradiction here. I will use this analogy to try and explain the Muslim viewpoint. It is understood that Christians have their work cut out when they try to explain the Trinity in terms of Monotheism (since early Christianity and even Bible talks of ONE God), therefore the writer fails to see the greater picture staring in the face of this analogy.
In this triangle-box analogy, it is very convenient to put the triangle in the box because common sense dictates that the box is bigger than the triangle. Hence the box becomes ‘superior’ because depending on the size, you can fit in as many triangles as the box allows. Unfortunately, thing aren’t that simple I am afraid, when viewed in relation to God and human beings. It must be defined here, which entity is superior to other and I am sure in every religion, God is superior to human kind in every way.
But, then one may say “AHA! You can see take the box to be God and the triangle to be a human being and then Jesus (the human) can become God”. That I am afraid will also fail when you place only a single triangle, depriving the box of its full potential. One key aspect of this analogy which is being overlooked by the writer is that while the ‘attributes’ or the essence of both the box and the triangle have not changed but the state of the box has definitely changed. Now the box holds a triangle which wasn’t present there before thus attributing to change.
Now, the writer after providing us with this defected analogy goes on to tell that this is why Jesus can have both contradictory natures within himself.
“As with the Triangle-Box, Jesus can claim the otherwise mutually exclusive prerogatives that come with each nature because of them being simultaneously existent in his being. Such that he can increase in knowledge as man, but always have known all things as God. Such that he can pray to the Father as man, yet have no need to do so as God. Such that should he will it, he is able to give his life unto death as man, and yet death never having any power or hold over him as God.” –ibid
I have already written an article on the issues of Jesus’ son-ship and why it defies logic, which the author is well aware of. For this, let’s take the life of Jesus as an example, the Jesus-man from the time of birth till death, had to eat, sleep, walk, work, pray and do every other chore as a normal human being, while the Jesus-God was present in him all this time (according to the writer). He conveniently used his ‘Godly’ powers on certain intervals but not every time (and definitely not when he needed it the most). This is a major contradiction. In all of Jesus’ life, we see him praying to God, eat on a regular basis and involve in other humanly duties and never choose otherwise. I am afraid that the concept of trinity is not that simple. Many Christians have taken up to explain it logically but it always end up badly. In no way I mean to offend Christians on their beliefs, it is one’s right to have a difference of opinion, I am merely trying to convey my point of view on this issue.
Now moving on to the writer’s claim that Muslims’ claim that God is immutable is false by quoting some Hadiths out of context.
“Now we understand that according to Islam, it is impossible for God to enter his creation because how could the infinite become finite so as to enter his creation, because if he were to take on the properties of his creation, he would cease to be God, et cetera, et cetera (might one say, yada, yada, yada?). If such is the case, could Muslims explain this (please read the section in red)?
It clearly says that Allah will take on a shape. Now a shape consists of something which is constrained by certain dimensions; these being length, width, height and so forth. Furthermore, we understand that length, width, height refer to area/space and such did not always exist. They are a creation of Allah. If then Allah can take on a shape (i.e. limit himself to certain dimensions) and as such exhibit the properties of what he has created (i.e. area/space) then has he changed the divine nature? Clearly Allah has just changed from how he existed before having created anything, to taking on the very properties of his creation and if any change in God must mean an inherent change in the divine nature then this must mean that Allah too is guilty of losing his divine attributes. Now of course Muslims will not like this but how will they explain away those clear statements by their Prophet?” -ibid
I invite the writer to go through the complete Hadith (all three of them) they are all depicting what will happen in the after-life on the day of resurrection, it talks of a place where all human beings will all be among the dead and their ‘SOULS’ will be resurrected. It is common sense that these Hadiths should not be put to the logic and rules of the physical world, but the spiritual world. I am sure it will clear the writer’s misconception. I am posting all the three Hadiths (which is one hadith reported thrice) in full text below for the writer’s reference. May ALLAH guide us all.
Sahih Bukhari Volume 9, Book 93, Number 532s:
Narrated Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri:
We said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Shall we see our Lord on the Day of Resurrection?” He said, “Do you have any difficulty in seeing the sun and the moon when the sky is clear?” We said, “No.” He said, “So you will have no difficulty in seeing your Lord on that Day as you have no difficulty in seeing the sun and the moon (in a clear sky).” The Prophet then said, “Somebody will then announce, ‘Let every nation follow what they used to worship.’ So the companions of the cross will go with their cross, and the idolators (will go) with their idols, and the companions of every god (false deities) (will go) with their god, till there remain those who used to worship Allah, both the obedient ones and the mischievous ones, and some of the people of the Scripture. Then Hell will be presented to them as if it were a mirage. Then it will be said to the Jews, “What did you use to worship?’ They will reply, ‘We used to worship Ezra, the son of Allah.’ It will be said to them, ‘You are liars, for Allah has neither a wife nor a son. What do you want (now)?’ They will reply, ‘We want You to provide us with water.’ Then it will be said to them ‘Drink,’ and they will fall down in Hell (instead). Then it will be said to the Christians, ‘What did you use to worship?’
They will reply, ‘We used to worship Messiah, the son of Allah.’ It will be said, ‘You are liars, for Allah has neither a wife nor a son. What: do you want (now)?’ They will say, ‘We want You to provide us with water.’ It will be said to them, ‘Drink,’ and they will fall down in Hell (instead). When there remain only those who used to worship Allah (Alone), both the obedient ones and the mischievous ones, it will be said to them, ‘What keeps you here when all the people have gone?’ They will say, ‘We parted with them (in the world) when we were in greater need of them than we are today, we heard the call of one proclaiming, ‘Let every nation follow what they used to worship,’ and now we are waiting for our Lord.’ Then the Almighty will come to them in a shape other than the one which they saw the first time, and He will say, ‘I am your Lord,’ and they will say, ‘You are not our Lord.’ And none will speak: to Him then but the Prophets, and then it will be said to them, ‘Do you know any sign by which you can recognize Him?’ They will say. ‘The Shin,’ and so Allah will then uncover His Shin whereupon every believer will prostrate before Him and there will remain those who used to prostrate before Him just for showing off and for gaining good reputation. These people will try to prostrate but their backs will be rigid like one piece of a wood (and they will not be able to prostrate). Then the bridge will be laid across Hell.” We, the companions of the Prophet said, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is the bridge?’
He said, “It is a slippery (bridge) on which there are clamps and (Hooks like) a thorny seed that is wide at one side and narrow at the other and has thorns with bent ends. Such a thorny seed is found in Najd and is called As-Sa’dan. Some of the believers will cross the bridge as quickly as the wink of an eye, some others as quick as lightning, a strong wind, fast horses or she-camels. So some will be safe without any harm; some will be safe after receiving some scratches, and some will fall down into Hell (Fire). The last person will cross by being dragged (over the bridge).” The Prophet said, “You (Muslims) cannot be more pressing in claiming from me a right that has been clearly proved to be yours than the believers in interceding with Almighty for their (Muslim) brothers on that Day, when they see themselves safe.
They will say, ‘O Allah! (Save) our brothers (for they) used to pray with us, fast with us and also do good deeds with us.’ Allah will say, ‘Go and take out (of Hell) anyone in whose heart you find faith equal to the weight of one (gold) Dinar.’ Allah will forbid the Fire to burn the faces of those sinners. They will go to them and find some of them in Hell (Fire) up to their feet, and some up to the middle of their legs. So they will take out those whom they will recognize and then they will return, and Allah will say (to them), ‘Go and take out (of Hell) anyone in whose heart you find faith equal to the weight of one half Dinar.’ They will take out whomever they will recognize and return, and then Allah will say, ‘Go and take out (of Hell) anyone in whose heart you find faith equal to the weight of an atom (or a smallest ant), and so they will take out all those whom they will recognize.” Abu Sa’id said: If you do not believe me then read the Holy Verse:–
‘Surely! Allah wrongs not even of the weight of an atom (or a smallest ant) but if there is any good (done) He doubles it.’ (4.40) The Prophet added, “Then the prophets and Angels and the believers will intercede, and (last of all) the Almighty (Allah) will say, ‘Now remains My Intercession. He will then hold a handful of the Fire from which He will take out some people whose bodies have been burnt, and they will be thrown into a river at the entrance of Paradise, called the water of life.
They will grow on its banks, as a seed carried by the torrent grows. You have noticed how it grows beside a rock or beside a tree, and how the side facing the sun is usually green while the side facing the shade is white. Those people will come out (of the River of Life) like pearls, and they will have (golden) necklaces, and then they will enter Paradise whereupon the people of Paradise will say, ‘These are the people emancipated by the Beneficent. He has admitted them into Paradise without them having done any good deeds and without sending forth any good (for themselves).’ Then it will be said to them, ‘For you is what you have seen and its equivalent as well.'”
Sahih Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 105:
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
During the lifetime of the Prophet some people said, : O Allah’s Apostle! Shall we see our Lord on the Day of Resurrection?” The Prophet said, “Yes; do you have any difficulty in seeing the sun at midday when it is bright and there is no cloud in the sky?” They replied, “No.” He said, “Do you have any difficulty in seeing the moon on a full moon night when it is bright and there is no cloud in the sky?” They replied, “No.” The Prophet said, “(Similarly) you will have no difficulty in seeing Allah on the Day of Resurrection as you have no difficulty in seeing either of them. On the Day of Resurrection, a call-maker will announce, “Let every nation follow that which they used to worship.” Then none of those who used to worship anything other than Allah like idols and other deities but will fall in Hell (Fire), till there will remain none but those who used to worship Allah, both those who were obedient (i.e. good) and those who were disobedient (i.e. bad) and the remaining party of the people of the Scripture. Then the Jews will be called upon and it will be said to them, ‘Who do you use to worship?’ They will say, ‘We used to worship Ezra, the son of Allah.’ It will be said to them, ‘You are liars, for Allah has never taken anyone as a wife or a son. What do you want now?’ They will say, ‘O our Lord! We are thirsty, so give us something to drink.’ They will be directed and addressed thus, ‘Will you drink,’ whereupon they will be gathered unto Hell (Fire) which will look like a mirage whose different sides will be destroying each other. Then they will fall into the Fire. Afterwards the Christians will be called upon and it will be said to them, ‘Who do you use to worship?’ They will say, ‘We used to worship Jesus, the son of Allah.’ It will be said to them, ‘You are liars, for Allah has never taken anyone as a wife or a son,’ Then it will be said to them, ‘What do you want?’ They will say what the former people have said. Then, when there remain (in the gathering) none but those who used to worship Allah (Alone, the real Lord of the Worlds) whether they were obedient or disobedient. Then (Allah) the Lord of the worlds will come to them in a shape nearest to the picture they had in their minds about Him. It will be said, ‘What are you waiting for?’ Every nation have followed what they used to worship.’ They will reply, ‘We left the people in the world when we were in great need of them and we did not take them as friends. Now we are waiting for our Lord Whom we used to worship.’ Allah will say, ‘I am your Lord.’ They will say twice or thrice, ‘We do not worship any besides Allah.’ “
Sahih Bukhari Volume 8, Book 76, Number 577:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Some people said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Shall we see our Lord on the Day of Resurrection?” He said, “Do you crowd and squeeze each other on looking at the sun when it is not hidden by clouds?” They replied, “No, Allah’s Apostle.” He said, “Do you crowd and squeeze each other on looking at the moon when it is full and not hidden by clouds?” They replied, No, O Allah’s Apostle!” He said, “So you will see Him (your Lord) on the Day of Resurrection similarly Allah will gather all the people and say, ‘Whoever used to worship anything should follow that thing. ‘So, he who used to worship the sun, will follow it, and he who used to worship the moon will follow it, and he who used to worship false deities will follow them; and then only this nation (i.e., Muslims) will remain, including their hypocrites. Allah will come to them in a shape other than they know and will say, ‘I am your Lord.’ They will say, ‘We seek refuge with Allah from you. This is our place; (we will not follow you) till our Lord comes to us, and when our Lord comes to us, we will recognize Him.
Then Allah will come to then in a shape they know and will say, “I am your Lord.’ They will say, ‘(No doubt) You are our Lord,’ and they will follow Him. Then a bridge will be laid over the (Hell) Fire.” Allah’s Apostle added, “I will be the first to cross it. And the invocation of the Apostles on that Day, will be ‘Allahukka Sallim, Sallim (O Allah, save us, save us!),’ and over that bridge there will be hooks Similar to the thorns of As Sa’dan (a thorny tree). Didn’t you see the thorns of As-Sa’dan?” The companions said, “Yes, O Allah’s Apostle.” He added, “So the hooks over that bridge will be like the thorns of As-Sa-dan except that their greatness in size is only known to Allah. These hooks will snatch the people according to their deeds. Some people will be ruined because of their evil deeds, and some will be cut into pieces and fall down in Hell, but will be saved afterwards, when Allah has finished the judgments among His slaves, and intends to take out of the Fire whoever He wishes to take out from among those who used to testify that none had the right to be worshipped but Allah.
We will order the angels to take them out and the angels will know them by the mark of the traces of prostration (on their foreheads) for Allah banned the f ire to consume the traces of prostration on the body of Adam’s son. So they will take them out, and by then they would have burnt (as coal), and then water, called Maul Hayat (water of life) will be poured on them, and they will spring out like a seed springs out on the bank of a rainwater stream, and there will remain one man who will be facing the (Hell) Fire and will say, ‘O Lord! It’s (Hell’s) vapor has Poisoned and smoked me and its flame has burnt me; please turn my face away from the Fire.’ He will keep on invoking Allah till Allah says, ‘Perhaps, if I give you what you want), you will ask for another thing?’ The man will say, ‘No, by Your Power, I will not ask You for anything else.’
Then Allah will turn his face away from the Fire. The man will say after that, ‘O Lord, bring me near the gate of Paradise.’ Allah will say (to him), ‘Didn’t you promise not to ask for anything else? Woe to you, O son of Adam ! How treacherous you are!’ The man will keep on invoking Allah till Allah will say, ‘But if I give you that, you may ask me for something else.’ The man will say, ‘No, by Your Power. I will not ask for anything else.’ He will give Allah his covenant and promise not to ask for anything else after that. So Allah will bring him near to the gate of Paradise, and when he sees what is in it, he will remain silent as long as Allah will, and then he will say, ‘O Lord! Let me enter Paradise.’ Allah will say, ‘Didn’t you promise that you would not ask Me for anything other than that? Woe to you, O son of Adam ! How treacherous you are!’ On that, the man will say, ‘O Lord! Do not make me the most wretched of Your creation,’ and will keep on invoking Allah till Allah will smile and when Allah will smile because of him, then He will allow him to enter Paradise, and when he will enter Paradise, he will be addressed, ‘Wish from so-and-so.’ He will wish till all his wishes will be fulfilled, then Allah will say, All this (i.e. what you have wished for) and as much again therewith are for you.’ ”
Abu Huraira added: That man will be the last of the people of Paradise to enter (Paradise).
Narrated ‘Ata (while Abu Huraira was narrating): Abu Said was sitting in the company of Abu Huraira and he did not deny anything of his narration till he reached his saying: “All this and as much again therewith are for you.” Then Abu Sa’id said, “I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, ‘This is for you and ten times as much.’ ” Abu Huraira said, “In my memory it is ‘as much again therewith.’ “