The Quran As A Model For the Incarnation and Hypostatic Union
I continue my discussion regarding how to use the Sunni view of the Quran as a model for the Incarnation and Hypostatic Union of the Lord Jesus https://answeringislam.net/authors/shamoun/inlibration1.html.
The following is one of the chief verses that Muslims often bring up against the Deity of the Lord Jesus:
“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” Mark 13:32
The Muslims argue that Jesus cannot be God, or coequal with the Father, since he does not know the day or hour of his coming in judgment to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple. This is because God is omniscient and knows all things. And yet, by not knowing the day or hour, Christ shows he isn’t omniscient, which means he isn’t God.
The problem with this assertion is that it ignores the fact that the Scriptures teach that Jesus is the eternal, divine Word and Son of God who became a flesh and blood human being (cf. Isaiah 9:6-7; Micah 5:2-4; Matthew 1:18-25; 2:1-6; Luke 1:26-35; John 1:1-4, 14; Romans 8:3; Galatians 4:4-5; Philippians 2:5-8; Colossians 1:13-20; 2:9; 1 Timothy 3:16). As such, Christ possesses two distinct natures, a divine and human one.
As a man, in his waking human consciousness, Christ could not and did not know everything that he would have known by virtue of his divine mind. In some mysterious way that we can’t fully comprehend, not all of the knowledge that Jesus possessed in relation to his Deity was transferred over to his human mind.
Yet since Jesus was/is truly God as well, it comes as no surprise to discover passages where Christ is said to be omniscient, knowing things that the inspired Scriptures claim only God knows.
For instance, Jesus is said to have known what people were thinking within their hearts:
“When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? And IMMEDIATELY when Jesus perceived IN HIS SPIRIT that they so reasoned WITHIN THEMSELVES, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things IN YOUR HEARTS? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.” Mark 2:5-12
Here we see that Christ not only knew what the people were thinking within themselves, he also forgave the man his sins and healed him of his disease, the very functions and characteristics, which the Hebrew Bible ascribes to Jehovah God alone!
“then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou ONLY, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)” 1 Kings 8:39
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;” Psalm 103:2-3 – cf. 1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalm 44:21; Isaiah 43:25; Daniel 9:9; Micah 7:18-19
Other examples include:
“And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:” Matthew 12:25
“All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.” Luke 10:22 – cf. Matthew 11:27
In this remarkable text, the Lord claims to know the Father to the same extent that the Father knows him, which is why he alone is qualified to reveal God to anyone whom he so desires. In stating this, Christ is essentially making himself out to be an incomprehensible, omniscient Being!
“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.” John 2:23-25
“His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?” John 16:29-31
“He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” John 21:17 – cf. 1 John 3:20
Could this blessed Apostle have been any more explicit in affirming Christ’s omniscience?
“that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; in whom are hid ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2-3
Since Paul taught elsewhere that the riches of God’s wisdom and knowledge are infinite,
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” Romans 11:33
This means that the only way for Christ to possess within himself all of God’s infinite treasures of wisdom and knowledge is if he is omniscient.
“And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first… and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.” Revelation 2:18-19, 23b
Astonishingly, the Lord Jesus ascribes to himself the very words, which the prophet Jeremiah attributed to Jehovah in identifying Israel’s God as the omniscient and omnipotent Judge:
“I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:10
With the foregoing in view, I plan on showing in this post that the Sunni Muslims face a similar problem with their belief in the Quran as the uncreated speech of their deity. I will demonstrate that the Muslim scripture lacks much of the details contained within the heavenly exemplar, and therefore has underwent a kenosis or “divine” emptying itself, so to speak (cf. Philippians 2:5-8).
In other words, I will be proving that, in a similar fashion to what Christians believe about Christ in his Incarnate state, the Sunni position essentially means that the Quran itself has experienced a limitation in the amount of knowledge and information it now contains in its earthly inlibration or manifestation, e.g., the point in which it became a physical book. This in turn puts the Muslims in the same dilemma that Christians are placed in, due to their belief in Christ’s dual natures.
The Quran speaks of abrogation in which the Muslim deity cancels out or annuls specific verses by other verses:
And when We change a Verse [of the Qur’an, i.e. cancel (abrogate) its order] in place of another, and Allah knows the best of what He sends down, they (the disbelievers) say: “You (O Muhammad) are but a Muftari! (forger, liar).” Nay, but most of them know not. S. 16:101 Hilali-Khan
According to Islamic scholarship there are three types of abrogation, a belief that is nowhere supported or even alluded to in the Quran itself:
1) Abrogation of recitation. This refers to commands that are still in effect but are no longer found in the Islamic scripture.
2) Abrogation of ruling. This speaks to those injunctions which, though mentioned in the Quran, are no longer binding upon the Muslim community.
3) Abrogation of both ruling and recitation. This deals with commandments that have been removed from the Quran and are no longer to be observed.
Suffice it to say, this raises some major problems for the Islamic assertion that the Quran is the perfect, eternal word of Muhammad’s god.
First, Muslims are undecided as to how many verses have actually been abrogated or replaced.
The following is adapted from Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi’s An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’aan, published by al-Hidaayah Publishing and Distribution, Birmingham UK, Second Print 2003, Chapter 13. Abrogation in the Qur’aan: An-Naskh Wa Al-Mansookh, VIII. The Number of Naasikh/Mansookh Verses in the Qur’aan, p. 251.
Aboo Bakr ibn ‘al-Arabee (d. 543 A.H.) – Accepted only 105 out of 297 possible candidates as naskh (verses which cancel put other texts).
Mustafa Zayd – Accepted only 6 out of 283 cases.
Ibn al-Jawzee (d. 597 A.H.) – Accepted only 22 out of 247 cases.
Ibn Hazm (d. 456 A.H.) – Examined and accepted 214 possible cases as naskh.
Makkee ibn Abee Taalib (d. 437 A.H.) – Examined and rejected 200 possible cases of naskh.
Aboo Ja’far an-Nahas (d. 338 A.H.) – Accepted only 20 out of 134 cases.
Az-Zarqani – Accepted only 12 out of 22 cases.
As-Suyooti (d. 911 A.H.) – Accepted only 20 out of 21 cases.
Ash-Shanqeeti – Examined and accepted 7 possible cases as naskh.
Walee Allaah ad-Dehlawi (d. 1176 A.H.) – Examined and accepted 5 possible cases as naskh.
Second, the Quran claims Allah will replace abrogated texts with similar or better ones:
Whatever a Verse (revelation) do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring a better one or similar to it. Know you not that Allah is able to do all things? S. 2:106 Hilali-Khan
In light of this, can any Muslim be so kind as to point out all the verses which replaced these missing citations? Can they produce the exact list of abrogating passages for every text or surah that has been expunged from the Quran?
Third, nowhere does the Quran say that the abrogated verses would no longer remain a part of the text itself. In fact, there is not a single reference, which says that Muslims were required to expunge any passage from the codex once it had been abrogated.
Moreover, we find cases where Muslims would not leave out any abrogated passage. For instance, Ubayy bin Kab refused to omit any of the verses he had heard from Muhammad even though he knew they had been abrogated!
IX: His words, “Whenever We abrogate an ayat or cause it to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or equal to it.” (2:106)
4211. It is related from Ibn ‘Abbas that ‘Umar said, “Our best reciter is Ubayy and the one of us with the most knowledge of judgement is ‘Ali. However, we leave some of what Ubayy says because Ubayy says, ‘I DO NOT LEAVE ANYTHING that I said from the Messenger of Allah while Allah Almighty says, ‘Whenever We abrogate an ayat or cause it to be forgotten.'” (Aisha Bewley, Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Chapter 68. Book of Tafsir http://bewley.virtualave.net/bukhari30.html; capital and underline emphasis ours)
4719. It is related from Ibn ‘Abbas that ‘Umar said, “Ubayy was the one of us with the best recitation, yet we leave some of the words of Ubayy. Ubayy said, ‘I took it from the mouth of the Messenger of Allah and WILL NOT LEAVE IT for anything.’ Allah Almighty says, ‘Whenever We abrogate an ayat or cause it to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or equal to it.'(2:106)” (Ibid., Chapter 69. Book of the Virtues of the Qur’an, VIII: The reciters among the Companions of the Prophet http://bewley.virtualave.net/bukhari34.html; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Ubayy ibn Kab wasn’t the only one since Uthman also refused to expunge the abrogated references from his codex:
XLVII: “Those of you who die leaving wives behind” (2:240)
4262. It is related that Ibn az-Zubayr said, “I said to ‘Uthman, ‘”Those of you who die leaving wives behind” (2:234) in al-Baqara and ‘Those of you who die leaving wives behind’ (2:240) were abrogated by the other ayat and so why do you write it down?’ He said, ‘Leave it, O nephew, I will not change ANY OF IT from its place.'” (Bewley, Chapter 68. Book of Tafsir; capital and underline emphasis ours)
This brings me to my next and most important point. As I showed in the first part of my discussion, the earthly Quran is supposed to be a perfect replica of the original, heavenly one, the Quran which exists in “the Mother of the Book”:
Allah blots out what He wills and confirms (what He wills). And with Him is the Mother of the Book (Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz). S. 13:39 Hilali-Khan
We verily, have made it a Qur’an in Arabic, that you may be able to understand (its meanings and its admonitions). And Verily, it (this Qur’an) is in the Mother of the Book (i.e. Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz), before Us, indeed Exalted, full of Wisdom. S. 43:3-4 Hilali-Khan
This so-called mother is supposed to be the heavenly book, or the tablet that has been with Allah even before creation came into existence:
That (this) is indeed an honourable recital (the Noble Qur’an). In a Book well-guarded (with Allah in the heaven i.e. Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz). Which (that Book with Allah) none can touch but the purified (i.e. the angels). A Revelation (this Qur’an) from the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists). S. 56:77-80 Hilali-Khan
Nay! This is a Glorious Qur’an, (Inscribed) in Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz (The Preserved Tablet)! S. 85:21-22 Hilali-Khan
Note how the ahadith and Muslim exegetes interpreted the foregoing texts:
(In a Book Maknun.) meaning glorious; in a glorious, well-guarded, revered Book. Ibn Jarir narrated that Isma`il bin Musa said that Sharik reported from Hakim, that is Ibn Jubayr, from Sa`id bin Jubayr, from Ibn `Abbas that about…
(Which none touches but the pure ones.) he said, “The Book that is in heaven.” Al-`Awfi reported from Ibn `Abbas about…
(Which none touches but the pure ones.) that `the pure ones’ means: “The angels.” Similar was said by Anas, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Ad-Dahhak, Abu Ash-Sha`tha’ Jabir bin Zayd, Abu Nahik, As-Suddi, `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam and others. Ibn Jarir narrated that Ibn `Abdul-A`la said that Ibn Thawr said that Ma`mar said from Qatadah about…
(Which none touches but the pure ones.) that he said, “None can touch it, with Allah, except the pure ones. However, in this life, the impure Zoroastrian and the filthy hypocrite touch it. And he said, “In the recitation of Ibn Mas`ud it is…
(It is not touched, except by the pure ones.)” Abu Al-`Aliyah said…
(Which none touches but the pure ones.) “It does not refer to you, because you are sinners!”… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 56:78 http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1651&Itemid=112; bold and underline emphasis ours)
Nay, but it is a glorious, a magnificent, Qur’ān, in a tablet, suspended above the seventh heaven, preserved (read mahfūzin), from all devils and from having any of its contents altered; it is a high as the distance between the earth and the heaven, and as wide as the distance between the east and the west, made of white pearls — as stated by Ibn ‘Abbās… (Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Q. 85:21-22 https://altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=74&tSoraNo=85&tAyahNo=22&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2; bold emphasis ours)
LV. The words of Allah Almighty, “It is indeed a Glorious Qur’an preserved on a Tablet.” (85:21-22)
“By the Mount and an Inscribed Book” (52:1-2): Qatada said that “mastur” means “written”. “Yasturun” (68:1) means “they inscribe“, and the Umm al-Kitab (43:4) is the whole of the Qur’an and its source. [He said that] “ma talfizu” (50:18) means: “He does not say anything but that it is written against him.” Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Both good and evil are recorded,” and “yuharrufuna” (4:46) means “they remove”. No one removes the words of one of the Books of Allah Almighty, but they twist them, interpreting them improperly. “Dirasatihim: (6:156) means “their recitation” “Wa’iyya” (69:12) is preserving, “ta’iha” (69:12) means to “preserve it”. “This Qur’an has been revealed to me by inspiration that I may warn you,” meaning the people of Makka, “and all whom it reaches” (6:19) meaning this Qur’an, so he is its warner.
7114. Abu Rafi’ related from Abu Hurayra that the Prophet said, “When Allah finished creation, He wrote a book with Him (which said), ‘My mercy overpowered (or preceded) My anger.’ It is with Him above the Throne.”
7115. Abu Rafi’ related that he heard Abu Hurayra say that he heard the Messenger of Allah say, “Allah wrote a book BEFORE HE CREATED CREATION: ‘My mercy preceded My anger.’ It is written with Him above the Throne,” (Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, 100. Book of Tawhid(the belief that Allah is One in His Essence, Attributes and Actions) http://bewley.virtualave.net/bukhari52.html; capital and underline emphasis ours)
Here is where the problem lies for the Muslims.
The heavenly tablet contains all of the abrogated verses, which are no longer found in the earthly copy. This essentially means that the Quran, which Muslims possess, does not contain all the knowledge, wisdom, information etc. that is contained in the heavenly prototype.
In light of this fact, the Muslims must be consistent and argue that the Quran in their possession is not a perfect replica of the heavenly exemplar, and therefore cannot be the eternal speech/word of their god. Rather, it is a cheap, imperfect imitation of Allah’s uncreated speech.
OR, if they still insist that the earthly Quran is indeed Allah’s eternal word and is in fact perfect, despite lacking so much of the information contained within the mother of the book, then they no longer have any grounds to object to the Deity of Christ.
After all, if the Muslim scripture can still be the perfect, uncreated speech of Allah, despite its missing so much of the details that are found in the heavenly tablet, then Jesus can still be the eternal, divine Word of the Father who became flesh, even though in his waking human consciousness he did not know the day or hour.