Thursday, March 31, 2016

Doctrine - Creation according to Muhammad - Heavens and Earth (Part 2)

This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.
Muhammad gives us two completely different accounts of the actual creation of the heavens and the Earth. In the first account we see all of creation tied up in a ball.
"Have not the unbelievers [infidels] then beheld that the heavens and the earth were [both] a [solid] mass all sewn up, and then We unstitched them and of water fashioned [gave life to] every living thing? Will they not believe? And We set in the earth firm mountains lest it should shake with them, and We set in it ravines [broad passages] to serve as ways, that haply so they may be guided; and We set up the heaven as a roof well-protected; yet still from Our signs they are turning away." (Koran 21:31-33)
In this account of creation, Muhammad teaches us that everything was formed by water. We do know that in the Jewish and Christian accounts of creation, somethings were formed out of water. Peter says that, "by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water." (2 Peter 3:5-6) However, not everything that was made was formed out of water. Of the animals it is said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind." (Genesis 1:24) Thus they came froth from the Earth and not water. Also, of man it is said, "Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7) Clearly, man was formed from the dust of the ground, not from water.

In Muhammad's second version of creation we see the primordial creation existing as a dispersed smoke or cloud.
"Then He lifted [applied] Himself to heaven when it was smoke, and said to it and to the earth, "Come willingly [in obedience], or unwillingly [against your will]!" They said, "We come willingly [obedient]." So He determined [made] them as seven heavens in two days, and revealed its commandment [office] in every heaven.'" (Koran 41:10-11)
There are several things that are of interest in this version of creation. First we see again the claim of two days of creation, as opposed to the traditional six days. Secondly is that God assigns morality to inert matter. He does this when His command implies an option to obey or disobey. However, it was only mankind into whom God breathed a living soul and it is in the soul that we find our will and our ability to choose either good or evil. Inert matter lacks a soul and thus is amoral; lacking the ability to choose. Thirdly Muhammad assigns to inert matter a part in God's creation. God did not just command matter, matter chose to respond. The creation was a partnership between the commanding of God and the working of matter. However, matter lacks life and is unable to respond. Also, it was not matter who was made in the image of God but mankind. Part of that image is that we are creators like God is a creator. However, matter does not share in that image of God. Finally, we see that from the beginning, Muhammad's God is a God of commands and threats, that His authority and kingdom expands by fear and not love. This view of God, as being harsh, exacting, and threatening, is woven through all the teachings of Muhammad.

As innovative as these two differing versions of creation are, neither of them conform to the Jewish account of creation. In the scriptures we are simply told, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1) This creation was out of nothing, not from some smoke or some tied-up ball of something. It does say that the Earth lacked form and organization, however, it does not say the same for the heavens or the rest of creation. "The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters." (Genesis 1:2) What exactly is meant by such language is unclear and uncertain, but it would be hard to construe its description as being smoke or a tied-up ball. Finally, the main means of creation was not by threatening or unstitching, but by speaking. "Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light." (Genesis 1:3) God did not threaten the light with a command, He simply spoke and light appeared.

In viewing all of creation, Muhammad says,
"Certainly the creation of the heavens and earth is greater than the creation of men; but most men know it not." (Koran 40:59)
But greater in what since? God loves all that is good and everything He has created is good, but His special care is not on creation as a whole, but upon mankind in particular. This present heavens and Earth are not eternal. One day, even as Muhammad says, they will come to an end.
"On the day when We shall roll up heaven as a scroll is rolled for the writings; as We originated [made] the first creation, so We shall bring it back [forth] again -- a promise binding on Us; so We shall do." (Koran 21:104)
With the destruction of the old, God will create a new heavens and a new Earth, "in which righteousness dwells." (2 Peter 3:13) This new creation God will make for mankind, not for anything else from the previous creation. Furthermore, it was only man that was made in the image of God, not the heavens or the Earth, only mankind. While one could say that the creation of the heavens and the Earth, in scope and grandeur, are greater than the creation of man, certainly, in relation to their special creation and special relationship with God, mankind was the greatest of all His creations. All God did, all He made, and all He sacrificed was for the sake of mankind. We are, to Him, the center of His creation.

More to come...
David Robison

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