Saturday, April 30, 2016

Doctrine - Muhammad's rules on marriage - Husbands and wives

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.
Much of what Muhammad wrote on marriage and family life grew out of his own marriage experiences, his polygamy, and his sexual apatite. Muhammad had strict rules over who could marry who.
"The fornicatress [whore] and the fornicator [whoremonger] -- scourge each one of them a hundred stripes, and in the matter of God's religion let no tenderness [compassion] for them seize you if you believe in God and the Last Day; and let a party of the believers [the faithful] witness their chastisement. The fornicator [whoremonger] shall marry none but a fornicatress [whore] or an idolatress, and the fornicatress -- none shall marry her but a fornicator or an idolator; that is [such alliances are] forbidden to the believers." (Koran 24:2-3)
Marriage was a blessing or a curse based upon you moral standings. If you were a fornicator, you were cursed to only marry fornicators or idolaters. However, if you were pure and faithful, you were blessed to marry a spouse (or spouses) who were likewise pure and faithful. For the fornicator, there was no compassion, no forgiveness, and no mercy towards their just deserts. They were to be severely punished, in public, with the faithful looking on. This was more than a civil punishment for a civil crime, it was a religious punishment for a religious crime.

How different the cause of fornicators, and the rules of marriage, that Jesus taught us. When Jesus met the woman at the well, He, being a prophet, knew what sort of woman she was. "He said to her, 'Go, call your husband and come here.' The woman answered and said, 'I have no husband.' Jesus said to her, 'You have correctly said, "I have no husband"; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.'" (John 4:16-18) However, instead of condemning her for her fornication and adultery, He leads her to saving faith in the Messiah. "The woman said to Him, 'I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.' Jesus said to her, 'I who speak to you am He.'" (John 4:25-26) Jesus always showed Himself to be "a friend of tax collectors and sinners!" (Luke 7:34) Instead of judging and condemning the sinners, He loved them and extended to them his mercy and forgiveness.

As to the rules of marriage, Paul teaches us, "Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?" (2 Corinthians 6:14-16) Such bonds would include the bonds of marriage. However, in giving these instructions, the restriction on marriage is not between sinners and non-sinners but believers and non-believers. These instructions are not given to punish the fornicator and reward the pure, but to safeguard the faith of the believer. We are not to marry an unbeliever because they are beneath us or they do not deserve the love of the pure, but that our faith may stand firm and that we might not grow weak in our faith through our marriage to an unbeliever. We all know what happened to King Solomon when he started marrying foreign, unbelieving, wives. "For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been." (1 Kings 11:4)

What is most interesting regarding this portion of the Koran is its timing. Rodwell notes that this first portion of Sura 2 was written in reference to the scandalous report regarding Muhammad's wife Ayesha. There had been a "rumor of improper intimacy between Ayesha and Safwan Ibn El Mottal, during Muhammad's return from the expedition against the tribe of Mostaliq, in which he was separated from her for an entire day, which she passed in the company of Safwan, who had found her when accidentally left behind." (J.M. Rodwell, The Koran, footnote 24.3) Muhammad was incensed that someone would accuse such things regarding his wife. It was in this state that he supposedly received another revelation from God.
"And those who cast it up on women in wedlock [defame virtuous women], and then bring not four witnesses, scourge them with eighty stripes, and do not accept any testimony of theirs ever;" (Koran 24:4)
No charge against a believing woman was to be received unless it could be corroborated by four eye witnesses. This included those who sought to besmirch his beloved Ayesha. Furthermore, he penned the following punishment against those who would such to such a woman as Ayesha.
"Surely those who cast it up on [through charges against] women in wedlock that are heedless [virtuous but careless] but believing shall be accursed in the present world and the world to come; and there awaits them a mighty chastisement [terrible punishment] on the day when their tongues, their hands and their feet shall testify against them touching that they were doing." (Koran 24:23-24)
It was in this context that he delivered his most biting rebuke to those who slandered Ayesha.
"Corrupt [bad] women for corrupt [bad] men, and corrupt [bad] men for corrupt [bad] women; good [virtuous] women for good [virtuous] men, and good [virtuous] men for good [virtuous] women" (Koran 24:26)
Those who accused Ayesha were corrupt men and they certainty did not deserve a wife as virtuous as Ayesha. They were corrupt and they deserved only what was also corrupt.

One again we find in the Koran where Muhammad claims to have received a word-for-word revelation from God that just happens to justify, validate, and vindicate himself and his present situation. How convenient for God to suddenly prophesy through Muhammad judgment against those who sought to tarnish the reputation of his wife. In no other account in the Jewish or Christian scriptures do we see a prophet prophesying to his own benefit or to justify his own feelings, situation, or conduct. Such self-serving use of prophesy does not befit a true man of God. In my opinion, such as what Muhammad prophesied is an abuse of any spiritual gift or calling he might have had, had he in fact had such a gift or calling.

David Robison

Friday, April 29, 2016

Doctrine - The religion of Allah - Prophets and their wives (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.
The wives of the prophets were instructed to live in a way as not to cause men to lust after them. To this end, they were instructed to be refined in speech and to remain at home where prying eyes could not see them,
"Wives of the Prophet, you are not as other women. If you are godfearing, be not abject [complaisant] in your speech, so that [lest] he in whose heart is sickness may be lustful [should lust after you]; but speak honourable words. Remain [abide still] in your houses; and display not your finery [do not go in public decked], as did the pagans of old" (Koran 33:32-33)
Even when others were to come and ask favors of them, the wives were to remain behind a curtain lest they should be seen by lustful men.
"And when you ask his wives for any object [gift], ask them from behind a curtain [vail]; that is cleaner [purer] for your hearts and theirs. It is not for you to hurt [trouble] God's Messenger [Apostle], neither to marry his wives after him, [for] ever; surely that would be, in God's sight, a monstrous thing [a grave offense]." (Koran 33:35)
It is important to remember that, in Muhammad's time, there was only one prophet, himself, and when he wrote concerning the prophet's wives, he wrote of his own wives. It seems at times that Muhammad was jealous regarding his wives and their affections towards him. So much so that he penned words from God to secure their fidelity and to prevent others from lusting after them. So strong was his jealousy and possessive nature that he even prohibited them from remarrying if he should pass away. It must also be pointed out that no such injunctions were given to any wives, prophet's wives or not, in the whole of the Jewish or Christian scriptures.

As for the rest of the believers, they were cautioned to treat the prophets with respect, courtesy, and discretion
"God and His angels bless the Prophet. O believers, do you also bless him, and pray him peace [salute him with a salutation of Peace]." (Koran 33:56)
"O believers, raise not your voices above the Prophet's voice, and be not loud in your speech to him, as you are loud one to another, lest your works fail [come to naught] while you are not aware." (Koran 49:2)
Of course, honor is important in all our relationships, however, the Christian scriptures teach us to honor everyone regardless of their status, position, or function. James warns us about showing partiality in our love, loving some while dishonoring others. He warns us that such distinction in love is sin. "If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the'law as transgressors." (James 2:8-9) However, Muhammad requires greater honor and love for himself over and above what one might show for another.
"O believers, enter not the houses of the Prophet, except leave is given you for a meal, without watching for its hour. But when you are invited, then enter; and when you have had the meal, disperse [at once], neither lingering for idle talk [engage not in familiar talk]; that is hurtful [cause trouble] to the Prophet, and he is ashamed before you [would be ashamed to bid you to go]; but God is not ashamed before [to say] the truth." (Koran 33:53)
What should we think of one who takes his own desires and requires them of us as if they were the words of God? Can one proffer any other example from the Jewish or Christian scriptures where a prophet required such of the people of God? Muhammad obviously did not understand Jesus' words when He said, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all." (Mark 9:35)

David Robison

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Doctrine - The religion of Allah - Prophets and their wives (Part 1)

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.
Prophets hold a special place in the religion of Muhammad. In the Koran, Muhammad instructs the prophets, their wives, and the people on how they should act and treat each other. In the ecclesiastical system of Islam, the prophets were above the people as parents are above their children.
"The Prophet is nearer to the believers [Nearer of kin to the faithful is the Prophet] than their selves [then they are to their own selves]; his wives are their mothers." (Koran 33:6)
Oftentimes, when we thing of our different relationships, we think of them as being in different spheres of influence and intimacy. Setting aside our relationship to God for a moment, we can view our relationships in ever increasing concentric spheres where the closest spheres have greater influence over us and greater intimacy with us. At the center we have ourselves, then next comes our spouse, then our children, then our family, then the fellowship of believers, then those we share community and citizenship with, and finally the rest of the brotherhood of mankind. However, in Islam, next to ourselves, and sometimes of greater importance than ourselves, is to be the prophet, and greater than our family, even our mothers and fathers, is to be their wives (yes, wives plural). We are to see all our relationships as secondary to our relationship with the prophet and his wives. However, even Jesus, who came as a prophet and a savior, did not conduct Himself as superior to those whom He came to save but lived among them as their brethren. "For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, 'I will proclaim your name to by brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.'" (Hebrews 2:11-12)

It is also interesting that we know very little about the wives of the prophets and, even though some of then did have wives, their calling and ministry in God was not determined by who they married. They were wives and mothers, but their marriage to a prophet did not make them a prophet's wife and a mother to the people. Furthermore, God specifically warns ministers, teachers, and husband and wives not to allow the church to interfere with the life of the family. Paul, in writing about women in the church, says, "If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home." (1 Corinthians 14:35)  I believe this was written, at least in part, to prevent the church from coming between a husband and wife and from becoming a wedge in their relationship with each other.

In instructing how prophets, their wives, and the believers should live and treat each other, Muhammad gives commands to each of them. To the prophets, Muhammad writes,
"There is no fault in [blame attached to] the Prophet, touching what God has ordained for him [where God hath given him a permission] -- God's wont with those who passed away before [Such was the way of God with those prophets who flourished before thee]; and God's commandment is doom decreed [for God’s behest is a fixed decree]" (Koran 33:38)
This command, supposedly by God, was given in the context of a Muhammad marrying the divorced wife of his adopted son. One could argue that such a marriage was not forbidden by the ancient Jewish law since it only forbade marrying "blood" relations. "None of you shall approach any blood relative of his to uncover nakedness; I am the Lord." (Leviticus 18:6) However, the very fact that Muhammad felt the need to record this in his Koran, and the fact that he spoke these words to justify his own actions, indicates that there was an innate understanding among the people that this was wrong. However, Muhammad writes to give special privileges to prophets in regards to their marrying and their sexual appetites.
"O Prophet, We have made lawful for [allow] thee thy wives whom thou hast given their wages [dowered] and what [the slaves] thy right hand owns, spoils of war [booty] that God has given thee, and the daughters of thy uncles paternal and aunts paternal, thy uncles maternal and aunts maternal, who have emigrated [fled to Medina] with thee, and any woman believer, if she give herself [up] to the Prophet and if the Prophet desire to take her in marriage, [a privilege] for thee exclusively, apart from the believers [above the rest of the faithful]." (Koran 33:49)
The average Islam believer is limited to four wives. However, the prophet is allowed three wives for whom he gives dowry, as many female salves as he wishes to take as wives, as many daughters from his near relatives as he might desire. and any other woman from among the believers whom would consent to live with him without requiring a dowry. This privilege is not granted to all believers but is a special privilege to prophets (it must be remembered that, at the time Muhammad wrote this, there was no other prophets, just him).

Was such a special privilege for Muhammad and other prophets truly revealed to Muhammad by God? Well, first off, we know that God forbade the marrying of blood relations and one could say this extends to your aunt's and uncle's daughters. Secondly, we know that, when it came to the qualifications of elders and others who oversaw the church, Paul required that they must be "the husband of one wife." (1 Timothy 3:2) Paul understood the dangers of polygamy and how it can hinder and compromise the standing and ministry of a leader before the people. This would make me question a later revelation, supposedly by God, that would resend and reverse the previous injunction by Paul.

More to come...
David Robison

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Doctrine - The religion of Allah - Varying grades of people

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.
Islam is a religion of grades, not the kind you get from tests, but grades as in levels; levels of authority, levels of favor, and levels of valuation before God.
"They are in ranks [varying grades] with God; and God sees the things they do." (Koran 3:157)
In Islam, God does not see everyone the same. Some are greater than others and some are positioned higher and lower in both favor and authority. Some He prefers, and some He prefers less. Your position in the ranks of God is determined based upon what you do as well as by what God wills.
"Those who believe, and have emigrated [fled their homes], and have struggled in the way of God with their possessions and their selves are mightier in rank [higher in grade] with God; and those -- they are the triumphant" (Koran 9:20)
Those who have emigrated refer, in part, to those who were forced to flee Mecca for Medina with Muhammad. Those who struggle in the way of God refer to those who have fought with Muhammad against the Medians and others who were enemies of Muhammad. They not only fought with Muhammad but they spent their own money and possessions in the fight. These are the ones who are mighty with God; these are the ones who are higher in rank then those who refused to fight.

One may also find themselves in a higher rank with God, and before the believers, by the will and appointment of God.
"It is He who has appointed you viceroys [made you the successors of others] in the earth, and has raised some of you in rank [by various grades] above others, that He may try you in what He has given you [prove you by his gifts]." (Koran 6:165)
Here, primarily, he is speaking of the prophets like himself. Muhammad often appears self-serving as he writes God's supposed revelation in the Koran. He repeatedly speaks in a way to enforce his importance and the need for people to believe in him and to obey here. Here He speaks of his higher grade than others as a prophet. Later on we will look at some of the special privileges he affords to himself and other prophets due to their higher grade.

What is striking is the dissimilarity between Islam and Christianity when it comes to rank and grades. Certainly there are some sects of Christianity that have highly developed hierarchies, but it is my belief that such systems are not born out by the Christian scriptures and are not part of the will of God for Christian believers or for His church.

The Christian scriptures clearly teach that God does not see people differently. There are not some He favors more than others and some He places above others in rank. In fact, if He did have a preference it would be for those who are lower in rank naturally than those who are higher. "For though the Lord is exalted, yet He regards the lowly, but the haughty He knows from afar." (Psalms 138:6) Paul also reminds us that many of the early believers in Christ came from the lowest members of society. Many were poor, unlearned, and slaves. "For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God." (1 Corinthians 1:26-39)

When God looks at people, He does not see men and women, rich and poor, high and lowly, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28) When God looks at His creation, He sees just people and He treats them all alike. Peter was a man who was brought up to believe in differing grades of people. There were God's chosen people, the Jews, and then there was the rest, the gentiles. However, Jesus taught him a lesson and a new truth when he came to realize that God regards all people the same. "And Peter opening his mouth said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons." (Acts 10:34 Darby) God does not have favorites, there are not some He loves more than others. God loves all people and He sees all people the same. To God, there is no difference between the most highly exhaled person and the lowliest of the low, the are both just people.

In the Church, God has designed it to the the same, without distinction, classes, grades, and rank. God did not come to establish a hierarchy but rather a brotherhood. Jesus by His own words taught us that, "you are all brothers." (Matthew 23:8) Where there is a hierarchy of authority, it is flat, much flatter than we see in many churches today. When the church leaders met in Jerusalem to discuss the issue of circumcision, they wrote a letter to the whole church that opened, "The apostles and the brethren who are elders, to the brethren." (Acts 15:23) Here we see only three levels of authority: the apostles who were commissioned by Jesus to build His church, the elders who oversaw the churches, and the people who made up the churches. However, these were levels of authority, not of rank or grade. Within the church there are distinctions, but these are distinctions of function, not of title or position. It is interesting to remember that Paul never referred to himself as the "Apostle Paul" thus referencing his position or title, but as "Paul an Apostle" in reference to his function within the body of Christ. We must stop seeing ourselves as occupying various grades or ranks before God, as Muhammad believed religion to teach. Rather to see ourselves as God does, as people created by Him and equally loved by Him. We are not all trying to clime the ecclesiastical ladder, competing with each other for position and title, but we are all brothers and called to love one another as bothers. Let us do away with all distinctions and once again become the family of God in all its simplicity.

David Robison

Monday, April 25, 2016

Doctrine - The religion of Allah - A confession of convienence

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.
The Koran places greater weight upon what one believes in their heart verses what they confess with their mouths.
"Whoso disbelieves in [denieth] God, after he has believed -- excepting him who has been compelled [forced to it], and his heart is still at rest [remain steadfast] in his belief [shall be guiltless]" (Koran 16:108)
This verse gives Muslims the permission to hide their true beliefs and motives, confessing what is not true, when they believe that the situation demand it and, when doing otherwise, would not be profitable, or might even be harmful, to them. However, Muhammad did not understand what Jesus taught when He said, "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart." (Luke 6:45) God makes no distinction between what one believes in their heart and what they confess with their mouth, for they are one in the same. What one confesses is what one truly believes.

The power of confession is shown in its efficacy in salvation. "For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." (Romans 10:10) In the heart, one believes and obtains righteousness before God, but it is in their confession that they find salvation, not just eternal salvation, but salvation in every area of their lives.

Jesus warned us about our confession, especially our confession regarding Him. "Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 10:32-33) This became the standard for christian confession through the early centuries of persecution, often resulting in the death of the confessors. Men, women, and children maintained their true confession of Jesus in spite of the hateful persecution by the mighty Roman system. Many of them persisting in their confession through torture and into death. However, it was through their confession that they glorified God and received for themselves the glory of martyrdom and their abundant entrance into heaven. It was unto this confession that Paul exhorts us, "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ's appearing." (1 Timothy 6:12-14 NKJV) It is to this confession of God, even the confession that Jesus confessed on His way to death, that Paul calls us to hold fast and to maintain even in the face of difficulty and certain death.

As believers, it is not enough to only confess when it is easy or convenient. God is not looking for those who will follow and believe in Him only when the sun shines. God is looking for true believers, those who will confess the truth and their hope in God regardless of what the world may throw at them. This does not mean that one who denies God cannot find forgiveness through confession and repentance, but it does mean that those who trust in God ought to do so with their whole heart and as being "all in"; not having one foot in the Kingdom and one in the world. Such people are the true believers in God, not the believers of convenience that Muhammad teaches.

David Robison

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Doctrine - The religion of Allah - Relaxing the Law

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.
While Muhammad claims that his Koran conforms and affirms to what was written in the past, there were some laws that God had previously levied upon mankind that Muhammad relaxed for his adherents. Among them were the dietary laws and the Jewish Sabbath. Pertaining to the moderation of the dietary laws under Islam, Muhammad writes,
"Say: 'I do not find, in what is revealed to me, aught forbidden to him who eats thereof except it be carrion [dieth of itself], or blood outpoured, or the flesh of swine -- that is an abomination [unclean or profane] -- or an ungodly thing that has been hallowed to [slain in the name of] other than God; yet whoso is constrained [forced partakers], not desiring nor transgressing, surely thy Lord is All-forgiving [indulgent], All-compassionate [merciful]. 'And to those of Jewry We have forbidden every beast with claws [an entire hoof]; and of oxen and sheep We have forbidden them the fat of them, save what their backs carry [what might be on their backs], or their entrails, or what is [the fat] mingled [attached] with bone; that We recompensed them for their insolence [transgression]; surely We speak truly [we are indeed equitable]." (Koran 6: 146-147)
Muhammad acknowledges the differing dietary restrictions for the Jew and the Muslim, however, he justifies such a change in law by the difference in the nature of the Jews and Muslims. For the Muslims, these bare minimum dietary restrictions were just and from God. However, for the Jew, their extensive dietary requirements were imposed upon them by God because of their insolence and their perpetual transgressions. The Jews were insolent, so God had to impose upon them stricter laws to keep them in check while, for the Muslims, they required only more moderate restrictions to ensure their piety and holiness before God.

So why the dietary laws in the first place? God tells us that these laws came, at least in part, to teach the Israelites the difference between clean and unclean. "This is the law regarding the animal and the bird, and every living thing that moves in the waters and everything that swarms on the earth, to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean, and between the edible creature and the creature which is not to be eaten." (Leviticus 11:46-47) It was to live by this distinction that became the basis of their holiness before God. "I am the Lord your God, who has separated you from the peoples. You are therefore to make a distinction between the clean animal and the unclean, and between the unclean bird and the clean; and you shall not make yourselves detestable by animal or by bird or by anything that creeps on the ground, which I have separated for you as unclean. Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine." (Leviticus 20:24-26) God had separated unto Himself the Jewish people and He required them to separate themselves unto Him. This they were to accomplish by living according to what was clean and abstaining from what was unclean. Therefore the law came not to punish them for their insolence but to teach them the difference between what was clean and unclean. The law was for instruction, not discipline.

This law, and its teaching, was ordained for but a period of time; its was to regulate God's people until a time of reformation; until the time of God's fullness. Then it would give way to to a law of grace. "But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor." (Galatians 3:23-25) Now that Jesus, being the fullness, has arrived. The old ways and old forms have passed away. This include the distinction between clean and unclean foods. "'Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?' (Thus He declared all foods clean.)" (Mark 7:18-19) Jesus declared all foods to be clean. There remains no dietary restrictions for the men and women of faith. In Christ, all such laws of diet have been fulfilled and superseded by grace. Paul explicitly warns us, "But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons... abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer." (1 Timothy 4:1, 3-5)  Had Muhammad understood this, he would have not sought to restore us again to the bondage of law and dead religion.

Pertaining to the law of the Sabbath, Muhammad writes,
"The Sabbath was only appointed [ordained] for those who were at variance thereon [differed about it]; surely thy Lord will decide between them on the Day of Resurrection, touching their differences [as to the subjects of their disputes]." (Koran 16:126)
Again, he blames the spiritual condition of the Jews for necessitating their obedience to the law of the Sabbath. Muhammad failed to understand that the Sabbath was not instituted for God's benefit, but for ours, and not for our discipline, but for our blessing. Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." (Mark 2:27) God rested on the seventh day, the Sabbath, and He invites us to enter into His rest and to rest with Him. The Sabbath is not a discipline but an invitation from God for mankind to participate in the rest of God. What a blessing to be invited into that rest that God enjoys.

The law of the Sabbath was to invite mankind into a physical rest. However, under the New Covenant, God has established a new Sabbath; a Sabbath not of physical rest but of spiritual and religious rest. On the sixth day of creation, God finished his work and rested. On the cross, Jesus said, "It is finished!" (John 19:30) and thus ushered in a new Sabbath, not one of the seventh day, but a perpetual Sabbath. "For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: 'And God rested on the seventh day from all His works'... He again fixes a certain day, 'Today,' saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, 'Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts'" (Hebrews 4:4, 7) There is now a new Sabbath and that Sabbath is "Today." Every day we live by faith, every day we trust not in our work but in the work of Christ, every day we do not work but believe, is our Sabbath day! Muhammad did not understand this new Sabbath. He did not understand that righteousness based on works had come to an end in Jesus Christ. He did not understand that the works of the law had been replaced by faith. "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." (Romans 10:4)

David Robison

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Doctrine - The religion of Allah - Helping God

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.
Islam, as a religion before God, is a religion of reciprocity: you do something for Me then I'll do something for you. Many of us grew up hearing the proverb, "God helps those who help themselves." Islam expands on adds to it that "God helps those who help God."
"O believers, if you help God, He will help you, and confirm your feet [set your feet firm]." (Koran 47:8)
Interestingly, neither of these sentiments are found in the Christian scriptures or in the Gospel of Christ. The truth is that God helps those who cannot help themselves.
"For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." (Romans 8:3-4)
The lesson of the Jewish scriptures, and the message of the cross, is that we are unable and incapable of keeping the Law. We are unable to help ourselves by doing what is right. Furthermore, by our inability to help ourselves we have become slaves to our flesh, to do its bidding, and we are helpless and hopeless in our attempts to free ourselves. Paul wrote of the time before his salvation saying, "For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do,.. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want... Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:15-16, 19, 24) God did not wait for us to help ourselves before He helped us, rather He helped us because He saw that we were incapable of helping ourselves. God did what we ourselves could not.

Furthermore, God helped us before we were able to help Him. Paul, speaking of the carnal mind, says, "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,  8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Romans 8:6-8) Not only were we unable to help ourselves, but sin within us kept us from being able to yield and submit to God, which are prerequisite to offering any help to God. We were unable to help ourselves and even more unable to help God. In fact, so far were we from being able to help God that we were, as slaves to our disobedience, enemies of God, and yet, God still came to save us. "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly... But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." (Romans 5:6-11) Once again, God did for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Even today, God still delights in those who are unable to help themselves and help God for God is not looking for strong people but rather for people of faith. When Paul complained to God about a "thorn" in his flesh God responded, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9) The truth is that our help is not found in our strength but in our weakness. "Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) God does not help those who help themselves, nor does He help those who help Him, but He helps those who reach out in faith in spite of their weaknesses. God helps those who trust in Him.

David Robison

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Doctrine - Muhammad on Jesus - Son of Mary (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's denial that Jesus was, and is, the Son of God was absolute and incontrovertible.
"God has not taken to Himself any son [begotten offspring]" (Koran 23:93)
"and He has not taken [begotten] to Him a son" (Koran 25:2)
I believe that Muhammad's difficulty in believing in Jesus as the Son of God was because he did not understand what it meant to be the Son of God. Muhammad disbelieved because he misunderstood. There are several ways in which Muhammad misunderstood the concept of the Son of God. First, he did not understand the eternal nature of the Son.
"Say: 'He is God, One [alone], God, the Everlasting Refuge [the eternal], who has not begotten, and has not been begotten, and equal to [like unto] Him is not any one." (Koran 112:1-4)
In Muhammad's understanding, Jesus' existence began when He was begotten by Mary. One day, there was just God and He was alone, then the next day He begat a Son through the virgin Mary, and now there was two gods. Certainly, if this is what happened, many of us would disbelieve too. We have all heard of the Greek gods and how they gave birth to the greater and lesser gods, yet few, if any, of us believe those stories today. However, Jesus' life was not that of an ordinary man who was born into this world. Jesus existed eternally with the Father and was begotten into this world for a short time and now continues to live in eternity with the Father in heaven. John, speaking of Jesus as the Word says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." (John 1:1-3) John says that Jesus existed with God from the very beginning and was, in fact, God. Paul confirms this saying, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." (Colossians 1:15-17) There has always existed the Son of God. This is why, from the very beginning, God always speaks in the plural, even in the Koran. "You who have been given the Book [the Scriptures], believe in what We have sent down, confirming what is with you [confirmatory of the Scriptures], before We obliterate faces, and turn them upon their backs, or curse them as We cursed the Sabbath-men [sabbath-breakers], and God's command is done." (Koran 4:50)

Secondly, Muhammad saw in the need of God to "take a son" a sing of weakness with God and a sign that God needed something when, in fact, God was already owner of everything and is in need of nothing.
"And say: 'Praise belongs to God, who has not taken to Him [begotten a] a son, and who has not any associate [partner] in the Kingdom, nor any protector out of humbleness [weakness].'" (Koran 17:111)
"Had God desired to take to Him [have had] a son, He would have chosen whatever He willed [pleased] of that He has created." (Koran 39:7)
Truly, God is in need of nothing and has no need that one should be His helper, concealer, or protector. However, Muhammad failed to understand that the Son is not separate from the Father but rather that the Son is God in union with the Father and the Spirit. It's not that God was adding to Himself, for He is and will ever be one. However, it is God's nature to be plural and the Son is a part of the nature of God just as much as the Father and the Spirit are as well. In the birth of Jesus, nothing was added to God, only something was added to us. God did not "take" a son unto Himself, rather he "gave" a son to us. "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6 NKJV) The birth of Jesus was the incarnation of the Son who previously existed from all eternity with the Father in heaven. Nothing changed or was added to the Godhead. However, something radically did change for us in His incarnation.

Finally, Muhammad could not understand how God could have a son without starting a family.
"He -- exalted be our Lord's majesty! has not taken to Himself either consort [spouse] or a son [any offspring]. The fool among us spoke against God outrage [that which is unjust]," (Koran 72:3)
"The Creator of the heavens and the earth -- how should He have a son, seeing that He has no consort, and He created all things, and He has knowledge of everything?" (Koran 6:101)
"What, has your Lord favoured you with sons [prepared sons for you] and taken to Himself from the angels females [daughters from among the angels]? Surely it is a monstrous [dreadful] thing you are saying!" (Koran 17:42)
"Or has He taken to Himself, from that He creates, daughters, and favoured you with sons?" (Koran 43:15)
I myself have heard such objections from Muslims today. When it came to being the Son of God, Muhammad could, or would, only interpret it as meaning a son born into a family. Muhammad could not understand how God could begat a son without first having a wife from which to procreate their son. The question I've been asked by Muslims is, "Why did God decide to start having a family?" The problem is that Muhammad failed to understand what God meant by the "Son of God."

One of the greatest difficulties we face when trying to understand God is in trying to understand Him in human terms. Some try to understand God, and the Son of God, in terms of having children and starting a family. Though we call Him the Son of God it is not as if God one day decided to take a wife and start having children. If this were the case then God would no longer be unique and no different form the rest of His creation. To properly understand what is meant by the term "Son of God" we must first understand this term in its context.

Often the scriptures use the same term to mean multiple things, each which must be understood by its context. For example, what the scripture means by being born or begotten is different based on its context. When the scripture says that "Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers." (Matthew 1:2 NKJV) it means that Isaac, Jacob, and Judah were born of natural means with a father and a mother. When the scriptures speak of Jesus saying "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14) It does not mean that Jesus was born in the normal human since but that the Word of God was incarnated in human flesh in the womb of the virgin Mary. And, when the scripture says that Jesus, "is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything." (Colossians 1:18) it is obviously not speaking of normal child birth or the production of a human family since no one has ever created a family by giving birth from the dead.

Similarly, when Jesus is call the "Son of God" we do not take the term "Son" to mean and stand for normal sons and daughters as we might have them. The scriptures speak of Adam this way, "the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God." (Luke 3:38) Although Adam was in no way birthed as a normal child, yet he is called the son of God because he was directly made and fashioned by the hands of God. Similarly, Job refers to the angles as the sons of God, not because they were birthed, but because they were created. "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them." (Job 1:6) Also, believers are called the children of God, not because we are born so but because we are made so by the salvation of God. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name." (John 1:12) So Jesus is called the Son of God, not because He was made or because he was birthed, but because He came from the Father and entered this world through the womb of a virgin.

Finally, we must realize that, even as Jesus was born into this world, it was not as if He never existed until His birth. Jesus told this parable of Himself and His mission on Earth.
"At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, so that they would give him some of the produce of the vineyard; but the vine-growers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And he proceeded to send another slave; and they beat him also and treated him shamefully and sent him away empty-handed. And he proceeded to send a third; and this one also they wounded and cast out. The owner of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.'" (Luke 20:10-13)
Here, Jesus shows us that when He was sent from the Father to enter this world as a child, that He already existed with the Father. Jesus' birth was not His creation. He was from eternity with the Father and will for all eternity continue to be with the Father. John says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:1, 14) John clearly states that Jesus always existed with God as the Word of God and was, in fact, God. His coming forth as the Son of God was his appearance upon Earth but not His creation as the Son. Paul writes of Jesus, "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." (Colossians 1:17) Things that can only be said of God. Similarly, "who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Philippians 2:6-8) Showing clearly that Jesus existed as God long before He ever became a man and walked among us. Perhaps if Muhammad had understood this, he would have come to believe in Jesus as the Son of God.

David Roison

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Doctrine - Muhammad on Jesus - Son of Mary (part 1)

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 is very consistent in the appellations he applies to Jesus. Most often he simply refers to Him as "Jesus, Son of Mary" as opposed to "Jesus, Son of God." This idea, of God having a Son, is one of the key contentions between Muslims and Christians. Muhammad saw it as part of his calling by God to warn Christians not to believe that Jesus was the Son of God but rather to receive Him as he himself did, as just a prophet and a messenger of God.
"Praise belongs to God who has sent down upon His servant the Book… to warn those who say, 'God has taken to Himself [begotten] a son'; they have no knowledge of it, they nor their fathers; a monstrous word [grievous saying] it is, issuing out of their mouths; they say nothing but a lie." (Koran 18:1,3-4)
To say that neither they nor their fathers had any knowledge of this is either disingenuous, in that Muhammad knew the truth, or it demonstrates Muhammad's lack of knowledge surrounding the history of Jesus. Certainly the Jews understood exactly who Jesus was claiming to be and, because of it, on many accounts, they sought to kill Him. "For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God." (John 5:18) Also, the four main Gospels were present with Muhammad in which each writer declared and professed Jesus as the Son of God. Beyond that, there were numerous writers since the apostles who also wrote in support of Jesus being the Son of God. For Muhammad to say that they, nor their fathers, had no knowledge of a Son of God is complacently wrong. However, despite this knowledge, Muhammad repeatedly says that it is a monstrous, slanderous, and blasphemous thing to say that God has a son.
"And they say, 'The All-merciful has taken unto Himself a son [gotten offspring].' You have indeed advanced something hideous [a monstrous thing]!" (Koran 19:91)
"Is it not of their own calumny [a falsehood of their own devising] that they say, 'God has begotten?'" (Koran 37:151-152)
Muhammad presents many justifications for his believe that God does not, and never had, a son. His first proof is that Jesus Himself denied that He was the Son of God or that God would take a son.
"They are unbelievers [infidels] who say, 'God is the Messiah, Mary's son.' For the Messiah said, 'Children of Israel, serve God, my Lord and your Lord. Verily whoso associates with God anything, God shall prohibit him entrance to Paradise, and his refuge shall be the Fire; and wrongdoers shall have no helpers.'" (Koran 5:76)
To make Jesus the Son of God would be to associate others with God, which Muhammad consistently and vehemently denied. However, we have no record that Jesus ever spoke these words. In fact, He often spoke of God as His Father. Consider just these three passages from the Gospel of Mathew. "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter." (Matthew 7:21) "Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 10:32) "All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." (Matthew 11:27) Either Muhammad was ignorant of the teachings of Jesus or he willingly twisted them for his own ends, either way, he was wrong in what he wrote.

Muhammad also wrote that Christians had no reason to believe that Jesus was actually God's son.
"They say, 'God has taken [begotten] to Him a son [children]. Glory be to Him! He is All-sufficient; to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and in the earth; you have no authority [warranty] for this [assertion]. What, do you say concerning God that you know not?" (Koran 10:69)
How could anyone warranty such a claim as being the Son of God? Fortunately, God did just that when He raised Jesus from the Dead. "Concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead." (Romans 1:3-4) The resurrection of Jesus gives us ample reason to believe and confess that Jesus is, in fact, the Son of God. No one previous or since has been raised from the dead, never to die again. No one else has ever ascended into heaven as his disciples watched and as He returned to His Father in heaven. "And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." (Acts 1:9-11) There is ample reason to believe and warranty the truth that Jesus is the Son of God.

Muhammad also says that it is not godly or godlike, nor is it fitting of God, for Him to take a son.
"that they have attributed [ascribed] to the All-merciful a son; and it behoves [beseemeth] not the All-merciful to take [beget] a son." (Koran 19:93)
But why not? Who are we to say what is and what is not befitting to God? Just because we cannot conceive of something pertaining to God does not mean that it is not so! Was it not God who said, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9) Who can fully know God and who can fully and accurately declare Him to us? No matter what we think of God, He is higher still. Why should not God take a son if, in His infinite wisdom He should decide to? Are we to be His teacher and judge to decide what is fitting to Him and what is not? I think not.

More to come...
David Robison

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Doctrine - Muhammad on Jesus - No, no, no

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.
While Muhammad admits to Jesus being a prophet, there are many claims about Jesus that he flatly denies.
"They are unbelievers [infidels] who say, 'God is the Third of Three. No god is there but One God. If they refrain not from what they say, there shall afflict those of them that disbelieve[are Infidels] a painful [grievous] chastisement." (Koran 5:77)
Muhammad denies that God, being one, exists in the plurality of three persons and he explicitly denies that Jesus is one of those three persons who make up one God. Muhammad could not reconcile three in one without coming up with three in three. If there were three persons who made up God, then in Muhammad's mind, there must be three gods; something he could never accept. I have had some Muslims say that they were willing to accept the Holy Spirit as being God, making a kind of binary god, since the Holy Spirit was not born, but it seems clear from Muhammad's writings that he we be woe to accept even that. If Jesus was not God then how could the Spirit that proceeded from Him also be God?
"People of the Book, go not beyond the bounds in your religion, and say not as to God but the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only the Messenger [an apostle] of God, and His Word that He committed [conveyed] to Mary, and a Spirit from Him [proceeding from himself]. So believe in God and His Messengers [apostles], and say not, 'Three.' Refrain; better is it for you. God is only One God. Glory be to Him – [far be it] That He should have a son!" (Koran 4:168)
Here Muhammad, while acknowledging the spirit that proceeded from Jesus, denies that that spirit is God and reaffirms that God is one, not two, and certainly not three.

Muhammad also denies that Jesus was the Messiah.
"They are unbelievers [infidels] who say, 'God is the Messiah, Mary's son.' Say: 'Who then shall overrule God in any way [could ought obtain from God] if He desires to destroy the Messiah, Mary's son, and his mother, and all those who are on earth?'" (Koran 5:19)
It is interesting that, in describing a messiah, Muhammad sees him not as an agent of God but as one who interviews with God to assuage His condemnation and judgment. To Muhammad, the messiah is not one who comes from God to save and reconcile mankind back to God, but one who comes from among men and tries to pacify God in His anger against mankind, thus freeing them from their guilt and their pending condemnation and judgment. In Muhammad's mind, how could there be a messiah who can change God's mind or turn back His judgment once God had determined to Judge? If a messiah did come, it wasn't because God decided to try and rescue people from sins and judgment, but a mere human effort to subvert the determined mind and will of God. However, to the woman at the well, Jesus clearly acknowledged that He was the Messiah who was to come. "The woman said to Him, 'I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.' Jesus said to her, 'I who speak to you am He.'" (John 4:25-26) Furthermore, Jesus clearly said that He came not of His own but was sent, not only by God, but from God, to do the will of the Father. Jesus spoke that He was the true bread that came down from heaven and was sent by God to do His will and give life to many. "It is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world...I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst." (John 6:32-35) Our response to Muhammad regarding the messiah aught to be, 'If there is to be a messiah, who else should he be but God?'

Finally, Muhammad denies that Jesus was crucified and suffered a painful death.
"and for their unbelief, and their uttering against Mary a mighty calumny, and for their saying, 'We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the Messenger [an Apostle] of God' -- yet they did not slay him, neither crucified him, only a likeness of that was shown to them. Those who are at variance concerning him surely are in doubt regarding him; they have no knowledge of him, except the following of surmise; and they slew him not of a certainty -- no indeed; God raised him up to Him; God is All-mighty, All-wise." (Koran 4:154-155)
Here, Muhammad and the Koran are completely overthrown by the weight of history both sacred and secular. It's interesting that Muhammad acknowledges the resurrection of Jesus but denies His death, or at least His death on a cross. However, contemporary history from Jesus' own time is overwhelming in its support for the historical crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Josephus, a Jewish historian around the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, reports, "Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day." (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XVIII, Chapter 3) Muhammad's assertion that Jesus did not die, or at least He was not crucified, is historically incorrect and wrong. Worse, he claims he got this information directly from God which make God wrong! Furthermore, he wrote this in his Koran which he claims is word-for-word correct and inerrant which makes the Koran wrong. How many inaccuracies can one accept from one man and one book before we declare him not to be a prophet and his book to be less than divine?

David Robson

Friday, April 15, 2016

Doctrine - Muhammad on Jesus - A prophet and nothing more

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.
Muslims hold an interesting position on Jesus. They hold Him in honor as a prophet, but deny all of His divinity. To them, He is a prophet and a messenger, but nothing more. We previously looked at the history of Jesus as contained in the Koran, but now we shall consider what the Koran teaches about Jesus and especially about who He was. The Koran actually speaks a lot about Jesus, in fact, the English version of the Koran that I am reading mentions Him by name twenty five times while the name of Muhammad is mentioned only four times.

The Koran acknowledges that Jesus was a man sent by God and that He came forth with proofs of His ministry and calling.
"We gave Jesus son of Mary the clear signs, and confirmed him with the Holy Spirit;" (Koran 2:81)
The Koran only mentions the Holy Spirit four time. Three times in reference to Jesus being confirmed by the Holy Spirit and once referencing His role in sending down truth. Speaking of the sending down of the Koran, Muhammad says, "The Holy Spirit sent [brought] it down from thy Lord in truth, and to confirm [establish] those who believe, and to be a guidance and good tidings to those who surrender [Muslims]." (Koran 16:104) It is not clear who Muhammad understood the Holy Spirit to be. Some have conjectured that, because of this verse and because it was the angel Gabriel who brought down the Koran to Muhammad, Muhammad believe the Holy Spirit to be Gabriel.

It is also unclear what specifically Muhammad meant by "clear signs." Was he referring to the miracles that Jesus performed or the truth He taught? This confusion is further compounded by the following verse,
"And when Jesus came with the clear signs [manifest proof] he said, 'I have come to you with wisdom, and that I may make clear to you some of that whereon you are at variance; so fear you God and obey you me." (Koran 43:63)
Muhammad also claimed to come with "clear signs" yet he produced no miracles or sings and wonders as proof of his ministry. His "proofs" was the book be produced and the wisdom contained with in it. It seems reasonable to assume that Muhammad's view of "clear proofs" was the same for himself as for Jesus and that he did not intend to reference Jesus' miracles as being "clear proof" of Jesus' ministry. However, Jesus believed differently. Regarding His miracles, He said, "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father." (John 10:37-38)

To Muhammad, Jesus was a prophet, and just a prophet, much like himself; a man sent from God like many prophets and apostle before him.
"Then We sent, following in their footsteps, Our Messengers [apostles]; and We sent, following [them], Jesus son of Mary, and gave unto him the Gospel [Evangel]. And We set in the hearts of those who followed him tenderness [kindness] and mercy [compassion]." (Koran 57:27)
There are two things of interest here. First, there is no mention of the miracles he was sent to do and to perform, only the Gospel He was given to preach. Secondly, it is interesting to consider Muhammad's view of those who were effected by Jesus' gospel. He found them to be tender hearted and full of mercy. This is something he never wrote about his own followers and the Muslims of his day.

While Muhammad believed Jesus was a prophet, he emphatically denied that He was anything else.
"The Messiah, son of Mary, was only a Messenger [Apostle]; Messengers [Apostles] before him passed away [have flourished]; his mother was a just woman; they both ate food." (Koran 5:79)
It is interesting that Muhammad not only reasserts that Jesus was merely a man, but that His mother, Mary, was only a woman. As we mentioned previously, the worship of Mary was growing in popularity and beginning to exceed all proper that theological bounds. Muhammad was right to call it for what it was, the elevation of a mere woman to the point of almost deification. In this, Muhammad was correct.

More to come...
David Robison

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Doctrine - Salvation according to Muhammad - Forgiveness and Salvation

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.
Because of mankind's sins, God repeatedly sent warners and prophets to warn man of their sins. They came not to extend faith to mankind but to threaten them with the judgments of God.
"And We do not send the signs [a prophet with miracles], except to frighten [strike terror]." (Koran 17:61)
Muhammad knew only one form of being a prophet and that was to warn, threaten, and to tear down. While this was the ministry of much of the Jewish prophets, they also partook in comforting, encouraging, and building up. Consider the ministry of Jeremiah, not only did he come to warn but also to plant and to build up the people. "See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant." (Jeremiah 1:10) We also know that the people were greatly helped by the prophets through their encouragement in difficult times. "Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them supporting them." (Ezra 5:2) Similarly, we learn that the ministry of Christian prophets were to teach and to encourage. Paul encourages us that, "you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted." (1 Corinthians 14:31) It seems Muhammad knew only one side of God, the threatening and warning side, but he never came to know the loving, compassionate, merciful, and gracious side of God that loves us and desires the best for our lives. Muhammad's ministry was to warn people to avoid the wrath of God, not to call them back to the love of God.

Muhammad also, not only warned people of the coming wrath of God, but he himself identified with that wrath and taught that those who disobeyed him would also find the same wrath of God for themselves.
"When they are called [summoned] to God and His Messenger [Apostle] that he may judge between them" (Koran 24:47)
Muhammad claimed that he himself would, in the resurrection, be the one to judge the quick and the dead. However, the Christian scriptures have already assigned one to be the judge of the whole earth. Jesus said of Himself, "For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father... For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man." (John 5:22-23, 26-27) In that day, it will not be Muhammad we stand before, but Jesus and even as Muhammad himself will stand before Him in that day.

Muhammad also claims that he is the salvation of mankind and that salvation is, and is revealed, through him.
"Blessed be He who has sent down the Salvation upon His servant, that he may be a warner to all beings" (Koran 25:1)
However, leaving aside the fact that he brought no signs or miracles to attest to what he had to say and that, while Jesus rose from the dead to prove His case, Muhammad is still dead and buried, Muhammad, by his own admission, brought us nothing new, just what we had already heard before. "Naught [nothing] is said to thee but what already was said to the Messengers [Apostles] before thee." (Koran 41:43) If Muhammad was only bring us what God had already sent down before, then how can he claim that salvation was sent down upon him? If he is to claim that salvation was sent down upon him then he must claim the same for all who came before him. However, the Christian scriptures tell us that there is one who has salvation, and that for the whole world. Peter testifies of Jesus, "there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12) This would emphatically exclude salvation in and/or through Muhammad.

Muhammad claims the power, along with God to forgive sins. However, he requires men to not only believe in the Koran, but also in himself.
"But those who believe and do righteous deeds [the things that are right] and believe in what is sent down to Muhammad -- and it is the truth from their Lord -- He will acquit them of their evil deeds [their sins He will cancel], and dispose their minds [hearts] aright." (Koran 47:2)
"O our people, answer [obey] God's summoner, and believe in Him, and He will forgive you some of your sins [your sins], and protect [rescue] you from a painful chastisement [afflicted punishment]." (Koran 46:30)
No other prophet before him has ever claimed the power and authority to forgive sins, save Jesus who was the Christ. When Jesus forgave the sin of a paralyzed man, the Jews rose up against Him for they knew that only God could forgive sins, yet Jesus defended Himself and proved His authority by forgiving and healing the man. "'But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins' — then He said to the paralytic, 'Get up, pick up your bed and go home.'" (Matthew 9:6) Jesus repeatedly, in His earthly ministry, forgave sins, something that the former prophets never did, not because He was a prophet but because He was the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Finally, the forgiveness that Muhammad's God offers us is not unconditional and limitless. God only forgives us for our past sins but our future sins are held in force for the day of judgment,
"God has pardoned what is past; but whoever offends again, God will take vengeance on him, God is All-mighty, Vengeful." (Koran 5:96)
It is unclear from whence God's forgiveness takes effect and from what date the "past" is counted from. How does God choose from what date He will forgive past sins and yet execute vengeance on future sin? The problem is that Muhammad only knew of the transactional forgiveness of sin, meaning, only those sins forgiven in the transaction are forgiven while all other sins remain in effect. However, Jesus came to forgive all our sins, past, present, and future. Jesus does not deal with sins in a transnational way but came to destroy sin within us. Jesus deals with the root of sin, not the symptoms of sin. John said that Jesus, "appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin." (1 John 3:5) Not just to forgive sin, but to take away sin. Paul tells us that for those who are in Christ, Jesus had dealt a death blow to sin in their lives. "knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin." (Romans 6:6-7) The end result is that, though we may still sin after being freed from sin, there remains no judgment or condemnation for our sins after having received forgiveness and salvation in Christ. "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." (Romans 8:1-2) How much better than the mere forgiveness offered by Muhammad.

David Robison

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Doctrine - Salvation according to Muhammad - Sin and Judgment

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.
One of the maladies of the human race that all religions must address is that of sin. Each religion defines sin according to its own standards and, accordingly, each religion assigns its own consequences and remedies for sin. In this, Islam is no different. To Muhammad, sins is ranked into various levels of severity. The less severe sins are more readily forgiven while the more egregious sins, if they are forgiven at all, require a more stringent means to secure their forgiveness.
"Those who avoid the heinous sins [great crimes] and indecencies [scandals], save lesser offences [but commits only lesser faults] surely thy Lord is wide in His forgiveness [diffuse in mercy]." (Koran 53:33)
This is a very human way of looking at sin, for we evaluate sin as it effects us. In this valuation it is easy for us to see that murder is far more egregious than lying. We also tend to see our sins as far less sinful then other's sins. For example, we may be quite willing to overlook drunkenness in ourselves while we severely condemn gossip in others. However, the issue is not how we judge the severity of our sins but how God judges them. To God, sin is sin and to commit any sin is to become a sinner. James wrote, "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He who said, 'Do not commit adultery.' also said, 'Do not commit murder.' Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law." (James 2:10-11) To break one of God's laws is sufficient to become guilty of the entire law of God and to sentence us to its righteous judgment and punishment.

The message of the Koran is to avoid heinous sins and then hope that our lesser offenses are small enough to earn us the forgiveness and acceptance of God. However, such a system is devoid of any hope and the assurance of one's future end. How can one know if their few heinous sins are forgivable or if the multitude of their lesser sins will amount to one big heinous sin in the eyes of God? Islam provides no answers and no assurance of righteousness or of the prospects of salvation.
"from their Lord's chastisement none feels secure [is none safe]" (Koran 70:28)
For a Muslim, there is no secure place; no place or time where they may reset in peace and in the security of the love, forgiveness, and acceptance of God. Each day is a new day to worry about the judgments of God and the possibility that we might secure for ourselves His punishments by our daily actions and decisions. Worse than that, we find that our end is out of our control. If we are to be condemned it is because God wills it, and if we are to be rewarded, it is only because God willed it to be so,
"Thou shalt assuredly find me, if God wills, one of the Righteous [upright].'" (Koran 28:27)
We are not free to be righteous or to choose good for our lives, it is all up to the capricious will of God. If He chooses so for us then we are rewarded, however, if He chooses malice towards us, then we will be with the loosers. Such is the predestination forced upon us by the gracious, or malevolent, will of God.
"for whosoever of you who would [willeth to] go [walk in a] straight [path]; but will you shall not, unless God wills" (Koran 81:28-29)
We have no free will, only the will God wills for us. Therefore, how can anyone have any assurance of their forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life? Under such a system, no one can. How different from the Christian gospel that provides assurance based not on the predestination of God but on the never ending love of God. The writer of Hebrews writes concerning Jesus, "and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 10:21-22) Our assurance comes not from our avoidance of sin nor even from the multitude of our righteous deeds but from our faith in Jesus as the Christ and His work for us on the cross. John wrote, "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life." (1 John 5:13) John did not write that we might hope one day to have eternal life but that we might know for certain that we already have it here and now! We no longer need to live our lives wondering if we will ever be good enough or ever do enough to earn God's favor. We can know for sure, here and now, what God thinks of us and the future He has assigned for us. We can know this beyond all hoping and with the certainty that only faith can provide. We know this because we know Him who has promised. This is the promise we have from God. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:16-18) Oh blessed assurance! Such hope reminds me of the old hymn by Fanny Jane Crosby, "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine; Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood."

More to come...
David Robison

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Doctrine - Creation according to Muhammad - Mankind (Part 3)

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 acknowledges that mankind is composed of a body and a soul. However, he has some interesting theories on the soul.
"It is He who recalls you [takes your soul] by night, and He knows what you work [what ye have merited] by day" (Koran 6:60)
"God takes the souls [unto Himself] at the time of their death, and that which has not died, in its sleep [and during their sleep those who do not die]; He withholds that against [restaineth] which He has decreed death, but looses the other [sendeth the others back] till a stated term [a time that is fixed]." (Koran 39:43)
Muhammad believed that, during the night, while one slept, their soul departed their body and returned to the Lord. Those who were appointed to die, God retained their souls, but those whose time had not yet come, He returned their souls to their bodies as they awoke. Some have taught that, in referring to a silver cord, Solomon was referring to a connection between the soul and body that kept the soul tethered to the body while it took flight at night. "Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; 7 then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it." (Ecclesiastes 12:6-7) I personally believe that such an interpretation is quite a stretch and not well born out by this scripture. Personally, I believe that James better understood the relation of the soul and body. "For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." (James 2:26) One could argue that James was referring to the spirit and not the soul leaving the body, but then we have two separate events to explain, the soul leaving and the spirit leaving. My personal beliefs, and one that I believe is founded and justified by the scriptures, is that when the soul leaves the body, the body is dead, not merely sleeping and awaiting the soul's return. David said, speaking of the resurrection of the dead, "For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay." (Psalms 16:10) No where in the Jewish scriptures are we instructed that the soul, when departing from the body, goes anywhere but Sheol, and never it is intimated that it departs except in death.

As to the make up of the soul, Muhammad teaches that God created it with the propensity for evil.
"Man was created of haste. Assuredly I shall show you My signs; so demand not that I make haste [desire them not to be hastened]." (Koran 21:38)
"Surely man was created fretful [Man truly is by creation hasty]" (Koran 70:19)
Man, by his very creation by God was created with flaws, weaknesses, and tendency to sin. His spirit is hasty; always running ahead of his reason, always disregarding the commands of God in favor of the commands of his flesh. Mankind runs into sin before they even realize what they are doing. As a result, mankind, from the very nature of their creation, is a pit of error and always in opposition to God.
"He created man of a sperm-drop [moist germ]; and, behold, he is a manifest adversary [an open caviller]." (Koran 16:4)
To "cavil" it to be complaining and to be constantly raising trivial, petty, and unnecessary objections to situations, commands, and conditions. This is how Muhammad believes that mankind was created. These traits, and the hastiness of his soul, are not the result of his fall into sin but are the results of how he was created by God. God created him this way; it was not the result of his own choices and sin. However, the Jewish scripture clearly tells us that what God created including mankind, was good and not flawed in any way. We are told that God created mankind in His own image; an image that is completely without flaws and weaknesses and an image that is full of light and one from which all darkness must flee. It was only when man disobeyed God that his soul started to change and sin entered in and worked a work of degradation both in his body and in his soul. Paul says of Adam, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned." (Romans 5:12) We were not created with sin, but sin entered when Adam first disobeyed God and when we each, in our own ways, disobey God. We were created perfect, but sin has spoiled us. Fortunately, there is one who can take away our sin and restore our souls pure and whole before God. Paul goes on to say, "So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19 For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous." (Romans 5:18-19) Thanks be to God for sending His Son that we might be forgiven, redeemed, and set free from the power of sin!
More to come...
David Robison

Monday, April 11, 2016

Doctrine - Creation according to Muhammad - Mankind (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, when describing the creation of mankind, saw little difference between the initial creation of man and mankind's continued creation in the womb. In both he sees the unstaying hand of God moving in creation. With this, the Jewish scriptures heartily agree. David sang of God, "For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well." (Psalms 139:13-14) Muhammad goes on to tell us of the process of creation that God uses inside the womb.
"We created man of an extraction of [fine] clay, then We set him, a drop [a moist germ], in a receptacle secure [safe abode], then We created of the drop [moist germ] a clot [of blood] then We created of the clot [clotted blood] a tissue [piece of flesh] then We created of the tissue [piece of flesh] bones then We garmented [clothed] the bones in flesh; thereafter We produced him as another creature. So blessed be God, the fairest of creators!" (Koran 23:12-14)
It is interesting to note that in several cases, Muhammad gives an abbreviated version of this process without requiring the fist article of clay and it is uncertain here what part clay plays in the process. "It is He who created you of dust then of a sperm-drop [germs of life], then of a blood-clot [thick blood], then He delivers you as infants, then that you may come of age [full strength], then that you may be old men" (Koran 40:69)

While we can admire Muhammad's insight into this process, we must also acknowledge that, according to our present scientific knowledge, Muhammad was inaccurate in some places, and, completely wrong in others, in his description of the process from conception, to fetal development, and finally childbirth. This should not surprise us for, just as for us today, many surprises of discovery and science still awaited them, including a more accurate understanding of the process of procreation. Many things that were presented to them as sound science, would soon be overthrown with better science (a warning we should heed today as well). This reminds me of a scientific description of the formation of mother's milk as described by Clement of Alexandria in the close of the second century. Here he gives one such opinion of how blood is converted into mother' milk to nourish a child.
"Or if, on the other hand, the blood from the veins in the vicinity of the breasts, which have been opened in pregnancy, is poured into the natural hollows of the breasts; and the spirit discharged from the neighbouring arteries being mixed with it, the substance of the blood, still remaining pure, it becomes white by being agitated like a wave; and by an interruption such as this is changed by frothing it, like what takes place with the sea, which at the assaults of the winds, the poets say, 'spits forth briny foam.' Yet still the essence is supplied by the blood." (Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, Book 1, Chapter VI)
Muhammad also shows the limits of the scientific knowledge of his age when he describes the forming of the two sexes, male and female, in the womb.
"Was he not a sperm-drop spilled [mere embryo]? Then he was a blood-clot [thick blood], and He created and formed [formed him and fashioned him], and He made of him two kinds, male and female." (Koran 75:37-39)
Muhammad did understand that the sex of a child was determined immediately at the point of conception and not some time later in the womb.

On one hand, we can excuse the scientific inaccuracies of the past knowing they were merely reporting on what was the best science of their day. Who knows what, in future years, people will look back on what we believe and wonder that we could have believed such inaccuracies and errors. However, Muhammad was not claiming to be reporting the science of the day but rather He claimed to be delivering a report directly from God. Muhammad claimed that these verses were direct, word-for-word, communications from God. Therefore, if any inaccuracies occur in them, such as the inaccuracies in the description of the creation of children, then it is not Muhammad who is wrong but God who is in error! One cannot claim their writing to be directly from God and yet show such blatant errors of science for God is all knowing, God is all truthful, and God is the God of science. Any errors, such as the ones we have sown here, are enough to conclude that the Koran is not a word-for-word transcription of the communication of God and that Muhammad is not the prophet he claimed to be.

More to come...
David Robison

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Doctrine - Creation according to Muhammad - Mankind (Part 1)

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.
When trying to understand Muhammad's doctrine on the creation of mankind, one runs into some difficulties caused by various ambiguities and contradictions. In some places, Muhammad says that mankind was created from water.
"And it is He who let forth the two seas, this one Sweet, grateful to taste [fresh], and this salt, bitter to the tongue, and He set between them a barrier, and a ban forbidden [a barrier that cannot be passed]. And it is He who created of water a mortal [man], and made him kindred [and established between them ties] of blood [kindred] and marriage [affinity]; thy Lord is Allpowerful." (Koran 25:55-56)
Here, Muhammad is teaching on the initial creation of all things. When referencing man's initial creation, he specifies simply "water," where later, in referring to man's creation through the process of conception, he speaks of "gushing water"; a reference to the seminal stream that is essential to conception. "So let man consider of what he was created; he was created of gushing water [poured-forth germs] issuing between the loins and the breast-bones." (Koran 86:5-7) The idea that man was created from water is also consistent with other stories by Muhammad in reference to the creation of the world and all animal kind. "God has created every beast [animal] of water, and some of them go upon their bellies, and some of them go upon two feet, and some of them go upon four; God creates whatever He will." (Koran 24:44)

However, in other places, Muhammad emphatically states that mankind was created from clay.
"Surely We created man of a [dried] clay of mud [dark loam] moulded, and the jinn created We before of fire flaming. And when thy Lord said to the angels, 'See, I am creating a mortal of a [dried] clay of mud [dark loam] moulded. When I have shaped him, and breathed My spirit in [into] him, fall you down, bowing [worship] before him!'" (Koran 15:26-29)
In referring to original creation, mankind is shown to be created by clay without the need for conception. This is a key distinction that helps us understand other places in the Koran where Muhammad talks about God creating mankind from a "sperm-drop;" a reference to creation by conception. Muhammad tells us that this was a key difference in the creation of Adam and a trait he shared with Jesus who was also created without the need for seminal conception.
"Truly, the likeness of Jesus, in God's sight, is as Adam's likeness; He created him of dust, then said He unto him, 'Be,' and he was." (Koran 3:52)
This distinction between being created from clay verses creation from a sperm-drop is key to distinguishing the difference in Muhammad's stories between initial creation and creation by conceptions. To Muhammad they are both creation, just by different means.
"And He originated [began] the creation of man out of clay, then He fashioned [originated] his progeny of an extraction of mean water [from germs of life, from sorry water], then He shaped him, and breathed His spirit in him. And He appointed for you hearing, and sight, and hearts; little thanks you show." (Koran 32:6-8)
The Jewish scriptures concur with Muhammad that mankind was created from clay, but would contradict the idea that mankind was created from water. The creation of mankind is simply stated in the Jewish scriptures, saying, "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)

Finally, this difference between initial creation and conceptual creation being the use of clay verses the sperm-drop, is not always consistently applied in the writings of Muhammad.
"O men, if you are in doubt as to the Uprising [resurrection], surely We created you of dust then of a sperm-drop [moist germs of life], then of a blood clot [clots of blood], then of a lump of flesh, formed and unformed that We may make clear to you. And We establish in the wombs what We will [one sex or the other], till a stated term, then We deliver you as infants, then that you may come of age;" (Koran 22:5)
Either this verse is to be interpreted as referring to four separate means of creation, or these for states: clay, sperm-drop, blood clot, and flesh, happen in strict succession. However, if this is the case, then it is unclear what part the "dust" has to play in the conception and growth of the child.

More to come...
David Robison