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

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