Responses to Islamic Awareness

Tafsīr Of The Verse 5:73 by Muhammad Ghoniem

They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the third of three; when there is no Allah save the One Allah. If they desist not from so saying a painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve.

Muhammad Ghoniem's article seemingly tries to hide the obvious mistake that the Quran makes, namely defining the Christian Trinity as Father, Mary the Mother, and Jesus Christ the Son. Presumably, by citing certain Muslim exegetes he hopes to find support for his contention that the Quran does not confuse the true doctrine of the Trinity. Yet, by so doing Ghoniem actually solidifies the case that the Quran is grossly mistaken on what Christian belief of the Trinity actually is.

Tafsīr Ibn Kathīr

5:73 They disbelieved who say: Allah is one of three (in a Trinity): for there is no god except One God. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous chastisement will befall the disbelievers among them. [Qur'ān: 5:73]

The first thing we should point out is that the word, "Trinity" does not even appear in the Arabic text. The literal Arabic text reads: "They are blasphemers who say that Allah is the third of three (innallaha thaalithu thalaathah)." Hence, the Quran is rebuking belief in three gods, that God is the third of three deities. Trinitarians would also wholeheartedly condemn such a belief since we do not believe in three gods but in only one true God who is tri-personal in nature.

Concerning "They disbelieved who say: Allah is one of three", Ibn Abī Hātim said that Ali Ibn al-Hasan al-Hisinjāni told us that Saceed Ibn al-Hakam Ibn Abi Maryam told us that al-Fadl told us that Abu Sakhr told me about God's words "They disbelieved who say: Allah is one of three": it refers to the opinion of the Jews "Uzayr is the son of God" and the opinion of the Christians "The Messiah is the son of God"; thus making God one among three [i.e., a trinity].

We would like to quickly comment on what Ibn Kathir has said thus far. First, Kathir claims that the statement "Allah is one of three" was revealed against the Jewish and Christian belief that Ezra and Jesus were the sons of God. Seeing that there is absolutely no documentary evidence to support that the Jews viewed Ezra as God's son in the same way Christians believe Jesus is the Son of God strongly implies that the Quran is grossly mistaken in what the Jews actually believed.

Furthermore, we do not know whether the last phrase, "thus making God one among three [i.e., trinity]" originally includes the statement on the trinity or whether this is the translator's comments which have been included as part of the text. The fact that the words appear in brackets strongly implies that this is the translator's insertion to the English text.

Either way, the statement is still mistaken since the doctrine of the Trinity in no way makes God one among three, which would essentially be the same as believing in three separate gods. The Trinity teaches that there is only one true God who subsists in three Persons or centers of consciousness.

"For a commentary on this verse, this report is odd because it refers to both the Jews and the Christians. The truth is that it was revealed concerning the Christians specifically. This is the opinion of Mujāhid and many others but they differed on its interpretation. They said this verse targeted the disbelievers among them [i.e., among the Christians] for upholding three hypostasis (al-Aqānim ath-thalāthah) who are: the hypostasis of the Father, the hypostasis of the Son and the hypostasis of the Word emanating from the Father to the Son - May God be glorified above their speech. Ibn Jarīr [at-Tabarī] and others mentioned that the three sects, the Melkites, the Jacobites and the Nestorians, the three of them uphold those hypostasis and are in great disagreement between each others but we will not expand on their disagreement here.

Kathir's citation of Mujahid and others is again mistaken. The Christian belief in the Trinity is not Father, Son and Word since both the Son and the Word refer to the same Person, namely Jesus Christ. Rather, it is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Nor do Melkites, Jacobites or Nestorians disagree on the essential Trinity, i.e. that the Trinity consists of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Their disagreements stemmed over the person of Christ, i.e. whether he was one person with two natures or two persons with two natures or whether Christ's two natures fused together to create a third nature that was neither fully divine nor fully human. Yet, all firmly believed that Jesus was divine.

"Each sect declared that the others are disbelievers and the truth is that the three of them are disbelievers. As-Suddi and others said: [the verse] was revealed concerning the divinization of the Christ and his mother besides God, thus making God one among three [i.e., one person among a Trinity]. As-Suddi said: This is like the verse at the end of the Surah [verse 5:116] "And behold! Allah will say: "O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah?" He will say: "Glory to Thee! [...]" and this [last] opinion is the most likely and God knows best. God Almighty said "for there is no god except One God" i.e., God is not multiple, he is one without partners and he gathered all the creatures and warned them "If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy)" i.e., this lie "verily a grievous chastisement will befall the disbelievers among them" i.e., the chains and torture in the hereafter.

As-Suddi is honest enough to admit that S. 5:73 is refuting the belief in three separate gods, Father, Mary and Jesus Christ. It does not touch on the issue of the triune God of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Furthermore, we agree that God is one God, and is not multiple in the sense that he has no partners or associates. So far, nothing that the Muslim commentators have said even come close to addressing the issue of the Trinity as defined in the Holy Bible and the Christian Creeds.

Tafsīr al-Qurtubi

"They disbelieved who say: Allah is one of three"

Notice that this translation of 5:73 does not say Allah is one of three in a Trinity, but rather one of three. This again implies that there are three gods since God is said to be only one of three.

means one among [a group of] three. Does not take nunation according to az-Zajjaaj and others.

Again, no informed Christian believes that God is one among three or a group of three since this would again affirm that there are three gods and Allah was only one of them. This is the belief of Mormons, not of Trinitarians.

The Arabs have another variant, they say the fourth of three and in this case it accepts jarr and nasb because it means the one who made the three [become] four by being among them.

According to Qurtubi, the Arabs had presumably retained a variant reading where instead of saying that Allah is one of three, the Quran read that he was rather the fourth of three. This strengthens the point that the Quran is attacking polytheism, the belief in more than one God, not the Trinity that affirms that there is absolutely only one God.

The same goes when you say the third of a pair, nunation is possible. And this statement caused a disagreement between the Christians, i.e., the Melkites, the Nestorians and the Jacobites, as they say: a Father, a Son and a Holy spirit are one god and they do not say three gods while this is the very meaning [implied by] their position. They only resent the statement [of three gods] while it is unavoidable since they say that the Son is a god, and the Father is a god and the Holy spirit is a god. We have already detailed this point in [surat] an-Nisā' and God attested of their disbelief.

Again, the Christians have never taught that the Father is a god, the Son is a god and the Holy Spirit is a god. Nor does believing that three Persons are the one true God imply three gods since the three are not separate beings, but three distinct centers of consciousness within the one indivisible Being of God. In fact, the Quran also implicitly teaches that Allah is a triune Being as we shall shortly seek to demonstrate.

.... for there is no god except One God

meaning that God is not multiple while they cannot avoid saying three gods as seen previously even if they would not admit that wording. And we have already explained the meaning of one [wāhid] in [surat]al-Baqarah and the preposition min is supernumerary. And it is possible in other places than the Qur'ān to say ilāhan wāhidan as in case of istithnā' and al-Kisā'I accepted jarr as in case of badal. If they desist not from their word, verily a grievous chastisement will befall the disbelievers among them i.e., if they desist not from their [doctrine of] Trinity a grievous chastisement will befall them in this life and in the hereafter.

If believing in the Trinity implies that Christians worship three gods as opposed to one God, then the Quran is also guilty of implicitly teaching that Allah is actually three gods as we will demonstrate below.

Comments :

Islam does not denounce the rank of God in the Trinity but rather the Trinity itself (see verse 4:171 "[..] Say not "Three ""). Indeed if Islam denounced the rank [there is no rank implied but let us suppose for the sake of argument] of God in the Christian Trinity, it would not denounce the pagan Arabs since Allah/God was the biggest of their deities. But the truth is that Islam denounced without ambiguity any form of polytheism and lip-service to monotheism such as God is composed to three distinct entities yet He is one.


Nowhere in the Quran does one find the orthodox Christian position of the Trinity attacked or defined. Instead, the Quran attacks the belief that God is the third of three and therefore those who believe such must stop saying that God is three. Furthermore, the Quran defines Christian teaching on the Trinity as the belief in God, Mary and Jesus as three gods and accuses Christians of believing in Jesus and Mary as two separate gods apart from the true God.

In fact, according to Ibn Ishaq the Quran was specifically correcting this erroneous belief in God, Mary and Jesus as three separate divinities. In his work, Sira Rasulullah, Ibn Ishaq records that a Christian deputation from Najran came to debate Muhammad on the person of Jesus. Accordingly, these Christians allegedly believed that Jesus, "is God; and He is the son of God; and He is the third Person of the Trinity, which is the doctrine of Christianity." (Alfred Guillaume trans., The Life of Muhammad [Oxford University Press, Karachi], p. 271 )

He goes on to say, "They argue that he is the third of three in that God says: We have done, We have commanded, We have created and We have decreed, and they say, If He were one He would have said I have done, I have created, and so on, but He is He and Jesus and Mary. Concerning all these assertions the Quran came down." (Ibid., pp. 271-272)

Another renowned Muslim commentator, al-Zamakhshari, candidly admitted that this passage was attacking the belief in Father, Mary and Jesus as three gods:

The (word) three is the predicate to an understood subject. If one accepts the Christian view that God exists in one nature (jauhar) with three divine persons, namely the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and (if one accept) the opinion that the person of the Father represents (God's) being (dhat), the person of the Son represents (his) knowledge ('ilm), and the person of the Holy Spirit represents (his) life (hayat), then one must supply the subject as follows: 'God is three(fold).' Otherwise, one must supply (the subject) thus: 'The gods are three.' ACCORDING TO THE EVIDENCE OF THE QUR'AN, the Christians maintain that God, Christ, and Mary are three gods, and that Christ is the child of God by Mary, AS GOD SAYS (in the Qur'an): 'O Jesus son of Mary, didst thou say unto men: "Take me and my mother as gods, apart from God"?' (Sura 5:116), or: 'The Christians say: "The Messiah is the Son of God"' (Sura 9:30). Moreover, it is well known that the Christians maintain that in Jesus are (combined) a divine nature derived from the Father and a human nature derived from his mother... At the same time these words [Sura 4:171] exclude (the Christian view) that Jesus had with God the usual relationship between sons and (their) fathers... (Helmut Gätje, The Qur'an and its Exegesis [Oneworld Publications, 1996], pp. 126-127; bold, capital and underline emphasis and words within brackets ours)

The errors cited by Ibn Ishaq and al-Zamakhshari on what Christians believe becomes apparent to anyone familiar with the basics of Christian doctrine. First, orthodox Christians have never taken Mary as a goddess alongside God. If the Quran were referring to a heretical group of Christians known as the Maryamites, this would serve to strengthen the case that these verses do not address Trinitarians, but apostates that deviated from the true faith. This also calls into question the whole episode of Ibn Ishaq's report on the Christians from Najran and their beliefs. Either these Christians were heretical and if so, then Ibn Ishaq is wrong for claiming that their belief that Jesus was the third of three is the doctrine of Christianity since these Christians do not speak on behalf of all Christendom. Or, the whole story was fabricated to present Muhammad and the Muslims in a favorable light, as well as to present the Christians very negatively.

Second, as we have already indicated the historic Christian teaching has never been that God is three or the third of three which is tritheism, three separate gods forming a unity; as opposed to Trinity, ONE God who exists in Three distinct yet inseparable Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Thirdly, as we mentioned earlier, orthodox Christians have never taught as part of their doctrine that Jesus is the third Person of the Trinity. Rather, he is the Second Person, with the Holy Spirit being the third Person of the Godhead. Matthew 28:19

Fourthly, Muslims believe that Allah of the Quran is the same as God the Father of the Holy Bible since they do not believe in God the Son, Jesus Christ, or in God the Holy Spirit who to Muslims is the angel Gabriel. This again causes a problem since if Allah is indeed the same Person as God the Father then the Quran is wrong in saying that Christians believe that the Father is the third of three. Christians teach that the Father is the First Person of the One True Godhead, not the third deity of three gods.

Finally, the fact is that the Quran itself teaches that Allah is tri-personal in some sense since it views God's Word and His Spirit as entities that are both distinct from Allah and yet at the same time eternal and inseparable from him. For instance, God's Spirit is personal as well as the instrument through which God grants life to man and strengthens believers:

"When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit, fall ye down in obeisance to him." S. 15:29

Man was given life by God's Spirit, implying that the Spirit is the source of life.

"She (Mary) placed a screen (to screen herself) from them: then We sent Our Spirit (ruh), and he appeared before her as a man in all respects." S. 19:17

God's Spirit assumes the form of a man and is described with masculine pronouns. This indicates that the Spirit is not just some force, but is a divine personality.

"Thou wilt not find any people who believe in Allah and the Last Day, loving those who resist Allah and His Messenger, even though they were their fathers or their sons, or their brothers, or their kindred. For such He has written Faith in their hearts, and strengthened them with a spirit from Himself. And He will admit them to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow, to dwell therein (forever). Allah will be well pleased with them, and they with Him. They are the Party of Allah. Truly it is the Party of Allah that will achieve Felicity." S. 58:22 Y. Ali

Believers are strengthened by a spirit from Himself, i.e. a spirit from God. In order for the Spirit to be able to strengthen believers everywhere implies that the Spirit is omnipresent. Yet, only God is omnipresent which essentially means that the Spirit is God. This is precisely the conclusion one Muslim scholar comes to in his footnote. Yusuf Ali notes:

"Cf. ii 87 and 253, where it is said that God strengthened the Prophet Jesus with the holy spirit. Here we learn that all good and righteous men are strengthened by God with the holy spirit. If anything, the phrase used here is stronger, ‘a spirit from Himself'. Whenever any one offers his heart in faith and purity to God, God accepts it, engraves that faith on the seeker's heart, and further fortifies him with the Divine Spirit, which we can no more define adequately than we can define in human language the nature of God." (Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Quran, p. 1518, f. 5365)

Yusuf Ali wasn't alone. Shia writer Irshaad Hussain, in his The Soul: Between Spirit and Clay, says in regards to God's Spirit which was breathed into Adam:

The Spirit, which derives from God, IS A REALITY THAT POSSESSES ALL THE DIVINE ATTRIBUTES. IT REPRESENTS A DIRECT MANIFESTATION OF GOD. Remember, it is only after this Spirit is breathed into Adam that God orders the angels to prostrate themselves before Adam. It is only after this receiving of the Spirit that Adam is given knowledge of the names of all things. The Spirit then MANIFESTS in some way THE ATTRIBUTES OR NAMES OF GOD. It is luminous, alive, subtle, unseen, knowing, unified etc. The body on the other hand has many parts and is overcome by darkness, ignorance, inanimate matter, and a lack of divine attributes. So spirit and body have no common measure - One is from God who is Unique, who is One. The other is from the material world which is characterized by multiplicity and dispersion. (Source; capital emphasis ours)

Hence, the Spirit is of the divine essence, is incomprehensible, omnipresent, personal, and the source of Life, all qualities that are true of God.

This also refutes the Muslim claim that the Spirit of God is the angel Gabriel since Gabriel is neither omnipresent nor divine. In fact, both the Quran and hadiths clearly demonstrate that the Holy Spirit is not Gabriel:

"They ask thee concerning the Spirit (of inspiration). Say: "The Spirit (cometh) by command of my Lord: of knowledge it is only a little that is communicated to you, (O men)!" S. 17:85

According to Sahi Bukhari this verse came down when the Jews questioned Muhammad on the Spirit's identity:

Narrated Ibn Mas'ud:

While I was walking in company with the Prophet in one of the fields of Medina, the Prophet was reclining on a palm leave stalk which he carried with him. We passed by a group of Jews. Some of them said to the others, "Ask him about the spirit." The others said, "Do not ask him, lest he would say something that you hate." Some of them said, "We will ask him." So a man from among them stood up and said, 'O Abal-Qasim! What is the spirit?" The Prophet kept quiet and I knew that he was being divinely inspired. Then he said: "They ask you concerning the Spirit, Say: The Spirit; its knowledge is with my Lord. And of knowledge you (mankind) have been given only a little." (17.85) Volume 9, Book 93, Number 554

Hence, Muhammad did not even know the identity of God's Spirit. Two hadiths from Sahi Muslim affirm that the Spirit is not Gabriel:

"Narrated Aisha: The Messenger of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) used to pronounce while bowing and prostrating himself: All Glorious, all Holy, Lord of the Angels and the Spirit." Book 4, Number 0987

This tradition makes a distinction between Angels, of which Gabriel is one, and the Spirit. This indicates that Gabriel is not the Holy Spirit.

"Narrated Aisha:

Allah's Messenger (peace_be_upon_him) said: Satirize the (non-believing amongst the) Quraysh, for (satire) is more grievous to them than the hurt of an arrow. So he (the Holy Prophet) sent (someone) to Ibn Rawahah and asked him to satirise them. He composed a satire, but it did not appeal to him (to the Holy Prophet). He then sent (someone) to Ka'b ibn Malik (to do the same, but what he composed did not appeal to the Holy Prophet). He then sent one to Hassan ibn Thabit. As he entered his presence, Hassan said: Now you have called for this lion who strikes (the enemies) with his tail. He then brought out his tongue and began to move it and said: By Him Who has sent you with Truth, I shall tear them with my tongue as the leather is torn.

"Thereupon Allah's Messenger (peace_be_upon_him) said: Don't be hasty; (let) AbuBakr who has the best knowledge of the lineage of the Quraysh draw a distinction for you in regard to my lineage, as my lineage is the same as theirs. Hassan then came to him (AbuBakr) and after making inquiries (in regard to the lineage of the Holy Prophet) came back to him (the Holy Prophet) and said: Allah's Messenger, he (AbuBakr) has drawn a distinction your lineage (and that of the Quraysh). By Him Who has sent you with Truth, I shall draw out from them (your name) as hair is drawn out from the flour.

"Aisha said:

I heard Allah's Messenger (peace_be_upon_him) saying to Hassan: Verily Ruh al-Qudus (The Holy Spirit) will continue to help you so long as you put up a defence on behalf of Allah and his Messenger. And she said: I heard Allah's Messenger (peace_be_upon_him) saying: Hassan satirized them and gave satisfaction to the (Muslims) and disquieted (the non-Muslims). You satirized Muhammad, but I replied on his behalf, and there is a reward from Allah for this. You satirized Muhammad, the virtuous, the righteous, the Apostle of Allah, whose nature is truthfulness.

"So verily my father, his father and my honour are a protection to the honour of Muhammad. May I lobe my dear daughter if you don't see her wiping away the dust from both sides of Kaba. They pull at the reins, going upward. On their shoulders are spears thirsting (for the blood of the enemy). Our steeds are sweating--our women wipe them with their mantles. If you had not interfered with us, we should have performed the Umrah. And (then) there was the Victory, and the darkness cleared away. Otherwise wait for the fighting on the day on which Allah will honour whom He pleases. Allah said: I have sent a servant who says the Truth in which there is no ambiguity. Allah said: I have prepared an army--they are the Ansar whose object is fighting (the enemy). There arrives every day from Ma'add abuse, fighting or satire. Whoever among you satirizes the Apostle, or praises him and helps him it is all the same; and Gabriel, the Apostle of Allah is among us, and the Holy Spirit who has no match." Book 30, Number 6081

According to this hadith, Muslims have both Gabriel and the Holy Spirit assisting them, indicating once again that the Holy Spirit is someone distinct from Gabriel.

The Quran also indicates that the Word of God became a person, with the implication being that this person is both divine and human:

"Then the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary: That Allah gives you the good news of Yahya verifying a Word from Allah, and honorable and chaste and a prophet from among the good ones." S. 3:39 Shakir

John is to bear witness to a Word from God, namely Jesus the Christ. Here, Jesus is the one who is the Word from God. The fact that he is a Word from God implies preexistence, that Jesus preexisted as God's Word. This point is brought out more clearly in the two following passages:

"(And remember) when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (unto Allah)." S. 3:45 Pickthall

According to this passage God's Word is not a mere abstraction but rather a person. This is due to the fact that the Word of God is given a personal name, Jesus. This implies that the Muslim argument that Jesus is only a by-product of God's creative command cannot be sustained. Hence, according to this one passage the Word of God is a person who shall be known as Jesus, implying that Christ is the personal Word of God come down from heaven.

"O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not ‘Trinity': desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs." S. 4:171 Y. Ali

Jesus is both the Word of God, not just a word from him, given to Mary and a spirit that proceeds from God himself. We discover that in one sense the Quran denies the divinity of Jesus and yet in other places it affirms that he is the divine preexistent Word and Spirit from God.

As we alluded earlier, Muslims try to evade the fact that Jesus is the very Word of God by indicating that he is called God's Word solely because he was created directly by God's command, kun fayakun - "Be and it is." First, as we have already demonstrated, Jesus is not simply a by-product of God's command, but is the very Word of God to man. This is based primarily on the fact that the Quran clearly teaches that the Word of God is personal and became man in the person of Jesus.

Secondly, if it were true that Jesus is God's word solely because he was created by the command of God then we would expect to find Adam called the Word of God since he was also created by God's command according to the Quran (cf. S. 3:59). Yet, neither Adam nor anyone else is ever called the Word of God.

This implies that the Quran acknowledges that the eternal Word of God became flesh, two aspects (eternal and finite) united in one Person.

In fact, not only is Christ eternal and finite at the same time, the Quran itself is believed by Muslims to be the eternal speech of God in book form. This would imply that the Quran also has a dual aspect, one eternal and one finite. Yusuf K. Ibish, in an article entitled "The Muslim Lives by the Quran," writes:

I have not yet come across a western man who understands what the Quran is. It is not a book in the ordinary sense, nor is it comparable to the Bible, either the Old or New Testaments. It is an expression of Divine Will. If you want to compare it with anything in Christianity, you must compare it with Christ Himself. Christ was an expression of the Divine among men, the revelation of the Divine Will. That is what the Quran is. If you want a comparison for the role of Muhammad, the better one in that particular respect would be Mary. Muhammad was the vehicle of the Divine, as she was the vehicle ... There are western orientalists who have devoted their life to the study of the Quran, its text, the analysis of its words, discovering that this word is Abyssinian, that word is Greek by origin... But all this is immaterial. The Quran was divinely inspired, then it was compiled, and what we have now is the expression of God's Will among men. That is the important point. (Charris Waddy, The Muslim Mind [New York: Longman, 1976], p.14)

In his Ideals and Realities of Islam, Seyyed Hossain Nasr writes,

The Word of God in Islam is the Quran; in Christianity it is Christ... To carry this analogy further one can point to the fact that the Quran, being the Word of God therefore corresponds to Christ in Christianity and the form of this book, which like the contents is determined by the dictum in heaven, corresponds in a sense to the body of Christ. The form of the Quran is the Arabic language which religiously speaking is as inseparable from the Quran as the body of Christ is from Christ Himself. Arabic is sacred in the sense that it is an integral part of the Quranic revelation whose very sounds and utterances play a role in the ritual acts of Islam. (Op. cit. [London: George Allen & Urwin, 1975], pp. 43-44)

This next author says:

The Quran is eternal, whereas its form (i.e., the Arabic language and the book in which it is written) is temporal. In fact, in early Islamic history it was considered blasphemous to say that the Quran was created, with the Caliph Al-Mutawakkil (d. AD 850) going so far as to "decree the death penalty for anyone who taught that the Word of God (i.e., the Quran) is created." (John Alden Williams, ed., Islam [New York: George Braziller, 1962], p. 179)

And another author claims:

"The Qur'an is God's speech, which he uttered, and it is uncreated. Who holds the opposite is a Jahmit, an unbeliever. And who says: 'The Qur'an is God's speech', and stops at that point without adding 'uncreated', speaks even more infamously than the latter. Also, who maintains our sounds, our Qur'an recitation would be created, the Qur'an itself, however, God's speech, is a Jahmit, too. And who doesn't declare all these people as unbelievers, is like them." (according to Ibn Abu Ya'la, Tabaqat al-Hanabila, ed. Muhammad Hamid al Fiqh, Cairo 1952, vol. I, p. 29; transl. Dr. Christopher Heger)

Noted Islamicist, F.E. Peters, quotes Muslim scholar Ahmad Ibn Hanbal as saying:

The Quran is the Word of God and it is not created. It is not wrong to say, "It is not created," for God's Word is not separated from Him, and there is nothing of Him that is created. Beware of discussing this with those who speak about this subject and talk of the "creation of sounds" and such matters, and those who go midway and say, "I don't know whether the Quran is created or uncreated, but it is God's Word." Such a one is guilty of a religious innovation as is the one who says, "It is created," for it is God's Word and that is not created. (Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Creed) [WILLIAMS 1971:29] (Peters, Judaism, Christianity, And Islam: The Classical Texts and Their Interpretation [Princeton Uinversity Press, Princeton, NJ, 1990 paperback], p. 47)

Peters quotes another Muslim writer who says:

The Quran is God's speaking, which is one of His attributes. Now God in all His attributes is One and with all His attributes is eternal and not contigent, (so His speaking is) without letters and without sounds, not broken up into syllables or paragraphs. It is not He nor is it other than He... (Ibid.)

Muslim scholar, Mahmoud M. Ayoub, speaking of Muhammad's relation to the Quran, writes:

... that the words that Muhammad conveyed to his people were not his own, but were revealed to him by God. It is also understood to mean that his mind was not contaminated by human wisdom. Rather it was a pure receptacle for the divine word in the same way that Mary's virginity means for Christians that her body was a pure vessel fit to receive Christ, the Word of God.

In fact, there is an interesting parallel between Christ and the Qur'an. Christ is, for Christians, the incarnate Word of God. While the Qur'an is, like Christ, the eternal divine word, it does not play a role in the creation of the world. It is the eternal word of God preserved for moral and spiritual guidance. It is an eternal book: "This surely is a glorious Qur'an, preserved in a well-guarded Tablet" (Q. 85:21-22). (Ayoub, Islam: Faith and History [Oneworld Publications, Oxford England, 2004], p. 41)

One Salafi website writes in answer to a question regarding whether the Quran is created:

The evidence that the Qur'aan is not created is the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):

"Surely, His is the creation and commandment" [al-A'raaf 7:54]

So Allaah describes creation as one thing and commandment as another. The conjunction implies that the second thing mentioned is different, and the Qur'aan is part of the commandment because of the evidence of the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):

"And thus We have sent to you (O Muhammad) Rooh (a revelation, and a mercy) of Our Command. You knew not what is the Book, nor what is Faith? But We have made it (this Qur'aan) a light wherewith We guide whosoever of Our slaves We will"

[al-Shoora 42:52]

If the Qur'aan is part of the command or commandment, which is different from creation, therefore it is not created, because if it were created, this division of categories would not be correct. This is the evidence from the Qur'aan. (10153: The Qur'aan was revealed by Allaah, not created)

The verse which this site posted is actually referring to Allah's Spirit since the Arabic word Ruh (spelled Rooh in the above) means Spirit. Thus, not only have they argued for the Quran being uncreated but also for the Spirit's uncreatedness! After all, if the Quran being part of Allah's command means that it is uncreated, since Allah's commands are not part of creation, then the Spirit must be uncreated as well since the text that is quoted is actually referring to Allah's Spirit. This leaves us with Allah, His Word (the Quran) and His Spirit being all uncreated!

Sunni Muslim writer, GF Haddad, in addressing Shia claims to the contrary, provides a list of quotes from renowned Muslim scholars regarding the Quran's uncreatedness, some of which include:

Ahl al-Sunna agree one and all that the Qur'an is the pre-existent, pre-eternal, uncreated Speech of Allah Most High on the evidence of the Qur'an, the Sunna, and faith-guided reason.

In a rare instance of classic kalām reasoning, Imam Malik gave the most succint statement of this doctrine:

"The Qur'an is the Speech of Allah, the Speech of Allah comes from Him, and nothing created comes from Allah Most High." Narrated by al-Dhahabi in Siyar A`lam al-Nubala' (Dar al-Fikr ed. 7:416).

Hafiz Abu al-Qasim Ibn `Asakir said in Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari (Dar al-Jil ed. p. 150-151):

"The Mu`tazila said: 'the Speech of Allah Most High is created, invented, and brought into being.' The Hashwiyya, who attribute a body to Allah the Exalted, said: 'The alphabetical characters (al-hurūf al-muqatta`a), the materials on which they are written, the colors in which they are written, and all that is between the two covers [of the volumes of Qur'an] is beginningless and pre-existent (qadīma azaliyya). Al-Ash`ari took a middle road between them and said: The Qur'an is the beginningless speech of Allah Most High unchanged, uncreated, not of recent origin in time, nor brought into being. As for the alphabetical characters, the materials, the colors, the voices, the elements that are subject to limitations (al-mahdūdāt), and all that is subject to modality (al-mukayyafāt) in the world: all this is created, originated, and produced."

Hafiz Abu Bakr al-Bayhaqi said in al-Asma' wa al-Sifat (al-Kawthari ed. p. 265; al-Hashidi ed. 2:18) with a sound chain:

"Something Ibn Shaddad had written was handed to Abu Bakr al-Marwazi which containing the phrase: "My pronunciation of the Qur'an is uncreated" and the latter was asked to show it to Ahmad ibn Hanbal for corroboration. The latter crossed out the phrase and wrote instead: "The Qur'an, however used (haythu yusraf), is uncreated."

"In another sound narration, Abu Bakr al-Marwazi, Abu Muhammad Fawran [or Fawzan], and Salih ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal witnessed Ahmad rebuking one of his students named Abu Talib with the words: "Are you telling people that I said: 'My pronunciation of the Qur'an is uncreated'?" Abu Talib replied: "I only said this from my own." Ahmad said: "Do not say this - neither from me, nor from you! I never heard any person of knowledge say it. The Qur'an is the Speech of Allah uncreated, whichever way it is used." Salih said to Abu Talib: "If you told people what you said, now go and tell the same people that Abu `Abd Allah [Imam Ahmad] forbade to say it."" End of al-Bayhaqi's narration in al-Asma' wa al-Sifat (Kawthari ed. p. 265-266; al-Hashidi ed. 2:18). This is a sound narration also found in Salih ibn Ahmad's book al-Mihna (p. 70-71), Ibn al-Jawzi's Manaqib al-Imam Ahmad (p. 155), and Ibn Taymiyya in Majmu` al-Fatawa (12:360, 12:425).

The Proof of Islam and Renewer of the Fifth Hijri Century, Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali said in his "Foundations of Islamic Belief" (Qawa`id al-`Aqa'id) published in his Rasa'il and his Ihya' `Ulum al-Din and partially translated in Shaykh Nuh Keller's Reliance of the Traveller and by Mrs. Ahmad Darwish on the Mosque of the Internet:

"The Qur'an is read by tongues, written in books, and remembered in the heart, yet it is, nevertheless, uncreated and without beginning, subsisting in the Essence of Allah, not subject to division and or separation through its transmission to the heart and paper. Musa - upon him peace - heard the Speech of Allah without sound and without letter, just as the righteous see the Essence of Allah Most High in the Hereafter, without substance or its quality." End of al-Ghazzali's words.

And Imam al-Tahawi said of the Qur'an in his "Creed of Abu Hanifa and his Companions": "It is not created like the speech of creatures."


Allah says, {Verily, His Command, when He intends a thing, is only that He says to it, 'Be!' and it is!} -Yasīn 82

Ibn `Uyayna explains, "Allah has differentiated his Creation from his Command. His command is "Be" (Kun)."

Allah says, {Verily! Our Word unto a thing when We intend it, is only that We say unto it: "Be!" and it is.} - Surah An-Nahl 40

Shaykh `AbdulQadir al-Jilani (Rahimahullah),* explaining that the word of Allah is not created says, "Allah (subhanehu Wa ta'ala) said, {Verily! to him (belongs) the creation and the Command}; (Allah) has differentiated his Creation from his Command, If His Command which is "Be" (Kun) that He creates His creation (with) is created it would be a repetition that has no benefit - as if He (Allah) said 'Verily! to him (belongs) the creation and the creation'; Allah (subhanehu Wa ta'ala) is far removed from doing such a thing." From the book Al-Ghunya li-Talibiy Tariq al-Haqq, volume 1 page 59 (Source: The Uncreatedness of the divine speech the glorious Qur'an)

Speaking of the attributes of Allah, Mr. Haddad quotes:

The `Aqida of the People of Truth is:

sifaatu-l-Laahi laysat `ayna dhaatin
The Attributes of Allah are neither the very Essence,

wa laa ghayran siwaahu dha-nfisaali
nor other than Himself, nor separate.

sifaatu-dh-Dhaati wa-l-af`aali turran
And all the Attributes of the Essence and of the Acts

qadiimaatun masuunaatu-z-zawaali
are pre-existent and without end.

[From the poem Bad' al-Amali by the Maturidi master, Siraj al-Din `Ali ibn `Uthman al-Ushi (d. 569).] (Ibid.)

Mr. Haddad also responds to one particular Muslim who denies that the Quran is eternal. For more on that, we highly recommend reading Mr. Haddad's paper.

In fact, Muslims were threatened with death if they denied that the Quran is eternal. For example, renowned Muslim jurist Qadi 'Iyad quotes a Muslim named Malik saying that:

He said about someone who said that the Qur'an is created, "He is an unbeliever, so kill him." He said in the version of Ibn Nafi', "He should be flogged and painfully beaten and imprisoned until he repents." In the version of Bishr ibn Bakr at-Tinnisi we find, "He is killed and his repentance is not accepted." (Qadi 'Iyad Musa al-Yahsubi, Muhammad Messenger of Allah (Ash-Shifa of Qadi 'Iyad), translated by Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley [Madinah Press, Inverness, Scotland, U.K. 1991; third reprint, paperback], p. 419)

What makes this rather ironic is that this view of the Quran led to a rift between the Muslims since not at all were convinced that the Quran was uncreated. This disagreement even led to violence and bloodshed, as Islamicist Cyril Glassé admits:

"It is a fundamental doctrine of Islam that the Koran, as the speech of God, is eternal and uncreated in its essence and sense, created in its letters and sounds (harf wa jarh). It has been asserted that the doctrine of the uncreated Koran was the result of exposure to the Christian dogma of the Logos; that, as Christians defined Jesus as the Word of God and as having two natures, one human and one Divine in one person, so the Muslims transposed this doctrine by analogy to the Koran as the Word of God made book. The Muslims were indeed aware of the Christian doctrine; the Caliph al-Ma'mun (d. 218/833), who supported the Mu'tazilite theory that the Koran was created, wrote to one of his governors that belief in the uncreatedness of the Koran resembled the Christians when they claim that Jesus was not created because he was the 'Word of God'. During the brief Mu'tazilite ascendancy which began in the Caliphate of al-Ma'mun, belief in the uncreated Koran was temporarily suspended, arousing fierce opposition. The Koran was declared to be created, and those opposed to this view were persecuted during an inquisition called the mihnah (212-232/833-847) into the beliefs of the religious authorities. Yet lawyers and Judges staunchly upheld the dogma of the uncreated Koran, and nurtured it when necessary in secret. Ibn Hanbal went further, and declared that the Koran was uncreated from 'cover to cover', that is, also in its letters and its sounds. In this he was certainly not intending to imitate the Monophysites, but he was flogged for his beliefs. When the mihnah came to an end, the doctrine of the uncreatedness was restored, and has not been challenged since, in the Sunni world. The Kharijites differ from the Sunnis on this point, and in their dogmas the Koran is entirely created, which is also true for the Shi'ites, both Twelve-Imam and Zaydi, whose theology in many ways is an extension of that of the Mu'tazilites." (Glassé, The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, [Harper San Francisco, second edition 1991, 1999], pp. 231-232; bold emphasis ours)

John L. Esposito, Professor of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, writes concerning the Mutazila views of the Quran and God's attributes:

The Mutazila took issue with the majority of ulama over the doctrines of the divine attributes or names of God and the eternal, uncreated nature of the Quran. Both beliefs were seen as contradictory and as compromising God's unity (Islam's absolute monotheism). How could the one, transcendent God have many divine attributes (sight, hearing, power, knowledge, will)? The Mutazila maintained that the Quranic passages that affirmed God's attributes were meant to be understood metaphorically or allegorically, not literally. Not to do so was to fall into anthropomorphism, or worse, shirk, associationism or polytheism. Similarly, the Islamic doctrine that the Quran is the speech or word of God should not be taken literally, for how could both God and His word be eternal and uncreated? The result would be two divinities. The Mutazila interpreted metaphorically those Quranic texts that spoke of the Quran preexisting in heaven. Contrary to majority opinion, they taught that the Quran is the created word of God, who is its uncreated source. The Mutazila critique of those like Ahmad ibn Hanbal, who believed in the eternity of the Quran, was ably summarized by Caliph Mamun in a letter to his governor:

Everything apart from Him is a creature from His creation - a new thing which He has brought into existence. [This perverted opinion they hold] though the Koran speaks clearly of God's creating all things, and proves to the exclusion of all differences of opinion. They are, thus, like the Christians when they claim that Isa bin Maryam [Jesus, the son of Mary] was not created because he was the word of God. But God says, "Verily We have made it a Koran in the Arabic language," and the explanation of that is, "Verily, We have created it," just as the Koran says, "And He made from it His mate that he might dwell with her." (Esposito, Islam The Straight Path [Oxford University Press, New York Oxford: Hard cover, third edition], pp. 71-72; underline emphasis ours)

Thomas W. Lippman says regarding the Mutazilites that:

... They also rejected the dogma that the Koran was the uncreated word of God, coeternal with Him. The Mutazilites said that this view compromised the oneness of God.

In the ninth century the Caliph al-Mamun elevated Mutazilism to the status of official creed. He proclaimed that the Koran had been created by God and was not coeternal with Him. The test of orthodoxy was the answer to the question whether God created all things, including the Koran. A "no" answer brought torture and imprisonment, and the Caliph decreed that all judges must subscribe to the new doctrine. Mutazilism which originated in rationalism, thus manifested itself as illiberal and repressive, and after al-Mamun's death his successors repressed it as vigorously as he had imposed it. The argument over the eternality of the Koran is of little relevance to the practice of ordinary Muslims today; but it shows the extent to which Islam, basically a straight forward and unequivocal faith, has undergone the same process of self-analysis as Christianity. The issues of rationalism and spirituality, divine omniscience and human freedom, have never been finally settled.

(Lippman, Understanding Islam: An Introduction To The Muslim World [A Plume Book: October 2002, third revised and updated edition], p. 74; bold emphasis ours)

Finally, Annemarie Schimmel writes:

The problem of the nature of Christ, so central in the dogmatic development of the early church, has also influenced, in a certain way, the development of Islamic dogma. Christ's designation as logos, as the Word of God, "born not created," has most probably influenced Islamic theories about the Koran, which is regarded by the Muslim as the uncreated Word of God. Phenomenologically seen, the Koran has the same position in Islamic dogmatics as has Christ in Christianity. Harry A. Wolfson therefore coined the term "inlibration," the "Word become Book," in contrast to the Christian concept of incarnation, "the Word became Flesh." That explains why theologians emphasized the designation ummi for Muhammad; this term, first probably meaning "the prophet sent to the gentiles" was interpreted as "illiterate." The Prophet had to be a vessel unstained by external knowledge for the Word's inlibration, just as Mary had to be a virgin in order to be a pure vessel for the Word's incarnation. That is, the Koran is much more than simply a book ... (Schimmel, Islam - An Introduction [State University of New York Press, Albany 1992], pp. 74-75; bold emphasis ours)

The Quran is likened to Christ in that, like Christ, it is eternal in one sense (being the eternal speech of Allah), and yet finite in another sense (the book and ink used to record it). In light of the preceding factors, Muslims have no case against the Trinity or the Incarnation since they themselves must affirm that Allah is somehow triune as well as affirming that the Quran, like Christ, is both eternal and finite at the same time.

We, thus, see that Christians weren't the only ones debating and persecuting each other regarding the implications of Jesus being the Word of God. Muslims had to struggle over the issue of the Quran being God's Speech and hammer out the exact implications this had on its nature, i.e. whether it is eternal or created or both! Much like Christianity before it, Islam had, and continues to have, its own Arians, Monophysites and Trinitarians debating and persecuting one another over the exact nature of the Quran.

Hence, if Christians are blasphemers for believing that God is a triune Being or for believing that Jesus is both eternal and finite at the same time, then Muslims themselves are unbelievers. Muslims either believe that there are three distinct eternal beings, implying that there are three gods or must admit that God is a multi-personal Being.

Finally, the orthodox Muslim view of the Quran introduces a rather amusing dilemma or paradox. For example, if we assume that the Quran is eternal then we must assume that the following prayer is eternal since it is part of the eternal Quran:

In the name of ALLAH, the Gracious, the Merciful. All praise is due to ALLAH alone, Lord of all the worlds. The Gracious, the Merciful. Master of the Day of Judgment. THEE alone do we worship and THEE alone do we implore for help. Guide us in the straight path, The path of those on whom THOU hast bestowed THY favours, those who have not incurred THY displeasure and those who have not gone astray. S. 1:1-7 Sher Ali

Here is a prayer directed to Allah, and yet this is supposed to be an eternal prayer. This either means that the Quran is a living personal entity or that Allah has been praying to himself from all eternity! We do know from other passages that Allah does pray:

He it is who sends PRAYERS on you (Arabic- yusallii alaykum), as do His angels ... S. 33:43

Allah and His angels PRAY for the Prophet (Arabic- yasalluuna alan-Nabiyy): O ye that believe PRAY for him (salluu `alayhi), and salute him with all respect. S. 33:56

Thus, it is quite plausible that Allah has actually been praying surah Fatihah to himself.

In closing, we would like to state that our usage of the Quran does not mean we believe in its inspiration or its authority. We quote it simply to demonstrate to Muslims who do believe in it that if they remain consistent in their methodology they would discover that most of their arguments against Christianity actually discredit their belief as well.

Sam Shamoun

Responses to Islamic Awareness
Answering Islam Home Page