Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Trinity in the Holy Bible Pt. 1

Addressing Some Objections to the Deity of Christ

Sam Shamoun

[Part 1 , Part 2, 2b, Part 3, 3b, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6]

While surfing through Islamic internet sites and forums, I stumbled on one particular forum where a Muslim apologist tried to explain away specific passages from the Holy Bible that another Muslim raised in response to his assertion that the Holy Bible does not provide any explicit evidence for the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. The verses which the poster cited included the following: Matthew 28:19, Psalm 2:7, John 6:27, 8:58, Luke 24:52, Mark 2:7 (Trinity in Bible). However, the Islamic polemicist denied that these texts provide any warrant for believing in the Trinity.

In light of his denials I have decided to respond to his assertions in order to prove that, contrary to what he claims, these citations do affirm the Trinity and absolute Deity of Christ. I start off this series by discussing his explanation of Mark 2:7 where the teachers of the Law accused Jesus of blaspheming for forgiving sins, something they knew that only God can do.

He writes:

In the Quran, a verse reads: "...And if, when they had wronged themselves, they had but come unto thee and asked forgiveness of God, and asked forgiveness of the messenger, they would have found God Forgiving, Merciful" (4:64 - part).

Do Muslims interpret this to mean that Prophet Muhammad was part of God's nature? As I am sure you will agree, of course not. Now if we read the whole verse we note that the Quranic verse starts by saying

"We sent no messenger save that he should be obeyed by God's leave. And if, when they had wronged themselves, they had but come unto thee and asked forgiveness of God, and asked forgiveness of the messenger, they would have found God Forgiving, Merciful".

Therefore, as long as the recipients of the Prophetic message obeyed the messenger, they would have found God forgiving. It has always been the same message for all messengers as the Quranic verse 4:64 clearly attests.

Similarly, Mark 2:7 does not make him part of God's nature nor does this verse sanction the concept of the Trinity. (Joseph Islam, Re: Trinity in Bible, Reply #1 on: February 20, 2013, 12:31:49 AM)

To start off with, it is irrelevant how Muslims interpret the Quranic text in question, since what matters is the implication that this passage has on Muhammad’s status and relationship to Allah. Seeing that the particular translation that the Muslim uses explicitly ascribes to Muhammad the divine prerogative of forgiving sins committed against God, i.e. “and asked forgiveness of the messenger,” this means that there is simply no way of getting around the fact that the Quran is clearly attributing divinity to Muhammad, which therefore makes him a part of God’s nature. This is especially so when we keep in mind that the Quran itself testifies that it is God alone that forgives sins:

“and who, when they have committed a shameful deed or have [otherwise] sinned against themselves, remember God and pray that their sins be forgiven – for who but God could forgive sins? – and do not knowingly persist in doing whatever [wrong] they may have done.” S. 3:135 Asad

SAY: "[Thus speaks God:] "O you servants of Mine who have transgressed against your own selves! Despair not of God's mercy: behold, God forgives all sins – for, verily, He alone is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace!'" S. 39:53 Asad

Here is a logical breakdown of the clear implications of the foregoing Quranic texts:

A. God alone forgives sins, specifically those committed against him.

B. Muhammad forgave sins committed against God.

C. Therefore, Muhammad is God or at least a part of God’s nature and being.

However, not all Muslims render the Arabic of this text in this manner, just as the following versions demonstrate:

“for We have never sent any apostle save that he should be heeded by God's leave. If, then, after having sinned against themselves, they would but come round to thee and ask God to forgive them – with the Apostle, too, praying that they be forgiven – they would assuredly find that God is an acceptor of repentance, a dispenser of grace. S. 4:64 Muhammad Asad

“…If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come unto thee and asked God's forgiveness, and the Apostle had asked forgiveness for them…” Y. Ali

“… If they (hypocrites), when they had been unjust to themselves, had come to you (Muhammad) and begged Allah's Forgiveness, and the Messenger had begged forgiveness for them…” Hilali-Khan

According to this rendering, Muslims are not asking Muhammad for forgiveness, but rather it is Muhammad who is invoking Allah to forgive his followers. This latter interpretation is supported by several other texts which speak of the importance of Muhammad’s intercession for receiving forgiveness:

Of their goods, take alms, that so thou mightest purify and sanctify them; and pray on their behalf. Verily thy prayers are a source of security for them: And God is One Who heareth and knoweth S. 9:103 Y. Ali

The true believers are only those, who believe in (the Oneness of) Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad), and when they are with him on some common matter, they go not away until they have asked his permission. Verily! Those who ask your permission, those are they who (really) believe in Allah and His Messenger. So if they ask your permission for some affairs of theirs, give permission to whom you will of them, and ask Allah for their forgiveness. Truly, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. S. 24:62 Hilali-Khan

So know (O Muhammad) that there is no God save Allah, and ask forgiveness for thy sin and for believing men and believing women. Allah knoweth (both) your place of turmoil and your place of rest. S. 47:19 Pickthall

And when it is said to them: "Come, so that the Messenger of Allah may ask forgiveness from Allah for you", they turn aside their heads, and you would see them turning away their faces in pride. S. 63:5 Hilali-Khan

These citations raise problems of their own. First, it refutes the oft-repeated assertion that there is no go-between or middleman in Islam who mediates or intercedes between Allah and his creatures. Note, for example, what the following Muslim sources say concerning this point:

“Also there is no in between the humans and their Lord. There is no middle person or agent between us and God. We should not go to someone else believing that he is authorized to ask God for help on our behalf or forgive our sins on His behalf. No one should claim to be the go between God and His creatures the humans. God did not delegate His authority to anyone to bestow His blessings and or to forgive or punishes [sic] anyone on His behalf.” (Syed/Farouq M. Al-Huseini, Islam and the Glorious Ka'abah [iUniverse Books, Bloomington, IN 2012], p. 174; bold emphasis ours)


“Islamic philosophy aims at inducing men to put into practice the ideals of monotheism in its pure and perfect form. Not only tombs, idols and fake gods, but also priests who claim to be the middle men between men and God are targeted by this basic principle of Islam which instructs men that the Creator alone is to be worshipped. Islam introduces God as One who is nearer to man than his own jugular vein. Islam teaches man that there is no need for middlemen between man and his Creator. Islam does not allow priesthood of any nature. Thus, Islam tries to save mankind from the clutches of the priests who have been exploiting men in the name of religion.” (M. M. Akbar, The Way to Salvation [Niche of Truth, Kerala, India n.d.], p. 54; bold emphasis ours)


Among previous nations in history there has been distortion and changing of the contents of the messages of the Prophets to a great extent, because most of their scholars betrayed the trust and sold the covenant of Allaah for a small price. They were misled by their whims and desires and by the shaytaan, and they introduced into the religion things for which Allaah gave no permission. One of the most serious ways in which they distorted the message of the Prophets was by introducing the principle of al-waasitah (mediation) between Allaah and His creation, between the almighty Lord and His slaves, thus aiming to protect the thrones of the tyrants who oppressed the people thereby and held their destiny in their hands, through the body that spoke in the name of “heaven”. They invented names and titles for this organization and classified them in varying degrees and levels, where the clergyman could progress through the ranks that had been invented in the name of “the Lord” until he reached the position of acting as the deputy of “God” as the “high priest” or “pope”… 

Hence the essence of Islamic sharee’ah is based on cancelling out the mediation of bandits who come between the people and Allaah in the name of “mediation” or “intercession”. Islam attributes this attitude to the mushrikeen whom fought the message of Tawheed, of whom Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“And they worship besides Allaah things that harm them not, nor profit them, and they say: ‘These are our intercessors with Allaah.’ Say: ‘Do you inform Allaah of that which He knows not in the heavens and on the earth?’ Glorified and Exalted is He above all that which they associate as partners (with Him)!”

[Yoonus 10:18] 

The guided French scholar Naasir al-Deen Dinet said: 

The issue of mediation was one of the major issues in which Islam superseded all other religions, because there is no intermediary between Allaah and His slave. There are no priests or monks in Islam; these intermediaries are the cause of all evil in other religions and that is indeed the case no matter what their beliefs and no matter how sincere they are and how good their intentions. The Messiah himself understood that. Did he not drive the sellers out of the temple? But his followers do not act as he did, and today if Jesus were to return how many like the sellers in the temple would he drive out?  End quote from al-‘Ulmaaniyyah (p. 81). (Islamqa, fatwa No. 101736. Religious Titles in Islam and Christianity; bold emphasis ours) 

It seems that these Muslims haven’t read the Quran carefully since the passages we cited here conclusively prove that there is a middleman in Islam, namely Muhammad.

The second problem these texts raise is that the message given to Muhammad is supposed to be a universal one intended for all peoples and for all times. Yet these verses clearly make forgiveness of sins incumbent on coming to Muhammad and asking for his mediation. However, Muhammad has been dead for over fourteen hundred years and his body lay buried in Medina. How, then, can such verses be universal in scope when they have been made obsolete by the death of Muhammad? And why would Allah make forgiveness dependent on Muhammad’s prayers when he knew that his “messenger” was going to die, thereby robbing subsequent generations of Muslims of the necessity and benefit of his intercession?

It seems that some Muslims saw the dilemma and therefore reasoned that Muhammad’s intercession could still benefit them even after his death, since there are reports of Muhammad’s followers coming to his grave and asking him to pray to Allah to forgive them!

For instance, here are examples of Muslims who, on the basis of Q. 4:64, actually went to Muhammad’s grave, greeted a dead man, and invoked a corpse to pray to Allah on their behalf:

(In this Qur'anic verse) Allah is exhorting the sinners and evildoers that when they commit sins and errors they should call on the Messenger of Allah and ask forgiveness from Allah. They should also request the Messenger of Allah to pray for them. When they do so, Allah will turn to them and forgive them and He will show mercy to them. That is why He used the words la-wajadullaha tawwaban-rahima (they (on the basis of this means and intercession) would have surely found Allah the Granter of repentance, extremely Merciful). Many have stated this tradition. One of them is Abu Mansur al-Sabbagh (some manuscripts say Abu Nasr) who writes in his book Al-Shamil Al-Hikayat-ul-mashhurah that, according to ‘Utbi, once he was sitting beside the Prophet’s grave when a bedouin came and he said, “Peace be on you, O Allah’s Messenger. I have heard that Allah says: ‘(O beloved!) And if they had come to you, when they had wronged their souls, and asked forgiveness of Allah, and the Messenger also had asked forgiveness for them, they (on the basis of this means and intercession) would have surely found Allah the Granter of repentance, extremely Merciful.’ I have come to you, asking forgiveness for my sins and I make you as MY INTERMEDIARY before my Lord and I have come to you for this purpose.” Then he recited these verses: “O, the most exalted among the buried people who improved the worth of the plains and the hillocks! May I sacrifice my life for this grave which is made radiant by you, the one who is of mercy and forgiveness.” Then the bedouin went away and I fell asleep. In my dream I saw the Holy Prophet. He said to me: O ‘Utbi, the bedouin is right, go and give him the good news that Allah has forgiven his sins. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 1:519-20) 


He (Utbi) said: “As I was sitting by the grave of the Prophet, a Bedouin Arab came and said: ‘Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah! I have heard Allah saying: “If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come unto thee and asked Allah's forgiveness, and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed Oft-returning, Most Merciful” (4:64).’ Then he recited these verses: ‘O, the most exalted among the buried people who improved the worth of the plains and the hillocks! May I sacrifice my life for this grave which is made radiant by you, the one who is of mercy and forgiveness.’ Then the bedouin went away and I fell asleep. In my dream I saw the Holy Prophet. He said to me: ‘O ‘Utbi, the bedouin is right, go and give him the good news that Allah has forgiven his sins.’” (Imam an-Nawawi, Kitab ul-Adhkaar, pp. 92-93) 

Here is another:

Its related from Abu Sadiq that Imam Ali said: “Three days after burying the Prophet, an Arab came and threw himself on the grave of the Prophet, took the earth and threw it on his head. He said: ‘Ya Rasulallah! You did speak and we did hear, you learned from Allah and we did learn from you. Between those things which Allah did send you, is the following… Q. 4:64). I am the one who is a sinner and now I did come to you, so that you may ask for me.’ After that a call FROM THE GRAVE came: ‘There’s no doubt, you are forgiven!’” (Tafsir al-Qurtubi, Volume 6, p. 439) 

Muslim scholar Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri lists other authorities that also quoted this particular narration:

Bayhaqi in Shu‘ab-ul-iman (3:495-6#4178).

Ibn Qudamah in al-Mughni (3:557).

Ibn ‘Asakir in Tahdhib tarikh Dimashq al-kabir, popularly known as Tarikh/Tahdhib Ibn ‘Asakir as quoted by Subki in Shifa’-us-siqām fi ziyarat khayr-il-anam (pp. 46-7).

Ibn Hajar Haythami in al-Jawhar-ul-munazzam (p. 51). (Islamic Conception of IntermediationChapter Five, Section Three)

Now this practice of speaking to a dead man in his grave and asking him for his help is in direct violation of the Holy Bible which strictly prohibits consulting the dead:

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God. The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so.” Deuteronomy 18:9-14

“And when they say to you, ‘Consult the mediums and the wizards who chirp and mutter,’ should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony! Surely for this word which they speak there is no dawn.” Isaiah 8:19-20

And since the Quran clearly testifies that Muhammad would die like any mortal:

Verily, you (O Muhammad) will die and verily, they (too) will die. Then, on the Day of Resurrection, you will be disputing before your Lord. S. 39:30-31 Hilali-Khan

This means that Muslims are guilty of sinning against the true God by doing what his inspired Scriptures expressly forbid.

Not only does this show just how impractical the Quran is for the most part, it also exposes the fact that the Islamic scripture and subsequent Muslim tradition have transformed Muhammad into a demigod who shares in Allah’s unique functions and attributes.

So much for the claim that Islam is a very pure and strict form of monotheism which precludes the need for mediators and intercessors.

Now that we have gotten this false analogy out of the way we can focus our attention to the NT witness concerning Jesus’ divine ability to forgive sins against God.