(Draft Article) Verse 9:30, Jewish reference to ‘Son of Allah’ and the Islamic view

(Please read the notice concerning our draft articles)

By MuslimAnswers.net Team

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيم

We Muslims receive a large number of allegations from our non-Muslim opponents who claim that parts of the Qur’an and other primary Islamic sources are totally incompatible with the realities of other religions.

In this work, we will examine the case brought up with respect to Ayah 9:30 of the Holy Qur’an, which says:

وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ عُزَيْرٌ ابْنُ اللَّهِ وَقَالَتِ النَّصَارَى الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ اللَّهِ ۖ ذَٰلِكَ قَوْلُهُمْ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ ۖ يُضَاهِئُونَ قَوْلَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ قَبْلُ ۚ قَاتَلَهُمُ اللَّهُ ۚ أَنَّىٰ يُؤْفَكُونَ

The Jews say, ‘Uzair (Ezra) is the Son of Allah. and the Christians say, Masih (the Christ) is the Son of Allah.. That is their oral statement. They imitate the saying of the earlier disbelievers. May Allah ruin them, how far they are turned back from the truth!

The argument from the non-Muslims is that while it is correct that the Christians hold that ‘Isa (Jesus, Alayhi Salaam) is the son of Allah, such is not the case with the Jews. It is said that Judaism is uncompromisingly monotheistic and that there is no way that any Jew could have ever said a thing such as “’Uzayr is the son of Allah”, thus apparently showing that the Qur’an is mistaken on this account.

This matter has already been addressed in a number of articles on different Islamic sites. However, we felt that there were a number of important points lacking in those pieces, especially concerning what constitutes disbelief in Islam and why this Verse is presenting Jews as disbelievers.

Issue #1:  The Sources of knowledge in Islam

Before we start looking at the Verse in question, we need to mention one very crucial point about how Islam arrives at certainty about matters. Thus, in Islam the certainty of a matter is reached either through the use of our immediate senses, through the sound mind, and finally through correct information given to us.

Thus, we have to consider that according to the sound mind alone-before we look into what the Qur’an says- we can judge it as a possibility that a Jew or a group of Jews may have uttered the phrase “’Uzayr is the son of Allah”, since such a saying is within the realm of real possibilities, and there is nothing preventing our minds from imagining such a possibility[1].

So once we know the rational possibility of such an occurrence happening, we point out that the Qur’an is the revelation from Allah to mankind, and all that it contains is true and perfect information without any possibility of incorrectness. Thus, the first step to know that every statement in the Qur’an is true is to be certain of Allah’s existence. In this regard, it is crucial for the Muslims and non-Muslims to deeply study the concept of the Divine Being in Islam[2] and to see that the Islamic concept is free of the contradictions and errors one finds in all other religions.

So from the person’s in-depth study of Islam and how it deals with the concept of Allah, one can become certain that Allah exists.[3] After this, we can come to know that the Prophet Muhammad is the true Messenger of Allah speaking the truth from Him, since Muhammad is the one who brought the Islamic message to us in its final form. A part of what Muhammad (Salla Alalhu Alayhi Wa Sallam) brought was the Holy Qur’an and since it contains the statement that the Jews said that ‘Uzayr was the son of Allah, then this is accepted without further disputation.

There may be challenges to the Qur’anic statement brought up by any number of non-Muslims, but the issue remains that once we know that Allah exists and that He, Exalted be He, revealed the Qur’an to the Prophet then corroborating the truth of the Qur’anic statements through biology, anthropology, historical artifacts, or any other of the sciences related to human endeavors is a secondary issue, since it has already been established that what the Qur’an says is definitely true without the possibility of it being false, more so than the words found in many other Islamic sources, let alone those from other religious and/or secular sources.

We will also produce more proofs as to why such a saying was indeed within the realm of possible sayings that could have come forth from the Jews, but both the Muslims and the non-Muslims have to remember that as far as the Islamic religion is concerned, our conviction that such a statement was indeed stated by a Jew or a group of Jews comes from the explicit Qur’anic statement mentioning this, with all other evidences being secondary and tentative.

Issue #2: Understanding the meaning of Verse 9:30

When we examine Verse 9:30, there are some valuable points we gain about what Allah the Exalted is saying versus what some of our opponents may have assumed and/or ignored concerning this Verse.

Point A: The saying of the Jews is emphasized, rather than ascribing this belief to them

The Verse clearly says: The Jews say, ‘Uzair (Ezra) is the Son of Allah. and the Christians say, Masih (the Christ) is the Son of Allah.. That is their oral statement. They imitate the saying of the earlier disbelievers.

It should be noted that the verbal nature of this saying of both the Jews and the Christians is being emphasized in this Verse. Thus, Allah is revealing that the use of the term “son of Allah” is (1) by their saying, that (2) this is the saying from their mouths, and that (3) they are repeating the words of the disbelievers of the past.[4]

So we see that the oral statement is being highlighted in this Verse. In the specific case of the Jews, this is emphasized when we look at the next Verse, which says:

اتَّخَذُوا أَحْبَارَهُمْ وَرُهْبَانَهُمْ أَرْبَابًا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ وَالْمَسِيحَ ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُوا إِلَٰهًا وَاحِدًا ۖ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۚ سُبْحَانَهُ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ

They have taken their rabbis and their monks as gods beside Allah, and also (they have taken) MasiH the son of Maryam (as god). And they were not commanded but to worship only One God. There is no god but He. Pure is He from what they associate with Him. 

This Verse is crucial in understanding that the sin of disbelief is associated with the mere saying of the Jews. This Verse says that they took their rabbis and priests as gods other than Allah, and also the Masih-ubn-u-Maryam (‘Isa the Masih (Messiah) the Son of Maryam, Alayhi Salaam). Thus, there are two different types of disbelief being mentioned in here: In one, the person who has let another make something unlawful into lawful has committed disbelief because he has disobeyed Allah knowingly and became content with this disobedience in his heart. In the other, a specific person (Isa (Alayhi Salaam)) is mentioned as being the object of adoration and of being taken as a god besides Allah.

Note that ‘Uzayr is not mentioned here, meaning that the One who revealed this Verse knew of the distinction between the Jewish and Christian beliefs, and that the Jews did not take ‘Uzayr specifically as god besides Allah in the same way the Christians did with ‘Isa (Alayhi Salaam). But still the term “son of Allah” came out of their mouths, and this is more than enough to make one cross the line into the abyss of disbelief according to the pure religion of Islam.[5]

Point B: Allah warns the people in the Quran numerous times against the mere saying of blasphemy

If we look into other passages of the Qur’an dealing with the erroneous belief that Allah has a son, we find that almost all of them deal first with the fact that such things were being said, before emphasizing that such a claim is devoid of any truth. For example, we see among the Verses in the Qur’an dealing with this matter the following: 

وَقَالُوا اتَّخَذَ اللَّهُ وَلَدًا ۗ سُبْحَانَهُ ۖ بَلْ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ كُلٌّ لَهُ قَانِتُونَ

They say: .Allah has got a son.. Pure is He. Instead, to Him belongs all that there is in the heavens and the earth. All stand obedient to Him. (Verse 2:116) 

قَالُوا اتَّخَذَ اللَّهُ وَلَدًا ۗ سُبْحَانَهُ ۖ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ ۖ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۚ إِنْ عِنْدَكُمْ مِنْ سُلْطَانٍ بِهَٰذَا ۚ أَتَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

They say, Allah has got a son.. Pure is He. He is Self-Sufficient. To Him belongs what is in the heavens and what is in the earth. You have no proof for it. Do you allege about Allah what you do not know? (Verse 10:68) 

وَيُنْذِرَ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا اتَّخَذَ اللَّهُ وَلَدًا {*}

مَا لَهُمْ بِهِ مِنْ عِلْمٍ وَلَا لِآبَائِهِمْ ۚ كَبُرَتْ كَلِمَةً تَخْرُجُ مِنْ أَفْوَاهِهِمْ ۚ إِنْ يَقُولُونَ إِلَّا كَذِبًا

 and to warn those who have said that Allah has had a son, while they have no knowledge about it, nor had their fathers. Grave is the word that comes out of their mouths. They say nothing but lie. (Verse 18:4-5)

We see in these Verses that this grievous sin is presented in the form of what the disbelievers are saying. Nowhere in the Qur’an is anything mentioned along the lines of “they believe that Allah has a Son”, but rather it is presented based on what the disbelievers are uttering. While it is true that in most cases the saying from the mouth is a clear indicator of that which is in the heart and mind, it is also possible that the saying from the mouth is an indicator that the speaker has not considered the seriousness of what he is saying, and thinks that saying it as a jest or within a normal conversation is valid, while in reality such is not the case.   

Point C: The Arabic language allows for individual sayings to be attributed to a group

In many of the interpretations of the Qur’an, it is stated that not all Jews were guilty of saying this phrase, but rather only a portion of them uttered this. Thus, we read in one narration that this was the saying of one man from among the Jews, whose name was Fanhas bin ‘Azuraa. In another narration this saying is ascribed to three Jews (Salaam bin Mushkim, an-Nu’man bin ‘Aufa, and Malik bin as-Sayf).

Thus, even though this specific saying was not said except by a few individuals from among the Jews, Allah ascribed it to the group, as is customary in the Arabic language, such as when it is said that so-and-so rode the horses even though he may ridden only one of them, or when it is said that someone has sat in the company of the Sultans (those endowed with authority) even though he may have sat with only one of them.[6]

Notwithstanding that there may be those who object as to why a method would be used wherein the actions and sayings of a few people are ascribed to the whole group, yet this is visible throughout the Qur’an. For example, the Qur’an says:

الَّذِينَ قَالَ لَهُمُ النَّاسُ إِنَّ النَّاسَ قَدْ جَمَعُوا لَكُمْ فَاخْشَوْهُمْ فَزَادَهُمْ إِيمَانًا وَقَالُوا حَسْبُنَا اللَّهُ وَنِعْمَ الْوَكِيلُ

 (that is) those to whom people said, The people have gathered against you; so, fear them.. It increased them in Faith and they said, Allah is fully sufficient for us, and the best One in whom to trust..(Quran 3:173)

 In here it is seen that if taken literally, the “people” referred to in the first case would mean each and every single person the faithful believer met, and in the second case it could mean every single person in the world. Yet we know that this is not the case in reality, so in this Verse, as in Verse 9:30, the articulation of the word is general while its meaning is specific.[7]

Another similar example can be given when Allah mentions, while addressing the disbelieving Arabs: 

فَاسْتَفْتِهِمْ أَهُمْ أَشَدُّ خَلْقًا أَمْ مَنْ خَلَقْنَا ۚ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاهُمْ مِنْ طِينٍ لَازِبٍ

Now ask them, Are they stronger in the formation of their bodies, or those (other beings) that We have created? Certainly, We did create them from sticky clay. (Quran 37:11)

One of the possible interpretations of this Verse is that the creation of Adam (Alayhi Salaam) from clay is being alluded to in this Verse, yet it is phrased so as to attribute it to the disbelieving Arabs at large[8]. So in this case as well as the case with other Verses of the Qur’an such as Verses 55:14 and 15:26, the attribution is plural (to a large group of humans or to humanity at large) even though the meaning is specific (referring to Adam (Alayhi Salaam)).

 Issue #3: The term “Son of God” and similar statements are widely used and accepted by the Jewish religion

 We are told by our opponents that the Jewish religion is uncompromisingly monotheistic, to the point that its adherents could never imagine making any statements of disbelief at all concerning the nature of God. However, a quick look into the Jewish Bible shows that the phrase “son of God” is widely used for many people and nations. We read:

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of G-d saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives, whomsoever they chose. (Bereshit-Genesis Chapter 6:1-2)[9]

And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh: Thus saith HaShem: Israel is My son, My first-born. And I have said unto thee: Let My son go, that he may serve Me; and thou hast refused to let him go. Behold, I will slay thy son, thy first-born.’–  (Shemot-Exodus Chapter 4:22-23)[10]

He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be to him for a father, and he shall be to Me for a son; if he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men;(II Samuel Chapter 7:13-14)[11]

They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them; I will cause them to walk by rivers of waters, in a straight way wherein they shall not stumble; for I am become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is My first-born. (Jeremiah Chapter 31:9)[12]

Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass that, instead of that which was said unto them: ‘Ye are not My people’, it shall be said unto them: ‘Ye are the children of the living G-d.’ (Hosea Chapter 2:1)[13]

He shall build a house for My name; and he shall be to Me for a son, and I will be to him for a father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever. (I Chronicles Chapter 22:10)[14]

According to other Jewish writings, all people of the world are the “sons of God”, but the Jewish people are like a first-born son who is the stronger son of all, and shows guidance so that the rest of “God’s children” may prosper. We see this view on display below:

So how has G-d brought His message of truth to the world? According to the Bible, G-d declares that He does have a special son whose mission is to bring His blessings and His salvation to the entire world.

Who is this son? Many religious leaders have offered their opinions on the identity of His son, but really we should find out G-d’s “opinion” on this matter.

In the book of Exodus, G-d openly proclaims His son to the world: “Thus says the L-rd: My firstborn son is Israel“…

“Israel” is the Jewish people—all of them. The Jews were chosen by G-d to be His special “son,” to be, in the words of the Bible, “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” for the whole world …

All people are G-d’s children, of course, but the Jews are like a “firstborn son” who brings G-d’s Word to his younger brothers. Every person who learns from the Jews, and helps them fulfill their special role, becomes a part of G-d’s kingdom.[15]

In addition to this tract, we read the following in the online JewishEncyclopedia under the heading “Son of God”:

Term applied to an angel or demigod, one of the mythological beings whose exploits are described in Gen. vi. 2-4, and whose ill conduct was among the causes of the Flood; to a judge or ruler (Ps. lxxxii. 6, “children of the Most High”; in many passages “gods” and “judges” seem to be equations; comp. Ex. xxi. 6 [R. V., margin] and xxii. 8, 9); and to the real or ideal king over Israel (II Sam. vii. 14, with reference to David and his dynasty; comp. Ps. lxxxix. 27, 28). “Sons of God” and “children of God” are applied also to Israel as a people (comp. Ex. iv. 22 and Hos. xi. 1) and to all members of the human race…

The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha contain a few passages in which the title “son of God” is given to the Messiah (see Enoch, cv. 2; IV Esdras vii. 28-29; xiii. 32, 37, 52; xiv. 9); but the title belongs also to any one whose piety has placed him in a filial relation to God (see Wisdom ii. 13, 16, 18; v. 5, where “the sons of God” are identical with “the saints”; comp. Ecclus. [Sirach] iv. 10). It is through such personal relations that the individual becomes conscious of God’s fatherhood, and gradually in Hellenistic and rabbinical literature “sonship to God” was ascribed first to every Israelite and then to every member of the human race (Abot iii. 15, v. 20; Ber. v. 1;…The God-childship of man has been especially accentuated in modern Jewish theology, in sharp contradistinction to the Christian God-sonship of Jesus.[16]

Under the heading “God, Children of” it is stated:

 Israel as the “first-fruits”… is the “bekor,” or first-born, in the household of God’s children (Jer. ii. 3; Ex. iv. 22). In the interpretation of the modern Synagogue this means that Israel shall be an exemplar unto all the other children of God (see Lazarus, “Der Prophet Jeremias,” pp. 31, 32). According to the teachings of Judaism, as expounded in the Catechisms, every man is God’s child, and, therefore, the brother of every other man.[17]

Connected to their saying that humans are the “children of God” is the related saying that God is “our Father”.  This line of thinking can be seen in the online JewishEncyclopedia under the entry “Abba”:

God is called “Father” by Josephus (“Ant.” ii. 6, § 8; iv. 8, § 24); “the Father of the whole human race” by Philo (“Sacrifice of Abel,” 18, and elsewhere; see Drummond, “Philo,” ii. 63; Test. Patriarchs, Judah, 24; Wisdom, xii. 3; Sirach, xxvi. 1 and li. 10; and Tobit, xiii. 4). Still, as is shown by Dalman (“Die Worte Jesu,” i. 150-155), the fatherly relation of God to man was only gradually recognized and expressed by the worshiper. In the Book of Wisdom, ii. 16 (compare ii. 13, 18), it is the righteous man only who claims that God is his Father and he His child; or it is the priest, whose holy ministration entitles him to the privilege of addressing God as “Father” (Test. Patriarchs, Levi, xvii. 18). Therefore it became customary to speak of God in connection with worship as the Father of the worshiper (see Tosef., Sanh. vii. 9), “Israelites lift up their eyes to their Father in heaven” (Midr. Teh. cxxi. 1), “Israel was shielded under the wings of his Father in heaven” (Mek., Amalek, i.; R. H. iii. 8). In the first century Johanan ben Zakkai referred to “the altar as establishing peace between Israel and his Father in heaven” (Tosef., B. Ḳ. vii. 6, 7); also, when referring to the mysteries of God, he said: “Blessed be the God of Israel for this son of Abraham, who has penetrated into the glories of our Father” (Tosef., Ḥag. ii. 2).

Subsequently Akiba, comforting his people in the misery after the destruction of the Temple, says: “Happy are ye, O Israel, your Fountain of Purification is your Father in heaven” (Yoma, l.c.). Likewise Simon ben Yoḥai calls God “the Father in heaven” (Sifre, Deut. xlviii.).

The paternal relation of God, while chiefly applied to Israel as the correct worshipers of God, was also applied to individuals who maintained this spiritual relationship (Soṭah, ix. 15; Ab. v. 20; Mek., Yithro, 6.; Midr. Teh. ix. 4; Ps. xii. 5, xciv. 2, cxxiii. 1). Wherefore the very invocation, “Abinu Malkenu!” (Our Father, our King!), uttered by a devout worshiper, was regarded by the people as endowed with special efficacy.[18]

There are many other quotes of the same type, but from the ones provided we can easily see that there is no problem whatsoever among the traditional Jews in calling certain personalities as the “sons of God”, with this terminology extending not only to the Jewish people as a whole, but even to all of humanity. This also extends to the Jewish religion using the term “Father” and “Father in Heaven” when referring to God, both in writing and in prayers.

From this we can then see that if a Jew were to say “’Uzayr is the son of God”, this would raise no eyebrows among the Jewish community, because Jewish theology itself is accepting of such an utterance. As we have seen, according to the classical Jewish scholarly understanding, every single human being is the “son of God”, and the Jewish people are favored as being the “firstborn of God”. If ‘Uzayr is taken to be the biblical Ezra (which is a very strong possibility), then his status as a “firstborn son of God”, according to Jewish teachings, would be even stronger than that of the common Jew.

We can then assert that the explicit utterance “’Uzayr is the son of God” would not be seen as something strange among the Jews at all, in addition to the fact that Jewish teaching would already proclaim that such is the case, albeit implicitly.

So we can confirm then that there is indeed a high rational possibility that a Jew or a group of Jews would have uttered such a statement even before considering the primary Islamic sources. The primary Islamic sources only confirm this possibility.

Issue #4: The unacceptability and disbelief of uttering such phrases in the Islamic religion

In the previous heading we have shown that the term “son of God” and “children of God” is very widespread in the Jewish religion. Now, the explanation may be brought forth that such a phrase was never meant to be taken that we are physically descended from God or that there is an essential unity between humans and God, and that it only implies a figurative connection between the human beings and their Lord.

At this stage it is crucial to note that Islam does not accept such an explanation. Allah says in Verse 9:30 of the Qur’an that the Jews and Christians “imitate the saying of the earlier disbelievers.”  We see then that imitating the sayings of the past disbelievers is a grievous sin in and of itself, regardless of what the meaning behind it may be.

This understanding is further solidified when we read some of the saying of the Islamic scholars concerning the various types of disbelief, and how an oral statement could take someone out of the fold of Islam and into disbelief.

 According to the Islamic teaching, disbelief is divided into disbelief through an incorrect belief held in the heart, or through a blasphemous action, or through a blasphemous saying. With respect to this last type, we read:

 ومن الأمثلة على الكفر القولي كمن يقول: (أخت ربك)، أو (ابن الله)، فهذا يقع في الكفر ولو لم يعتقد أن لله أختًا أو ابنا لأنه شتم الله عز وجل. وكذا يكفر من يقول لزوجته: (أنت أحب إليّ من الله) والعياذ بالله تعالى.

And among the examples of this type of oral disbelief is like the one who says: “Sister of your Lord” or “Son of Allah”. For he has fallen into disbelief even if he does not believe  that Allah has a sister or a son, for he has insulted Allah, the Mighty and Majestic. And likewise, the one who says to his wife: “You are more beloved to me that Allah” has committed disbelief, and we seek the refuge of Allah the Exalted (from saying these things).[19]

Likewise we see:

القسم الأول الكفر القولي: وهو كمسبة الله تعالى ومسبة واحد من الأنبياء، وهناك كلمات كفرية انتشرت بين الناس كمن يقول:  (… أو يا إبن الله …) وهناك الكثير من هذه الكلمات الكفرية شاعت بين الناس الذين لاعلم لهم في دين الله . فمن تلفظ بالكفر ولو كان مازحا لا يفيده وذلك استنادًا إلى قول الله تعالى:-( وَلَئِنْ سَأَلْتَهُمْ لَيَقُولُنَّ إِنَّمَا كُنَّا نَخُوضُ وَنَلْعَبُ قُلْ أَباللَّهِ وَآيَاتِهِ وَرَسُولِهِ كُنْتُمْ تَسْتَهْزِئُونَ *لاَ تَعْتَذِرُوا قَدْ كَفَرْتُمْ بَعْدَ إِيمَانِكُمْ):

 The first type of disbelief is the verbal disbelief: And this is (for example) reviling Allah the Exalted or reviling one of the Prophets, and in this case there are words of disbelief that are widespread among the people like the one who says: …or “O son of Allah”… and there are many words of disbelief in this that are widespread among the people who have no knowledge of the religion of Allah. So the one who says disbelief even if he is joking (this state of joking will not) benefit him (in that the ruling still applies to him), and such sayings are based on the saying of Allah the Exalted: “And if you ask them, they will say, .We were just chatting and having fun.. Say, Is it of Allah and His verses and His Messenger that you were making fun? Make no excuses. You became disbelievers (by mocking at Allah and His Messenger) after you had professed Faith.”[20]

 This is also evident from seeing a number of the correct narrations from the Prophet . We read:

عن أبي هريرة، قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ قال الله كذبني ابن آدم ولم يكن له ذلك، وشتمني ولم يكن له ذلك، أما تكذيبه إياى أن يقول إني لن أعيده كما بدأته، وأما شتمه إياى أن يقول اتخذ الله ولدا، وأنا الصمد الذي لم ألد ولم أولد ولم يكن لي كفؤا أحد 

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Allah said:– ‘The son of Adam tells a lie against Me and he hasn’t the right to do so; and he abuses me and he hasn’t the right to do so. His telling a lie against Me is his saying that I will not recreate him as I created him for the first time; and his abusing Me is his saying that Allah has begotten children, while I am the self-sufficient Master, Whom all creatures need, the one who begets not nor is begotten, and there is none like unto Me.”[21]

There are a number of additional things that people say and which show that they have said words of abuse towards Allah the Exalted. Combining this exposition of the Muslim faith with the very clear attribution of sons and children to Allah from the members of the Jewish religion, we would see that the utterances from the Jews are clearly disbelief regardless of the purported meaning behind them.

If the protestation is brought up one more time that the meaning of the term “son of God” or “our Father” was never thought of as being one of direct descent between man and his Lord, we would remind our opponents that the repetition of something which is widely associated with disbelief is itself disbelief, in much the same way that a widely known act of disbelief is a form of disbelief, even if the intention behind it is something other than disbelief and following a false religion. Even the online JewishEncyclopedia acknowledges the presence of false religions during the budding stages of Judaism which would routinely claim direct descent from “gods”, saying that there exists a “critical school” which:

… refers this conception to the notion commonly obtaining among primitive races, that tribes and families as well as peoples are descended from gods regarded by them as their physical progenitors; community of worship indicating community of origin, or adoption into the clan believed to be directly descended from the tutelary god through the blood covenant. Hence the reproach, “Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast begotten me” (Jer. ii. 27). Even in Deutero-Isaiah (li. 2) this notion is said to prevail (“Look unto Abraham your father,” in correspondence with verse 1: “the rock whence ye are hewn”).

That this view was deepened and spiritualized to signify a much sublimer relation between the gods and their physical descendants than that which the old Semitic conception assumed, the following passages demonstrate: “Surely they are my people, children that will not lie” (Isa. lxiii. 8). “In all their affliction he was afflicted” (ib. verse 9). “Thou art our father, for Abraham knows us not” (ib. verse 16, Hebr.). “Thou art our father; we are the clay” (ib. lxiv. 8). “Have we not all one father?” (Mal. ii. 10).[22]

From this it is very obvious then that around the Jewish peoples there were those who routinely said and held the belief that they were descended from their gods, and as such believed themselves to be descended from God. What Islam says is that even if it is claimed that this “relationship” was “stripped” of its anthropomorphic meanings, it is still an act of disbelief and a huge blasphemy to continue with this utterance, and those who continue making such statements have fallen into disbelief.

Issue #5: If uttering “children of God” and the like is disbelief, then why did `Isa (Alayhi Salaam) (Jesus) use such statements?

After seeing how phrases such as “son of Allah” or “children of God” are evaluated in Islamic teaching, it is natural for some people to raise the question that if Muslims accept Jesus (‘Isa (Alayhi Salaam)) and other Israelite prophets as being truly Prophets of Allah, then how can we reconcile our beliefs with the fact that these Prophets used the phrase “son of God”, “children of God” and other similar phrases on numerous occasions.

To this we say that our opponents must keep in mind how the correctness of any information is evaluated in Islam and how this relates to the certainty in establishing Islamic beliefs. Thus, the most correct of all information is the Qur’an and the mass-transmitted narrations from the Prophet Muhammad , followed by the widely narrated (but not mass-narrated) traditions from him, then followed by singularly reported narrations from him . The readers should note that in the last two cases, even if the chain of narrators for such traditions is correct, if one were to deny such narrations it would not lead to that person’s expulsion from Islam, and such a person will be considered as a transgressing and extremely sinful Muslim, but not a disbeliever.[23]

This is with respect to the narrations found in the primary sources of Islam. The readers can see that among the huge multitude of Islamic literature, only some of it is taken as unquestionable as far as the correctness of the text is concerned.

But when it comes to the primary sources of religions other than Islam, there is no way we can take such sources as primary evidence, or even know whether any of what is written therein is true.

Indeed, even our acceptance of Musa, ‘Isa, Dawud, Sulayman, Zakariya and all Prophets before Muhammad (Alayhima Salaam) as indeed being Prophets of Allah the Exalted is due solely because the unquestionable Islamic sources (such as the Qur’an) have informed us that such is the case. This is the same reason why Muslims are silent over whether other personalities, such as Buddha or Zoroaster, for example, were Prophets of Allah, since there is no direct textual evidence pointing us towards certainty in this regard, and it is improper for us to engage in intellectual guesswork over what may have been the case with personalities that are not mentioned in the primary Islamic sources.[24]

It should also be kept in mind that only those sayings from the previous Prophets which appear directly in the unquestionable Islamic sources are those that we take to have certainly been said by such Prophets. For example, the Qur’an says: 

وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِقَوْمِهِ يَا قَوْمِ لِمَ تُؤْذُونَنِي وَقَدْ تَعْلَمُونَ أَنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ

And (remember) when Musa said to his people, O my people, why do you hurt me, while you know that I am a messenger of Allah sent towards you (Quran 61:5)

So the Muslim can say with certainty that the words of Musa (Alayhi Salaam) presented in this case are correct and true, and we cannot be in doubt about this.

However, we cannot be certain about the exactness of any of the passages that occur only in the Jewish or Christian sources, even if they seem to be very close to the correct Islamic beliefs. Thus, the issue of whether the “Ten Commandments” were given to Musa (Alayhi Salaam) in the manner described in the Bible is not certain for the Muslim, because neither the Quran nor the other primary Islamic sources make any explicit and unquestionable claim that such was the case. We may say that there is a good chance that such was the case, given that the “Ten Commandments” call to things that are generally also stressed in Islam, but we cannot make any explicit statement about certainty in this regard.

The above is with respect to those regulations, commandments, and stories which seem to be very close to Islamic belief. However, when we come to the issue of a Prophet supposedly calling people “sons of God” or writing that certain people were the “children of God”, we have a different issue at hand, especially given the blasphemous nature of this saying in Islam. This is because many Islamic scholars hold that the saying ‘children of God’ was something grafted onto the religious vocabulary of the Jews and Christians from outside the sayings of their Prophets, and only later was it retroactively attributed to the Prophets. Considering the many changes that have occurred during the history of the Jewish and Christian scriptures, this is something that should be taken as a strong possibility.

Here we also need to consider the vastly different paradigms governing the views of Prophets in the Muslim tradition vis-à-vis the Judeo-Christian tradition. While Islam holds tightly to the view that Prophets were Ma’sum (divinely protected against committing sins), the Jews/Christians say that a Prophet receives revelations from God, while at the same time he may be indulging in sins and major errors[25].

When a religious nation as a whole take this slack attitude with respect to the integrity and scrupulousness of their Prophets, it is possible for us to imagine manipulations and false sayings being attributed to such great personalities, since there is not much attention paid to preserving their uprightness. If we see one of the Prophets being attributed with worshipping idols[26] – something both the Muslim and Judeo-Christian traditions see as being very evil and an action of disbelief- we can imagine such a nation attributing any other saying or action to their Prophets without fully considering the repercussions of such attributions. So from this analysis we can conclude that the alleged statements of Prophets such as ‘Isa (Alayhi Salaam) and other Prophets wherein they claimed that certain people were “sons of God” or that God was their “Father” cannot be taken as fact according to the Islamic religion, and thus the alleged discrepancies the Christians and Jews ask us about do not arise in the first place.

 Conclusion

In this work we have seen that the Qur’anic phrase “And the Jews say “’Uzayr is the son of Allah’” is not a false statement whatsoever. Considering how the emphasis in the Qur’an is placed on the saying of the Jews independent of what the belief behind it may have been, we see that ascribing sons to God was and is very common and acceptable in the Jewish religion, to the point that it is seen as a sign of great honor to be called the “firstborn son of God” and other similar titles of apparent praise. We have also seen that the Jewish religion considers every single human being to be a “son of God”. Thus, even if it were not mentioned explicitly in the Qur’an, the phrase “’Uzayr is the son of Allah” would be something that could easily be ascribed to the Jews, since it follows directly from their tenets of belief without the need for twisting the Jewish religion nor taking things out of context. 

We have also seen how sternly the Islamic religion handles the mere referring of someone as the “son of Allah”, and how this is seen as a major saying of blasphemy and disbelief regardless of the intention behind it, to the point that a Muslim would be considered as having left the Islamic religion even if he/she said this in a casual manner.

Getting all of these points together then, we see that the Verse under question lays down a crucial point of Islamic belief, namely that the imitation in words of the sayings of disbelief of the previous nations is disbelief and blasphemy in itself, since such a saying is intrinsically tied to a false religion, and can never be accepted as being part of the true Divine way. The fact that the Jewish people (in addition to the Christians) are being specifically mentioned is a way to highlight how unacceptable and blasphemous sayings had crept into the traditions which had been originally revealed by Allah to His Messengers. 

Finally, we hope and pray that our readers will look into the truth of the straight Islamic path, and realize that the Islamic religion is the only way of life acceptable to Allah, so that they may lead a good life in this world and have eternal bliss in the Hereafter. Amin.

 


[1] If someone were to say that any Jew who says this would face expulsion from Judaism, we say that as per the formal definition of ‘Who of is a Jew?’ prevalent in Orthodox Judaism, the matter of expulsion would not even arise, no matter what any Jew said or did. Also, below we will present evidences which show that Jews consider calling any person the ‘son of God’ as normal.

[2] A work such as “Aqidah of Tuan Guru” is a good starting point.

[3] Here we have to mention that Allah exists only with the characteristics and attributes that the Islamic religion expounds upon. We say that what other religions worship is not the “Divine Being” at all, but only a figment of their imagination, and that for all practical purposes they are atheists since they do not worship Allah, and in fact worship something that does not exist. This is said not as a way to insult others, but to point out the crucial fact that if the Self and Attributes of the Divine Being were as described in other religions, then God would never have existed, since the descriptions of the Divine in other religions are provably false.

[4] This final third point will be dealt with later on in this work.

[5] This last sentence will be seen in more detail later in the article, but for now it should be clear that merely saying that “so-and-so is the son of Allah” is disbelief according to the Qur’an.

[6] Tafsir Mafatih al-Ghayb of Imam Fakhrudeen ar-Razi, http://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=1&tTafsirNo=4&tSoraNo=9&tAyahNo=30&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=1 (accessed 27 February, 2012)

[7] Tafsir al-Jami’ li Ahkam al-Qur’an of Imam al-Qurtubi http://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=1&tTafsirNo=5&tSoraNo=9&tAyahNo=30&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=1 (accessed 27 February, 2012)

[8] Tafsir Mafatih al-Ghayb of Imam Fakhrudeen ar-Razi, http://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=1&tTafsirNo=4&tSoraNo=37&tAyahNo=11&tDisplay=yes&Page=2&Size=1&LanguageId=1 (accessed 27 February, 2012)

[20] Quran Verses 9:65-66. The Verse is talking about the hypocrites, but from the above discussion it is seen that every person who takes the matters of religion as a joke falls under the Verse.

[23] There are times when scholars may differ over whether a certain point of belief or practice is indeed mass-narrated or has reached the status of absolute consensus among the scholars of Islam; there is also the possibility that something which appears not to have reached the level of mass-transmission in text is corroborated by other evidence which elevates it to such a level, thus making it impossible for the Muslim to deny.

[24] We also have to mention that the issue of whether the Biblical “Moses” is indeed “Musa” as mentioned in the Quran (for example) is not entirely certain. However, most Muslim ‘Ulama would see that the closeness in name and the closeness in many of the stories given in the Bible and the Qur’an about them is strong speculative evidence that it is probably referring to the same person.

[25] This is then a conceptual difference in what a “Prophet” is, and this is why when confronted with the alleged major sins that Prophets such as David, Solomon, or Moses (Alayhima Salaam) have been ascribed to in the Bible, the Jews and Christians will not see anything strange in it, since they are working with a definition of “Prophethood” extremely different from the Islamic one. We should mention that the Muslims have scholastic responses to this Judeo-Christian view, but this article is not the place to present such proofs.

[26] As per what they ascribe to Sulayman (Solomon) (Alayhi Salaam).

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