Why are you a Muslim? (Part 2: The Message Challenge)
Can you believe in both the Bible and the Quran? Unfortunately, you cannot. The Bible and the Quran differ quite widely on fundamental concepts of faith and practice. Simply if you cannot prove that the Bible is corrupted, you have to accept it as divine, but if you do, sorry, you got to abandon Islam, both books don’t get along. One main aspect is the doctrinal beliefs, along with the historical narrations (Whom was Abraham going to offer as a sacrifice? Ishmael according to Quran (Quran 37:103), or Isaac according to the Torah (Genesis 22:2)?). Who is Christ? The Incarnate Son of God according to the Gospels (John 1:1) and Mighty God according to Tanakh (Isiah 9:6), or “just” a great prophet according to Islam? The founders of both religions lived very different lives.
The Numbers Game
Does the number of followers prove the validity of any religion, even if it is claimed to be the fastest growing religion? I don’t think so, here is why. If that is the case, then Christianity has the upper hand. Even though it’s the faith whose followers have and still do endure the genocide and martyrdom throughout the ages, statistically, it has the largest number of followers. It is even more popular in the Far East where none of the Middle Eastern religions originated. Hinduism has 1.1 billion followers; Chinese religions have 1 billion followers, Islam 1.6B while Christians are numbered 2.2 billion. The numeric difference between the number of followers of Christianity and that of Islam is greater than those between Hinduism and Islam. Hence, I do not really think Islam is really that influential worldwide. Popularity is not a measure of anything; bad leaders such as Hitler or Stalin have gained up popularity too. Does that make them divinely inspired? I definitely do not think so. If though I personally don’t believe it’s the fastest growing religion, statistics that claim so attribute the growth to natural birth rather than conversion; it’s typical to see a Muslim family with 10 kids.
I have only been discussing the validity of the prophecy, but how about the content of the prophecy itself? I will try not getting to the origin of the revelation as for whether it was an angel or not.
Please tell me: why Islam? Why another prophet? Why re-write and update the entire Holy Bible that has been written by ~40 holy writers (prophets, messengers, evangelists, saints…) over the period of 1500 years? Why the book that walks us through the steps of the people of God and shows us how God was dealing with His people until He has fully revealed Himself to us, is replaced by another, even concise redundant controversial version? It can’t really be that the old stuff are useless now, God doesn’t inspire stories to entertain people and make movies about the plots. What has Islam added to the elevation of the spirituality human soul that did not exist yet? Simply, what qualifies Islam to be the natural evolution of the Abrahamic religion, to supersede both Judaism and Christianity? Through the Old Testament, we see how God was taking care of Israel, turning them from a barbaric nation assimilated to the pagans around them, to people from which Virgin Mary was born, and bore unto us our Lord Jesus Christ.
Did it come to readdress the idea of God? Was it cause the deity of Christ and the Trinity were confusing? (as you most probably were taught by the sheikhs that Christians believe in 3 gods, which is entirely false), I don’t think so, Judaism has already emphasized the Oneness of God (Christians do too by the way) with the same simple terms used in Islam (OT: Deuteronomy 6:4, NT: Mark 12:29) . So no, Islam has not readdressed the idea of God.
Maybe the idea of God got lost through tradition. God forbid! Is it not a bit hard to realize that the All-Mighty God can get himself, his words, traditions, and teachings lost by men? God does not leave himself without a witness, for He loves us, and created us to share that love with us; for
God desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).
Even according to the Quran, Allah created humans for the purpose of worshipping him, so He would care that they know about him at all time, where it says “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Az Zariyat 56). Hypothetically, if God would ever need to correct the current books or teachings, he would have constantly and frequently updated it, not waiting for 600 years until a new prophet comes for the update; I think he would care about those people living in that half millennium that they would follow him rightly. You may think that Jesus’ message was not corrupted right away but after a couple of decades or centuries, but history tells us otherwise. We have tons of manuscripts from the early church fathers all the way from the first century writing about the faith, which is the Apostolic faith that is manifested in the Orthodox Church of God. Also, if that was the case, how can I trust that the Quran that we have now is not corrupted. For the Holy Bible, including Old and New Testaments are written by great prophets who have done great things such as crossing the Red Sea, or Christ, that great man who was born of the Virgin, healed the lame and raised people from death. How can the message of those people be lost or corrupted in less than 500 years, while you believe Mohamed’s message is the same for the past 1400 years. You might think cause Allah said that he would protect the Quran, but the same claim is found in Christianity
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)
The point is: believing that a form the monotheistic religion correcting the previous religion means that some men were mightier than God that they hid His light from the rest of His creation, and that it is hard to trust that Islam has managed to keep the true message over centuries, cause it seems that losing the holy words of God is a common thing that happens throughout the ages. Take a second to realize that there are 124000 prophets over the course of 3000 years according to Islam; claiming that they all failed and only Mohammed’s message is the only one that lasted that long is a bold claim. How much of a god would that be, who failed all those people until the seal of prophets comes once for all? Just a side note, Christianity by no means came to correct Judaism, for Christ Himself said:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:7)
and nothing else after him needs to be fulfilled for He said:
“For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about Me is reaching its fulfillment.”(Luke 22:37)
and on the Cross:
“When Jesus, therefore, had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished” (John 19:30).
Islam may have possibly come to fix the practices and the spirituality distorted by Christians; but in contrary, in contrast with the Christian teachings, Islamic teachings tend to be more carnal, satisfying the earthly desires. Consider the main pillars of Islam and how Christians have always practiced them from the dawn of Judaism up until today: Christians have the personal 7 daily prayers, analogous with Islamic 5 daily prayers (look up prayers of the hours, or Agpeya), besides all the praises, vigils and liturgies that can keep them at church most of the day for most days. Christians do fast about 2/3 of the year, or roughly about 210 days per year (most probably they’re fasting right now), caring about elevating their spirit, rather than just observing such “an amazing blessing of fasting” for only once a year. Christians do give alms, for they tithe, giving at least one tenth of the income to God/church/charity; and the list goes on of the practices that Christians do. More importantly, their care goes towards their spiritual needs above all other needs. For Christ and his teachings have elevated the human soul to be a spiritual being, sharing in the work of the Angels in praising and beholding God, partaking in his divine nature. They’re not looking up for heaven to get 72 virgins, but rather to eternally live and enjoy the presence of the Loving God, whom we call Father. Spirituality comes in their unconditional love for others, turning the cheek, forgiving and blessing the enemies and persecutors, not going eye for an eye or tooth for a tooth, but to render good to who commits evil unto them. Christ has given us Himself as an example being “gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29) in his teachings in the Mount Sermon, the Pearl of the Christians doctrines. He Himself has forgiven those who plotted to kill Him (Luke 23:34). When a woman caught in adultery was handed to Him by the Jews to judge her, He forgave her, set her free and commanded her to sin no more (John 8:1–11) rather than watching her being stoned to death (Sahih Muslim 17:4209). If you ponder about the life of Jesus as documented to us in the Gospels, He walked as a perfect man after whom you need NO correction. So where does Islamic claim that it is the natural evolution of Christianity stands now? Any Christian can open the Jewish books and find all the Messianic prophecies about Christ, can Muslims do that in the Christian or Jewish books? I think we agreed that you can’t.