On 17 April 2021, Uthaya Sankar criticized Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) for restricting the word “Tuhan” to Islamic usage. He observes that for DBP, “Tuhan” seems to refer exclusively to Allah, whereas “tuhan” refers to “something worshipped by people whose religion or belief is not based on the One God” (“sesuatu yang dipuja oleh golongan manusia yang agama atau kepercayaan mereka tidak berasaskan kepercayaan kepada Tuhan Yang Esa”). [Re: Apart from Allah, why is the word “Tuhan” exclusive for Muslims too?]
Author: Ungaran Rashid Publisher: IIUM Press, 2021. ISBN 9789674910945 No. of pages: 128 Price: RM 45.00
[This book is a revised version a thesis in fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Heritage (Uṣūl al-Dīn and Comparative Religion) at International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur].
Muslim scholars’ critique of the Christian teaching of the deity of Christ would be more credible if it engages with the origin of divine Christology in its historical context rather than relies on dogmatic assertions of Islamic doctrine. As such, this book is a commendable attempt by a Muslim scholar to engage with Christian scholarship based on historical criticism of primary sources and critical analysis of concepts of Christology.
For Christians, “Son of God” describes the filial relationship between Jesus Christ and God the Father. However, Muslims reject the Christian understanding and assert that “He (Allah) begot no one nor was He begotten” (Sura 112 – Abdel Haleem translation). Dr. Ungaran Rashid, assistant professor at International Islamic University, Malaysia, argues that the way to resolve this conflict of interpretation is to examine the term “Son of God” from the main source, which is Jewish Scriptures (Ungaran’s term for the Old Testament). Continue reading “The Meaning of “Son of God”: A Muslim Critique – Christology Part 1″
While reading Meredah Kabus (2021), an anthology of Bahasa Malaysia short stories published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP), Uthaya Sankar notices that “every time a non-Malay (non-Muslim) mentions “Tuhan” (God), it is printed as “tuhan” (god).”
YB Nik Zawawi’s retraction does not amount to an apology. He is merely offering to substitute an emotive word (terpesong) with a more descriptive word (ubah suai). He explains that he was referring to the ‘original kitab injil’ which was revealed to Jesus without any changes” (kitab injil asal yang diturunkan kepada Allah nabi Isa tanpa sebagai perubahan). He is reiterating the Muslim claim that Jesus was given an ‘original kitab injil’ which is different from the four present gospels and that this supposed ‘original kitab injil’ has been lost.
Assuming for the sake of argument that Nik Zawawi’s claim is true, the consequence is that Muslims, including Nik Zawawi are in principle unable to produce a copy of this missing ‘original kitab injil’. Since Nik Zawawi has no access to a copy of this so-called ‘original kitab injil’, one wonders how Nik Zawawi is able to declare that it prohibits the consumption of alcohol. His inability to produce a chapter and verse from the ‘original kitab injil’ to support his declaration shows that it is fabricated without any historical foundation. Continue reading “A Christian Response to YB Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh”
I. Al-Ghazali’s Erroneous Understanding of the Incarnation.
Al-Ghazali’s understanding of the incarnation is derived from the Egyptian Jacobites who believed that the incarnate Christ comprises a mixture of divine nature and human nature:
God created the humanity of Jesus, on him be peace, then he appeared in it, and united with it. They mean by the union that a connection occurred between him and it like the connective relationship between the soul and the body. Then with this connective relationship, a third reality occurred, different from each of the two realities, composed of divinity and humanity, and having the attributes of all that is required from each of them, with respect to him being God and man. [Al-Radd, pp. 127, 129]
The Jacobites represented the more extreme wing of monophysitism [from monos (single) and physis (nature)] followed Eutyches who taught that either the two natures of Christ must have been fused into a tertium quid [(a third thing that is indefinite and undefined but is related to two definite or known things] or that the humanity must have been swallowed up by the divinity. [J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrine 5ed. (A & C Black, 1977), p. 333] God created the humanity of Jesus and then united with it in such a way that the third reality which results from this connection shares all the attributes of divinity and humanity. Continue reading “Answering al-Ghazali Refutation of Jesus’ Divinity Part 4. The Coherence of the Incarnation”
Jesus prays to the Father in John 17:5, “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” This verse testifies that Jesus shared the glory of God in his preexistence. However, al-Ghazali explains away the explicit teaching of the verse by imposing an unprecedented meaning to the word “glory”. He asserts that “the factual meaning is not intended, because in the fullness of the glory that was given to him is prophethood and messengership, and what entails from them in rank, the ascent to heaven, and his power to perform unprecedented miracles.” [Al-Radd, p.111]
Based on his Islamic presuppositions, Al-Ghazali rhetorically asserts that intelligent people would agree that there is an absolute ontological dichotomy between the Father and Christ, “Is it possible that divinity be bestowed when the impossibility of this is a matter upon which intelligent people have unanimously agreed?” However, he does not explain why the divinity of Christ is an “impossibility.” Neither does he offer any evidence to support his claim that it is “a matter upon which intelligent people have unanimously agreed?” His argument is merely an exercise in rationalizing away the plain meaning of the text and aligning them with the premise that the divinity of Christ is an impossibility.
Jesus claims to be divine when he declares publicly to the Jews, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) However, al-Ghazali insists that the statement should be understood metaphorically rather than as literally. For him, Jesus’ prophetic mission was to show people the true God and to worship him alone. A literal interpretation of John 10:30 must be rejected as this would entail Jesus calling people to worship him instead of the true God. Jesus’ oneness with God describes his obedience which enables him to receives power from God to discharge his mission. Continue reading “Answering Al-Ghazali Refutation of Jesus’ Divinity. Part 2. Arbitrary Metaphorical Interpretation.”
A. False Premises Distort the Reading of the Gospels
Unlike Muslim polemists who reject out of hand the divinity of Christ without examining the biblical evidence, Al-Ghazali mounts a critique of the divinity of Christ based on his reading of the gospels. However, the ineptitude displayed by al-Ghazali in his handling of the biblical texts seriously undermines his critique.
We look at school children with kind indulgence even when they repeat their mistakes in their class assignments. However, we are dumbfounded when a great thinker like al-Ghazali, whose mastery of philosophy is indisputable, commits glaring mistakes in his analysis of the gospels which are written in lingua franca (koine Greek) to be read daily by ordinary people. Somehow he ends up devising contorted metaphorical readings when the simple meaning is in plain sight.
[This summary of Al-Ghazali’s, A Fitting Refutation of the Divinity of Jesus (Al-Radd al-Jamil) marks the beginning of a series of responses to Muslim polemics against Christianity written by classical Muslim philosophers like Al-Ghazali, Ibn Tamiyya, and Abu Isa al-Warraq]
Historically, the Islamic view of the Bible has been one of ambivalence. On the hand the Quran affirms that the Torah is a word of God and that the Zabur (Psalms) was given to David. While the Quran is silent about the four gospels, it assumes that there is one Injil that was given through Jesus, “He will teach him the Scripture and wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel.” (Surah 3:48). On the other hand, the Quran accuses Christians and Jews of being guilty of having distorted and altered Scriptures (tahrif).
Link to Dawah video: Debunking Christianity in 5 Minutes by Abdur-Raheem Green, Zakir Naik and Shabir Ally. The title suggests that Christians should be cowering in fear when they are confronted with a video which features how three prominent dawah polemists debunk Christianity in 5 minutes. However, their criticism fails as it is based on … Continue reading “Debunking Christianity in 5 minutes? Debunking the Debunkers”
Link to Dawah video: Debunking Christianity in 5 Minutes by Abdur-Raheem Green, Zakir Naik and Shabir Ally.
The title suggests that Christians should be cowering in fear when they are confronted with a video which features how three prominent dawah polemists debunk Christianity in 5 minutes. However, their criticism fails as it is based on weak logical argument and misplaced attacks on caricatures of Christianity. The confidence of these ‘debunkers’ may mask their ignorance of the rudiments of the Christian understanding of the Incarnation. But their reliance on rhetoric and logical fallacies are easily exposed: Continue reading “Debunking Christianity in 5 minutes? Debunking the Debunkers”