A Christian Response to YB Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh

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”

Answering al-Ghazali Refutation of Jesus’ Divinity Part 4. The Coherence of the Incarnation

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”

Answering Al-Ghazali Refutation of Jesus’ Divinity Part 3. Biblical Evidence for the Divinity of Christ.

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.

Al-Ghazali’s abuse of the meaning of the word “glory” reminds me of the enigmatic conversation between Alice and Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s book, Through the Looking Glass. Continue reading “Answering Al-Ghazali Refutation of Jesus’ Divinity Part 3. Biblical Evidence for the Divinity of Christ.”

Answering Al-Ghazali Refutation of Jesus’ Divinity. Part 2. Arbitrary Metaphorical Interpretation.

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.”

Answering Al-Ghazali Refutation of Jesus’ Divinity. Part 1: Evasion in the Name of Metaphor

 

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.

How could a great thinker like al-Ghazali’s  stumble in his handling of basic biblical texts? Continue reading “Answering Al-Ghazali Refutation of Jesus’ Divinity. Part 1: Evasion in the Name of Metaphor”

A Fitting Refutation of the Divinity of Jesus (Al-Radd al-Jamil) by Al-Ghazali. Part 1

[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).

Some Jews distort the meaning of [revealed] words: they say, ‘We hear and disobey,’ and ‘Listen,’ [adding the insult] ‘May you not hear,’ and ‘Ra ina [Look at us],’twisting it abusively with their tongues so as to disparage religion. If they had said, ‘We hear and obey,’ ‘Listen,’ and ‘Unzurna [Look at us],’ that would have been better and more proper for them. (Surah 4:46. Abdel Haleem translation). Continue reading “A Fitting Refutation of the Divinity of Jesus (Al-Radd al-Jamil) by Al-Ghazali. Part 1”

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 … 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”

Muslims Following Jesus? But Which Jesus?

Recently, some Muslims were seen wearing T-shirts bearing an eye-catching caption, “I am a Muslim and I follow Jesus. Ask me why?” There were engaging street dawah near Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. To make good their claim, they handed out Qurans as well as the book, Jesus: Man, Messenger, Messiah written by Abu Zakariya. … Continue reading “Muslims Following Jesus? But Which Jesus?”

Recently, some Muslims were seen wearing T-shirts bearing an eye-catching caption, “I am a Muslim and I follow Jesus. Ask me why?” There were engaging street dawah near Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. To make good their claim, they handed out Qurans as well as the book, Jesus: Man, Messenger, Messiah written by Abu Zakariya.

The book is published by IERA (Islamic Education and Research Academy, UK), an Islamic dawah group founded by Abdur Raheem Green. This street dawah is part of their missionary initiative which included an exhibition, “Jesus – Son of Mary Exhibition held on 26 Feb 2018 at the  Selangor Golf Club, Petaling Jaya. Continue reading “Muslims Following Jesus? But Which Jesus?”

DBP Translating the Malay Bible? CLJ Needs to Get the Historical Facts Right!

*This article was published originally in The Malaysian Insight (25/11/2017): Translating the Malay Bible: CLJ Needs to Get the Historical Facts Right! Image Above: Ruyls-Dutch-Malay-Bible 17C Image Above: Gospel of John Shellabear Bible Originally Printed 1912 (Image from 1949 reprint) Recently, Concerned Lawyers for Justice (CLJ) argued that the Christian community should work closely with … Continue reading “DBP Translating the Malay Bible? CLJ Needs to Get the Historical Facts Right!”

*This article was published originally in The Malaysian Insight (25/11/2017): Translating the Malay Bible: CLJ Needs to Get the Historical Facts Right!

Image Above: Ruyls-Dutch-Malay-Bible 17C

Image Above: Gospel of John Shellabear Bible Originally Printed 1912 (Image from 1949 reprint)

Recently, Concerned Lawyers for Justice (CLJ) argued that the Christian community should work closely with Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka (DBP) to correct purported errors in the current translation of the Malay Bible. Suggestions to improve existing translations of the Bible is in line with the ethos of the Christian enterprise of Bible translation which is an ongoing exercise undertaken by Bible societies all over the world.

However, CLJ’s proposal to allow DBP to prepare an authoritative translation of the Malay Bible is unacceptable. The reason is because given the terms and conditions for DBP’s involvement, the proposal amounts to an illegitimate restriction of religious freedom and infringement of the autonomy of the institutions of the Christian community. It is a violation of the integrity of Christian faith as it will lead to an imposition of Islamic religious beliefs on its sacred Bible. Continue reading “DBP Translating the Malay Bible? CLJ Needs to Get the Historical Facts Right!”

FAQ on Muslim Questions – Christian Answers (Updated)

  “Come now, Let us reason together, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 1:18). Muslim polemical literature against Christianity is readily available in bookstores around Malaysia. Their polemics gain media attention when institutions of higher learning organize forums to perpetuate false information about Christianity. For example, in 2014, the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Shah Alam, organized a … Continue reading “FAQ on Muslim Questions – Christian Answers (Updated)”

 

“Come now, Let us reason together, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 1:18).

Muslim polemical literature against Christianity is readily available in bookstores around Malaysia. Their polemics gain media attention when institutions of higher learning organize forums to perpetuate false information about Christianity. For example, in 2014, the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Shah Alam, organized a seminar on “Seminar Kalimah Allah & Kristology Nusantara (“The Word ‘Allah’ and Christology in the Malay Archipelago”), purportedly “to defend the dignity of Muslims in the country and also to give them an understanding as they are being confused by this issue.”
-“UiTM Warns Students About The Threat Of Christianity In “Allah And Christology” Seminar
-Gospels are ‘Fake’ as Jesus was ‘Human Slave to Allah’, Don Claims [The Malaymailonline 6 May 2014]
-Books Warning Muslims About ‘Christian Agenda’ Distributed at Allah Forum in University

Several seminar speakers were reported to have mocked at Christianity as they posed rhetorical questions that suggest the grounds for Christian beliefs are fundamentally flawed. For example, in a forum “Christianisation vs Islamization”, the speakers answered pre-prepared questions that included “Did Jesus really die on the cross for the forgiveness of sins?”, “What is the Trinity?”, “Why did Jesus cry ‘Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani’ (Aramaic for “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”) while on the cross?”

Another speaker claimed that the parts of the Bible based on his teachings should simply be called “Tales of Jesus” instead of the “Gospel”. The books in the Bible were written by Christ’s disciples such as Matthew, Mark, and Luke were considered hearsay and similarly should not be considered the Word of God. The so-called gospel is only Jesus’ words, speech, hence should not be called gospel. He asserted, “The Christian gospel is a fake gospel.”

These speakers were trying to confuse Christians with fabricated lies. Instead of clarifying confusion among Muslims, they were promoting prejudice among Muslims against Christianity. Christians are justified if they feel offended. However, they are mindful of the divine exhortation given in their Holy Book on how to respond peaceably to faultfinders, “Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:14-15).

Instead of reacting to these Muslim polemicists, Christians are more interested in reaching out to other Muslims who are sincere when they raise questions about Christianity as these Muslims genuinely believe in constructive dialog. To these sincere Muslims we would like to offer “FAQ: Muslim Questions – Christian Answers” as a modest contribution to promote interfaith understanding. Hopefully, the two FAQs given below will assure Muslim inquirers of the intellectual integrity and peaceful intentions of the Christian community.

Continue reading “FAQ on Muslim Questions – Christian Answers (Updated)”