From the Archives: Jesus(as) – Prophet of God – Final PartNo Comments | May 2011
Continued from the last edition, final part of the address by Sir Muhammad Zafrulla Khan(ra) at the first ‘International Conference on the Deliverance of Jesus Christ from the Cross’ which was held on 2nd, 3rd and 4th June, 1978, at the Commonwealth Institute, London. Sir Zafrulla Khan(ra) (1893-1985) was a Companion of the Promised Messiah(as), eminent scholar of the Ahmadiyya community and a prolific writer and orator. He was the first Foreign Minister of Pakistan, President of the United Nations General Assembly and President of the International Court of Justice at the Hague.
Equality in Trinity
Assuming that there had been complete equality between the three persons of the Trinity in every respect, status, knowledge, power and all the other attributes of the Divine, this would only have led to confusion and conflict of the type of which we read in the mythologies of certain creeds, for the situation would present an insoluble dilemma. If one of them had authority to control others, that would mean the subordination of the others to him, and thus equality would be negated.
If there were no control there would be conflict. If there were complete identity of wills between all three and of everything else, there would be redundance. As the Qur’an has said:
If there had been in the heavens and the earth other gods beside God then surely both would have gone to ruin. Then glorified be God, the Lord or the Throne, above that which they ascribe to Him. He cannot be questioned concerning what He does, but they will be questioned. (Ch.21:V.23-24)
Jesus(as) called the attention of his opponents to the fact that Moses(as) had prophesied about his coming. He said:
For had ye believed Moses ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? (John 5:46-47)
It is claimed that there are several prophecies in the Torah and other books of the Bible concerning the advent of Jesus(as), and that the Jews were awaiting the advent of the Messiah when Jesus(as) began his ministry. It is those prophecies to which Jesus(as) was seeking to draw their attention when he referred to the writings of Moses(as). What is significant for our present purpose is that all those prophecies referred to the advent of a prophet, and not to the advent of God in the capacity of the second person of Trinity.
The truth of the matter is that Jesus(as) was the last prophet in Israel, a believer in Moses(as), and all the prophets of Israel who followed after Moses(as). He was bound by the Mosaic law and adhered to it. It is true that he often set forth its true import in contrast with its letter, but that was the exercise of his prophetic function. He did not mean and had no authority to abrogate the Mosaic law or any part of it. This he made quite clear in his emphatic declaration:
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I did not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, not one letter, not a dot, will disappear from the law until all that must happen has happened. Anyone therefore, who sets aside even the least of the law’s demands and teaches others to do the same, he shall be called the least in the Kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:17-19)
That is why Jesus(as) told the one who asked what good thing he should do that he may be granted eternal life, to keep the commandment; by which he clearly meant the commandments of the Mosaic law.
Prophet to the Children of Israel
His ministry as a prophet was confined to the children of Israel. He was the heir to the throne of David(as) and was to reign over the house of Jacob(as) (Luke 1: 32- 33 ). His own concept of the character of his ministry was clearly manifested in the following incident:
Behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts and cried unto him, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.” But he answered her not a word, and his disciples came and besought him, saying, “Send her away; for she crieth after us.” But he answered and said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Then came she and worshipped him, saying, “Lord, help me.” But he answered and said,“it is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to dogs.” And she said; “Truth, Lord: Yet the dogs eat out of the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus answered and said unto her, “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” And her daughter was made whole from that very hour. (Matt. 15:22-28)
This account sets forth clearly and positively that Jesus(as) was a messenger of God, sent unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and that the scope of his ministry did not extend beyond the children of Israel. The woman of Canaan is said to have worshipped him at one stage, but her worship amounted to no more than an entreaty for help, so that the expression ‘worshipped’ has been used instead of beseeched.
The verse could well have run: Then came she and prayed him to help her. Be that as it may, the manifestation on her part of extreme reverence for Jesus(as) did not invest Jesus(as) with divinity, and his response to her entreaty was even more emphatic than his first response, exhibiting an extreme degree of contempt for Gentiles. He did not consider it fitting to take the children’s bread, and cast it to dogs. The contempt apart, it leaves no room for speculating that his mission as a messenger could have included within its scope anyone outside the house of Israel. His yielding to her entreaties in the end was no indication that he had misunderstood the scope of his mission, and that now he had a better understanding of its extent. It meant only that he had been moved to compassion by the depth and sincerity of her faith in him. His mission was a benevolent one, and even if a non-Israelite believed in him sincerely, it would do him no harm, and nothing but good could proceed from it.
It is said that on another occasion he exhorted his disciples to carry his message into all the towns and villages and to all the people. However, there is nothing to indicate that by mentioning all the towns, villages and people, he meant anything more than all the towns and villages of Israel, and the whole of the Jewish people.
He clearly directed his disciples to that effect, as would appear from:
These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them saying, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.“ (Matt. 10:5-6)
Trinity – a Myth
Thus, the concept of Trinity finds no support from anything that Jesus(as) is reported to have said. It is a concept which bewilders reason, offends conscience, and affronts Divine Majesty. It is utterly inconsistent with the concept of Godhead.
A body of distinguished Anglican theologians have described it as a myth:
‘A story which is told but which is not literally true or an idea or an image which is applied to someone or something but which does not literally apply, but which invites a particular attribute in its hearer… that Jesus was God, the Son Incarnate, is not literally true, since it has no literal meaning, but it is an application to Jesus of a mystical concept whose function is analogous to that of the notion of divine sonship, ascribed in the ancient world to a king.’ (The Myth of God Incarnate, preface, p.ix)
The writers of this book are convinced that another major theological development is called for in this last part of the twentieth century. The need arises from growing knowledge of Christian origins, and involves a recognition that Jesus(as) was (as he is presented in Acts 2:22) ‘A man approved by God’ for a special role within the Divine purpose, and that the later concept of him as God Incarnate, the second person of the Trinity, living in human life, is a mythological or poetic way of expressing his significance for us. This recognition is called for in the interest of truth; but it also has increasingly important practical implications for our relationship to the people of the other great world religions. (Ibid, p. 178)
The Holy Qur’an
God is not subject to contingencies of birth and death. He is Ever-living and neither begets, nor is begotten. The Qur’an sets forth a true concept of Him which does not in any way diminish, confine, or limit Him. The Qur’an utterly and emphatically rejects the concept of Trinity. For instance:
He is God, the One; God the Self-Existing and Besought of all. He begets not, nor is He begotten; and there is none like unto Him. (Ch.112:Vs.2-5)
Put thy trust in the One Who is Ever-living and is the source of life, Who dies not, and glorify Him with His praise… (Ch.25:V.59)
They allege: The Gracious One has taken unto Himself a son. Assuredly, you have uttered a monstrous thing! The heavens might well nigh burst thereat, and the earth cleave asunder, and the mountains fall down in pieces, because they ascribe a son to the Gracious One; whereas it becomes not the Gracious One to take unto Himself a son. There is no one in the heaven and earth but he shall come to the Gracious One as a bondman. (Ch.19:Vs.89-94)
All praise belongs to God, Who has sent down the Book to His servant, free from all distortion, full of truth and guidance, that it may give warning of a grievous chastisement proceeding from Him, and that it may give the believers who work righteousness the glad tidings that they shall have a good reward which they shall enjoy forever. And that it may warn those who say: God has taken unto Himself a son. They have no knowledge whatever concerning it, nor had their fathers. Grievous is the assertion that they make. They only utter a falsehood. (Ch.18:Vs.2-6)
We sent no Messenger before thee but We directed him: There is no God but I; so worship Me alone. But they say: ‘The Gracious One has taken to Himself a son.’ Holy is He. Those whom they so designate are only His honoured servants. They utter not a word more than He directs, and they only carry out His commands. He knows what lies ahead of them and what is left behind them, and they intercede not except only he whose intercession He permits, and they tremble with fear of Him. Whosoever of them should say: I am a god beside Him; We shall requite him with hell. Thus do We requite the wrongdoers. (Ch.21:Vs.26-30)
Keep in mind when God will ask Jesus, son of Mary: Didst thou say to the people: Take me and my mother for two Gods besides Allah? And he will answer: Holy art Thou. It behoves me not to have said that to which I have no right. Had I said it, Thou wouldst surely have known it. Thou knowest what is in my mind and I know not what is in Thy mind. It is only Thou who possessest full knowledge of all that is hidden. I said naught to them except that which Thou didst command me, that is: Worship God, my Lord and your Lord. I watched over them as long as I was present among them, but since Thou causest me to die, Thou hast been the One to watch over them. Indeed Thou dost watch over all things. If Thou decide to punish them they are Thy servants; and If Thou forgive them, then surely Thou art the Mighty, Wise. (Ch.5:Vs.117-119)
People of the Book! Exceed not the bounds in the matter of your religion, and say not of God anything but the truth. Indeed, the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was but a Messenger of God and the fulfilment of glad tidings which He conveyed to Mary and a mercy from Him. So believe in God and His Messengers and say not: There are three gods. Desist; it will be the better for you. Indeed, God is only One God. His Holiness brooks not that He should have a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. Sufficient is God as a Guardian. Surely, the Messiah would never disdain to be accounted a servant of God, nor would the angels who are close to God. Those who disdain to worship Him and consider themselves above it will He gather all together before Himself. (Ch.4:Vs.172-173)
Those certainly are disbelievers who say: God is none but the Messiah, son of Mary: whereas the Messiah himself taught: Children of Israel, worship God Who is my Lord and your Lord. Surely God has forbidden heaven to him who associates partners with God, and the fire will be his resort. The wrongdoers shall have no helpers. Those certainly are disbelievers who say: God is the third of the three. There is no one worthy of worship but the One God. If they desist not from that which they say, a grievous chastisement shall surely afflict those of them that disbelieve. Will they not then turn to God and beg His forgiveness, seeing that God is Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful? (Ch.5:Vs.73-75)
The Messiah, son of Mary, was only a Messenger; many Messengers have passed away before him. His mother was a paragon of truth and they both were in need of and ate food. Observe how We explain the signs for their benefit, then observe how they are led away. Ask them: Do you worship beside God that which has no power to do you harm or good? It is God Who is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. Admonish them: People of the Book, exceed not the bounds in the matter of your religion unjustly, nor follow the vain desires of a people who themselves went astray before and caused many others to go astray, and who strayed away from the right path. (Ch.5:Vs.76-78)
The subject of God and His attributes, through which alone a true concept of Him may be formed, is vast and limitless. The Qur’an sets forth a wealth of instruction concerning divine attributes and their operation. It is not necessary for our present purpose to embark upon a detailed discussion of the subject. By way of illustration, however, attention might be drawn to the following passage which should be studied and pondered with great care:
God is He besides Whom there is no god, the Knower of the unseen and the seen. He is the Gracious, the Merciful. He is God and there is no God beside Him, the Sovereign, the Most Holy, the Source of Peace, the Bestower of Security, the Protector, the Mighty, the Subduer, the Exalted; Holy is God far above that which they associate with Him. He is God, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner: His are the most beautiful names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Him. He is Mighty, the Wise. (Ch.59:Vs.23-25)
Man is desirous of righteous progeny to help him in his old age, to carry on his name and that of his family after his death, and to bring him posthumous honour. God is Ever-living, Self-subsisting and Self-sustaining. All that is in heavens and earth belongs to Him, obeys Him and glorifies Him. What need has He of a son? What can a son do for Him that He cannot do Himself? To attribute a son to Him, as a partner in the Godhead, would be to offer the gravest affront to Him.