Quran Read-A-Long: Al-‘Imran 55-63 Insists on Jesus’ Humanity, Not His Divinity

Verse 55 is interesting for the different ways it would be interpreted by whomever is reading it. For instance, Christians would read this and assume that it is an outright praise of their religion and a guarantee that they are going to heaven. Why? Because it says that those who follow Jesus are placed above denying the truth. However, Muslims would read this and understand that Jesus was not the son of God and so Christians who believed in such things (taken a step further, the Trinity) would be wrong in their beliefs. Though I suppose the verse doesn’t really guarantee much other than a place above those who deny the truth (disbelievers?) – and honestly, is being above disbelievers really anything to be thrilled about? That just means that you’re not a disbeliever. Hmm. This is an interesting verse but I don’t think I’ve really cracked what it has to offer. What do you think?

I like the affirmation of the value of good works in verse 57. I’ve always found that to be a very important concept – as opposed to say faith or especially grace – because it is good works that make the world go round, no matter your religion, beliefs or anything else. We’re all people and we all deserve each others’ help and respect.

Boy are verses 58-60 the ultimate renunciation of a central Christian creed: namely, that Jesus is not human (at least not human only) but actually God. The Quran is making a real point of denying Christian beliefs about Jesus because Islam is monotheistic in the true sense of the word; Muslims cannot accept (reasonably so) the notion that Jesus – whom Islam considers a prophet like the others – is actually God . . . and simultaneously the son of God. NO! The Quran makes clear in three verses: Jesus was like Adam – human and from dust.

Verse 61 proposes an interesting way of resolving the dispute about Jesus’ divinity: get everybody together and then pray for a curse on whomever is wrong. Asad writes this about the actual confrontation regarding this verse:

“According to all the reliable authorities, verses 59-63 of this surah were revealed in the year 10 H., on the occasion of a dispute between the Prophet and a deputation of the Christians of Najran who, like all other Christians, maintained that Jesus was “the son of God” and, therefore, God incarnate. Although they refused the “trial through prayer” (mubahalah) proposed to them by the Prophet, the latter accorded to them a treaty guaranteeing all their civic rights and the free exercise of their religion.”

What do you think about these verses? Can you help me illuminate some of their meaning better?

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Al-’Imran 55-63

55. Lo! God said: “O Jesus! Verily, I shall cause thee to die, and shall exalt thee unto Me, and cleanse thee of [the presence of] those who are bent on denying the truth; and I shall place those who follow thee [far] above those who are bent on denying the truth, unto the Day of Resurrection. In the end, unto Me you all must return, and I shall judge between you with regard to all on which you were wont to differ. 56. “And as for those who are bent on denying the truth, I shall cause them to suffer a suffering severe in this world and in the life to come, and they shall have none to succour them; 57. whereas unto those who attain to faith and do good works He will grant their reward in full: for God does not love evildoers.” 58. THIS MESSAGE do We convey unto thee, and this tiding full of wisdom: 59. Verily, in the sight of God, the nature of Jesus is as the nature of Adam, whom He created out of dust and then said unto him, “Be” – and he is. 60 [This is] the truth from thy Sustainer; be not, then, among the doubters! 61. And if anyone should argue with thee about this [truth] after all the knowledge that has come unto thee, say: “Come! Let us summon our sons and your sons, and our women and your women, and ourselves and yourselves; and then let us pray [together] humbly and ardently, and let us invoke God’s curse upon those [of us] who are telling a lie.” 62. Behold, this is indeed the truth of the matter, and there is no deity whatever save God; and, verily, God – He alone – is almighty, truly wise. 63 And if they turn away [from this truth] – behold, God has full knowledge of the spreaders of corruption.

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2 Responses

  1. verse 55–different interpretations—All Prophets brought the “truth” which is that there is no God but God—the same message that the Quran (verse 62)also teaches. Therefore, those who believe this truth are also the followers of the message brought by the Prophets–including the message of Prophet Jesus (pbuh)—thus, we could say that muslims are followers of Prophet Jesus(pbuh), as well as Prophet Moses(pbuh), Prophet Abraham(pbuh) and all the other Prophets.
    —“and I shall place those who follow thee [far] above those who are bent on denying the truth, …” Those who have been given the blessings of revelation(truth) also have the responsibility of understanding and following it.
    If a revelation(truth) has become corrupted–how does one understand its truth?—by using our intellectual abilities to study, research and reason. If we anthropomorphize God, by assuming he is a “male” (father) and then creating a “family” for “him”—we have failed misreably in our understanding of God.

    Belief/disbelief–there is a big difference spiritually.—When we are open to spirituality or religion, we strive for “goodness” within us and around us. Such striving can strengthen our spirituality further—but those who reject this path because of the desire for excessive self-gratification /egoism move further away from spirituality. However, God is compassionate and merciful—from birth to death, we all have an opportunity to learn, understand, and grow… and to repent.

    Verse 61—recall verse 49 where Jesus Christ (pbuh) heals with the help of God…..therefore if Christians were to pray to Jesus Christ(pbuh)…he would not be able to do anything without God’s will….therefore……..

    Heaven—God does not Judge us by our religious “labels” but by our intentions and actions.

  2. After an extended hiatus, Quran Read-A-Long will finally resume. Please see tomorrow’s post for details and the latest installment.

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