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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Cartman and Kyle Argue Over Jew-Gold in South Park Episode 908, “Two Days Before The Day After Tomorrow”

The Day After Tomorrow – blech what a craptastic movie. “Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow” – what an awesome episode.

When Stan and Cartman wreck a dam with a stolen speedboat, thereby flooding a town in a valley below the dam, the entire country freaks out that global warming has caused this flooding and everyone starts panicking. I’ve already explored some of South Park‘s thoughts and skepticism about global warming in my post on episode 1006, “Manbearbig” and in episode 505, “Terrance and Phillip Behind the Blow,” so I will refrain from elaborating in great detail here except for to say that, to whatever degree Trey Parker and Matt Stone appreciate the importance of not obliterating the environment, they don’t wholly subscribe to the terror of global warming.

In any case, despite mocking global warming fanatics, this episode is particularly memorable for a hilarious exchange between Kyle and Cartman when they are trapped in a collapsing and burning building in the flooded town. Cartman refuses to allow Kyle to pass him and move to safety on the roof of the building where a helicopter awaits unless Kyle cedes his Jew-gold. What is Jew-gold, you ask? It is the bag of gold that all Jews carry in a small sack around their necks.

Obviously, Kyle contests the notion that he has such a thing or that it even exists, and what is even more hilarious than the banter between the two is when Kyle finally reveals the Jew-gold and gives it to Cartman. The ridiculousness of this scenario exposes the absurdity of many anti-Semitic beliefs, like that Jews used to use Christian blood to make their matzas, a Middle Ages belief called blood libels.

Mmmmm, matza.

What did you think about this episode? What was your favorite part?

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The Jewish and Christian Liturgical Calendars Offer Conflicting Emotions In Spring

Check out my latest Nashville Free Press column about the Jewish and Christian calendars at this time of year and the way we’re supposed to be exploring the emotionality of Spring.

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Enjoy some Fun with the Bible posts.

The Art of Taking Ourselves Less Seriously For the Public Good

Read my latest Nashville Free Press article.

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The Catholic Bishop Holocaust Denier Is Making the News and, ba-da-da-da-da, I’m Lovin’ It

Find out why in my latest column in the Nashville Free Press! Click HERE.

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Zen Talk: The Path to Salvation Must Begin and End with the Self

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

This, to be honest, reminds me of Christianity. Of course, the Buddha knew nothing of Christianity and Buddhism is not a prophetic religion, so obviously he wasn’t talking about Jesus or Christianity, but nonetheless, the mention of being saved makes me think of Christianity. Mentally, the concept of salvation is monopolized in my head by Christianity.

But as we can see, this quote is not saying what Christianity says. This quote says that only we can save ourselves – NOT someone else (which is to say, Jesus). Now, I’m not saying that Jesus doesn’t save or passing any kind of theological judgment. I’m merely discussing the significance of this concept, which I believe can be applied to anyone, whether Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Shintoist or other.

Why? Because it puts the emphasis on the self for guiding one towards Enlightenment. Liberation from suffering and these worldly concerns only comes with our own willpower, determination and effort. I’ll avoid the theological discussion that I’m tempted to have about the concept of a savior, and just conclude by saying that I really like what this verse is saying because I do believe that each of us is responsible for his or her own fate.

What do you think of this quote?

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Korn Stops Father Maxi From Ruining Halloween in South Episode 312, “Korn’s Groovy Pirate Mystery”

I absolutely love this episode of South Park. Not only is it about Halloween and guest-stars Korn, but it’s about the Occult and the conception of religious people about Halloween.

Father Maxi hates Halloween and doesn’t want anyone to celebrate it. He calls it the most unholy of holidays which is an inherently contradictory statement because holiday=holy day so he said it’s an unholy holy day. Dumbass. He should have said something like, “It’s an unholy celebration.”

The priest also calls Halloween an abomination of God. Give me a break and get over yourself, Father Maxi.

I love that this episode fleshes out the tension between the religious establishment and things that supposedly concern the Occult or devil-worship. No, most of us don’t ever have to deal with these issues on the day to day, but that doesn’t preclude the fact that numerous children don’t get to celebrate and enjoy Halloween and candy because their parents are religious psychopaths.

The episode has a wonderful conclusion and offers some great lessons.

What did you think?

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