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Book's List > Muhammad and Christ > Chapter 1: Miracles > Section 4: Other Signs



Chapter 1: Miracles --
4: Other Signs:

Having disposed of the chief points in the miracles of Jesus, the raising of the dead and the healing of the sick, there is no need to dwell on the other wonderful works attributed to him. For instance, there is the miracle of turning water into wine recorded by St. John as his very first miracle. It is clearly an invention, for it does not behove a prophet of God to make people drunkards as Jesus is said to have done at the marriage feast of Cana. A prophet comes as a benefactor of humanity, and no one can be said to have done any good to fellow men who helps, by miracle or otherwise, in making men drunkards. But the Qur'an, we are told, attributes to Jesus Christ two great miracles, viz. a possession of the knowledge of the unseen, and the power of creating life. And therefore it is necessary to say a few words about these.

Before we go to the Qur'an, let us see, however, how far the Gospels lend colour to these claims. Now as regards the knowledge of the unseen, the Gospels do not furnish the least evidence. On the other hand, we are plainly told:

But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the son, but the Father (Mark 13:32).

The knowledge of the unseen is here clearly disclaimed. Some knowledge of the future is revealed to the prophets of God, but unfortunately in the case of Jesus even the slight knowledge that was disclosed to him did not prove true according to the Gospels. He foretells his own second coming in the following words:

For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

The commentators of the Gospels have been at great pains to explain this. We are told for instance that by the carcase is meant the sinful man and by the eagles Jesus Christ, though the singular form of the first and the plural of the second evidently leads to the opposite conclusion; but taking this explanation, it is very awkward that the coming of Jesus to sinners should be likened to the gathering of the vultures on a carcase. And then we are told:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven ... and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven. ... Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled (Matt. 24:27-34).

That generation however passed away without witnessing the truth of these words and many more have followed. The promise failed, and the words of the Gospel shall always be the best comment on the Christian claim as to Jesus Christ's knowledge of the unseen. Blind faith needs no argument; nor is it shaken by argument; but the critical reader cannot find any explanation except that Jesus made a mistake in interpreting the prophecy. I say this in deference to Jesus' prophethood, though his own followers go far beyond that and declare the mistake to be due to Jesus' ignorance. The Rev. Dummelow says:

Plumptre considers `the boldest answer as the truest and most reverential,' and finds the explanation in Christ's ignorance of that day and hour (Mark 13:32). Even if we assume, with Plumptre, complete ignorance of the date, we are no nearer a solution; for if he did not know the date, he would not attempt to fix it.

With such statements in the Gospels, he would be a very bold Christian who would proclaim to the world that Jesus had knowledge of the unseen. Even if the Holy Qur'an had said what is ascribed to it, it does not seem befitting for a Christian to give the lie to his own sacred scriptures and to produce the Qur'an, which he believes to be an imposture, in support of his statement. What he says to a Muslim is this: You must accept Jesus as being above a mortal because the Qur'an says he had knowledge of the unseen, and when you have accepted him as such, you must believe in the Gospels and, on their basis, in the fact that he had no knowledge of the unseen. Could logic ever be more queer?

As regards the Holy Qur'an, it nowhere speaks of Jesus Christ as having the knowledge of the unseen. All that it says is this:

And I inform you of what you should eat and what you should store in your houses (3:48).

Here Jesus does not say that he knows what John ate last evening and what Peter left in his house which would be childish, but that he told people what they should eat and what they should store, and this was indeed what Jesus did when he said:

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt and where thieves do not break through or steal for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matt. 6:19-21).

And again:

Therefore take no thought, saying, what shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? ... Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself (6:31, 34).

How well does the Christian world act up to these teachings!

The question of Jesus' knowledge of the unseen being thus disposed of, there remains now the allegation that Jesus created things. Had there been any truth in this, the Gospel writers who were so much given to exaggeration that they transformed the ordinary incidents of his life into wondrous deeds, would not have left this unnoticed. Nor does the Holy Qur'an anywhere call Jesus a creator. On the other hand, it denies any such power in Jesus or any other person or thing taken for a god. Thus it says:

Or have they set up with Allah associates who have created creation like His, so that what is created became confused to them? Say: Allah is the Creator of all things and He is the One, the Supreme (13:16).

This argument is as much against the divinity of Jesus as of any other person or thing, and the theory that the creation of certain things is ascribed to Jesus by the Holy Qur'an cannot stand for a moment against this. This misunderstanding is due to two different significances of the word khalq, the primary significance being measuring, proportioning or determining the measure or proportion of a thing, while the other significance is creating. All the Arabic lexicons agree on this; for facility I may refer the reader to Lane's Arabic-English Lexicon. The word is extensively used in its primary significance in Arabic literature, and Lane quotes several instances. Thus khalaq al-adim-a means, he measured or proportioned the hide, khalaq an-na'l-a means, he determined the measure of the sandal, and so on. It is in this sense that the commentators interpret the word khalq as used about Jesus in 3:48, and even Lane accepts the same interpretation, for he thus translates the words inni akhluq-u lakum; "I will make according to its proper measure for you." The commentators of the Holy Qur'an moreover say that the form thus proportioned did not actually turn into a bird: see the remark of Wahb quoted in the Ruh al-Ma`ani, that it was simply a momentary sight and the thing turned into dust immediately.

The performance at any rate, if really the form of a bird was made by Jesus, is far inferior to the grand miracle of Moses whose staff turned into a serpent. But it must be borne in mind that Jesus Christ spoke more in parables and metaphoric language than in plain words, and in this case too what he really meant was not the making of the figures of birds, a performance which had nothing to do with the work of a prophet, but the breathing of a spirit into his followers which should make them soar like birds in the higher spiritual regions.





Chapter 1: Miracles; Section 3: Healing the Sick

Chapter 2: Sinlessness

Book's List > Muhammad and Christ > Chapter 1: Miracles > Section 4: Other Signs


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