Islam, the Trinity, Quran and the Bible:

A Dialogue with a Muslim


Note: this article is being revised by the author 6/16/2005

A Dialogue with a Muslim

by Vincent Arong

Vincent's words are in black, his Muslim friend's words are in blue.

In the Islamic view, what did God do from all eternity before He created?

Quran is not a book of History---but it is a book of Guidance---although at certain places the origin of the universe and the creation is mentioned Just for us to see and ponder on his signs. So I do not know as to what he was doing at such and such time.

Yes. The Christian concept of the Bible as guidance is close to the Islamic concept. But since we are to ponder on God, I was wondering if there was any discussion in Muslim thought about God's activity in eternity, apart from creation and time.

Not to my knowledge. Although Just as you we also believe in the eternity of God.

In time and creation, then, is God primarily seen as Master?

Yes---He is the creator and sustainer of this universe.

And we are creation. What are the relationships in the Islamic view that God holds with us humans, beside Creator and creatures?

The relationship of a slave and a master; that He alone is worthy Of Worship, and our sole Duty is to Worship Him alone.

Are there any other relationship models beside Creator/creature and Master/slave?

I cannot think of any right now.

I see. The reason I ask is because I was wondering about God's identity, in the Islamic view, in eternity. God's activity and God's identity seem to be connected. Since in time, God creates, God is Creator. Since in time, God enslaves us, God is Master. In eternity, apart from creation, what does God do? In doing so, we can figure out who God is.

As I said --I have no knowledge as to what God was doing before he created this universe because it is not mentioned in the Holy Book( to the best of my knowledge).

Ok. I guess from Islamic theology that isn't really explored yet.

Isn't it somewhat unfitting for God to be dependent on creatures and slaves to be known solely as Creator and Master, as if without creation and slaves he wouldn't be anything at all?

God is making his position clear--with regard to his creation---if he is the sole creator then he has a right to be called as one. And Human beings are not his only creation.

I guess what I'm asking is that if creation did not exist, what would God do and be?

I have no Idea. But he would still be God. It is just that he has not told us what other things he may have done.

Yes, from the Islamic standpoint, I think your right on that.

To the best of knowledge I do not think that the Bible has something more to say in this regard.

Actually, it has, implicitly. And that's the Christian understanding of what God is and does apart from creation in all eternity: God is a communion of Love between three Divine persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This communion was not present from the beginning of time unless you are saying that God failed to mention in the Bible.

I guess I'm saying is that before time began (and in eternity) God is this Communion. It is only mentioned implicitly in the Bible with the Christian belief in the Son of God who is sent by his Father to send the Holy Spirit. It isn't mentioned explicitly however, and the "God as Communion" belief developed from meditating on the belief that Jesus is the Son of God.

That's why I was wondering if Islamic thought had meditated on Divine Revelation--the Quran, let's say--and come up with something similar.

Why is it that God has explicitly mentioned in the Bible that he is One----and why he has left us to implicitly believe that he is a triune God??

The Christian understanding is that God is indeed One--in Being (what God is). The Christian understanding goes further, that God, in this Oneness of Being, is Triune in persons (who God is) --Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Did any Jew know of this formula of Trinity before the coming of Jesus or worshipped a "Triune" God? God Almighty was sending prophets to the Jews for centuries before the time of Jesus, why did none of these previous prophets tell their people that God was a "Triune" God?

No Jew did, as far as I know. It is a decidedly Christian revelation that builds on what the Jews already knew--that God is One. And the way I understand it, Jesus was the prophet that was sent to reveal this triune nature about God.

Why did these previous prophets go out of their way to make it very explicitly clear that God was ONE And later on How did he become a triune God?

These previous prophets went out of their way because it is absolutely true: God is One and there is no other.

Was not the Bible send By Jesus ---If he was one with God? Then why did he keep generations in darkness?? Even if the Jews do not believe that Jesus is the "Son of God," would we not be justified in expecting that they should at least believe that "there is" a "Son of God" even if he was someone other than Jesus?

Progressive revelation, I suppose. From the Islamic perspective, were generations kept in darkness before the Quran was revealed?

We never say that the previous generations were kept in darkness. It was the mercy of God who sent us prophets and warners from time to time.

From the Christian perspective, it is not that the generations were kept in darkness, but from the Old Testament to the New Testament, light grew brighter as the prophets were sent to reveal God's Truth.

Why did God wait to favor us alone with this knowledge of "Trinity' and choose to deprive many countless thousands of generations before Jesus?

I don't know if it's deprivation not to know the Trinity, anymore than the generations before Muhammad were deprived because they did not have the Quran. From what I understand you to be saying, generations before Muhammad and the Quran weren't deprived and kept in darkness even though they did not have the Quran.

The Generations before Muhammed had messengers and prophets and warners---so yes they were not deprived. Only when the people went away from the teachings of prophets then God send another warner.

Will God send another prophet if people walk away from the teachings of the Quran?

No---the reason for that is that God has taken the responsibility of protecting HIS Book From corruption.

Does God say anything new in the Quran that wasn't revealed in the Bible?

The Quran is called a MUHIMIN, or quality controller. It Upholds that which is truth in the Bible and rejects what is falsehood.

I see. So the only new thing that is not in the Bible is that the Quran is muhmin and it protects the Bible?

I said it restates that which is truth in the Bible and rejects what has been added to it by the hands of Human beings.

From the Islamic perspective then, the Bible was corrupted by human additions. Could the Quran be corrupted by human additions one day as was the Bible?

I said that God has stated in the Quran that He will protect His Book from corruption. And from Human point of view--corruption of Quran is very difficult because there are hundreds of Thousand persons who know the Quran by heart.

That's interesting. I wonder why God did not protect the Bible from corruption as He did with the Quran...

The answer you will find in the the book of MCDowell/Josh. He has admitted that the Original scriptures have been lost. What you have now is from the 4th century onwards. All manuscripts date back to the earliest---4th century.

Yes, the originals are all lost. All that Christians can have now are copies. Although I did read a bit on fragments of Matthew's Gospel that was dated to before A.D. 70. Still, it's just some bits of fragments.

The reason why Quran was sent in the first place--was that the original teachings of Jesus were altered and lost.

I see. Apart from the Quran telling us that the original teachings were altered and lost, can we know that the original teachings were altered?

Translation has taken its toll also. For example the verse 1 John 5:7 is not to be found in the earlier manuscripts. This is the statement of Christian scholars:

"1 John 5:7 'For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.'

This text does not appear in the ancient Greek copies of the Gospel, nor in the Syriac translations, or in the very old Latin editions. Interpreters both ancient and modern therefore rejected it. You will not find these words in the Revised Standard Version, the New Revised Standard Version, the New American Standard Bible, the New English Bible, the Phillips Modern English Bible ...etc.

The scripture translator Benjamin Wilson gives the explanation for this action "text concerning the heavenly witness is not contained in any Greek manuscript which was written earlier than the fifteenth century".

See how mankind was being inspired to add to the bible centuries after the departure of Jesus to justify "Trinity"? If these people were being "inspired" by God, then why did they need to put these words into other people's mouths (in the mouth of John in this case)?

Why did they not just openly say "God inspired me and I will add a chapter to the Bible in my name"?

Also, why did God need to wait till after the departure of Jesus to "inspire" his "true" nature? That "He in fact is a three gods in one"? Why not let Jesus say it himself?

Yes, 1 John 5:7 is often a difficulty, and that's one of the weaknesses of Protestant Christian theology: it goes by the Bible alone, but the Bible we have now are copies that as you say, date hundreds of years after Jesus and the Apostles lived.

Catholic theology gets around this difficulty by relying on the Bible, as well as on Tradition and on what the Church has taught.

Brother I have to go now----fasting time begins now. Maybe we can continue some other time. I enjoyed my conversation with you

God bless you. Thank you for the conversation. I hope we can continue in the future. I really enjoyed learning about Islam from you.

_______________________

For us and our salvation,
Jesus Christ suffered, died, and rose again
so we would believe, repent and be forgiven of our sins.

Copyright 2002 Vincent Arong


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