Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Differing views on revelation in Christianity and Islam

Nasir Khan, September 2, 2015

My Facebook friend Professor Mushtaq Khan Kayani has asked in a comment if any ‘Muslim religious scholar can explain that Allah in the Quran says “We sent Injeel to Issa” (Jesus). But Jesus, in his short life never mentioned or acknowledged receiving the Injeel, neither the Injeel has been mentioned in any Christian literature. Is the Quran`s claim merely a bluff?’

Even though I have no pretensions to be a Muslim religious scholar, I had come across such a question while writing my book Perceptions of Islam in the Christendoms. A Historical Survey (Solum Publishers, Oslo, 2006). Therefore, I will offer my following comment, knowing to do so on Facebook is more like stirring a hornets’ nest, which even the angles may think prudent to avoid!

In the Islamic theological tradition, the Qur’an is regarded as the word of God. That means it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad. However, there are controversies on the issue whether the revelation contained exact words from God for which all the Prophet did was to report what he had been told to him or he was inspired by such a revelation where he used his own language to express what was put in his heart. Most Muslim believers accept the former position.

Now we move on to the question of revelation in Islam and Christianity. According to the Islamic tradition all messages and guidance from God were revealed through the prophets and all such revelations formed the holy books. In that sense, what the Jewish prophets received was the divine revelations and so was the case with Jesus. The revelations he received were contained in the Injeel.

But in the Christian tradition, God is said to have inspired and spoken to Jesus; however, any such communication from God did not form a revealed book. In fact, the Christian Bible we have is mostly a record of the events of the life and the mission of Jesus. If God revealed himself then his revelation was Jesus, his Son, not some book.

In short, for Christians, Jesus is the revelation of God in a human form while for Muslims the Qur’an is the revealed word of God in a book form. To avoid any confusion, we need to pay attention to this essential difference about the revelation in the theological traditions and beliefs of Muslims and Christians. The Qur’an is the word of God for Muslims but Jesus is the word of God for Christians.

No comments: