The sixth chapter of the Qur’an is centered around the soul’s individual and direct connection to God. The Qur’anic author teaches that no intermediary of any kind or nature can help or hinder the soul’s relationship with God. He believes his teaching is a summary of the scriptures. The Church, the Holy Spirit, the Papacy, even Wisdom are found lacking by the Qur’anic author. There is only God, Who said “Be,” and all was.
Partners to God
“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”
Christians believe the Church is the Bride of Christ — that God has a spouse. For most Christians through most of history this has meant the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, including both the visible church ministering sacraments and the invisible Church known only to God. A lot of Christian history has been disputes over degrees of meaning in these descriptions of the church. The Qur’anic author denies this, and thus separates himself from the religion of the monk Arius as well as billions of other Christians through the millennia.
On the day when We gather them all together, We shall say to those who ascribe partners, ‘Where are your partners that you used to claim’ Then their only excuse will be to stay, ‘By God, our Lord, we were not polytheists.’
Look how they forswear themselves, and what they used to fabricate has forsaken them!
The Qur’anic author states that believers will be together in the end for judgment. But this gathering is not an entity in itself, anymore than the author believes the Church is an entity. The Church is not purified at the judgment — to paraphrase Ayn Rand
The “Christian Church” (or “the bride of Christ”) is an undefined and undefinable concept: there is no such entity as “the Church,” or “the Synagogue”; the people of God (or Jesus or Israel) is only a number of individual men. Nothing can be good for the Church as such; “good” and “value” pertain only to a ensouled organism—to an individual ensouled organism—not to a disembodied aggregate of relationships.
with apologies to Ayn Rand, “The Common Good,”
At the end of the world, according to the Qur’an, the Church will not be there anymore than she is now here:
And We gave [Abraham] Isaac and Jacob and guided each of them. And Noah We had guided before, and from his offspring David and Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses and Aaron — thus do we reward the virtuous — and Zechariah, John, Jesus, and Elijah — each of them among the righteous — Ishmael, Elisha, Jonah, and Lot – each We preferred over all the nations — and from among their fathers, descendants and brethren — We chose them and guided them to a straight path.
That is God’s guidance: with it He guides whomever He wishes of His servants. But were they to ascribe any partners, what they used to do would not avail them.
They are the ones whom We gave the Book, the judgment, and the prophethood. So if these disbelieve in them, We have certainly entrusted them to a people who will never disbelieve in them. They are the ones whom God has guided. So follow their guidance.
Virtually the entire canon is surveyed, with perhaps the notable exceptions of letters at the end of the Christian New Testament. Jews (Aaron, David, Solomon) and Non-Jews (Noah, Lot, Ishmael), Moses who created the covenant and Elijah who tried to destroy it, and Jesus who did both: all are both mentioned. They share a similarity: no plain reading of any word for any of them would imply the existence of a “church” that is primarily viewed as God’s wife. (Jeremiah, who hilariously writes of God seeking a divorce from Israel, is not mentioned.)
“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:15-18
The Qur’an and the New Testament both speak of the Holy Spirit — but then so do the Psalms. The Qur’anic author’s point seems to be either the Holy Spirit is an angel or aspect of God, but not as equal to God. In this the Qur’an accords with a plain reading of the Psalms.
Warn by its means those who fear being mustered toward their Lord, besides whom they will have neither friend nor intercessor, so that they may be Godwary.
Do not drive away those who supplicate their Lord morning and evening, desiring His face. Neither are you accountable for them in any way, nor are they accountable for you in any way, so that you should drive them away and thus become one of the wrongdoers.
The Qur’anic author quotes the Psalms, both in reference to times of prayer and also in reference to God’s role as savior. The Qur’an omits the mid-day prayer mentioned in the same list, but perhaps there is a point: if the Scripture is so detailed about times of days to prayer, would not it have been equally detailed about a need for intercessors?
As for me, I will call upon God,
And the Lord shall save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
I will pray, and cry aloud,
And He shall hear my voice.
The first sign given so that people would believe was given to Moses:
And He said, “Cast it on the ground.” So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail” (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), “that they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”
and later Christ was explicit in linking the signs to epistemology, though it’s interesting that Christ demands obedience, not belief:
Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.”
The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies!”
Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.”
The Qur’anic author sees the same path — the goal is obedience, but faith in signs is an easier first rung of the ladder of righteousness:
When those who have faith in Our signs come to you, say, ‘Peace to you Your Lord has made mercy incumbent upon Himself; whoever of you commits an evil out of ignorance and then repents after that and reforms, then he is indeed all-forgiving, all-merciful.
The Qur’anic author adores Jesus, but along the lines of the most beloved Prophet, as Jews adore Moses or Catholics adore Mary. Christ cannot bare the burden of sins, not because he is week or without righteousness, but because there is no intermediary between God and man:
Say. ‘Shall I seek a Lord other than God, while He is the Lord of all things?’
No soul does evil except against itself, and no bearer shall bear another’s burden, then your return will be to your Lord, whereat He will inform you concerning that about which you used to differ.
Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Christ explicitly made Peter his Prime Minister, giving him the Keys of the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Heaven. But the Qur’anic asserts that Christ’s keys (whatever the specific nature of his Kingdom) are either still in heaven or returned to heaven upon Peter’s death:
With Him are the keys of the Unseen; no one knows the except Him. He knows whatever there is in land and sea. No leaf falls without His knowing it, nor is there a grain in the darkness of the earth, nor any fresh or withered but it is in a manifest Book.
The Qur’anic author accepts there may be a worldly entity known as the church, and it may even be the source of prophets and righteous men, but the church is more of a concept than an entity. It is not the Church that delivers…
Say, ‘Who delivers you from darkness and land and sea, you invoke Him suppliantly and secret;y “If He delivers us from this, we will surely be among the grateful.”
Say, ‘It is God who delivers you from them, and from every distress, then you ascribe partners.’
and when there are prayers or signs, those are to individual believers. This accords with Paul, if body is assumed be a collective association and not a metaphysical reality:
Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.
1 Corinthians 12:27-28
This individual-level reality includes non-human and even non-material individuals.
O community of the jinn and humans! Did there not come to you apostles from yourselves, recounting to you My signs and warning you of the encounter of this Day? They will say, ‘We do bear witness against ourselves,’ The life of this world had deceived them, and they will testify against themselves that they had been faithless.
An “angel of the church” is simply another entity who has his or own or its own relationship with God:
And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write,
It is thru these non-material creatures that John warned Babylon, a coded reference to Rome:
The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written:
MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT,
THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS
AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS
OF THE EARTH.
I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.
It is this great woman, this great city, that the Qur’anic author also warns. She who claims a special relationship to revelation. She who claims to be a mediatrix. She claims her priests bring the true presence to earth:
Blessed is the Book that We have sent down, confirming what was before it, so that you may warn the Mother of Cities and those around it. Those who believe in the Hereafter believe in it, and they are watchful of their prayers.
Who is a greater wrongdoer than him who fabricates lies against God or says, ‘It has been revealed to me,’ while nothing was revealed to him, and says, ‘I will bring the like of what God has sent down.’
Were you to see the wrongdoers are in the throws of death, and the angels extend their hands, ‘Give up your souls! Today you will be requited with a humiliating punishment because of what you used to attribute to God untruly, and for your being disdainful towards His signs.
The Qur’anic author contrasts his own work with this Mother of Cities: he does not add or subtract from the Book, and indeed his authority is simple paraphrasing of what has already been said and done:
Thus do We paraphrase the signs variously, lest they should say, ‘You have received instruction,’ and so that We my make it clear for people who have knowledge.
Follow that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, there is no god except Him, and turn away from the polytheists. Had God wished they would not have ascribed partners. We have not made you a caretaker for them, nor is it your duty to watch over them.
Do not abuse those whom they invoke besides God, lest they should abuse God out of hostility, without any knowledge. That is how We have made their conduct seem decorous to every people. Then their return to their Lord and He will inform them concerning what they used to do.
God does not need a mechanism or suffering to save others, according to the Qur’anic author, just his will:
You Lord is the All-sufficient dispenser of mercy. If He wishes, He will take you away and make whomever He wishes succeed you, just as He produced you from the decedents of another people.
It is this view Paul adopts once — God as the nailer to the cross, and not the nailed:
In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.: So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
The Qur’an insists on the reality of the celestial Book, the equivalent to The Book of Jubilees Heavenly Scrolls, that have been revealed to a few men, to Christ, and also to Moses:
Then We gave Moses the Book, completing on him who is virtuous, and as an elaboration of all things, and as guidance and mercy, so that they may believe in the encounter with their Lord.
And this Book We have sent down is a blessed one; so follow it and be Godwary so that you may receive mercy.
But the book is to be understood with Wisdom. So, for instance, the counterposition of different rules against “mixing” in the Old Testament:
“You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread; nor shall the fat of My sacrifice remain until morning. The first of the first fruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God.
You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.
Is with Wisdom interpreted as a prohibition against the ultimate mixing — polytheism.
Meat boiled in milk is undoubtedly gross food, and makes overfull; but I think that most probably it is also prohibited because it is somehow connected with idolatry, forming perhaps part of the service, or being used on some festival of the heathen. I find a support for this view in the circumstance that the Law mentions the prohibition twice after the commandment given concerning the festivals “Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord God” (Exodus 23:17, 34:73, as if to say, “When you come before me on your festivals, do not seethe your food in the manner as the heathen used to do.” This I consider as the best reason for the prohibition: but as far as I have seen the books on Sabean rites, nothing is mentioned of this custom.
Moses ben Maimon, Guide for the Perplexed, Ch 48, AD 1190.
The Qur’anic author uses the same pattern. Food laws are not given because the food it was unclean. They are given. Because the followers of God are unclean. (It is from this passage that the chapter gets it title, “the Cattle”):
And two of camels and two of oxen. Say, ‘Is it the two males that He has forbidden or the two females, or what is contained in the bombs of the two females? Were you witnesses when God enjoined this upon you? So who is a greater wrongdoer than him who fabricates lies against God to mislead the people without any knowledge? Indeed, God does not guide the wrongdoing lot.
Say, ‘I do not find in what has been revealed to me that anyone should be forbidden to eat anything except carrion or spilt blood, or the flesh of swine — for that is indeed unclean — or an impiety offered to other than God.’ But should someone be compelled, without being rebellious or aggressive, indeed your Lord is all-forgiving, all-merciful.
To the Jews We forbade every animal having an undivided hoof, and of oxen and sheep We forbade them their fat, except what is borne by their backs, or their entrails, or what is attached to the bones. We requited them with that for their rebelliousness and We indeed speak the truth.
To a follower of Christ who denies His Divinity, Wisdom is a useful parallel. The world may have been created with the word Jesus:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
but it was already created by Wisdom, and no one worships her:
The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
By understanding He established the heavens;
By His knowledge the depths were broken up,
And clouds drop down the dew…
“The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way,
Before His works of old.
I have been established from everlasting,
From the beginning, before there was ever an earth.”
Proverbs 3:19-20, 8:22-23
Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.
The Qur’an agrees with the Bible that God created the heavens for keeping time:
Splitter of the dawn. He has made the night for rest ,and the sun and moon for calculation. That is the ordaining of the All-mighty, the All-knowing.
But the bigger point is that God created. He is the Creator, and all other things are creatures:
It is He who created the heavens and the earth, and with consummate wisdom, and the day He says, ‘Be!’ it is, His word is the truth, and to Him belongs all sovereignty on the day when the Trumpet will be blown. Knower of the sensible and the Unseen, He is the All-wise, the All-aware.
All things besides the Creator become more or less great as they change. Abraham uses this rustic logic to conclude that the stars should not be worshiped, as they become less great as they pass over the horizon:
Thus did we show Abraham the dominions of the heavens and the earth, that he might be of those who posses certitude, ‘When night darkened over him, he saw a star an said, ‘This is my Lord! But when it was set, he said, ‘I do not like those who set.’
John the Baptist at least partially agreed with this:
John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.
Though many Christians would disagree with an obvious, if implied, corollary: anything that is made more or less great cannot be God.
In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
buried with Him in baptism, in which
you also were raised with Him
through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
The Qur’anic author denies both that God the Father has a son, and that God the son has a spouse. He denies the plurality of persons of God at all. To him there is one God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, of the sensible and the invisible.
The originator of the heavens and the earth — how could He have a child when He has had no spouse? He created all things and He has knowledge of all things.