Part 1: THE SAMENESS ILLUSION
CENTRAL CLAIMS OF ISLAM
The Islamic counter-narrative as expressed in the pages of the Qur’an is based on a set of connected claims, which fully counter the Biblical “Crimson Thread”—the thread that all scripture points to Christ. Here is a brief summary of those connected Islamic claims:
- The claim that the “true religion”, i.e. Islam, requires the belief in the one Allah with Muhammad as his prophet and messenger, as expressed in the Islamic creed, the Shahadah.
- The claim that this belief represents the true original monotheism that was expressed in the original books that came down to the Biblical prophets and messengers.
- The claim that all the prophets and messengers were sent by Allah to preach Islam and to acknowledge the coming of Muhammad.
- The claim that Jews and Christians have corrupted their scriptures primarily by removing reference to Muhammad, and then by changing the text of the Bible to fit such removal.
Based on these claims, the Qur’an proceeds to reconstruct the lives and messages of the Biblical characters to develop key Islamic doctrines, while opposing the original Biblical ones. The readers of the Qur’anic versions of these stories may be taken aback, first by the apparent similarities in names, and then by the stark contrast of the details.
Before we delve into the details of these stories, we start with a recap of the original message of Islamic monotheism as expressed in the Islamic creed, the Shahadah.
THE SHAHADAH SETS THE STAGE
The Shahadah, the Islamic creed, states: No deity but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.
This assertion merged the call to return to “Islamic Monotheism”, with a clear elevation of Muhammad. It is generally believed that this foundational claim evolved rather quickly into the full doctrine of the “Oneness of Allah” (i.e. Tawheed) declaring it to be the same as the original revelation given to all the preceding Judeo-Christian prophets, but which was allegedly “corrupted” —so that he (Muhammad) was sent to “correct, purify and consolidate” as the “Seal of all the Prophets”.
Furthermore, as the Qur’anic revelations emerged in bits and pieces there was no reference as to how one could or should worship Allah, leaving the details to be explained by Muhammad through what he said, did or consented to, i.e. Muhammad’s Sunnah (example/pattern). In other words, through the institution of the Shahadah, Muhammad established himself as the sole arbiter of who Allah is and how to worship/serve him—not only during his lifetime but for all times. For in it and through it the “confessing Muslim” must renounce and denounce all other beliefs and pay sole allegiance to both Allah and Muhammad.
THE REDEFINING OF THE BIBLICAL STORIES
Having declared himself to be the final authority without proof of any kind, Muhammad claimed prophetic lineage back to the known prophets to substantiate his claims by producing different versions of their stories and incorporating them into the Qur’an to “correct” and redirect the narrative to support Islamic doctrines. Of course, all of these characters were Muslims by definition:
Surah 3:84, “Say (O Muhammad), ‘We have believed in Allah and in what was revealed to us and what was revealed to Ibrahim, Ismael, Is-haq, Ya’qoob, and the tribes, and in what was given to Moosa and Issa and to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are all Muslims.’”
Surah 10:72, “…and I (Nooh/Noah) have been commanded to be of the Muslims.”
Surah 3:67, “Ibrahim [Islamic name given to Abraham] was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a ‘Hanafi’ Muslim. And he was not of the polytheists.”
Surah 12:101, “ … Cause me (Yusuf/Joseph) to die a Muslim and join me with the righteous.”
Islamic scholars would piece together these stories to create a graphical illustration called “Tree of the prophets and messengers” (see Figure 2) based on this evolution of the Qur’anic narrative.
Woven into the evolving textual entity that became the Qur’an, is the redefinition and rebuilding (i.e. “correction”) of the Biblical characters to fit with the Qur’anic doctrine of Islamic Monotheism (Tawheed) as expressed in the Islamic creed, “No god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”
The following sections explain in detail this recasting of the stories of key Biblical characters by examining the “Tree of the Prophets and messengers”. At the “root” of this tree—with the creation of the Muslim version of Adam—the central Christian doctrines of original sin, redemption, promise of a Saviour and the fulfilment of this promise through Christ Jesus, are all countered by the Islamic doctrines of Fitrah, the Muslimhood of all humankind, the absence of original sin, the prophets/messengers proclaiming the coming of Muhammad, and the finality of Muhammad as the “Seal of the Prophets”.
As one goes up this tree one encounters the so-called “Anchor Prophets”. These are: Nooh (Islamised name of Noah), Ibrahim (Islamised name of Abraham), Moosa (Islamised name of Moses), Issa (Islamised name of Jesus) and finally of course, added as number five and final within the list—Muhammad.
By focusing on these select characters (other than Muhammad, whose role is to be discussed in more depth in chapter 5), and their Islamised stories, we gain an in-depth understanding of key Islamic doctrines, doctrines which counter the very foundations of Biblical Christianity.
TREE OF THE PROPHETS
The “Tree” Provides a “Corrective” Counter-Biblical Summary
Internally, this “tree” has been used by Islamic scholars and teachers to summarise graphically the Islamic historical narrative which starts with the creation of the Muslim Adam at the root, upwards through Idris (Enoch), Nooh (Noah), continuing up to Ibrahim (Abraham), where the tree branches to the left through the Is-haq (Isaac) branch, to continue through the Hebrew prophets and messengers, culminating with the Muslim prophet Issa (Jesus). But the right branch progresses through Ismaeel (Ishmael) directly to Muhammad as the “light of the world”.
The writings associated with this tree, as given by Islamic sources (Figure 1), provide the details of Islamic thinking and interpretations—all guided by the Qur’anic texts which would portray the full Muslimhood of all these characters, while showing Muhammad as the culmination of Allah’s efforts to “guide” Jinn and humankind to Islam.
The Muslim Adam: Doctrinal Divergence at the Root of the “Tree”
Main Divergence: A Very Different “First Man”
The Islamic divergence from the Biblical narrative—or rather the intentional deconstruction of the Biblical narrative—starts with the Muslim version of “Adam”, as depicted at the “root” of the “Tree of the Prophets”. (See facing page, Figure 2.)
Islamic sources portray the Muslim Adam as the father figure of humankind, yet a very different one from the Biblical Adam. He was created differently, made only a “slip” when he ate from the forbidden tree, fell from paradise, but was fully pardoned, and was guided by Allah in Islam.
How Was the Muslim Adam Created?
The Muslim Adam was not created in the “image” of the Lord God, did not have a personal relationship with the living Lord God in Eden, did not plunge all humankind into the state of “original sin” (as the consequence of his disobedience), and so did NOT need a Savior to rescue him from sin and restore his relationship with his creator. Instead, he was created as a mortal in a “state of felicity” whereby he was already “submitted” to Allah, and was only in need of “guidance” (rules).
Furthermore, the Qur’an provides various alternatives on “how” the Muslim Adam was created, with descriptions that systematically avoid any trace of having been “created in Allah’s image”. The most operative Ayah on the complete absence on any form of “likeness” is given in Surah 42:11, “…There is nothing like unto him….”
But, if not “in Allah’s image”, how was the Muslim Adam created? The following Surahs provide a series of possibilities:
Surah 96:1-2, “Proclaim (or read) in the name of thy Lord who created man, out of a clot of congealed blood…”
Surah 15:26, “We created man from sounding clay, from mud molded into shape…”
Surah 23:12-14 “Man we did create from a quintessence (of clay); Then we placed him as (a drop of) sperm in a place of rest, firmly fixed; then we made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot we made a lump; then we made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then we developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the best to create!”
Surah 25:54, “It is he who has created man from water.”
Surah 16:4, “He has created man from a sperm drop…”
Furthermore, rather than exhibiting the characteristics of being given “dominion” and the intellect to freely exercise such dominion, we discover that the Muslim Adam was created “weak”, “forgetful” and naturally created into “toil and struggle”.
Surah 4:28, “… man was created weak.”
Surah 20:115, “And we had already taken a promise from Adam before, but he forgot; and we found not in him determination.”
Surah 90:4, “We have created man into toil and struggle”
These forms of creation all counter the central Biblical theme of creating man in the Lord God’s image. The theme of “no image, no likeness” is carried throughout the Qur’an, whereby any trace or implications of likeness is seen as the ultimate “Shirk” or “blasphemy”.
“Original Sin” vs. a “Slip”! The Qur’anic Version of the “Fall”?
According to the Islamic narrative, when this Adam made a “mistake” or a slip, Allah relented and he was immediately forgiven…
Surah 2:36, “Then Satan made them slip, and got them out of the state in which they had been. We said: ‘All of you fall down with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling-place and your means of livelihood – for a time.’”
Surah 2:37, “Then Adam received from his Lord words. And his Lord relented on him. He is the one who accepts repentance, the most merciful.”
Surah 2:38, “We said: ‘Get you down all from here; and if, as is sure, there comes to you guidance from me, whosoever follows my guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.’”
In another account, he simply “erred”, i.e. made a “mistake”:
Surah 20:121, “And Adam and his wife ate of it, and their private parts became apparent to them, and they began to fasten over themselves from the leaves of paradise. And Adam disobeyed his Lord and erred.”
So when he ate the fruit, he was exiled or thrown out of the Islamic paradise down to earth together with his wife and Satan. This is then the Islamic version of the “Fall”.
Interestingly, Islamic traditions would state that Muslim Adam landed on Mount Arafah, near Mecca, whereas his “wife” had landed in India and would join him after she had wandered for a long time! Later on, Muslim Adam would build the Kaaba, which would be the central shrine of Islam.
Although the Qur’an does not explain why he was thrown out from the Islamic paradise down to earth, it would state that Muslim Adam was first pardoned upon landing on earth (Surah 2:37) and then he would enjoy life on earth for a while till he would die. So “death” was already a given (Surah 67:2, “It is he [Allah] who has created death and life.”) and was not a result of the Islamic version of the “Fall”.
In fact by claiming the building of the Kaaba by Adam, we are given a strong glimpse into the beginnings of Allah’s “guidance” as stated in Surah 2:38 above. Of course, in the Qur’an, “guidance” means Islam.
The “Fitrah Doctrine”: Denies Man’s Sinful Nature by Substituting Muslimhood of Humankind
Following up on the Islamic “creation” story whereby there was no “original sin”, the Qur’an continues with an important twist, whereby Allah imposes a requirement on all humankind to accept him as the only god — i.e. all are born Muslims, i.e. submitted to Allah:
Surah 7:172, “When your Lord drew forth from the children of Adam – from their loins – their descendants, and made them testify concerning themselves: ‘Am I not your Lord?’ – They said: ‘Yes, we do testify lest you should say on the day of judgment: Of this we were never mindful.’”
Thus, the Qur’an provides an explicit conclusion associated with this “imposed one-way covenant”:
Surah 30:30, “So set you (O Muhammad) your face according to the pattern with which he has made humankind (Allah’s Fitrah), with which he has created humankind…”
Summary about Muslim Prophet Adam (vs. the Biblical Adam):
Denied: The Muslim Adam was not created in Allah’s image. The significance is that: Allah’s nature cannot be known, as there is nothing like unto Allah, so to make humankind “in his image” would be an anathema and a blasphemy. This omission in the Islamic version of the Adamic story foreshadows further Qur’anic prohibitions against any form of “association” with Allah (sonship) or “humanisation” of Allah (fatherhood), including the ultimate anathema of the “incarnation” of the Lord God in Christ Jesus.
- The Muslim Adam did not receive the Edenic Covenant: Allah only imposes covenants, like the Fitrah, the requirement that all humankind is submitted to him in Islam.
- Allah did not walk in the Garden with the Muslim Adam. There was no intimate relationship, no direct revelation, no incarnation, and no need to restore the relationship through the sacrifice on the cross, and no indwelling.
- The Muslim Adam did not suffer the permanent effect of the “Fall” when he disobeyed Allah. Instead, he was deemed to have made a slip (he was, after all, weak) and hence was pardoned, and most importantly needed the guidance of Islam.
- The Biblically significant story of Cain and Abel is countered in the Qur’an without any reference to the great significance to the “Blood Sacrifice”.
- Muslim Adam—Allah imposed a new nature on humankind through a one-way “covenant” (mandate) called the Fitrah (the natural man is a Muslim). In effect this replaces and denies man’s sinful nature or original sin, thus replacing the need for salvation.
- Muslim Adam accepted an imposed covenant from Allah to declare Muhammad as the seal of the prophets.
- Muslim Adam was the recipient of the “coming down” of 10 books from the Eternal Tablet of the Qur’an.
Anchor Prophets: Nooh, Ibrahim, Moosa, Issa, Muhammad
These five prophets are known as the “Anchor Prophets” (Ulul-Azm, in Arabic) in the Qur’an. Although the Qur’an states that “there is no distinction” (Surah 2:136), among the prophets, as a group these five are more elevated than others, with Muhammad being at the highest level. Thus Surah 2:253 refers to, “Those messengers, some of whom we have preferred above others … and some he raised in rank….” They each presumably started a new school or dispensation, with each given a “Shariah” (law) for their time, limited only to the people they were sent to, with the exception of Muhammad—who is said to have brought the final and eternal Shariah to all humankind and all creation (angels, Jinn, humankind, nature).
Therefore, all previous Shariahs are now abrogated and replaced by the Islamic Shariah—hence Muhammad is the best of the Anchor Prophets, being the alleged “Seal of the Prophets”.
In the following section, we provide further insight into the reconstructed stories of the Anchor Prophets (with the exception of Muhammad). There is a huge divergence between Qur’anic and Biblical characters, doctrines, feasts and events, a divergence that starts from the story of the Muslim Adam at the root of the tree, as we have observed – thus supporting the conclusion that Allah and the Lord God are not the same.
Continued in Islamisation of Noah