Muhammad’s Introduction to Christianity
Before he became a Prophet at the age of forty, or thereabouts, Muhammad accompanied or led trading caravans as far north as Damascus.
At twelve years of age he joined his uncle on a business trip to Syria. On the way there, the caravan passed by a Christian monastery near present day Basra where a Christian monk named Bahira invited the merchants to stay overnight.
Later that evening, he asked the young Muhammad to sit with the men of the caravan; if not to participate in the conversation, then to just listen.
Remember, this was pre-Islam and after the collapse of most of the Roman Empire. It was a time when people of every faith could get together and without fear, talk about their gods and their religious beliefs.
The future spokesperson for the Almighty would return to this monastery many times during his extensive travels throughout the Middle East. In fact, in a rare moment of what could pass as fondness for members of another religion, here is what Allah has to say about monks and priests whom His Messenger invariably met during his travels.
5:82 You shall find the most hostile people to the believers to be the Jews and the polytheists; and you shall find the closest in affection to the believers those who say: “We are Christians.” For among them are priests and monks, and they are not arrogant.
This laudatory statement about some Christians, which singles out monks, is somewhat surprising considering Allah may not approve of monasticism, or at least the way Christians practiced it, revelation 57:27.
57:26 We have also sent forth Noah and Abraham and assigned Prophethood and the Book to their progeny. Some of them are well-guided and many of them are sinners.
57:27 Then, We sent forth in their wake Our Messengers and followed up with Jesus, son of Mary, and We gave him the Gospel and We instilled in the hearts of those who followed him compassion and mercy. As for the monasticism which they invented, for We did not prescribe it for them, seeking thereby to please Allah, they did not observe it properly; so We rewarded those of them who believed, but many of them are sinful.
In reveal truth 9:34, Allah did not have much good to say about "many of the rabbis and monks" either.
9:34 O believers, many of the rabbis and monks devour the property of the people unjustly and bar others from the Path of Allah. Those who hoard gold and silver and do not spend them in Allah’s Path, announce to them a very painful punishment.
Some of these monks and rabbis converted to Islam (e.g. Abdullah bin Salam), revelation 5:83, and have already been rewarded with Paradise. That they are assumed to have died in revelation 5:85 may be due to the Prophet meeting with monks and rabbis early in his life.
5:83 And when they hear what was revealed to the Messenger, you see their eyes overflow with tears on account of the truth they recognize. They say: “Our Lord, we believe, so write us down among the witnesses.”
5:84 “And why should we not believe in Allah and in what has come to us of the truth, when we are eager that our Lord will let us enter along with the righteous people?”
5:85 Allah rewarded them for what they said with Gardens beneath which rivers flow, dwelling therein forever. Such is the reward of the righteous.
Not all the priests and monks were receptive to the message, obviously.
5:86 But those who disbelieved and denounce Our Revelations, such are the denizens of Hell.
2:105 Neither the unbelievers among the People of the Book nor the polytheists wish to see any good (the Revelations) sent down to you from your Lord. Allah favours with His Mercy whomever He wishes, and Allah’s Bounty is great.
It was not only during his travels that the future Prophet Muhammad would have become acquainted with stories from the Bible. In his day, before he made Islam the only acceptable religion, Christianity was well established on the Arabian Peninsula thanks, in part, to the pioneering efforts of one of the original apostles, Bartholomew.
The Inspiration for a New Religion
Christianity seems to have captured the imagination of many of the Meccans to whom the Prophet preached his new religion. The "latest" religion did not mention anything about another saviour and another Message, revelation 38:7. This led many to suspect that their kin, the self-proclaimed Prophet Muhammad's claim to being a Messenger of God, which is how the Koran he was revealing piecemeal characterized Jesus, was a ploy to become their de facto dictator, revelation 38:6.
In the Name of Allah,
the Compassionate, the Merciful
38:1 Sâd (one of three surahs which open with symbolic letters). By the Koran which contains the Reminder (admonitions, or which serves as a reminder, Moududi).
38:2 But the unbelievers are steeped in arrogance and strife.
38:3 How many a generation We have destroyed before them? They called out, but time was past escaping.
38:4 They marvelled that a warner has come to them from their own, and the unbelievers said: “This is a lying sorcerer.
38:5 “What, has he made the gods one single God? This, indeed is a very strange thing.”
38:6 And the dignitaries among them went forth saying ("The allusion is to the chiefs who got up and left Abu Talib, an uncle of the Prophet, when they had heard what the Holy Prophet said.” Moududi): “Go on and be steadfast regarding your gods. This is indeed a matter premeditated (Muhammad…. [wants] to subjugate us and rule us as his subjects, Moududi).
38:7 “We have not heard about this in the latest religion (Christianity). This is only a mere invention.
They may think that now, but wait till they taste “My Punishment”.
38:8 “Has the Reminder been sent down upon him (Muhammad) alone, apart from us all?” Indeed, they are in doubt regarding My Reminder. But, they have not yet tasted My Punishment.
38:9 Or, do they possess the treasuries of your Lord’s Mercy, the All-Mighty, the All-Giving.
38:10 Or do they have the dominion of the heavens and the earth? Let them, then, ascend its rungs (try to reach the Divine Throne, Moududi).
38:11 A host of the Confederates will be defeated there (Mecca, Moududi).
38:12 Before them, the people of Noah, ‘Ad, Pharaoh of the Pegs (a metaphor for power or grandeur);
38:13 And Thamud and the people of Lot; as well as the Companions of the Thicket (probably the people of Madyan), such were the Confederates.
38:14 None of them but denounced the Messengers, and so My Retribution struck them.
Judgement Day can’t come too soon for those who believe that because the Koran is not mentioned in the Gospels, it is an invention of the Prophet.
38:15 These are only awaiting a single cry (the blast of the Trumpet signaling the end-of-times) which will not cease.
Allah is a god Who is very much into threats, as you may now appreciate, even threatening to annihilate Jesus and his mother.
Revelation 5:17 is very much a warning to those who would claim He has a son, and that Mary is the mother. It is a warning to Christians to cease and desist from making that detestable assertion or He may decide to do away with Jesus and Mary, and everyone else for that matter, to show you how wrong you are.
5:17 Unbelievers are those who say: “Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary.” Say (O Muhammad): “Who could prevent Allah, if He wished, from destroying the Messiah, son of Mary, and his mother too, together with all those on the face of the earth?” To Allah belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and what lies between them. He creates whatever He pleases, and Allah has power over everything!
In a radical departure from Christian doctrine, Allah makes it clear that you are not His children; not literally, not metaphorically. The word He uses most often to describe humanity is servants. Would a father punish His children the way He does, He tells His Messenger to remind those who are under the illusion that He is the equivalent of a heavenly father.
5:18 The Jews and the Christians have said: “We are Allah’s children and His beloved.” Say: “Why then does He punish you for your sins? You are rather human beings, part of those Whom He has created. He forgives whom He pleases and punishes whom He pleases.” And to Allah belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and what is in between, and unto Him is the final return!
Moududi writes that the next revelation 5:19, which introduces the Prophet Muhammad to the Jews and Christians, is also a warning; in this instance, “not to treat the message of this warner and bearer of glad tidings lightly. They should bear in mind that if they disregard the injunctions of God, He can chastise them as He wills, for He is All-Powerful and All-Mighty”:
5:19 O People of the Book, Our Messenger has come to you to make clear to you [the religious tenets) after a cessation of Messengers, lest you should say: “No bearer of good news and a warner has come to us.”
Christians and Jews do not follow anything substantial!
2:111 They say: “None will enter Paradise except those who are Jews and Christians.” Such are their vain wishes. Say: “Bring forth your proof if you are truthful.” If I have not given you the answer, Muhammad, it is because it will be revealed on Judgement Day (Resurrection Day).
2:112 Indeed, those who submit themselves to Allah, while doing good work (believing in the unity of Allah), will have their reward with Allah (Paradise). They will have nothing to fear and will not grieve.
2:113 The Jews say: “The Christians follow nothing [substantial]” and the Christians say: “The Jews follow nothing [substantial],” while both recite the Book. Thus say too, those who know not. Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection regarding what they differ on.
Reading revelations 2:135-137 you might think that Christians, Jews and Muslims believe in the same thing. But they don’t. The Jews don’t believe in the Christian Messiah, and both Jews and Christians don’t “believe in what you (Muhammad) have believed”, the Koran.
2:135 They say: “If you become Jews or Christians, you shall be well-guided.” Say: “Rather, we follow the religion of Abraham, who was upright and no polytheist.”
2:136 Say: “We believe in Allah, in what has been revealed to us, what was revealed to Abraham, Isma‘il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, and in what was imparted to Moses, Jesus and the other Prophets from their Lord, making no distinctions between any of them, and to Him we submit.”
2:137 If they believe in what you have believed, they will be well guided: but if they turn away, they are indeed dissenting: and Allah will protect you against them; for He is All-Hearing, Omniscient.
2:138 [We take on] Allah’s Own Colour (religion); and what colour is better than Allah’s? And we do worship Him.
You have your religion and we have ours and we shall see who prevails with Allah.
2:139 Say: “Do you dispute with us concerning Allah when He is our Lord and your Lord? We have our works (by which we shall be judged) and you have your works (by which you shall be judged). To Him alone we are devoted.
Jesus, Abraham and his progeny are Muslims.
2:140 Or do you say: ‘Abraham, Isma‘il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes were Jews and Christians?'” Say: “Who knows better, you or Allah?” And who is more unjust than he who conceals a testimony which he has received from Allah? Allah is not unaware of what you do."
2:141 That is a nation which passed away. It shall reap what it has earned, and you shall reap what you have earned. You shall not be questioned about what they were doing.
The Koran was not only sent to correct errors in the transmission of the Bible but to reveal what was concealed of Allah's original Message. What was left out and why is unclear; but it does matter, "seek His Good Pleasure" accept the "clear book" and he will forgive you for what you did.
5:15 O People of the Book (Jews and Christians), Our Messenger came to you to show you much of what you used to conceal of the Book (the Scriptures) and to pardon a great deal. Indeed, a light and a clear book (the Qur’an) has come to you from Allah.
5:16 Allah guides with it those who seek His Good Pleasure to the paths of peace, brings them out of the shadows of darkness into the light, by His Leave, and guides them to a straight path.
Christians and Jews may or may not be entitled to Allah's Bounties which includes His guidance and His forgiveness.
57:28 O believers, fear Allah and believe in His Messenger, so that he might show you His Mercy twofold, give you a light by which you might walk about and forgive you. Allah is All-Forgiving, Merciful;
57:29 That the People of the Book may know that they have no power over anything of Allah’s Bounty, and that Bounty is in Allah’s Power; He gives it to whoever He pleases. Allah is the Great Bounty.
Allah the Protector of Monasteries, Churches, Synagogues and Mosques
(updated from the print version)
The Koran makes no demand of Muslims to publically acknowledge Muhammad as the Messenger of Allah in their declaration of faith, the Shahadah.
During and after the Muslim conquest of Palestine and much of the Middle East when Christians and Jews were asked to declare that they believed in the one God, most promptly said so, for they did, and thereby qualified for Allah's protection as the One so honoured makes clear in the following.
22:40 Those who were driven out of their homes unjustly, merely for their saying: “Our Lord is Allah.” Had Allah not repelled some people by others, surely monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is mentioned frequently, would have been demolished. Indeed, Allah will support whoever supports Him. Allah is surely Strong and Mighty.
22:41 Those who, if We establish them firmly in the land, will perform the prayer, give the alms, command the good and prohibit evil. To Allah belongs the outcome of all affairs.
What was briefly referred to as the Double Shahadah with the inclusion of the acknowledgement that Muhammad is Allah's Messenger, approximately one hundred years after the Prophet's passing, caused Christians and Jews to reconsider saying what was asked of them.
This may have been the intention of the caliph responsible for the Double Shahadah. The caliphate needed the money from the unbelievers in the form of a right-to-live tax to continue the war against the unbelievers as only a fifth of the Zakat could be used for military campaigns in Allah's Cause.
Many Christians and Jews, until the Double Shahadah, avoided paying the Jizya by acknowledging the god of the Muslim as their god which he was, but could not bring themselves to acknowledge Muhammad as His Messenger.