The plural form “they (whom they so designate)” in the verse draws our attention to the fact that there were others besides Jesus who were spoken of as the sons of God. Such beliefs were not limited to Christianity or to the Mediterranean culture. In the regions into which the early Christian faith was eventually introduced, there were numerous temples dedicated to gods and sons of gods, such as Apollo or Dionysius among the Greeks, Hercules among the Romans, Mithra among the Persians, Adonis and Altis in Syria, Osiris and Horus in Egypt, and Bal among the Babylonians. Nearly all of these deities had significant commonalities, as Edward Carpenter in Pagan and Christian Creeds: Their Origin and Meaning, (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1921) says:
- They were sons of god.
- They were born on or very near to Christmas Day.
- They were born of a virgin mother.
- They were born in a cave or underground chamber.
- They led a life of toil for humankind.
- They were called by the names of Light-Bringer, Healer, Mediator, Savior, Deliverer, or Messiah.
- They descended into hell or the underworld.
- They rose again from the dead and became the pioneers of humankind, leading the way for humans to reach the heavenly world.
- They founded communities of Saints and churches, in which disciples were received by baptism.
- They were commemorated by Eucharistic meals.
Madonna, the mother goddess with the “Child Redeemer Horus,” was honoured in northern Egypt, and Isis was supposedly a virgin mother, worshipped just as Mary is today. Osiris was also reputed to have been born of the virgin Neith on December 29. He was betrayed, was slain, and was “arisen” to life again. Among the Germanic tribes, the goddess Hertha was regarded as a virgin with a child in her arms. Balder of Scandinavia was called a “healer” and a “Savior” of humankind. Gods such as Odin bore sons, and Frigga was conceived from a “Father-god.” Bacchus, also called Dionysius, was said to have been born of a virgin named Demeter on December 25. All such legends, stories with which the whole pagan world was fully saturated, were imputed to Jesus, his mother, and his church.
According to Rev. Joseph B. Gross, the Chinese also had a “Virgin Mother Goddess” (The Heathen Religion in Its Popular and Symbolical Development [Boston: J. P. Jewett, 1856]). The Hindu Lord Krishna was never born out of the womb of his mother, as an ordinary human baby is (though outwardly he appeared like a normal human being); he was actually Lord Narayan or Vishnu, and he came down to planet earth from his “Supreme Abode” to eradicate the evil forces, to restore the “Dharma,” and to liberate the worthy ones or devotees (Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva 49.20; Bhagavata Purana, Canto 10 Chapter 3 Verse 46).
Mithraism flourished for six hundred or more years in Persia, reached Rome in about 70 BCE, and spread throughout the Mediterranean region. During the third century CE, it was the most powerful cult in Europe. What we know about Mithra is that he was reputed to be a mediator between God and man. He was born of a virgin in a cave on December 25. He had twelve disciples. He died in the service of humanity. He was buried but rose again from the tomb. His resurrection was celebrated with great joy. His great festivals were on Christmas and Easter. People entered his cult through baptism.
No doubt, the foregoing information will elicit surprise and create doubt in the mind of a Christian reader, because this Mithraism cult has left virtually no traces. The Christians in power in Alexandria and Rome suppressed it with all available powers throughout the Mediterranean region and the rest of Europe. Otherwise, Christianity, in its present form, would have had no chance to flourish. Mithraism died when most of its legends were incorporated into the new religion of Christianity, and through the efforts of such Church Fathers as Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Saint Jerome, the name Mithra was replaced by a new name: Jesus Christ (John M. Robertson, Pagan Christs: Studies in Comparative Hierology [London: Watts & Co., 1911]). The historian Tertullian (approx. 160–225 CE) stated that the learned in his day considered Mithraism and Christianity as identical.
Coincidences may occur in some instances, of course, but repetition of almost all distinctive points of Christ’s life with those lives of legendary “son gods” are too numerous to ignore. These facts need thoughtful perusal and considered judgment. It is enough for you to understand that many Christian mysteries cannot safely be ascribed to divine origin. The Holy Qur’ân says,
قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لَا تَغْلُوا فِي دِينِكُمْ غَيْرَ الْحَقِّ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا أَهْوَاءَ قَوْمٍ قَدْ ضَلُّوا مِن قَبْلُ وَأَضَلُّوا كَثِيرًا وَضَلُّوا عَن سَوَاءِ السَّبِيلِ
“Say, O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in (the matter of) your religion falsely and unjustly, nor follow the fancies of a people who had gone astray before (you) and had led many astray, and (now again) who have strayed from the right path” (5:77).
This verse tells us that in making these doctrines the basis of their religion, the Christian Fathers have simply followed erroneous doctrines followed by people before them. We read in Holy Qur’ân:
وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ عُزَيْرٌ ابْنُ اللَّهِ وَقَالَتِ النَّصَارَى الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ اللَّهِ ۖ ذَٰلِكَ قَوْلُهُم بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ ۖ
“There are some of the Jews who say, Ezra is the son of Allâh, while the Christians say, The Messiah is the son of Allâh. These are mere words that they speak. They only imitate the words of the infidels of old. Allâh assail them! Whither they are deluded away!” (9:30).
Christians have created a god for themselves, a man who came out of the womb of an Israelite woman: “A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son” (Bible: Isaiah 7.14; also Matthew 1.23); and “Thou art my son” (Bible: Psalms 2:7). This is a new-born god, who is at the same time a weak and helpless man, yet this man is considered independent of all, and we are all expected to depend on him for our needs, and without him no affair can supposedly be accomplished. But perplexingly enough, he had to die on a cross in an ungodly state. For some Christians, Mary is the divine Mother and omnipotent intercessor.
وَالَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ لَا يَخْلُقُونَ شَيْئًا وَهُمْ يُخْلَقُونَأَمْوَاتٌ غَيْرُ أَحْيَاءٍ ۖ وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ أَيَّانَ يُبْعَثُونَإِلَـٰهُكُمْ إِلَـٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۚ
“And the things whom they call upon apart from Allâh can create nothing. Rather they are themselves created. They are dead, not alive. And they do not perceive when they shall be raised (to life again). Your God is One God” (16:20–22).
وَاتَّخَذُوا مِن دُونِهِ آلِهَةً لَّا يَخْلُقُونَ شَيْئًا وَهُمْ يُخْلَقُونَ وَلَا يَمْلِكُونَ لِأَنفُسِهِمْ ضَرًّا وَلَا نَفْعًا وَلَا يَمْلِكُونَ مَوْتًا وَلَا حَيَاةً وَلَا نُشُورًا
“Yet people worship apart from Him gods who, rather than create anything, are themselves created and who have no power of (averting) harm or (doing) good to themselves, nor have they any control over death or life or Resurrection” (25:3).
أَيُشْرِكُونَ مَا لَا يَخْلُقُ شَيْئًا وَهُمْ يُخْلَقُونَ وَلَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ لَهُمْ نَصْرًا وَلَا أَنفُسَهُمْ يَنصُرُونَ وَإِن تَدْعُوهُمْ إِلَى الْهُدَىٰ لَا يَتَّبِعُوكُمْ ۚ سَوَاءٌ عَلَيْكُمْ أَدَعَوْتُمُوهُمْ أَمْ أَنتُمْ صَامِتُونَ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ عِبَادٌ أَمْثَالُكُمْ ۖ فَادْعُوهُمْ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لَكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ أَلَهُمْ أَرْجُلٌ يَمْشُونَ بِهَا ۖ أَمْ لَهُمْ أَيْدٍ يَبْطِشُونَ بِهَا ۖ أَمْ لَهُمْ أَعْيُنٌ يُبْصِرُونَ بِهَا ۖ أَمْ لَهُمْ آذَانٌ يَسْمَعُونَ بِهَا ۗ قُلِ ادْعُوا شُرَكَاءَكُمْ ثُمَّ كِيدُونِ فَلَا تُنظِرُونِ إِنَّ وَلِيِّيَ اللَّهُ الَّذِي نَزَّلَ الْكِتَابَ ۖ وَهُوَ يَتَوَلَّى الصَّالِحِينَ وَالَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِهِ لَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ نَصْرَكُمْ وَلَا أَنفُسَهُمْ يَنصُرُونَ وَإِن تَدْعُوهُمْ إِلَى الْهُدَىٰ لَا يَسْمَعُوا ۖ وَتَرَاهُمْ يَنظُرُونَ إِلَيْكَ وَهُمْ لَا يُبْصِرُونَ خُذِ الْعَفْوَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْعُرْفِ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْجَاهِلِينَ
“They associate (with Him as partners) those who create nothing but are themselves created. They (the associated gods) will have no power to give them (who associate partners with Allâh) any help, nor can they help themselves (but will themselves perish). If you invite these (associated gods) for (your) guidance, they will not respond to you. It makes no difference to you whether you call them or you remain silent.
Verily, those whom you call on beside Allâh are (merely helpless maids or) servants like yourselves. (If it is not so then) call on them, they should then make a response to you if you are right.
“Have these (gods) feet with which they walk, or have they hands with which they hold, or have they eyes with which they see, or have they ears with which they hear? Say, Call upon your associate gods, then contrive you all against me and give me no respite, (yet you will see that I am triumphant because) Verily, My Protecting-Friend is Allâh Who has revealed this perfect Book and He takes into (His) protection all the righteous.
And those whom you call upon besides Him have no power to help you, nor can they help themselves. And if you call these [sermon readers] to guidance they will not even be able to hear (you speak). And though you see them (as if they are) looking at you while (as a matter of fact) they do not see (anything being absent minded as they are). Take to forgiveness and ever forbear and enjoin (the doing of) good and turn away from (those who intentionally want to remain) ignorant” (7:191–199).
Jesus own history, as presented in the New Testament, bears witness against his divinity. Had he been divine, he would not have cried, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? – My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46). When his opponents dared him, saying that if he came down from the cross on his own, they would believe in him, he would at once have done so. When satan challenged him saying, If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread (Matthew 4:3), he would have done so. However, in response he was helpless.
On no occasion did Jesus demonstrate his “godly” powers. The Trimutris of Hindus – the three main gods— Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva—seem superior to him in many respects, as do their other deities. They are more divine than the Nazarene god is, and they can claim more genuineness for their life record. Their precepts are, in general, more majestic, more awe-inspiring, and of greater practical utility than the visionary Sermon on the Mount of Jesus. The “son god” of the Christians was a humble person like many others, and he was characterized by human weaknesses. He demonstrated no divine attribute, and there was nothing in him that is not to be found in other human beings.
The Holy Qur’ân has thoroughly presented the question of the alleged divine sonship of Jesus in several verses and rejects it altogether in very strong and uncompromising Words in any form:
لَقَدْ كَفَرَ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ ۖ وَقَالَ الْمَسِيحُ يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ رَبِّي وَرَبَّكُمْ ۖ
بَدِيعُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لَهُ وَلَدٌ وَلَمْ تَكُن لَّهُ صَاحِبَةٌ ۖ وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ ۖ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ
“He is Wonderful and Primary Originator of the heavens and the earth! How (and whence) can there be a son for Him, when He has no consort? He has created all things and He has perfect knowledge of everything” (6:101).
These verses describe the transcendental Unity of the Divine Being. To attribute a son to Him is to acknowledge that He needs a consort, but there was no wife of God, and if He has no wife, He can by no means have a son. Besides, the mother and father must belong to the same species, and they must supplement each other, whereas God is peerless. The birth of a son necessitates a relationship between a male and a female, which cannot be ascribed to God; thus, a connection will imply a certain weakness in His person and His Attributes.
Allâh is the Wonderful Originator of the heavens and the earth. He has created everything. He is the Knower of all things. These attributes are peculiar to Allâh alone, and are not to be found in anyone else in the universe. Jesus displays none of these attributes. Had he been the son of God, as he is alleged to have been, he would have to have possessed some of the peculiar and distinctive qualities of his father, as other sons possess some peculiarities of their fathers. On the contrary, we find nothing in him of the qualities of a Creator and Sustainer. He was every bit a mortal and helpless creature, inasmuch as he always stood in need of food; his mother and he both used to eat food (5:75). As Creator and Originator, Allâh possesses the Knowledge of all the details about His creation, a quality that Jesus did not possess in the least. We find Jesus, once driven by hunger, approaching a fig tree in the winter season and, not finding any fruit on it, becoming angry and cursing it just like any ordinary, frustrated man.
A man wants a son because he is subject to death and wants to leave behind a progeny. Allâh, however, is everlasting and eternal; He can therefore be in no need of a son. The capacity for having progeny is meant only for such beings who are mortal in their nature, whereas Allâh is Self-Existing; He is the basis of the existence of the whole creation. He is the Fountainhead of all life, and He alone maintains life. As such, He is in no need of a son or any assistant to help Him in His work or to succeed Him. He is far above the needs of all the worlds (29:6). The Holy Qur’ân has approached the question of the alleged divinity, or sonship, of Jesus from various angles:
مَّا الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ وَأُمُّهُ صِدِّيقَةٌ ۖ كَانَا يَأْكُلَانِ الطَّعَامَ ۗ
“The Messiah, son of Mary, was only a Messenger (of Allâh), all the Messengers have (like him) passed away before him, his mother was a highly truthful woman. They both used to eat food. See how We explain the arguments for their good, yet see, how they are turned away (from the truth)” (5:75).
Jesus and his revered mother were each mortal and were each subject to the laws that govern mortals. Never did Allâh “give them such bodies as could go without food, neither were they people given unusually long lives (to enjoy)” (21:8).
Jesus himself used to worship Allâh and pray to Him. The Gospels bear ample testimony to the fact that he did so. He was neither God nor the son of God; he was but a humble being who was in dire need of help from the All-Mighty, Whom he worshipped and to Whom he prayed with utter humility and with tears in his eyes.
لَّن يَسْتَنكِفَ الْمَسِيحُ أَن يَكُونَ عَبْدًا لِّلَّهِ وَلَا الْمَلَائِكَةُ الْمُقَرَّبُونَ ۚ
“The Messiah never disdains to be (looked upon as) a servant of Allâh, nor do the angels who are nearest (to Him consider the fact degrading for themselves)” (4:172).
Verses 4:171–172 indicate the positions of Jesus and Mary, defend them both from false claims of divinity, and re-establish the honour they deserve.
يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لَا تَغْلُوا فِي دِينِكُمْ وَلَا تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ إِلَّا الْحَقَّ ۚ إِنَّمَا الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ وَكَلِمَتُهُ أَلْقَاهَا إِلَىٰ مَرْيَمَ وَرُوحٌ مِّنْهُ ۖ فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِ ۖ وَلَا تَقُولُوا ثَلَاثَةٌ ۚ انتَهُوا خَيْرًا لَّكُمْ ۚ إِنَّمَا اللَّهُ إِلَـٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ سُبْحَانَهُ أَن يَكُونَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ ۘ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ وَكِيلًا
“O people of the Scripture! Do not go beyond the limits (of propriety) in the matter of your religion, nor say anything regarding Allâh except that which is perfectly true. The Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary was only a Messenger of Allâh, and (a fulfilment of) His word which He communicated to Mary, and a mercy from Him. Believe, therefore, in Allâh and in all His Messengers, and do not say, (There are) three (Gods). Refrain (from following this doctrine) it will be better for you. Verily, Allâh is the One and only worthy of worship. He is Holy. Far above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. And Allâh suffices as a Dispenser of affairs” (4:171).
Christians associated a son to Him with an additional “Holy Spirit,” still not disagreeing on His Unity (calculating one from one plus one plus one). Allâh says, “Most certainly, they have disbelieved who say, Allâh is the third of the three.” (5:73)
In the history of many kingdoms in Asia and Europe, there were kings whose heirs raised a disturbance in their respective domains; in some cases, the father felt obliged to have his son killed, and other cases, the son felt it necessary to have his father killed. Similarly, whenever there were two rival claimants to a particular throne, the affairs of the kingdom generally became chaotic and violent; in the end, one of them typically was killed or expelled from the country so that order could be restored in the kingdom. The Holy Qur’ân refers to this aspect:
“Had there been in them [the heaven and the earth] other gods beside Allâh, then surely both would have gone to ruin (because of chaos, disorder and confusion). Glorified then be Allâh, the Lord of the Throne of power, far above what they attribute (to Him)” (21:22).
“And the things whom they call upon apart from Allâh can create nothing. Rather they are themselves created. They are dead, not alive. And they do not perceive when they shall be raised (to life again)” (16:20–21).
This is an unequivocal statement, addressing those who call upon Jesus. Jesus is dead, his mother is dead, and there was no resurrection. The statement needs no further interpretation. If the All-Mighty God is Self-Sufficient, without limits and without dimension, we would be fools to ask Him to step down from His throne of infinite Powers and give birth through the womb of a woman to his own son. How can a limitless, infinite Being be confined in the mind of a man or in the belly of a woman? Helplessness, need, and weakness are not divine attributes. Being a needy, helpless, and weak son of an All-Mighty negates his alleged divine origin. Holy is Allâh, far above all that they attribute to Him. He has Knowledge of both the hidden and the manifest. He is exalted above all the things and beings they associate with Him (23:91–92). He says: “your god is One God” (2:163). They have made the son of man into His deputy, as if Allâh had appointed him his vice-regent with full powers. They put the son of man on the same level as their Lord. They say they serve them only that he may bring them near to Allâh in station (39:3). By saying so they have transgressed the limit set by Allâh (6:110) and they have tried to make their own transgression into a means of nearness to Him (39:3). They do not know that this is actually a distance from Him. “They have strayed, a far off straying” (4:116). He also says, “Allâh does not protect [– Ghafara means to protect or cover] that a partner be associated with Him” (4:116). One can only protect or cover a body. These associates are non-existent, so Allâh does not find them, and that is why He cannot cover and protect them. This verse expresses the extreme dislike of their action on the part of Allâh.