(Mormonism & Islam, part 8)
J E S U S, S A V I O R O R S P E C I A L P R O P H E T
Mormons believe that when Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden, they were commanded to offer sacrifice. Offering sacrifices of the firstling of the flock throughout the Old Testament served to efface sins. According to the LDS Book of Moses:
And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient to the commandments of the Lord.(Moses 5:5)
The Quran agrees with this practice:
And remember when Moses said to his people: 'Allah commands you to slaughter a cow,' . . . 'God say, it is a cow, neither old not young, full-grown, between the two, now do what you are commanded.' . . . 'God says, it is a cow not broken in to plough the earth or water the tilth; one without blemish; of one colour.' They said: 'Now hast thou brought the truth.' Then they slaughtered her, though they would rather not do so.(2:68-72)
Mormons contend that the law of sacrifice was in similitude of the eventual sacrifice of Jesus for the remission of the sins of the world:
And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.
And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father which is full of grace and truth.
Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forever.(Moses 5:6-8)
The Quran agrees with the concept that God will efface sins but does not indicate how or that it could or would be done through the sacrifice of a perfect human being:
As to these, maybe Allah will efface their sins; for Allah is the Effacer of sins, and is Most Forgiving.(4:100)
This brings up a point which would be deemed as blasphemous by Islam. Mormons believe that the God of the Old Testament, who is apparently the Allah of Islam, was actually Jesus Christ. Thus Allah (if he was Jesus) would be the effacer of sins through his eventual crucifixion. One Quranic passage indicates that Allah was not Jesus as the Christians believed:
Indeed they are disbelievers who say. 'Surely, Allah is not but the Messiah, son of Mary,' whereas the Messiah said, "O children of Israel, worship Allah Who is my Lord and your Lord . . . " (5:73)
Mormons agree that Jesus himself insisted that we only worship God. Since the Quran was not written down until some decades after Mohammed and since Caliph Uthman had the other versions of the Quran burned leaving us only with this one and since there could have been verses inserted into the Quran by early Islamic clerics demonstrated by sudden changes in literary style, these reasons tend to indicate that there appear to be a few teachings in the Quran which might be considered somehow incomplete or incorrect. Even the Bible, other religious texts and definitely daily newspapers have a few errors. Of course Moslems would not admit to any errors in the Quran.
Mormons contend that Jesus was the final sacrifice for the sins of the world fulfilling what was revealed in the Old Testament. The Quran describes Jesus and his mission:
And We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow in their footsteps, fulfilling that which was revealed before him in the Torah; and We gave him Gospel which contained guidance and light, fulfilling that which was before it in the Torah, and a guidance and an admonition for the God-fearing.(5:47)
The disagreement on the status and mission of Jesus might be slightly resolved by considering the following scriptures:
And your God is One God, there is not God but He, the Gracious, the Merciful.(Quran 2:164)
And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou are in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all.(Moses 1:6)
The LDS scripture from the Book of Moses affirms the Islamic creed la illaha ila-llah (there is no God but God) while also stating that Jesus is the Only Begotten and the Savior.
The Quran relates the story of the birth of Jesus in a manner acceptable to Mormonism as demonstrated by the following Quranic passages:
And when the angels said, 'O Mary, Allah has chosen thee and purified thee and chosen thee above the women of all peoples . . .
When the Angels said, 'O Mary, Allah gives thee glad tidings of a word from Him; his name shall be the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, honoredin this world and in the next, and of those who are granted nearness to God.
'And he shall speak to the people in the cradle and when of middle age, and he shall be of the righteous.'
She said, 'My Lord, how shall I have a son, when no man has touched me?' He said, "Such is the way of Allah, He created what He pleases. When He decrees a thing, He Says to it 'Be!' and it is.
"And He will teach him the Book and the Wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel; "And will make him a messenger to the children of Israel . . .
'And I come fulfilling that which is before me, namely, the Torah; and to allow you some of that which was forbidden you; and come with a Sign from your Lord; so fear Allah and obey me.
'Surely, Allah is my Lord and your Lord; so worship Him; this is the right path.'"
And when Jesus perceived their disbelief, he said, 'Who will be my helpers in the cause of Allah?' The disciples answered, 'We are the helpers of Allah. We have believed in Allah. And bear thou witness that we are obedient.
'Our Lord, we believe in that which Thou hast sent down and we follow this Messenger. So write us down among those who bear witness.'
And they planned, and Allah planned; and Allah is the Best of planners.
When Allah said, 'O Jesus, I will cause thee to die and will exalt thee to Myself, and will clear thee from those who disbelieve, and will place those who follow thee above those who disbelieve, until the Day of Resurrection; then to Me shall be your return,(3:43-56)
This is not unlike the Mormon version of the birth and mission of Jesus. But there are statements in the Quran which would interpreted in different ways be each religion:
And their saying, 'We did kill the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah;' whereas they slew him not, nor crucified him, but he was made to appear to them like one crucified.(4:158)
Other translations of the Quran are similar:
That they said 'We killed Christ Jesus The son of Mary, The Apostle of God'; -- But they killed him not, Nor crucified him, But so it was made to appear to them (Yusef Ali translation 1983:230)
They declared: 'We have put to death the Messiah Jesus the son of Mary, the apostle of Allah.' They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but they thought they did.(Dawood translation 1956:382)
Moslems have interpreted this passage to mean that Jesus did not go on the cross at all; Mormons might interpret it to mean that he was not permanently killed because in three days after his death he was resurrected. So did not permanently die but was back among his disciples soon after dying on the cross. Due to the contentions early Moslems must have had with Christians, it seems that in order to define a difference between Islam and Christianity, the issue of crucifixion and only begotten status of Jesus was carried to an opposite extreme by Moslems. To clarify the actual mission of Jesus, Mormons would cite the Book of Mormon which was written on another continent and which they feel is a second witness to Christ and his mission. The concept of two witnesses is found in the Quran:
O ye who believe! the evidence among you, when death presents itself to one of you, at the time of making a bequest, is of two just men from among you:(5:107)
In the Bible:
At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.(Deuteronomy 17:6)
The Book of Mormon tells of Jesus' visit to the Nephites:
And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came.
And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them:
Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name--hear ye him.
And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them.
And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people saying:
Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.
And behold, I am the light and life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things.
And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words the whole multitude fell to the earth; for they remembered that it had been prophesied among them that Christ should show himself unto them after his ascension into heaven.
And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying:
Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.(III Nephi 11:5-14)
Mormons would cite this scripture and several others to prove that Jesus was seen on the other side of the world by people who personally felt the nail prints and were told that he was crucified and was the Savior. The Book of Mormon was buried in a hill in New York about 200 years before Mohammed and is therefore acceptable by Islam except for certain passages which do not concur with present day Islamic policy.
Other than the status and mission of Jesus, another major point of disagreement is whether Mohammed was the last prophet for the world. If one were to accept the translation of kh_tem ennabiyyin as meaning "end of the prophets" as most modern Moslems suppose, then there could be no more prophets. But if this were the case then Allah's hand would be tied up contrary to the Quranic verse which affirms that Allah's hand is not tied up.(5:56) Then Mormons could argue that if Mohammed is believed to be the last prophet for the known world at the time of Mohammed, which would be the Near East, Far East, Europe, Africa, etc., the American continent would not count. Thus all the Book of Mormon prophets who were before Mohammed and those from Joseph Smith on would be acceptable. The Quran states:
Muhammed is not the father of any of your men but the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets;(33:41)
The most likely answer which would be offered by Mormons is that the word khatam in Arabic is defined as "seal, signet-ring, stamp ring, finger-ring." as well as "completion, conclusion, etc." At the time of Mohammed, a king or ruler would authenticate a document with his signet ring. Thus Mohammed would be considered Allah's signet-ring used to authenticate the messages of the former prophets as a sealing witness. This interpretation would explain Mohammed's mission and leave an opportunity for God to send other messengers as he has always done since the dawn of time. This is how khatam is defined in the Arabic dictionary.
In the Quran Mohammed did not claim revelation, but is defined as merely a messenger:
Say, "I do not say to you, 'I possess the treasures of Allah,' nor do I know the unseen; nor do I say to you: 'I am an angel.' I follow only that which is revealed to me.(6:51)
And Muhammad is only a Messenger.(4:145)
(Continued in Mormonism & Islam, Part 9)