Worshipping The Same Or A Different God?

This is a response to the missionary article on a so-called “error” in the Qur’an. We basically feel that this claim of theirs with regard to this being an “error” in the Qur’an is best described as an “inconsequential polemic”. They claim that “the problems that this surah poses should be apparent to anyone familiar with both the Qur’an and the Islamic traditions”, and to reproduce the missionary rhetoric, they identify the “first problem” as:

First problem: Whom exactly is this Surah referring to?

(a) The People of the Book (Jews, Christians, perhaps Sabians)?
(b) The Meccan idolaters?

First, let us establish the correct methodology in our interpretation of the above verse. We will use the Qur’an to interpret the Qur’an, as this is the perfectly accepted methodology as adopted in Qur’anic exegesis. Therefore, if we use the Qur’an to interpret the Qur’an, it can easily be noted that the Qur’an presents many different types of disbelievers. Therefore, a person should go back and look through the Qur’an to identify which type of “disbeliever” fits the category of surah 109. This is the correct way of understanding the Qur’an.

Now, moving on to the “disputed” surah, we read that:

“Say: O disbelievers! I worship not that which ye worship; Nor worship ye that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which ye worship. Nor will ye worship that which I worship. Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion.” (Q. 109:1-6)

It is established in any authoritative surah of the Prophet (P) that this verse is a Makkan surah which was revealed when the idolators in Makkah confronted the Prophet(P) with a “proposal” to counter his public preaching in the city.Therefore the answer to the missionary rhetoric is (b). We certainly do not see how the missionaries could claim that there are “problems” in this verse in regard to who it is directed at, when it is clear that anyone who understands the asbab an-nuzul of this surah sees no problems in it!

It should be noted that if a religion’s concept of God is incorrect even though there are some elements of truth in its conception of God, then Muslims will neither worship that God nor will the disbelievers worship our different concept of God (or otherwise it will negate their religion).The Qur’an never stated that any other religion’s concept of God is completely correct. This is clearly noted in ‘ayah 4:36, “…worship Allah and join none with Him in worship”.

The so-called “second problem” generated by the missionaries is the claim that the above s?rah contradicts verses such as:

“…our God and your God is One, and unto Him we surrender.” (Q. 29:46)

To make things clear, the missionary is really claiming that his interpretation of ‘ayah 29:46 is in contradiction. Therefore, in order to arrive at the correct interpretation it is very important that we do not look at verses in a vacuum, and divorce it from the context — ‘ayahs 3:64 and 5:74 informs us that there is something false about the Christians’ understanding of God, and that they have too many gods in their belief (Trinity). This “God is One” has been clearly defined and excludes the Trinity or “sons of God”.

Therefore, ‘ayah 29:46 is not stating that the Christians have a correct understanding of God in this verse or the correct number of Gods and Muslims share in that understanding. That is a false and twisted interpretation. Rather, the only other valid interpretation is that the Qur’an is teaching the Christians the truth about the God which they read about in the Bible, by reaffirming:

“Our God and YOUR God is One.” (Q. 29:46)

This phrase “God is One” has already been defined in the Qur’?n as one being without Trinity or a Son:

“O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Do not exceed the limits in your religion, nor say of Allah aught but the truth. The Messiah ‘Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah and His Word, (“Be!” – and he was) which He bestowed on Maryam (Mary) and a spirit (Ruh) created by Him; so believe in All?h and His Messengers. Say not: “Three (trinity)!” Cease! (it is) better for you. For All?h is (the only) One Il?h (God), Glory be to Him (Far Exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is All Sufficient as a Disposer of affairs.” (Q. 4:171)

Here we see God directly addressing both the Jews and Christians (with special reference to the latter). Notice how the phrase “Allah (God) is one” is being used here to condemn the Christian understanding of God (Trinity, Sonship, Divinity of Christ), and also, to correct the false Christian understanding of the Christians but emphatically stating “for Allah is (the only) One Ilah! Therefore, if Christians believe that Jesus is God, part of a Trinity, or has a Sonship with God, they obviously do not belive in one God as defined by the Qur’an. Therefore, it is clear that when the Qur’an pronounces “God is One” to the Christians it is not agreeing with the Christian concept of God, rather it goes on the offensive in condemning and correcting their beliefs.

Therefore, to rephrase this statement:

    If God is One = the God, without partners or a Trinity

    then

    Our God and your God, is God without partners or a Trinity

The author of the Qur’an is pronouncing to the Christian that GOD IS ONE! It is completely irrelevant as to what the Christians already believed about their God, it means nothing to the author of the Qur’an in ‘ayah 29:46 because the Qur’an is telling them what is the truth. Nevertheless, it is admitted that the Christians do worship this God but they worship this God in tandem with additional partners (‘ayahs 3:64, 5:74).

It will always be a missionary fantasy to find “incoherance” or “problems” within the Noble Qur’an. The biggest problem in these types of discussions, however, is that the Christians have been duped into believing that they are strict monotheists who worship only one God, which is a totally false assumption from the start. Please also keep in mind that the Qur’an also clearly states that the Bible has been corrupted (‘ayahs 2:79, 4:157), which would explain how the Christians fell into false doctrines about God.

We have used the traditional method of Qur’anic exegesis, i.e., al-Qur’an yufassiru ba’duhu ba’dan (different parts of the Qur’an explain each other). What is given in a general way in one place is discussed in detail in some other place in the Qur’an. What is dealt with briefly at one place is expanded in some other place.

And only God knows best!

Cite this article as: Nadir Ahmed & Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi, "Worshipping The Same Or A Different God?," in Bismika Allahuma, October 14, 2005, last accessed July 23, 2018, https://www.bismikaallahuma.org/quran/worshipping-the-same-or-a-different-god/

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