There seems to be an agreement among both the Christians and Muslims that faith should be reasonable. There is a renewed interest in apologetics among the Christian community and Dawahs are mushrooming among the Islamic community. It will be educative to examine the approach of Jesus and Mohammed regarding the faith that they have established. By Jerry Thomas
There seems to be an agreement among both the Christians and Muslims that faith should be reasonable. There is a renewed interest in apologetics among the Christian community and Dawahs are mushrooming among the Islamic community. It will be educative to examine the approach of Jesus and Mohammed regarding the faith that they have established. We will examine their approach on broadly three areas:
- How Jesus and Mohammed did teach their followers?
- How did Jesus and Mohammed substantiate their claims?
- How did Jesus and Mohammed answer their accusers?
How did Jesus and Mohammed teach their followers?
If one examines the sermons of Jesus Christ, it is worth noting that though he spoke with authority, He always employed logic to illuminate His doctrines. To demonstrate this, let us consider a few examples. He taught about the permanence of marriage as against the no fault divorce (Mathew 5:31, 32), a radical idea both then and now. When he was questioned about this (Mathew 19:1-10), he answered: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female. And said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together let not man separate” (emphasize ours). There is an intrinsic connection between the life-long monogamous marriage taught by LORD Jesus and the reason He gave.
Again, Jesus taught the one should trust in God and He will provide for all our needs (Mathew 6: 25-34). He provided afortiori argument for this. It can be stated like this:
Premise 1: The Father in Heaven takes care of the birds, the lilies and even the grass of the fields which is of less of value
Premise 2: You are of greater value for the Father in Heaven
Conclusion: Therefore, He will surely take care of you.
A few other instances where Jesus provided afortiori argument are: John 7:21–24, Luke 13:10-17, Mathew 9:4-6 etc. There is not a single instance in the Gospels where Jesus taught without reason or practiced contradictory to his own teachings.
Now let us consider Mohammed. Let us again take the subject of marriage as taught by Mohammed. In Surah 4:3 and Surah 4:34, there are two instructions regarding marriage. Surah 4:3 says one can marry three or four women for the benefit of orphans. And Surah 4:34 says one can beat ones wife(s) if she (they) are disobedient. One must observe the rationale for polygamy and wife beating as given in Koran.
Polygamy is justified on the basis of taking care of orphans and domestic violence (beating of wife(s)) on the basis of disobedience of wife(s). Though orphanages as instituted by the Church are an alternative way of taking care of orphans, for arguments sake, one can give some credibility to the argument of polygamy. For arguments sake, if we consider this reason, there is still no intrinsic connection between the reason given in Koran and the number four. It could have been eight or even 12. In fact, Mohammed himself married at least 13 women at a time practicing contradictory to his own teaching.
Again, one cannot find any connection between disobedience of wife(s) and beating wife(s). One can only say that two wrongs do not make a right.
All these makes Muhammad’s arguments (or Allah’s arguments) shallow and pathetic while LORD GOD Jesus’ arguments shines in its brilliance.
How did Jesus and Mohammed substantiate their respective claims?
Jesus claimed himself as Messiah (Luke 4:21), and as the incarnation of God himself (John 8:58). He substantiated these claims with numerous reasons. For example, to the disciples of John the Baptist, He argued His case in the following
way (Luke 7; 21-22):
Premise 1: If one gives sight to the blind, ears to the deaf, heal the lame, He is the Messiah according to scriptures (Isaiah 35:5, 6)
Premise 2: I do all these acts
Conclusion: Therefore I am the Messiah.
He further reasoned that the Messiah cannot be merely a human descendent of David but has to be God himself. In this argument, He established his claim as incarnation of God himself.
Premise 1: If Messiah is only a human descendent of David, he could not have called Messiah Lord
Premise 2: David called Messiah as ‘Lord’
Conclusion: Therefore Messiah cannot be merely a human descendent of David
Moreover, Jesus strengthened His case by citing the witnesses of John the Baptist, the scriptures, the Heavenly Father and His works. It must be noted here that Jesus taught His disciples about the specific references about Him in the scriptures (Luke 24:44, 45, Mathew 11:10). Apostle Mathew, one of his disciples eloquently produces all these references in the gospel he wrote (Mathew 1:23, 2:18, 3:3, 4:1, 8:17, 12:18-21, etc). His miracles were also unparallel and similar miracles happened in the history of the world only in His name.
Most importantly, Jesus attested His claims by unique and unambiguously supernatural proofs. In the gospel of John, we see these proofs. His resurrection (John 2:19), and his sinless perfect holy life (John 8:46) were offered as the attestation of his claims. The nature of these proofs is evidently sufficient for His claims.
Mohammed is said to be the seal of the prophets according to Koran (Surah 33:40). Mohammed claimed that he is mentioned in other scriptures (Surah 7:157). Further, Mohammed tried to attest his claim by challenging the men and Jinn to produce a Surah like that of Koran (Surah 17:88, 2:23). Again, in Surah 4:82, Mohammed claimed that there no contradictions in Koran.
It must be noted here that though Mohammed claimed to be referred in other scriptures, he did not produce a single specific reference to substantiate his claim. Koran does not even have one reference from other scriptures to substantiate his claim. Is it not reasonable to expect references from other scriptures in Koran itself for others to verify rather than leaving it to the wild imaginations of followers? The total lack of any specific reference in the Koran makes the first claim an empty one. The second proof, eloquence of Koran, by nature is not a good argument for its divine authorship or Mohammed’s prophetic status. In every language, there are literary master pieces but no one claims divine authorship for those. Interestingly, Koran itself produces a Surah said by a Jinn (Surah 72) exactly like other Surahs which are supposedly from Allah. If this is not enough to invalidate the claim of Mohammed, there is another Koran (The True Fuqran) with seventy seven Surahs available in www.islamexposed.org written by an Arabic poet.
The claim that the one book written by a person does not have contradiction is not a strong argument (though better than the previous one) for divine authorship or the status of a prophet. However, when Mohammed’s own companions pointed out the contradictions in Koran, he excused himself by saying that Allah can annul the previous revelations given to him (Surah 2:106, 16; 101). It again shows that Mohammed could not substantiate his claims with reason but excused himself.
How did Jesus and Mohammed answer their accusers?
During his ministry on earth, Jesus was insulted by his accusers. One time, they accused him of casting out demons by Satan (Mathew 12: 25-30). In responding to these accusers, Jesus produced a threefold argument. Jesus said that no kingdom can survive if it fights against itself. If Jesus is casting out demons by Satan, then Satan’s evil kingdom is already destroyed. Since that conclusion is evidently wrong, their accusation does not have validity.
Here, Jesus demonstrated their irrationality to them. Again, if they accuse Jesus of casting out demons by Satan, they should consistently apply it to their sons who also practice exorcism. In this, Jesus demonstrated their inconsistency.
Further, Jesus gave them a third option: If he is casting demons by the power of God, the Kingdom of God had already come. This is a conclusion they were reluctant to accept due to their sin than reason.
rtain other times, accusers came with a few questions. For example, they questioned about the source of His authority (Mathew 21: 24, 25). At this time, Jesus brilliantly responded with a question: Where did John the Baptist get his authority from? This argument can be stated in the following way:
- If John the Baptist is from God, then he told that I am Christ.
As John the Baptist is from God, therefore, I am Christ.
If they disagree with the second premise, they would have problem from the people as people consider John the Baptist to be a prophet. With one argument, Jesus both answered their question and exposed their hypocrisy.
It should be noted here that, not even once Jesus used violence or force either directly or through disciples to silence the accusers. When one of his disciple resorted to violence, Jesus rebuked him (John 18:11).
Mohammed was also insulted by his enemies. In contrast to Jesus, Mohammed often resorted to violence and murdered both individuals and communities. Asma bint Marwan was a poetess who composed a poem blaming Medians for obeying a stranger (Mohammed) than overthrowing him. When Mohammed heard this, he asked: 'Who will rid me of Marwan's daughter?' One of the followers came forward, and murdered Asma bint Marwan while she was sleeping in her house with five kids (Ibn Ishaq, pp. 675—76 / 995—96). Similarly, at the instruction of Mohammed many more were murdered including a hundred year old man (Ibn Ishaq p. 675 / 995).
In conclusion, after examining the use of reason by Jesus and Mohammed at various times, one can say that Jesus consistently, rigorously and brilliantly employed reason: Jesus is the Master Apologist.
However, Mohammed did not consistently use the reason and even when employed it was not always rigorous and brilliant. And whenever he failed, he resorted to violence. Thus, Mohammed is a failed apologist.