The Quran forbids believers for saying Allah is one of three gods in a Trinity but then why are Christians who also believe in One God not permitted to call God Allah? The second and concluding part of this article explores whether the Bible and the Quran differ on the issue of whether Jesus Christ is the son of God.
Christians do not say that God is one of three persons or gods. Indeed Christians also believe God is One.
That this so is because of the fact that the expression “trinity” or “the trinity” is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible. This is because Christians do not worship three gods. They worship only one God who was the God Abraham and his descendants worshipped, and who is the same God Jews and Muslims worship; that is why they are called People of the Book in the Quran.
But then what about the two objections in Surah 4: 171 and Surah 5: 73 of the Quran?
Surah 4: 171 provides:
Allah (far exalted is He) above having a son.
This means that Jesus is not the son of Allah.
This is what Matthew 26: 63-64 says (King James Version):
63. But Jesus held his peace, And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.
64. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
So the answer in the Bible, Matthew 26: 63-64 above is the same as in the Quran, Surah 4, verse 171. In the Bible, Jesus never said he was the son of God. According to Matthew 26: 64 Jesus said:
. . . Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
This is also confirmed in Matthew 16 that Jesus is the Son of man, thus:
13. When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
14. And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
15. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16. And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Now you know that it was Simon Peter who specifically said in Matthew 16: 16: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” To Peter’s remark he received a sharp rebuke from Jesus in verse 17.
In Surah 5, verse 73 of the Quran it says, “They do blaspheme who say ‘Allah is Christ’.” This shows that the prohibition in the Quran is against believers saying Jesus is Allah/God.
Actually, the Bible does not say specifically that Jesus is God/Allah. Certainly, Jesus never said he is God. In Matthew 26: 64 all Jesus said was: “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
The trinity in Christianity
Actually, the expression Trinity or Holy Trinity does not mean the worship of three persons or gods in Christianity. As I have already explained in previous articles, the word “Trinity” or “Holy Trinity” is a euphemism for God. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the meaning of the Trinity as “(in Christian belief) the three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) that make up God”. The phrase “the three persons” is used figuratively as a metaphor for God. God came to be identified euphemistically as the Father. God was also identified euphemistically as the Son. And the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost is God who came to be identified euphemistically as “God as a spirit that is active in the world”: see the Oxford English Dictionary, Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost).
But then when Christians say, “In the name of God the Father, of God the Son and of God the Holy Ghost”, they are misunderstood by our local Muslims because in Islam “Trinity” means “Allah is one of three in a Trinity”. They think that the Christians’ view of the Trinity is the same as what is forbidden in the Quran which is Allah is one of three gods in a trinity.
Let me explain what Christians really mean when they say God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost:
“God the Father” is really a euphemism for God. Just as Muslims refer to Allah as “Lord” or the Malay word “Tuhan” which are really euphemisms for Allah.
“God the Son” is a euphemism for God. Just as the Quran refers to Jesus as the son whom ‘He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him’; see Surah 4: 171, which is euphemistically identified as the “son” made by Allah because Allah cannot beget a son; see Surah 19; 35: “It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son.”
Likewise, in 1 Timorthy 2: 16: “God was manifest in the flesh” was assumed to be a reference to Jesus so that the manifestation of God in the flesh means the materialization of God as a spirit who appears in visible form (in the flesh) as Jesus – similar to “a spirit proceeding from Him”; see Surah 4: 171.
1 Timothy 3: 16 reads:
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
Hence “God the Son” is a euphemism for God as “God was manifest in the flesh”. Scientifically a virgin birth is not possible without the hand of God. Hence “God the Son” is the manifestation of God in the flesh. On the other hand, great is the mystery of godliness, Jesus can only be the son of Mary. Hence Jesus declares that he is the Son of man.
“God the Holy Ghost or Spirit” is a euphemism for God. God is identified euphemistically as a spirit that is active in the world.
My own conclusion
This short essay on the trinity is from the Muslims’ point of view. I am sure Christians would not be upset for this misconception of the Christians’ attitude on the trinity. Besides Christians are a forgiving lot and I believe they would rather empathize with their Muslim siblings for, after all, Christians too worship the same God worshipped by Abraham Who is also the same God Jews and Muslims worship.
However, there is no doubt deviant Christians did exist up to the 13th century. It could have been rife at the time when Allah gave His revelation to Prophet Mohammed in 611 A.D. I suppose it must have all started when the pagan Roman emperor Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus, 280 – 337 A.D. (also called the Great Constantine) converted to Christianity and became the first Christian Roman emperor (306-337 A.D.).
Have you ever heard of Christians calling for a jihad or holy war since the dark ages of the crusades in medieval Christendom in the 11th-13th centuries? In those times the practices of certain Christians were somewhat deviant.
Indeed neither Napoleon or Hitler nor the European or against Hitler the American allies who fought against them waged war in the name of religion! Hitler’s senseless wholesale murder of Jews and Gypsies was uncompromising ethnic cleansing by a psychopathic mass murderer! Indeed all the world’s conflicts including World War 1 and 2 were not fought in the name of religion and none of the combatant nations in Europe, the USA and those Asian countries who were involved in those wars did either. It looks to me like only Muslims – I mean the deviant ones – are the only people who would call for a jihad or wholly war in modern times.
However, the uprisings in the Middle East appear to show a ray of hope for greater understanding and religious tolerance. For the Arab awakening and call for change were not based on religious grounds. I see Muslims and Christians calling themselves brothers among the opposition in their struggle for the cause of freedom from oppressive dictatorship under a totalitarian regime and for democracy.
NH Chan, a much respected former Court of Appeal Judge, is a gavel of justice that has no hesitation in pounding on Federal Court judges with wooden desks for heads. Retired from the Judiciary to become the People?s Judge. Wrote the explosive “Judging The Judges”, now in its 2nd edition as “How To Judge The Judges”. Once famously hinted at a possible “case match” between lawyer and judge by remarking that “something is rotten in the state of Denmark” (see Ayer Molek Rubber Company Berhad & Ors v Insas Berhad & Anor  3 CLJ 359).