To spell out the differences between the two persons is to clarify the differences between Christianity and Islam. The points are real and relevant today.
Let’s get started without a long introduction. This post updates an earlier one of the same title and offsite.
1. Personal sin
One suffered from sin. The other was sinless.
In Mecca, he receives this command about his sin.
40:55 Then have patience (O Muhammad). Lo! the promise of Allah is true. And ask forgiveness of thy sin [dh-n-b] and hymn the praise of thy Lord at fall of night and in the early hours. (Pickthall)
The Arabic word dhanaba (verb form) come from the root dh-n-b and is defined below in this section. This verse is unambiguous. Muhammad has sin.
It is one of the great ironies in the Quran that the next sura (chapter) can be titled either “Muhammad” or “War” (qital, root is q-t-l). This verse was revealed in Medina.
47:19 So know (O Muhammad . . .) that . . . none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and ask forgiveness for your sin, [dh-n-b] and also for (the sin of) believing men and believing women. And Allah knows well your moving about, and your place of rest (in your homes). (Hilali and Khan)
Note that Muhammad implores forgiveness from Allah not only for himself but for Muslim men and women. This means that average humans have dh-n-b, and so does Muhammad.
The final example of Muhammad’s sin comes from Sura 48, a Medinan chapter.
48:2 That Allah may forgive you your sins [dh-n-b] of the past and the future and complete His Favour on you, and guide you on the Straight Path . . . (Hilali and Khan)
This verse was probably revealed in 628, barely four years before he died of a fever in AD 632. Does this mean that the messenger of Allah had sin before AD 628? This seems to be the case. To be forgiven of dh-n-b, one must have it first.
How is dh-n-b defined? Is it only a small weakness? Merely a minor fault?
A Muslim scholar defines it thus: “Crime; Fault; Offence; Sin; Any act having an evil result” (Omar). A western scholar defines it as “a crime, fault, sin” (Penrice).
Go here for a list of verses in the Quran that describe other persons who suffer from dh-n-b. It means far more than simple errors, small mistakes, superficial weaknesses, minor faults, and brief lapses of memory. It may include these things (all humans do them), but it also has to signify sin, crime, offense, and any act having an evil result (all humans do this also, in one way or another).
What does this sin nature in Muhammad mean in practical and down-to-earth terms today? If a researcher points out an atrocity or a violent act that Muhammad committed, then for a devout Muslim the atrocity or act is not wrong or unjust or sinful. It must be right, just, and sinless, no matter what the facts say because Muhammad was sinless—again, no matter what the Quran says. And the vicious circle goes round and round.
This article (offsite), written by yours truly, demonstrates that Muhammad’s mortal nature includes sin.
He poses this rhetorical question to his opponents and accusers in John 8:45-46:
Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can you prove me guilty of any sin?
In his culture, “prove guilty of sin” refers to his keeping the Law. Did he deviate from it? His opponents do not take him up on his challenge.
Next, Peter lived and walked with Jesus for at least three years. If anyone could, then the chief Apostle surely saw some minor sin in the Lord, right?
21 To this you [Christians] were called because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. (1 Peter 2:21-22)
In verse 22, Peter quotes from Isaiah 53:9, which Jesus fulfilled in his suffering and death. So the chief Apostle did not find even a minor sin in Jesus Christ—no sin at all.
Finally, the Apostle John also lived and walked with Jesus for three years. What is his assessment of Jesus from his own observations?
But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. (1 John 3:5)
The verdict is in: John never saw a sin in the Lord, whom he saw up close and personal.
Both declarations by Peter and John are remarkable. It is one hundred percent certain that if we had followed these apostles for three years every day, then we would have seen at least one sin. But these two did not see even one sin in Jesus.
2. Confronting Satan
One nervously seeks refuge from Satan. The other had complete confidence and authority.
Sura 113, a short one, revealed in Mecca, says in its entirety:
1 Say [Prophet], “I seek refuge with the Lord of daybreak 2 against the evil in what He has created, 3 the evil in the night when darkness gathers, 4 the evil in witches when they blow on knots, 5 the evil in the envier when he envies.” (MAS Abdel Haleem, The Qur’an, Oxford UP, 2004, his insertion; cf. Suras 7:200-201; 16:98; 41:36; and Sura 114, a short one, in its entirety)
The hadith is the record of Muhammad words and actions outside of the Quran. Bukhari is considered a highly reliable collector and editor. The following hadith indicates that Muhammad believes that some sort of knots on the head is the result of Satan and witchcraft.
Allah’s Apostle said, “Satan puts three knots at the back of the head of any of you if he is asleep” . . . (Bukhari)
This next hadith demonstrates that Muhammad was so deeply influenced by magic that he believed that he was having sex with his wives, but in reality he was not.
Narrated Aisha: Magic was worked on Allah’s Apostle so that he used to think that he had sexual relations with his wives while he actually had not. (Bukhari)
The highly respected conservative commentator, Sayyid Abul A’La Maududi (d. 1979), says that the hadiths on Muhammad’s bewitchment are sound. “As far as the historical aspect is concerned, the incident of the Holy Prophet’s being affected by magic is absolutely confirmed” …. Maududi is right. Muhammad was bewitched. And this is not part of true Prophethood.
Throughout his three-year ministry, he exercised spiritual authority over the kingdom of darkness, wherever he went. After the Great Test (Luke 4:1-13; see no. seven, below, in this list) Luke records the first public encounter with a demon:
33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God! 35 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. (Luke 4:33-35)
Jesus speaks a stern command: “Come out of him!” This reveals spiritual authority and decisiveness, which is repeated time and again in Jesus’ ministry.
This article (offsite) and written by yours truly contrasts Muhammad’s fears and bewitchment with Christ’s commanding authority over Satan and dark powers.
This index page references several articles and rebuttals and replies.
3. Small-scale violence
One killed mockers and enemies. The other rises above such violence.
He assassinated (or threatened to murder) at least eleven men or women who insulted or threatened him. Several of his victims merely composed satirical poems.
These verses offer support of this policy. Medinan Sura 33:60-61 says:
60 If the hypocrites, the sick of heart, and those who spread lies in the city [Medina] do not desist, We shall arouse you [Prophet] against them, and then they will only be your neighbors in this city for a short while. 61 They will be rejected wherever they are found, and then seized and killed. (Haleem, his insertions)
Muhammad had already assassinated some opponents for their insults and mockery before these verses were sent down, but now they give him divine endorsement.
During the last week of Jesus’ life, the tension between him and the religious establishment rises. The leaders look for a way to trap and then arrest him. So they ask him whether it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. Apparently, they saw him as a political revolutionary who opposed Roman occupation. Would he endorse the taxation of his fellow Jews for the benefit of unclean Gentiles? However, they did not know that he was a king, but that his kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36). So he replied with these famous words that are often quoted, though people may not know the exact reference and context (Luke 20:20-26; cf. Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17).
Jesus speaks first; his opponents reply.
24 “Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?” 25 “Caesar’s,” they replied. He said to them, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” 26 They were unable to trap him in what he said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent. (Luke 20:20-26)
After this disarming reply, it is important to note what he did not do. He did not send Simon the Zealot, one of the Twelve, to follow an antagonistic leader, mingle in the large crowd of pilgrims during the Feast of Passover, sneak up on him, stab him, and disappear in the crowd again. These kinds of assassinations were not unknown in the decades before the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. But violence was not necessary. God was with Jesus.
This article (offsite) and written by yours truly examines two very different reactions when they were insulted or threatened.
Muhammad’s Dead Poet’s Society (onsite) provides a timeline of the death of poets and poetesses. It also replies to Muslim polemics for their prophet’s murders.
This is a shorter version of the previous ones.
4. Religious freedom
One suppresses it. The other permits it.
Polytheists controlled the Black Stone housed in the Kabah shrine. This was both a spiritual center (in pagan logic) and a financial center (in real terms). Muhammad eventually conquered it in early AD 630. After declaring amnesty for Meccan pagans, he changes his tone. He imposes this ultimatum on them and all pagans.
Sura 9:5 says:
Then, when the months made unlawful for fighting expire, kill the mushriks [polytheists] wherever you find them, and seize them, and besiege them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent, establish Salat [prayer five times a day] and pay the Zakat dues [charity tax], then let them go their way. (Maududi, The Meaning of the Qur’an, vol. 2, p. 175; insertions mine)
This verse says that unless pagans say their prayers the Muslim way and pay a forced “charity” tax, they will be killed.
Next, this hadith says that Muhammad is called to fight until people acknowledge that only Allah is the right deity and Muhammad is his messenger. The people must also give the messenger their money.
Allah’s Apostle said: “I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform that, then they save their lives and property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah.” (Bukhari)
Next, Malik (d. 795) is a founder of an Islamic school of law and a reliable collector and editor of hadith. He records this tradition about Muhammad’s policy on those who leave Islam:
Yahya related to me . . . that the Messenger of Allah . . . said, “If someone changes his religion—then strike off his head!”
He let people go their own way, if they refuse to follow him. He said, “If anyone comes after [follows] me” . . . (Matthew 17:24). The little word “if” implies freedom to accept the way of Jesus or to walk away from it. He never raised a holy army to force anyone to convert. In John 6, some disciples decided to walk away from him. He had spoken difficult words.
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:66-69)
It is important to note what Jesus did not do or say. He did not threaten them with physical death. He did not send a disciple or two to assassinate one of the deserters (a leader, perhaps), to teach the rest and the Twelve a lesson. “Follow and obey me, or else!” “Or else what?” “Or else I’ll kill you!” Those words and others like them Jesus never spoke.
Please click on Freedom of Religion in Early Islam
Muslim scholar Maududi in this booklet argues that Sura 9:11-12 refers to apostates and that they should be put to death (scroll down to “The Proof in the Quran for the Commandment to Execute Apostates”).
5. Large-scale violence
One launched the first Crusade. The other ordains preaching alone.
It is true that the word “Crusade” comes from the word “cross,” but it is used here in the broad sense of “holy war.” Muslims today forget that Muhammad was the first to launch one, long before the western Europeans responded with theirs. In the ten years that he lived in Medina, he either sent out or went out on seventy-four raids, skirmishes and battles. Sura 9 is his last revelation in its entirety before he dies. He commissions his followers to wage war on Jews and Christians or the People of the Book or Scripture (= Bible).
Sura 9:29 says:
Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued (Hilali and Khan, insertions in parentheses are theirs)
This verse that commands battle against Christians and Jews is all about theology and belief. It says nothing explicit about a real and physical harm done to Islam. Muhammad launched his Tabuk Crusade in late AD 630 against the Byzantine Christians. He had heard a rumor that an army was mobilizing to invade Arabia, but the rumor was false, so his 30,000 jihadists returned home, but not before imposing a jizya tax on northern Christians and Jews. They had three options: (1) fight and die; (2) convert to Islam; (3) or submit and pay the second-class-citizen jizya tax for the “privilege” of living under Islam.
After he was resurrected from the dead and just before he ascended to rule on high, he sends forth his followers to preach the gospel without violence. In Evangelical Christianity this passage is known as the Great Commission.
18 Then Jesus came to [the disciples] and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Nothing in these verses command warfare. For centuries after Christ’s resurrection and ascension, his disciples crisscrossed the Mediterranean world preaching without violence. Despite being persecuted, they turned the world right-side up and transformed it.
One promises earthly and heavenly rewards for dying in a holy war. The other says his martyrdom promises his followers heaven.
Sura 4 was revealed over a three year period in the middle of Muhammad’s career (AD 625-627). He is not quite as secure as he will be when he conquers Mecca in AD 630. For now, he needs to recruit jihadists for his raids, conflicts, and wars. One way to get them to join up is to promise earthly or heavenly rewards.
4:74 Let those fight in the cause of God Who sell the life of this world for the hereafter. To him who fighteth in the cause of God, – whether he is slain or gets victory – Soon shall We give him a reward of great (value) . . . . (Yusuf Ali)
Next, these two verses in Sura 4 teach that Allah has created at least a two-tier system in his Muslim ummah or community: (1) Those who “strive hard and fight with their wealth and their lives”; (2) those who sit at home. The disabled are in a separate category.
4:95-96 Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame, etc.), and those who strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives. Allah has preferred in grades those who strive hard and fight with their wealth and their lives above those who sit (at home). Unto each, Allah has promised good (Paradise), but Allah has preferred those who strive hard and fight, above those who sit (at home) by a huge reward; 96 Degrees of (higher) grades from Him, and Forgiveness and Mercy. . . . (Hilali and Khan)
At the end of Muhammad’s life, Muhammad reinforces this two-caste system: see Sura 9:38-39, 41, 44, 86, 87.
Finally, as seen in 4:74, an economic bargain is offered to jihadists in this next verse. Allah purchases their lives in exchange for Islamic paradise. Sura 9 is the last sura to be revealed in its entirety.
9:111 Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties; for the price that theirs shall be the Paradise. They fight in Allah’s Cause, so they kill (others) and are killed. It is a promise in truth which is binding on Him in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel) and the Qur’an. . . Then rejoice in the bargain which you have concluded . . . . (Hilali and Khan)
Allah and Muhammad are completely wrong about the Bible’s command to fight in bloody wars in order to bring heavenly rewards. Moses ordered wars that were time-specific (more than 3,000 years ago), location-specific (holy land), and purpose-specific. But Moses or Joshua or the judges did not promise heaven, automatically, for the express act of dying in wars.
All of these passages use win-win-win logic from Muhammad’s point of view. If a jihadist dies fighting, then he gets Islamic paradise. If he wins and lives, then he gets material spoils. If he is defeated but escapes with his life, then he gets to fight another day.
Matthew 5:10 10:39, 19:29 speak of an uncompromising commitment to follow Jesus, laying down one’s life mainly in a spiritual way, and possibly in a physical death under severe and fatal persecution, but the verses are not found in the context of a bloody religious war. Rather, Jesus calls his disciples to pick up their cross and follow him (Matt. 10:38, 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23, 14:27), but he also says that they should do this daily (Luke 9:23). The image of the cross means that they must follow Jesus no matter what, on a daily basis, which precludes an earthly martyrdom, which is done only once; per contra, a “daily martyrdom” is continuous. A twisted love of physical death is not in view in those New Testament passages in the context of holy wars.
The following cannot be repeated too often because it diametrically opposes the Islamic doctrine of salvation, or how to get into heaven: only Christ’s “Martyrdom” guarantees a believer’s place in heaven; only Christ’s Ultimate Good Work on the cross paves the way to God. Thus, the Christian does not (or should not) have a psychological inducement to kill himself or to be killed in battle to achieve heaven. He needs only trust in Christ.
One took it by force. The other resisted this temptation.
Besides forcing religious conformity and the submission of non-Muslims, he was after wealth.
Sura 48 was revealed in AD 628, after a treaty with the Meccans and during his conquest of the Jews of Khaybar. This verse predicts future spoils of war for Allah’s beloved prophet. Sura 48:20 says:
48:20 Allah has promised you abundant spoils that you will capture, and He has hastened for you this, and He has restrained the hands of men from you, that it may be a sign for the believers, and that He may guide you to a Straight Path. (Hilali and Khan)
Maududi says that the clause “Allah has promised you abundant spoils that you will capture” refers to the conquests after Muhammad’s takeover of the city of Khaybar. It communicates a general promise of the spoils of any war that he embarks on. (The Meaning of the Qur’an, vol. 5, p. 62, note 35).
However, Allah in this verse warns Muslims and Muhammad not to get attached to material things or to get ensnared by the “love of desires.”
3:14 The love of desires, of women and sons and hoarded treasures of gold and silver and well bred horses and cattle and tilth, is made to seem [beautiful] to men; this is the provision of the life of this world; and Allah is He with Whom is the good goal (of life). (Shakir, my insertion in brackets)
This verse teaches wisdom, but Muhammad did not follow it. He is the one who desired women and married many of them—a privilege of numbers reserved only for him (Sura 33:50); he is the one who traded in slaves, a lucrative business; he is the one who owned vast herds of livestock; he is the one who said that money will expiate or atone for sins; he is the one who bought off converts; he and his successors are the ones who conquered peaceful people who did not harm Islam in the slightest; he is the one who spread out recently collected tax money in his mosque, counting the most he had ever received; he is the one who promised his jihadists heaven if they died, and plunder if they lived. If anyone had the “love of desires,” it was the prophet of Islam.
Satan offers Jesus the whole world at the very beginning of his ministry. But he turned down this offer. Luke 4:1-2, 5-7 says:
4:1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil . . . 5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instance all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 So if you worship me, it will be yours.” 8 Jesus answered, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” (cf. Deuteronomy 6:13)
In divine cooperation between Jesus and the Spirit, God allowed Satan to lead Jesus up to a high place and show him all the kingdoms of this world—their glory and political authority (exousia in Greek means political authority; cf. Luke 4:6 and 12:11, 20:20, 23:7). In addition to political authority, kingdom, by definition at the time of Christ, includes material resources, backed by a strong military. However, Jesus raises his and our vision to a spiritual transformation of the world, one soul at a time, without killing people and robbing their money by bloodshed.
Click on this offsite article written by yours truly: Jesus and Muhammad on Wealth.
One allowed polygamy and had many wives. The other says one man and one woman.
The Quran in Sura 4:3 says:
And if you be apprehensive that you will not be able to do justice to the orphans, you may marry two or three or four women whom you choose. But if you apprehend that you might not be able to do justice to them, then marry only one wife, or marry those who have fallen in your possession. (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 305)
Maududi paraphrases the verse: “If you need more than one [wife] but are afraid that you might not be able to do justice to your wives from among the free people, you may turn to slave girls because in that case you will be burdened with less responsibilities” (note 6) (See Sura 4:24).
However, Muhammad would not allow polygamy for his son-in-law Ali, because an extra wife would hurt Muhammad’s daughter Fatima, by his first wife Khadija. Fatima was married to Ali.
I heard Allah’s Apostle who was on the pulpit, saying, “Banu Hisham bin Al-Mughira have requested me to allow them to marry their daughter to Ali bin Abu Talib, but I don’t give permission, and will not give permission unless ‘Ali bin Abi Talib divorces my daughter in order to marry their daughter, because Fatima is a part of my body, and I hate what she hates to see, and what hurts her, hurts me.” (Bukhari)
Thus, Muhammad understands how hurtful polygamy can be for women, but he himself practiced it and allowed it for Muslim men, generally.
Muhammad’s “special” marriage privileges
Moreover, it seems that Allah gave Muhammad special permission to marry as many women as he desired or take them as slaves or concubines, just as in the pre-Islamic days of “ignorance.”
The Quran in Sura 33:50, a lengthy verse, grants Muhammad wide latitude in his marriages:
O Prophet, We have made lawful to you those of your wives, whose dowers you have paid, and those women who come into your possession out of the slave-girls granted by Allah, and the daughters of your paternal uncles and aunts, and of your maternal uncles and aunts, who have migrated with you, and the believing woman who gives herself to the Prophet, if the Prophet may desire her. This privilege is for you only, not for the other believers . . . . (Maududi vol. 4, p. 111, emphasis added).
This verse says that besides those women whose dower Muhammad paid, he may marry slave-girls—that is, he may have sex with them (see this article for this Quran-inspired immorality). Maududi references three slave-girls taken during raids, and Mary the Copt, a gift from an Egyptian ruler. Muhammad had sex with her, and there does not seem to be a political need for this. Second, Muhammad may marry his first cousins, and Maududi cites a case in which this happened. Third, if a believing woman offers herself to Muhammad, and he desires her, then he may marry her (Maududi vol. 4, note 88).
This hadith says that Muhammad used to visit nine (or eleven) wives in one night.
Anas bin Malik said, “The Prophet used to visit all his wives in a round, during the day and night and they were eleven in number.” I asked Anas, “Had the Prophet the strength for it?” Anas replied, “We used to say that the Prophet was given the strength of thirty (men).” And Sa’id said on the authority of Qatada that Anas had told him about nine wives only (not eleven). (Bukhari)
But the capstone of these “special” marriages occurs when Muhammad also marries the ex-wife (Zainab) of his adopted son (Zaid). His son-in-law divorced her with the prophet standing in the background. In fact, early Islamic sources say that Muhammad catches a glimpse of his daughter-in-law in a state of undress, so he desired her. Once the divorce is final, Allah reveals to him in Sura 33:36-44 that this marriage between father-in-law and daughter-in-law is legal and moral.
He endorses the model in the Garden of Eden.
3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” 4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two shall will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate.” 7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” 8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard, but it was not this way from the beginning . . . (Matthew 19:4-8)
The Old Testament allows polygamy, though it is honest enough to reveal the problems inhering in this ancient custom (e.g. Genesis 16:5 and 1 Samuel 1:6-7). Islam looks like the Old Testament and permits polygamy. However, God’s original intent was to honor women, but polygamy favors men to the exclusion of women. Also, Jesus Christ fulfills the Old Testament Law and Christians Interpret it in light of the New Covenant Scripture. Eden is his choice. Thus, Christianity protects and honors women.
One worked no miracles. The other works many of them, even today.
He can perform no miracles, according to Allah’s own account of him in the Quran. However, in the hadith, his admirers have a strong motive to puff up their beloved prophet with miracle stories. But the Quran contradicts their accounts.
In the following Meccan verse in Sura 17, Muhammad answers the charge that he cannot work miracles. Allah commands his messenger to “say” the following to his critics.
17:93 . . . Say, “Glory to my Lord. Am I anything but a mortal, a messenger?” . . . (Haleem)
In this next Meccan verse, people again question Muhammad about this inability to work miracles.
13:7 The disbelievers say: “Why has no miracle been sent down to him from his Lord?” But you [Muhammad] are only there to give warning . . . (Haleem, my insertion)
It is an ironical fact that the Quran is clearer about Jesus’ miracles than it is about Muhammad’s (non)miracles: “And I [Jesus] heal him who was born blind, and the leper, and I bring to life by Allah’s leave [permission]” (Sura 3:49, Hilali and Khan). Why did not the Quran explicitly and loudly and unambiguously declare Muhammad’s miracles, as it does about the miracles of Jesus?
After his death, two discouraged disciples matter-of-factly recount what they observed to a seeming stranger (the resurrected Jesus):
19 About Jesus of Nazareth, they replied: “He was a prophet powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.” (Luke 24:19)
This one summary verse in Luke represents many that tell of his miracles. A very short list follows:
- Healing lepers (Matthew 8:2-4; Mark 1:40-42; Luke 5:12-13, 17:11-19);
- Healing the blind (Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 8:22-26, 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43);
- Calming the storm (Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:37-41; Luke 8:22-25);
- Walking on water (Matthew 14:25 and Mark 6:48-51);
- Feeding 4,000 and 5,000 (Matthew 14:15-21; Mark 6:35-55, 8:1-9; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:6-13)
Click on the offsite article written by yours truly that explain Muhammad’s roles, which do not include miracle-worker: References to Muhammad’s Titles.
10. Dealing with sexual sin
One ordered flogging and execution. The other offers forgiveness and restoration.
This verse, according to reliable traditions, concerns fornication or premarital sex. Note the insertions by the two translators. The Quran in Sura 24:2 says:
24:2 The fornicatress and the fornicator, flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of the believers witness their punishment. [This punishment is for unmarried persons guilty of the above crime (illegal sex), but if married persons commit it (illegal sex), the punishment is to stone them to death, according to Allah’s law]. (Hilali and Khan; the additions in parentheses and brackets are theirs).
This hadith represents others on Muhammad’s policy concerning adultery.
. . . Then the Prophet said, ‘Take him away and stone him to death.” Jabir bin ‘Abdullah said: I was among the ones who participated in stoning him and we stoned him at the Musalla. When the stones troubled him, he fled, but we overtook him at Al-Harra [rocky place near Medina] and stoned him to death. (Bukhari)
This gruesome hadith passage reports that a woman was buried up to her chest and stoned to death, her blood spurting:
. . . And when he had given command over her and she was put in a hole up to her breast, he ordered the people to stone her. Khalid b. al-Walid came forward with a stone which he threw at her head, and when the blood spurted on his face he cursed her. . . (Muslim no. 4206)
He zeros in on the root cause of adultery. In the famous Sermon on the Mount he says this about adultery and lust:
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt. 5:27-28)
Immediately, this raises the stakes so high that all corporeal punishment is removed; otherwise, all of humanity would kill each other with legalized stoning. These two verses imply that sexual sin is no longer a civil crime or any kind of crime. As usual with Jesus, he goes to the heart of the sin. Adultery and other sexual sins begin in the mind, so the solution to them must also begin in the mind.
As for prostitutes, Jesus let them into his kingdom on their repentance. While in Jerusalem, the chief priests and elders, who were badgering him with antagonistic questions, confronted him. Jesus replies to them.
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.” (Matthew 21:31)
But first prostitutes have to be forgiven of their sins before they enter the kingdom of God. One day a certain Simon, a Pharisee, invited Jesus into his large house for dinner. Suddenly a “sinful woman” (read: local prostitute) crashed the dinner party and washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiped them off with her hair, and poured oil on his feet. The Pharisee became indignant and said to himself that if Jesus really were a prophet, he would know who was touching him and not allow it, for she was unclean. Jesus pointed out to him that Simon had not offered him the customs of hospitality, but this sinful woman was doing this. “Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ [This is another New Testament hint of Jesus’ divinity.] Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace’” (Luke 7:48-50).
This true account shows that Jesus did not order prostitutes and other sexual sinners to be hunted down and flogged or burned alive, even though this one was living in Israel, the Holy Land, and even though the Torah says specifically that a prostitute must be burned with fire (Leviticus 21:9). Instead, Jesus looks at the heart and sees a diamond in the rough. He knows that with his love and power, sexual sinners of all sorts can be changed. So the spiritual solution is forgiveness without condemnation. This is a long, long way from Jesus instituting the punishment of stoning sinners, or even their flogging, as Muhammad would like to reinstitute an old-new Quranic law.
And click on Homosexuality in Early Islam.
Both posts explain Islamic punishments.
11. Bible prophecy
One is not mentioned or prophesied in the Bible. The other fulfills Messianic prophecy.
In a verse in the Quran, two scholars insert some parenthetical comments that are not found in the original Arabic.
7:157 Those who follow the Messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write (i.e. Muhammad) whom they find written in the Taurat (Torah) (Deut, xviii 15 [18:15]) and the Injil (Gospel) (John, xiv 16 [14:16]) with them . . . (Hilali and Khan, my insertions in brackets) (cf. Suras 2:129, 159; 3:81, 164; 61:6)
Though Muhammad’s claim that he is found in the Bible is farfetched to begin with, the two translators take it for granted that the Biblical references from Deuteronomy and the Gospel of John mention or prophesy their prophet. This belief has circulated around the Muslim world for many years and has become “gospel truth.” Further, Muslim propagandists have searched for clear references to Muhammad in the Torah and the Gospels (and the entire Bible). But have they been successful? Does this belief have any foundation in the Biblical texts?
Old Testament prophecy about himself as the Messiah was very important to Jesus.
After he was resurrected bodily, he appeared to many disciples. Two of them were walking down a road that led to a village called Emmaus. They recounted the recent events and their disappointment that Jesus had not redeemed Israel. But they were amazed that several of the disciples said that the tomb was empty and that Jesus had appeared to some of them. It was a surprise when a seeming stranger joined them in their journey. He asked them what they were talking about. They told him about their disappointment that Jesus was not everything that they had hoped for. Then Jesus (the seeming stranger) revealed himself and gave them a Bible lesson.
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he [Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24:27)
It is quite possible that Jesus discussed at least some of these verses listed in the Table of Messianic Prophecies. It cites nearly ninety prophecies that follow Jesus from his birth and infancy, to his death, resurrection, and ascension—and his reign in heaven.
12. The Spirit
One restricts and confuses the doctrine of the Spirit. The other freely offers the Spirit as a full Person.
He severely restricts the role and nature of the Spirit. The references to the Islamic spirit in the Quran are far, far fewer than those to the Spirit in the New Testament. In fact, the Quranic references, below, are complete (or nearly so).
The spirit in the Quran has similar functions as those in the Bible, but the Quranic spirit’s role is weaker and less defined. Examples follow. This spirit seems to be involved in creation (Suras 15:98; 32:7-9; 38:71-72). He helped Mary conceive Jesus (Suras 19:18-19; 21:91; 66:12). The spirit appeared in the form of a man to Mary (Sura 19:18-19). He strengthened Jesus (Suras 2:87; 2:253; 5:110), and the believers (Sura 58:22). Jesus is called a “spirit from God” (Sura 4:171; cf. 2:253). The spirit inspired and revealed the Quran (Sura 16:102; 17:85; 26:192-193; 97:4). Finally, he is a witness or participates in some way in the Last Day (Suras 70:4; 78:38), warning of impending judgment (Sura 40:15).
Thus, the Quran’s view of the Spirit overlaps somewhat with the Bible’s (creation, conception of Jesus, and inspiration), but in other ways the Quran is confused and deficient (Jesus is a spirit; the spirit appears as a man; his helping believers is mentioned only once). But none of this confusion and deficiency matters, because traditional Islam erroneously reduces the Spirit to the archangel Gabriel. Why? A fully developed pneumatology (doctrine of the Spirit) wreaks havoc on a strict unitarian doctrine of God.
Just before his resurrection and ascension, Jesus promises to send the Spirit to every believer who asks in his name (John 14:15-18; 16:5-15). He fulfills this promise in Acts 2:1-4. The Spirit fills the believers, and the church is formally created.
In an exhaustive concordance in which every word in the Bible is listed, the word “Spirit” or “spirit” of God or the Lord in the Old Testament takes up almost two columns. In the New Testament, the same words take over three columns. This gives us an idea of the importance of the Spirit in the New Testament. This is especially remarkable, since the Old Testament is much, much longer than the New. In the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit, as a full Person, lives in every believer to help him follow God and receive his love.
13. Their roles and natures
One is only human. The other is both fully human and fully divine.
He is strictly and only a mortal man, warner, announcer, prophet, and messenger. These are the number of times that the last four titles appear in the Meccan and Medinan suras in the Quran, when the titles apply to Muhammad. The Mecca suras were revealed before his Hijrah or emigration from there to Medina in AD 622. The Medinan ones were received after this date.
Warner: Mecca 58, Medina 7
Announcer: Mecca 22, Medina 13
Prophet: Mecca 2, Medina 33
Messenger: Mecca 20, Medina 167
The most important statistic is the title of prophet. It is used only two times in Mecca, and those occur in late verses (just before he immigrated to Medina). Evidently, Allah was reluctant to call him by that title for a long time. The Quran also drops the title of warner, almost out of sight, after Muhammad arrives in Medina.
But this is the unalterable fact: he is a mortal man like all of us. He is a human warner, a human announcer or bringer of news, a human prophet, and a human messenger. He never claimed divinity for himself.
His mortality is a major reason why he objects so strenuously to the divinity and Sonship of Christ (Suras 3:58-60; 4:171; 5:72-75, 116; 9:30; 19:33-34). If Muhammad is the best and last prophet and messenger, then how can Jesus surpass him, as the eternal Son of God? Muhammad also objects because of his odd belief that God must have physical relations to produce a son, a notion that Christians reject.
Jesus Christ has multiple titles. Some portray him as a human before the crowds: Rabbi, Teacher, and Prophet. (Rabbi and Teacher are synonymous in the New Testament, but they are kept separate since the different words are used.) And other titles depict him as divine: the Christ, the Lord, Son of Man, Son of God, the “I am,” and God incarnate or “God with us.” Here is the number of times that his major titles appear in the Four Gospels. Some are close approximations.
Son of David: 10 (only others besides Jesus use this title about him)
The Lord: 140
Son of Man: 81 (only Jesus uses this about himself)
Son of God: 60
The “I Am”: 20
This is Part One of Two, offsite and written by yours truly, which goes into more detail on Muhammad’s roles and mortal nature.
Here is Part Two, offsite and written by yours truly, which talks about the roles and natures of Jesus: He is fully human and fully divine.
This Appendix, offsite and written by yours truly, has four Tables that list all of the Quranic references to Muhammad’s roles as warner, announcer, prophet, and messenger.
14. Their deaths
One died of sickness aggravated by poison. The other died on the cross for the sins of the world.
Dying in the arms of his girl-bride Aisha, Muhammad asked Allah for forgiveness and mercy for his own soul just before he died, begging his deity to raise him up to the highest companions. He also cursed his enemies.
The prophet of Islam said:
“O Allah! Forgive me, and bestow Your Mercy on me, and let me meet the companions.” (Bukhari)
May Allah curse the Jews [and] Christians . . . (Bukhari)
He was destined by God to die for the sins of the world. It is unimaginable that Jesus would die from sickness and poison. He healed many with illnesses and even demon possession, in an atmosphere of faith. His mission was to set them free of ailments. Further, he forgave his crucifiers. He also prayed for a criminal and promised him that he would be in paradise. Jesus knew where he himself was going—back to heaven where he originally came from.
“Father, forgive [the crucifiers], for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
Jesus answered [the criminal], “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
See this article, offsite and written by yours truly, for more differences about their deaths.
15. Occupied tomb, empty tomb
One still lies in his. The other was resurrected.
His body lies still in his grave. Anyone can claim that his soul will go to heaven, for no one can see a disembodied soul. This fatwa (legal decree) at a Muslim website clarifies a question posed by a Muslim on the death of Muhammad.
The Messenger . . . died and was buried in his grave; hence . . . Abu Bakr . . . said: “Whoever used to worship Muhammad, Muhammad has died, but whoever used to worship Allah, Allah is alive and will never die.” (Source)
The earliest Christians said Jesus’ body was raised to life. The following passage comes from the Gospel of Mark.
1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ”
8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. (Mark 16:1-8)
He has risen. The tomb is empty.
This article by William Lane Craig explains why, from Paul’s theology, Christ was raised bodily. His theology completely agrees with the Four Gospels.
This article by Craig affirms the historicity of the empty tomb. It is not a matter of blind faith.
Finally, this article by the same scholar narrows the focus on the disciples’ inspection of the empty tomb.
To conclude, the differences are clear. For me, the bottom line is this: if everyone living today were to follow Muhammad and his Quran to their fullest, the world would be worse off: a distant God, working one’s way to heaven with no pure grace, hundreds of micro-religious rules to follow, cutting, chopping, wife-beating and oppressing womankind, and so on.
If everyone in the world were to follow the teachings of Jesus, the world would be better off: A personal, loving Father, Jesus who saves from sins, grace and the Spirit-filled life, honoring and elevating women, and so on.
Live as free people.
This post was originally published on July 6, 2017