Response to a Christian’s Queries on the Noble Quran
Letter from a Christian
I hope you are well, I read your book, “What is Christianity?” and found it to be very interesting. It motivated me to do a lot of thinking and research; in fact, I even bought a Koran and read all of it. From the list of credentials found in your book it sounds as though you must have a very deep understanding of Islam and as though you must be much respected in the Muslim community. For that reason, I thought you may be able to help me with some questions that I have.
In the Koran, in 23:14 it says humans were formed from a blood clot, in 37:10 it says we were created from clay, in 19:67 it says we were created from nothing but in 35:45, 46 it says that people are formed from a drop of semen. Also in 7:54 and 32:4 the Koran says the earth was created in 6 days but in 41:9-12 it says the earth was created in 8 days (2 days plus 4 days plus 2 days for the seven heavens). Why does the Koran contradict itself this way?
In 18:86 it says the sun rests in a muddy spring in the west but at school I was taught that the sun rests in space and that the planets revolve around it. Also in 37: 6-10 and 72: 8-9 and 13:16-18 and 67:5 and 86:2-3 the Koran says that meteors are a form of punishment where the meteors are hurled at devils who might try to spy on the heavenly council. At school we were taught that meteors are debris being burnt up by the earth’s atmosphere. Why does the Koran contradict science?
In 18:82 it says Alexander the great was a Muslim and lived to be old. However, history shows that Alexander believed that there are many gods not one God and that he died when he was 33 years old which is very young considering that Abraham died when he was 175 years old (Genesis 25:7). If the Koran was written by God why does it contradict history?
The Koran says that the Koran is not the only book written by God (3:3). It says that the Torah and the Injil (gospel) were sent by God. In 10.94-95 it says we should consult these scriptures if we are in doubt about what has been revealed in the Koran.
In 18:28 it says no one can change God’s words. God is capable of protecting His word, but I understand that Muslims believe that the Bible has become corrupted because it differs from the Koran. If no one can change God’s words as 18:28 says how were the Jews able to corrupt the Torah as Muslims believe? Are Jews more powerful than God?
The Koran implies that the Torah was trustworthy at the time of Mary (66:12), John the Baptist (19:12) and Jesus (3:48-50 and 5:113). It must have been trustworthy even while the Koran itself was being written as it commands Jews and Christians to follow what had already been revealed to them (5:47. 68) so they can enter Gardens of Bliss.
The Koran says that the Koran was not written because the Torah and gospel had become corrupted but because there were Arabic speaking people who could not understand the Torah or who did not have access to the scriptures of the Jews and Christians 46:11-12 and 41:2-3 and 39:29 and 12:2). It doesn’t say that the Koran was needed to replace corrupted scripture but that the Koran confirms the truth of the Torah and gospel that came before it (10:37). If the Koran itself says that the Torah and gospel are true why do Muslims believe that the Bible has been corrupted and why don’t they read it, believe it and live it?
Also, your book indicates that you do not believe that Jesus ever indicated that He was God. However, the following Bible verses lead me to believe that He frequently indicated that He was God:
Matthew 4:10- Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you Satan! ‘For it is written you shall worship the Lord your God and Him only you shall serve.”
Revelation 22:8-9- Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, “See that do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”
Acts 10:25- As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.”
From the above Bible verses we can see that it is wrong to worship Satan, it is wrong to worship angels and that it is wrong to worship men. All three verses say we must only worship God. Yet in Matthew 28:9 it says-And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So, they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Instead of Jesus saying don’t worship me only worship God as He did in Matthew 4:10, in the very next verse Matthew 28:10, Jesus says, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.” In Matthew 8:1-3 it says-When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, you can make me clean.” Instead of telling the leper to only worship God, Jesus says, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. In John 9:35-39 after healing a blind man it says-Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Instead of Jesus saying only worship God Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.’’
In the Koran (3:155) it says that prophets cannot tell lies. The Koran says that Jesus is a prophet. These Bible verses which according to the Koran have not been corrupted show that Jesus accepted worship from men but if Jesus is not God but accepted worship anyway wouldn’t He be lying about who He was?
From the list of credentials in your book I understand that you are a judge. The Bible says that on Judgement Day Jesus will be our judge and that He will judge us concerning every deed we have ever done and every thought we have ever thought whether it was done in public or in private. The Bible says that if we have ever told a lie, stolen anything or worshipped a false god we cannot go to Heaven. Jesus said that if you look at a woman to lust after her you have committed adultery with her in your heart (Matthew 5:28). Jesus also said that if you hate someone you are guilty of murder and there is no eternal life abiding in you. The Bible says that if you have ever committed any of these sins you will be cast into Hell forever (Revelation 21:7,8).
Some people believe that we can do whatever we want and God will just forgive us but as a judge I’m sure you’ll understand that this could not be true. Think of it this way, a man is standing in your court, he is found guilty of murder. If you were to release this murderer without punishing him you would be considered to be corrupt and you would need to be judged yourself. God is not corrupt. He is just so when He sees us in sin he must punish us, He can’t just forgive us.
Now just imagine this murderer standing in your court says to you, “Judge I have done wrong but please accept this money and let me go free.” I am sure you would be quite angry because this murderer is offering you a bribe, believing you to be a corrupt judge. Yet we can be just like this murderer, some people believe that if they pay alms, pray, fast or make a pilgrimage to Mecca God will forgive them of their sins but don’t you agree that that would be offering God a bribe and assuming that God is corrupt and can be paid off? Even if you can earn your way into heaven by doing more good deeds than bad deeds how can you know if you have done more good deeds than bad deeds? You won’t know until you have died and by then it will be too late. Contrary to this way of thinking the Bible says we cannot earn our way into Heaven. The Bible says that nobody is good, nobody is righteous, that nobody seeks after God and that all have turned away. (Romans 3:12). It is impossible for us to not sin and none of the good things we do cancel out the bad things we have done (if I murder someone giving money to charity will not make up for it). As a judge I am sure that you are allowed to decide what punishment a criminal should receive. Maybe during your career you have decided that a certain criminal must pay a sum of money as punishment for their crime. If you have, just imagine this criminal does not have enough money to pay their fine, you could then decide to send the criminal to jail instead of making him pay the money. Now imagine if the criminal’s friend decides to pay the money on behalf of the criminal, do you agree that the criminal could be set free from jail? It doesn’t matter who pays the money as long as it gets paid? Well in real life the penalty for sin is not paying money, according to the bible the penalty for sin is death, meaning that because we are both sinners God says that you and I must die for our sins and we will one day. However, 2000 years ago Jesus Christ, who never committed sin, died on a cross for you and for me (and was then resurrected) because he decided to pay your death penalty and my death penalty because he is so loving and merciful and kind (John 15:13). The Bible says that we are forgiven of our sins and saved from Hell not by doing good works but by believing in Jesus (Acts 13:39, John 20:31, Acts 16:31). This belief is counted as righteousness (Genesis 15:6).
Now, being a judge, I am sure you would have experienced occasions when you have justly punished a criminal and after he has fulfilled the punishment you have let him go free only to find that the criminal re-offends, committing the exact same crime that you just punished him for. When this happens I am sure it must be apparent to you that the criminal has not learnt this lesson and is not truly sorrowful for the wrong things he has done, even if he says with his mouth he is sorry his actions prove he is no. Well God is very smart and when we apologize to Him for the wrong things we have done He can tell if we are truly sorry by how we live our lives. If we continue to sin it shows we are not sorry or grateful for Jesus, death and God will not save us or forgive us. God only forgives us if we ask him to forgive us and then prove to Him that we are sorry by not sinning any more (repenting).
I would be interested to know what you think.
Thank you very much for your time and your book.
Reply by Honourable Shaykh Muhammad Taqi Usmani (May Allah ta’ala preserve him)
I am grateful for your kind letter, and glad to know that you have studied my book “What is Christianity” and found it interesting which prompted you to undertake further study and research. You have asked some questions, and it is my pleasure to answer them in this letter.
1- Your first question is about the creation of man. In 23:14 the Holy Qur’an says that humans were formed from a blood clot, in 37:10 it says we were created from clay, in 19:67 it says we were created from nothing, and in 53:45, 46 it says people are formed from a drop of semen. It appears that you have found contradiction between these statements. The fact, however, is that each one of these statements has referred to a different phase of creation. In the beginning, man was nothing in the sense that he had no existence at all. This is referred to in 19:67 in the following Quranic words, “Does not the man remember that We created him before, when he was nothing.” Then, the first human being, that is Adam (Peace be on him,) was created from clay, which is mentioned in 37:10 and in several other verses. After the first human being, all others were created from a drop of semen, which was developed into a blood clot, and after passing through different stages, it took the form of a sound man. A comprehensive account of all these stages of man’s creation is given by the Holy Qur’an itself in 23: 12-14 in the following words,
“We have created man from an extract of clay. Then We made him a sperm-drop in a firm resting place. Then We turned the sperm-drop into a clot, then We turned the clot into a fetus-lump, then We turned the fetus-lump into bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh. Thereafter We developed it into another creature. So, glorious is Allah, the best of the creators.”(The Holy Qur’an 23:12-14)
These verses describe different phases of creation, and it is some of these phases that have been referred to in some other verses, but all of them should be read in the light of this detailed account, which would certainly reveal that there is no contradiction at all between different verses of the Holy Qur’an in this respect.
2- Your second question is about the creation of earth. You say,
“In 7:54 and 32:4 the Koran (Qur’an) says the earth was created in 6 days, but in 41:9-12 it says the earth was created in 8 days (2 days plus 4 days plus 2 days for the seven heavens). Why does the Koran contradicts itself in this way?”
In fact, it is not the earth only that was created in six days, but the whole universe including heavens, as is clear from the words used in 7:54, which says, “created the heavens and the earth” and similarly from the words used in 32:4: “created the heavens and the earth and what is between them”. That the whole universe, including the heavens and the earth, was created in 6 days is also mentioned by the Holy Qur’an in 10:3, 11:7, 25:59, 50:38 and in 57:4. Now the verse 41:9-12 describes that earth was created in two days, the mountains etc. found on the earth in two days, which raises the total number of days consumed on the earth to four days. Moreover, heavens were created in 2 days, and thus the total number for the whole universe comes to the same six days as mentioned in other verses. The misconception comes from the wrong interpretation of the verse 41:10 which says, “He has placed firm mountains in it (the earth) towering above it, and put blessings in it, and proportioned its food therein, all in four days, equal for those who ask.” Here reference to four days is inclusive of creation of earth, mentioned in 41:9, and of mountains and foods etc. It is an Arabic style of expression in which the word fee is used to give the total number of previously mentioned items, but since this word lexically means in, it has been translated accordingly, which may create misconception. In fact, the account given by 41:9-12 is as follows, 2+2=4+2=6 and not 2+4+2=8. I hope this explains that there is no contradiction.
3- You have also referred to 18:86 which seemed to you saying that the sun sets in a muddy spring. The actual words of the verse are as follows,
“So he (the king) followed a course, until when he reached the point of sunset, he found it setting into a miry spring.”(18:85-86)
What it means is simply that he reached the last populated area in the extreme West, beyond which there was nothing except a muddy spring, and it seemed to him that the sun was setting in a muddy spring. It does not say that the sun actually sets in a spring, because the Holy Qur’an has itself mentioned that both the sun and the moon float in an orbit. It says:
“He is the One who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon, each floating in an orbit.”(21:33)
“Neither it is for the sun to overtake the moon, nor can the night outpace the day. Each one is floating in an orbit.” (36:40)
The words used here clearly indicate that both the planets are always floating in an orbit, which is very close to the modern discoveries that they are floating in the space. This was declared at a time when it was generally believed that they are fixed in the sky.
4- In your next question, you say, “In 18:82 it (the Holy Qur’an) says Alexender the great was a Muslim and lived to be old.” In fact, the Holy Qur’an did not name Dhul-Qarnain as Alexender anywhere. It has referred to a king titled as Dhul-Qarnain. There is no slightest indication that he was Alexender. However, some interpreters have wrongly opined that he was Alexender. Some others are of the view that he was Cyrus of Persia. Neither of the two views can be attributed to the Holy Qur’an.
5-Referring to a number of Quranic verses, you have concluded that the Holy Qur’an has itself admitted Torah and Gospel as true scriptures revealed by God, and that the Holy Quran verifies their contents. You have asked why the Muslims do not believe in them. In order to understand the Quranic standpoint about these scriptures, we will have to study what Qur’an actually says about them. There are several verses affirming that these were the divine books revealed to the previous prophets, and that the Holy Qur’an confirms them. For example, while inviting the Jews and the Christians to believe in the Holy Qur’an, it says, “And have faith in what I have revealed, confirming what is already with you, and do not be first to deny it, nor take a paltry price for my verses.”(2:41). Italicized statements are also found in 2:91, 2:97, 3:3, 4:47, 5:48, 35:31, 46:30 and 61:6.
But on the other hand, the Holy Qur’an itself has mentioned that distortion has occurred in these scriptures. For example, referring to the Jews it says, “a group of them used to hear the word of Allah, and then having understood it, used to distort it knowingly.”(2:75) and says, “So woe to those who write the Book with their hands and then say, ‘This is from Allah’, so that they may gain thereby a trifling price.” (2:79), and says, “Among them there is indeed a group who twist their tongues with the Book, so that you may deem it to be from the Book, while it is not from the Book. They say ‘It is from Allah’, while it is not from Allah; and they tell lies about Allah knowingly.” (3:78) That distortion has occurred in these scriptures is mentioned by the Holy Qur’an in 4:46, 5:13 5:15, 2:159 and 5:44 as well.
A combined study of all these verses makes it clear that the Holy Qur’an does not claim these scriptures are totally corrupted or distorted. It rather says that some distortions have occurred in them. In other words, they are partially, and not completely, distorted. As for the basic articles of true faith, like belief in One God, condemnation of idol-worship, belief in Allah’s messengers, in the divine books revealed to them, in their miracles and in the prophecies about the prophets coming after Moses, like the Holy Prophets Jesus or Muhammad (Peace be upon them), all these things were present in these scriptures in some form, and it is these things about which the Holy Qur’an says it has verified and confirmed them. The pagans of Arabia did not believe in any one of these articles of faith, and these were the basic points of difference between them and the Israelites. The Holy Qur’an reminds the Jews and the Christians that instead of confirming the beliefs of the pagans of Arabia, it confirms the basic teachings of the divine books Israelites have with them. This is the import of verses 2:41, 2:91, 2:97, 3:3, 4:47, 5:48, 35:31, 46:30 and 61:6, and it is this part of these scriptures that the Holy Qur’an directs the Jews and the Christians in 5:47 and 5:68 to follow. But it does not mean that no distortion has ever occurred in them. Conversely, the Holy Qur’an expressly says some people have subjected some parts of them to additions and omissions, and this is the import of verses 2:79, 2:159, 3:78, 5:15 and 5:44 etc. That the Bible was subjected to some additions and omissions is now a fact admitted even by many modern Christian scholars, and is fully evident from a comparative study of its text. Details are beyond the scope of this letter. Only as a simple and undisputed example, you may study the last chapter (34) of Deuteronomy to find that Moses himself could not describe the events of his own death.
You have asked how the Jews were able to change Allah’s words in Torah, while the Holy Qur’an itself says that no one can change Allah’s words. In order to answer this question, this statement of the Holy Qur’an should be understood in its proper context. This expression is used by the Holy Qur’an in 6:34, 6:115, 10:64 and 18:27. In some of these places (like in 10:64) the phrase “words of God” refers to what He has destined or promised to occur in future, and the sense is that no one can change what Allah has destined to happen. In some of these verses, however, the phrase refers to the revelation received by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him.) This is in answer to the suggestions given by pagans of Makkah that if the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) brings some amendments in his teachings, they may cooperate with him. The Holy Qur’an in 18:27 directs him to refuse such suggestions and to assert that his teachings are based on the divine revelation, and since no one is authorized to change the commands given by Allah, he cannot change a single word from this revelation only to please the pagans. None of these verses, therefore, implies that distortion in past scriptures was impossible.
Another important point must also be remembered when discovering the Qur’anic position about Torah and Injil (Evangile or Gospel). According to the Holy Qur’an, Torah was not written by any human being. It was word of God, given to Moses (Peace be upon him) in the form of written tablets. This is clear from 5:44-45 and 7:144-154. Similarly, Injil was a word of Allah given to Masih or Jesus (Peace be upon him.) as is evident from 5:46. Bible on the other hand is a package of different books believed to be written by human beings on the basis of inspiration. Although some of these books contain what the Holy Qur’an describes as Torah and Injil, all of them are not Torah and Injil according to it. Therfore, whatever is found in Old and New Testaments cannot be attributed to the Torah or Injil that the Holy Qur’an has confirmed as such.
6-It is not correct that the Holy Qur’an was revealed because the torah was
corrupted or only because the pagans of Arabia needed an Arabic book. In fact, revelation of fresh divine books was based on several reasons. In fact, the fundamental articles of the true faith (like belief in One God, condemnation of idol-worship, belief in Allah’s messengers etc.) were consistently the same in every divine book, as is maintained by the Holy Qur’an at many places like 2:133 to 141. However, some subsidiary rules of worship, socio-economic precepts etc have been changed by Allah Almighty according to the needs and requirements of every time and place. New divine books are revealed firstly to establish the unchangeable articles of faith in a language and style that suit the mentality of new addressees, secondly because these articles of faith are often distorted by wrong interpretations or because the original books are lost or corrupted, and thirdly to give new subsidiary rules that are more suitable to the new time-space circumstances according to the divine wisdom. This point is clarified by the Holy Qur’an in 2:106, 5:48, 3:50, 7:157. And if you study the Sermon of the Mount, you will find that Jesus himself announced some precepts of Torah as changed in his teachings. All these factors, put together, were the reason why the Holy Qur’an was revealed on the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him).
7- You have quoted some verses from Bible in which Jesus, John or Peter have maintained that no one other than God should be worshipped. Then you have quoted two events from Matthew where some people worshipped Jesus, but he did not stop them. According to you, this indicates that Jesus claimed himself to be God, and thus my statement that Jesus did never claim to be God is not correct.
The first reference is Matthew 8:1-3, which you have reproduced as follows:
“When he had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And behold, a leper came down and WORSHIPPED him. Saying…”
Your argument is based on the word ‘WORSHIPPED’. We do not know the exact original word that has been rendered in your translation as ‘worshipped’ The ‘Good News Bible’ published by United Bible Societies and claimed to be ‘accurate and reliable translation’ has rendered it as follows,
“When Jesus came down from the hill, large crowds followed him. Then a man suffering from a dreaded skin disease came to him, KNELT DOWN before him, and said…”
In the Revised Standard Version of Bible published by the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1971, the relevant part of this verse is rendered as under:
“…a leper came to him and KNELT before him, saying…”
Although in King James Version, the word of Matthew 8:2 has been translated as ‘worshipped’, the same event is mentioned in Mark 1:40, and the word used by King James Version is ‘and KNEELING DOWN to him’. In Luke 5:12, the same event is mentioned by the same King James Version as: “who seeing Jesus FELL ON HIS FACE” which may refer to his helplessness and seriousness of his disease.
Another new translation titled as ‘The New English Bible’ published by the representatives of different churches and printed by Oxford University Press in 1961, the relevant part of the verse is translated as:
“…a leper approached him, BOWED LOW, and said,…”
‘Kneeling down’ and ‘bowing low’ or ‘falling on one’s face’ is not always a way of worship. It is frequently used as a sign of reverence for someone. If you have experience of courts of law, you might have observed the advocates saying to the judge, “I bow before your lordship.” They never mean that they worship the judge. It is rather a sign of respect, reverence and submission. Even if the word used in Matthew 8:2 is taken to mean prostration, (as it is translated in Urdu version,) it does not necessarily imply worship. Admittedly, the Holy Qur’an is the biggest proponent of ‘worshipping Allah alone, and none else,’ but it has narrated that all the angels were ordered by Allah to prostrate before Adam. (See Al-Qur’an 2:34, 7:11,17:61, 18:50 and 20:116) It never meant that the angels were ordered to worship Adam. Similarly, when Israel (Peace be upon him) and his sons reached Egypt to meet Yousuf (Joseph, Peace be upon him), all of them fell prostrate before him, as mentioned by the Holy Qur’an (12:100). Obviously, they never intended to worship Joseph, and his tacit approval to this prostration never meant that he claimed to be God. This is sufficient to show that prostration was sometimes intended to show one’s reverence towards another, and not that he worships him as God.
Please consider Mark 10:17-18, which according to King James Version reads as follows,
“And when he (Jesus) was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, ‘Good Master, when shall I do that, I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.” (Mark 10:17)
Here this person knelt before Jesus. Still, he called him ‘Good Master’ and not God, and Jesus admonished him to call only God as ‘good’ and not him.
To sum up, the word used in Matthew 8:2 does not exclusively stand for worshipping someone as God, and it is not enough to raise on its basis the whole edifice of such a serious belief in respect of Jesus, while Jesus has never claimed it throughout his life in this world. Conversely, he called himself a son of Adam at innumerable places, (eg. Matthew 8:20) and invited people to believe in one and only God without giving a slightest reference to himself. He made the following unambiguous announcement:
“Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord.” (Mark 12:29).
Jesus held it as the first and foremost commandment, as it is expressly mentioned at the end of this verse and also in Matthew 22:36-40. Consider also Mark 10:17 just quoted above. He does not allow the use of ‘good’ for himself, and says that it is only God who deserves to be called good. In Mark 13:32 he says that no one knows about the exact time of Doomsday, not even the Son, but the Father. Please see also Matthew 23: 9-10, 26: 36, 27:46, John 14: 24 and 14; 28 where you find that Jesus used to treat himself as human being before his God. How can the ambiguous word of Matthew 8:2, having different translations and possibilities, negate the overwhelming evidence that Jesus always presented himself as a man believing in One God?
8-Lastly you have raised the issue of Atonement. You have asked me as a judge whether I can let off a criminal by accepting bribery from him. My answer is certainly ‘no’, but if I feel that he has really repented and mended himself, I can take it as a mitigating circumstance for giving him a lighter punishment within the law, and if I am an absolute authority, not bound by anyone, I may forgive him too. But there is one thing that I can never do: If someone offers me that he is prepared to serve the sentence of that criminal on his behalf, I would never allow him to do that. Similarly, if I have ten murderers sentenced to death, and a single person requests me to hang him alone instead of ten, I would never allow it, nor would any sound judge would do that, because this would be against all norms of justice to punish one for the guilt of another, or punish a single person in ransom for ten. It is even against Bible, which says,
“The soul that sinneth shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son.” ( Ezekiel, 18:20)
The same principle is established by the Holy Qur’an in the following words, “No bearer of burden shall bear the burden of another.” (6:164, 17:15, 35:18, 39:7) and it is mentioned in 53:38 that this principle has been declared consistently in all earlier scriptures, including the scriptures of Abraham and Moses. You say that a third person can pay the fine imposed on a criminal, but you missed to realize that this principle cannot be extended to physical punishments, and no sound legal system has ever allowed to impose a physical punishment upon an innocent person instead of the real culprit, though with the free will of that innocent person. The belief that Jesus was crucified on behalf of the entire humanity is, therefore, against all norms and principles declared by the divine books and admitted by all ethical systems.
After a careful reading of your points in this regard, I am of the opinion that perhaps you did not have an opportunity to study that part of my book which has discussed this issue. It also appears that two basic concepts of both Islam and Christianity are not clear in your mind. Please allow me to explain these concepts:
Firstly, you have presumed that, according to the Christian concept of Atonement, crucifixion of Jesus has expiated all the sins of the Christians, including the sins they commit today in their daily life. But this is not a correct understanding of the Christian doctrine. According to the Christian authorities, like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, it is only the Original Sin that has been expiated by the crucifixion. After the Original Sin is expiated, their free will is restored to them. Now, after baptism, they have entered a new life in which they are accountable for the deeds they do with their free will. It is not therefore correct to say that if a person commits murder or adultery today, he will be relieved from any divine punishment because Jesus has been crucified on his behalf. References to this interpretation of Atonement are fully given in my book. Once this concept is clear, all that you have said on this subject stands answered.
Secondly, you have presumed that, according to Islamic belief, every sin is forgiven by some acts of worship, like prayer, fasting, pilgrimage to Makkah or any charitable act. This is not correct. In fact, it is only minor sins or mishaps that may be forgiven by such acts, but major sins, like murder, adultery, fornication, burglary etc are not forgiven by such good acts. Their worldly punishments are never forgiven. However, their divine punishment in the next life can be forgiven only by true repentance. This principle is established by the Holy Qur’an itself. See 4:31 and 4:17, and I think Bible is not much different from it on this issue. The Bible says,
“But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” (Ezekiel 18: 21-23)
I apologize for this lengthy letter, but the points you raised could not be answered in a shorter way. I hope you will consider my submissions with open mind. I am not in favor of debate for the purpose of debate, but I am always open for any search of truth. I thank you again for your kind letter.
Muhammad Taqi Usmani
Karachi, November 18, 2007