Night of Power, Day of Glory & Word of the Prophets

Surah Al-Qadr (Surah 97 – The Power) describes the Night of Power when the Qur’an was first revealed

We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power:

And what will explain to thee what the night of power is?

The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.

Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by God’s permission, on every errand: Peace!…This until the rise of morn!

(Surah Al-Qadr 97:1-5)

Surah Al-Qadr, though describing the Night of Power as ‘better than a thousand months’ still asks what the Night of Power was.  What was the Spirit doing that made the Night of Power better than a thousand months?

Surah Al-Layl (Surah 92 – The Night) has a very similar theme of Day and light follow the Night. The Day comes in Glory, and Allah guides because He knows everything from Beginning to End. Therefore He warns us of Fire at the End.

By the Night as it conceals (the light);

By the Day as it appears in glory;

(Surah Al-Layl 92:1-2)

Verily We take upon Ourselves to guide,

And verily unto Us (belong) the End and the Beginning.

Therefore do I warn you of a Fire blazing fiercely;

(Surah Al-Layl 92:12-14)

Compare Surah Al-Qadr and Surah Al-Layl with the following:

And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Do you see similarities? When I read Surah Al-Qadr and Surah Al-Layl I was reminded of this quotation.  It also declare a Day rising after a Night.  During the night revelation was given to prophets.  It also warns us not to ignore the prophetic messages. Otherwise we face severe consequences.

This was written by the Apostle Peter, the leading disciple and companion of the Prophet Isa al Masih PBUH.  Surah As-Saf (Surah 61 – The Ranks) says about the disciples of Isa al Masih:

O ye who believe! Be ye helpers of God: As said Jesus the son of Mary to the Disciples, “Who will be my helpers to (the work of) God?” Said the disciples, “We are God’s helpers!” then a portion of the Children of Israel believed, and a portion disbelieved: But We gave power to those who believed, against their enemies, and they became the ones that prevailed. 

(Surah As-Saf 61:14)

Surah As-Saf declares that the disciples of Isa al Masih were ‘God’s helpers’.  Those who believe the message of the disciples receive this power spoken of. As the leading disciple, Peter, was the leader of the ones helping God.  Though he was a disciple of the prophet Isa al Masih PBUH, witnessing his many miracles, hearing his many teachings, and seeing his authority exercised, Peter still declared above that the words of the prophets were even ‘more certain’.  Why was he more certain of the prophets than what he himself witnessed?  He continues:

Above all you must understand that no prophecy of scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.  For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit

(2 Peter 1:20-21)

This tells us that the Holy Spirit of God ‘carried’ the prophets along, so that what they recited and then wrote down was ‘from God’.  This is why a Night like this is better than a thousand months because it is rooted in the Holy Spirit rather than in ‘the will of man’. Surah As-Saf tells us that those who pay attention to Peter’s message will receive the Power that was exercised on the Night of Power and will prevail.

Living in the time of the Prophet Isa al Masih, the ‘prophets’ that Peter wrote about were the prophets that are in what now is called the Old Testament – the Holy Books that came before the Injil.  In the Taurat of Prophet Musa were the accounts from Adam, Qabil & Habil, Nouh, Lut and Ibrahim.  As well it included the accounts of when Musa confronted Pharaoh and then received the Shariah Law, and also the sacrifices of his brother Harun, from which Surah Baqarah is named.

Following the close of Taurat came the Zabur where Dawud was inspired to speak of the coming Masih.  Successive prophets then prophesied of the Masih coming from a Virgin, of the Kingdom of Allah being opened for all, and also of great suffering for the coming Servant.  Then the name of the Masih was prophesied, along with the time of his coming, as well as the Promise of the Preparer.

Many of us have not had the chance to read these writings for ourselves.  Here, with these different links, is an opportunity.  Surah Al-Layl warns of a coming Fire.  Surah Al-Qadr declares that the Spirit of God was at work in the Night of Power.  Surah As-Saf promises Power to those who believe the message of the disciples. Peter, leader of these disciples, then advises us to ‘pay attention’ to the revelation of the earliest prophets, given in the Night, who looked forward to the Day. Would it not be wise to know their messages?

Do angels on Right & Left help on Judgment Day?

Surah Al-Haqqah (Surah 69 – The Reality) describes how The Day of Judgment will unfold with a Trumpet blast.

Then, when one blast is sounded on the Trumpet,

And the earth is moved, and its mountains, and they are crushed to powder at one stroke,-

On that Day shall the (Great) Event come to pass.

And the sky will be rent asunder, for it will that Day be flimsy,

And the angels will be on its sides, and eight will, that Day, bear the Throne of thy Lord above them.

That Day shall ye be brought to Judgment: not an act of yours that ye hide will be hidden.  (Surah al-Haqqah 69:13-18)

Surah Qaf (Surah 50) also describes a Day when the Trumpet of Allah is blown and the guardian angels on our right and left sides reveal the record of our deeds and merits.  These ayat read:

It was We Who created man, and We know what dark suggestions his soul makes to him: for We are nearer to him than (his) jugular vein.

Behold, two (guardian angels) appointed to learn (his doings) learn (and noted them), one sitting on the right and one on the left.

Not a word does he utter but there is a sentinel by him, ready (to note it).

And the stupor of death will bring Truth (before his eyes): “This was the thing which thou wast trying to escape!”

And the Trumpet shall be blown:  that will be the Day whereof Warning (had been given).

And there will come forth every soul: with each will be an (angel) to drive, and an (angel) to bear witness.

(It will be said:) “Thou wast heedless of this; now have We removed thy veil, and sharp is thy sight this Day!”

And his Companion will say: “Here is (his Record) ready with me!” (Surah Qaf 50:16-23)

Ayah 20 says that the warning of the Trumpet had already been given (before the Qur’an was revealed).  When was this given?  It was given by Isa al Masih (PBUH) when he foretold in the Injil that his return to earth would be announced by the trumpet of Heaven:

And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:31)

What happens after this?  Surah Qaf describes an angel on our right and on our left, recording our deeds.  Since Allah is nearer to us than our jugular vein, the Injil tells us that these records of our deeds are so extensive that they are ‘books’.  This was described in a vision that John, a disciple of Isa al Masih PBUH, received and wrote in the final book of the Injil. As it is written:

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15)

This declares that all will be judged ‘according to what they have done’ as recorded in the ‘books’.  So we greet the angels on our right and left after prayers, hoping to get some advantage in the recording of deeds.

The Book of Life

But notice there is another book, called the ‘Book of Life’, which is different than the good-bad merit record-keeping books.  It states that ‘anyone’ whose name is not found written in the Book of Life will be thrown into the Lake of Fire (another term for hell).  So, even if our list of good merits recorded by the angel on our right is very long, and the list of sins recorded by the angel on our left side is very short – even then – if our name is not in the ‘Book of Life’ we are still condemned to Hell.  What is this ‘book of life’ and how is our name recorded in this book?

Both the Taurat and Quran state that when Hazrat Adam sinned, Allah banished him from Paradise and made him mortal.  This meant that he (and we his children) was separated from the Source of Life.  This is the reason we are mortal and will die one day.  The Prophet Isa al Masih PBUH came to restore this Life to us so our names could be entered into the Book of Life.  As he declared

Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. (John 5:24)

How the Prophet Ibrahim PBUH foresaw this gift of life, and why Isa al Masih can give us life is explained in detail here.  Surah Qaf warns us that

(The sentence will be:) “Throw, throw into Hell every contumacious Rejecter (of God) (Surah Qaf 50:24)

So if there is Eternal Life offered why not be informed about it?

How is Ruth & Boaz a unique love story?

If you were to name great love stories you might suggest that between the prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and Khadija, or between the prophet (PBUH) and his favorite wife Aisha, or that of Ali and Fatima. In movies and literature you might think of: Romeo & Juliet, Beauty & the Beast, Ali and Jasmine in the Aladdin movie, or perhaps Cinderella & Prince Charming.  In them, history, pop culture and romantic fiction come together in offering passionate love stories that captivate our hearts, emotions and imaginations.

Amazingly, the love that grew between Ruth & Boaz has proved far more enduring and noble than any of these love affairs, and in fact, still affects the lives of all the billions of us living today – more than three thousand years after these lovers met.

Surahs Al-Ma’un, Ad-Duhaa, Ash-Sharh & Al-Mumtahanah exemplified in Ruth & Boaz

The story of Ruth and Boaz illustrate timeless principles from these Surahs.  Boaz, with his small kindnesses to Ruth, was a man who is a perfect opposite of the evil man warned against in Surah al-Ma’un (Surah 107 – The Small Kindnesses)

Then such is the (man) who repulses the orphan (with harshness),And encourages not the feeding of the indigent. (Surah al-Ma’un 107:2-3)

But refuse (to supply) (even) neighbourly needs. (Surah al-Ma’un 107:7)

Ruth is a perfect example of the experiences described in Surah Ad-Duhaa (Surah 93 – The Morning Hours)

And He found thee wandering, and He gave thee guidance.

And He found thee in need, and made thee independent.

Therefore, treat not the orphan with harshness,

Nor repulse the petitioner (unheard);

But the bounty of the Lord – rehearse and proclaim! (Surah Ad-Duhaa 93:7-11)

The experiences of Naomi, the mother-in-law in the story of Ruth is a clear depiction of the principles given in Surah Ash-Sharh (Surah 94 – The Relief)

Have We not expanded thee thy breast?-

And removed from thee thy burden

The which did gall thy back?-

And raised high the esteem (in which) thou (art held)?

So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief:

Verily, with every difficulty there is relief. (Surah Ash-Sharh 94:1-6)

The way in which Boaz examines the believing refugee Ruth is an example on applying Surah Al-Mumtahanah (Surah 60 – She that is to be examined)

O ye who believe! When there come to you believing women refugees, examine (and test) them:  God knows best as to their Faith: if ye ascertain that they are Believers, then send them not back to the Unbelievers. They are not lawful (wives) for the Unbelievers, nor are the (Unbelievers) lawful (husbands) for them. But pay the Unbelievers what they have spent (on their dower), and there will be no blame on you if ye marry them on payment of their dower to them. But hold not to the guardianship of unbelieving women: ask for what ye have spent on their dowers, and let the (Unbelievers) ask for what they have spent (on the dowers of women who come over to you). Such is the command of God: He judges (with justice) between you. And God is Full of Knowledge and Wisdom. (Surah Al-Mumtahanah 60:10)

Ruth & Boaz for today

Their romance is also a picture of a mystical and spiritual love offered to you and me by God.  The story of Ruth and Boaz deals with cross-cultural & forbidden love, immigration and the relationship between a powerful man and a vulnerable woman – applicable in today’s #MeToo era.  It deals with ancient Jewish-Arab relationships. It becomes a blueprint for us on how to establish a healthy marriage.  By any of these measures the love story of Ruth & Boaz is worth knowing.

Their love is recorded in the Book of Ruth in the Bible/Kitab.  It is a short book – only 2400 words long – and is well worth reading (here).  It is set about 1150 BCE, making this the oldest of all recorded love stories.  It has been made into several films.

Hollywood movie depicting the Ruth Love story

The Love Story of Ruth

Naomi and her husband, both Jews, with their two sons leave Israel to escape drought and settle in the nearby country of Moab (today’s Jordan).  After marrying local women the two sons die, as does Naomi’s husband, leaving her alone with her two daughters-in-law.  Naomi decides to return to her native Israel and one of her daughters-in-law, Ruth, chooses to accompany her.  After a long absence, Naomi is back in her native Bethlehem as a destitute widow accompanied by Ruth, a young and vulnerable Moabite (Arab) immigrant.

Ruth & Boaz meet

With no income, Ruth goes out to gather grain left behind by the local harvest crews in the fields.  The Shariah Law of the Prophet Musa (PBUH) as a social safety net, had ordained harvesters to leave some grains behind in their fields so the impoverished could gather food.  Randomly it would seem, Ruth finds herself picking grains in the fields of a wealthy landowner named Boaz.  Boaz notices Ruth among the others working hard to gather up the grains left behind by his work crews.  He instructs his foremen to leave extra grain behind in the field so that she could gather more.  In doing so, Boaz gives the opposite illustration of the evil man in Surah al-Ma’un and Ruth has her needs met as Surah ad-Duhaa lays out.

Ruth & Boaz meet. Much art has been done depicting their meeting

Because she can gather plentifully in his fields, Ruth comes back to Boaz’s fields every day to gather left-over grain.  Boaz, ever the protector, ensures that Ruth is not harassed or molested by any of his crews.  Ruth and Boaz are interested in each other, but because of differences in age, social status, and nationality, neither makes a move.  Here Naomi steps in as match-maker.  She instructs Ruth to boldly lay down by Boaz’s side at night after he has celebrated the harvest gathering.  Boaz understands this as a marriage proposal and decides to marry her.

Kinsman Redeemer

But the situation is more complicated than simply love between them.  Naomi is a relative of Boaz, and since Ruth is her daughter-in-law, Boaz and Ruth are kin/related by marriage.  Boaz must marry her as a ‘kinsmen redeemer’.  This meant that under the Law of Musa (PBUH) he would marry her ‘in the name’ of her first husband (Naomi’s son) and so provide for her.   This would mean that Boaz purchase Naomi’s family fields.  Though that would prove costly to Boaz it was not the biggest obstacle.  There was another closer relative that had first rights to buy Naomi’s family’s fields (and also thus marry Ruth).  So the marriage of Ruth to Boaz hung on whether another man wanted the responsibility to care for Naomi and Ruth.  At a public meeting of the city elders this first-in-line declined the marriage since it put his own estate at risk.  Boaz was thus free to purchase and redeem Naomi’s family estate and marry Ruth.  Naomi, after many difficult years now finds relief, illustrating this principle in Surah Ash-Sharh

Legacy of Ruth & Boaz

In their union they had a child, Obed, who in turn became the grandfather of King Dawud/David.  David was promised that ‘the Masih’ would come from his family.   Further prophecies predicted a virgin birth and finally the prophet Isa al Masih (PBUH) was born in Bethlehem, the same town that Ruth and Boaz had met in long before.  Their romance, marriage and family line resulted in offspring that today is the basis for the modern calendar, and global holidays like Christmas & Easter – not bad for a romance in a dusty village over 3000 years ago.

Picturing a Greater Love Story

The chivalry and respect with which the rich and powerful Boaz treated Ruth, the destitute foreign woman, is a model contrasting the harassments and exploitations now common in our #MeToo day.  The historical impact of the family line which this romance and marriage produced, reminding us every time we note the date on our devices, gives this love story an enduring legacy.  But the Ruth & Boaz love story is also a picture of an even greater love – one you and I are invited into.

The Kitab/Bible describes us in a manner evoking Ruth when it says:

I will plant her for myself in the land;
    I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’
I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’;
    and they will say, ‘You are my God.’”(Hosea2:23)

The Old Testament prophet Hosea (ca 750 BC) used the reconciliation in his own broken marriage to picture Allah/God reaching out to us with His love.  Like Ruth who entered the land as one unloved, but then was shown love by Boaz, He desires to show His love even to those of us who feel far from His love.  This is quoted in the Injil/New Testament (Romans 9:25) to show how Allah reaches wide to love those far from Him.

How is His love shown?  Isa al Masih, that descendant offspring from Boaz & Ruth, as a man is our ‘kinsman’, just as Boaz was to Ruth.  He paid our debt of sin to Allah when he was crucified on the cross, and thus he

gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus2:14)

Just as Boaz was a ‘kinsman-redeemer’ who paid a price to redeem Ruth, Jesus is our ‘kinsman-redeemer’ who paid (with his life) to redeem us.

A Model for our marriages

The way Isa al Masih (and Boaz) paid to redeem and then win his bride models how we can build our marriages.  The Kitab/Bible explains how we establish our marriages:

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians5:21-33)

As Boaz and Ruth established their marriage on love and respect, and Isa’s care is a model for husbands to love their wives sacrificially, so we do well to build our marriages on these same values.

A Wedding Invitation for you and me

As in all good love stories, the Kitab/Bible closes with a wedding.  Just as the price that Boaz paid to redeem Ruth paved the way for their wedding, the price that Isa al Masih PBUH paid has paved the way for our wedding.  That wedding is not figurative but real, and those accepting his wedding invitation are called ‘The Bride of Christ’.  As it says:

 Let us rejoice and be glad
    and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready.  (Revelation19:7)

Those who receive Jesus’ offer of redemption become his ‘bride’.  This heavenly wedding is offered to all of us.  The Bible ends with this invitation for you and me to come to His wedding

 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation22:17)

The relationship between Ruth & Boaz is a model of love that is still making itself felt today.  It is a picture of the heavenly love of Allah.  He will marry as His Bride all who accept His marriage proposal.  As with any marriage proposals, His offer should be weighed to see if you should accept it.  Start here with the ‘plan’ laid out in the beginning with Hazrat Adam, here to see how Hazrat Ibrahim foresaw the plan, here how Nabi Musa/Moses showed how the Redeemer would pay the price, and here to see how it was predicted long beforehand so we can know it really is Allah/God’s Proposal.

Another adaptation of the Book of Ruth in film

Understanding & Receiving the Gift of Life from Isa al Masih

We examined the final week of the prophet Isa al Masih PBUH.  The Injil records that he was crucified on Day 6 – Good Friday, and he was raised back to life the following Sunday.  This was foreseen both in the Taurat and the Psalms and Prophets.  But why did this happen and what does it mean for you and me today?   Here we seek to understand what is offered by the Prophet Isa al Masih, and how we can receive mercy and forgiveness.  This will help us even understand Ibrahim’s ransom described in Surah As-Saffat (Surah 37), Surah al Fatihah (Surah 1 – The Opener) when it asks Allah to ‘show us the Straight Way’, as well as understanding why ‘Muslim’ means ‘one who submits’, and why religious observances like wudu, zakat and eating halal are good intentions but insufficient in themselves for the Day of Judgment.

Bad News – what the Prophets say of our relationship with Allah

The Taurat teaches that when Allah created mankind He

So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

“Image” is not meant in a physical sense, but rather that we were made to reflect Him in the way we functioned emotionally, mentally, socially and spiritually.  We were created to be in relationship with Him.  We can visualize this relationship in the slide below.  The Creator, as infinite ruler, is placed at the top while man and woman are placed at the bottom of the slide since we are finite creatures.  The relationship is shown by the connecting arrow.

Created in His image, people were made to be in relationship with the Creator
Created in His image, people were made to be in relationship with the Creator

Allah is perfect in character – He is Holy.  Because of this the Zabur says

For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness;
    with you, evil people are not welcome.
The arrogant cannot stand
    in your presence.
You hate all who do wrong (Psalm 5: 4-5)

Adam committed one act of disobedience – only one- and the Holiness of God required Him to judge.  The Taurat and Qur’an record that Allah made him mortal and expelled him His presence.  The same situation exists for us.  When we sin or disobey in any way we dishonor Allah since we do not act according to the image that we were made in.  Our relationship is broken.  This results in a barrier as solid as a rock wall that comes between us and our Creator.

Our sins create a barrier between us and Holy God
Our sins create a solid barrier between us and Holy God

Piercing Sin’s barrier by Religious Merit

Many of us try to pierce this barrier between us and Allah by religious deeds or works that earn enough merit to break the barrier.  Prayers, fasting, Hajj, going to mosque, zakat, alms to charity are the ways we seek to earn merit to pierce the barrier as illustrated next.  The hope is that religious merit will cancel out some sin.  If our many deeds earn enough merit we hope to cancel all our sins and receive mercy and forgiveness.

We try to pierce this barrier by doing good deeds to earn merit before Allah
We try to pierce this barrier by doing good deeds to earn merit before Allah

But how much merit do we need to cancel sin?  What is our assurance that our meritorious deeds will be sufficient to cancel the sin and pierce the barrier that has come between us and our Creator?  Do we know if our efforts for good intentions will be sufficient? We have no assurance and so we try to do as much as we can and hope it will be sufficient on Judgment Day.

Along with deeds to gain merit, efforts for good intentions, many of us work hard to stay clean.  We diligently perform wudu before prayers.  We work hard to stay away from people, objects and food that make us unclean.  But the prophet Isaiah revealed that:

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
    and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

The prophet tells us that even if we avoid everything that make us unclean, our sins will make our ‘righteous acts’ as useless as ‘filthy rags’ in making us clean.  That is bad news.  But it gets worse.

Worse News: the power of Sin and Death

The Prophet Musa PBUH clearly set the standard in the Law that total obedience was required.  The law never said something like “attempt to follow most of the commands”.  In fact the Law stated time and again that the only work that assured payment for sin was death.   We saw in the time of Nouh PBUH and even with the wife of Lut PBUH that death resulted from sin.

The Injil summarizes this truth in the following way:

For the wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23)

“Death” literally means ‘separation’.  When our soul separates from our body we die physically.  Similarly we are even now separated from God spiritually and are dead and unclean in His sight.

This reveals the problem of our hope in earning merit to pay for sin.  The problem is that our hard efforts, merits, good intentions, and deeds, though not wrong, are insufficient because the payment required (the ‘wages’) for our sins is ‘death’.  Only death will pierce this wall because it satisfies God’s justice.  Our efforts to gain merit are like trying to cure cancer (which results in death) by eating halal food.  Eating halal is not bad, it is good – and one should eat halal – but it will not cure cancer.  For cancer you need a totally different treatment that puts the cancerous cells to death.

So even in our efforts and good intentions to generate religious merit we are actually dead and unclean as a corpse in the sight of our Creator

Our sin results in death - We are like unclean dead bodies before Allah
Our sin results in death – We are like unclean dead bodies before Allah

Ibrahim – showing the Straight Path

It was different with the Prophet Ibrahim PBUH.  He was ‘credited righteousness’, not because of his merit but because he believed and trusted the promise to him.  He trusted Allah to meet the payment required, rather than earning it himself.  We saw in his great sacrifice that death (the payment for sin) was paid, but not by his son but instead by a lamb provided by God.

Ibrahim was revealed the Way - He simply trusted God's Promise and God Provided the payment
Ibrahim was shown the Straight Path- He simply trusted God’s Promise and God Provided the payment of death for sin

The Quran speaks of this in Surah As-Saffat (Surah 37 – Those who set the Ranks) where it says:

And we ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice. And we left (the blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times.  “Peace and salutation to Ibrahim” (Surah As-Saffat 37:107-109)

Allah ‘ransomed’ (paid the price) and Ibrahim received the blessing, mercy and forgiveness, which included ‘peace’.

Good News: The work of Isa al Masih on our behalf

The example of the prophet is there to show us the Straight Path in accordance with the request of Surah Al-Fatihah (Surah 1 – The Opening):

Sovereign of the Day of Recompense.
It is You we worship and You we ask for help.
Guide us to the straight path –
The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray. (Surah al-Fatihah 1:4-7)

The Injil explains that this was an illustration to show how Allah would pay for sin and provide a cure for death and uncleanness in a simple but powerful way.

For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23)

Up until now, it has all been ‘bad news’.  But ‘injil’ literally means ‘good news’ and in declaring that the sacrifice of Isa’s death is sufficient to pierce this barrier between us and God we can see why it is good news as shown.

The sacrifice of Isa al Masih - the lamb of God - makes the payment for sin on our behalf
The sacrifice of Isa al Masih – the lamb of God – makes the payment by death for sin on our behalf just like Ibrahim’s lamb had done.

The prophet Isa al Masih was sacrificed and then rose from the dead as firstfruits so he now offers us his new life.  We need no longer remain prisoners of sin’s death.

The resurrection of Isa al Masih was 'firstfruits'. We are freed from death and receive the same resurrection life.
The resurrection of Isa al Masih was ‘firstfruits’. We can be freed from death and receive the same resurrection life.

In his sacrifice and resurrection Isa al Masih became the gate through the barrier of sin that separates us from God.  This is why the prophet said:

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:9-10)

Isa al Masih is thus a Gate that breaks through the barrier of sin and death
Isa al Masih is thus the Gate that breaks through the barrier of sin and death

Because of this gate, we now can re-gain the relationship we had with our Creator before our sin became a barrier and we can be assured of receiving mercy and the forgiveness of our sins.

With an open Gate we now are restored in Relationship with our Creator
With an open Gate we now are restored in Relationship with our Creator

As the Injil declares:

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.  (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

The Gift of God to you

The prophet ‘gave himself’ for ‘all people‘.  So this must include you as well as me.  Through his death and resurrection he has paid the price to be a ‘mediator’ and offers us life.  How is this life given?

For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23)

Notice how it is given to us.  It is offered as a … ‘gift’.  Think about gifts.  No matter what the gift is, if it is really a gift it is something that you do not work for and do not earn by merit.  If you earned it the gift would no longer be a gift – it would be a wage!  In the same way you cannot merit or earn the sacrifice of Isa al Masih.  It is given to you as a gift.  It is that simple.

And what is the gift?  It is ‘eternal life’.  That means that the sin which brought you and me death is now paid up.  God loves you and me that much.  It is that powerful.

So how do you and I obtain eternal life?  Again, think of gifts.  If someone wants to give you a gift you must ‘receive’ it.  Anytime a gift is offered there are only two alternatives.  Either the gift is refused (“No thank you”) or it is received (“Thank you for your gift.  I will take it”).  So also this gift must be received.  It cannot just be mentally believed in, studied or understood.  To be of benefit, any gift offered to you must be ‘received’.

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God (John 1:12-13)

In fact, the Injil says of God that

God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved … (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

He is a Saviour and His desire is that ‘all people’ receive his gift and be saved from sin and death.  If this is His will, then to receive his gift would simply be submitting to His will – the very meaning of the word ‘Muslim’ – one who submits.
So how do we receive this gift?  The Injil says that

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:12)

Notice that this promise is for ‘everyone’.  Since he rose from the dead Isa al Masih is alive even now.  So if you call on him he will hear and give his gift to you.  You call out to him and ask him.  Perhaps you have never done this.  Below is a guide that can help you. It is not a magic chant.  It is not the specific words that give power.  It is the trust like Ibrahim had that we place in Isa al Masih to give us this gift.  As we trust him He will hear us and answer.  The Injil is powerful, and yet also so simple.  Feel free to follow this guide if you find it helpful.

Dear Prophet and Lord Isa al Masih.  I understand that with my sins I am separated from Allah my Creator.  Though I can try hard, my efforts do not pierce this barrier.  But I understand that your death was a sacrifice to wash away all my sins and make me clean.  I know that you rose from the dead after your sacrifice so I believe that your sacrifice was sufficient and so I submit to you.  I ask you to please cleanse me from my sins and mediate with my Creator so I can have eternal life.  Thank you, Isa the Masih, for doing all this for me and would you even now continue to guide me in my life so I can follow you as my Lord.

In the name of Allah, Most Merciful

How did the Psalms and Prophets prophesy of Isa al Masih?

The Taurat of Prophet Musa PBUH revealed foreknowledge of Isa al Masih PBUH through Signs which were patterned to the coming of the Prophet.  The Prophets which followed Musa showed Allah’s plan with oracles.  Dawud PBUH, inspired by God, first prophesied of the coming ‘Masih’ in Psalm 2 about 1000 BC.  Then in Psalm 22 he wrote an oracle about someone whose hands and feet are ‘pierced’ in tortures, then ‘laid in the dust of death’ but afterwards achieving a great victory that would impact all ‘the families of earth’.  Was this a prophecy of the coming crucifixion and resurrection of Isa al Masih?  We take a look here, including what Surah Saba (Surah 34) and Surah An-Naml (Surah 27) tell us about how Allah inspired David in the Zabur (i.e. Psalm 22).

Prophecy of Psalm 22

You can read the entire Psalm 22 here. Below is a table with Psalm 22 side-by-side with the description of the crucifixion of Isa al Masih as witnessed by his disciples (companions) in the Injil.  The texts are color matched so the similarities are easily noted.

Crucifixion details from the Injil Psalm 22 – written 1000 BC
(Matthew 27: 31-48) ..Then they led him (Jesus) away to crucify him…. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “… save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him,…About the ninth hour Jesus cried…“My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” …48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink.Mark 15: 16-2016 The soldiers led Jesus away… They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him…37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.(JOHN 19:34) they did not break his legs..., pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.…they crucified him… (JOHN 20:25) [Thomas] unless I see the nail marks in his hands ,…”…JOHN 20:23-24 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining…Let’s not tear it”, they said,”Let’s decide by lot who gets it” My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest…All who see me mock me;
they hurl insultsshaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
“let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.16 Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.

The Injil is written from the perspective of eye-witnesses who watched the crucifixion.  But Psalm 22 is written from the perspective of someone experiencing it.  How to explain this similarity between Psalm 22 and the crucifixion of Isa al Masih? Is it coincidence that the details match so exactly as to include that the clothes would both be divided (seamed clothes were split along the seams and passed among the soldiers) AND have cast lots (the seamless garment would be ruined if torn apart so they threw dice for it).  Psalm 22 was written before crucifixion was invented but it describes its specific details (piercing of hands and feet, bones being out of joint – by being stretched as the victim hangs). In addition, the Gospel of John states that blood and water flowed out when the spear was thrust in Jesus’ side, indicating a fluid buildup in the cavity of the heart.  Isa al Masih thus died of a heart attack.  This matches the Psalm 22 description of ‘my heart has turned to wax’. The Hebrew word in Psalm 22 which is translated ‘pierced’ literally means ‘like a lion’. In other words, the hands and feet were mutilated and mauled as by a lion when they were pierced.

Unbelievers reply that the similarity of Psalm 22 with the eye-witness recording in the Injil is perhaps because the disciples of Isa made up the events to ‘fit’ the prophecy.  Could that explain the similarity?

Psalm 22 and the legacy of Isa al Masih

But Psalm 22 does not end with verse 18 in the table above – it continues on. Note here how triumphant it is at the end –after the death!

26 The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him— may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,

28 for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him— those who cannot keep themselves alive.

30 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.

31 They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn— for he has done it. (Psalm 22: 26-31)

This is not talking about details of this person’s death. That was dealt with in the beginning of the Psalm. The prophet Dawud PBUH is now looking further into the future and addressing the impact of this person’s death on ‘posterity’ and ‘future generations’ (v.30). That is us living 2000 years after Isa al Masih.  Dawud tells us that ‘posterity’ which follows this man with ‘pierced hands and feet’, who died such a horrible death will ‘serve’ him and be ‘told about him’.  Verse 27 foretells the extent – it will go to the ‘ends of the earth’ and among ‘all families of nations’ and cause them to ‘turn to the LORD’. Verse 29 indicates how ‘those who cannot keep themselves alive’ (all of us) will one day kneel before him. The righteousness of this man will be proclaimed to people who were not yet alive (the ‘yet unborn’) at the time of his death.

This ending has nothing to do with whether the Injil was made up to fit Psalm 22 because it is now dealing with much later events – those of our time. The writers of the Injil, in the 1st century, could not make up the impact of the death of Isa al Masih into our time.  The rationalizing of the unbelievers does not explain the long-term, world-wide legacy of Isa al Masih that Psalm 22 correctly predicted 3000 years ago.

Quran – David’s foreknowledge given by Allah

This victorious praise at the end of Psalm 22 is exactly what Surah Saba (Surah 34 – Sheba) and Surah An-Naml (Surah 27 – The Ant) mean when they says of David’s inspired Psalms that:

We bestowed Grace aforetime on David from ourselves: “O ye Mountains! Sing ye back the Praises of Allah with him! and ye birds (also)! And We made the iron soft for him (Surah Saba 34:10)

We gave (in the past) knowledge to David and Solomon: And they both said: “Praise be to Allah, Who has favoured us above many of his servants who believe!” (Surah An-Naml 27:15)

As it says, Allah gave David the knowledge and grace to foresee the future and with that knowledge he sang the praises recorded in Psalm 22.

Now consider the question posed in Surah al-Waqi’ah (Surah 56 –The Inevitable).

Then why do ye not (intervene) when (the soul of the dying man) reaches the throat,- And ye the while (sit) looking on,-But We are nearer to him than ye, and yet see not,- Then why do ye not,- If you are exempt from (future) account,- Call back the soul, if ye are true (in the claim of independence)? (Surah al-Waqi’ah 56:83-87)

Who can call back the soul from death?  This challenge is given to separate man’s work from Allah’s work.  Yet Surah al-Waqi’ah is exactly what Psalm 22 describes – and it does so by foretelling or prophesying the work of Isa al Masih PBUH.

One could not make a better prediction of the effect of the crucifixion of Isa al Masih than Psalm 22 does.  Who else in world history can claim that details of his death as well as the legacy of his life into the distant future would be predicted 1000 years before he lived?  Since no human can predict the far future in such detail this is evidence that Isa al Masih’s sacrifice was by “God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge“.

The other Prophets foretell the sacrifice of Isa al Masih

Just as the Taurat began with a mirror image of the events of the last days of Isa al Masih and then made the image clearer with further details, the prophets that followed Dawud clarified further details of the death and resurrection of Isa al Masih.  The table below summarizes some of those we have looked at.

The Prophets Speak  How it revealed the plan of the coming Masih 
The Sign of the Virgin Birth  ‘A son will be born from a virgin’ predicted the Prophet Isaiah in 700 BC and he will live perfectly without sin.  Only a perfect life could be offered in sacrifice for another.  Isa al Masih, born in fulfillment of that prophecy, lived that perfect life 
The coming ‘Branch’ prophesied the name of Isa and the removal of our sin  The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Zechariah gave a series of prophecies of a coming one whom Zechariah correctly named as Isa – 500 years before Isa lived.  Zechariah prophesied that in ‘one day’ the sins of the people would be removed.  Isa offered himself as the sacrifice and so in exactly ‘one day’ sins were atoned for, fulfilling all these prophecies.  
The Prophet Daniel and the time of coming of the Masih  Daniel prophesied an exact 480-year timetable for the coming of the Masih.  Isa arrived exactly according to the schedule of the prophecy.
The Prophet Daniel prophesied the Masih will be ‘cut off’  After the arrival of the Masih, the prophet Daniel wrote that he would be ‘cut off and have nothing’.  This was a prophecy of the coming death of Isa al Masih as he was ‘cut off’ from life. 
The Prophet Isaiah predicts the death & resurrection of the coming Servant  The Prophet Isaiah predicted in great detail how the Masih would be ‘cut off from the land of the living’ including torture, being rejected, ‘pierced’ for our sins, led like a lamb to the slaughter, his life being an offering for sin, but afterwards he would again see ‘life’ and be victorious.  All these detailed predictions were fulfilled when Isa al Masih was crucified and then rose from death.  That such details could be predicted 700 years beforehand is a great Sign that this was Allah’s plan. 
The Prophet Yunus and the death of Isa al Masih  The Prophet Yunus experienced the grave when inside the great fish.  This was a picture that Isa al Masih used to explain that in a similar way he also would experience death. 
The Prophet Zechariah & the freeing of the prisoners of death  Isa al Masih refers to a prophecy of Zechariah that he would free ‘prisoners of death’ (those already dead).  His mission to enter death and free those trapped there was foretold by the prophets. 

With these many prophecies, from prophets who themselves were separated by hundreds of years, living in diverse countries, having different backgrounds, yet all focused on predicting some part of the great victory of Isa al Masih through his death and resurrection – this is evidence that this was according to Allah’s plan.  For this reason, Peter, the leader of the disciples of Isa al Masih, said to his listeners:

But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah—that he must suffer these things.  (Acts 3:18)

Right after Peter said this, he then declared:

Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.  (Acts 3: 19)

There is a promise of blessing for us that we can have our sins ‘wiped away’.  We look at what this means here.