Day 1: Isa al Masih- Light to the Nations

The Palm Sunday Entry of Isa al Masih into Jerusalem began his final week.  Surah Al-Anbya (Surah 21 – The Prophets) tells us that:

And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her of Our spirit, and We made her and her son a sign for all peoples. (Surah Al-Anbya 21:91)

Surah al-Anbya clearly says that Allah made Isa al Masih PBUH a sign for all peoples, not just some people like Christians or Jews.  How was the prophet Isa al Masih made a ‘sign’ for us all? Allah’s creation of the world was universal for all peoples. So on each day of this final week Isa al Masih PBUH spoke and acted in a way that pointed back to the six days of Creation (The Qur’an and Taurat teach that Allah created everything in six days).

We begin going through each day of the final week of Isa al Masih, noticing how all his teaching and actions are signs pointing to Creation.  This would show that the events each day of this week were foreordained by Allah from the beginning of time – not by any human idea since man cannot coordinate events separated by thousands of years.  We start on Sunday – Day One.

Day One – Light in Darkness

Surah An-Nur (Surah 24 – The Light) gives a parable of ‘Light’.  It states:

God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The Parable of His Light is as if there were a Niche and within it a Lamp: the Lamp enclosed in Glass: the glass as it were a brilliant star:  Lit from a blessed Tree, an Olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it: Light upon Light! God doth guide whom He will to His Light: God doth set forth Parables for men: and God doth know all things. (Surah An-Nur 24:35)

This parable refers back to the First Day of Creation when Allah created Light.  The Taurat states:

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. (Genesis 1: 3-6)

Allah spoke Light into existence on Day One of Creation to dispel darkness.  As a sign to show that the events of that hour were planned since Day One of Creation, the Masih spoke of his being a Light dispelling darkness.

The Light shines on the Gentiles

The Prophet Isa al Masih PBUH had just entered Jerusalem mounted on a donkey as the prophet Zechariah PBUH had prophesied 500 years earlier, doing so on the exact day that the prophet Daniel PBUH had prophesied 550 years earlier.  The Jews had been arriving from many countries for the upcoming Passover festival so Jerusalem was crowded with Jewish pilgrims (like Mecca at the time of Hajj). Therefore the arrival of the prophet had caused a stir among the Jews.  But it was not only the Jews who noticed the arrival of Isa al Masih.  The Injil records what happened right after he entered Jerusalem.

20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. (John 12:20-22)

 The Barrier between Greeks and Jews in the time of the Prophet

It was extremely unusual for Greeks, (that is the Gentiles or non-Jews), to be at a Jewish festival.  The Greeks and Romans of that time, since they were polytheists, were considered unclean and shunned by the Jews.  And most Greeks considered the Jewish religion with only one (unseen) God and its festivals to be foolish.  At that time, only Jews were monotheists.  So these peoples regularly stayed apart from each other.  Since the Gentile, or non-Jewish, society was many times larger than the Jewish society, the Jews lived in a sort of isolation from much of the world.  Their different religion, their halal diet, their exclusive book of the prophets created a barrier between the Jews and the Gentiles, with each side hostile to the other side.

In our day, with polytheism and idolatry rejected by much of the world, we can easily forget how different this was in the time of this Prophet.  In fact, in the day of Ibrahim PBUH, almost everyone apart from that prophet were polytheists.  In the time of the Prophet Musa PBUH, all the other nations worshiped idols, with the Pharaoh himself claiming to be one of the gods.  The Israelites were a little island of monotheism in the ocean of idol worship of all the surrounding nations.  But the prophet Isaiah PBUH (750 BCE) had been permitted to see into the future and he foresaw a change for all these nations.  He had written:

Listen to me, you islands;
hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the Lord called me;
from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name….
And now the Lord says—
he who formed me in the womb to be his servant
to bring Jacob back to him
and gather Israel to himself,
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord
and my God has been my strength—
he says:
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:1, 5-6)

“Listen to me, my people;
hear me, my nation:
Instruction will go out from me;
my justice will become a light to the nations. (Isaiah 51: 4)

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn. (Isaiah 60:1-3)

So the prophet Isaiah had foretold that the coming ‘servant’ of the Lord, though Jewish (‘the tribes of Jacob’) would be a ‘light for the Gentiles’ (all the non-Jews) and this light would reach to the ends of the earth.  But how could this happen with this barrier between the Jews and the Gentiles lasting hundreds of years?

That day when the prophet Isa entered Jerusalem the light began to draw the first Gentiles as we see some approaching the prophet.  Here at this Jewish festival were Greeks who had journeyed to Jerusalem to learn about the prophet Isa al Masih PBUH.  But would they, considered haram by the Jews, be able to see the prophet?  They asked Isa’s companions, who brought the request to the prophet.  What would he say?  Would he permit these Greeks, who knew so little about proper religion, to meet him?  The Injil continues

23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”

35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.

Belief and Unbelief Among the Jews

37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:

“Lord, who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:

40 “He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,
nor turn—and I would heal them.”

41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.

44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken.50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” (John 12: 23-50)

In this dramatic exchange, including even a voice from heaven, the Prophet said that he would be ‘lifted up’ and this would draw ‘all people’ – not just the Jews – to himself.  Many Jews, even though they worshiped only one God, did not understand what the prophet was saying.  The prophet Isaiah had said it was due to their hard hearts – their unwillingness to submit to Allah – that was at the root, even as others believed silently because of fear.

The prophet Isa al Masih boldly claimed  that he had ‘come into the world as a light’ (v.46) which the previous prophets had written would shine on all nations.  On the day when he entered Jerusalem, the light first began to shine on the Gentiles.  Would this light spread to all nations?  What did the prophet mean by being ‘lifted up’?  We continue through this last week to understand these questions.

The following chart goes through each day of this week.  On Sunday, the first day of the week he fulfilled three different prophecies given by three previous prophets. First he entered Jerusalem mounted on a donkey as prophesied by Zechariah.  Second, he did so in the time prophesied by Daniel.  Third, his message and miracles started to light an interest among the Gentiles – which the prophet Isaiah had foretold would shine as a light to the nations and grow brighter to peoples around the world.

Events of Passion Week - Day 1 - Sunday
Events of Passion Week – Day 1 – Sunday

The Injil Corrupted! What does the Qur’an say?

I have many Muslim friends. And because I am also a believer in Allah (God), and a follower of the Injil (Gospel) I usually have regular conversations with my Muslim friends about beliefs and faith. In a real sense there is so much we have in common. Yet almost without exception in my conversations I hear the claim that the Injil (and zabur and Taurat which make up al kitab = Bible) is corrupted, or has been changed, so that the message we read today is degraded and full of errors from what was first inspired and written by the prophets and disciples of Allah. Now this is an important complaint, since it would mean that we cannot trust the Bible as read today to reveal Allah’s truth. I read and study both the Bible (al kitab) and the English translation of the Holy Qur’an, and have started to study the Sunnah. What I find startling is that this attitude against the Bible, though so common today, I do not find it in al Qur’an. In fact, it startled me how seriously the Holy Qur’an takes the Bible. I want to briefly show what I mean. (In English I use Yusuf Ali’s translation of the Holy Qu’ran)

What the Qur’an says about the Bible (al Kitab)

Say: “O People of the Book! ye have no ground to stand upon unless ye stand fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord.” It is the revelation that cometh to thee from thy Lord, that increaseth in most of them their obstinate rebellion and blasphemy. Surah 5:68 Maida (The Table) (See also 4:136)

If thou art in doubt as to what We have revealed unto thee, then ask those who have been reading the Book from before thee: the Truth hath indeed come to thee from thy Lord: so be in no wise of those in doubt. Surah 10:94 Yunus (Jonah)

I note that this declares that the revelation given to the ‘People of the Book’ (Christians and Jews) came from Allah. Now my Muslim friends say this applies only to the original revelation given, but since the original has been corrupted it does not apply to the scriptures of today. But the 2nd ayah talks about those who ‘have been reading’ (in the present tense not past tense as in ‘had read’) the Bible. It is not talking about the original revelation, but the scriptures from the time when al Qur’an was revealed. This was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) over a period of years around 600 A.D. So this passage approves the Bible (Taurat, Zabur and Injil) as it existed in 600 A.D. Other passages are similar. Consider:

And before thee also the apostles We sent were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: if ye realise this not, ask of those who possess the Message. Surah 16:43 An-Nahl (the Bee)

Before thee, also, the apostles We sent were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: If ye realise this not, ask of those who possess the Message. Surah 21:7 Al-Anbiya’ (The Prophets)

These speak of the apostles that preceded the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). But, crucially, they affirm that the messages given by God to these apostles/prophets were still in possession (at 600 AD ) by their followers. The revelation as originally given had not been corrupted by the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) time.

The Holy Quran says that Allah’s Words cannot be changed

But in a stronger sense, even the possibility of al kitab’s corruption/change is not supported by the Holy Quran. Keep in mind Maida 5:68 (The Law …The Gospel … is revelation that has come from the LORD), and consider the following:

Rejected were the apostles before thee: with patience and constancy they bore their rejection and their wrongs, until Our aid did reach them: there is none that can alter the words (and decrees) of Allah. Already hast thou received some account of those apostles. Surah 6:34 Al-An‘am (Cattle)

The word of thy Lord doth find its fulfilment in truth and in justice: None can change His words: for He is the one who heareth and knoweth all. Surah 6:115 Al-An‘am (Cattle)

For them are glad tidings, in the life of the present and in the Hereafter; no change can there be in the words of Allah. This is indeed the supreme felicity. Surah 10:64 Yunus (Jonah)

And recite (and teach) what has been revealed to thee of the Book of thy Lord: none can change His Words, Surah 18:27 Al-Kahf (The Cave)

So, if we agree that the prophets preceding Muhammad (PBUH) were given revelation by Allah (as Maida 5:68-69 said), and since these passages, many times over, say very clearly that no one can change Allah’s Words, how then can one believe that the words of Taurat, Zabur and Injil (i.e. al kitab = the Bible) was corrupted or changed by men?  It would require a denial of the Qur’an itself to believe that the Bible has been corrupted or changed.

As a matter of fact, this idea of judging various kinds of revelation from God as better or worse than others, though widely believed, is not supported in the Qur’an.

Say ye: “We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah (in Islam).” Surah 2:136 Al-Baqara (The Cow)    (See also 2:285).

So there should be no difference in how we treat all the revelations.  This would have to include our study of them.  In other words, we should study all the Books.  In fact I urge Christians to study the Qur’an as I urge Muslims to study the Bible.

To study these books takes time and courage.  Lots of questions will be raised.  Surely though this is a worthwhile use of our time here on earth – to learn from all the books which the prophets have revealed.  I know that for me, though it has taken time and courage for me to study all the Holy Books, and it has raised many questions in my mind, it has been a rewarding experience and I have felt Allah’s blessing on me in it.  I hope you will continue to explore some of the articles and lessons on this website.  Perhaps a good place to start is the article on what the haddiths and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) thought about and used the Taurat, Zabur and Injil (the books that make up al kitab = the Bible).  The link to this article is here.  If you have a scientific interest in how the reliability of all ancient books are determined, and whether the Bible is considered reliable or corrupted from this scientific point-of-view see the article here.

انقر هنا لقراءة هذا المقال باللغة العربية

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