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II. Muhammad and Christ - A Comparison

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After Christ, Muhammad is the second most influential man in history. For 1,350 years he has had an essential impact on a sixth of humanity. The apostle Paul did not aim to put forth his own ideas or a new religion, but was totally subordinate to Christ. Marx and Lenin exercised an influence on the nations only for a few decades, and thus can hardly be considered. Buddha and Confucius, Plato and Aristotle, reached relatively few people when measured by the founder of Islam. Everyone should become acquainted with the life of Muhammad in the light of the Bible, because Muhammad became one of the most influential men in history.

In studying the life of Muhammad one can recognise the important stations of his life: the orphan who became a merchant, a persecuted prophet in Mecca, and finally a statesman in Medina. There he died, presumably poisoned by one of his Jewish female slaves. Muhammad thought he was the last of all prophets in line with the Old and New Testament men of God. According to his interpretation, each prophet received some pages of the original book of Heaven from Allah. Muhammad suffered persecution in Mecca for about 12 years. Then, in 622 AD, he rose to reign in Medina as the "Ambassador of Allah" with craftiness and power.

Three turning points in Muhammad's life may be compared with corresponding incidents in the life of Jesus.

Muhammad - A Normal Man

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Neither the Qur'an, nor any Muslim, nor even Muhammad himself, ever claimed that Muhammad was of a divine nature or of transcendental origin. His father's name was Abdallah and his mother's name was Amina. They were descended from the Hashemite clan (at that time an impoverished family) and belonged to the tribe of the Koreish. Muhammad's father died before the birth of his first son. His mother died a few years later, while Muhammad was still a child. His grandfather, Abd al-Mutallib and later his uncle, Abu Talib, raised him in accordance to the Arabic laws of kinship.

The Qur'an mentions, in Sura al-Sharh 94:1-3, an extraordinary story from the childhood of Muhammad. Two angels appeared and took the boy aside. Cutting open his chest, they took out his heart and removed an impure clot (wizr) from it, then put his heart back and closed his chest again. This event is interpreted by Muslims as the purification of Muhammad and his predestination as prophet from childhood. It appears to them as though all inherited unrighteousness had been removed from the child. Islam denies that there is an inherited sin nature!

In regard to his later life the Qur'an states that Muhammad asked Allah several times for forgiveness of his sins, for example, when he married the wife of his adopted son Zaid (Sura al-Ahzab 33:38; Ghafir 40:56; Muhammad 47:21).Muhammad understood himself to be a sinner who lived by God's mercy.

This fact is clearly attested in the Qur'an, yet denied by most Muslims. They claim that all Ambassadors of Allah and his prophets lived irreproachably, without sin. They were accounted as "good ones," just as Allah is good. The assertion that Muhammad, like David or Moses, was an adulterer and murderer, sets Muslims into a blind rage. They idealise Muhammad and fear that an acknowledgement of his imperfection could make his message questionable.

Christ - Son of Man and Son of God

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In contrast to Muhammad, Jesus remained without sin throughout his entire life. He was begotten by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. The Holy Spirit in Jesus overcame all inherited sinful tendencies from His forefathers, so that He could say to His enemies, "Which of you convicts me of one sin?" If they had been able to point out even the slightest unrighteousness in His life, they would have done so with joy. Even in His youth Jesus remained free of sin. Pilate, the Roman governor, officially confirmed three times that he had found no guilt in this man. Jesus was holy and without sin, but Muhammad was impure, a sinner.

A former Muslim, now a Christian, marvelled: "How can you compare Jesus and Muhammad to each other? Christ is God, Muhammad is man. They do not stand at the same level." This interpretation is only partly correct, for Jesus the Son of God is also the Son of Man. He is a real man and true God. Muhammad was only man, while Christ has always been God and only became man in order to save us.

The Qur'an literally confirms Christ (Sura al-Nisa 4:171) as the "Logos incarnated" and as a "Spirit of Allah". It testifies that Christ not only taught God's word, but He was it. He lived out what he taught. There was no difference between his words and his deeds. When Muhammad died he did not ascend into heaven, according to Islamic teaching, but his soul remained in an intermediate state (barzach) where it is still waiting for the day of judgement.

So, all Muslims in the world, each time they mention Muhammad's name, must also intercede, "May Allah pray for him and grant him peace!" That means, according to Islam, that Muhammad is not yet saved; he is not living with God. But if the founder of Islam is not yet redeemed, how much more do other Muslims, his followers, live with uncertainty and fear in their heart, waiting for the judgement!

Christ, however, is risen from the dead. His grave was and is empty. The grave of Muhammad in Medina still contains the bones of the prophet. The resurrection of Jesus was an essential sign of His sinlessness and holiness. He would have remained caught in death's snare had He committed a single sin and not always lived in complete conformity with His Father. Now Christ is risen from the dead, but Muhammad, a sinful man, remains in his grave.

After His resurrection Christ ascended to heaven and was seated at the right hand of His Father. He returned to His place of origin. So the promise of Psalm 110:1 was fulfilled: "The Lord said to my Lord, `Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.' "

The one who recognises these spiritual facts in the life of Christ understands that it is almost impossible to compare Muhammad with Jesus. The founder of Islam was only man: limited, impure, guilty, mortal, and he remains in the grave. But Christ the Son of God became man and remains continually holy, omnipotent, innocent and humble. After He died for us, He ascended to His Father into eternal glory. Christ lives. Muhammad is dead.

The Revelations of Muhammad

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After Muhammad started working for a lady-merchant, Khadija, he married her, even though she was considerably older, and so moved up into the higher level of Meccan society. He belonged to the prestigious class of the city and lived in the prominent quarter of Mecca. His wife gave birth to four daughters and three sons. Unfortunately all three sons died. The Arabic understanding attributes this to black magic or Allah's wrath. Muhammad was rich and respected, but He lived under continuous pressure.

At that time spiritual unrest arose among the people of the Arabian peninsula. Jewish refugees, Christian slaves and followers of Zoroastrianism brought foreign ideas into the land with their caravans. A religious breakthrough began in the Bedouin culture. Animism, with its primitive idol cult around the Kaaba in Mecca, became more and more questionable.

Some orientalists write that, in those days, Christian evangelists from South Yemen came to Mecca in the month of the pilgrimage and held discourses in the inner court of the Kaaba. Muhammad could have listened to such a sermon and snatched up the fearful message: "Allah is coming soon for judgement!" These words shot like lightning through his soul and became the commanding theme of his life. This last judgement is described in Islam as "the day of the religion," the aim of all history and the conclusion of all existence.

Shocked, Muhammad did not wait to listen to the continuation of the messages in which the grace of God in Christ would probably have been presented as a second step. He ran panic-stricken into the desert, hid himself in a cave, and meditated over the question: "What can I do, I, the merchant from Mecca, when Allah comes and demands an exact account of my life?" His total guilt suddenly rose before him like a mountain.

In his deep turmoil -- while he was still in the cave searching for answers over right and wrong -- he suddenly heard a voice saying to him, "Read (recite) in the name of your Lord!" (Sura al-`Alaq 96:1-6). He leaped up and cried to himself, "How shall I recite? I can neither read nor write. Now I am receiving a revelation from God, the key to the solution of all problems -- but I am illiterate!" Deep despair overcame him, yet the voice was heard again and became irrevocably impressed upon his soul and memory.

Here is the decisive question: who inspired Muhammad, and from where did his messages originate? Was Muhammad a real prophet of God or was he a medium of Satan? Was he a charlatan, a deceiver, or was he led astray by Jews and sectarians? To these questions several answers are possible:

  1. In the Qur'an we read in 12 verses the thoughts and words of the residents of Mecca about Muhammad and his revelations. They called him demon-possessed and a magician. He gave the impression of a bewitched poet or a fortune-teller in a trance. He did not give the impression of a normal man to the Meccans, but that of a mentally disturbed person (Suras al-Hijr 15:6, al-Saffat 37:35, al-Dukhan 44:13, al-Tur 52:29-30, al-Qalam 68:2, al-Takwir 81:11, Yunis 10:2, Sad 38:3, al-Isra' 17:50, al-Furqan 25:9, al-Haqqa 69:41-42, and Fussilat 41:5). Naturally all of these verses in the Qur'an try to prove that Muhammad was not possessed, but that he only seemed to be so while receiving his revelations. The strange conduct of Muhammad is not denied but is given a spiritual explanation in the Qur'an.
  2. Some orientalists are of the opinion that Muhammad was an epileptic who felt and heard voices during his attacks, which he interpreted as revelations.
  3. Two-thirds of the texts of the Qur'an are distorted stories and laws from the Old Testament. Muhammad had heard them previously from the Jews. During his attacks the memorised texts came to mind in the form of poetry. He adapted them to his system of faith and law and considered them to be pure revelation.
  4. Muhammad himself described the actual reception of his inspirations thus, "When the angel Gabriel comes, I first hear a sound like a singing bell. Then I climb quickly from my horse or camel and cover my head. The arriving messenger of Allah then speaks to me, and I feel as if I almost die of pain. I hear, understand, and retain everything that he says to me and later recite it exactly." In later years Muhammad himself could create these conditions when circumstances demanded a necessary revelation.
  5. From the Gospel's viewpoint, we are certain, that God did not send the angel Gabriel to Muhammad in the Meccan desert 610 years after the birth of His Son, to inform him that He, God, had no son.

Likewise, the Father of Jesus Christ never revealed to Muhammad that Jesus had not been crucified, when the sole purpose of His Son's birth was to reconcile the world with God on the cross. We must, therefore, recognise that:

  • If Muhammad actually received revelations, they did not come from God.
  • If he heard real voices, they were voices of spirits.
  • If Muhammad was instructed falsely by his contemporaries, he became the victim of Christian sects or anti-Christian Jews.

This means: the spirit that speaks until today in the Qur'an is not a divine holy spirit, but rather an ungodly power that holds 900 million Muslims captive.

6. In a peculiar fashion, we find two Suras in the Qur'an in which Muhammad confirmed that he had direct contact with spirits. After the death of his wife Khadija and the death of his uncle Abu Talib, he was lost, without protection, and fled from Mecca to Taif, where he was violently rejected. He wandered about in the rocky desert, where djinns, considered to be good or bad spirits, supposedly appeared to him. He preached the Qur'an to them until they were impressed and ready to prepare the people in their domain for Islam (Sura al-Ahqaf 46:28-31 and al-Jinn 72:1-15).

Both Suras confirm that Muhammad did not communicate with real angels of God, but with other spirits.

Jesus and His Revelations

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Whoever reads the Gospel recognises that Jesus also heard voices in the wilderness. This contact did not shock him or create negative or disturbing vibrations in him. He also did not search for unknown answers to the question of guilt or for other key problems of mankind. He was led by the Holy Spirit to meet Satan right after His intercessory baptism for all sinners. As soon as the Spirit rested on Him, He was sent into the wilderness to overcome Satan during his temptations (Matthew 4:1-11).

Jesus clearly heard the voices of the anti-deities, but He had the gift of spiritual discernment and judged the voice of the Tempter with the correctly interpreted word of God. Jesus was not deceived by Satan, for He is Truth personified he and speaks continually in the spirit of truth. The devil "piously" suggested that Jesus use his power to change stones into bread and also told Jesus to prove His Sonship by throwing Himself down from the temple, for it is written, "He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully." But Jesus did not intend to become great, spectacular or rich, but chose instead the way of the cross. Muhammad, on the other hand, grasped at power, fed his followers in Medina by violence, rejected suffering and was always seeking security and fame.

Several times Jesus encountered demons. They were afraid of Him. Jesus' overwhelming person made them cry out, "What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did you come to destroy us? I know who You are - the Holy One of God!" (Mark 1:21-27).

When Satan used Peter, the disciple's spokesman, to try and dissuade Jesus from going the way of the cross, Jesus commanded him, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offence to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men" (Matthew 16:23).

It is obvious that the revelations of Christ were never demonically influenced, neither in form nor content. Jesus was not arrogant and did not fall into Satan's trap. The Son of God did not act tyrannically, but described Himself as the Word of His Father, "The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works" (John 14:10 and 12:49). Jesus became even more self-denying and spoke, "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner" (John 5:19-20).

Through all His revelations, speech and testimony, Jesus did not behave unnaturally, as if possessed, or as a sorcerer. He was the incarnation of love, joy, peace and patience. He did not speak as if in a trance or in strange tongues, but continually remained kind and gentle, full of grace and truth so that He was able to say, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).

Jesus was even suspected by His own family of being out of His mind, yet did not act insane. His brothers spread this rumour to save Him and themselves from persecution by the teachers of the Torah. They blamed Jesus for standing in league with the highest of the demons, because in no other way could they account for his supernatural miracles. Jesus warned them of the sin against the Holy Spirit, because they hardened themselves against His testimony and blasphemed the Spirit of God in Hit (Matthew 12:22-32, Mark 3:22-30).

Jesus was begotten by the Spirit of God and also anointed with the Holy Spirit. The fullness of the deity was incarnate in Him (Colossians 2:9). Jesus did not only speak the words of God as other prophets had done: He Himselfwas the Word of God incarnate. He not only preached the gospel, but He was the gospel in person. He not only brought a new revelation, but was Himself the inspirer of the revelation.

Jesus had given Satan a last chance to repent when He told him, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only" (Matthew 4:10). Satan refused this last call to an unconditional submission to the Father and the Son and did not worship Christ, God in the flesh, although, ironically, he had twice called Him "the Son of God".

With Muhammad it was the opposite. Satan met Muhammad, disguised himself using the old Arabic name for God, "Allah", and demanded from him total submission and worship. Muhammad delivered himself wilfully to this anti-divine spirit. Since then, one-sixth of humanity bows before the wrong Allah and denies the deity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is not difficult to recognise that the spirit of Islam is opposed to the spirit of Christ.

The Holy War of Muslims

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Muhammad and his small community in Mecca suffered under the increasing pressure of boycott and persecution. Their position became more and more untenable until the spirits, which had promised their support to Muhammad, smoothed the way for him to proceed toward Medina. Seventy-three people who had become Muslims before Muhammad's resettlement already lived in this town. Muhammad struck an agreement with them as a legal basis for the emigration and naturalisation of his community in Medina. Every Medinan Muslim should adopt a Muslim family from Mecca and guarantee housing, food and tribal protection for them. Muhammad and his followers did not flee with blind trust in Allah and his care, but only after contractual assurance and an extensive guarantee for the life of each member in his community were made. This unity of Muslims, later understood as blood-brotherhood, lasted only for a time. It is difficult to shelter refugees over a long period. Soon serious problems developed regarding living space, work, property and the distribution of inheritance. The refugees from Mecca remained poor; their funds dwindled. The Medinan Muslims, on the other hand, possessed everything necessary for life and were becoming richer and richer. Muhammad became aware that he was obliged to do something to help the Muslims who had fled with him from Mecca to establish a source of income. Otherwise, the community stood in danger of falling to pieces. But where should he go for money and goods, if not to the inhabitants of Mecca, who had taken the possessions of the refugees?

Muhammad began to summon his followers to a holy war, and to attack the Meccan caravans. He incited the Muslims to take part in these ventures, although his fellow-believers did not want to participate in a holy war. In the end, the ones they were to fight were their own relatives. They were still unbelievers, but among Arabs blood-bonds count as much as spiritual alliances, if not more so.

As long as the Muslims lived in Mecca they had understood the "holy war" to be a verbal defence of their faith as a minority, but they were secure under the protection of their relatives. Tribeless slaves were brutally persecuted. These were the first Muslim martyrs.

In Medina the concept of holy war changed. Out of this passive suffering a planned ambush rose. It escalated to active defence, to methodical attack and aggressive attack in every possible direction under heaven.

Decisive in this dramatic development was the indoctrination that had taken place in the Muslim community. From a contemplative, passive, prayerful group that was fasting and waiting for the last judgement, there arose in a short time an aggressive band, resolute even in the face of death. In the first military campaign the Muslims opposed fighting and abandoned Muhammad. They did not want to fight, but to pray; they shunned the spilling of blood, and preferred to prepare themselves for paradise. They often said, "Allah has not predestined us for war" (Sura al-Nisa 4:73-80).

But Muhammad continued with his systematic brainwashing. At first he tried to arouse his followers with direct commands from Allah. He enticed and threatened, made promises and hurled curses. He did everything to motivate the community to attack in the name of Allah. But the Muslims preferred a civil, modest life over battle.

At that point Muhammad confined himself primarily to some wild companions from among his acquaintances, sending them out to attack the small caravans from Mecca. These ventures were not successful until the month of pilgrimage, when all fighting among the Arabs was forbidden under treaty. It was then that Muhammad pushed his followers to attack an unarmed caravan.

When the robbers returned to Medina with their booty, there was an uprising. Muslims and Jews alike condemned the attack and wanted nothing to do with the booty. Muhammad, knowing his countrymen, commanded the camels to remain loaded. The rich booty then spoke for itself. After some days the mood changed, so that, with the help of divine revelation, the booty could be publicly distributed. For the next attack 83 emigrants and 231 Medinan Muslims set out for battle. The brain-washing had finally had an effect. Muhammad had revealed an absolution Sura for all fighters in the holy war, "They will question thee concerning the holy month, and fighting in it. Say: `Fighting in it is a great transgression, but to hinder men from the way of Allah and not to believe in him and the sacred mosque and to turn out its people from it is worse with Allah. Sedition is worse than killing'" (Sura al-Baqara 2:216-218). Sedition (al-Fitna) usually means tempting a Muslim to fall away from Islam and to fight against it.

The expected caravan of the Meccans did not come. Their leader had spied out the intentions of Muhammad in Medina, turned his caravan in another direction, and lured him into an ambush.

In this decisive "Battle of Badr" the fate of Islam stood at a knife-edge. Muhammad, in despair, implored the retreating Muslims with frantic eloquence, full of poetic flights of imagination to fight on, whatever the cost. At last an amazing thing happened.

The Muslims were victorious against a force three times their size. Thus, Muhammad triumphed and declared, "You did not kill them, but Allah killed them. You did not shoot, when you shot, but Allah shot (Sura al-Anfal 8:17).

With it the principle of the holy war was born. Allah himself fought through the hands of his Muslims. The bloody victory of the holy war was evidence of the truth of Islam and the presence of Allah. Where Allah is, there is victory!

Attack after attack followed the Battle of Badr, counterstrikes by the Meccans, and changing fortunes of war. Yet the unceasing victory of Allah had impressed itself on the minds of the Muslims. After ten years they had subjugated the entire Arabian peninsula. The spread of Islam into Asia and Africa was mostly based on the sword. The holy war was the motivating factor that drove Muslims out into all the world.

Jesus and His Holy War

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Jesus also placed His disciples into a spiritual battle, but without spear and arrow. He said to Peter, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword" (Matthew 26:52). Christ never called his followers to an armed crusade. He strictly forbade the spreading of the kingdom of God with weapons. None of His apostles went armed on any missionary journey.

Christ Himself spoke to Peter, "Do you think that I cannot pray to my Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:53). Had He done so, both His visible and invisible enemies would have been annihilated before the battle had begun. But that was not the case, and is not the way of Jesus Christ. He chose the cross, the sign of devotion and weakness for His divine victory over sin, Satan, and death. Paul recognised the secret of Christ and said a few years later, "When I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10).

In the beginning, the disciples of Jesus did not understand the principle of spiritual authority clothed in human weakness. They wanted to fight, and hoped to build a strong government. The Lord continually led them back to powerlessness, meekness and humility, so that the prophetic word might be fulfilled, "`Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit' says the Lord" (Zechariah 4:6).

For the followers of Christ it is unthinkable to fight and kill to spread the gospel. For Christians, only humble devotion to their Lord is allowed and love for their neighbour, even to the point of self-sacrifice. We have no rights and have received no command for retaliatory vengeance or blood-vengeance in the gospel. More than that, Jesus has commanded us to unconditional forgiveness, just as He has forgiven us all our sins. The cross of Christ unmasks the spirit of Muhammad.

Christ did not inflict harm on anyone, not even on His enemies. He taught: "It is better to suffer wrong than to commit wrong" (Matthew 5:38-48 and 1 Corinthians 6:7). Khomeini reserved the right to proclaim in the spirit of Muhammad: "It is better to commit wrong than to suffer wrong." Christ erected the kingdom of God based on love and righteousness, while Muhammad resorted to carrying out unrighteousness by force. Until today, hate and revenge are strong motivating forces in the lives of Muslims. Christ commanded His disciples to love everyone in the power of the Holy Spirit. This includes even the love of enemies, forgiveness toward those who are guilty, and patience with the weak. Spreading the gospel occurs through the Spirit of God with prayer, love, forgiveness and confession. Religious wars that are carried out in the name of Christ find no justification in the Gospel.

On the cross, Jesus forgave His enemies and did not curse any of the men that nailed Him to the cross. He even tried to save Judas in the last minute, after He received the traitor's kiss. Jesus took the penitent criminal on the cross with him into paradise and filled the disciples, who had deserted him, with the Holy Spirit. The holy war of Christians demands the denial of self and the entire sacrifice of the messenger. The holy war of Muslims plunges countless families and peoples into bloodshed and sorrow.

Jesus was an example of frugality and modesty. He possessed neither home nor donkey. Jesus chose to reject social power. Muhammad, on the other hand, spurred his followers on to loot and plunder. Paul wrote, "If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Diligence and manual work, not attacks on the heathen, were Jesus' ethics.

Muhammad personally took part in military campaigns. In so doing he participated in the murder of his enemies. He called upon the believers in the Qur'an several times to, "Slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush" (Sura al-Nisa 4:89; al-Tawba 9:5). Thus, corresponding actions of Muslims thus do not signify individual offences, but rather occur at the command of Allah.

When Muhammad had strengthened his power in Medina, he had several of his personal enemies, especially the poets who scoffed at him, killed at the hands of commissioned men. He demanded assassination and revenge. While Medina was encircled and besieged, some Jews of the city conspired with the enemies. Following his victory Muhammad agreed that a mass grave be dug and had several hundred men of this tribe killed by the sword. Muhammad was a mass murderer, and his hands drip with the blood of countless people.

Jesus, however, did not sacrifice others - only Himself. He died on the cross for His friends and enemies - also for Muhammad. But Muhammad resisted Jesus and rejected Him as the crucified Son of God. His spirit was opposed to the spirit of Jesus.

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