It seems to me that the author of the Qur’an misunderstood the term *”Son of God” as a biological and not a spiritual term. In explaining the gospel to the Muslims, this is one of the stumbling block the Muslims have when considering Christ, and one of the challenges the Christians will have to face when reaching out, but could it be that the author of the Qur’an got it all wrong?
Let’s take a look at a few verses of the Qur’an to have a better understanding at hand. In Quran 6:101, we read:
He is the Originator of the heavens and the earth. How can He have children when He has no wife? He created all things and He is the All-Knower of everything.
And infact, Ali Qarai’s translation tells this better in clear terms as well when he translated the verse thus:
The originator of the heavens and the earth—how could He have a child when He has had no spouse? He created all things and He has knowledge of all things. — Ali Qarai Translation
Just so we are not accused of taking this verse out of context, here is Ibn Kathir commentary on the verse showing that the author of the Qur’an thinks we are talking about a biological process, we read:
(How can He have children when He has no wife) for the child is the offspring of two compatible spouses. Allah does not have an equal, none of His creatures are similar to Him, for He alone created the entire creation. Allah said;
وَقَالُواْ اتَّخَذَ الرَّحْمَـنُ وَلَداً – لَقَدْ جِئْتُمْ شَيْئاً إِدّاً
Now, we see very clearly that the main reason Allah could not have a Son or call anyone his son is because, he did not have a WIFE! In other words, Allah or whoever the author of the Qur’an was thinks that when Christians call themselves Sons of God, it must be some kind of physical and biological means, but this is not what we believe either, no Christian believe such.
The Qur’an further shows the disdain for the Christian believe in referring to Jesus as the Son of God, and Allah got so angry that he had to lay a curse on them for saying such a terrible and monstrous thing, we read in Qur’an 9:30:
The Jews say: “Ezra is the son of God;” the Christians say: “Christ is the son of God.” That is what they say with their tongues following assertions made by unbelievers before them. May they be damned by God: How perverse are they! – Ahmed Ali Translation
Interesting, Allah is so vexed with this utterances that according to the Tafsir of Ibn Kathir, the Muslims encouraged to fight the Christians for saying such a terrible thing amongst other, in fact the heading of this commentary is quite telling too;
Fighting the Jews and Christians is legislated because They are Idolators and Disbelievers
Allah the Exalted encourages the believers to fight the polytheists, disbelieving Jews and Christians, who uttered this terrible statement and utter lies against Allah, the Exalted. As for the Jews, they claimed that `Uzayr was the son of God, Allah is free of what they attribute to Him. As for the misguidance of Christians over `Isa, it is obvious. This is why Allah declared both groups to be liars, – Tafsir of Ibn Kathir on Qur’an 9:30
This is to show how Allah frown at such and would not take this utterance with levity, this is the very same anger that was demonstrated as well in Qur’an 19:88-90 where the Qur’an says that saying Allah has a Son is blasphemous enough to have made the heavens rent asunder, we read;
And they say: “The Most Beneficent (Allah) has begotten a son (or offspring or children) [as the Jews say: ‘Uzair (Ezra) is the son of Allah, and the Christians say that He has begotten a son [‘Iesa (Christ)], and the pagan Arabs say that He has begotten daughters (angels, etc.)].”
Indeed you have brought forth (said) a terrible evil thing.
Whereby the heavens are almost torn, and the earth is split asunder, and the mountains fall in ruins,
That they ascribe a son (or offspring or children) to the Most Beneficent (Allah).
But it is not suitable for (the Majesty of) the Most Beneficent (Allah) that He should beget a son (or offspring or children). —- Muhsin Khan Translation
How clearer can this get? This only goes to shows that whenever the Christians call Jesus the Son of God it is certainly seen as a grave sin that is capable of tearing the heavens apart, and how it is blasphemous for such a thing to be uttered against Allah since Allah is seen above having children. This confirms again that the author of the lacks the understanding of what the Christians says when we call Jesus the Son of God, we never claimed this was a sexual act the way the author of the Qur’an portrayed.
Sometimes Muslims Apologist accuses the Christians of misunderstanding of this verse of the Qur’an, that when Allah is talking about the term Son of God and refuting it, he is doing so because this meant that calling Jesus Son of God meant that he does have the same nature with Allah and Allah detest that strongly, in fact one of my Muslim friend state that this meant something happening itself without a beginning. One verse the Muslim allude to for this is Qur’an 2:116, we read:
They, (the People of the Book), have said that God has taken for Himself a son. He is too glorious to have a son. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. All pray in obedience to Him. — Muhammad Sarwar Translation
Muslims in defense of this argued that the word “itakhatha” was used in this respect to show that this is not really about Jesus being a biological son but that Allah is refuting this because he meant Jesus being his Son meant that he came into existence without a cause, but as we shall see, this is not the view of the majority of the Muslims, but an Apologetic explanation for this verse, as we shall see, the reason for the verse as explained by the Mufassireen (those who interpret the Qur’aan) is that this will only limit Allah to the nature of humans and it will involve him having a wife or a partner to make this a reality.
Let us take a look at a couple of Tafsir on this verse of the Qur’an. According to Ibn Kathir, this verse clearly shows that the understanding here is purely of a biological son, we read:
In these Ayat, Allah stated that He is the Supreme Master Whom there is no equal or rival, everything and everyone was created by Him, so how can He have a son from among them This is why, in the Tafsir of this Ayah, Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn `Abbas said that the Prophet said,
(Allah said, `The son of Adam has denied Me, and that is not his right. He has insulted Me, and that is not his right. As for the denial of Me, he claimed that I am unable to bring him back as he used to be (resurrect him). As for his insulting Me, he claimed that I have a son. All praise is due to Me, it is unbefitting that I should have a wife or a son.’) This Hadith was recorded by Al-Bukhari. — Tafsir Ibn Kathir
In fact Ibn Abass said the same, here is his commentary on the verse saying Allah does not need to have a partner;
Then Allah mentions the claims of the Jews and Christians that Ezra and Jesus are the sons of Allah, saying: (And they) the Jews and Christians (say: Allah hath taken unto Himself a Son) Ezra and the Messiah (Jesus). (Be He glorified!) He is far exalted to have a son or partner (Nay) it is not as they say, (but whatsoever is in the heavens and the earth) of creation (is His) are His servants. (All are subservient unto Him) linked to Him by the bond of servitude and the declaration of His Oneness. — Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
Now that we have seen vividly that the author of the Qur’an thinks this is all biological, how then can we explain to the Muslims apart from the Bible using the Qur’an’s terminology to show that the Bible is not talking about a biological process, interestingly, we will examine a verse that can help the Muslims understand this better.
Allah in the Qur’an narrates how Satan according to Qur’an 18:50 that Satan has Children, or offspring if you will as well, how then are we to understand this, does it mean Satan also procreate by having a wife? we read:
And (remember) when We said to the angels; “Prostrate to Adam.” So they prostrated except Iblis (Satan). He was one of the jinns; he disobeyed the Command of his Lord. Will you then take him (Iblis) and his offspring as protectors and helpers rather than Me while they are enemies to you? What an evil is the exchange for the Zalimun (polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc).
But, wait a minute, has any Muslims come to the conclusion that Satan’s children are borne out of biological or sexual intercourse as well? I dont know of any that will say this, so if Satan is said to have Children, did he need to have a wife to have had this children? While some might be contemplating that this is a misrepresentation of the text, but this is not so, more interesting is the fact that the when the word “and his offspring” is the arabic word “wadhurriyyatahu” and guess what? This word is also used of men as well in the Qur’an when talking about offspring. Why is the important? Whenever the Muslims see the word “begotten” in the Bible, they come to only one conclusion, it has to be a sexual process.
We are presented with an example of Noah from the Qur’an where this word is used of him when referring to his offspring, we read;
And, his progeny, them We made the survivors (i.e. Shem, Ham and Japheth).
We can clearly see from this verse that this refers to the Children of Noah, but there is more, in Qur’an 19:58, this word was used twice, namely for Abraham and Adam, and of course we know that these descendants of this men are human and biological in nature, so this only goes to show that if Muslims take the word begotten in the Bible only to mean a biological process, then they will have no choice than to condemn the Qur’an.
Those were they unto whom Allah bestowed His Grace from among the Prophets, of the offspring of Adam, and of those whom We carried (in the ship) with Nuh (Noah), and of the offspring of Ibrahim (Abraham) and Israel and from among those whom We guided and chose. When the Verses of the Most Beneficent (Allah) were recited unto them, they fell down prostrating and weeping.
The Qur’an is filled with numerous examples of this same word being used for men as well, yet, when used of the Satan, we cant conclude its talking about humans. We have practically seen how the author of the Qur’an misunderstood the term Son of God and also how the Quran itself can be used to explain the concept of the term Son of God to Muslims as well. We hope the Muslims will understand what the Bible teaches and interact with it in that sense as well.
As a way of concluding this, here is what the Bible says when we humans are called Children of God, against the misunderstanding in the Qur’an, it is not the will of the flesh nor a biological stuff, but of the spirit, we read in John 1:12-13:
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Here is the take home, if your Qur’an uses a term offspring for Satan, and we cant conclude its a biological process, and use that same term for humans, which indicates a biological process, why do you have problem thinking God have to have sex with a woman before we can be called Son of God?