The Teaching of the Qur’an
What does the Qur’an teach about marriage and divorce?
History tells us that once Zainab was tanning leather in her home when Mohammed came to her house. Zaid her husband was not at home at that time. Mohammed saw her when she was not in her proper clothing and he was stunned seeing her beauty. The day he saw her, he wanted to marry her. When Zaid the adopted son of Mohammed knew the will of Mohammed, he divorced his wife Zainab. Quran 33:36-40 says that Allah gave permission to Mohammed for this marriage.
We read almost similar incident in Bible when David the king of Israel saw a beautiful woman taking bath in her house. David asked about her and people told him that she was Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite. David committed adultery with her, used his power to kill Uriah and later Bathsheba became his wife. David was doing all these things in secret but Bible tells us in 2 Sam 11:27, “the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.” God sent Nathan to expose his sin and to face the consequences of his sin.
God is Holy and the whole Bible tells us that God cannot tolerate sin. One of the commandments of God, which was given to Moses, was, “You shall not commit adultery.” God who gave this commandment cannot contradict Himself and tell Mohammed to go ahead and commit adultery.
Not only this but when we read in Surah 4:3 og Quran it says, “If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.”
Marriage is not a binding union in Islam. The Qur’an does not view divorce as a tragic option when all else fails. There are striking differences between what the Qur’an and the Bible teaches on this subject.
In the Bible’s very first book and chapter, it defines “man” as both male and female and reveals that they were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). In marriage, the two become “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). The Lord Jesus used these very passages to emphasize the sanctity of marriage and only allowed divorce in cases of unfaithfulness (Matthew 19:3-12). Many Christians believe that the definition of the word “unfaithfulness” includes abandonment and abusiveness. Christian marriage is so sacred that it is used throughout the New Testament to illustrate God’s love for His bride, the global church (Ephesians 5:31,32).
Contrary to the Bible’s instructions on marriage, the divorce rate in western countries is extremely high. Some Muslims are critical of this fact. They are right. There is a problem. Christians believe that this is one of those facts that emphasizes the truth that everyone falls short of God’s glory and that all stand in need of a Savior for grace and comfort (Romans 3:22-24).
The Qur’an Says…
Polygamy Muslims are allowed up to four wives at a time. If the man fears that he cannot treat multiple wives fairly then he should marry just one (4:3). Even when a husband tries his best to treat his wives equally, it is impossible. Just make sure that no wife is abandoned in such a way that she is left in suspense. Allah will forgive you for not being totally impartial (4:129).
Concubines Muslims are those who abstain from sexual relations beyond their wives and slave girls they have captured in battle. Such relationships are blameless (23:5,6). Slaves do not share equally the riches Allah gives their owners. Their owners do not fear their slaves as they do their fellow Muslims (30:28).
Stepdaughters When a Muslim marries a woman who has daughters of her own, he may marry her daughters also as long as he has not yet had sexual relations with their mother (4:23).
Divorce If a Muslim husband wants to exchange his present wife for another woman, he should not take back any of the wedding gifts from her even if it is a treasure (4:20). If he has divorced his wife with the pagan statement, “You are my mother,” he has gone about it in the wrong way. She cannot be your mother. If you want her back, you must free a slave, fast two months or feed sixty poor people (58:1-4).
Remarriage If a Muslim husband divorces his wife irrevocably (by saying “I divorce you” three times) he cannot remarry her until she has married another man and been divorced by him. After that, the original couple will not be guilty if they remarry (2:230).
Both the Qur’an and the Bible proclaim a final judgment. Some of the end times catastrophes mentioned in the Qur’an reflect what the Bible stated hundreds of years before Mohammed was born. Yet, there are a number of differences between the Biblical message and that of the Qur’an. The Bible gives specific predictions of what will precede the final judgment. Prophecies concerning the spread of the gospel to every nation (Matthew 24:14), career of the Anti-Christ (Revelation 13) and actual location of the final world conflict (Revelation 16:16) are only a few of the numerous predictions. Specific predictions are completely missing from the Qur’an, but there is a much more striking difference.
The Qur’an does not mention a central Biblical message, which has to do with the triumphal return of Jesus Christ. The Bible reveals that the Lord Jesus will be seated in the center of God’s throne, as both Savior and Judge (Matthew 25, Revelation 7:16-17). The one Qur’an passage, which mentions Jesus on Judgment Day, pictures him on trial being questioned by Allah. Allah asks Jesus whether or not he claimed that he and his mother were two gods besides Allah to which Jesus replies that he would never have said such a thing (5:115-117).
The Qur’an does not proclaim that Jesus is coming as the Savior of those who believed in his Lordship. Actually, there is no salvation in Islam. If anyone goes to the Islamic Eternal Gardens it will be because he died in battle fighting for Islam or he was characterized by four things; that Allah gave him guidance to believe in Islam, his good deeds were weighty, religious rituals were observed and Allah had mercy on him.
The Qur’an Says…
Jesus Questioned On the Judgment Day, Allah will question Jesus who will be among the other apostles. Jesus will be asked if he told humankind to worship him and his mother as two gods besides Allah. Jesus will strongly deny it (5:115-117).
Sun and Moon Collide The sun and the moon will come together (75:9).
Stars The stars will fall down (81:2).
Mountains The mountains will blow away (81:3).
Infant Girls The babies who were buried alive (because they were females) will be raised and questioned as to why that happened to them (81:8-9).
Sky The sky will be torn in two (55:37).
Resurrection On that day the dead will be cast out of their graves and all their deeds will be exposed (100:9-10).
Earth The earth will be ground into a powder (89:21).
Coming Very Soon The unbelievers think the Day of Judgment will not be soon but Muslims know that it will come quickly (70:6-7).
No Redemption To redeem himself from the torment of the Day of Judgment, the sinner would gladly sacrifice his children, wife, brother, relative and every person in the world. The flames of hell will pluck out the hair from the sinner’s head because he did not believe and stored up his wealth (70:10-18).
Throne On the Judgment Day the sky will weaken and be torn apart. The tearing open of the sky will reveal eight angels who will be seen carrying the throne of Allah above their heads (69:15-17). Salvation
The title of this chapter is misleading. Muslims are not saved. Every Muslim would acknowledge this fact because there is no real concept of salvation in Islamic teachings as the following collection of twenty-eight verses demonstrates. Salvation is a purely Christian experience because only Jesus Christ taught that he was “God with us” to save all those who believe in him. The Qur’an does not portray Mohammed as a Savior.
Without a Savior, the Muslims must depend on their own good deeds, which may be rewarded by a dispensation of Allah’s mercy. Christians believe that the Lord Jesus Christ suffered the cross in their place so that they might have the “free gift” of eternal life (Ephesians 2:8-10). They have received this gift by faith and are baptized into communion with the Holy Spirit of God and the global church. Most Muslims feel this belief is dangerous to society. They believe that the threat of Hell is necessary to prompt righteous living and good deeds. If salvation is a gift, then they wonder what could possibly motivate a person to live a good life.
Yet, Christians are famous for their good deeds as seen in the multitude of Christian hospitals, schools, orphanages and other programs around the world. These good deeds are not done to earn entrance into God’s Kingdom but rather as a response to God’s saving grace in the cross and victorious resurrection of Christ. Christians report that the Holy Spirit of God living in them motivates them.
The Qur’an offers only one way that a Muslim may feel assured of his place in the Eternal Gardens. This “way” still depends on one’s works. It teaches that the person who dies fighting for Islam is permitted into the Gardens of sensual delights.
The Qur’an Says…
No Savior On the Judgment Day, no one will be able to help anyone else (82:19, 35:18, 39:7).
Works Recorded Each person has guardians who record every one of their good and bad deeds so that on the Day of Judgment the righteous will be in happiness and the wicked will be in fire where there will be no escape (82:10-15). On that day even the smallest good or bad deed will be exposed (99:7-8).
Scales Every person’s works are weighed on a scale, which will be examined on the Judgment Day. If their good works are heavy, they will have eternal happiness. If they are light his home will be the bottomless fiery Pit (101:4-11).
Devils Allah sends devils upon the unbelievers to provoke them to angry rebellion (19:83).
Prayers Those who hold up Allah’s throne and surround it, constantly pray that those Muslims who deserve it would be forgiven (40:7-9).
Mercy for the Muslims Allah will have mercy on the righteous, those who are charitable, believe in his revelations and those who follow the Prophet (who can neither read nor write) whom people will find mentioned in the Torah (Old Testament Law) and the Gospel (New Testament) (7:156-157, 39:9).
Secret Contributions Publishing your alms giving is fine, but atonement for some of your sins will be achieved if you give money to the poor in secret (2:271).
Good Works Doubled Each man’s works will be weighed fairly even to the weight of the smallest particle. Each good deed will be repaid double (4:40).
Christianity and Islam
Any study of the Qur’an must include a comparison with the Bible because Muslims believe that Islam is built on the foundation of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. The Qur’an Mohammed recited claimed to agree with and complete the Bible. Muslims believe Allah revealed the Law to Moses, Psalms to David, messages to many other prophets, the Gospel to Jesus and finally the Qur’an to Mohammed. The Bible had been so well established in the Arabian Peninsula that the Jews and Christians are referred to in the Qur’an as the “People of the Book” (which is the literal interpretation of the Greek word “Bible”).
For this reason, familiar Bible themes are prevalent in the Qur’an. Beliefs such as a single Deity, creation events, prophets, sin, righteousness, Satan, Judgment Day, heaven and hell are found throughout the text. Many familiar Biblical characters are referred to such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Solomon and Jesus.
The reason the Qur’an needs the Biblical support is obvious. The Bible has a much richer credibility by means of its composition. The Qur’an was presented by one “prophet” during his lifetime. The Qur’an claims that the beauty of its poetry verifies its holiness yet it offers no specific predictions of future events. On the other hand, the Bible is a library of sixty-six books of inspired revelation written over a period of about 1,400 years by approximately forty different prophets and apostles, yet it reads as one story. The subject matter covers the creation in the first book to the Second Coming of Christ in the last book. The Bible also presents a consistent theology. Over the centuries, its inspiration has been validated through the fulfillment of hundreds of specific prophecies, which have been and are still being fulfilled today with complete accuracy.
Allah or Yahweh
Do the Christians and Muslims worship the same God? That question is often asked. Certainly, both focus their adoration toward the one Creator as worthy of service, faith and obedience. Yet, the Qur’an and the Bible differ in their descriptions of the Almighty.
Though there are similarities between Yahweh and Allah, there are several major points of contrast. The first has to do with the Trinity and divinity of Jesus. The distant transcendence of Allah is not at all like the involved incarnation of Yahweh in Christ Jesus.
The Qur’an presents Allah as removed from his creation, yet knowledgeable of every detail of an individual’s life and relationships. Allah is enthroned on high and communicates through angels and prophets. He takes account of every individual’s deeds and weighs the good against the bad. He often shows mercy on those who deserve it, especially if they are believers in Islam. From his throne, he is totally in control of everything. This includes an individual’s life and eternal destiny as well as the outcome of every battle in every war.
The Bible reveals that while Yahweh is also sovereign, holy and demands righteousness, his very essence is love (1 John 4:8-11). This love is expressed most clearly in the gospel, which proclaims that Yahweh came into the world in the person of Jesus Christ to rescue those who believe in him. Through their baptism, Christians proclaim that they have entered into a personal relationship with the Almighty. That relationship enables them to know Yahweh as their Heavenly Father. This close relationship is made possible in Christ. The Hebrew name, Jesus, is a combination of words meaning “Yahweh’s Salvation.”
Another difference between Allah and Yahweh has to do with their mercy. Salvation in Islam is dependent on the faith and efforts of the Muslim. The love of Yahweh, on the other hand, is so great and so unconditional that Jesus described it with the parable of the father who ran to meet and forgive his wayward or prodigal son (Luke 15). The Muslim reaction to this parable is, “Allah would never do that!” That kind of love is not a characteristic of Allah.
For God’s chosen people (Christians), it is a perfect illustration of Yahweh’s grace. They realize that their salvation is a free gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). It can never be earned or deserved. Jesus will not lose any of those that are given to him by the Heavenly Father (John 6:35-40). The Bible makes it clear that good works naturally result from the Christian’s life because they are a new creation and live in Christ (Ephesians 2:10).
The Holy Trinity is another difference between Allah and Yahweh. Christians know Yahweh is mysteriously complex because the Trinity is revealed in the Scriptures (Matthew 28:18-20). The Bible reveals that there is one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which Christians have defined as the Holy Trinity (three in one). One illustration of the Trinity involves the sun. The sun constantly sends out light and heat and The Trinity has always been an aspect of the one God. To continue the analogy, as the sun emits light rays, so the one God sent his Word forth to create the world, appear to the prophets and then that Light of God became a person in Christ Jesus (John 1, Hebrews 1:3). Finally, just as the sun sends forth heat, God pours out the invisible presence of His Holy Spirit into the lives of the believers. Another analogy of a more personal nature would be that every person is complex. One individual can be a husband to his wife, a father to his children and a nephew to his Uncle and Aunt. No analogy can accurately illustrate this mystery, but the Holy Trinity is clearly taught in the Bible and is clearly denied in the Qur’an.
Is Allah of the Qur’an the same as Yahweh of the Bible? The Qur’an claims that they are the same, but there is much debate over this issue. Even though the Arabic translations of the Bible use the name Allah to represent Yahweh or God, the Christian understanding is so different it seems obvious that the two are not synonymous.
Jesus in the Bible and the Qur’an
The Bible and the Qur’an give two very different pictures of Jesus Christ. The Bible is a collection of many eyewitness accounts of the earthly ministry of Christ. This adds a great deal of credibility to what the New Testament says about Jesus. It was read by hundreds of people who knew of the events of Christ’s ministry because, in their day, it was recent history.
Christians believe that the Holy Spirit of God inspired all of the Bible prophets and apostles as they wrote. They all agree that in Jesus mankind beheld the very glory of God, the image of the invisible God and the person who was prophesied by the ancient Jewish prophet Isaiah to be Emmanuel which means “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23). They wrote that in Jesus the fullness of God lived in the body of a real man (Colossians 2:9).
The apostles also tell of Jesus’ compassion for the children who were ignored as unimportant in that society, the sinful women who were despised, and the hated tax collectors who were ostracized. They tell of his power over sickness, demons, storms and even death itself. His exalted teachings on ethics remain the ideal for the world today. The sacrifice Jesus made on the cross and the victory he achieved in his resurrection are central to all the apostles inspired writings.
Christ’s apostles, eyewitnesses of Christ’s life, unanimously agree that belief in Jesus as the Son of God and only Savior of the world brings a new and eternal life to anyone who will receive him. The Bible records that the early church was made up of baptized Christians who peacefully spread this message with the love and power of Jesus working with and through them.
The Qur’an became an authorized text almost 700 years after Christ. It contradicts the eyewitness accounts of the apostles of Christ. The Qur’an does admit that Jesus was the long awaited Jewish Messiah, who was born of a virgin, did miracles and brought the Gospel, which means good news. The Qur’an, though, demotes Jesus from his divinity as the Son of God to equal status with Mohammed and the prophets of the Bible. The Qur’an says that the Jews did not kill Christ; it only appeared that they did. It says that Allah gathered him up. Most Muslims interpret that to mean that someone like Judas, the betrayer, was made to look like Jesus and died in his place while Jesus was secretly lifted out of the world.