A short overview
We continue the series regarding the incompleteness of the Qur’an, this time by focusing on the identity of Gabriel and specific other entities that Muslims normally believe to be angels of God.
Muslims are taught that Allah sent the angel Gabriel (Jibril) with the revelation to Muhammad. Muslims are also taught that Allah sent specific angels to both Abraham and Lot in order to warn them about the destruction of
What makes this intriguing is that none of the passages of the Qur’an clearly and explicitly identify Gabriel or these messengers as angels. The Muslim assumes this already and proceeds to read this back into the Qur’anic texts. In other words, the Muslims have been taught that Gabriel is an angel and that Allah sent angels to Abraham and
Furthermore, despite Gabriel playing such a large and important role in later Islamic theology and tradition the Qur’an has only two references to him.
We post the references themselves so as to bring out these points more clearly:
Say: 'Whosoever is an enemy to Gabriel -- he it was that brought it down upon thy heart by the leave of God, confirming what was before it, and for a guidance and good tidings to the believers. Whosoever is an enemy to God and His angels and His Messengers, and Gabriel, and Michael - surely God is an enemy to the unbelievers.' S. 2:97-98
If ye twain turn unto Allah repentant, (ye have cause to do so) for your hearts desired (the ban); and if ye aid one another against him (Muhammad) then lo! Allah, even He, is his Protecting Friend, AND Gabriel AND the righteous among the believers; AND FURTHERMORE the angels are his helpers. S. 66:4 Pickthall
If you two repent to God, yet your hearts certainly inclined; but if you support one another against him, God is his Protector, AND Gabriel, AND the righteous among the believers; AND, AFTER THAT, the angels are his supporters. Arberry
As the keen reader can see neither passage identifies Gabriel, or even Michael, as an angel. The passages seem to be distinguishing Gabriel from the angels, i.e. Allah AND Gabriel AND the angels AND the righteous believers protect Muhammad. Just like Allah, the righteous believers and angels are all different and distinct from one another, they don’t belong to the same class of being, Gabriel must also be viewed as a distinct entity from all the rest.
Surah 2:97-98 also lists several different groups giving the impression that these entities are also different from one another. The fact that angels and messengers are distinguished from each other shows that, at least in this specific context, the messengers are not angelic beings; they may be the human agents that Allah sent to mankind, i.e. Moses, Jesus etc., or even the messengers from the jinn. After all, the Qur’an does mention Allah sending forth messengers from both men and jinn:
"O ye assembly of JINNS and men! came there not UNTO you messengers FROM AMONGST YOU, setting forth unto you My Signs, and warning you of the meeting of this Day of yours?" They will say: "We bear witness against ourselves." It was the life of this world that deceived them. So against themselves will they bear witness that they rejected Faith. (The apostles were sent) thus, for thy Lord would not destroy for their wrong-doing men's habitations whilst their occupants were unwarned. S. 6:130-131 Y. Ali
We now turn our attention to the story of Abraham and Lot. In several places the Qur’an refers to certain messengers which were sent to these two servants of God:
Our messengers came to Abraham with the good tidings; they said, 'Peace!' 'Peace,' he said; and presently he brought a roasted calf. S. 11:69 Arberry
And when Our messengers came to
They said, '
And tell them of Abraham's guests, … He said: And afterward what is your business, O ye messengers (of Allah)? … And when the messengers came unto the family of
And when Our messengers came to Abraham with the good tidings, they said, 'We shall destroy the people of this city, for its people are evildoers.' … When that Our messengers came to
They even asked of him his guests for an ill purpose. Then We blinded their eyes (and said): Taste now My punishment after My warnings! S. 54:37
For those interested in reading the complete story of Abraham, Lot and the destruction of
As the above texts show there is nothing within the context which rules out the view that these messengers were human beings. A careful reading of the passages provides absolutely no evidence that Allah sent angels to assist
Keeping the foregoing in mind we proceed to ask our questions and post our challenges to the Muslim reader:
- Since the Qur’an claims to be fully detailed, completely exhaustive, can you please tell us who Gabriel is by using the Qur’an alone?
- Was Gabriel a human being whom Allah sent to assist Muhammad? Was he an angel or was he a jinn? One may even ask if he is in a category different from all these.
- Was Michael an angel, a jinn or a human messenger? Please answer this by using the Qur’an alone.
- Were the messengers whom Allah sent to destroy
Knowing that Muslims will try to answer our allegations we will try to be of assistance and show them how not to answer our points.
For instance, some Muslims may argue that the above verses about
There are basically three responses to these assertions. First, the Qur’an says in other places that it was Allah who destroyed these towns:
And Lot, when he said to his people, 'What, do you commit such indecency as never any being in all the world committed before you? See, you approach men lustfully instead of women; no, you are a people that do exceed.' And the only answer of his people was that they said, 'Expel them from your city; surely they are folk that keep themselves clean!' So We delivered him and his family, except his wife; she was one of those that tarried. And We rained down upon them a rain; so behold thou, how was the end of the sinners! S. 7:80-84; cf. 26:160-174; 27:54-58; 54:33-39
The above reference implies that it wasn’t necessarily the envoys that wrought the destruction; rather it was Allah who did so, much like he was the one who performed the miracles through other human agents such as Moses, Jesus etc. Yet we know of no Muslim who would argue that Moses was not a human envoy, or that he was an angel solely because he was able to do wonders and signs. To therefore argue that these messengers were angels since they had the power to destroy the people of
The people of Lut gave the lie to the apostles. S. 26:160 Shakir
And Lut was most surely of the apostles. When We delivered him and his followers, all -- Except an old woman (who was) amongst those who tarried. Then We destroyed the others. And most surely you pass by them in the morning, And at night; do you not then understand? S. 37:133-138 Shakir
"and Thamood, and the people of Lot, and the men of the Thicket - those were the parties; not one, that cried not lies to the Messengers, so My retribution was just." S. 38:13-14
The very fact that Lot is said to be a messenger who was sent to warn his people, and yet
This leads us to our third point. There are references in the Qur’an which specifically say that Allah sent only human messengers to people:
"Before thee, also, the messengers We sent were BUT MEN, to whom We granted inspiration: If ye know this not, ask of those who possess the Message. Nor did We give them bodies that ate no food, nor were they immortals." S. 21:7-8
Thus, if the Qur’an is correct then this definitely establishes the case that these envoys could not have been angels; they must have been human beings sent alongside of
If a Muslim tries to appeal to the Holy Bible he/she will run into a whole host of additional problems. First, to go outside of the Qur’an in order understand it falsifies its repeated claim that it is complete and exhaustive, lacking nothing essential.
Second, according to the Bible one of the persons who came to warn Abraham about the fate of
"And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, ‘O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on--since you have come to your servant.’ So they said, ‘Do as you have said.’ And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, ‘Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.’ And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while THEY ATE. They said to him, ‘Where is Sarah your wife?’ And he said, ‘She is in the tent.’ The LORD said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.’ And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?’ The LORD said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh and say, "Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?" Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.’ But Sarah denied it, saying, ‘I did not laugh,’ for she was afraid. He said, ‘No, but you did laugh.’ Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward
Thus, if the Muslims appeal to the Holy Bible to explain the Qur’an then they must accept the fact that Allah appeared as one of the messengers. In this way a Muslim can even argue that the messengers did in fact destroy Lot’s people, at least one of them did, since Allah was one of the messengers who was sent. Let us examine this point a little more:
And Lot, when he said to his people, 'What, do you commit indecency with your eyes open? What, do you approach men lustfully instead of women? No, you are a people that are ignorant.' And the only answer of his people was that they said, 'Expel the folk of Lot from your city; they are men that keep themselves clean!' So We delivered him and his family, except his wife; We decreed she should be of those that tarried. And We rained on them a rain; and evil indeed is the rain of them that are warned. S. 27:54-58
Allah is supposedly speaking using the first plural pronoun "We." Now compare this with the following:
And when Our messengers brought Abraham the good news, they said: Lo! We are about to destroy the people of that township, for its people are wrong-doers. S. 29:31 Pickthall
In Sura 29, the messengers used the plural pronoun since there is more than one envoy, and yet in Sura 27 Allah himself uses the plural pronoun. Allah's use of the plural can either be viewed as a royal plural or a genuine numerical plural reflecting a plurality of entities united together as a group. Furthermore, in one Sura it says Allah killed Lot's people whereas in the other one it is the envoys that did. This may mean that both Allah and his envoys destroyed Lot's people, or it may mean something else.
By piecing both these passages together we come to see that one of the messengers that came to Abraham and Lot must have been Allah who had been sent by another person who also happened to be Allah! This understanding accounts for why Allah used the plural pronoun for himself in Sura 27, he was obviously referring to both himself and at least to one of the envoys that he had sent since one of them happened to be God also. If this is correct then this rules out the royal or majestic plural explanation. What this basically means is that Allah used the plural pronoun for himself so as to indicate that he is a multi-personal entity. Putting it another way, the conclusion of trying to harmonize both these passages together is that Allah sent Allah as his messenger in order to destroy Lot’s people because there is more than one entity that is Allah! If one were to accept this explanation then both the Holy Bible and the Qur’an would be in agreement that one of the messengers who came to Abraham was God Almighty himself.
Third, the biblical Gabriel is one who contradicts the theology of the Qur’an. This Gabriel calls Jesus the Son of God and sovereign King:
"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ And Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’ And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;therefore the child to be born will be called holy--the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’" Luke 1:26-37
But the Qur’an’s Gabriel didn’t preach the same message that this other Gabriel did. If the Muslims say the Bible is corrupted at this point then how can they even use it to show who this Gabriel was? How do they know that the Bible is accurate when it identifies the angel, but not accurate when it records the message from this same angel? Muslims cannot have their cake and eat it too.
Recommended Reading: www.answering-islam.org/Qur’an/Contra/jinn_messengers.html
Sunday, 19 April 2009
Is Gabriel really an Angel?
A short overview