The Changes in Muhammad’s Life
Do Jews, Christians and Muslims believe in the same God?
by Abd al-Masih
Within the churches of Europe, the USA and Korea more and more questions arise concerning the so-called one common God in the three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Even missionaries and churches in Islamic countries increasingly ask these questions.
Those who watch a Muslim pray can be impressed by his respectful devotion to Allah. During his 5 daily times of prayer he throws himself to the ground up to 34 times as worship to Allah. He adores the Almighty Creator, the Sovereign Ruler and the Righteous Judge (Sura 1:1-4).
He is convinced he is delivering himself to the true God.
The Bible reports that Ishmael, as a little boy about to die of thirst, cried to the God of his father Abraham, and God granted his cry for mercy (Genesis 21:15-21). The name Ishmael means, “God hears” (Genesis 16:11).
Cornelius, the Roman centurion in Caesarea, sincerely prayed to God continually and gave great generous gifts of charity. The Lord answered his prayers and sent Peter to him. Peter had received a vision from the Holy Spirit showing him that "God is not one to show partiality but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to him.” (Acts 10:34-35) Italics added. God had answered the sincere prayers of this impure gentile, Cornelius.
The Qur’an goes a step further and claims:
Our God and your God is the same (Sura 29:46)
You have your religion, I have my religion (Sura 109:6)
There is no restraint in questions of religion (Sura 2:256)
Each of you has his law and his order…therefore compete (with each other) in good deeds (Sura 5:48).
Why did Muhammad at first Tolerate and Idealize Jews and Christians?
During the days of Muhammad (575-632 AD) searching for truth began among the religious people in Mecca. The influence of the Jews and Christians was beginning to impact the Animists of the Arabian Peninsula. Five men from Mecca began the search for the truth: Waraqa b. Naufal, Ubaid Allah b. Jahsch, Usman al-Huwairith and Zaid b. Amr.
Three of them became Christians, one followed the religion of Abraham and Muhammad created his own Islam. At first Jews and Christians were idealized by these men because they had a Book that enumerated for them the secrets of the past, the law for the present, and their hope for the future. Muhammad wanted to possess such a book in the Arabian language.
Muhammad asked Christian slaves from Syria and passing Jews and Copts from Ethiopia for their religious beliefs and collected as many stories and religious laws as he could. The slave Jabr in Mecca was one of his sources of information. The antagonists of Muhammad among the merchants of his town mocked these two men and called Jabr the holy spirit of Muhammad who inspired him. But Muhammad strictly denied that (Sura 16:103).
It is most probable that a Jewish-Christian version of the virgin birth story is what has been included into the Qur’an (Sura Mariam 19:16-33). Muhammad declared the birth of Jesus by the Virgin Mary and repeated apocryphal stories of Jesus' childhood. Two such stories include His ability to speak immediately after he was born, and His forming a bird out of loam as a boy, then blowing into it, the bird flew off! Muhammad believed more stories than many Christians believed. He even accepted tales as reality. He was not a prophet who was able to differentiate the truth from dreams. He was a seeker of the truth with a great yearning for religious information. He accepted from the northern Yemen the most important name of Allah in the Qur’an, al-Rahman, which was used by the Christians there as the expression for the Father of Jesus Christ.
Likewise Muhammad questioned the Jews as much as he could. Moses is mentioned 136 times in the Qur’an; the name of Abraham (Ibrahim) appears 69 times. Also Aaron, David, Solomon and other prophets belong to the firm components of the Qur’an. The law of Moses at first stood as a guide to the regulations of Muhammad. Some scientists of Islam point out that 60 percent of the Qur’an is derived from the Old Testament and 5 to 8 percent from the background of the Gospels. In Medina Muhammad even conceded to allow Jews to exercise their own judgements because he believed the Torah contained the power of Allah (his law) and that guidance and light was offered to the people of the covenant (Sura 5:43-45).
Muhammad also granted the Christians to exercise their own judgements because he believed the Son of Mary was sent by Allah to confirm the Torah and because He had received the Gospel as a direct revelation from Allah (Sura 5:46-47).
For these reasons Jews and Christians who live in an Islamic state do not have to convert to become Muslims because Allah had entrusted to them parts of the book of Heaven.
Above all the Christians impressed Muhammad and earned a place in the Qur'an because during the increasing persecution of the Muslims in Mecca by the animistic merchants, it was the Christians in Ethiopia who were ready to grant asylum to 83 Muslims. Since then Muhammad witnessed that the Christians had pity and mercy on their enemies (Sura 57:27) and had sympathy for the Muslims (Sura 5:82). Furthermore, they were not arrogant (Sura 5:82) and stood a class above all unbelievers (Sura 3:55).
The Disappointment of Muhammad at the Attitude of the Jews in Medina.
Muhammad's generous tolerance of the Jews and Christians in Mecca only lasted as long as the Muslims were the minority within the population group and were dependent on the sympathy and cooperation of other minorities. When Muhammad emigrated to Medina in 622 AD, his attitude towards the Jews and Christians increasingly changed.
At first Muhammad set up a multicultural municipality, in which Muslims, Animists and Christians worked together. There is an indication he intended to marry the daughter of a Jewish chieftain in order to obtain recognition by the Jews.
He tried to gain the Jews acceptance of his religion, describing Islam as a religion similar to Judaism and a continuation of the faith of the Old Testament. At first all Muslims had to pray in the direction of Jerusalem. On the Day of Ashura (Yom Kippur) they fasted together with the Jews. Allah was named as the God of Abraham (Sura 4:125). Muhammad adopted several orally transmitted reports and laws from the Mishna and Talmud because he wanted to make his Islam appealing to the sons of Jacob as a religion inspired by their God of the Covenant. He allowed the Muslims to eat all the meals of the Jews because the laws of food corresponded with each other. Furthermore they had the right to marry Jewish women (Sura 5:5). The Jews, as the leading upper class in Medina, were not called unclean as were the other people (Sura 9:28).
The Non-Acknowledgement of Muhammad as Prophet by the Jews
The sons of Jacob recognized that their oral transmissions from the Talmud and Mishna that they had passed on to Muhammad were not recited by him and translated into the Arabic language without mistakes. Surely some Jews drew Muhammad's attention to these discrepancies and hit his sensitive nerves. Conceding that he had made mistakes would confirm that he was not a prophet. Therefore he attacked the Jews head-on and accused them of forging the Torah and the laws. He made his revelations the standard of truth. He could not and would not allow his revelations to be corrected.
The Jews began to laugh and mock Muhammad. He had the strongest critics killed.
Above all Muhammad began to change Islamic public worship. From that time on the Muslims were instructed to turn away from Jerusalem during their prayers and instead pray in the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca. Fasting during the month of Ramadan replaced the Jewish fasting of Yom Kippur. Abraham was called the first Muslim, stating he was neither Jew nor Christian (Sura 3:67). His son Ishmael is said to have built the Kaaba in which Abraham had lived alternately with his slave Hagar and his free wife Sarah. At first Muhammad did not reject the God of Abraham, but only changed the order of Islamic public worship. He also distorted the historical background of his religion. By distorting Judaism, Islam found its own identity.
Several Jews in Medina were anxious about losing their dominance in money lending and arms production; therefore they conspired against Muhammad. Muhammad openly took the offensive against the Jews. He called them the worst enemies of the Islam (Sura 5:82). He cursed them ten times in the Qur’an (Sura 2:88,159; 4:46,47,52; 5:13,60,64,78; 13:25 et. al.). Muhammad claimed that Allah had transformed several of them into apes and pigs (Sura 2:65-66; 5:60; 7:163-166), because they had rebelled against the revelations of Allah in the Torah and had not observed the Sabbath. Furthermore, all Jews who charged interest on loans were given to madness by Satan (Sura 2:275).
Muhammad and his followers increasingly attacked the caravans from the city of Mecca. After this Muhammad began eliminating one Jewish tribe after the other in Medina. One month after Muhammad fought the idolatrous Meccans in the battle at Badr the Banu Qaynuqa’ were besieged. The Jewish tribe was forced to move with drums beating and trumpets sounding and was banned from returning. After the lost battle at Uhud, the Banu an-Nadir tribe was encircled and condemned to emigrate or to work as quasi slaves in the fortified oasis of Khaybar. When during the Battle of the Ditch in Medina the Quraizha Jews conspired with the enemies of Muhammad, Jibril (the angel Gabriel) is said to have instructed Muhammad to annihilate them. They had to dig their own mass grave into which 600 to 800 of them fell beheaded. The first mass grave in the bloody history of Islam and Muhammad, is located in Medina.
By the expulsion and annihilation of the Jews the Muslims became rich. They took houses and land as booty and took the Jews' women and children as slaves.
When Muhammad besieged by surprise the Jews oasis of Khaybar and took quarters with a Jewish hostess, she poisoned the meat she offered to Muhammad and another guest. The latter died at once but Muhammad spat out the meat. He swallowed a little bit of the poison however so that he said: "The poison of the Jews has broken my heart." Since then, according to the retaliation law, the Muslims have vowed eternal vengeance against the Jews.
What was the Reason for Muhammad's Dislike of the Christians?
When Muhammad strengthened his city-state in Medina, the responsible men in the Christian kingdom of Najran in Northern Yemen heard of the growing power of Islam. They wanted to find out what sort of a man Muhammad was and therefore sent a delegation of 60 Christians under the leadership of their king al-Aqib Abd al-Masih and their bishop Abu Haritha b. Alqama to Medina.
Muhammad kindly welcomed the guests and conceded to them the privilege of discussing Islam and Christianity for three days in the mosque in Medina in front of his Muslim companions. The Islamic version and the summary of this first and deciding dialogue between the two religions can be read in the Sura 3:33-64.
If you want to enter into a conversation with Muslims, you should carefully study this unilaterally written dialogue. In order to impress the Coptic orientated guest, Mary was described in Muhammad's report as the best woman of all in this world as also in the next world. Afterwards however, Mary was reduced to the role of an ideal Muslim woman.
Mary is said to have been directly inspired by Allah. He had blown some of his spirit into her, and in her let his word become a person. The son of Mary was to be a real human being and at the same time a spirit of Allah. But, according to Islam, he was never the Son of God nor did he have a divine nature. He was simply created in Mary by Allah. With this, Muhammad revealed himself, according to 1 John 2:22-23 and 4:1-5, as an anti-Christian Spirit, although he tried to describe Islam as a religion similar to Christianity.
Muhammad spoke of ten of Christ's miracles in the Qur’an as proof of his divine mission. 'Isa (Muhammad's name for Christ) himself was the greatest of all signs though he was only a prophet and man but never Lord. Allah at all times required his subjection, although according to the Qur’an Christ changed the Law of Moses and demanded total obedience of the Jews, Christians and Muslims.
Muhammad went so far as to let the apostles of 'Isa call themselves Muslims in an attempt to convince the Christian delegation from Northern Yemen that themselves were also Muslims (Sura 3:52-53; 5:111).
Muhammad did everything to win the Christians over to his Islam. He described the death of 'Isa as a peaceful falling asleep and twice very clearly pointed out his ascension to Allah (Sura 3:55; 4:158). According to Islamic thinking the son of Mary is not dead, but is living near his Creator as one of the spirits of Allah.
When the delegation from Northern Yemen recognized that Muhammad was a false prophet, they became silent. Muhammad however threatened them with the plague of Allah in the next world when they would not accept his Islam. He also dictated worldly sanctions on them (Sura 3:56).
The bishop and the king had recognized that Muhammad either concealed the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit or he outright denied them. Allah of Islam is not a Father, he has no Son, and the Holy Spirit only appears as Jibril. Jibril is as a created Spirit of Allah and serves as mediator of revelations.
The delegation more and more clearly recognized that Muhammad believed in a great unknown Allah and denied the Holy Trinity. At the same time they understood that Christ to the Muslims, in spite of an extensive study and more than 100 references in the Qur’an, was considered only a created prophet but never the Son of God who died at the cross for our sins. Muhammad denied the crucifixion of Christ as a fact of history and described Allah as the most able of all to prevent the crucifixion of his prophet.
Muhammad's Declaration of War against all Christians.
When Muhammad recognized that the Christians from the Wadi Najran and from other countries could not or would not acknowledge him as a real prophet, his appreciation for them turned into hatred. He began a psychological war against them and forbade his followers to accept Jews and Christians as friends or business partners (Sura 5:42,57).
Most of the Muslims however were impressed by the exemplary Christians from Northern Yemen because they did not lie, were content with only one wife, and treated non-conformists with compassion.
To overcome the resistance of his waning Muslims, Muhammad ordained, in the name of Allah, open war against the Christians and the Jews in order to make sure that the Christian culture would no longer be a temptation for his Muslims to renounce Islam (Sura 9:28-29). This order of attack against the owners of the Book definitely severed any ties between the three religions.
Muhammad gave detailed reasons for his order to make an armed war against the owners of the Book (Jews and Christians). Those who sympathize with Islam should objectively study this final declaration of Muhammad, in order to dream no longer of an agreement between the three monotheistic religions. The detailed order of attack of Muhammad can destroy all illusions, because it reveals clearly his anti-Biblical spirit.
In the Qur’an we can read in Sura 9:29:
Stand up (with arms) against those, who do not believe in Allah and the Doomsday and do not declare as acceptable, that which Allah and his ambassador have declared as forbidden
and who do not belong to the right religion, from those, to whom the Book has been entrusted, until they have paid with their own hands the minority tax (jiza) and confess that they (are small and ) become smaller.
This verse does not tell of a national battle (kifah or jihad), but of a killing bloody attack (qital) to defeat and subjugate the owners of the Book (the Bible).
They are guilty of not believing in Allah as the Muslims do. Over a twenty-year period Muhammad had recognized that the God of the Jews and the God of the Christians is not the same God as Allah in Islam! The Jews believe in Yahweh, their God of the Covenant; and the Christians believe in the Holy Trinity. The God of the Jews and the God of the Christians is diametrically opposed to Allah in Islam. Muhammad revoked his initial statement that Allah and the Christian's God were the same. Only ignorant illusionists are of the opinion that the original idea of Muhammad is still valid. Muhammad recognized and confessed that Allah was not the Father of Jesus Christ. If the Christians do not deny the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, they must be opposed and subjugated. The basis for a multicultural society was definitely destroyed in Medina.
Muhammad witnessed that the Jews and the Christians do not believe in Doomsday as the Muslims do. They do not accept their good deeds as the means of their salvation. They have no paradisiacal gardens with earthly delights, nor do they expect the same terrible hell as Islam. They have sold themselves to a spiritual hope for the future by the returning Messiah.
Not only is the Islamic faith with its six articles of faith completely different from the Jewish and Christian faith, but also the law of Moses and the law of Christ do not correspond to the law of Muhammad. All Christians who try to find common interest with the Muslims should stop trying. Muhammad openly proclaims that the Christian faith and ethics are incompatible with Islam. Christians refuse the polygamy of Islam, they do not allow lies, and do not break oaths as Islam permits. They do not slaughter their meat in the name of Allah (basmallah), rather they eat pork and drink alcohol, which means that they remain unclean and break the law (Sura 2:173,219; 5:3-5,90; 6:145 et.al.).
Muhammad drew the line between the well-meant dialogues with Jews and Christians. He said, the owners of the Book do not belong to the right religion. They are completely on the wrong track. As unbelievers they are three times confounded! With this he annulled his former attempts of peacefully attracting Jews and Christians to Islam.
The Minority-Laws of Islam
Muhammad however was a calculating businessman. He left the Jews and the Christians a way out. If the subjugated non-Muslims pay the minority tax (jizya) they are allowed to live in an Islamic state as second class human beings. The amount of the jizya is not fixed in the Qur’an, but remains the choice of the respective ruler. The minority tax is imposed by Islamic jurists as a penalty on those who did not accept Islam voluntarily. In addition they had to show through their clothing that they were not Muslims (belt, hairstyle, etc.). They were not allowed to study the Qur’an. They are not allowed to hinder their relatives in becoming Muslims, and they are not allowed to build new churches or to restore their old ones. As it seemed unthinkable that members of a minority would give orders or instructions to a Muslim, leading positions in military, police, and administration were excluded for them. They have to pay the minority tax themselves in a humble attitude. If they behave proudly a slap on the neck should help their humility.
From Libya to Morocco and also in Turkey the contempt, oppression, and financial penalties on the minorities has caused, over the years, 99 percent of the former Christians to abandon the persecution and their faith to become Muslims. In Egypt, Syria and Iraq 90 percent of all Christians became Muslims, whereas 10 percent silently endured the scorn of the cross of Christ for 50 generations and still do today.
In Wadi Najran similar things happened. Muhammad overcame the hesitance of his Muslim companions who respected the Christians with a blow below the belt that finally coerced them to raid the region. He stated in Sura 9:30:
The Jews say, Ezra is the Son of God. The Christians say, Christ is the Son of God. This they only pronounce with their mouth and imitate the gossip of those who were unbelieving before them. Allah may kill them! What liars they became!
No hint can be found that the Jews ever called Ezra a Son of God although he had led the displaced Jews from the Babylonian captivity back into their own country and founded a Jewish state around Jerusalem.
From this verse and others it can be clearly seen that the Christians tried to convert Muhammad and explained to him that Jesus was not procreated by Allah in Mary in a natural way (walad) but that Christ was his legal and spiritual Son (Ibn). This verse is the only passage in the Qur’an in which Muhammad rejected Jesus as a legal son of Allah. The primitive reproach of the biological procreation of Christ by Allah in Mary had been overcome. But the rejection of the divinity of Christ by Muhammad remained radical and comprehensive. He called the Christian's claims a repetitious echo of the babbling of the unbelievers from former times.
Muhammad's declaration of war against the Christians makes it clear that Muhammad had opened himself to the anti-Christian ideas of fanatical Jews and by no means accepted Christ as the Son of God. Allah was only one, a single one and never a unity from three! Both the Jews and the Muslims have concealed the idea of three monotheistic religions. Only syncretism-minded humanists still try to revive these already concealed ideas. But they are either rebuked or smiled at with pity by honest Semites.
Muhammad was consistent in his rejection of the Christian witness and cursed everybody who said, "Christ is the Son of God." He asked Allah to destroy every Christian who adhered to Jesus Christ being the Son of God. He did not command his Muslims to kill the Christians but requested Allah himself to annihilate them by divine judgement.
As long as the sentence, "Allah kill them!" is written in the Qur’an each dialogue between the Muslims and the Christians is hypocrisy or self-deception. There are obstinate scientists and theologians who think that the Muslims are free to formulate their faith and to tolerate believers of other religions. Muhammad eliminated this possibility and called everyone a liar who witnessed the divinity of Christ.
Muhammad also declared everyone unrealistic who confesses the death of Christ at the cross. According to the Qur’an Christ was neither killed by the Jews nor crucified. It only appeared to them to be so (Sura 4:157). The crucifixion of Christ is like a fairy tale for the Muslims, not a historical fact. With this, the spirit of Muhammad is definitely exposed. The cross of Jesus Christ is foolishness or annoyance to those who are perishing, but to those who adhere to the crucified Son of God, and who experience his righteousness, and witness him as the crucified Savior, it is the wisdom and power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18-24).
The Tragic Fate of the Church of the Wadi Najran
The cavalrymen of Muhammad later overran the Christian kingdom in Northern Yemen. Several Christians became Muslims. The majority however signed a protective contract in which they had the right to live their Christian faith in an Islamic state and keep their property as long as they paid the minority tax in full. Muhammad signed this contract personally.
After Muhammad's death in 632 AD his favorite wife, Aisha, confirmed that the dying man had said, "in the Arabian Peninsula there cannot exist two different religions!"
Omar Ibn al-Khattab, the second caliph (successor, supreme head of Muslim community) after Muhammad, therefore summoned the Christians in the Wadi Najran to immediately convert to Islam or leave their homes. They told the caliph that they were in possession of a protective contract signed by Muhammad. It is believed that Omar answered, "I did not sign it! I only follow the last will of Muhammad; that is what must be executed."
Although the Christians from Najran had a protective contract signed by the prophet of Allah, they had to flee, poor and hated, from the Arabian Peninsula to Ethiopia, Jordan, and Egypt. They preferred humiliation with Christ over the wealth of Muhammad! Here the unreliability of contracts between Muslims and non-Muslims can be seen. If Muslims believe that the other party to a contract does not fully adhere to the contract, they have the right to break it.
The aim of Muhammad to have a religious state revealed itself more and more. Islam is not only a religion, as many think, but it always strives to become a religious state in which the Shari’a will be executed. The law of Islam, Shari’a, needs an executive to be able to function. Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, is said to have stated: “Those who pray, fast, and pay their religion tax (zakat) are not yet Muslims. Only if they fight for the Shari’a in their state are they real Muslims.”
The Islamic calendar does not begin with the birth of Muhammad or with the beginning of the so-called revelations to him or with the foundation of the first Islamic congregation (Ummah). All this does not yet mean a complete Islam. The Islamic calendar begins with the emigration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina (622 AD), because in Medina Islam became a city-state and Muhammad its ruler. All other forms of appearance are only of embryonic character. The Qur’an repeatedly requests Muslims to fight for an Islamic divine state that rules the whole world (Sura 2:193; 8:39; 48:28; 61:9 et. al.).
How has Muhammad Changed?
Muhammad was a seeker turned idealist who collected words of God from the Old and New Testament and changed them in an Islamic way. He fell into the power of anti-Christian thinking Jews and Christian sectarians. He tolerated the Jews and the Christians as long as he needed their help for the organization of his religion and his city-state. As soon as he possessed power he discontinued his tolerance. Jews and Christians were suppressed and systematically eliminated from the Arabian Peninsula.
The image of Allah in Islam changed with the transformation of his persecuted prophet in Mecca to the autocrat his prophet became in Medina. Muhammad's original conception of the same God in all three religions was based on belief in the God of Abraham. It then developed into the rejection of the crucified Son of God, the profaning of the Holy Spirit, and finally, the damnation of all those who do not submit to Allah the same way that Muslims do.
In the beginning Muhammad was tolerant because he needed the Jews and the Christians because they were the people of the Book. But when he had power, all revelations from Allah that recommended tolerance were null and void.
The last trick of Muhammad is that both the valid and the abrogated verses still exist side-by-side in the Qur’an. Many Muslims do not know which verses are still valid and which are not. On the other hand, this kaleidoscope of colorful truths gives every Muslim the chance to pick and choose Qur’anic verses from Allah that best suits their position or argument. The Muslim refugees and students in Europe, USA, Korea and Australia often speak of Islam as being tolerant and as being worshippers of the same God as Christians in order to be acknowledged as minorities.
After the crash of the Indonesian economy, President Abdu r-Rahman Wahid, claimed again and again that they foster a multicultural environment because the money of China and the USA would not flow into an intolerant religious state. Pakistan and Egypt sway between being a secular state and being complete in Islam under Shari'a law. Algeria, Nigeria, Sudan and Afghanistan however are broken up by years of bloody civil war because fundamentalist Muslims are fighting for a "divine" state, fully established under Shari'a.
In Iran, where the modernization of Shari’a is most advanced, the people elected without hesitation the liberal reform movement during the spring 2000 elections to resist the fundamentalists. The elections showed that the Muslims were tired of the recession, oppression and the difficulties of normal life.
The different appearances of Islam in the different Islamic countries have their root in the Qur’an, which does not offer a uniform doctrine but reflects the great change of Muhammad. In his world, absolute opposites can be justified by so-called revelations. But of Jesus it is said, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ." (John 1:14,17)