1. An Unexpected Event
From the time of my youth I was a devout believer in God. I memorized the Koran in my mother language Arabic and became a leader in my Muslim community in the Middle East. By profession I was a high ranking officer in the army of my country and I had many people, for whom I was responsible. Life was good to me, for I was married, had children and we were a wealthy and respected family.
One day something totally unexpected happened to me. My eyes caught an Arabic phrase on a piece of paper, saying “Wa-amma anaa fa-aquulu lakum” (وَأَمَّا أَنَا فَأَقُول لَكُم), which in English means: “But I say unto you.” I was puzzled by this phrase. Who was speaking? What new teaching was this man bringing? And what different teaching is he contrasting his saying with? So I picked up the page and discovered that the context of this phrase was the following:
43 You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” 44 But I say unto you , “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who do evil to you and persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father, who is in heaven. For He lets his sun shine upon those who are evil and those who are good, and he lets rain fall upon the just and the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45)
٤٣ سَمِعْتُم أَنَّه قِيل، تُحِب قَرِيبَك وَتُبْغِض عَدُوَّكَ. ٤٤ وَأَمَّا أَنَا فَأَقُول لَكُم ، أَحِبُّوا أَعْدَاءَكُمْ. بَارِكُوا لاَعِنِيكُمْ. أَحْسِنُوا إِلَى مُبْغِضِيكُم، وَصَلُّوا لأَجْل الَّذِين يُسِيئُون إِلَيْكُم وَيَطْرُدُونَكُمْ, ٤٥ لِكَي تَكُونُوا أَبْنَاء أَبِيكُم الَّذِي فِي السَّمَاوَات فَإِنَّه يُشْرِق شَمْسَه عَلَى الأَشْرَار وَالصَّالِحِينَ, وَيُمْطِر عَلَى الأَبْرَار وَالظَّالِمِينَ. (مَتَّى ٥ : ٤٣ - ٤٥)
After reading these verses of Scripture I was shocked. As a Muslim I knew that I must love my Muslim neighbor and hate my unbelieving enemy, just like Allah is an enemy to unbelievers, according to the Koran (Sura al-Baqara 2:98). This is the commandment of Allah for every Muslim. So I agreed with the beginning of what was written in these verses. But who was this person, who in his teaching had the audacity to change the revelation and commandment of Allah? Did he have a right and an authority to do so?
To answer these questions, I needed to find out, who was speaking in these verses. From the context I found out that these verses were from the Injil (إِنْجِيل) of the Nasaara (نَصَارَى), i.e. from the Gospel of the Christians, and that it was Christ who was bringing this new teaching. Did Christ have the right and the authority to change the commandments and the Sharia of Allah?
From my knowledge of the Koran I respected al-Masih (Christ) and the Injil (Gospel), which Christ brought to his people. Also I knew that Allah in the Koran had revealed something astonishing about Christ. This Son of Mary commanded his followers: “Obey me!” (ati'uuniy)
“So, fear God and obey me !” (Suras Al 'Imran 3:50 and al-Zukhruf 43:63)
فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُون (سُورَةُ آلِ عِمْرَانَ ٣ : ٥٠ و سُورَة الزُّخْرُف ٤٣ : ٦٣)
I myself was an officer in the army. I commanded my soldiers and officers that are lower in rank every day. So I know exactly what it means to tell people: Obey me! I cannot do it without the authority invested in me by the highest in command in our army. So, since Christ commanded his followers to obey him, I needed to find out with which right and which authority he was allowed to do that.
Also I knew from the Koran that Christ on the one hand respected and confirmed the Torah of the Jews, which was revealed to them from Allah through the prophet Moses. But on the other hand Christ also came to change some of the things that were forbidden in the revelation of God as found in the Torah:
“And (I came) confirming what is between my hands from the Torah, and to make permissible for you some of what had been forbidden to you .” (Sura Al 'Imran 3:50)
وَمُصَدِّقًا لِمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيَّ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَلأُحِلَّ لَكُمْ بَعْضَ الَّذِي حُرِّمَ عَلَيْكُم (سُورَةُ آلِ عِمْرَانَ ٣ : ٥٠)
On this background you can understand my bewilderment. Could the passage from the Gospel (Injil), which my eyes happened to catch that day, be one of these forbidden things, which Christ made permissible to the Jews? According to what Christ said in the Gospel (Injil), the Jews previously had the duty not to love, but to hate their enemies. But Christ here clearly made permissible to the Jews what was forbidden for them, namely to love their enemies. If this is the case, then I as a Muslim, should I also love my enemies as Christ commanded the people of the Torah here?
Why does Christ have the authority to change the commandments of Allah, as the Koran clearly teaches? And what is the basis of Christ's authority to command his followers to obey him, as Allah revealed in the Koran? And since Allah is the only one, who has the right to tell people to obey him unconditionally and also since Allah is the only one, who has the authority to change his commandments to us human beings, is then Christ like Allah, if he calls people to obey him as the Son of Mary and if he makes permissible some of the things, which Allah previously had forbidden them? All these questions came up in me and moved my heart, just because my eyes were attracted to a paper containing teachings of Christ.
Now, by nature I am a through man, otherwise I would not have reached my position as an important officer in the army of my country. In my heart I decided to study the matter in detail, in order to find a solution to these troubling questions that were disturbing me. So I enrolled in evening courses in the largest Islamic university in our city and for four years I studied comparative religions at the department of Islamic theology of that university.
On the following pages I would like to share with you some of the things, which I discovered during my four years of intensive studies. The outcome of my research, which was totally based on and committed to our Muslim Koran, was very different from what I anticipated. Come along with me and discover what the Koran teaches about the authority of Christ and why he had the right and the privilege to change the commandments of Allah and to call people to obey him as Christ, the Son of Mary.