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Between Muhammad’s Companions and Jesus’ Disciples and Apostles

Between Muhammad’s Companions and Jesus’ Disciples and Apostles

Comparison between their Roles in the Formulation of the Prophetic Message

Disciples

There is a big difference between Prophet Muhammad’s Companions and Jesus’ disciples and apostles

There is a big difference between Prophet Muhammad’s companions “Companions”, their successors “Successors”, and the successors of the latter “Successors of Successors” on the one hand, and Jesus’ disciples and apostles as portrayed by the Bible on the other hand in terms of the role of each party in the formulation of the heavenly message brought forward either by Jesus or Prophet Muhammad.

Let’s explore the role of each of the above two parties in the heavenly message they conveyed to people.

Jesus’ Disciples and Apostles

As portrayed by the Bible, Jesus’ disciples and apostles had a leading role in the formulation of Jesus’ message. This may be attributable to Jesus’ Ascension before the completion of his prophetic message.

Let’s know more about the role of Jesus’ disciples and apostles in the formulation of his prophetic message.

Teaching the Commandments and their Observance

In the New Testament, the Bible quotes Jesus as ordering his disciples to teach people the commandments and their observance. We read: “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

This is an intuitive, palatable, acceptable role. The followers of the prophets and the messengers are actually supposed to teach people their commandments and their observance.

Healing the Sick, Cleansing Lepers, Raising the Dead and Casting out Devils

In the New Testament, the Bible quotes Jesus as ordering his disciples to heal the sick, cleanse lepers, raise the dead and cast out devils. We read: “And as ye go, preach, saying, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils. Freely ye have received; freely give.” (Matthew 10:7-8)

It is ironic that the above miracles were some of the prophets’ miracles in general and Jesus’ miracles in particular. While prophets’ followers may perform miracles, it is illogical for them to have equal miracles.

If Jesus’ disciples and apostles could really heal the sick, cleanse lepers, raise the dead and cast out devils, what is the difference between them and Jesus himself in terms of the miraculous abilities?

Logically speaking, the miracles of the prophets’ followers should be subordinate not equal to the prophets’. Otherwise, those followers should be seen as equal prophets also.

Preaching the Gospel

In the New Testament, the Bible quotes Jesus as ordering his disciples to preach the Gospel. We read: Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat; and He upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not those who had seen Him after He was risen. And He said unto them, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature…” (Mark 16:14-15)

But, a question may arise now: how could they preach the Gospel though there was no gospel at that point of time according to the contemporary Christian conception of the Gospel which claims that it is the disciples who authored gospels in particular or the New Testament in general later on?

As for the Gospel (Injeel) according to the Islamic conception, which stands for heavenly scriptures sent down to Jesus just as the Torah was sent down to Moses and the Qur’an was sent down to Muhammad, it was already there upon Jesus’ Ascension given his order in the Bible to preach it. However, it was distorted and many interpolations and omissions were made until it assumed its current form, called “New Testament”.

The most conclusive evidence for the above argument is that we notice that the tradition of Jesus’ disciples and apostles in the New Testament is much more considerable than that of Jesus himself.

Jesus’ tradition does not exceed the four gospels which account for the first books of the New Testament. As for the rest of the New Testament books which amount to twenty three books, they are supposed to constitute the tradition of Jesus’ disciples and apostles.

What is more, even Jesus’ tradition in the four gospels is not wholly reported by Jesus himself. They are rather reported by other people who just ascribe some statements to Jesus.

Therefore, the New Testament cannot be wholly attributed to Jesus, not to mention God, given the Christian belief that the New Testament is supposed to be the words of Jesus’ disciples and apostles, rather than the direct words of God or even Jesus.

Forgiveness of Sins

In the New Testament, the Bible quotes Jesus as delegating the authority of the forgiveness of sins to his disciples. We read: Then said Jesus to them again, “Peace be unto you. As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said unto them, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained.” (John 20:21-23)

It goes without saying that the authority of the forgiveness of sins is solely up to God. None other than God, even Jesus himself, can forgive sins. In the New Testament, Jesus himself is quoted as asking God for forgiveness (Luke 23:33-34).

Companions, Successors and Successors of Successors

In Islam, Companions, Successors and Successors of Successors had a role only in the preservation and teaching of Prophet Muhammad’s prophetic message to people without addition or omission.

Such a role was restricted to the conveyance of Prophet Muhammad’s heavenly message on an as-is basis without reformulation or any intervention by addition or omission. The Companions’ role in preaching started after its completion and the proclamation of the same in the Qur’an. We read:

This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion. (Al-Ma’idah 5:3)

The following is a brief discussion of the role of the Companions and the next generations in the crystallization of the message of Islam.

Preservation and Teaching of the Qur’an and the Sunnah to People

The role of the Companions, the Successors and the Successors of Successors was mainly all about the preservation of the Qur’an and the prophetic tradition (Sunnah) without addition or omission.

For example, Prophet Muhammad commanded his Companions to preserve the Qur’an by writing it down and abstention from writing anything else on the authority of Prophet Muhammad so that the prophetic statements (hadiths) will not be mistaken for Qur’anic verses.

As for the hadiths, Prophet Muhammad commanded his Companions to memorize and relate them to people and forbade them to attribute any falsehood to him.

Abu Said Al-Khudry reported that Prophet Muhammad said: “Do not take down anything from me, and he who took down anything from me except the Qur’an, he should efface that and narrate from me, for there is no harm in it and he who attributes any falsehood to me (and Hammam said: I think he also said: ‘deliberately’), he should in fact find his abode in the Hell-Fire.” (Muslim)

The role of the Companions, the Successors and the Successors of Successors was also all about learning and teaching the Qur’an and the Sunnah to people. Prophet Muhammad urged his Companions to learn and teach the Qur’an to people. `Othman reported that Prophet Muhammad said: “The best of you are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it.” (Al-Bukhari)

Prophet Muhammad also urged his Companions to memorize and teach his prophetic tradition (Sunnah) to people without falsehood, i.e. addition or omission.

`Abdullah bin `Amr reported that Prophet Muhammad said: “Convey (my teachings) to the people even if it were a single sentence, and tell others the stories of the children of Israel (which have been taught to you), for it is not sinful to do so. And whoever tells a lie on my authority intentionally will surely take his place in the (Hell) Fire.” (Al-Bukhari)

It is noteworthy that even Prophet Muhammad could not add to or omit from the heavenly revelation. He could only follow such divine revelation. About that, in the Qur’an, we read:

And when Our verses are recited to them as clear evidences, those who do not expect the meeting with Us say, “Bring us a Qur’an other than this or change it.” Say, [O Muhammad], “It is not for me to change it on my own accord. I only follow what is revealed to me. Indeed I fear, if I should disobey my Lord, the punishment of a tremendous Day.” (Yunus 10:15)

We also read:

Nor does he speak from [his own] inclination. It is not but a revelation revealed (An-Najm 53:3-4)

By the way, the above verses may serve as evidence for the fact that the Qur’an and the Sunnah are revelations from God rather than words motivated by Prophet Muhammad’s inclination.

Comments

The role of Jesus’ disciples and apostles as portrayed by the Bible is very central compared to that of the Companions, the Successors and the Successors of Successors.

In addition to the basic role of the divine message preservation and teaching to people, the roles of Jesus’ disciples and apostles also involved the performance of a number of miracles worked by Jesus himself, the derivation of some exclusive attributes of God like the forgiveness of sins, and the authorship of gospels or even the so-called “New Testament”.

This supports the viewpoints arguing that Jesus’ message was distorted and derailed by people claiming that they were Jesus’ apostles though they did not meet or even see Jesus in reality like Saul or Paul.

As such, the role of Jesus’ disciples and apostles in the formulation of the contemporary Christianity is more crucial than that of Jesus himself. Therefore, the likelihood of Jesus’ message distortion is very strong given such unrestricted, unlimited role of Jesus’ disciples and apostles in the formulation of his message.

As for the Companions, the Successors, and the Successors of Successors, their role was restricted to the preservation and teaching of Prophet Muhammad’s message to people without reproduction of his miracles, derivation of any of the attributes of God, the authorship of the Qur’an or such other things attributed to Jesus’ disciples.

Were Jesus’ Disciples Biblically Misrepresented?

The portrait of Jesus’ disciples painted by the Bible in the New Testament is totally different from the one painted by the Qur’an.

The Qur’an confirms that the disciples believed in Jesus as a servant, messenger and prophet and did not distort Jesus’ message in general or the scriptures sent down to him in particular. The Qur’an tells us that distortion took place later, i.e. decades after Jesus’ Ascension.

About the disciples’ firm belief, in the Qur’an, we read:

But when Jesus felt [persistence in] disbelief from them, he said, “Who are my supporters for [the cause of] Allah ?” The disciples said,” We are supporters for Allah . We have believed in Allah and testify that we are Muslims [submitting to Him]. Our Lord, we have believed in what You revealed and have followed the messenger Jesus, so register us among the witnesses [to truth].” (Aal `Imran 3:52-53)

We also read:

And [remember] when I inspired to the disciples, “Believe in Me and in My messenger Jesus.” They said, “We have believed, so bear witness that indeed we are Muslims [in submission to Allah ].” (Al-Ma’idah 5:111)

The Qur’an tells us that the disciples believed in God and his Messenger Jesus and were “supporters of God”. As for disbelief, it was rather expressed by the children of Israel. About that, we read:

O you who have believed, be supporters of Allah, as when Jesus, the son of Mary, said to the disciples, “Who are my supporters for Allah?” The disciples said, “We are supporters of Allah.” And a faction of the Children of Israel believed and a faction disbelieved. So We supported those who believed against their enemy, and they became dominant. (As-Saff 61:14)

About the distortion of Jesus’ message, the Qur’an tells us that the claim that Jesus was killed and crucified was not made by the disciples but by the children of Israel. About that, we read:

And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah .” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain. Rather, Allah raised him to Himself. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise. (An-Nisaa’ 4:157-158)

It is observable that, in the Qur’an, disbelief, polytheism, or “excess in religion” in Jesus’ story is attributed to “People of the Scriptures”, “Christians”, “faction from the children of Israel”, or “denominations from the children of Israel”, rather than the disciples.

About the ascription of excess in religion to People of the Scriptures, we read in the Qur’an:

O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, “Three”; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs. (An-Nisaa’ 4:171)

About the ascription of disbelief and monotheism to Christians, we read:

The Jews say, “Ezra is the son of Allah “; and the Christians say, “The Messiah is the son of Allah .” That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved [before them]. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded? They have taken their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah, and [also] the Messiah, the son of Mary. And they were not commanded except to worship one God; there is no deity except Him. Exalted is He above whatever they associate with Him. (At-Tawbah 9:30-31)

About the ascription of disbelief to a faction / sect / denomination from the children of Israel, we read:

O you who have believed, be supporters of Allah, as when Jesus, the son of Mary, said to the disciples, “Who are my supporters for Allah?” The disciples said, “We are supporters of Allah.” And a faction of the Children of Israel believed and a faction disbelieved. So We supported those who believed against their enemy, and they became dominant. (As-Saff 61:14)

We also read:

Then the factions differed [concerning Jesus] from among them, so woe to those who disbelieved – from the scene of a tremendous Day. (Maryam 19:37)

We further read:

But the denominations from among them differed [and separated], so woe to those who have wronged from the punishment of a painful Day. (Az-Zukhruf 43:65)

And we read:

But they (mankind) have broken their religion among them into sects, each sect rejoicing in its tenets. (Al-Mu’minun 23:53)

The innocence of Jesus’ disciples of the exaggerated role ascribed to them in the Bible is evidenced by several biblical quotations. For example, at the end of the Gospel of John, we read:

“This is the disciple who testifieth of these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” (John 21:24-25)

In the above verses, there is evidence for the fact that the contents of the four gospels were not written by Jesus’ disciples but by other people who authored the gospels and ascribed their own writings to Jesus’ disciples.

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References:

  1. The Glorious Qur’an
  2. The Holy Bible
  3. Sahih Al-Bukhari
  4. Sahih Muslim

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