By Sam Shamoun
Here I continue with the series I started where I take the very objections raised by the enemies of the Gospel and turn them against them. In this particular article I will be revisiting the Muslim use of the risen Lord’s words in Matthew 28:18 to undermine his perfect Deity and essential coequality with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Host: What about when Jesus said all authority was given to him?
Jamal Badawi: Matthew 28:18
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
If we took this literally, if all authority has been given to Jesus, what is the role of the Father. That means that the Father has all of the authority which has been given to the Son and He ceases to be God. That is impossible interpretation. It also says that the authority was given to him, not coming from him. The one who gives is superior to the one the receives. To be divine, you receive nothing from anyone because to receive means that you are not divine. (K15. RadioAl-Islam Channel RA 200, Did Jesus Claim Divinity V : Other "Claims")
This argument ends up proving too much since it proves that Allah cannot possibly be God or divine (which in fact he isn’t) in light of the plain teaching of the Quran that Allah depends on creatures to provide for his needs and wants.
For instance, Allah is said to inherit from others:
It is We who give life, and make to die, and it is We who are the inheritors. S. 15:23 Arberry
Surely We shall inherit the earth and all that are upon it, and unto Us they shall be returned. S. 19:40 Arberry – cf. Q. 19:80; 3:180
Allah is even called the best of those who receive an inheritance!
And (remember) Zakariya, when he cried to his Lord: "O my Lord! leave me not without offspring, though thou art the best of inheritors." S. 21:89 Y. Ali
In fact, one of the so-called beautiful names of Allah is al-Warith, which means “the Inheritor”!
Al-Wârith: The Inheritor
The One who inherits and continues after all others have ceased to be; thus all returns to Him. He is the true owner of all.
Al-Warith is one of the Ninety-Nine Names. (Aisha Bewley, Divine Names)
That’s not all. Allah actually asks for money from his creatures since we find the Quran repeatedly exhorting believers to grant him a loan. The Quran further promises that Allah will then pay them back even more than the amount he received from them:
Who is he who will lend to Allah a goodly loan? So he will increase it manifold for him, and he will have a noble reward… Surely, the men who give alms and the women who give alms, and those who lend to Allah a goodly loan - it will be increased manifold for them, and theirs will also be a honourable reward - S. 57:11, 18
If you lend to Allah a goodly loan (i.e. spend in Allah's Cause) He will double it for you, and will forgive you. And Allah is Most Ready to appreciate and to reward, Most Forbearing, S. 64:17 Hilali-Khan – cf. Q. 2:245; 73:20
[Sidenote: If Allah pays back more than is loaned to him… doesn’t this mean that Allah believes in interest or usury, something which is condemned in Islam?]
Such statements caused the Jews of Muhammad’s time to conclude that Allah must be rather poor if he needs creatures to loan him money. In fact, the Quran even records their reply to Muhammad asking his followers to help his god out by borrowing him some of their money:
God has heard the saying of those who said, 'Surely God is poor, and we are rich.' We shall write down what they have said, and their slaying the Prophets without right, and We shall say, 'Taste the chastisement of the burning -- S. 3:181
Here is what noted Muslim expositor Ibn Kathir wrote in respect to this text:
Allah Warns the Idolators
Sa`id bin Jubayr said that Ibn `Abbas said, “When Allah's statement…
(Who is he that will lend to Allah a goodly loan so that He may multiply it to him many times) [2:245] was revealed, the Jews said, ‘O Muhammad! Has your Lord become poor SO THAT HE ASKS HIS SERVANTS TO GIVE HIM A LOAN?’ Allah sent down…
(Indeed, Allah has heard the statement of those (Jews) who say: ‘Truly, Allah is poor and we are rich!’) [3:181].”
This Hadith was collected by Ibn Marduwyah and Ibn Abi Hatim. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir: capital and underline emphasis ours)
Other commentaries include:
(Verily Allah heard the saying of those who said…) [3:181]. ‘Ikrimah, al-Suddi and Muqatil ibn Ishaq related that, one day, Abu Bakr al-Siddiq entered a Jewish place of study and found a group of Jewish people gathered around one of them called Finhas ibn ‘Azura, who was one of their doctors. Abu Bakr said to Finhas: “Fear Allah and embrace Islam, for by Allah you know well that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah who has brought the truth to you from Allah. He is mentioned in your Torah; so believe and accept the truth and grant Allah a goodly offering and He will make you enter the Garden and multiply your reward”. Finhas responded: “O Abu Bakr, you claim that our Lord is asking us to lend Him our wealth. Yet, it is only the poor who borrow from the rich. And if what you say is true, it follows that Allah is poor and we are rich, for if He were rich He would not ask us to lend Him our wealth”. Abu Bakr al-Siddiq became very angry and struck the face of Finhas with a mighty blow. He then said to him: “By Him in whose Hand is my soul, if it were not for the treaty between us, O enemy of Allah, I would have killed you”. Finhas went to the Messenger of Allah and said: “O Muhammad! Look at what your companion has done to me”. The Messenger of Allah asked Abu Bakr: “What has driven you to do what you have done?” He said: “O Messenger of Allah, this enemy of Allah has said something very serious. He claimed that Allah is poor and they are rich. I therefore got angry for the sake of Allah and hit his face”. But Finhas denied that he ever uttered those words, and so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse (Verily Allah heard the saying of those who said…) to give the lie to Finhas and to confirm that Abu Bakr al-Siddiq said the truth. ‘Abd al-Qahir ibn Tahir informed us> Abu ‘Amr ibn Matar> Ja‘far ibn al-Layth al-Ziyadi> Hudhayfah Musa ibn Mas‘ud> Shibl> Ibn Abi Najih> Mujahid who said: “This verse was revealed about the Jews; Abu Bakr had struck the face of one of their men who said ‘Allah is poor and we are rich’ ”. Shibl commented: “I was informed that this man was Finhas the Jew, and it is also this man who said: (Allah’s hand is fettered) [5:64]”. ('Alī ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi, Asbab al-Nuzul: bold and italic emphasis ours)
The reasoning of the Jews was spot on since it is the poor who borrow from the rich. Therefore, if Allah asks for a loan then this must mean that he is poor and that those whom he is borrowing from are rich, or at least richer than himself!
The Jews further reasoned that Allah must be very cheap and stingy with his wealth since he would rather have his creatures spend on him than him spending on them:
The Jews Say That Allah's Hand is Tied up!
Allah states that the Jews, may Allah's continuous curses descend on them until the Day of Resurrection, describe Him as a miser. Allah is far holier than what they attribute to Him. The Jews also claim that Allah is poor, while they are rich. `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas commented on Allah's statement…
(The Jews say, “Allah's Hand is tied up.”) “They do not mean that Allah's Hand is literally tied up. Rather, they mean that He is a miser and does not spend from what He has. Allah is far holier than what they attribute to Him.” Similar was reported from Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Qatadah, As-Suddi and Ad-Dahhak. Allah said in another Ayah…
(And let not your hand be tied (like a miser) to your neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach (like a spendthrift), so that you become blameworthy and in severe poverty.) In this Ayah, Allah prohibits stinginess and extravagance, which includes unnecessary and improper expenditures. Allah describes stinginess by saying…
(And let not your hand be tied (like a miser) to your neck.) Therefore, this is the meaning that the Jews meant, may Allah's curses be on them. `Ikrimah said that this Ayah was revealed about Finhas, one of the Jews, may Allah curse him. We mentioned before that Finhas said…
(“Truly, Allah is poor and we are rich!”) and that Abu Bakr smacked him. Allah has refuted what the Jews attribute to Him and cursed them in retaliation for their lies and fabrications about Him. Allah said…
(Be their hands tied up and be they accursed for what they uttered.) What Allah said occurred, for the Jews are indeed miserly, envious, cowards and tremendously humiliated. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 5:64: underline emphasis ours)
Isn’t it interesting to see that both Abu Bakr and “Allah” have little or no idea how to respond to this critique other than either to beat up the questioner or curse him and threaten him? Surely, if that is not the meaning, if that was merely a misunderstanding on the part of the Jews, then Allah would have been able to eloquently clarify what the true meaning of “lending to God” is, and yet he didn’t!
Therefore, if Muhammadans like Badawi are to be consistent they must reject the godhood of Allah (which they should but for other reasons), since Allah cannot possibly be god or divine seeing that he receives an inheritance from others and has to ask people to grant him a loan. After all, it is Badawi who argued that, “the one who gives is superior to the one who receives. To be divine, you receive nothing from anyone because to receive means that you are not divine.”
As such, Allah cannot be divine nor can he be the greatest conceivable being. Rather, it is those who lend Allah their money and/or hand over their inheritance to him who are actually greater and superior per the logic of Badawi, since this shows that the Muslim deity clearly depends on them to supply him with his needs and desires.