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The first point of objection raised by the Christian friend is about the rejection of Jesus:
In fact, every prophet was rejected by their people at some point in their lives; especially in the early part of their mission, as narrated in Luke 4:14-30. And further on when they became accepted by a large section of the people we may say that the rejected stone became the cornerstone, as it were. But what we meant by rejection here is in the larger context of the Bible, where it is made clear that the firstborn of Abraham was rejected: Read Genesis 21:8-14:
8 The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”
11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son.12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring[b] will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”
14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba……
17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”
Thus it is clear how the rejected stone (Ishmael) later becomes the cornerstone of a great nation comprising his children led by Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
The second point raised by the Christian friend is about the statement that John was asked 3 questions. It is said he was only asked two questions: “John first states that he is not the Messiah (John 1:20) and then he gets asked two questions (John 1:21)”
Let us see the verses in full: John 1:19-21 (KJV)
19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?
20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.
It is beyond me what the Christian friend means by saying that John answered only two questions.
Here are the three questions asked by the priests and Levites:
- Who art thou? Answer: “I am not the Christ”
- Art thou Elias? Answer: “I am not (Elias)”
- Art thou that Prophet? Answer: “No (I am not that Prophet)”
In the above passage, we see a clear reference to three distinct persons: The Christ, Elias and “that Prophet”. There is no confusion about the first two. But what about “that Prophet”?
Indeed the Christian apologists bend over backward to argue that Christ and “that Prophet” are the same person! But that is not an interpretation warranted by the above passage in John 19.
Then there is the question: “How could Mohammad dwell in us like John 14:17 says. Do you think that Mohammed lives in you?”
We do not believe that Muhammad (peace be upon him) dwells in us the same way the Christians may believe about Jesus. But then, if Jesus dwells in the believers, how could they lead a life of sin, as in many cases?
Or can we say that a Prophet lives in the believers to the extent they follow his teachings in their lives? We Muslims have no objection to such an interpretation of that verse.
That the various books of the Bible were written by persons who lived in different periods of history and were not preserved from distortion or interpolation. The proponents of Bible criticism – form criticism, textual criticism, historical criticism and so forth – are mostly Christian scholars. To say that the Bible is corrupted does not mean that it is completely unreliable as scripture. It only means that there are several verses in them that do not correspond to what has really happened in history. This is indeed a topic that would take up a great deal of space and time, and so we would leave it to those who are really interested in studying them.
And Allah knows best.
I hope this helps.
Salam and please keep in touch.
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