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PAUL IN THE EARLY ISLAMIC SOURCES REVISITED

Make sure to read the document citing some of Islam’s earliest and greatest scholars, all of whom acknowledge that Paul was a truly inspired apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ:

The Apostle Paul In Early Islamic Exegesis https://answeringallah.com/the-apostle-paul-in-early-islamic-exegesis/

In this post I am going to address some of the objections raised in the following Muslim article against the notion that Islam’s earliest sources confirm that the Apostle Paul was a true inspired messenger of the Lord Jesus Christ, “Refuting the Claim Paul was a Messenger of Allah Or Mentioned in The Quran” (https://abeau11.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/paul-was-a-prophet-of-allah-or-mentioned-in-the-quran/).

I will try to make this refutation as brief as possible.

OBJECTION

Does The Verse Really Talk About Messengers (Rasul)?

Now we will go on to refute the idea that the verse is talking of a Rasul of Allah.

The Arabic text of the Quran clearly shows the word used for these three to be “mursaloon”. Mursaloon which is the plural of mursal means “sent one”. This word has been highlighted in the concerned verse above.

Rasul (pl. rusul) in Islam has a specific definition.

Generally the word means: ambassador, messenger, envoy, emissary, forerunner, apostle, and courier.

Mursal (pl. mursaloon) means: sent one

This word, in the Quran can or can not refer to a prophet of Allah. For example in the Quran we see the following verse:

وَإِنِّي مُرْسِلَةٌ إِلَيْهِم بِهَدِيَّةٍ فَنَاظِرَةٌ بِمَ يَرْجِعُ الْمُرْسَلُونَ

But indeed, I will send to them a gift and see with what [reply] the messengers will return. – [Quran 27:35]

The same word “mursaloon” has been used. So does this mean that the messengers that Bilqis sent were RUSUL?

RESPONSE

Note that the author(s) candidly admit(s) that mursal can refer to a prophet, which soundly refutes his/her/their desperate tirade against Paul. After all, if the term is applied to God’s inspired emissaries whom he sends then why waste everyone’s time with such nonsense?

With that said, the following passage uses both rusul and mursaleen interchangeably in reference to the inspired emissaries sent by God:

Verily, (many) Messengers (rusulun) were denied before you (O Muhammad), but with patience they bore the denial, and they were hurt, till Our Help reached them, and none can alter the Words (Decisions) of Allah. Surely there has reached you the information (news) about the Messengers (al-mursaleena) (before you). S. 6:34 Hilali-Khan

This again confirms what the Muhammadan(s) himself/herself/themselves acknowledged, namely, a mursal can be a prophet or inspired messenger sent to convey God’s revelations to mankind.

In fact, the very surah itself, e.g., chapter 36, refers to Muhammad as one of the mursaleen:

Truly, you (O Muhammad) are one of the Messengers (al-mursaleena), S. 36:3 Hilali-Khan

This isn’t the only place where this specific expression is applied to him:

These are the Verses of Allah, We recite them to you (O Muhammad) in truth, and surely, you are one of the Messengers (of Allah) (al-mursaleena). S. 2:252 Hilali-Chan

And those who disbelieve, say: “You (O Muhammad) are not a Messenger (mursalan).” Say: “Sufficient for a witness between me and you is Allah and those too who have knowledge of the Scripture (such as ‘Abdullah bin Salam and other Jews and Christians who embraced Islam).” S. 13:43 Hilali-Chan

Muhammad isn’t the only one:

The leaders of the arrogant party among his people said to those who were reckoned powerless – those among them who believed: “know ye indeed that Salih is an apostle (mursalun) from his Lord?” They said: “We do indeed believe in the revelation which hath been sent through him.”… Then they ham-strung the she-camel, and insolently defied the order of their Lord, saying: “O Salih! bring about thy threats, if thou art an apostle (al-mursaleena(of God)!” S. 7:75, 77 Yusuf Ali

So We sent this inspiration to the mother of Moses: “Suckle (thy child), but when thou hast fears about him, cast him into the river, but fear not nor grieve: for We shall restore him to thee, and We shall make him one of Our apostles (al-mursaleena).” S. 28:7 Yusuf Ali

And verily, Iliyas (Elias) was one of the Messengers (al-mursaleena). S. 37:123 Hilali-Khan

And verily, Lout (Lot) was one of the Messengers (al-mursaleena). S. 37:133 Hilali-Khan

And verily, Yunus (Jonah) was one of the Messengers (al-mursaleena). S. 37:139 Hilali-Khan

Finally, the author(s) failed to mention that the three messengers referred to in the story of S. 36:13-30 are in fact said to be rusul:

Then there came running, from the farthest part of the City, a man, saying, “O my people! Obey the apostles (al-mursaleena): Obey those who ask no reward of you (for themselves), and who have themselves received Guidance. It would not be reasonable in me if I did not serve Him Who created me, and to Whom ye shall (all) be brought back. Shall I take (other) gods besides Him? If (God) Most Gracious should intend some adversity for me, of no use whatever will be their intercession for me, nor can they deliver me. I would indeed, if I were to do so, be in manifest Error. For me, I have faith in the Lord of you (all): listen, then, to me!” It was said: “Enter thou the Garden.” He said: “Ah me! Would that my People knew (what I know)! – For that my Lord has granted me Forgiveness and has enrolled me among those held in honour!” And We sent not down against his People, after him, any hosts from heaven, nor was it needful for Us so to do. It was no more than a single mighty Blast, and behold! they were (like ashes) quenched and silent. Ah! Alas for (My) Servants! There comes not an apostle (rasoolin) to them but they mock him! S. 36:20-30 Yusuf Ali

It is obvious from the context that the transcriber(s) and/or editor(s) of the Quran is/are including the three messengers, whose story had just been mentioned, among those rusul whom the unbelievers mocked. There’s simply no way of getting around this exegetically and contextually.

OBJECTION

Another verse of the Quran:

فَلَمَّا جَاء آلَ لُوطٍالْمُرْسَلُونَ

At length when the messengers arrived among the adherents of Lut – [Quran 15:61]

Again the same word “mursaloon” is used. Does this mean that the angels which came to Lut were RUSUL?

Of course the answer to both the questions is “No”. None of them was a rasul but they were only ‘sent ones’. This word “mursaloon” simply means a messenger and not necessarily RasulAllah.

RESPONSE

Contrary to the above assertion, the angels are indeed identified as rusul!

There came Our apostles (rusuluna) to Abraham with glad tidings. They said, “Peace!” He answered, “Peace!” and hastened to entertain them with a roasted calf. But when he saw their hands went not towards the (meal), he felt some mistrust of them, and conceived a fear of them. They said: “Fear not: We have been sent against the people of Lut.” And his wife was standing (there), and she laughed: But we gave her glad tidings of Isaac, and after him, of Jacob. She said: “Alas for me! shall I bear a child, seeing I am an old woman, and my husband here is an old man? That would indeed be a wonderful thing!” They said: “Dost thou wonder at God’s decree? The grace of God and His blessings on you, o ye people of the house! for He is indeed worthy of all praise, full of all glory!” When fear had passed from (the mind of) Abraham and the glad tidings had reached him, he began to plead with us for Lut’s people. For Abraham was, without doubt, forbearing (of faults), compassionate, and given to look to God. “O Abraham! Seek not this. The decree of thy Lord hath gone forth: for them there cometh a penalty that cannot be turned back!” When Our apostles (rusuluna) came to Lut, he was grieved on their account and felt himself powerless (to protect) them. He said: “This is a distressful day.” And his people came rushing towards him, and they had been long in the habit of practising abominations. He said: “O my people! Here are my daughters: they are purer for you (if ye marry)! Now fear God, and cover me not with shame about my guests! Is there not among you a single right-minded man?” They said: “Well dost thou know we have no need of thy daughters: indeed thou knowest quite well what we want!” He said: “Would that I had power to suppress you or that I could betake myself to some powerful support.” (The Apostles) said: “O Lut! We are Apostles (rusulu) from thy Lord! By no means shall they reach thee! now travel with thy family while yet a part of the night remains, and let not any of you look back: but thy wife (will remain behind): To her will happen what happens to the people. Morning is their time appointed: Is not the morning nigh?” When Our Decree issued, We turned (the cities) upside down, and rained down on them brimstones hard as baked clay, spread, layer on layer, – Marked as from thy Lord: Nor are they ever far from those who do wrong! S. 11:69-83 Yusuf Ali

Allah chooses Messengers (rusulan) from angels and from men. Verily, Allah is All-Hearer, All-Seer. S. 22:75 Hilali-Khan

All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the (only) Originator [or the (only) Creator] of the heavens and the earth, Who made the angels messengers (rusulan) with wings, – two or three or four. He increases in creation what He wills. Verily, Allah is Able to do all things. S. 35:1 Hilal-Khan

OBJECTION

Further Deception by Christian Missionaries

The deceiving nature of these certain Christian missionaries is actually laughable. To support their claim they try to quote another verse from the Quran. The translation of that verse is given below:

Muhammad is no more than a Messenger – [Quran 3:144]

And they say that look Muhammad was also only a messenger like the other three. But if we read the verse of the Quran we see that the word used here is “rasul” and not the general term “mursaloon”. A general term for messenger was used for the three people in 36:14 but for Prophet Muhammad (saw) the special word “rasul” has been used in this verse.

Further the verse continues:

Many Were the messengers that passed away before him. – [Quran 3:144]

This part of the verse talks about the previous rusul of Allah. And in the Arabic text, for them, again the word “rasul” is used and not the common word mursaloon.

Hence clearly the three that the Quran is talking about in Surah Yasin (36) verse 14 were not “rasul”  but messengers (the sent ones) sent by Jesus on the directive of Allah.

Let’s give an example to make things clearer. If Allah informs Prophet Muhammad to send Omar to Persia for Da’wah does that not mean that Omar is a messenger (mursaloon)? Of course he is a messenger! But it can never mean that he is a rasul!

Further Evidence

For more evidence we have to read Surah 36 verse 16:

They said: “Our Lord doth know that we have been sent on a mission to you: – [Quran 36:16]

This is a significant verse. These three supposed rasul[sic] of God go to a city and there they do not say ‘Our Lord sent us on a mission’ but rather say ‘Our Lord knows that we have been sent.’

Clearly when a Rasul of Allah (i.e. Jesus in this case) sends a messenger (i.e. Paul, Shamoun, Yuhanna or any of the other names mentioned by scholars in this case) to another city, God knows that they have been sent. It does not mean that God actually chose them to be rasul and sent them.

RESPONSE

I have already refuted the author(s)’s nonsense concerning the distinction between rasul and mursal, so I will focus on his abject denial that the three messengers were personally sent by God himself.

All one needs to do to expose this dishonest claim is simply read the context:

And put forward to them a similitude; the (story of the) dwellers of the town, [It is said that the town was Antioch (Antakiya)], when there came Messengers to them. When WE SENT to them two Messengers, they belied them both, so WE REINFORCED them with a third, and they said: “Verily! We have BEEN SENT to you as Messengers.” They (people of the town) said: “You are only human beings like ourselves, and the Most Beneficent (Allah) has revealed nothing, you are only telling lies.” The Messengers said: “Our Lord knows that we have been sent as Messengers to you, And our duty is only to convey plainly (the Message).” S. 36:13-17 Hilali-Khan

How much clearer does the chapter need to be that the three messengers were commissioned and sent out by God Almighty himself? Do/does the writer(s) of this sham piece really think that the readers are that naive that they will not go back and check the surah to see whether their objection is a valid assertion supported by the context?

In light of this, it is obvious what these envoys meant when they stated that their Lord knows that they have been sent, i.e., the reason he knows is that he was the one who personally sent them!

OBJECTION

The Last Blow

It has clearly been refuted that according to the Quran or the Tafsir Paul was a Rasul of Allah. For the final blow to the deception which the Christian missionaries try to create let us take a look at a hadith of Prophet Muhammad.

There is a clear hadith from the mouth of Prophet Muhammad:

Narrated Abu Huraira: I heard Apostle saying, “I am the nearest of all the people to the son of Mary, and all the prophets are paternal brothers, and there has been no prophet between me and him (i.e. Jesus).” – [Sahih Bukhari Vol.4, Book 55, #651] This hadith has also been recorded in Sahih Muslim and Abu Dawud.

RESPONSE

At best, all this proves is that the Islamic sources contradict themselves since the citations provided in the initial post on Paul provided documentation from some of Islam’s greatest scholars that wholeheartedly upheld the view that Jesus’ apostles functioned as messengers and that Paul himself was a true follower who faithfully passed on the teachings of Christ.

With that said, even if one were to take the statement of this narration at face value, this still wouldn’t deny that Paul was a true messenger according to the Islamic sources, for two reasons.

First, both the Quran and Muslim tradition distinguish between a prophet and a messenger. This is based on the following verse:

Never did We send (arsalnaan apostle OR a prophet (rasoolin wala nabiyyinbefore thee, but, when he framed a desire, Satan threw some (vanity) into his desire: but God will cancel anything (vain) that Satan throws in, and God will confirm (and establish) His Signs: for God is full of Knowledge and Wisdom:S. 22:52 Hilali-Khan

In light of the foregoing, the most that Muhammad’s statement proves is that there were no prophets between him and Jesus, but says absolutely nothing about there being no messengers between them. And the story in surah 36 calls Jesus’ followers messengers, not prophets!

Second, Ibn Ishaq records that Muhammad believed that Jesus was still appearing on the earth during Muhammad’s own lifetime!

‘Asim b. ‘Umar b. Qatada on the authority of a trustworthy informant from ‘Umar b. ‘Abdu’l-‘Aziz b. Marwan said that he was told that Salman the Persian told the apostle that his master in ‘Ammuriya told him to go to a certain place in Syria where there was a man who lived between two thickets. Every year as he used to go from one to the other, the sick used to stand in his way and everyone he prayed for was healed. He said, ‘Ask him about this religion which you seek, for he can tell you of it.’ So I went on until I came to the place I had been told of, and I found that people had gathered there with their sick until he came out to them that night passing from one thicket to the other. The people came to him with their sick and everyone he prayed for was healed. They prevented me from getting to him so that I could not approach him until he entered the thicket he was making for, but I took hold of his shoulder. He asked me who I was as he turned to me and I said, ‘God have mercy on you, tell me about the Hanifiya, the religion of Abraham.’ He replied, ‘You are asking about something men do not inquire of today; the time has come near when a prophet will be sent with this religion from the people of the haram. Go to him, for he will bring you to it.’ Then he went into the thicket. The apostle said to Salman, ‘If you have told me the truth, YOU MET JESUS THE SON OF MARY.’ (The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth impression 1995],  p. 98; bold and capital emphasis mine)

Seeing that Muhammad believed that Christ was living on earth during his day, it is little wonder that the former believed that there were no prophets between them since all the prophets had long been dead, leaving only Jesus!

So much for the rather desperately feeble attempts of this/these Muslim(s) to deny what his/her/their earliest and most reliable sources teach regarding the blessed Apostle Paul. Unlike Muhammad, Paul was a true servant of God and inspired emissary of the risen Christ.

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