The purpose of this presentation is to explain the
doctrine of the Trinity, so that Muslims may understand the doctrine
the way that Christian scholars understand it. This
presentation should be helpful, because there are numerous
misdirected and stereotypic critiques of the doctrine of the
Trinity. It is hoped that this presentation will lead to a
better mutual understanding of this important Christian doctrine.
The doctrine of the Trinity is an ancient doctrine, and it finds
its origin in both the Old and New Testament scriptures. It
has been taught and defended by Christian scholars for the last two
thousand years. Probably the most surprising thing about
Muslim critiques of Trinitarianism is that those who critique the
doctrine know almost nothing about Christian scholarship on this
important subject. Their critiques would be vastly more
useful, if they had first studied the numerous Christian writings
before arguing against this doctrine of Allah (God). Even at
this late day, this doctrine is often stereotyped after the manner
of the ancient Greek pantheon of deities. It is amazing that
this is still being done since Christians for over the last two
thousand years have ardently taught that this false impression is
not the case. The intellectually honest thing for a Muslim to
do would be to read some orthodox Christian writers, for example,
Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas, on the Trinity before critiquing the
In addition, understanding the Trinity has been made more
difficult because Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, mischaracterized
the doctrine in the Qur'an. Since most Muslims are familiar
with the Qur'an before they study Trinitarianism, they are
disposed immediately to reject the doctrine out-of-hand before they
understand even its most basic outlines. I am aware that most
modern-day Muslim apologists know that Christians believe the
Trinity is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. So, they
have had to offer reasons contending that Muhammad did not really
teach that Allah (God), Christ Jesus, and Mary were the Trinity, in
spite of the fact the Qur'an clearly gives this impression.
O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor
say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was
(no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He
bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in
Allah and His messengers. Say not "Trinity": desist: it
will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him:
(far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things
in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of
affairs. Surah 4:171 (Yusufali).
And behold! Allah will say: "O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst
thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation
of Allah'?" He will say: "Glory to Thee! never could I say what I
had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst
indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I
know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is
hidden." Surah 5:116 (Yusufali)
Still, even if some of their arguments on this ayah were granted,
Muhammad demonstrated no basic understanding of the Christian
doctrine of the Trinity. Secondly, he presented no arguments
that succeed against the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity.
Thirdly, he did not distinguish adequately between the essence,
nature, and personhood of Allah. Fourthly, Muhammad did not
present an adequate view of Allah's knowledge and Allah's love which
are important aspects of the Lord of the Worlds.
Essentially the doctrine of the Trinity is the Christian doctrine
of the personhood of Allah. Before the creation of the
universe, Allah was the only existent being. Since Allah
existed alone in eternity before the creation of the worlds, the
personhood of Allah does not depend upon creation, time, or space.
The doctrine of the Trinity answers the question, What is the nature
of the personhood of this one infinite, eternal, and immutable
Being? Since Allah is a being who is radically different from
created beings, we should naturally anticipate that the doctrine of
the personhood of Allah would be more difficult to understand.
The Qur'an affirms, likewise, that "nothing is like unto Allah."
There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the All-Hearer, the
All-Seer." Ash-Shûra 42:11. (The Noble Qur'an).
The first thing necessary to have a Christian understanding of
the Trinity is to eliminate all materialistic ideas of Allah.
Secondly, it is important to recognize that the Qur'anic concepts of
the Trinity are wrong and are not useful to understand the Christian
conception of the Trinity. Thirdly, the doctrine of the
Trinity does solve the difficult question of the nature of the
Qur'an (Al-Kalaam) itself. How can the Qur'an be uncreated and
eternal? This was an important question in the early
development of the religion of Muhammad. This conundrum arose
because, if the Qur'an were uncreated and eternal, there would be
two eternal and uncreated entities: Allah and Al-Qur'an. This
duality shatters the concept of One Eternal and Uncreated Being. The
logic goes like this:
Is the Qur'an eternal or created?
If the Qur'an is created, then it is subject to corruption just
like all of creation.
If the Qur'an is eternal, is it Allah or not-Allah?
If it is Allah, then God is a composite.
If it is not-Allah, then there are two Allahs.
Fourthly, as is true in any field of study, it is necessary to
know the terms used to present the doctrine of the Trinity.
Terminology is vital to understand before the ramifications of a
study are developed. For example, in mathematics, it is
imperative to know the difference between terms like axioms,
theorems, calculus, variables, constants, and equations.
Likewise, it is equally important to know the terms used to define
and explain the doctrine of the Trinity. Sure, it would be
easier to skip the terminology and be satisfied with false Muslim
stereotypes, but this would defeat our learning and understanding
the Trinity. Maybe adding and subtracting are all we need to
know for our day-to-day lives. But, limiting ourselves to
adding and subtracting would mean that we would never appreciate the
realm of more abstract mathematics.
Last edited 02/26/2000
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