Discussion between Prophet Mohammad and the Major Religions
Imam Sadeq AS narrates a discussion between Prophet Mohammad PBUH and a group of 25 scholars, who were disciples of 5 different religions: Jews, Christians, Naturalists, dualists (like Mazdayasna) and idolists:
The jewish group started the debate and asked: “We believe that Uzair is God’s son. We want to know your opinion about him.”
Christians asked: “We believe Jesus is the son of God. How do you explain this?”
Naturalists said: “We believe that creation happened arbitrarily, and the creatures do not need a beginning and an end (there is no eternity).”
Dualists said: “We believe that the world is created by two forces: darkness and light.”
Idolaters said: “We worship our idols as Gods.”
Prophet Mohammad PBUH after praising God and reminding them that he is God’s Prophet and assigned to transfer God’s message to people, accosted the Jewish scholars and said: “Have you come to me to convince me to accept your words and beliefs without reason?”
They replied: No!
Prophet: Then based on what reason do you believe Uzair is God’s son?
Jews: Because he revived Torah after it was forgotten, and this can only be done by the Son of God.
Prophet: By such reason, Moses deserves more to be God’s son, because he was the one that Torah was revealed to him in the first place, and he had had so many more miracles than Uzair. Therefore, based on your reason Moses should have a higher position than being the Son of God (because Uzair had that position). If by being the Son of God you mean that God, like human beings, mated with His mate and a son like Uzair was born into this world, then you have degraded God and resembled Him to an earthly creature, and likened Him to His creatures, and this is blasphemy.
Jews: We did not mean such a thing. Because as you said that’s blasphemy. But by saying Uzair is the Son of God we are respecting him, even though physical birth would not have happened. Like calling a scholar and spiritual leader with such a name, it is a means of showing respect like the time when a scholar calls his pupils my sons, there does not necessarily exist a father-son relationship between them. Therefore, God chose Uzair to such position to show humans his respect and magnitude.
Prophet: your answer is what I explained earlier. If all these characteristics are enough to make God choose Uzair as His Son, Moses deserves more to be in such a position. Because based on what you claim, one of your elders might call another person who is respected to him with such names as “my son”, and the other person would call his senior as “my master” or “my father”; or another might call his respected friend, “my brother”. Therefore, the more respected the person gets, the more elevated the labels will get. Now should you not call Moses God’s father or brother (because you have called Uzair His son) because he had a higher position than Uzair?
Jews remained silent and took permission to think about Prophet’s answers.
Then Prophet Mohammad accosted the Christians and said: You believe that God who is eternal and immortal, has united with His Son, Jesus; but you are not explicit in your claim. What exactly do you mean?
Do you mean God, who is eternal, has started existing with another creature?
Or do you mean Jesus who is a created being (since he was not eternal) has elevated to God’s position and united with Him?
Or are you only respecting Jesus by giving him such a label (like Jews and Uzair)?
The first two cases are by reason impossible because how is it possible that an eternal being starts existing, or that a finite non-eternal being becomes eternal?! Therefore, being eternal, and being created are two opposite extremes that contradict each other.
By the third reasoning, it is clear that since Jesus is a creation of God; therefore, becoming God’s son and then being elevated to the position of God and sharing this characteristic with God would be unreasonable and impossible.
Christians: (By your claim) We mean that since Jesus was special to God, God gave him lots of miracles, and made him His special. We only intend to respect him.
Prophet: Then you have heard what I told Jews. And Prophet repeated what he had reasoned earlier to the Jews.
The Christians remained silent.
Suddenly one of them asked: Then how come you Muslims call Abraham, God’s friend? How come that is legible?
Prophet: These are two different issues. Abraham was called God’s friend (Khalil), because the word Khalil literally means needing, and the person is one who needs. Abraham was called as such, because he (humbly) felt himself dependent and needing God while he was totally strong and self-sufficient himself. He was given this name by God, during the ceremony in which he was going to be thrown into fire. In that event God sent Gabriel to help him. When Gabriel reached him, he told Abraham that he had come to help him. But Abraham replied, that he did not need any other creature’s help other than God, and that God was enough for him. God then gave him this epithet.
Khalil also literally means searching in the meaning of things. Abraham was called Khalil because he knew scientific secrets that nobody else did. Moreover, this label does not liken him to God or unite him with God. Abraham became God’s friend and Khalil because he separated himself from all other creatures but God. But father-son relationship is different, it is a physical relationship, and being a son is meaningful only during birth.
Also, if you claim that you can call Jesus God’s son, based on how we call Abraham, God’s friend; then you should also be calling Moses God’s son, because Moses also had miracles that were no less than Jesus. You should even as I told Jews, believe that Moses is God’s father, uncle, master.
A Christian asked: Jesus in Bible says: “I go to my father and your father.”
Prophet: you can interpret that saying in two ways:
If you say Jesus said, I am going to my and your father, father being God; therefore, all those listening to Jesus were also God’s sons.
But if you say that Jesus meant my and your father had been Adam and Noah, then that would make sense because Adam and Noah were also the audience’s fathers. And indeed Jesus meant this meaning.
The Christians remained silent and took permission to think about prophet’s replies.
Then Prophet Mohammad PBHH faced the naturalists and said: How do you say that things cannot have a reason for existence and have been eternal?
Naturalists: We only believe in things that we can sense. Since there has never been a beginning and will never be an ending for the created world, we believe that there is no beginning and no end.
Prophet: Have you seen with your own eyes, the eternal state of things? If you say yes, you should have been eternal yourselves, and this is unreasonable.
Naturalists: No, we have not seen that ourselves.
Prophet: Then how come you judge the eternal state of things while you haven’t sensed either their creation or they being eternal? By what criteria do you admit one state or negate the other? Have you not seen day and night and how they follow each other? Did this cycle exist in the previous generations and will it continue to exist?
Prophet: Would it be possible that this cycle could be disturbed, then, would day and night become one?
Naturalists: No that is not possible.
Prophet: then you are distinctly admitting that when one finishes, the other one appears?
Naturalists: Yes, They are so.
Prophet: Then by admitting it, you have indeed agreed that the cycle itself (time) has existed before day and night; therefore, day and night become created elements, while you did not have not the chance to sense it yourself. Then how can you deny God’s power (in creating the unforeseen?)
Prophet then continued: do you believe that day and night have a beginning and an end or are they unlimited? If you admit the first, you have admitted that they have had a creation phase, and in the second case, you have admitted an end which was eternal.
Naturalists: Yes, you are right.
Prophet: have you researched upon your belief that the world has been eternal and was not created?
Prophet: Don’t you see that all the creatures in this world are dependent upon each other for sustenance? Have you not noticed that when making a building, all the parts are dependent upon each other to make that building stand right? The same applies to the creatures of the world. If the parts and creatures of the world are dependent upon each other to work properly, how can some be eternal and some created? How would you explain the world if those creatures you believe were eternal were in fact created?
Naturalists remained silent, because no matter how they would define the creation, it would not be in accord with their description of an eternal thing.
Then Prophet Mohammad accosted the dualists and asked them: How come you believe as such?
Dualists: we believe that the world is made of two forces, evil and right (darkness and light). We found out that these two forces are opposites, therefore they should have different creators. Similar to the snow that is cold by nature and does not produce heat, or the fire that could not produce cold; it is against wisdom that one creator performs two opposites.
Prophet: do you not see all the different colors like black, white, yellow, red, green and gray? Don’t you see that some of them are opposites and cannot appear together in one place?
Prophet: Then why not consider multiple Gods for each color as their creators?
Dualists remained silent.
Prophet continued: How can light and darkness combine and result in this created world, while light is prone to ascension and darkness is prone to descension? Do you think that two passengers that are walking against each other, one to the west and the other to the east, would meet each other during their journey?
Dualists: No that is not possible.
Prophet: then how can light and darkness combine (and result in one created world) while they are by nature against each other. How can one world be created by the combination of two opposites?
Dualists asked for some time to think upon the answer.
Then prophet addressed the Arab idolaters and asked: why have you started worshiping idols instead of God?
Idolaters: we seek to get closer to God through worshipping these idols.
Prophet: Can these idols hear or do they worship the same God, through which you could get closer to God?
Idolaters: No, they cannot.
Prophet: Haven’t you sculpted them yourselves?
Idolaters: Yes we have.
Prophet: So now that you use these idols to get close to a God that you assume is wiser to your benefits than yourselves, is it not wiser that those idols worship you instead of you worshipping them, while that God has not commanded you to do so?!
The idolaters started to argue each other, some said: God had descended into the bodies of these sculptures based on the appearance we had given to these idols. By worshipping these idols we are in fact worshipping that God.
Some said: these idols resemble previous tribes that were pious and worshipped God, therefore, we worship God through them to show respect.
Others said: when God created Adam and ordered angels to prostrate to him, we were absent then. By bowing to these idols, which we made based on Adam’s figure, we are in fact performing our duty for the time we were absent. Like you Muslims, who pray and prostrate in mosques to a certain direction and on certain objects (Mohr), we also use these idols to get closer to God.
Prophet: But you have chosen the wrong path and have diverted from the right path.
Prophet then accosted the first group and said: it is not reasonable to say that God descended into the bodies of creatures resembling these idols, because then you have resembled God to His created beings. Also, isn’t this claim limiting God to a body form? Does God descend into a thing, which is His own creation and limited by Himself? What is the difference between the effects of God’s descent into bodies, and the effects of changes in smell, color, softness, lightness, heaviness? How can an eternal being become limited in a created (mortal) form, while the opposite is more likely to be true!? How can a God that has created everything be in need of one of His created things as His location, while God has been eternal, and that location has been created afterwards?!
When you explain God descending into a bodily form, you have made God prone to death, because anything that was once created will one day diminish. But God’s essence contradicts change and diminishing.
And if you believe that descent does not necessarily mean change in God’s essence; therefore, you should also not consider such causes as motion and stillness, black and white, and change of colors as making any changes to God’s essence; but consider all those changes possible for the bodily form and describe God only by those changes. (If God’s essence is not changeable, when the body form changes for whatever reason, God should not be affected by those changes, therefore, the bodily form can change as much as it can, and then you necessarily will describe God by that being’s changes, because that is what you are sensing). Therefore, you have again limited God to His creatures.
Therefore, now that the basis of your claim that God is descendible is refuted, your whole idea is refuted.
The first group of idolaters remained silent.
Prophet then addressed the second group: if you claim that you have created your idols and worship them based on your monotheistic precedents, then where is God’s place in your beliefs (Is God the one to be worshipped or those who worshipped God should be worshipped)? Do you not realize that one of the basics of worshipping God is that you do not equal Him to His creatures? For example, if you approach a king, and bow to him or respect him the same way you respect his servants, haven’t you insulted him by your behavior?
Idolaters said yes.
Prophet: then are you not insulting God by equaling His worship to the worship of His creatures?
They remained silent.
Then prophet accosted the third group and said: you compared Muslims to yourselves, while this is a wrong comparison. We believe we are submitted to God’s will and order. We obey what He says and how He likes us to worship Him. When God says that He wants us to worship Him while standing in the direction of Kaaba, or to worship in a certain way, we obey Him as such.
Considering your claim about prostrating of angels to Adam, God ordered angels to bow to Adam’s essence and being (God’s creation), and not to his bodily form. You cannot compare that to yourselves. Since God has never ordered His creatures to worship Him like that (through idols), how can you prove that the prostrating to your idols is pleasing God?
If somebody invites you to his house, is it polite to accept his invitation, but to go to his house on another time? Or if someone gives you as present, clothes, vehicles, or properties, is it polite if you take another one of his properties instead of the gift he has already bestowed upon you?
They said: No it is not polite, because we do not have the same permission in using the second ones, as we did for the first ones.
Prophet: Is disrespecting God ruder or disrespecting His creatures?
They said: God!
Prophet: then why do you worship these figures, when God has never directly ordered you to do so?
They also remained silent.
Imam Sadeq AS then said: I swear to the God that after three days all these 25 people who had come to disrespect prophet by their disputes converted to Islam.