Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Jews say "Ezra is son of Allah"? (Sura 9:30)


بسم الله الرحمٰن الرحيم

والصلاة والسلام على رسوله الكريم

وعلى اهل بيته الطيبين الطاهرين المظلومين

والعاقبة للمتقين

One of the objections leveled against the divine-authorship of the holy Quran, especially from the Jewish quarter, is that it has falsely attributed a doctrine to Judaism which the latter is absolutely free from:

وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ عُزَيْرٌ ابْنُ اللَّـهِ وَقَالَتِ النَّصَارَى الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ اللَّـهِ

The Jews say, “Uzayr is the son of Allah” and the Christians say, “the Messiah is the son of Allah”

(Sura 9:30)

Admittedly, the the divine sonship of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, is a defining doctrine of Christianity (with the exception of a few minor denominations such as the Unitarians). But in this Verse, it is alleged that Jews believe about Uzayr that he is the “son of God” along the same lines that Christians confess Jesus is the “son of God”. Yet it is quite apparent that there is no such doctrine in Judaism, which, like Islam, strictly upholds the oneness of God and considers the deification of any human being as avodah zarah (idolatry).

It is generally understood that Uzayr in the Quran is a reference to the Biblical figure Ezra. Muslim scholars are divided over whether Uzayr was one of the prophets of Allah. The Quran is silent on the matter, and has only mentioned Uzayr explicitly in this Verse. Even the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) has said:

وَمَا أَدْرِي أَعُزَيْرٌ نَبِيٌّ هُوَ أَمْ لاَ

“I do not know if Uzayr was a prophet or not”

(Sunan Abi Dawud #4674)

The majority of exegetes claim that the man spoken of in Sura 2:259, whom Allah caused to die for a hundred years then raised back to life, is none other than Uzayr. However, based on my own research with strong proofs, Sura 2:259 is speaking of the prophet Ezekiel and his vision of the valley of dry bones, but Allah knows best. Quite recently, some Muslim apologists have stated that Uzayr is not Ezra, as the Arabicized name of Ezra is عَزْرا (Azra) and not Uzayr. Although this argument doesn’t lack merit, the fact of the matter is, whether Uzayr is Ezra or someone else such as Metatron, when the Quran says that the Jews say Uzayr is the son of Allah, it is not necessarily referring to all the Jews or any doctrine of orthodox Judaism. The Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) in 7th century Arabia, who had encounters and dealings with the Jewish community in Medina. It is in the context of these specific Jews that the Quran condemns their belief that Uzayr is the son of Allah. It is quite apparent that the Quran is not disclosing some unknown matter to his Prophet regarding the doctrines of Judaism, only pointing out to him that what the Jews are saying about Uzayr is an example of their deviation. Scholars and historians know that the specific Jewish community in 7th century Arabia were different in terms of certain beliefs and practices from the mainstream and orthodox Jews. Many of those Jews in Arabia were in fact Judaized converts, and they exhibited syncretism in their local practice and understanding of Judaism. The classical tafasir and mufassirin confirm the fact that this saying “Uzayr is the son of Allah” was specifically that of a group of the Jews in Medina, and not a universally held to by the majority of Jews globally. In fact, there are even reports in the classical books of exegesis that this was the statement of a single individual among the Jews named Finhas:

اختلف أهل التأويل في القائل { عُزَيْرٌ ابْنُ اللَّهِ } فقال بعضهم كان ذلك رجلاً واحداً، هو فنحاص. ذكر من قال ذلك حدثنا القاسم، قال ثنا الحسين، قال ثني حجاج، عن ابن جريج، قال سمعت عبد الله بن عبيد بن عمير، قوله { وَقالَتِ اليَهُودُ عُزَيْرٌ ابْنُ اللَّهِ } ، قال قالها رجل واحد، قالوا إن اسمه فنحاص، وقالوا هو الذي قال

{ إنَّ اللَّهَ فَقِيرٌ ونَحنُ أغْنِياءُ }

The people of Ta’wil (interpretation of the Quran) differed about the sayer of “Uzayr is the son of Allah”. Some of them said it was a single man, Finhas. Ibn Jurayj said he head Abd Allah bin Ubayd bin Umayr about His saying “the Jews says Uzayr is the son of Allah”, he said, this is the saying of a single man whose name is Finhas, the one who (also) said: “Verily, Allah is impoverished and we are rich” (Sura 3:181)

(Tafsir Ibn Jarir)

The fact that the Quran has only mentioned this once and not repeatedly, unlike its condemnation of the Christian doctrines of trinity and deification of Christ, which are repeated throughout the sacred text, is quite significant. It points to the fact that the Quran itself considers this as an isolated case of the perversion of a few Jews and not at the same level of the Christians, within whom confessions of outright tritheism are well established and pervasive.

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