Q & A: Christians say that Muslims limit the Creator

June 15, 2008

Someone asked: I have a question that I was hoping Shaykh Abu Adam could answer: How do we (the Ash’aris and Maturidis) respond to Christians who say that when Muslims state that the Creator cannot become human (as the Christians claim about Isa (alayhis salam)), they are limiting God and, therefore, this makes the Creator not all powerful. They claim that if the Creator is all poweful, then He would have to power and ability to become human, if Allah wills. How do the ‘ulema of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’a respond to this?

Answer: First of all, one must be careful of how they frame their questions. You had stated, “Question: Muslims Limit the Creator.” The correct way of saying this would be to say, “Christians say that Muslims limit the Creator.” Whenever you say something that is kufr, and you want to attribute that statement to a kafir, then make sure you mention the attribution as well. So whenever you want to mention a kufr statement, always say, “So and so said such and such,” and then mention the statement. The “so and so” is important.

Now, to your actual question.

Let’s begin by considering a simple example. If I say, “Can you draw a square circle?” you would respond, “That’s an absurd question.” This is known as a contradiction in terms.

Let’s take a more subtle example. Can you contain infinity? Again, the obvious response is, “What in the world does this mean?” The answer to this question is obvious. Something can only be contained in some space (for example water in a bottle) if it is limited (say 3 liters of water). How can you “contain” infinity if “containment” requires finiteness?

A similar reasoning will apply to the Christian argument. The Christians state that, “Since Allah can do anything, that Allah has complete control over everything, He can turn Himself into a man, or can contain Himself in a man, or is a man.” Now think about the two examples I gave you above. Don’t they look the same? To be a man, is to be part of creation. Sayyiduna Isa alaihissalam is a man, therefore he is part of creation. To be created is to have come into existence. To have come into existence is to have a beginning. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is Al-Awwal which means that He is attributed with Beginninglessness. Christians accept the Beginninglessness of Allah, which means that Allah is not subject to sequential moments of time like His creation is. Thus how can one say that “God became man,” or “God turned Himself into a man,” or “God contained Himself in a man,” without accepting that such a proposition would lead to an absurdity? Saying that “God became man,” is like saying, “God ended His Beginninglessness,” and this is clear kufr, as well as being logically absurd. The Christians accept the Beginninglessness while believing in the false idea of “God becoming man.” However, the two are mutually contradictory. You cannot believe in one while believing in the other.

To make matters clear, if one says that, “God became man,” and at the same time one says that “God is Al Awwal,” such a person is holding two mutually contradictory beliefs. If one believes that Allah is Al Awwal, then one must also necessarily accept that Allah has absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to His creation. When one says that, “God became man,” such a person has automatically violated His belief in Allah’s Begininnglessness. Now either such a person believes in on or the other. If he believes in both, he needs to get his head checked.

Off course the Christians have more sophisticated arguments than this, but since this is the way you have presented your question, I think the above answer should suffice.

Authored by Ibn Mazhar

Checked, revised and approved by Shaykh Abu Adam al Nauiji