Course outline:

1. God
a. His transcendence
b. His immanence
c. His relation to creatures
2. Spiritual creatures
a. Jinn
b. Satan/Iblîs
c. Satans
d. The "spirit"
e. Angels
3. Prophets
a. In the Old Testament
b. In the New Testament
c. In the Qur'ân
4. Books
a. The Bible
b. The Qur'ân
5. The Last Day
a. Old Testament
b. New Testament
c. Qur'ân


The Bible
The Qur'ân
Rahman, Fazlur, Major themes of the Qur'ân
Jomier, Jacques, The Bible and the Qur'ân
Jomier, Jacques, Les grands thèmes du Qur'ân
Cragg, Kenneth, The mind of the Qur'ân
Seale, M.S., Qur'ân and Bible
Noldeke, Th., Geschichte des Qorans
Horovitz, Josef, Koranische Untersuchungen
Izutsu, T., God and man in the Qur'ân
Goldziher, I., Die Richtungen der Islamischen Koranauslegung
McKenzie, John, Dictionary of the Bible
The New Jerome Biblical Commentary
The New Jerusalem Bible

1. God

a. His transcendence

Islam and Christianity (following Judaism) insist that God is completely different from the world that we know and experience. He is beyond, above and separate from it. Yet these religions represent barely a half the world's population.

The opposite viewpoint is atheism, which denies the existence of anything beyond this universe, or pantheism, which makes God part of the universe as a spiritual force or soul permeating everything. These viewpoints are very widespread. Atheism, or agnosticism, is found in Marxism and in secular humanism, a dominant force in the "West". Pantheism is the underlying philosophy of Asian religions such as Buddhism. It is diffused in the West in many forms, for example in the books of Kazanzakhis (author of The Last Temptation of Christ), and in films which talk about "the force" rather than God.

God's transcendence is expressed in the Qur'ân (42:11): "There is none like him". Compare Isaiah: "To whom can you compare God? What image can you contrive of him?"(40:18) and "'To whom can you compare me, or who is my equal?' says the Holy One" (40:25; cf. 46:5; 2 Sam 7:22; Acts 17:29).

b. His immanence

On the other hand Muslims and Christians teach that God is everywhere by his knowledge, power and wisdom, and that creation manifests these attributes of God. Paul says, "The invisible existence of God and his everlasting power have been clearly seen by the mind's understanding of created things" (Rom 1:20). And the Qur'ân frequently refers to the things of nature as "signs" of God, reasons for believing in him and thanking him (e.g. 2:164). Many early Christians writers spoke of an "analogy" between creation and the Creator, meaning that creatures are made after a pattern in the mind of God; so they use the image of fingerprints to say that all creation bears a trace of the Creator.

Going further, in Genesis 1:27 we read: "God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him." This is usually understood as referring to man's powers of intellect and will by which he shares in God's mastery over the earth (Gen 1:28). Qur'ânic thought is different. Nowhere in the Qur'ân is it said that man is God's image. Such an assertion would seem to hint that God has associates, and constitute the sin of shirk.

Going beyond the level of natural similarity to God, Paul talks of the supernatural life of those who are a "new creation" (2 Cor 5:17): "You have stripped off your old behaviour with your old self, and you have put on a new self which will progress towards true knowledge the more it is renewed in the image of its Creator" (Col 3:10). "He decided beforehand who were the ones destined to be moulded to the pattern of his Son" (Rom 8:29), "the image of the unseen God" (Col 1:15). "All of us, with our unveiled faces like mirrors reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the image that we reflect in brighter and brighter glory" (2 Cor 3:18). "The greatest and priceless promises have been lavished on us, that through them you should share the divine nature" (2 Pet 1:4).

This language is distinctly Christian, applying to the life of sanctifying grace in this life and glory in the next.

c. His relation to creatures

African (and other) traditional religions are sometimes called "diffused monotheism". They hold for the existence of a supreme transcendent God, but focus their attention on created intermediaries who govern the events of our day to day life. These intermediaries are not considered pure agents of God, but have independent personalities and private interests. Humans must please and placate them in addition to pleasing God, just as in human society lower officials have to be attended to as well as the number-one man.

Islam and Christianity also admit the existence of intermediary spiritual creatures between God and men, but they are considered pure servants of God in no way competing with him.

2. Spiritual creatures:

One of the greatest attractions Islam has had for followers of African traditional religion is the fact that the Qur'ân takes the existence and danger of spirits seriously, and attempts to provide a means of protection in the power of God watching over believers.

a. Jinn

Jinn were the spirits familiar to the Arabs in their traditional religion. Some were harmful, causing madness (The name for a madman is majnûn), and working for witches. Others were helpful, inspiring poets and diviners. The Qur'ân says that Solomon tamed many jinn and harnessed them to do his wishes (27:17,39-42; 34:12-14). These the Qur'ân says are created of fire (15:27; 55:15). Some lead people astray (41:29) and people take them as partners of God and sacrifice their children to them (6:100). So these are destined to Hell (6:128; 11:119; 32:13; 41:25). Others listen to the Qur'ân from Muhammad and are converted (72:1-19; 46:29-32).

b. Satan or Iblîs

Iblîs (= the Greek diabolos) in the Qur'ân seems to be the same as Satan (a Hebrew word), described as an angel (2:34-36; 7:11-22 etc.) or one of the jinn (18:50), made of fire (38:76) who refused to bow down to Adam and was cast out of Paradise (2:34; 7:11; 15:28-31; 17:61; 18:50; 20:116; 38:71-4). He is allowed to tempt men (17:61-64; 2:168ff; 8:48; 16:63), whispering in the hearts of men (7:20; 20:120; 114:4-6 -jinn). He can even confuse prophets in their messages (22:52). Hârût and Mârût are two evil angels of Babylon (2:102).

Paul says, "Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light" (2 Cor 11:14). Some may hold to a false gospel because of "an angel from heaven" (Gal 1:8). Satan is a fallen angel (Lk 10:18; 2 Pt 2:4; Jd 6; Rev 12:9-10). The Jews in the time of Christ also called Satan "Beelzebul", after the Canaanite divinity meaning "Baal the Prince" (Mt 12:24 etc.). He is "the prince of this world" (Jn 12:31), "the strong one" (Mt 12:29; Mk 3:27; Lk 11:21), "the evil one" (Mt 13:19), who tempts Jesus (Mt 4:1; Mk 1:13; Lk 4:2), enters the heart of Judas (Jn 13:2), deceives and leads astray (Mt 13:19par, 13:39; Lk 22:31; Ac 5:3; 1 Cor 7:5; 2 Cor 2:11; Eph 6:11; 1 Tm 3:7, 5:15; 2 Tm 2:26; 1 Pt 5:8), and disturbs people physically (Lk 13:16; 2 Cor 12:7; 1 Thes 2:18). But Jesus has overcome him (Jn 12:31), although he is allowed a short time to work havoc (Rev 12:12, 20:2). He has followers among men (1 Jn 3:10, 8:44, 6:70; Rev 2:9, 3:9; 1 Thes 2:9).

c. Satans

In the Qur'ân some satans were subjected to Solomon and were builders and divers for him (21:78-82; 38:37). In general, however, satans are considered evil spirits who tempt people (2:102; 6:71,121; 7:27). They are assigned to unbelievers (19:83; 43:36; 17:27; 19:68; 27:65).

Paul speaks of "a messenger of Satan" (2 Cor 12:7).

d. The "spirit"

The Qur'ân is not very clear about the identity of the "spirit"(56:89; 4:171; 12:6; 16:2; 17:85; 40:15; 58:22; 70:4; 78:38; 97:4; 42:52; 19:17; 21:91; 66:12; 32:9; 15:29; 38:72), "spirit of God" (16:87), "holy spirit" (2:87,253; 5:110; 16:102), or "faithful spirit" (26:193). In some contexts it appears to be one of the angels (16:2; 40:15; 70:4; 78:38; 97:4). Muslim tradition identifies the spirit with Gabriel because of his role in mediating revelation to Muhammad (42:52).

For Christianity the Spirit is the third person of the Trinity.

e. Angels

The Arabic word for angels, malâ'ika, may have come from Ethiopic and originally from Hebrew. As the Arabs had much contact with foreigners in the period immediately preceding Muhammad, much foreign vocabulary and religious ideas had been absorbed into Arabic culture. The idea of "angels", in some ways duplicating the role of jinn, was one such import. Let us look first at the Biblical descriptions of angels.

The word "angel" in the Old Testament (malak) means "messenger". The oldest texts (Gen 16:7; 22:11; Ex 3:2; Jg 2:1 etc.) speak of the "angel of Yahweh" or "of God" (Gn 21:17; 31:11; Ex 14:19) not as a created being distinct from God, but as God himself in visible form (Cf. Is 63:9). Other passages suppose a distinct personal heavenly being (Ex 23:20; Ps 34:8; 35:5-6; Tb 12:15; Zc 1:7- 6:15). It was thought that the transcendent God would not speak directly to men, but through an intermediary.

Another Old Testament angelic role was that of the army, retinue, or court of God (Jos 5:14; 1 K 22:19); Ps 89:6; Jb 5:1; Dn 8:13), or the "sons of God" (Ps 21:1; 89:7; Jb 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). They praise Yahweh (Ps 103:20; 148:2; Lk 2:9ff, 12:8, 15:10; 1 Cor 11:10; 1 Tm 5:21; 2 Thes 1:7).

The Cherubim guard Eden (Gn 3:24) and the ark (Ex 25:10-22; 37:7-9) and the temple Holy of Holies (1 K 6:23ff). Yahweh is enthroned upon the cherubim (1 S 4:4; 2 S 6:2; 2 K 19:15; 1 Ch 13:6; Ps 80:2, 99:1; Is 37:16), and rides on them (Ps 18; 2 S 22). Images of cherubim abound in Babylon and throughout the ancient Middle East. The Hebrew simply adopted the traditional cultural concept and adapted it to their religious schema of Yahweh as the only God who uses all such creatures to protect his people.

Some angels are named: the messenger Gabriel (Dn 8:16ff, 9:21ff; Lk 1:11ff, 2;6ff) and the warrior prince Michael (Dn 10:13,21). Other unnamed ones minister to Jesus after his temptation (Mt 4:11; Mk 1:13) and during his agony (Lk 22:43; Mt 26:43), and witness to his resurrection (Mt 28:2; Lk 24:23; Jn 20:12). They guard children (Mt 18:10). They carry Lazarus to Abraham's bosom (Lk 16:22), accompany Jesus in his second coming (Mt 16:27; Mk 8:38; Lk 8:26) and gather people for the last judgment (Mt 13:41,49, 24:31; Mk 13:27). Angels appear often in Acts (5:19, 12:7ff, 10:3ff, 8:26, 27:23, 12:23).

In the Qur'ân angels are subordinate and created beings (21:26; 43:19) who go up to God (70:4), winged (35:1) messengers of God (15:8; 35:1), bearers of revelation (16:2; 97:4), particularly Gabriel (2:97; 81:19-25). They watch over men (13:11; 86:4) and record their deeds (6:61; 50:17-18; 82:10-12 - "angels" implied in these passages). They gather the souls of men at death (7:37, 16:28,32; 32:11 "The angel of death",). They accompany God in the final judgement (2:210; 39:75; 69:17; 89:22), presumably presenting the records of men's deeds. They guard the fire of Hell (66:6; 74:31). They also surround the throne of God and sing his praises and intercede for men (33:43; 40:7-9; 42:5). They come down on the "night of power" (97:4; cf. 19:64). Michael is mentioned with Gabriel (2:98), but nothing is said about his role. Angels are said to have fought on the side of the believers at Badr (8:9).

Islamic tradition adds the names of other angels borrowed from Jewish apocryphal literature: Ya`atafayâ'il, `Alafayâ'il, `Ajabayâ'il, Isrâfîl, `Azrâ'îl, `Atfiyâ'il, and `Alâyâyil (Cf. Umm Mûsâ).

3. Prophets:

a. Old Testament

The Hebrew word for prophet (nabî') probably means "one called" by God to speak for him. Elsewhere in the ancient world there were cults in which men became frenzic or ecstatic and delivered messages from their god. These resemble the "sons of the prophets" of 1 Sam 10:5-12 & 19:20-24; 1 K 18:4; 2 K 2:3-18, 4:38ff, 6:1ff, 9:1. But leaders of such groups were quite different from any other religious men in the Middle East. Samuel was the first such recognized prophet. "A man who is now called a 'prophet' used to be called a 'seer' in olden days" (1 Sam 9:9). Samuel was not ecstatic, but gave oracular responses as a judge and the one who anointed Saul (1 Sam 1-12). There was a series of many prophets during the period of the monarchy. Some of these were supporters of kings (some called false prophets); others were their opponents and critics, such as Elijah and Elisha.

In retrospect some persons in early Israel are called prophets: Abraham (Gn 20:7), Aaron (Ex 7:1), Miriam (Ex 15:20), and above all Moses (Nm 12:6-8; Dt 34:10, 18:15-19).

True prophets were called by God (e.g. Am 7:15; Is 6; Jr 1:4-10). The divine message comes to them sometimes by vision (Is 6; Ez 1,2,8; Dn 8-12; Zk 1-6), sometimes by hearing, but usually by internal inspiration. A prophet speaks from a mysterious, mystical direct contact with God, which gives him a message which is not his own. A prophet for the most part speaks not to individuals, but to the nation as a whole or to its king. He communicates the will of God, and sometimes foretells events (e.g. 1 S 10:1ff; Is 7:14; Jr 28:15ff, 44:29-30). Later prophets (such as Isaiah) are dominated by the realization of the ultimate triumph of God and salvation of his people.

How could a genuine prophet be recognized? The OT offers two criteria: the fulfillment of a prophesy (Dt 18:22; Jr 28:9; 1 S 10:1ff; Is 7:14; Jr 28:15ff, 44:29-30), and more importantly the agreement of the prophet's teaching with true worship of Yahweh (Dt 13:1-6; Jr 23:22).

The Old Testament prophets centered their preaching on: 1) monotheism, emphasizing that Yahweh is the only God and master of the universe, and not just one among many divinities; 2) justice, and 3) future salvation. Towards the end of the exile the latter became prominent (particularly in Ezekiel & Daniel). Then the prophetic movement died out, but an outpouring of the Spirit is promised for messianic times (Jl 3:1-5).

The prophets were first and foremost speakers or preachers, not writers. They may have written or dictated some parts, while others were preserved by oral tradition and edited later. The prophetic books of the OT combine three literary forms: 1) pronouncements of God or by the prophet in God's name, 2) narratives in which the prophet relates his own experiences, 3) narratives about the prophet in the third person. The latter passages were put in by an inspired editor (e.g. Jr 37-44, by Baruch; cf. 36:32).

b. The New Testament

Prophesy revived in messianic times, e.g. with Zechariah, Hannah, Simeon and John the Baptist (Lk 1-3). Jesus claimed the title of prophet only indirectly (Mt 13:57par; Lk 13:33), but the crowds gave it to him clearly (Mt 16:14par, 21:11,46; Mk 6:15par; Lk 7:16,39, 24:19; Jn 4:19, 9:17). Jesus warned against false prophets (Mt 24:11,24par). People expected "the prophet" foretold by Moses (Dt 18:15). John the Baptist denied that he was this prophet (Jn 1:21); Christian faith recognizes that Jesus alone was this prophet (Jn 6:14, 7:40; Ac 3:22-26).

There are also NT prophets, charismatics (1 Co 12:1), who speak in God's name, being inspired by his Spirit. The Spirit is bestowed generously under the new covenant (Ac 2:17-18), to all the people (Ac 19:6; 1 Co 11:4-5, 14:26,29-33,37). Particular individuals are so specially endowed with charisms that they are referred to as "prophets" (Ac 11:27, 13:1, 15:32, 21:9,10). These normally occupy the second place after the apostles in the order of charisms (1 Co 12:28-29; Ep 4:11 - but Lk 11:49; Rm 12:6; 1 Co 12:10); this is because they are the appointed witness of the Spirit (1 The 5:19-20; Rv 2:7), whose revelations they communicate (1 Co 14:6,26,30; Ep 3:5; Rv 1:1), just as the apostles are witnesses to the risen Christ (Ac 1:8; Rm 1:1) and proclaim the good news (Ac 2:22). They do not simply foretell the future (Ac 11:28; 21:11), or read hearts (1 Co 14:24-25; 1 Tm 1:18). When they "edify, exhort, console" (1 Co 14:3; Ac 4:36, 11:23-24), they do so by a supernatural revelation; in this they resemble those who "speak strange languages" (Ac 2:1,4, 19:6), but their gift is greater because their speech is intelligible (1 Co 14). Their chief work was evidently to explain the prophecies of Scripture, especially those of the OT prophets (1 P 1:10-12), under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and thus expound the mystery of the divine plan (Rm 16:25; 1 Co 13:2; Ep 3:5). For this reason they are named with the apostles as the foundation of the Church (Ep 2:20). The Revelation of John is a typical example of this NT prophecy (Rv 1:3, 10:11, 19:10, 22:7-10,18-19). For all its dignity, the prophetic charism communicates knowledge that is imperfect and provisional, being bound up with faith (Rm 12:6), which is itself destined to vanish in face of the beatific vision (1 Co 13:8-12).

Concerning the OT prophets, the NT says that God spoke through them (Mt 1:22, 2:15; Lk 1:70; Ac 3:18,21; Rm 1:2) or in them (Hb 1:1), or the Spirit was revealing through them (1 Pt 1:11), and they spoke moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pt 1:21). Events of the NT are seen as fulfilling what the OT prophets foretold (Lk 24:27; Jn 1:45; Ac 2:3, 3:18,24, 7:52, 8:34, 28:23; Rm 1:2, 9:29; 1 Pt 1:11; 2 Pt 3:2; and throughout Mt).

c. In the Qur'ân

A variety of words is used in the Qur'ân to designate prophets. The most common is rasûl (messenger), which applies to men and angels. Other words are bashîr (announcer - of good or evil), nadhîr (warner), and mudhakkir (reminder). In Mecca Muhammad is told that he is only a "reminder", without authority to compel his hearers (musaytir); God will demand an account of and punish the unbelievers (88:21-26). Only in the Medinan period was Muhammad commanded to fight the unbelievers (e.g. 9:29,73).

Another word for a prophet is nabî, which is the same as the Hebrew word. In fact the Qur'ân the term only for Biblical characters and Muhammad. Muhammad is called khâtam an-nabiyyîn (33:40 "seal of the prophets"), which originally may have meant "one confirming previous prophets", but is commonly interpreted by Muslims as "the final prophet". Muhammad is also called an-nabî al-ummî (7:157-8), which most Muslims translate as "illiterate prophet". But the word ummî is related to umm (mother) and umma (nation), and most likely was a Jewish term referring to the Gentiles or non-Jews, who do not know Jewish Scripture (cf. 2:73; 3:20,75; 62:2). The Arabs would have used the word of themselves to mean "indigenous"; so the term would mean an "indigenous" or "Arab" prophet. It would also imply that he was not versed in Jewish or Christian Scriptures (cf. 29:48).

The Qur'ân lists Biblical prophets as: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, David, Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Zechariah, John (the Baptist), Jesus, Elijah, Ishmael, Elishah, Jonah, and Lot (3:83-86; cf. 4:163). Idrîs, who may be Ezrah or Enoch, is added in Qur'ân 19:56. Non-Biblical prophets (rusul) include Shu`ayb, Hûd, and Sâlih.

4. Books:

a. The Bible

The Bible is a collection of many books written by many inspired human authors and editors over a period of nearly a thousand years. The style and contents of the books differ greatly. We have seen how Biblical prophets are "moved by the Spirit". Let us examine the idea of Biblical inspiration.

There are two chief New Testament passages about this: "All scripture is inspired by God and useful for refuting error, for guiding people's lives and teaching them to be upright" (2 Tm 3:17). "The interpretation of scriptural prophecy is never a matter for the individual. For no prophecy ever came from human initiative. When people spoke for God it was the Holy Spirit that moved them" (2 Pt 1:21). What is principally meant by "scripture" in these passages is the Old Testament. But it is possible that some Christian writings were also envisaged, since 2 Timothy is a late book. The passage from Peter shows that not only the prophetic text is inspired, but also its reading and interpretation should be guided by the Spirit and apostolic tradition.

Christians look upon the Bible as inspired by God 100%. They also see it as written by a variety of human authors, who are also 100% responsible for the books. The cooperation between God and man is understood as God's responsibility as a primary cause, and man's responsibility as a secondary, instrumental cause. I can say that my pen writes, but as my instrument. The human writer is God's instrument, but is a living and human instrument; so all his personality and thought patterns are reflected in his book. That is why Matthew, for example, is so different from John.

The canon of the Bible is a listing of which books are inspired and belong to the Bible. Many books in the Old and New Testaments make no claim to being inspired. By what authority do we recognize them as parts of the Bible, especially since there are other books of the same period which are not accepted? The only answer is the authority of the Church. Jesus promised to be with the Church for all time (Mt 28:20) and would give the Spirit to lead us to the complete truth (Jn 16:13). That is why the early apostles and elders of the Church could say, for example, "It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves" (Ac 15:28).

On the other hand, many fundamentalist Christians reject the authority of the Church, and say that the Bible's inspiration is self-evident, because it inspires the reader and "convicts" him of the truth. This is a subjective argument, and would collapse when applied to some passages of the Book of Numbers, for example. It would also extend divine inspiration to any work of art that is inspiring, such as the music of Mozart or Handel.

b. The Qur'ân

In the Medinan period Muhammad and the Muslims held that Gabriel brought the Qur'ân down to Muhammad's heart by God's permission (2:97). But in the earlier Meccan period the picture is not so clear. The Qur'ân mentions only three occasions on which Muhammad saw a vision: two early prophetic experiences (53:1-12 & 13-18), which by implication were of God, since He revealed something to "his servant" (53:10), and no one can be the servant (`abd) of an angel. But 81:15-25 reinterprets the event as the vision of an angel. The third occasion, not described, was before the battle of al-Hudaybiyya (48:27). Seeing or hearing God directly is excluded in 42:51: "It is not fitting for God to speak to any mortal except by revelation (wahy) or from behind a veil, or by sending a messenger to reveal by his permission what he wants."

As for the mode of revelation, the Qur'ân uses two words: 1) nazzala/anzala, 2) awhâ. The first means that the Qur'ân was sent down as a dictated copy of the original "mother of the book" (3:7; 13:39; 43:4) in heaven. So Muslims regard God as the sole author of the Qur'ân, with Muhammad having no part in its composition or style.

The second term is earlier and means a sudden inner suggestion, making someone aware of a message, but not necessarily how to put it in words. It is used of Zechariah's sign language after he had become dumb, of communication between satans (6:112), of God's teaching bees how to make their hives (16:68), of God's command to the earth on the Last Day to surrender the dead (99:2-5), and of his assigning each of the seven heavens its function (41:12). The word is used when God gives a prophet not a revealed text but a command to do something, as when he told Noah to build an ark (11:36; 23:27), or Moses to set out with his people by night (20:77; 26:52), to strike the sea with his staff (26:63), to strike the rock with his staff (7:160), or Muhammad to follow the religion of Abraham (16:123). When Muhammad felt inspired with an idea he sometimes had to spend night hours to let it come out in the right words (73:1-8). He was told not to be in a hurry to force the words, but to let God give it shape and expression (75:16-19). This description comes close to the Christian idea of inspiration.

A similar term to awhâ is hadâ, meaning that God "guides" the prophet. Muhammad is told, "Remember your Lord when you forget. Say, 'May my Lord guide me to something more accurate than that'" (18:24). "Guidance" (hudâ) is another common word for the revealed message. The circumstances of Qur'ânic revelation belong to a course on the life of Muhammad. And this is not the place for a detailed study of the Qur'ân, its names, textual history, divisions and format. Let us only be aware of which books the Qur'ân recognizes as revealed.

"He has sent down to you (Muhammad) the Book with the truth, confirming what was before it, and he sent down the Torah and the Gospel previously as guidance for the people" (3:3; cf. 2:89; 3:7; 4:105; 5:48; 6:92; 16:64; 46:12,30). Reference is also made separately to the Psalms, a book given to David (4:163; 17:55; 21:105).

About these books let us remark that the Torah is considered a single book revealed to Moses and the Gospel a single book revealed to Jesus. We have to realize that the Arabs had contact with the Syrians, who had a single Gospel harmony called the Diatessaron, and the Judaeo-Christians who also knew only of one Gospel, possibly Matthew. (This is discussed in the course RCR 112.)

But doubt is cast on these Scriptures. The Jews are accused of concealing parts (2:42,76,140,146,159,174; 3:71; 5:15; 6:91), especially predictions about Muhammad (7:157; 61:6). Elsewhere they are accused of corrupting or altering the Scriptures (2:75; 5:13,41). Muslims later developed these criticisms to reject the authenticity of the Bible as a whole. In practice, any Biblical passage which agrees with the Qur'ân is considered a true remnant of the original books which are lost; any passage with disagrees with the Qur'ân is considered spurious.

As for the canon of the Qur'ân, there is much controversy as to how much the Qur'ân was put in its present shape by Muhammad and how much `Uthmân had to do with editing it. Then there is the problem of the variant readings of Ibn-Mas`ûd and others, and the vowels and diacritical marks put in two centuries after Muhammad. Muslims generally reject any grammatical criteria for choosing between different readings. They say the only way to settle which is the authentic text is tradition, that is, the Hadith that has to do with the Qur'ân. Without tradition, the Qur'ân falls (Fazlur Rahman).

On the other hand, appealing to the Qur'ânic claim that the Qur'ân is a self-evident literary miracle (2:23; 5:36; 10:38; 11:13; 17:88; 52:34), some, like fundamentalist Christians, may appeal to subjective experience to discern which reading is miraculous and therefore authentic.

5. The Last Day:

a. The Old Testament

The Israelites looked forward to the Day of Yahweh, God's judgment on the nations and his assurance of their own triumph. The prophets combatted this notion, attacking the idolatry and social injustice of their people, and threatening that God would punish them for their sins if they did not repent (Am 5:18-20; Lm 2:22; Ez 22:24; Zp 1:15). Disaster would come from Assyrian or Chaldaean invasion (Am 2:13-16, 5:18-20, 8:9-10,13; Is 2:6-21; Jr 30:5-7; Zp 1:4-18; Jl 1:15-20, 2:1-11).

During the exile prophesies were in hope that God would turn against Israel's oppressors (Ob 15): Babylon (Is 13:6,9; Jr 50:27, 51:2), Egypt (Is 19:16; Jr 46:10,21; Ez 30:4), Philistia (Jr 47:4), Edom (Is 34:6, 63:1), and bring recovery to Israel (Am 9:11; Is 11:11, 12:1, 30:26; Jl 3:4, 4:1).

After the exile the Day of Yahweh became a day of judgment ensuring the triumph of the virtuous and the destruction of sinners (Jb 21:30; Pr 11:4; Ml 3:19-23), with the whole world for its theatre (Is 26:20- 27:1, 33:10-16; cf. Mt 24:1).

The Day of Yahweh would be accompanied by cosmic signs: earthquake (Am 8:8; Is 2:10; Jr 4:24), solar eclipse (Am 8:9; Jr 4:23), and similar imagery which should not be taken literally (Is 13:10,13, 34:4; Ez 32:7-8; Jl 2:10-11; 3:3-4; 4:15-16; Hab 3:6; Zp 1:15; cf. Mt 24:29; Rv 6:12-14).

In the meantime, the Jews believed that the dead go to "Sheol", translated in to Greek as "Hades", a place of shadowy existence where God is not praised (Ps 6:5; 88:4). The Psalmist's hope of victory over Sheol (16:10-11 & 49:15) anticipated later OT belief in reward and punishment in a life beyond the grave (Wisdom 3-5; 2 Maccabees 12:38-45) and resurrection (2 Maccabees 7; 14:46), vaguely expressed beforehand in Jb 19:26-27, Is 26:19.

b. The New Testament

The "Day of the Lord (Yahweh)" (1 Co 5:5; 2 Co 1:14; 1 The 5:2; 2 The 2:2; cf. 2 P 3:10) becomes the "Day of Christ" (Ph 1:6,10; 2:16), or simply the "Day" (1 Co 3:13; 1 The 5:4; cf. Hb 10:25), "that Day" (2 The 1:10; 2 Tm 1:12,18, 4:8; cf. Mt 7:22, 24:36; Lk 10:12, 21:34), the "Day of the Son of man" (Lk 17:22-24,26), the "Day of God" (2 P 3:12), the "Day of visitation) 1 P 2:12), the "great Day" (Jd 6; Rv 6:17, 16:14), or the "last Day" (Jn 6:39,40,44,54, 11:24, 12:48). It is the fulfillment of the "Day of Yahweh" foretold by the OT prophets, whose imagery is adopted.

The fulfillment begins with the first coming of Christ (Lk 14:20-24) and the punishment of Jerusalem (Mt 24:1). Before Christ's return there is an intermediate period (Rm 3:26, 13:11). It is a time for conversion (Ac 3:20ff; Rm 11:25; Ep 2:12ff; Lk 21:24; Rv 6:11). Its duration is uncertain (1 The 5:1), but must be short (1 P 1:17; 1 Co 7:26-31; Rv 10:6, 12:12, 20:3) and full of trials (Ep 5:16, 6:13; Hb 2:8; 10:26- 11) and sufferings which are a prelude to the glory to come (Rm 8:11), while some will desert and mock the faith (1 Tm 4:1; 2 The 2:3-12; 2 Tm 3:1, 4:3-4; 2 P 3:3; Jd 18). The end is at hand (1 P 4:7; Rv 1:3; 1 Co 16:22; Ph 4:5; Jm 5:8); the Day approaches (Rm 13:11), and it is necessary to be on watch (1 The 5:6; Mk 13:33) and to use the time well that remains (Col 4:5; Ep 5:16) for one's own salvation and that of others (Ga 6:10), leaving the final vindication to God (Rm 12:19; 1 Co 4:5).

This period will be followed by the glorious second coming of Christ (Ac 1:7; 1 Co 1:7, 15:23; 1 Tm 6:14), the Sovereign Judge (Rm 2:6; Jm 5:8-9). A cosmic upheaval and renewal will accompany it (Mt 24:29par; Hb 12:26ff; 2 P 3:10-13; Rv 20:11, 21:1; cf. Mt 19:28; Rm 8:20-22). This Day of light is coming (Rm 13:12; Hb 10:25; Jm 5:8; 1 P 4:7; cf. 1 The 5:5,8) but exactly when is uncertain (1 The 5:1). Meanwhile we must prepare for it (2 Co 6:2).

John, on the other hand, sees the coming of Christ as realized eschatology, already taking place in human hearts through the gift of the Spirit (3:5; 4:23; 7:39; 14:26 etc.), and the judgment of the "world" is already taking place (12:31-32, 16:7-11,33; cf. Eph 2:6). John also uses the term "hour" for the time of Jesus' passover or suffering/ glorification (2:4, 12:12, 13:1,31, 17:1,5 ).

Matthew's description of the last things (chs.24-25) combines a prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, marking the end of the old covenant (24:15-25), with a description of Jesus' last coming (24:26-36). Several exhortatory parables (24:37- 25:30) precede a description of the last judgment (25:31-46).

On the Day of Judgment (Rm 2:6; Mt 10:15, 11:22,24, 12:36; 2 P 2:9, 3:7; 1 Jn 4:17) the dead will rise again (1 Co 15:12-23,51ff; 1 The 4:13-18) and the whole human race will be judged in God's court (Rm 14:10) and in Christ's (2 Co 5:10; cf. Mt 25:31ff). This trial is inescapable (Rm 2:3; Ga 5:10; 1 The 5:3) and impartial (Rm 2:11; Col 3:25; 1 P 1:17). It is conducted by God (Rm 12:19, 14:10; 1 Co 4:5; Mt 7:1par). Through Christ (Rm 2:16; 2 Tm 4:1; Jn 5:22; Ac 17:31) God will judge "the living and the dead" (2 Tm 4:1; Ac 10:42; 1 P 4:5). He examines the heart (Rm 2:16; 1 Co 4:5; Rv 2:23) and his trial is by fire (1 Co 3:13-15); he will treat all people according to their works (1 Co 3:8; 2 Co 5:10, 11:15; Ep 6:8; Mt 16:27; 1 P 1:17; Rv 2:23, 20:12, 22:12). What has been sown will be reaped (Ga 6:7-9; Mt 13:39; Rv 14:15). Angrily he will destroy (Rm 9:22) evil powers (1 Co 15:24-26; 2 The 2:8) and evil people (2 The 1:7-10; Mt 13:41; Ep 5:6; 2 P 3:7; Rv 6:17, 11:18). But for the chosen, who have done good, there will be freedom (Ep 4:30; Rm 8:23; Ac 3:20; 2 The 1:7; Hb 4:5-11), reward (Mt 5:12; Rv 11:18), salvation (1 P 1:5), honour (1 P 5:6), praise (1 Co 4:5), and glory (Rm 8:18; 1 Co 15:43; Col 3:4; Mt 13:43).

The above passages talk of the general resurrection of the dead (Rm 2:6; 1 Co 15:44). In the meantime Paul speaks of death as bringing him immediate union with Christ: "I want to be gone and to be with Christ, and this is by far the stronger desire" (Ph 1:23). "We are full of confidence, then, and long instead to be exiled from the body and to be at home with the Lord" (2 Cor 5:7). See also Lk 16:22 (on Lazarus) & 23:43 (the good thief).

Related to this is the descent of Christ to Hades between his death and resurrection (1 Pt 3:18-19; cf. Mt 12;40; Ac 2:24,31; Rm 10:7; Ep 4:9). Peter may be referring to the chained demons mentioned in the Book of Enoch, or to the dead punished at the time of the Flood, who are yet called to life (1 Pt 4:6). The descent, however, is primarily to collect the deceased "holy ones" who were waiting for Christ (cf. Mt 27:52). Hb 11:39-40 makes is clear that the holy ones of the Old Testament could not enter heaven ahead of Christ. Christ went in first, and we follow: "What you have come to is Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem where the millions of angels have gathered for the festival, with the whole Church of first-born sons, enrolled as citizens of heaven" (Hb 12:22-23).

Heaven is the name used for where Jesus is now (Mt 26:64; Mk 14:62; Lk 22:69; Ac 7:55; Rm 8:34; Ep 1:20; Col 3:1; 1 Pt 3:22). The Christian is a citizen of heaven (Phl 3:20) and looks forward to a home God will build for him there (2 Co 5:1-5). There is the Christian's inheritance (1 Pt 1:4), his reward (Mt 5:12) and treasure (Mt 6:20; Col 1:5). The Father and Jesus prepare dwellings in heaven for the disciples (Jn 14:1-3). The names of the disciples are written in the records of heaven (Lk 10:20), and those who rise with Christ are taken with him to heaven (1 The 4:16ff). In heaven our bodies are incorruptible, glorious, powerful and spiritual (1 Cor 15:42-49). "At the resurrection men and women do not marry; no, they are like the angels in heaven" (Mt 22:30). There we share the glory of Christ (Rm 8:18; 1 Co 15:40; Phl 3:21; Col 3:4; 2 The 2:14). In heaven faith gives way to vision (1 Cor 13:12), the constant beatific vision of God which satisfies every desire and includes fellowship with all others in heaven. Of all this Paul says: "What no eye has seen and no ear has heard, what the mind of man cannot visualize; all that God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Cor 2:9).

c. The Qur'ân

The Last Day, after monotheism, is the most important theme in the Qur'ân. It is called yawm ad-dîn (the day of judgment), al-yawm al-âkhir (the last day), yawm al-qiyâma (day of resurrection), or as-sâ`a (the hour). Occasionally it is called yawm al-fasl (day of distinction), yawm al-jam` (day of gathering), or yawm at-talâqî (day of meeting).

The hour comes suddenly (6:31; 7:187; 12:107; 22:55; 43:66; 47:18). It is heralded by a shout (36:53), a thunderclap (80:33), or the blast of a trumpet (69:13; 74:8; 78:18; 39:68). The mountains then dissolve into dust, the seas boil up, the sun is darkened, the stars fall, and the sky is rolled up. God comes to judge preceded by angels in ranks (78:38; 89:22) or circling his throne and praising him (39:75).

The graves are then opened and people are judged before going to Paradise or Hell. No one is there until that time. The only exception may be martyrs: "Do not say that those who are killed for the sake of God are dead. They are alive" (2:154), "enjoying their reward with their Lord" (3:169). Some interpret this as a description of the future, while others would say that martyrs are raised up and admitted to Paradise ahead of time.

The records of a man's deeds are opened; the good deeds are weighed against the bad (101:6-9; 7:8ff). A good man receives his book in his right hand and the bad man in his left hand or behind his back (84:7-12; 69:19-32). A man's wealth or friends will be of no use then in influencing the judge (82:19; 31:33; 35:18; 44:41; 53:38; 99:6). There are vivid descriptions of Hell (jahannam) or the Fire (an-nâr). Unbelievers stay there eternally. All Muslims will go there, but God will rescue those who fear him (19:71-72), especialy at the intercession of Muhammad, as many Muslims interpret 2:255; 6:51,70; 10:3; 19:87; 20:109.

Paradise (firdaws - a Persian word meaning garden; the Arabic is al-janna) is a place of delight (2:25; 4:57; 11:108; 43:68-73; 47:15ff; 56:10-26). This includes being served fruits, good food and wine that does not intoxicate, the use of beautiful women (55:56-8; 56:35-40; 78:33), who may be wives (13:23; 40:8; 36:56; 43:70) or "purified spouses" (2:25; 3:15; 4:57), peace with everyone, and above all the vision of God (75:23). Most Muslim theologians say that seeing God is an occasional activity.