Allegation of disbelief against ‘Īsā ?
When ‘Īsā articulated the divine truth publicly and tried to invite the members of his community to divine unity and dissuade them from committing disbelief, he showed a number of miracles to them. His invitation has been phrased in the holy Qur’ān in these words:
Surely, I have come to you, with a sign from your Lord that I make for you, out of clay, the (figure of a) bird, and breathe into it and it becomes instantly a flying bird by God’s leave. And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead by God’s leave, and I declare to you (all) that you eat, and that you store in your houses. Surely in that there is a sign for you if you are believers. (Āl ‘Imrān, the Family of ‘Imrān) 3:49. )
This Qur’ānic verse relates five miracles performed by ‘Īsā :
- to make a flying bird out of clay
- to heal a person who is born blind
- to heal leprosy
- to quicken the dead
- to reveal news from the unseen
Allāh had blessed ‘Īsā with five miracles which he used to openly declare his faith and which have been endorsed by God Himself in the Holy Qur’ān. In this Qur’ānic verse, ‘Īsā says: ‘I have come to you, with a sign from your Lord that I make for you, out of clay, the (figure of a) bird.’ The word akhluqu (I create) has been used instead of the word aj‘alu (I make). A little reflection will show you that the whole debate revolves around the distinction bet ween real and derivative, the power that is self-generated and the power that is generated by the other’s will, the non-cont ingent and the contingent.
In this Qur’ānic verse, the real helper is not ‘Īsā , but Allāh Himself. The debate is, in fact, verbal because the words have been used not in their essential meaning, but only in their borrowed sense. Though the mode of address is vocative, the real Helper is Allāh Himself and what the Prophet is performing has the divine sanction behind it. This is a fine example of the verbal distinction bet ween the real and the non-real furnished by the Qur’ān.
One can say that the entire episode relates to the miracle performed by ‘Īsā and a miracle is irrelevant to a discussion of appeal for help. The simple answer is that “the miracle is the healing of the sick and not the arrogation of divine powers to himself.” The fact is that the supernatural act s performed by the Prophet possess only a derivative meaning because both disease and its recovery are from Allāh. When it is an immutable fact that Allāh alone heals a leper and a person who is born blind, then why did Īsā say, “I heal.” In principle, he should have said that ‘though I cast my hand over a leper and a blind person, I do not heal them; it is, in fact, Allāh who heals them.’ It would not have reduced the impact of the miracle in any sense but he only derivatively arrogated it to himself.
The fourth statement he made was “And I quicken the dead, by God’s leave.” This is really an extreme case. He is not saying: ‘you bring a dead person, then I shall pray to Allāh and He, on account of my prayer, shall bring him to life.’ But he said, “I bring the dead to life by God’s leave.” It means that the use of words and the specific mode of address are only derivatively attributed to the creat ure, and not in the real sense. It is quite valid in the case of ‘Īsā because it is being used only in a reflective sense through the words bi-idhn Allāh (by God’s leave) he is declaring only Allāh as the true Helper. The fifth statement made by him says, “And I declare to you (all) that you eat, and that you store in your houses.” He does not say that he is doing so because he has been informed by God; on the other hand, he says, “I give you the news.” These words clearly embody an aspect of knowledge of the unseen because information about what someone has eaten falls within the realm of the unseen and is known to Allāh alone. ‘Īsā does not say, “ God informs me,” though the fact is that it is Allāh Who is informing him but he has not expressed it in his words and has only derivatively attributed it to himself which clearly reveals that the knowledge of the unseen can be derivatively claimed by non-Allāh, and it is valid otherwise a Messenger of Allāh would never have committed such an act.
The statement publicly made by ‘Īsā must border on disbelief in the eyes of our modern scholars who do not tire of trumpeting their faith in divine unity. Such a mode of thinking will not even exempt the prophet s from the stigma of disbelief. No sane believer will subscribe to their distorted point of view because to accuse the prophets of disbelief is in itself a kind of disbelief. Therefore, this t rend of speculat ion may prove hazardous for the entire world of Islam as it will not even spare the prophets who devoted their lives to win Allāh’s pleasure and favour.