Muslims claim that the Quran is the literal word of God. It uses the most precise, accurate language possible. Yet it inaccurately describes the Jews as calling Uzair the son of Allah. Is this a mistake? Is this the best possible way that Allah could have conveyed this? Did the author of the Quran not know that future generations would be confused by this verse?
For example, many Muslims claim that Surah Lahab is a miracle:
Perished be the two hands of Aby-Lahab and he is already perished
His wealth and what he earned availed him not.
Now he enters into a blazing fire.
And his wife too, carrier of firewood.
There is a rope of palm fiber in her neck.
This verse was revealed to attack the uncle of Prophet Muhammad who used to publicly argue against his nephew Muhammad. Muslims say all Abu Lahab had to do was convert to Islam in order to disprove it. Of course this doesn’t account for the idea of Quranic Abrogations which regularly happen in the life of Muhammad, but anyway, putting abrogations aside, lets look at the issue at hand.
The Quran states:
The Jews say, “Ezra [Uzair] is the son of Allah “; and the Christians say, “The Messiah is the son of Allah .” That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved [before them]. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded? (9:30)
In these Tafsir Ibn Kathir it says:
Fighting the Jews and Christians is legislated because They are Idolators and Disbelievers
Allah the Exalted encourages the believers to fight the polytheists, disbelieving Jews and Christians, who uttered this terrible statement and utter lies against Allah, the Exalted. As for the Jews, they claimed that `Uzayr was the son of God, Allah is free of what they attribute to Him.
First of all, we should note that it clearly is saying “son of God” in the literal sense, as it mentions both the Jews and then the Christians, whom we know are definitely taking Jesus as a literal Son of God.
Now, there is not a Jew on this Earth that claims that Uzair is the son of God. It is not a central tenet, or even a tenet of Judaism. The Quranic claim that Jews consider Ezra the “son of God” is unattested either in Jewish or other extra-Quranic sources and it is improbable that the Jews of Arabia believed so. Let’s say the Jews of this time did believe this. Why did Allah use the definite article “Al Yahud?” If the Quran is the word of the Creator of the Universe, wouldn’t it make more sense to say “Some of the Jews say” or “The Arabian Jews say” ? But rather it makes a general statement without regard to population and time
According to Muslims, the Quran cannot be improved upon, as it is not just the word of Allah, it is the uncreated word of Allah. It cannot be improved in any way because it is absolutely perfect in every way.
The statement that “The Jews say Uzair is the son of Allah” does not make any sense. It is just another example of how Muhammad took information available to him at the time and made it the Quran.
Rabbi Tovia Singer in this 16 minute video discusses the following points:
- The Quran says that The Jews called Uzair the son of God in the same way as the Christians did (i.e. like part of the trinity – divine)
- The Quranic commentators explained this in two ways:
- There was one crazy Jew who said this at Muhammad’s time
- There were a group of Jews with heretical beliefs
- I have never heard a Jew say this, nor do we have any record of this in our tradition, but then again why would we have a record of what happened in 7th century Arabia anyway?