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As this question has been asked previously, or rather, it has been asked in a different, more simple way; There is no clear or sufficient answer that I can find. Let me premise this by saying, I have no hostility towards Muslims. Or Christians. I was a student of 'Philosphy and Religion' (not 'of' Religion) and focused on Islam and Christianity primarily. I'm self-taught Arabic with English as my first language, being born in America. Debate is just a pastime for me. I enjoy it. Some people like video games, debate is my video game. No more, no less.

With that being said, I also need to add that my question is not simply that the representation of the Trinity is incorrect, that's only a portion. This is a three part problem that I'm curious how Muslims will, or would, answer.

Surah 5:116

"وَإِذْ قَالَ ٱللَّهُ يَـٰعِيسَى ٱبْنَ مَرْيَمَ ءَأَنتَ قُلْتَ لِلنَّاسِ ٱتَّخِذُونِى وَأُمِّىَ إِلَـٰهَيْنِ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ ۖ قَالَ سُبْحَـٰنَكَ مَا يَكُونُ لِىٓ أَنْ أَقُولَ مَا لَيْسَ لِى بِحَقٍّ ۚ إِن كُنتُ قُلْتُهُۥ فَقَدْ عَلِمْتَهُۥ ۚ تَعْلَمُ مَا فِى نَفْسِى وَلَآ أَعْلَمُ مَا فِى نَفْسِكَ ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ عَلَّـٰمُ ٱلْغُيُوبِ"

English Translation - I use a combination of Pickthall and Saheeh International as they seem to be the most accurate to the Arabic we can get when combined, as well as some direct translations where it makes sense in English)

And when Allah said: O Jesus, son of Maryam! Did you ever say to the people: Take me and my mother (as) two gods (إِلَـٰهَيْنِ 'ilāhayni') beside Allah? He said: Glory be to you! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say). If I had said it, then surely You would have known it. You know what is (hidden) in myself (nafsī), and I know not what is (hidden) in Yourself (nafsika). Indeed, you are the All-Knower ('allāmu) of the unseen

I'm going to address the two main issues I can see clearly through the time I've speant studying and hopefully a sufficient response could be given to interact with, which would be excellent, as that is the goal.

  • The first issue would be the one addressed most often. Here we can see that part of the 'Trinitarian belief' is, as in other ayah, being questioned and 'falsified.' However, we also know that the Trinitarian belief is not, 'Allah, The Son, and Mary.' I don't think I need to explain the makeup of the Christian's Trinity for anyone here, but of course this is incorrect. I have seen some Muslims argue that it is possible that there was a time where some Christians actually were taking Jesus and Mary as gods along with Allah. This is incorrect for a couple reasons. First, if people were worshiping Mary and Jesus as gods with Allah, then they wouldn't be Christians. Christianity, the term Christian, was defined a long time before Muhammad. Regardless, Allah should know the Christian belief at that time. Secondly, any people who take Jesus and Mary as gods would also not be considered Christian because in Christianity, whether or not any Muslim or other religions understands it or agree with it, is a monotheistic Religion by definition. Therefore, no one saying something akin to even Jesus and The Father being two gods would be Christian whatsoever. Or the Holy Spirit (Ruh Al Qudus)

  • The next main issue I see, besides Allah not knowing the Trinity there, is Allah asking Jesus if he took himself and Mary as gods alongside him. There's a couple problems here. First, even if the Trinitarian belief replaced the Holy Spirit with Mary, and Allah said Ruh Al Qudus instead, Jesus would not be lying by saying he did not. Again going back to the 'two gods' issue. The Trinitarian belief, Christianity, again, is one God. Then, as the ayah says, Allah is the 'allāmu,' the All-Knower, and of course he is also named so in the Qur'an. The other two ayah about the Trinity simply have Allah telling them to desist from saying 'three' or no 'two-thirds, as statements rather than questions or questioning anyone. So, the All-Knower, asking Jesus if he did 'some thing' seems odd when surely his statement alone would be enough. Such as, rather than making a point to question Jesus, he would say, he told Jesus of what his followers claim, then having Jesus state that is not what he taught. That would be simple enough and end the debate. Yet it would still lack any meaning unless Mary and 'two gods' was changed. Immediately afterwards, in ayah 117, he tells Allah that he only said what Allah ordered him to say. This is something the 'allāmu would surely know. Now it becomes that we have no answer from the Qur'an whether or not Jesus confessed to not teaching that he, the father, and Holy Spirit are God. The common argument against this is that it is for narrative purposes to specifically show Jesus denying it. I ask that we don't get bogged down on this one specific aspect of 117, but to take it in its entirety. This is why I prefaced with Jesus saying 'no,' would not oppose the Trinitarian belief. Of course Jesus did not tell people to take him and his mother as two gods with Allah. He did not teach that himself and The Father were two gods, or himself and the Holy Spirit were two gods. Therefore, what is the purpose of this ayah?

I want to add some more evidence to my points before fully concluding so that any response can get directly to the point and hopefully a straight answer. For Christians, they would argue and show documentation that the belief of the Trinity was being preached as early as 1CE. This could be refuted, so we can simply go with what cannot be refuted in context to the ayah. We can at least say, as a matter of fact, that the doctrine of the Trinity was finalized at the First Council of Nicaea in 325CE. Therefore showing that the doctrine was well-established long before the time of Muhammad. This is irrelevant to an all-knowing God, however, this is just evidence to show that the doctrine was with the Christians long before, and totally established by, the time of Muhammad.

Now to conclude with points, my opinion, and another common refutation, as well as sources. Another refutation that I have, surprisingly, heard, is that this ayah, 116, isn't even talking about the the Trinity, and is talking about some group that believed this. That is an obvious problem. The people who followed Christ, Jesus, are Christians. If people believed that Jesus and Mary were gods, and Jesus is just saying, no I didn't say this, and whatever niche group Allah could be talking about, would mean that this ayah actually serves no purpose as nobody believes this is what Jesus taught. Besides the fact that scholars agree, tafsirs explain, that it is talking about this belief, I'd rather want to believe that all ayah in the Holy Qur'an actually have meaning behind them, some purpose for being told. In the Tafsir of Ibn Kathir, he in fact does state that this is not about Allah not having the knowledge, but about admonishing his people who call themselves Christians and the one who they call 'God' (Jesus) is himself admitting to the contrary. Now he has established this is speaking about Christians, followers of Christ and his teachings, not some niche group of people who worship Jesus and Mary as two gods. Ibn Kathir, however, seems to leave out Mary altogether while also changing the implication from them being 'two gods' to simply the correct Christian belief that they say Jesus is God. This is not at all what the ayah is saying and I see Ibn Kathir as either being completely dishonest or refusing to address the ayah properly, although I have not read his tafsir in Arabic, and while I could be missing something (I'll double check) I highly doubt it would lend strength to a refutation. Again, even if Jesus denies this here and says that is not what he taught people, it remains true and says nothing, as no Christian, now or at the time of Muhammad or prior, believes/d Christianity teaches that Jesus, and any other person's in the Trinity, are more than one God. Once more, the doctrine of the Trinity, One God, three hypostatic unions, was already well-established. As for my opinion, for this ayah to be a clear, and detailed explanation of all things, it should directly refute the actual doctrine of the Trinity. To say, Jesus, did you say/teach that you, the Holy Spirit, and I are God? Or even replacing Maryam with ruh Al Qudus would suffice but the word 'ilāhayni' has to be removed from the text either way.

Sources For Context

'The Qur'an is a detailed explanation of all things (in the revelation) - Quran, Surah 12:111

Allah addressing to falsify the Trinity, the other ayah about the Trinity - Quran, Surah 5:73, 4:171, and 5:116 (this ayah) is directly referenced in multiple sources as one of the three ayah referencing the Trinity

Finalization of the doctrine of the Trinity at the First Council of Nicaea -

Kauffman, Timothy F. (May–June 2016). "Nicæa and the Roman Precedent" (PDF). The Trinity Review (334, 335). Archived (PDF) from the original on 12 August 2016. Retrieved 22 June 2016

"Trinity: The role of Constantine in the Nicene creed". www.bible.ca. Retrieved 29 September 2021

Fairbairn, Donald (2009), "Life in the Trinity, Downers Grove:" InterVarsity Press, ISBN 978-0-8308-3873-8, retrieved 24 February 2014

Earliest existing reference of the Trinity -

Theophilus of Antioch (AD 115–181) ref. "Philip Schaff: Fathers of the Second Century: 0107=101 – Christian Classics Ethereal Library". ccel.org. Retrieved 27 April 2023.

2 Answers 2

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There are sects which practice Mariolatry, some more directly than others like Collyridianism. Whether or not one sect considers another to be true Christian is irrelevant because the question is there to concisely refute all the people who have false beliefs about God, Jesus and Mary, not just the ones who are certified as Christian by some other Christians.

The Trinitarians hold that the Son is a distinct person from the Father and the Holy Spirit, Jesus is not the Father, they are separate persons in one God-head. The belief that they are the same person is the sect of Sabellianism. The reality (in Islam) is that Jesus is just a human and God is a single person, so it is fine to label the Christian belief as taking two gods besides Allah. The purpose of the question is not to document Christian beliefs in their own selected terminology but rather to call it as what it is in reality as perceived by Islam.

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First of all there are many Christian sects past and present to say if they don’t agree to your Trinitarian view they aren’t Christian is incorrect.

The Quran never claims the Christians say Mary is God or she is apart of the trinity.

Quran rebukes people who say Jesus is God in two verses.

“They have certainly disbelieved who say that Allah is Christ, the son of Mary. Say, "Then who could prevent Allah at all if He had intended to destroy Christ, the son of Mary, or his mother or everyone on the earth?" And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them. He creates what He wills, and Allah is over all things competent.”- Quran 5:17

“They have certainly disbelieved who say, " Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary" while the Messiah has said, "O Children of Israel, worship Allah , my Lord and your Lord." Indeed, he who associates others with Allah - Allah has forbidden him Paradise, and his refuge is the Fire. And there are not for the wrongdoers any helpers.”- Quran 5:72

So what if you are claiming is true why doesn’t the Quran say they have certainly disbelieve those who say God is Mary aswell?

The Quran says Christians took Mary and Jesus as Gods because to born a God you have to be one.

This is theology 101

Everyone agrees expect the Christians

Zeus’s parents are considered Gods

A mortal can’t born a God it’s impossible.

The problem with the Christians is if they did say Mary was a God then her parents would be Gods so would theirs until Adam.

So the Quran says they have taken Mary has a God for saying she bore God.

Something which is impossible for a mortal.

Every creed in Polytheism agrees.

Only Christians don’t.

The Quran also says

“Have you seen he who has taken as his god his [own] desire”- Quran 45:23

If you ask the person is your own desire your God he will say no.

So is that a mistake?😂

Hope this helped you.

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