Muhammad is the Messenger of God; and those who are in his company are firm and... (Al-Fath 48:29)

مُّحَمَّدٌ رَّسُولُ اللَّهِ ۚ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ أَشِدَّاءُ عَلَى الْكُفَّارِ رُحَمَاءُ بَيْنَهُمْ ۖ تَرَاهُمْ رُكَّعًا سُجَّدًا يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلًا مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانًا ۖ سِيمَاهُمْ فِي وُجُوهِهِم مِّنْ أَثَرِ السُّجُودِ ۚ ذَ‌ٰلِكَ مَثَلُهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ ۚ وَمَثَلُهُمْ فِي الْإِنجِيلِ كَزَرْعٍ أَخْرَجَ شَطْأَهُ فَآزَرَهُ فَاسْتَغْلَظَ فَاسْتَوَىٰ عَلَىٰ سُوقِهِ يُعْجِبُ الزُّرَّاعَ لِيَغِيظَ بِهِمُ الْكُفَّارَ ۗ وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ مِنْهُم مَّغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيمًا
Muhammad is the Messenger of God; and those who are in his company are firm and unyielding against the unbelievers, and compassionate among themselves. You see them (constant in the Prayer) bowing down and prostrating, seeking favor with God and His approval and good pleasure. Their marks are on their faces, traced by prostration. This is their description in the Torah; and their description in the Gospel: like a seed that has sprouted its shoot, then it has strengthened it, and then risen firmly on its stem, delighting the sowers (with joy and wonder); (thereby) it fills the unbelievers with rage at them (the believers). God has promised all those among them who believe and do good, righteous deeds forgiveness (to bring unforeseen blessings) and a tremendous reward. (Al-Fath 48:29)

Below is a comparison between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam on the basis of the verse above:

Jesus, the Messiah, was sent to a community which was extremely ma-terialistic. In order to reform them and balance their materialistic tenden-cies, Jesus emphasized spirituality.

It is very difficult for a community which bases idol-worship and other kinds of associating partners with God (shirk) on religion or adopts polytheism in the name of religion to abandon it in order to accept or con-vert into a new religious thought and belief. However, by balancing the materialism of his people with an emphatic spirituality and re-establishing the balance between matter and spirit through the Divine Revelation, Jesus, upon him be peace, overcame this difficulty. Nevertheless, his later followers were not able to preserve this balance and destroyed it in favor of exaggerated spirituality. As the Holy Qur’ān states, they innovated “monasticism,”[1] thinking that they would be able to progress spiritually and be much better believers whereas God did not order them monasticism. In order to attain God’s good pleasure, they added to the religion what was not included in it only to lose in the face of the heaviness of their innovations, thus falling distant from the essence of the religion. It is of no harm to benefit from pleasurable things provided they are lawful and acquired in lawful ways. Having a family and children and tasting the pleasures of the world in lawful ways without excesses are among the necessities of life. Some from among the Christians attempted to remain aloof from these pleasures, but many of them contaminated them by not being able to preserve themselves against meeting these necessities with sinful ways.

There are similar other misinterpretations in Christianity. For in-stance, it is said in Gospel John, “But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.”[2] This approach may be of the meaning as “being handless to the one who beats and tongueless to the one who curses,” in the words of the 13th century Sufi poet Yunus Emre, and be acceptable in personal relations. However, if this becomes a norm in social relations in a way that causes a lack of reaction to injustices, it encourages oppressors. Many Christians after Jesus adopted remaining silent to what-ever occurs in society; keeping distant from worldly pleasures, including marriage; and categorically condemning war. However, these attitudes later gave birth to their extreme opposites. That is, unlawful ways to gratify worldly appetites emerged among them, and the bloodiest wars have broken out in Christendom.

The reform movement which Prophet Jesus, upon him be peace, started in a materialistic community also opened ways leading to the pride of humankind, upon him be peace and blessings, the glad tidings of whose coming he gave in the Gospel. The verse whose brief meaning was given above is highly interesting in implying the extremes to which the Jews and Christians went.

The verse begins with “Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” At its very beginning, the verse emphasizes the Messengership of our Prophet and since this truth, which is the second inseparable essential of Islamic faith, is explained in many other places of the Qur’ān, it is only mentioned here briefly. After this, the verse praises those who were around God’s Messenger with many of their virtues and describes them with their spiritual and material depths.

Anyone who was favored with the companionship of the Prophet was also honored with the blessing of “God’s company.” Companionship of the Prophet in the physical realm can be regarded as the projection of God’s company in the spiritual realm. The expression, “And those who are in his company,” means this companionship and company, and the rest of the verse explains the praiseworthy qualities of those who attained this hori-zon.

One of the praiseworthy qualities of those people was their being “firm and unyielding against the unbelievers.” That is, they were firm and unyielding against those who extinguished their inborn capacity to believe, denied innumerable signs and proofs of God and other truths of faith and tried to put out the light which God kindled.

Their second quality was being “compassionate among themselves.” This virtue was followed by, “You see them (constant in the Prayer) bowing down and prostrating, seeking favor with God and His approval and good pleasure.” That is, they became a ring or circle by putting their heads where they put their feet—they were so modest and humble that they rose to the highest rank of being the nearest to God. They attributed whatever attainment they had and whatever success they achieved to God, without appropriating anything of God’s bounties and blessings on them. They sought and pursued God’s approval and good pleasure. Their description continues, “Their marks are on their faces, traced by prostration.”

The verse concludes this very description of the Prophet’s Companions in the Old Testament with: “This is their description in the Torah.” The Torah, which had been given to Prophet Moses, upon him be peace, describes the Companions of God’s Messenger mostly according to their spiritual or metaphysical features. After these features, the verse continues with, “their description in the Gospel,” as follows:

The description of the Prophet Muhammad’s Companions is given this time with a parable: they are “like a seed.” Any crop grows from a seed and something material. A seed is something that has physical existence and in which was installed a life program like in a nucleus or a sperm. This is a seed “that has sprouted its shoot.” A “shoot” is also something physical. It can be said that the pronunciation or melody of many words the Qur’ān uses is completely suited to their meaning. The sound of the word “shat’a” (shoot), for example, resembles the sprouting up of a seed that is just beginning to appear above the ground. Therefore, it implies the emergence of a material structure from beneath the surface. All the words comprising the verse are like wefts or threads of a lacework.

The parable of the “growing seed” is further emphasized with the expression, “then, it has strengthened (thickened) it.” Here, the description is completely physical and applies to something physical. The expression that follows, “and then risen firmly,” again refers to this physical growth and standing of the seed “on its stem.” Here, the stem of crop can be likened to the legs of a human being and the standing of the seed “on its stem” to the firm standing of a person. Also, the growth of the small seed is so phenome-nal that it “delights the sowers;” that is, those who sow the seeds wonder at and are delighted with what they see. So, this small grain of seed sown on soil and producing a fruitful crop “fills the unbelievers with rage at them (the believers).” Therefore, this entire description in the Gospel is related to the physical process in which the seed sown emerged, grew, and produced in the head of its firmly risen stem a plentiful crop. And this causes awe and fear in its disbelieving enemies.

It is explicit in the verse that the description in the Gospel is from physical point of view and reflects physical attributes, while the description of the Torah is purely spiritual. The concepts are used take the reader through the spiritual realm. This is very important to understand the position of Jesus, upon him be peace. Jesus came to balance the materialistic tendencies of his people with spiritual profundity. One who came with this mission was expected to be created with the necessary equipment in his nature. Accordingly, he came to the world in a family where there was pure spirituality. No woman other than Mary could bring him up. As described in the Qur’ān, holy Mary was so pure and chaste that she shivered with fear even in front of the angel that appeared to her in the perfect form of a man.

Mary’s mother vowed that if God gave her a child, she would dedi-cate him to the service of the Temple in expectation of a son.[3] When she gave birth to a female child, that noble mother uttered in a sad voice as follows: “My Lord, I have given birth to a female” (Āl ‘Imrān 3:36). Nevertheless, since the baby had already been dedicated to the Temple before her birth, she was put in the service of the Temple. The noble Mary was brought up in such a spiritual environment in which she absorbed the Divine gifts and blessings deep in her bones and finally, in an extraordinary way became pregnant with Jesus the Messiah, who would come with a very important mission.

In short, Jesus the Messiah, upon him be peace, was born of a mother who had an extraordinary life and was brought up as a man of spir-ituality under the protection of God. He would fulfill his mission in a refrac-tory community which had nearly adopted a materialistic world-view as its religion. While he was charged with the mission of Prophethood, he was equipped with the necessary capacity to satisfy his people. Having come to the world without a father, he would balance their materialistic tendencies with profound spirituality and accordingly work many miracles, as he said to his people: “I fashion for you out of clay something in the shape of a bird, then I breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by God’s leave. And I heal the blind from birth and the leper, and I revive the dead, by God’s leave. And I inform you of what things you eat, and what you store up in your houses” (Āl ‘Imrān 3:49). Thus, he paved the way to profound spirituality and built bridges along the way to lead to God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings.

Having come after these two great Prophets, namely Moses and Je-sus, upon them be peace, Prophet Muhammad, who is the owner of the maqāmu’l-jam, or the rank of combining, combined all the basic truths rep-resented by them in his Religion in a balanced way and to the degree of perfection. In the course of perfecting the Religion, he balanced the spiritu-al and material and adapted some truths or rules of secondary degree that existed in the religions of Moses and Jesus with certain changes in a way that they would be able to address all times and places until the end of time, thus laying down the Straight, Middle Path. Indeed, these truths which exist in the Book revealed to God’s Messenger were expressed in the Books of his two predecessors in a style appropriate to their times and communities and the basic characters of their missions. That is, although Prophet Jesus’ mission was basically spiritual, those truths were described in the Gospel in physical terms as in this verse with the parable of the growing seed while they were described in the Torah in a purely spiritual style as in this verse.

God knows the best.

[1] “Thereafter, We sent, following in their footsteps, others of Our Messengers, and We sent Jesus son of Mary, and granted him the Gospel, and placed in the hearts of those who followed him tenderness and mercy. And monasticism: they innovated it – We did not prescribe it to them – only to seek God’s good pleasure, but they have not observed it as its observance requires. So We have granted those among them who have truly believed their reward, but many among them have been transgressors.” (Al-Hadīd 57:27)
[2] See Matthew 5:38–41; Luke 6:27–30.
[3] See Sūrah Āl ‘Imrān 3:35.

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