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Trinity, Sin, & Salvation in Christianity: A critical review

04 2 16



Read the previous part first: “Who is not Jesus?
This is a major point of disagreement between Muslims and Christians.  The Qur’an emphatically refutes trinity.

While this word doesn’t appear in the entire Bible, in our estimate it was a Christian scholar in 2nd-3rd century named Tertullian (died 220 AD) who coined this term or used it in reference to God. The, Qur’an mentions “trinity” (thalithu thalatha, or thalatha which refers to this concept) – in at least two places. In both places, it condemns the concept.

“O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, “Three”; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs”. (An Nisa 4. 171)

They have certainly disbelieved who say, “Allah is the third of three.” And there is no god except one God. And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment.  (Al Maida Chapter 5:73)

However, the Qur’an does not define trinity.  Many Christians take exception to the wording “third of the three”. The Christian doctrine is that there are three persons in Godhead:, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.  God, the Father, is just one of the three persons of Godhead per Christian faith. This is precisely what the Qur’an is condemning.

Others also misunderstand the Qur’an by  claiming that it is in error for mis-identifying three persons of godhead. They refer to the following verse:

And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah ?'” He will say, “Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen.  (Al Maida 5:116)

Here, the Qur’an is not defining trinity; rather it is saying that some Christians fell for worshipping Jesus and Mary in addition to Allah (God). There is a whole history of debate on theotokos (mother of God) and  “mariology” within Christianity. This is the concept that is being condemned by the Qur’an.

It is not a sign of  sound scholarship to insert a meaning into a verse of Qur’an (or Bible) and then criticise it. This is not an honest way to study or analyze anything.  Those interested to look at this topic in detail may want to check out this link.

One doesn’t pay for the sin of others

The Qur’an is emphatic on this subject: that each human being is responsible for his own deeds.

Say, “Is it other than Allah I should desire as a lord while He is the Lord of all things? And every soul earns not [blame] except against itself, and no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. Then to your Lord is your return, and He will inform you concerning that over which you used to differ.”  (Al Anam 6:164)

Whoever is guided is only guided for [the benefit of] his soul. And whoever errs only errs against it. And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another. And never would We punish until We sent a messenger.  (Al Isra 17:15)

Our reading of the OT also proves our point of view:

16 Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin. (Deuteronomy 24:16)

The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel: “‘The parents eat sour grapes,    and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?

3 “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. 4 For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die.  (Ezekiel 18 1-4)

29 “In those days people will no longer say, ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ 30 Instead, everyone will die for their own sin; whoever eats sour grapes—their own teeth will be set on edge. (Jeremiah 31:29-30)

We will not delve  into detailed discussion about the the variousdifferent “atonement” theories that different  Christian theologians hold on the subject. However, it should suffice to say that this doctrine is not something that Jesus (PBUH) explicitly taught.

Original Sin

We are not aware of any teachings from Jesus about the doctrine of original sin. In fact, based on our studies, we believe that this doctrine was developed by church fathers beginning in 2nd century CE.  There is no denying that Biblical references can be found on this subject, but our main point is this: IF  Jesus didn’t see it fit or necessary to teach this doctrine, THEN that doctrine can’t possibly be considered part of his religion.


If there is no original sin, then there is no need for substitutionary atonement either.  In our readings of the Gospel accounts we find that  Prophet Jesus (Peace upon them both) taught salvation through proper belief and  proper deeds rather than asking his followers to believe in his future death and resurrection as the means of salvation.

This  is the same concept taught by the last prophet of Allah (God), Muhammad (PBUH). The following hadeeth is just one example in this matter.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “If anyone testifies that None has the right to be worshipped but Allah Alone Who has no partners, and that Muhammad is His Slave and His Apostle, and that Jesus is Allah’s Slave and His Apostle and His Word which He bestowed on Mary and a Spirit created by Him, and that Paradise is true, and Hell is true, Allah will admit him into Paradise with the deeds which he had done even if those deeds were few.” (Junada, the sub-narrator said, ” ‘Ubada added, ‘Such a person can enter Paradise through any of its eight gates he likes.”) (Sahih al-Bukhari 3435)

We will have a detailed discussion on this topic in another booklet after this series: “Salvation according to Jesus(PBUH) and Muhammed (PBUH)”.

This article is part 4 of 6 in a series on Muslim view on Jesus. Read part 5: Did Jesus die on Cross?.

  1. Jesus from a Muslim perspective: Who is Jesus?
  2. Virgin Birth and Prophethood of Jesus
  3. Miracles of Jesus (PBUH)
  4. Who is not Jesus?
  5. Trinity, Sin, & Salvation in Christianity: A critical review
  6. Did Jesus die on Cross?

Article Courtesy: American Herald Tribune