To speak of Jesus in Islam is to plunge immediately into an enormous paradox. Jesus of Nazareth, the person regarded as the Son of God by the Christian Church, reappears emphatically and often in the Quran as a prophet. Though there are signs that some of Jesus’ own contemporaries may also have thought of him as such (Mt. 16: 14), to regard Jesus as merely a prophet in the seventh century of the Christian era was clearly a degradation of status, and as such it has generated a polemical tension between Muslims and Christians over the centuries.
There is no indication that Muhammad himself viewed Jesus with anything other than awe and respect; indeed, the Prophet of Islam invoked the Prophet of Nazareth to define and support his own call. But if Muhammad relied on the paradigms of Moses and Jesus in furthering his own mission, his followers had no need of such. In Muslim eyes Muhammad far outshines all those previous messengers: Muhammad’s prophetic paradigms have been replaced by Muhammad himself. Thus today there is no cult of Jesus among Muslims—Islam recognizes no intercession with God, not even Muhammad’s—and the cult of saints, the “friends of God,” as the Muslims call them, is officially condemned by the religious authorities, if not by the religious culture. Jesus is part of Islam’s Heilsgeschichte, but he is not an effective element in Muslim religious sensibility.
At the outset a distinction should be drawn between the Jesus we find in the Quran, which reflects how he appeared to, or was understood by, Muhammad, and Jesus in Islam, how Jesus of Nazareth has been regarded in the community of Muslims. These latter are numbered somewhere in the vicinity of a billion souls, give or take, but a great many people nonetheless. If we add to this calculus the fact that the enterprise we reify as Islam has been in existence for some fourteen centuries, the folly of attempting to say what Muslims think, or thought, about Jesus becomes manifest. Let us settle then for something more modest, the original portrait of Jesus, a sketch really, of Jesus as it is presented in the Quran, and how the details of that portrait were painted in by the earliest generation of Muslims.
A few brief words of orientation to begin. The Quran is the collection of Muhammad’s pronouncements over the course of the twenty-two years of his prophetic calling. For Muslims these are no less that the words of God; for the non-Muslim historian they are an authentic record, the ipsissima verba, no less, constituting Muhammad’s public discourse first at the shrine-center Mecca and then, from 622 until his death ten years later, at the oasis of Medina. Formally, however, these are all pronouncements, naked kerygma without benefit of covering narrative: the Quran is in fact not a German invention but a real, flesh and blood Q, unframed aphorisms that have been set out in 114 sûras or chapters. These latter divisions are not of Muhammad’s own making, however, and many of the sûras are unmistakably composite, that is, one or more independent pronouncement pericopes have been assembled as a single sûra.
Nor are they presented in chronological order. The sûras in the standard Quran are arranged generally in order of their decreasing length and not in the order of their pronouncement/revelation. For the true Scripturalist believer this probably makes little difference since the words of God are entirely and simultaneously true and so unfold like a Möbius strip or a continuously repeated fugue. But for the historian this reshuffling of the pronouncements—whose rationale is still unknown to us—presents a grave disability. Since the historian must inevitably regard the Quran, or any other Scripture, as a privileged view of the mind of the author or editor rather than as an unfolding of the thoughts of God, the loss of the original chronology inhibits our tracing the growth of an idea or of a concept, newer or fuller understandings, or, indeed, changes of mind or perspective on the part of Muhammad. The Quran is patently filled with widely differing attitudes towards everything from the use of force to the consumption of wine and the hours of prayer, as well it might be since it presents the thoughts of a man whose public ministry covered twenty-two years, during which Muhammad went from a hesitant prophet and fearful preacher in a one-horse shrine town to the thunderously successful head of a burgeoning empire in Western Arabia. Muhammad knew something about Jesus and the Jews when he was a forty year old with two strikes on him in Mecca, but he knew a lot more when he was sixty and batting .400 at Medina.
Both Muslims and non-Muslims have addressed, albeit for different reasons, the question of the order of the sûras of the Quran, and they have come up with a provisional solution. It is possible, both groups agree, to assign the various sûras to distinct periods of Muhammad’s career, to his early, middle or late period at Mecca, for example, and even, somewhat more boldly and much less convincingly, to arrange the individual sûras in each group in a plausible chronological order. Thus, it is possible, in despite of the editors who assembled the ne varietur text of our present scrambled Quran sometime about 650 AD, some twenty-odd years after Muhammad’s death, to trace Muhammad’s thinking about the intriguing Isa ibn Maryam.
But before we examine the quranic portrait, it may be worthwhile explaining why Jesus is in the Quran in the first place. The reason is rather straightforward. From the outset Muhammad seems to have understood his mission as the continuation, and, as his confidence grew, as the fulfillment and culmination of God’s providential plan for mankind. Man had been sinful from the beginning, and God in compassionate response dispatched to humankind a series of prophets to warn them of the eventual consequences of resisting His will. What God required was submission, in Arabic, islâm, an acknowledgement of God as creator and humankind as His creature. But humankind was stiff-necked and resistant: they persecuted God’s envoys—to their own eventual sorrow. Now God in His mercy had sent the last of his prophets, Muhammad, with the final version of His call to submission. But Muhammad’s audience was resistant as well, and for their benefit the Quran often rehearses the history of the earlier prophets and the exemplary punishments visited upon those who resisted them.
Though the tales of a few of those prophets are drawn from Arabian lore, by far the majority of them are well-known biblical figures ranging from Adam and Abraham and Moses to David and Solomon; oddly, however, none of what we call the Major or Minor Prophets is mentioned in the Quran. But Jesus is, and so is John the Baptist. All of them were venerable and venerated figures for Muhammad, but three are signaled for special attention. Abraham is the prototype “submitter,” in Arabic, muslim, since he was the first of fallen mankind to acknowledge the One True God. Indeed, Muhammad came to insist that what he was preaching was nothing less than the “religion of Abraham,” a pristine monotheism that antedated both Judaism, which began with Moses and the Torah, the Tawrât, and Christianity, which had its beginning with Jesus and the Gospel, al-Injîl.
We must pause over this Injîl, as the Gospel is called in the Quran, using an Arabic transformation of euangelion that may have already been current in Muhammad’s time. Muhammad is a convinced Scripturalist: the Quran proceeding from his mouth, though the word itself means “recitation,” he clearly understood was a Book, a Sacred Book like those possessed by the Jews and the Christians. Muhammad, who had probably seen such Books in a liturgical context in the hands of Jews and Christians, was perfectly incapable of reading so much as a line of them; on the face of it, he had certainly never read or even looked into the Bible or the New Testament, nor could he have since there was no Arabic translation of either until late in the eighth century. Indeed, the expression “New Testament” never occurs to Muhammad: quranic references to Christian Scripture are always to an Injîl, are always in the singular, and they leave the unmistakable impression that Muhammad thought of the Christian Scripture as a book, a single book, given by God to Jesus, much as the Torah had been given to Moses and the Quran “sent down” to Muhammad.
Some Christians did in fact have a single “Gospel,” the harmonized Syrian text called the Diatessaron that is attributed to the second century Tatian. It is not impossible that Muhammad had that in mind, but since he seems not to have known that the Gospels were about Jesus and not something revealed to him, it is equally plausible that in referring to a singular Injîl, he was merely inferring that the “Gospel” had to be like the Jews’ Torah, a copy of which he had almost certainly seen in the possession of the Jews of Medina. His inference may have stretched somewhat farther, however. Muhammad must have been aware of the Christian claim that Jesus’ coming had been foretold in the Jewish Bible; surely that was the reason why the Quran asserts more than once that Muhammad’s own prophetic mission was foretold in both the Tawrât and the Injîl.
Nobody questioned that assertion in Muhammad’s own day, when knowledge of such matters was thin indeed, but later Muslims had to answer importunate questions of Christians on the exact location of the Gospels’ prediction of a coming “Ahmad” (61: 6), as well as an explanation for the Quran’s understanding that there was only a single Gospel. The answers were various, including an attempt to find a predictive text in the Gospels—John 15: 23, with its reference to a coming Paraclete, was a popular candidate—but there was at hand a far simpler retort that would answer both objections, namely, that the Christians, like the Jews (3: 72), had tampered with their Scriptures: they had corrupted the single Injîl into four Gospels and they had of course removed all references to the prophet to come.
Before we look at what the Quran actually says about Jesus, it is important to have some sense of quranic discourse. The style of the Quran is extraordinarily difficult. As already remarked, its pronouncements are often put forward as part of a flow of ideas that more often than not appear to be linked only by free association, and whose stops and starts are signaled by nothing more than an abrupt shift in the rhythm- or rhyme-scheme; they do not, in any event, come framed within a narrative that might help us in parsing them. There are no markers of time, place or even personality to help us understand what is being said, to whom, and why. Beyond that, the shape of the utterances themselves are sometimes vatic, often apophatic, and they expect the listeners—the Quran was, after all, delivered orally in the first instance—to grasp what now strike us as extremely fugitive allusions. Pronouns float through the discourse without antecedent. God is often the apparent speaker (sometimes in the singular, sometimes in the plural, sometimes in the first person, sometimes in the third); but there are sudden shifts of subject and the frequent introduction of “they say…” which we know must refer to an individual or a group that is talking back to Muhammad, but unfortunately off-mike.
The story of Jesus is not, then, told in any consecutive form, but he is referred to often and sometimes in detail, particularly in the later sûras from Medina. There is a quite particular reference to his mother Maryam, who is not only the only female referred to by name in the Quran, but is mentioned more often here than in the entire New Testament. Before her birth, Mary’s own mother, who is identified merely as the wife of ‘Imran—this latter is also given as the name of Moses’ father; there is some reason to believe that Muhammad may have confused Miryam, Moses’ sister and Maryam, Jesus’ mother—vowed that her child would be a consecrated offering to God. There was disappointment when that child turned out to be a girl, but her mother nonetheless asked for God’s protection from Satan for her and her offspring.
When Mary had grown to maturity, the priest Zachariah was chosen by lot to be her guardian. Mary was raised in the temple, and whenever Zachariah went into the sanctuary, he found that she had food which she claimed had been supplied by God (3: 33-7: 44). Zachariah’s own role is enhanced when he asks God to provide him with an heir. He is incredulous—he is struck dumb for his disbelief—when he is told that despite his advanced age and his wife’s barrenness, he would have a son (3: 38-41 and 19: 2-15). That son is John the Baptist. Yahya, as he is called in the Quran, is eulogized, but there is little about his life or mission.
The story of the Annunciation is told twice in the Quran (19: 16-22; 3: 42-47). In one account it is said to have occurred through “angels” when she had withdrawn toward the east was concealed by a curtain or screen. Mary was told that God had chosen her and made her pure and preferred her above all the women of creation. She was given good tidings of a word from God whose name was the Messiah, Jesus Son of Mary; he would be illustrious in the world and in the hereafter. In the other version the news is said to have been announced by God’s Spirit “who took the form of a perfect man” and who reassured the frightened Mary that he was only a messenger sent from her Lord in order to bestow on her a pure boy. Mary asked how she could have a son since she had not been unchaste. According to one version, she received the reply that God creates what He wills by simply decreeing it. According to the other, she was told that it was easy for God and that her son would be made a sign for mankind, a mercy from God and a thing ordained. In neither of these accounts of the Annunciation are we told how the conception itself took place, but elsewhere there are two brief allusions to God’ breathing into Mary of His Spirit (21:9, 66: 12). The Muslim commentators accepted, in any event, a virginal conception and birth.
When Mary had conceived, she withdrew to a distant place, perhaps a reference to Bethlehem, as it was later thought. There she was driven by the pangs of childbirth to the trunk of a palm tree and she wished that she were dead and forgotten. A voice “from beneath her”—the allusion is obscure—told her not to grieve but to drink from the rivulet which her Lord had placed there and to eat the ripe dates which would fall upon her when she shook the tree (19: 22-25; cf. 23: 50). Mary was instructed not to speak to anyone. She then brought the child to her own folk who expressed their stunned amazement at what must have seemed her immorality, addressing her as ‘sister of Aaron’ and reproving her by pointing out that her father had not been a wicked man nor had her mother been a whore. She pointed to her newborn and the infant Jesus spoke to them in her defense, asserting that he was God’s servant, that God had given him the Scripture and had appointed him a prophet. He said that God had made him blessed wheresoever he was and had enjoined upon him prayer and alms-giving for the duration of his life. Finally he declared that peace was upon him on the day of his birth, the day of his death and the day of his being raised to life (19:26-33).
The Quran has little to say about Jesus’ teaching, although at the Annunciation Mary was told that he was destined to speak to mankind in the cradle and also when he was of mature age (3: 46). To perform his task he was strengthened by the Holy Spirit and given signs (5: 110, 2: 87) and God taught him the Scripture and Wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel (3: 48, 5: 110). Jesus attested the truth of what was in the Torah (3:50, 5:46, 61:6), though he also made lawful some of the things that were forbidden to the Children of Israel in his day (3: 50; cf. 3: 93). He came to them with wisdom and made plain to them some of the things about which they were in disagreement (43: 63). He enjoined on them fear of God and obedience to himself. The main thrust of his message was that God was his Lord and their Lord and that to worship God was the straight path (3: 5O-52; cf. 5: 72, 117; 19: 36; 43: 64). Jesus warned the Jews that paradise was forbidden to those who ascribe partners to God (5: 72), and he cursed those of the Children of Israel who went astray (5: 78). The religion which he was sent to establish was that of Noah, Abraham, Moses and, subsequently, of Muhammad himself (33: 7; 42: 13). The Gospel which was bestowed upon him contained guidance, light and admonition (5: 46). Like the Torah, which it confirmed, and the Quran, which was revealed after it, the Injîl contained God’s promise of paradise to those who gave their lives fighting in God’s cause (9: 111). And as already noted, the Injîl also mentioned the coming of an unlettered prophet (7: 157), and Jesus himself brought good tidings of one whose name would be Ahmad (or ‘more highly praised’)(61: 6). He summoned his own disciples to be ‘helpers’ in God’s cause and they described themselves as those who were ‘submitted’ and who ‘bore witness’ (3: 52ff.; 5: 111; 6: 14).
According to the Quran, Muhammad was called upon to produce miracles or signs (âyât) but he determinedly refused to do so, maintaining that the Quran will be his prophetic miracle. But the other prophets produced signs aplenty, and the Quran knows of Jesus’ miracles, which are summarily listed twice. First, at the Annunciation, Mary was told (3: 49) that he would be a messenger to the Children of Israel. As a sign for them from their Lord, he would fashion a bird from clay which would become a real bird when he breathed into it; he would heal the blind from birth and the leper; he would raise the dead and he would announce to them what they ate and what they stored in their houses. The second list (5: 109-110) is given in retrospect when God reminds Jesus of His past favors towards him and his mother. The list is very similar to the first one, but it lacks the reference to Jesus’ clairvoyance. Moreover, in reminding Jesus of his favor, God adds that He restrained the Children of Israel from him when the unbelievers among them reacted to his coming to them with clear proofs by accusing him of sorcery, the same charge that is alleged in a contemporary Jewish account of Jesus’ death, the Babylonian Talmud
A pause and a reflection. The account of Jesus’ miracles, like the account of the Annunciation, pulls back, however so little, the veil that covers the religious landscape of Muhammad’s world. We can attempt to write the historical Jesus firmly against the Jewish Palestinian background provided by Josephus, Qumran and the biblical apocrypha. With Muhammad we have only a blank screen onto which to project the accounts of his life, and the Josephus of pre-Islamic Mecca is, in fact, a Belgian Jesuit whose 1924 account of Mecca on the eve of Islam has provided the canvas upon which every subsequent critical study of Muhammad has been inscribed. Lammens’ work was based on a close reading of the pre-Islamic poets, but what we hear in the Quran of Jesus’ miracles, the story of his turning childish clay modelings into live birds, for example (3: 49), tells us that we are now deep within the world of the New Testament apocrypha, the eastern Christian world that produced the Infancy Gospels of James and of Thomas, where the same story occurs. The Infancy Thomas in fact spawned out of its Syriac version an only slightly later Arabic version of the same, and though the illiterate Muhammad never read those or similar works, their contents were clearly in circulation even in the religious outback of Western Arabia in the seventh century, though in what precise form we cannot say.
But the veil goes back only so far. The account of Jesus’ miracles in Sura 5 ends with a story of the disciples asking Jesus whether his Lord was able to send down a table spread with food for them to eat so that they might know for certain that he had spoken the truth. Jesus asked God to send it down as a feast, more properly a feast-day (cîd), for them and those who would come after. God responded that He would send it down but that thereafter He would severely punish any who disbelieved (5: 112-115). It is an absolutely opaque story. Some Muslim commentators thought it might refer to the Last Supper—“as a feast-day for them” is suggestive—but others thought it must reflect the story of the miraculous Feeding of the Five Thousand. The apocrypha here offer no help. Was Muhammad drawing upon some Christian tradition unknown to us or had he or someone earlier simply garbled a remote evangelical memory? The Quran is too far off the beaten literary track for even a guess.
The Quran’s remarks about the death of Jesus—there is nothing there that even approaches an “account”—is the most problematic of all its views of Jesus. The event is noted in passing on a number of occasions, for instance, when Jesus is blessed “on the day of his birth, the day of his death and the day of his being raised up alive” (19: 33). This might appear to be a reference to Jesus’ execution and resurrection as described in the Gospels, but the same is said of John the Baptist earlier in the same sûra, and so it seems far more likely to us, as it did to the Muslim exegetical tradition, that the resurrection in question was that of all the dead on the Last Day. By that calculus the mortal Jesus has either already died or will at some future point. But on the quranic witness, it seems quite certain that he was not executed by crucifixion, as the Gospels claim.
Muhammad was not interested in disproving the Gospel story. Rather, it is the Jews he has in his sights in Sura 4 of the Quran:
“…they [the Jews’] violated their covenant and disbelieved in the signs [âyât] of God, and killed the prophets unjustly…They denied the truth and uttered a mighty slander against Mary. And they said ‘We have killed the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the messenger of God.’ They did not kill him and they did not crucify him, but he was made to resemble another for them…They did not kill him for certain. But God raised him into his presence…” (4: 155-159)
The translation “he was made to resemble another for them,” or ”he was counterfeited for them,” which suggests that the Jews mistakenly crucified a substitute, someone who resembled Jesus, is by no means certain. The same Arabic words might equally well yield “but they thought they did.” The Muslim tradition has generally preferred the substitution reading and has as usual produced a number of stories to fill in the details, how all his disciples were made (or volunteered) to look like him and the wrong man was chosen, or how Judas was made to resemble Jesus and so got his just deserts. Jesus meanwhile was assumed live into heaven, whence he will return at the End Time to suffer the fate of all mortals.
Our earliest preserved commentary on these extraordinary verses of the Quran comes not from a Muslim but from the Christian theologian and heresiographer John of Damascus (d. ca. 750), whose family had served in the Muslim administration and who knew a good deal about the Quran and its exegesis. He chides the Muslims for saying that the Jews “crucified his shadow; but Christ himself, they say, was not crucified nor did he die; for God took him up to Himself into heaven because He loved him.” Ibn Sacd, a Muslim exegete and historian who died in 845 AD, completes the essential picture. “God raised him (to heaven) with his body. He is still alive and will return to this world and will be king of the whole earth. Then he will die like other living beings.” There is much more, of course: Jesus’ return will signal the End Time and he will be pitted in combat against the Anti-Christ, in Arabic al-Dajjâl, “the Deceiver,” whom he slays.
This apocalyptic side of the Jesus story brings us to one characteristic of the quranic Jesus that nicely resumes many of our problems in understanding the provenance and even the exact contours of Muhammad’s thinking about Jesus. In the Quran Jesus is called not only by the matronymic “Ibn Maryam,” but also by the title al-Masîh. Unlike the case of Injîl, where the Quran, like the Syrian Christians, had available a transcription of the Greek euangelion, the Quran, either by ignorance or by choice, passes over the Greek Christos for the Semitic, and probably Syriac, Masîh for Jesus’ Christological title.
But if there is a title, what is Jesus’ messianic function in the Quran? First, it must be remarked that, apart from the notion that Jesus confirmed the Torah that had been sent down before him, the Quran recognizes no organic connection between the Old Testament and the New, and, as already noted, the very notion of New Testament is missing from the Quran. Al-Masîh looks very much like a name in the Quran since the quranic Jesus is not the promised Messiah in any recognizable Jewish or Christian sense of that word. Though in his lifetime Jesus was only a prophet, like Muhammad, a warner, he does have, as we have just seen, what can be regarded as a messianic function in the eschaton, when he returns to earth to suffer his mortal death.
There is another eschatological figure on the Islamic landscape, the Mahdi or “Guided One,” and it is not at all clear, from either the Quran or to the Muslim exegetes of that Book, whether Jesus was the Mahdi or whether room would have to be found on that blasted apocalyptic landscape for two champions of righteousness and Islam.
This, then, is in some respects a very full portrait of Jesus, and generally speaking, it is a highly favorable one. In the main, it parallels the Gospel accounts of Jesus, but in some respects there are significant departures, as already noted, in the matter of his death, for example, and all that it implied. On that larger issue of Jesus’ significance, the Quran is firm: Jesus was a messenger and no more. Christians err grievously in calling him the Son of God (4: 171), and those who make God, Jesus and Jesus’ mother Mary into members of a divine trinity suffer from grave disbelief (5: 72 ff., 116).
If we take the quranic portrait of Jesus as a whole, it raises a whole series of difficult and provocative questions for the historian. When we ask, as invariably we must—just as the Muslim commentators must not—where this extraordinary portrait came from, there are very few convincing answers. It came from Muhammad’s head, obviously, and perhaps we owe this particular combination of ingredients solely to him. It is a tempting hypothesis. Not only does it spare us the charge of reductionism; it also explains why, though we can find some of the concrete particulars in the canonical and apocryphal gospels, there is no version or brand of Christianity that held this particular set of beliefs about Jesus. For generations historians have been holding up to the Quran the profile now of Monophysite, now of Nestorian Christianity, in hopes of finding a match. Docetists, Tritheists and Monothelites have all been marched into the lists without uncovering any convincing similarity to what Muhammad thought about Jesus. Many Christian keys seem to fit the quranic lock, but loosely, and the bolts never quite turn. The Quran offers us a low Christology, but low Christologies, whether Ebionite or Nestorian, do not require a Docetist ending to Jesus’ life, as Muhammad’s Christology apparently did. And it is an ending, let me remind you once again, that is directed not against a redemptionist Christianity but at the Jews: the death of Jesus is denied precisely to counter the Jewish claim—presumably voiced by the Jews of Medina— that they had put Jesus to death
Thus we do not have, and probably never will have, a Christian template to “explain” the view of Jesus put forward in the Quran. We should not be surprised perhaps. Our best attested eastern Christianities are all of the Hellenic stripe, conciliar Christianity, as it has been called, with a profound interest in theology. The vernacular Syrian churches drank from different wells, however. For them, as for Muhammad, religion was a “way” rather than a system, practices rather than dogma. The Quran too, for its part, though it seems aware of the doctrine of the Trinity, shows little real interest in Christian theology or in the larger significance of Jesus for Christians. The Syrians professed a low Christology whereby Jesus was regarded as the “Servant of God,” a position close to the Quran’s own. For these same reasons, there are those who have professed to see behind the Quran’s version of Jesus some sort of Judeo-Christian sect that not implausibly survived into the seventh century out on the Syro-Arabian steppe frontiers. There were Christian tribes all along those eastern limites, the vagrant flocks of eastern monks who dwelled in many of those same remote places. Their vernacular was Arabic, but their lingua sacra was Syriac and so too was their religious culture, the beliefs held and exchanged in desert encampments. If Muhammad encountered Christians, as surely he must have, they were almost certainly those same illiterate nomads who have left behind no literary texts, churches, chapels or shrines, but whose traces may still be preserved in the Quran, and through it, have found their way deep into Muslim consciousness.
To resume and conclude. Neither Muhammad nor the Muslims after him knew much about Jesus of Nazareth, the man of Galilee of whom the Gospels, whatever else they may have had in mind, profess to give a historical portrait. The reasons are simple and direct. Neither Muhammad nor the earliest generation of Muslims who fashioned the construct we call Islam, had access to those Gospels. And later, after the ninth century, when the Gospels were available in Arabic, Muslims declined to read them. They decline first as a matter of principle. The Quran was understood to complete and perfect the earlier Scriptures. Hence, there is no soteriological necessity of consulting them. This is an end-game position, however,. Earlier in his career, when the scoffers had doubted his tales of the prophets, Muhammad urged his listeners to go and confirm his preaching by asking the “People of the Book,” the Jews and Christians, whether what he said was so. Second, and more pertinent to our present discussion, Muslim abstention from the New Testament is a matter of theological prudence. From Muhammad’s day to this, it has been a matter of dogma that the Gospel has been tampered with, that the Scripture in the hands of the Christians—and of the Jew too for that matter—is not the authentic one sent down by God. And so they once again decline to read it. And continue to do so.