“Allah who created the heavens and the earth! How can God have a child, when He did not have a wife or a companion” (Qur’an 6:101)
“Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan (d. 1898)
This famous Muslim social reformer and educationist of nineteenth-century India denied that Jesus was born of a virgin. See his Commentary of the Quran Tafsir al-Quran, published by Munshi Fazl Din, Kashmiri Bazaar, Lahore, vol. ii, pp. 24–35. See the section titled ‘Muslim Newspaper Sidq’
“Allah who created the heavens and the earth! How can God have a child, when He did not have a wife or a companion” (Qur’an 6:101) This is the verse that people use to try and prove that Jesus was not born of a virgin according to the Qur’an.
Understanding the rhetorical question.
Now the very clear and sensible understanding of this rhetorical question is simple. One Creator being contrasted with the idea of having a companion.
First I find it interesting that usually, these people decide to translate the Arabic term ‘sahibatun’ as ‘wife’ rather than ‘companion’. The Arabic term ‘zawja‘ it is not used in this context. Whereas I would have translated it as ‘companion’ and for good reason. Whereas they tend to focus on the term ‘wife’.The way that these people understand the text we either have to choose between
Look at all the verb forms as well as the nouns and their use within the Qur’an.
To accept that very theologically strained interpretation leaves us with:
A) A creator that is incapable (May Allah pardon us)
It contravenes the following verse:
“His Being alone is such that when He wills a thing to be, He but says unto it, “Be” — and it is.” (Qur’an 36:82)
It seems a bit of a stretch to think that Allah (swt) would make an argument that he couldn’t have a son with a companion and yet create a vast universe from the command “Kun”.
It is not for Allah to take a son; exalted is He! When He decrees an affair, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is. (Qur’an 19:35)
It even contravenes the very verse that they quote to make their case!
B) A creator that is like his creation (May Allah pardon us).
“There is nothing like unto Him.” (Qur’an 42:11)
C) A creator that takes on gender roles. So if Allah (swt) is making a rhetorical argument about human relations is Allah (swt) now taking on the role of the husband or the male progenitor? Be sensible people.
D) A Creator who is ignorant of Christian theology. This would show the Qur’an to be a very human text. Christians do not understand the Father as having a companion. It would mean that the Qur’an is the product of a human mind that has no grasp of the Christian theological position.
The questions that are put forward to those who hold this view are as follows
Why can’t Allah (swt) have a son without a wife? On what consistent basis could you make this claim if taking the verse as a whole?
Would you be opposed to the idea of Allah (swt) having a wife or a son based upon your logic? In other words, do you find it a theological impossibility for Allah (swt) to have wife and/or a son?
Why would Allah (swt) need to be like his creation in the process of bringing a son into being?
Why not look at the whole verse? Why only quote part of it?
“Originator of the heavens and the earth. How could He have a son when He does not have a companion and He created all things? And He is, of all things, Knowing.”(Qur’an 6:101)
First of all Allah (swt) is the originator of the heavens and the earth. Do these people now believe that there was a wife or an associate, or a partner or a companion that helped Allah (swt) in this?
What natural laws did Allah (swt) follow or was beholden to when creating our reality?
The verse all says, “He created all things.”
Why do people seek our companionship/friendship/associates and peers, to begin with? Ponder it.
The need for companionship?
“They say, “God has taken a child.” Glory be to Him! He is Self-Sufficient. Unto Him belongs whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is on the earth. You have no authority for this. Do you say about God that which you know not?” (Qur’an 10:68)
Anything that human beings can receive from companions/friends/peers and associates stems from needs, and Allah (swt) is free from needs.
Whatever people get from having associates and companions Allah (swt) can simply create it. Allah (swt) is the Self-Sufficient!
“There is nothing like unto Him.” (Qur’an 42:11)
If Allah (swt) had a companion /associate/ or peer that would entail being of the exact divine nature of Allah (swt). Allah (swt) crushes that notion with the following ‘He created ALL things’. It is only logical that you can’t have two uncreated beings. It is only logical that you can’t have two originators. This would also entail having a walad (a child).
The following verse more than drives home this point.
“Never did Allah take to Himself a son, and never was there with him any god– in that case would each god have certainly taken away what he created, and some of them would certainly have overpowered others; glory be to Allah above what they describe.” (Qur’an 23:91)
That verse crushes the idea that Allah (swt) could even have a companion.
The focus for people who use this text as an argument is on the word ‘walad’ whereas Allah (swt) is saying he doesn’t have a ‘sahibatun’ a companion to begin with.
She said, “How can I have a boy while no man has touched me and I have not been unchaste?” (Qur’an 19:20)
So according to the understanding of those who deny that Christ Jesus was born of a virgin we have Mary saying, “But I’ll have a child when I get pregnant by my husband“.
“How can God have a child, when He did not have a wife or a companion” (Qur’an 6:101)
So according to these people, you have Allah as saying, “But if I had a wife I could have a child.” Which is simply theologically unsound. It’s theologically unsound. This interpretation of the text ignores the whole of the verse; and worse yet, it doesn’t negate for Allah (swt) the possibility of even having a companion, to begin with! (May Allah pardon us).
This ‘big verse’ that people rely on is just a very bad argument. It’s just bizarre how people can run with things like this without thinking through the implications. It’s intellectually lazy.
The rhetorical question that Allah (swt) is asking people to reflect on is One Creator being contrasted with the idea of having a companion.
I will also add that people will also respond to the statement that: “The Qur’an doesn’t mention a father for Jesus” by saying, “It doesn’t mention a father for a number of Prophets.” Fair enough. However, only Jesus is called the son of Mary. Only Jesus is called the son of his mother. Is there any other Prophet in the Qur’an who is called as such?
I think we all know the answer to that.