No Offspring of God

 

The Qur’an’s strict monotheism was revealed in the highly polytheistic society of Arabia. The Arabs believed in Allah, but they also believed in other deities (e.g. 13.33, 14.30). They considered Allah to be the chief God and believed in other, lower deities whom they saw as intermediaries who would bring them closer to God:

It is We who have sent down to you [O Muhammad!] the Book with the truth, therefore worship Allah, making religion pure for Him. (39.2) Pure religion is surely for Allah only, and as for those who take guardians besides Him, [saying] “we do not worship them save that they may bring us nearer to Allah,” surely Allah will judge between them about that in which they differ; surely Allah does not guide aright one who is a liar, disbeliever. (39.3)

The Arabs also considered these idols God’s offspring (also 18.4-5, 23.84-92):

And they (the disbelievers) say: “Allah has taken offspring [to Himself]”. Glory be to Him; rather, whatever is in the heavens and the earth is His; all are subservient to Him. (2.116)

They (the disbelievers) say: “Allah has taken offspring [to Himself]”. Glory be to Him. He is the Self-sufficient One. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. You have no authority for this [claim]; do you say about Allah what you do not know? (10.68)

These gods were also believed to be females, so they were described as God’s daughters. Interestingly, the polytheistic society of Arabia considered the female inferior to the male, and the practice of female infanticide was widespread among them until it was prohibited and stopped by Islam (81.8-9). Despite this poor view of females, the Arabs were quite comfortable with making God’s offspring females. This contradiction was one argument that the Qur’an used to expose the falsehood of assigning daughters to God, ridiculing the polytheists for wanting males for themselves yet assigning females to God:

And they (the disbelievers) assign daughters to Allah — glory be to Him — and for themselves what they desire. (16.57) And when one of them is given the news of the birth of a female, his face darkens, and he becomes filled with anger. (16.58) He hides himself from people because of the evil of that which has been announced to him. Shall he keep it with disgrace or bury it [alive] in the dust? Surely evil is what they judge. (16.59)

Or has He taken [to Himself] daughters out of what He creates and preferred you [O you who disbelieve!] with sons? (43.16) And when one of them is given the news of the birth of what he links to God, his face darkens, and he becomes filled with anger. (43.17)

Or has He daughters whereas you have sons? (52.39)

The Qur’an names three of the Arab’s female idols, in the context of sarcastically contrasting the miracles that God showed to Prophet Muhammad with the fact that these goddesses could not show anything to their believers:

He (Prophet Muhammad) has seen of His Lord’s greatest signs. (53.18) Have you [O you who disbelieve!] seen Lāt, ‘Ūzzā, (53.19) and Manāt, the third, the other one? (53.20) So the male is for you and the female is for Him? (53.21) This is an unfair distribution! (53.22)

The Qur’an continues in verses 53.21-22 its sarcastic tone to remind the Arabs that it is unfair of them to attribute to God females and take to themselves males!

The polytheists of Arabia did not restrict the daughtership of God to idols. They believed that the angels, whom they claimed to be females, were also His daughters. The Qur’an rejects that the angels were females and that they were God’s daughters:

Those who do not believe in the hereafter call the angels with female names. (53.27) They have no knowledge of that; they follow nothing but conjecture, and surely conjecture can never replace the truth. (53.28)

Has Your Lord [O you who disbelieve!] then preferred for you males and taken [to Himself] females from among the angels? Most surely you utter a grievous saying. (17.40)

And they (the disbelievers) make the angels, who are servants of God, females. Have they witnessed their creation? Their testimony shall be written down and they shall be questioned. (43.19) And they say: “Had God willed, we would not have worshipped them.” They have no knowledge of this; they only lie. (43.20)

The idolatrous Arabs also believed that the jinn, whom God created of fire (15.27, 55.15, 7.12, 38.76), have some form of kinship with Him:

So ask them [O Muhammad!]: “Has your Lord daughters whereas they have sons?” (37.149) Or did We create the angels females while they were witnesses? (37.150) It is from their falsehood that they say: (37.151) “Allah has begotten”; and most surely they are liars. (37.152) Has He chosen daughters in preference to sons? (37.153) What is the matter with you? How do you judge [so wrongly]? (37.154) Will you not then reflect? (37.155) Or have you a clear authority? (37.156) Bring your book, if you are truthful. (37.157) And they claim a kinship between Him and the jinn, whereas the jinn know well that they will be brought before Him [on the Day of Resurrection.] (37.158)

Not surprising, then, the people of Arabia worshipped the jinn:

And on the Day [of resurrection] when He will gather them all together, He will say to the angels: “Did these (the disbelievers) worship you?” (34.40) They shall say: “Glory be to You! You are our Guardian, not they. No; they worshipped the jinn; most of them believed in them.” (34.41)

We have already quoted verses in which the Qur’an says that the polytheists believed that the angels were God’s daughters. One interpretation that the classical exegete aṭ-Ṭabarī (840-922 CE) mentions is that the disbelievers used to see jinn and worship them, and they mistook them for angels. So the angels’ reply to God clarifies that the jinn were actively promoting this false partnership with God, perhaps through mediums, whereas the angels never did anything to invite or encourage the polytheists to treat them as divine and worship them. We will later see a similar denial by Jesus when God asks him a similar question about those who worshipped him (p. 1).

In another verse which also denounces the deification of the jinn, the Qur’an argues that the polytheistic claim that some deities were God’s offspring, as opposed to being unrelated deities or having any other relationship with Him, can only imply that God fathered them through a relationship with a consort. The concept of God’s offspring conjures up an image of a god that is very similar to the human being and other creatures:

And they make the jinn partners with Allah, while He created them; and they attribute to Him sons and daughters, without knowledge; glory be to Him, and highly exalted is He above what they describe. (6.100) He is the Originator of the heavens and the earth! How could He have offspring when He has no consort, and He created everything? And He is the knower of everything. (6.101)

The Qur’an rejects the suggestion that God has a consort, and this rejection is repeated in another verse in words attributed to some Muslim jinn:

And that exalted be the majesty of our Lord, He has not taken [to Himself] a consort or offspring. (72.3)

Another Qur’anic argument against the claim that God had offspring is that had God had any offspring, Prophet Muhammad himself would have been commanded to worship them, yet Muhammad was sent to call to the worship of the one and only God:

Say [O Muhammad!]: “If God had offspring, I would have been the first worshipper.” (43.81) Glory be to the Lord of the heavens and the earth, the Lord of Throne, above what they describe. (43.82)

The Qur’an also uses the concept of offspring of God to reject the divinity of anyone other than God:

Had Allah wanted to take offspring [to Himself], He would have chosen as He liked from what He has created. Glory be to Him; He is Allah, the One, the Subduer. (39.4)

This verse argues that even if God had wanted to take offspring to Himself, He would have chosen them from His creation. The verse does not mean that it is possible that God could take offspring, but it rhetorically stresses that even in this impossible case God would not have created divine beings, and that such choosing would not have made the chosen creatures divine.

In the same way it stresses that the jinn are a mere creation of God, the Qur’an also clarifies that the angels, whom the polytheists called God’s offspring, are no more than pious servants:

And all creatures in the heavens and in the earth and the angels prostrate themselves to Allah, and they do not show pride. (16.49)

And they (the disbelievers) say: “God has taken offspring [to Himself]”. Glory be to Him. They are rather honoured servants. (21.26) They do not precede Him in speech, and they act by His command. (21.27) He knows what is before them and what is behind them; and they do not intercede except for him whom He approves, and they are wary because of their fear of Him. (21.28) And should any of them say: “I am a god besides Him,” such a one We reward with hell; thus do We reward the wrongdoers. (21.29)

The Qur’an did not reject the concept of offspring of God only as it was understood by the polytheists of Arabia. Its rejection of this concept is absolute and without any qualification, reservation, or exception (also 18.4, 17.111):

He to whom belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth; and who did not take offspring [to Himself], who has no partner in the sovereignty, and who created everything and ordained for it a measure. (25.2)

And they (the disbelievers) say: “God has taken offspring [to Himself].” (19.88) You [O you who disbelieve!] have made an abominable assertion (19.89) whereby the heavens may almost be rent, the earth cleave asunder, and the mountains fall down in utter ruin, (19.90) that they ascribe offspring to God (19.91). And it is not fit for God to take offspring [to Himself.] (19.92) There is no one in the heavens and the earth but will come to God as a servant. (19.93)

Say [O Muhammad!]: “He, Allah, is One. (112.1) Allah, on whom all depend. (112.2) He has not begotten, nor was he begotten. (112.3) And none is comparable to Him.” (112.4)

Not surprisingly, therefore, Christianity’s claim that Jesus was God’s son is strongly and comprehensively rebutted in the Qur’an.