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Who Were The al-Nasara (Nazarenes)?

Who Were The al-Nasara (Nazarenes)?

I have often wondered how is it possible that the Quran’s teachings about Christianity differ from what the Bible teaches and what we Christians actually believe.

Sura 5:116 is a prime example.
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 ?'”

Whose belief is this?

Where does the Quranic picture of “Christianity” come from?

There were two parties of Jewish Christians in the early years of church history.

Jerome (beginning of fifth century) records that he is aware of two groups of Jewish Christians distinguished by certain unusual similarities, whom he names respectively Nazarenes and Ebionites. Both groups claimed to follow both Jewish AND Christian teachings and sought to affiliate themselves with both Judaism and Christianity.

“What shall I say of the Ebionites who pretend to be Christians? To-day there still exists among the Jews in all the synagogues of the East a heresy which is called that of the Minæans, and which is still condemned by the Pharisees; [its followers] are ordinarily called ‘Nasarenes‘;……..But while they pretend to be both Jews and Christians, they are neither.”

– Jewish Encyclopedia, Jerome’s Account”

Who Were The Nazarenes?

The Nazarenes were a small sect in numbers, whose main region of influence was in Syria.

It struck me that when Muhammad was a boy, he frequently accompanied his uncle on his business trips to Syria.

Could it be that his early exposure to what he believed was “Christianity” was contact with the Nazarenes? Did he sit with with his uncle and the Syrian Nazarene traders in the evenings as he listened to their teachings about their beliefs?

Remember there was no Islam yet at this point. He was from a community that worshipped hundreds of idols including Allah. Did their stories from the scriptures about the One God embarrass Muhammad about his own people? Did their devotion to Jesus captivate him?

You don’t find the word Christian in the Quran. Instead the word used for the followers of Christ is “al-nasara” ~ nazarenes!

Muhammad grew up thinking the Nazarenes were Christians, the followers of Jesus Christ!
The Nazarenes had a gospel called “Gospel of the Hebrews.” (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/gospelhebrews.html)
Here is the interesting bit. This apocryphal book was in Aramaic! (Dated around 80AD – 150AD.)

Is this why Muslims insist the gospel must be in Aramaic? Could this be their missing “Injeel”? Could Muhamamd have seen this book in the hands of the Nazarenes when he was a kid and believed it to be the Injeel given to Jesus and handed to his “followers”, the Nazarenes?

Unfortunately, the date for this gospel is long after Jesus had ascended and also after the entire NT had been written and completed.

The Nazarenes and this “gospel” do not exist today but we have a window to their beliefs through the quotations from the writings of Jerome, Clement and others.

What were the beliefs of the Nazarenes?

They believed they were under obligation to keep all the laws.
They believed Jesus was the Messiah. They regarded that he was born of the virgin Mary.
and that he was filled with God’s Spirit in a special way.

No surprises. All these are taught in the Quran. The al-nasara are praised and promised rewards, as in Sura 2:62.
The Nazarenes also believed that Mary was the Divine Mother and embodiment of the Holy Spirit!

Could it be that Muhammad after he grew up and came in contact with other so-called “Christians” (Waraqa ~ a Nestorian priest…) learnt that this was wrong?

Is this why the al-nasara is praised in some verses, and condemned in other verses? Is this why they were presumed to have corrupted their book?

Coming back to the ayah I quoted at the beginning, Sura 5:116.

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 ?'”

This is not Christian belief. This was the belief of the Nazarenes, al-nasara.

The author of the Quran could not distinguish what was actual Biblical beliefs of Christians, attributing to them, what were heretical teachings of some obscure sect that no longer exists. No one even knows when they disappeared in history and yet in Allah’s eternal books, they are given a prominent place but there is no mention of Christians, the true followers of Jesus Christ, who for 2000 years form the largest body of believers in history!

Were The Followers Of Jesus Called Nasara Instead of Christians?

Were The Followers Of Jesus Called Nasara Instead of Christians?

Do you know why Muslims are so obsessed with finding the word “Christian” or “Christianity” in the Bible?
Because these words do not appear in the Quran.They believe the correct name given to the followers of Christ is “Nasara”, as in the Quran.
‘Nasara’ is the Arabic word for Nazarene.

What Muslims have failed to realize is that the name ‘nazarene’ was given by Jews to Jewish Christians as an insult.

In fact, in Acts 24:6, there is reference to the “sect of the nazarenes”.
SURPRISE!

So the Bible does indeed mention the name nazarene (nasara) associated with Christians!
Except that, it was the Jews who gave the Jewish Christians this label as a badge of dishonor because they were followers of Jesus of Nazareth. They were already known as Christians!

But what was so insulting about this name, nazarene?

The word nazarene comes from the name of the town, Nazareth, where Jesus hailed from.

Nazareth was a a primitive, shabby, dirty slum, about 3 to 5 days journey from the glorious city of Jerusalem. The people of Nazareth were looked down upon and despised by the whole nation. They were like the ‘country bumpkins’ of Judea.

Even Nathanael, before He became one of the Apostles of Jesus, laughed sarcastically: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46)

Why didn’t the author of the Quran know that the word “nasara (nazarene)” was a derogatory slang used by the Jews as an insult to the Jewish Christians?
How and when was the author of the Quran influenced by those sarcastic Jews to use this word in his book?

Now, let’s look at why the word “Christian” does not appear in the Quran.

The English word “Christ” comes from the Greek word Χριστός (Christos) which means Messiah (Masiach in Hebrew).

It is THIS word, Masiach, that is found in the Quran translated as “al-Masih”, which means Christ!

So, it is false to say that the word Christ/Christian is not found in the Quran. These are English words! Of course you will not find it in the Quran’s arabic text.
(Yet, if you look at your English translated Qurans, your revered translators do use the word Christian! see Sura 2:62 for example.)

The Arabic word al-Masihi is the English word Christ!
From the word “Christ” come the words Christian and Christianity.

Just as from the Arabic word al-Masih come the words Masihi and al-Masihiya.

masih

 

What Came First – Christianity or Islam?

What Came First – Christianity or Islam?

 In Matthew 13, Jesus tells a powerful parable.

A man sows good seeds in a field.
An enemy comes and sows bad seeds among the good seeds.
While the good seeds grow into wheat, the bad seeds become weeds and grows among the wheat.

What does this parable mean? Jesus explains it in Matthew 13:36-43

The field is the WORLD.
The man sowing the good seeds is Jesus Himself.
The enemy who comes later to sow the bad seeds is satan.

The good seeds, sown by Jesus, grow to become wheat, representing the followers of Jesus and His kingdom.
The bad seeds that come later (600 years later?) represent the followers of satan.

The weeds will even claim to love the Sower of the good seeds more than the wheat themselves and seek to associate themselves with Him.
Weeds grow fast, so it is no surprise that they will claim they are the fastest growing.

What happens in the end?

“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. (Matt 13:40-43)

 

Are You A Slave Or A Son?

Are You A Slave Or A Son?

slave

 

Muslims believe that they are slaves of Allah.

Christians who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior believe that they are sons* of God the Father.
*(the meaning of ‘sons’ include both sons and daughters).

 

 

 

A slave has no personal relationship with his master.
A son enjoys a precious personal relationship with his father.

“To all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”  John 1:12

 

A master uses his slaves.
A father nurtures his sons.

“A slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.” (John 8:35)

 

A slave serves his master with the motive of receiving a reward.
A son serves his father in gratitude because he already has the promise of the reward of inheritance.

A slave cannot inherit the kingdom of God.
A son is the heir of the kingdom of God.

“And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory…” (Romans 8:17)

 

Muslims worship Allah out of FEAR of being thrown into hellfire
Christians worship the Father out of LOVE because they are accepted in His presence

“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call Him, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)

 

Muslims pray and recite the Quran to gain more merit points from Allah to avoid hellfire
Christians pray and read the Bible to grow in intimacy and relationship with God.

Muslims fast because it is mandatory to fast in Ramadhan
Christians fast voluntarily to spend time in devotion to God.

Muslims do good deeds to try and outweigh their bad deeds.
Christians do good deeds to honor the Father’s name.

“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

 

Muslims do not know if they will be accepted by Allah.
Christians know they have been accepted by the Father though Jesus Christ.

“For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14)

 

You cannot buy your way into heaven.
You cannot bribe your way into heaven.
You cannot work your way into heaven.
You cannot earn your way into heaven.
You cannot lie your way into heaven.
You cannot pay your way into heaven.
The payment has already been made on your behalf.

Whether you accept this payment or not, is your choice and your decision will determine your eternal destiny.

slavesvssons

 

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Jesus said: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

“Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.” Galatians 4:7

Come To Islam

Come To Islam

Many Muslims have asked me to come to Islam.

Let’s consider this together…..

 

I believe my God loves me and has demonstrated His love for me in a way that no one else can even before I became a Christian. (Romans 5:8)

Can you show me that Allah loves me now? According to the Quran,  I am categorized as “the worst of creatures” (Sura 98:6) and Allah will only love me if I become a Muslim. Is his love limited?

 

I believe God has forgiven all my past sins and has given me a clean heart before Him and to live a new life for Him. (1 John 1:9)

Can you show me that as a Muslim you have 100% assurance right now that all your sins are forgiven? Or do you believe that you will never know if all your sins are truly forgiven during your lifetime on earth?

 

I believe my God has promised me eternal life and a home in heaven. (John 3:16-17)

Where is the promise in Islam for eternal life? There is no promise for any Muslim, not even Muhammad. (Sura 46:9). In fact, in Sura 19:71, Allah promises that a

Muslim’s destination is hell first before a few are rescued.

 

I believe my God is my Saviour who has rescued me from being a slave to sin and given me a new life as a child of God.  (Colossians 1:13-14)

And you want me to come to a religion where there is no saviour and I have to relinquish my rights as a child of God and become a slave again? And I have to depend on my own good deeds and hope it is accepted by Allah someday?

 

Now I can pray and worship my God anywhere and anytime, whether in my house or in my car or in the shopping mall and God welcomes and accepts me.

Can you tell me why there such a restriction and limitation in Islam that I must pray at certain times, facing a certain direction, and performing specific actions in a certain way. If I do anything differently, my prayers would become invalid and not accepted by Allah?

 

I have a personal relationship with God, who is with me and His presence is in me to lead me, guide me, to teach me and help me.

Why is that in Islam, Allah has no personal relationship or interest with his creatures?

 

I believe my God is my heavenly Father who cares for me and speaks to me like a loving father who cares for all His children.

Why is it that in Islam, Allah is too lofty and proud to associate with his slaves?

 

To me, Islam and Christianity are as different as night and day.

Thank you for your invitation but I will stay with Jesus.

 

Jesus said:  “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12