Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:116-117)
By: Mohammad Sobhanie
Belief in a Begotten Son of God
Scriptural or Unscriptural Doctrine
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
وَقَالُوا اتَّخَذَ اللَّـهُ وَلَدًا ۗ سُبْحَانَهُ ۖ بَل لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ كُلٌّ لَّهُ قَانِتُونَ ﴿١١٦﴾ بَدِيعُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ وَإِذَا قَضَىٰ أَمْرًا فَإِنَّمَا يَقُولُ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ ﴿١١٧﴾
2:116 And they say, ‘Allah has begotten a son (children or offspring).’ Glory be to Him; Rather, to Him belongs whatever there is in the heavens and the earth. All are obedient to Him,
2:117 The Originator of the heavens and the earth. Whenever He decrees a thing, He says to it, “Be,” and it becomes.
Commentary: The Christians and Jews claimed that Allah (SWT) had a begotten son [At-Tawba 9:30] and the pagans of the Arabia stated that Allah (SWT) took angels as His daughters [As-Saffat 37:149-157, Al-Inbya 21:26]. The verse disavows all these allegations and says:
..سُبْحَانَهُ ۖ بَل لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ كُلٌّ لَّهُ قَانِتُونَ ﴿١١٦﴾ بَدِيعُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ….﴿١١٧﴾
2:116 …. Glory be to Him; Rather, to Him belongs whatever there is in the heavens and the earth. All are obedient to Him, 2:117 The Originator of the heavens and the earth.
An assertion that God has a child is irrational for several reasons:
First, Allah (SWT) is the Self-sufficient [الْغَنِيُّ] and has no need whatsoever for anyone, including a spouse or children. In contrast, human beings desire to have children; children carry the parent’s name and keep them company at an old age. They bring joy and happiness to parents’ lives; a family without children is a desolate and empty nest.
Second, the assertion that God has a begotten son implies that He has reproduced a child analogous to a human being, and there is a profound difference between creation and reproduction.
In reproduction, for example, a seed separates from an apple fruit. Then, once in soil and at an appropriate temperature and moisture, the seed germinates. The seed eventually develops into an apple tree, and the tree eventually produces apple fruits. Similarly, in human beings, a sperm separates from a male, which fertilizes an egg in the womb of a mother. After a nine-month pregnancy, the fertilized egg develops into a child.
Now, let us see if a son could be born to God. This requires a piece from God’s essence to separate and develop into another being. This is logically impossible for a being that is one and only one, and the one that cannot break into parts and pieces.
Third, there are genetic similarities and resemblances between parents and children. We see no likeness of any kind between God and His so-called child (children). For instance, His son was born to a mother and lived as a human being. The begotten son of God felt hunger and thirst, ate food and drank water, and had human tendencies. In contrast, the essence of God is free from all these attributions.
Fourth, Allah (SWT) created (originated) the universe in the absolute absence of a thing [بَدِيعُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ]. He could create human beings like Adam and Eve without the presence of parents, and without any father in the case of Prophet Isa. His decision is sufficient and declarative, either for bringing a being into existence or annihilating an existence:
….وَإِذَا قَضَىٰ أَمْرًا فَإِنَّمَا يَقُولُ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ ﴿١١٧﴾
2:117 Whenever He decrees a thing, He says to it, “Be,” and it becomes.
In summary, the belief in a begotten son of God is the brainchild of those who strive to understand and explain the essence of God through the lens of their own existence. From this perspective, an ant might think that its Lord has two prongs like him.
اللَّهُمَّ أَحْسِنْ عَاقِبَتَنَا فِي الْأُمُورِ كُلِّهَا وَأَجِرْنَا مِنْ خِزْيِ الدُّنْيَا وَعَذَابِ الْآخِرَة
One of the attributes of Allah (SWT) is that He is “ahad” [Arabic; (أَحَدٌ)], that His essence is one and cannot separate into parts and pieces. His essence is unique and there is no being in the universe like Him.
The late grand commentator of the Quran, Allamah Tabatabai [Farsi: (علامه سید محمد حسین طباطبائی)] stated that every creation of Allah (SWT) has two phases: an instantaneous phase and a gradual phase. The instantaneous phase emanates with the Divine Command as stated in the above verse, as well as in the Chapter 36:82: [Al-Mizan, Vol.1 P.395]:
إِنَّمَا أَمْرُهُ إِذَا أَرَادَ شَيْئًا أَن يَقُولَ لَهُ كُن فَيَكُونُ ﴿٨٢﴾
36:82 Whenever He decides anything (to create something He has only to say, “Exist,” and it comes into existence.
The Quran also says:
وَمَا أَمْرُنَا إِلَّا وَاحِدَةٌ كَلَمْحٍ بِالْبَصَرِ ﴿٥٠﴾
54:50 and Our command is but a single [word], like the twinkling of an eye
وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ عُزَيْرٌ ابْنُ اللَّـهِ وَقَالَتِ النَّصَارَى الْمَسِيحُ ابْنُ اللَّـهِ ۖ ذَٰلِكَ قَوْلُهُم بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ ۖ يُضَاهِئُونَ قَوْلَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِن قَبْلُ ۚ قَاتَلَهُمُ اللَّـهُ ۚ أَنَّىٰ يُؤْفَكُونَ ﴿٣٠﴾
9:30 The Jews said, “Ezra is the son of God,” and the Christians said, “The Messiah is the son of God.” These are their statements, out of their mouths. They emulate the statements of those who blasphemed before. May God assail them! How deceived they are!
وَقَالُوا اتَّخَذَ الرَّحْمَـٰنُ وَلَدًا ﴿٨٨﴾ لَّقَدْ جِئْتُمْ شَيْئًا إِدًّا ﴿٨٩﴾ تَكَادُ السَّمَاوَاتُ يَتَفَطَّرْنَ مِنْهُ وَتَنشَقُّ الْأَرْضُ وَتَخِرُّ الْجِبَالُ هَدًّا ﴿٩٠﴾ أَن دَعَوْا لِلرَّحْمَـٰنِ وَلَدًا ﴿٩١﴾ وَمَا يَنبَغِي لِلرَّحْمَـٰنِ أَن يَتَّخِذَ وَلَدًا ﴿٩٢﴾
And they say, “The Most Merciful has begotten a son.” You have come up with something monstrous. At which the heavens almost rupture, and the earth splits, and the mountains fall and crumble. Because they attribute a son to the Most Merciful. It is not fitting for the Most Merciful to have a son.
قال الباقر(عليه السلام): «كُلُّما مَيَّزْتُمُوهُ بِأَوْهامِكُمْ فِى أَدَق مَعانِيْهِ مَخْلُوقٌ مَصْنُوعٌ مِثْلُكُمْ مَرْدُودٌ الَيْكُمْ وَ لَعَلَّ النَّمْلَ الصِّغارِ تَتَوَهَّمُ أَنَّ لِلَّهِ تَعالى زُبانِيَتَيْنِ فَانَّ ذلِكَ كَمالُها …»(بحار الانوار، جلد 69، صفحه 293).
2:116 [وَقَالُوا] and they say [اتَّخَذَ] has taken (begotten) [اللَّـهُ] Allah [وَلَدًا] a son [سُبْحَانَهُ] Glory is to Him [بَل] but [لَّهُ] for Him is [مَا] what (is) [فِي] in [السَّمَاوَاتِ] the heavens [وَالْأَرْضِ] and the earth [كُلٌّ] all [لَّهُ] to Him [قَانِتُونَ] are subservient.
2:117 [بَدِيعُ] the Originator [السَّمَاوَاتِ] of the Heavens [وَالْأَرْضِ] and the earth [وَإِذَا] and when [قَضَىٰ] He decrees [أَمْرًا] a matter [فَإِنَّمَا] so only [يَقُولُ] He says [لَهُ] to it [كُن] be [فَيَكُونُ] and it becomes