Parallelism: Quranic Version of Trinity

From WikiIslam, the online resource on Islam
Parallelism Between the Qur’an
and Judeo-Christian Scriptures
By: Julian Charteris
Talking Baby Jesus
Sanhedrin 37a
The Raven & the Burial of Abel
The Quranic Version of Trinity‎
Jesus Christ & the Clay Birds
Mary & Zachariah
Mary, Jesus & the Palm Tree
Satan & His Refusal to Prostrate
The Queen of Sheba
Abraham & the Idols
The Wealth of Korah

God, Jesus and Mary: The Trinity?

The Qur’an has its own version of the Christian Trinity:

And when Allah will say: O Jesus, son of Mary, didst thou say to men, Take me and my mother for two gods besides Allah? He will say: Glory be to Thee! it was not for me to say what I had no right to (say). If I had said it, Thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my mind, and I know not what is in Thy mind. Surely Thou art the great Knower of the unseen.

Note how this strange verse does not mention the Trinity, but has Allah asking Jesus whether he told the people to take him and Mary for gods beside Allah. To which, Jesus replied ‘no, I did not; if I did you would have known about it anyway’.

Why did Allah ask Jesus something he already knew Jesus did not do? Did Allah ask simply for the fun of it? Or was he testing him? If this was a test, why perform it at all, when one already knows the result? The circularity of this verse and its lack of logic is apparent.

A plausible explanation of Muhammad’s need to reconcile the Christian Trinity with Islam’s monotheism is given below.

Analysis of Muslim Apologetics

Muslims claim verse 5:116 is not a difficulty for them, and they give three reasons for this:

1 – The heretical Christian sect of the Collyridians may have existed in Muhammad’s time and the Quran was specifically addressing their understanding of the Trinity.

Lets take a look at who the Collyridians were:

“Collyridianism — Heresy which tried to deify the Virgin Mary. Not much is known about the founders of the heresy other than that their devotion to the Blessed Mother degenerated into an idolotrous worship of Mary. Collyridianism existed from about 350 to 450 A.D. Epiphanius, in Panarion, wrote the refutation of not only the Collyridian heresy (Mary as divine), but also of the Antidicomarianitic heresy (debasement of Mary). The latter went so far as to claim that Mary had intercourse with Joseph after the birth of Christ. The Collyridians, primarily women, developed a strange combination of Catholicism and pagan goddess cult customs. Epiphanius writes, “Certain women there in Arabia have introduced this absurd teaching from Thracia: how they offer up a sacrifice of bread rolls in the name of the ever-Virgin Mary, and all partake of this bread” {78:13}. Let us remember Scripture, particularly the case of the angel who rebuked John the Evangelist for his temptation to idolatry “At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!'” {Rev. 19:10}.”[1]

Some claim that the Collyridians were in existence from the fourth century and flourished during the fifth century, although since they have fallen out of the pages of history, nobody knows for sure how long they existed as a sect. Edward Gibbon in ‘the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ [Chapter 50] states that they were still in existence in the seventh century (without providing any corroborating evidence). One explanation is that Gibbon’s simply took the clear parallelism of verse 5:116 with Collyridianism to mean they were present during Muhammad’s day.

Thus, there is clear parallelism between the Qur’an’s version of the Trinity and the Collyridian belief.

As previously stated, Muslims claim that this verse was alluding to the belief of some Christians at the time of Muhammad. This is clearly false, as it specifically states that the belief occurred during the time of Jesus. Remember, Allah asked Jesus whether he had told the people to worship him and Mary besides Allah. Since the Collyridians are post-Jesus (probably originating in the late fourth century, as reported by Epiphanius) the parallelism with the Collyridians is anachronistic. Hence, the Qur’an could not have been alluding to the Collyridians at all, unless of course, Jesus was a Collyridian.

What was the purpose of verse 5:116? The most plausible explanation is Muhammad’s need to explain to his followers the Christian concept of the Trinity in relation to the strict monotheism of Islam. As he claimed Jesus a prophet of Islam, and Allah being the same god to the Christians as the Muslims, and thus Christianity as a predecessor religion to Islam, this perceived inconsistency would have required explanation. So this verse has Jesus denying the concept of the Trinity – implying that the Christians had corrupted his teaching. In doing so, Muhammad had unwittingly exposed his lack of understanding of what the Trinity means. He probably thought Jesus had taught this doctrine, as he thought the Trinity comprised of God, Jesus and Mary.

2 – Some Muslims such as Dr Saifullah of Islamic-awareness claim that it is unreasonable to point out the clear parallelism with Collyridianism as something erroneous as early Christians did not believe in the Trinity.

“…there is no point calling the modern day Trinitarian Christianity as ‘true’ Christianity and all others as ‘false’ since the evolution of this doctrine itself is very late. The early Christianity had bizarre beliefs about their doctrine as well as their Scriptures. Moreover the Jesus(P) and early Church Fathers were utterly unaware of this doctrine and they never practiced it. Would then the modern day ‘true’ Christianity brand them as heretics?”[2]

This is a pseudo-defense. The issue is not if modern Christians view the Collyridians as heretics, but whether the Quranic version of the Trinity has any basis. After all, Allah should know what the Trinity is. But apparently he thought the Collyridian version of the Trinity was the prevailing one during the time of Jesus Christ.

3 – Modern Christians also believe Mary as the Mother of God and prayers are sent to her.

This is a subtle point and one that Muslims fail to address: Neither in the New Testament nor the Qur’an does Jesus claim Mary to be a co-divinity with God. In fact, the Qur’an is specific in Jesus’ denial of this charge. So where does this charge against Jesus come from? Orthodox Christians such as the Catholics do venerate Mary as a saint and the Mother of Jesus, but are very clear in not ascribing divinity to her.

Praying to saints is an Orthodox/Catholic practice. It does not mean that the object of prayer is divine. Catholics do not solely pray to Mary, but to all manners of saints who have passed-away without ascribing divine status on any of them. Thus, it is nonsense to suggest that prayers to Mary absolves the Qur’an from its error about her divinity.


The parallelism between verse 5:116 and the belief of Mary’s divinity by the Collyridians has laid open the charge that Muhammad was mistaken in his understanding of the Trinity. The Qur’an is anachronistic as the doctrine of the Trinity post-dates Jesus. While the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E laid the groundwork by asserting that Christ is the same substance as God, it was the Council of Constantinople in 381 C.E. that laid down the doctrine of the Trinity. Thus, Jesus could not have promulgated the idea of the Trinity to the people as it was conceived almost four centuries after his death.

Secondly, the Qur’an’s understanding of the Trinity as three gods is erroneous (see Qur’an 5:73) Thirdly, the Muslim explanation that verse 5:116 was alluding to the Collyridians is erroneous as Jesus was never a Collyridian. Fourthly, Jesus never claimed his mother to be a co-divinity with God, and one wonders why Allah should ask Jesus something he already knew Jesus did not do. Rather pointless, one might gather. Perhaps it was a slow day in Jannah.

Considering all that has been discussed, it is reasonable to suggest that Muhammad heard of the Collyridian version of the Trinity and assumed that it were the standard Christian belief taught by Jesus himself. It probably didn’t occur to him that the Trinity was a doctrinal development of the early church or that the worship of Mary as a divinity long post-dated Jesus himself.


  1. Jump up San Jose Bible Study and Apologetics Group – Thematic Study: Mary in Scripture
  2. Jump up Mustafa Ahmed & M S M Saifullah – Mary(P) & Tri-unity Islamic Awareness
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9 Responses to Parallelism: Quranic Version of Trinity

  1. θ says:

    Arabian version of the Trinity which Qur’an mentions involves the Father (which Qur’an rejects), the Son (which Qur’an rejects) and Allah as the third of Three.

    Son of God as “Adon”.
    Biblical inference in which Jesus defines “Son of God” as a mortal Lord “Adon” rather than a divine “Adonay”:
    Jn 9
    35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?36 He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. 38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

    The word “Lord” in John 9:36 for “Son of God” in John 9:35 must be “Adon” in Hebrew because it just correlates with “Proskuneo” in John 9:38.
    “Adon” is a title of mortal reverence. It is used to Abraham husband of Sarah, Prophets, Kings, Angels, et cetera.

    Non-divine Glory.
    Jesus’ preexistent glory is taken or held by the Father when Jesus is on the earth, hence:
    (i) It violates the “distinction rule” of the Trinity.
    Jn 17
    5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

    (ii) It proves Jesus and the Father are not truly “one” unlike Trinitarians insist on. Jesus still needs to pray to the Father before getting back his preexistent glory. For certain, Jesus lost an ability to retake or regain a glory that once belonged to him.
    If they were “one” already, Jesus would not have prayed for it.

    (iii) Afterward shockingly Jesus gives his preexistent glory to Disciples. How can a supposed divine glory be shared to some other mortals?
    Jn 17
    22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
    Isa 42
    8 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another.

  2. θ says:

    Qur’an doesn’t use the common word “Thaluwth” to refer the Trinity. It rather refers to Three (Thalath) because ironically the controversial word “Trinity” doesn’t exist specifically in any official creed of Christians. Early Moslems also witnessed a total silence of Trinitarian Arabs against the use of word Thalath by Qur’an.

    Historically, there’s no word “Trinity” at all in either creed of Christians since 4th century, not in Nicene, nor in Apostolic, nor in Ephesian, even not in Trent. Hence, Trinitarian apologists can’t ask Moslems to answer a question about something that is not yet existent during the time of Qur’an.

    Moreover, there’s no such a thing as “Trinity Creed”, but rather a misnomer Latin “Athanasian Creed” (that ironically was not originally called a creed at all), wherein finally a controversial word “Trinity” is mentioned for the first time, that is “one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity”.
    The creed indicates that the Trinity is not the nature of God himself, but rather about triad in the unity (Trinity) to another unity (Trinitatem in Unitate).

    It is very graceful how the actual origin of the Athanasian Creed is a mystery, being difficult to trace than the origin of other creeds. It is quite shameful how the creed is named after Athanasius but it is certain that Athanasius was not the author. The Athanasian Creed most likely appeared up sometime after 1600s.
    Who actual author is (or authors are) unknown, and when the time of writing is unknown.

    The add insult to injury, nobody knows for sure where the official leaders of Christendom gather to formulate it in order to be what is called the “creed”. It’s rumored that it was used in the liturgy only rarely (sometimes on Trinity Sunday) by Catholic priests.
    Hence, the authorship and timing of the Creed are hard to determine.
    This traditional attribution of the Creed to Athanasius was first called into question in 1642 by Dutch Protestant theologian G.J. Voss,[4] and it has since been widely accepted by modern scholars that the creed was not authored by Athanasius,[5] that it was not originally called a creed at all,[6] nor was Athanasius’ name originally attached to it.[7] Athanasius’ name seems to have become attached to the creed as a sign of its strong declaration of Trinitarian faith. The reasoning for rejecting Athanasius as the author usually relies on a combination of the following:
    The creed originally was most likely written in Latin, while Athanasius composed in Greek.
    -Neither Athanasius nor his contemporaries ever mention the Creed.
    -It is not mentioned in any records of the ecumenical councils.
    -It appears to address theological concerns that developed after Athanasius died (including the filioque).
    -It was most widely circulated among Western Christians.[2][8]

  3. θ says:

    Islam doesn’t see any importance of “incarnation”, avatarism is not really a begotten sonship.

    Concerning Trinitarian half-hearted devotion of Mary’s Theotokos, if the passage “nothing is impossible for God” were absolute, why is utterly impossible for the Father to have Mary or any female consort to sexually beget a son?

  4. madmanna says:

    That’s big if, too big I think.

  5. θ says:

    Impregnation of a woman by the gods is not too impossible in the mythology of pagans. How could the Father be weaker than Zeus or Vishnu?

  6. θ says:

    Parallelism of Qur’an and the Bible on the falsehood of the Trinity.
    (i) Q.5, v.17 They indeed have disbelieved who say: Lo! God is the Christ, son of Mary.
    The Bible:
    John 1:1…And God was the Word, 14. And the Word was made flesh.

    (ii) Q.5, v.73 They are unbelievers who say, God is the Third of Three (thalithu thalathatin). No god is there but One God.
    The Bible:
    2Cor 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit:

    (iii) Q.72, v.3 The truth is that exalted be the Majesty of our Lord, He has taken unto Himself neither wife nor son.
    The Bible:
    Mt 1:18 ..She was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
    Lk 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee:

    (iv) Q.4, v.171 And say not, Three (thalathatun). Desist, it is better for you;
    The Bible:
    1Jn 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

    (v) Q.5, v.116 And when God said, O Jesus son of Mary, didst thou say unto men, Take me and my mother as gods, apart from God?’ He said, ‘To Thee be glory! It is not mine to say what I have no right to.
    Rev 12:1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
    Lk 1:43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

  7. θ says:

    (vi) Q.43, v.16 What, has He taken daughters out of what He himself creates, and granted to you sons for choice?
    The Bible:
    Lk 7:35 But wisdom is justified of all her children.
    1Cor 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom,

  8. Anonymous says:

    Jerusalem is supposed to be divine person for the Trinitarians:
    (i) Jerusalem is Jehovah?
    Jer 33:16
    In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness.

    (ii) Jerusalem is mother of all, including of Jesus:
    Gal 4:26
    But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

    (iii) Jerusalem is a redeemer of sin?
    Isa 33:24
    And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.

  9. θ says:

    Jesus identifies the Holy Spirit as “my mother” according to Gospel of the Hebrews.
    Injil includes:
    (i) Apocrypha:
    – Gospel of the Hebrews, on the words ” Even so did my mother, the Holy Spirit, take me by one of my hairs and carry me away on to the great mountain Tabor”.
    – Apocalypse of Peter, on substitution of Jesus to someone else in his likeness: “He whom you saw on the tree, glad and laughing, this is the living Jesus. But this one into whose hands and feet they drive the nails is his fleshly part, which is the substitute being put to shame, the one who came into being in his likeness.”
    – Infancy Gospel, on the infant miracle of Jesus.

    (ii) Arabic Yuhannis (John) Gospel, as the only canonical Gospel that mentions about the prophesied Praised one.

    (iii) Matthew Gospel, as the only Synoptic Gospel that mentions about Jesus’ migration to Egypt.

    (iv) Mark Gospel, as the only Synoptic Gospel that mentions the Shema of Monotheism.

    (v) Luke Gospel, as the only Synoptic Gospel that mentions the annunciation of Gabriel to Mary.

    (vi) The book of Acts, on the victory of Ebionite Christians under James that imposed the old Moses’ tradition on Non-Jews over the rival theology of Pauline Christianity.

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