Questions and Answers > Practices of Christians > Qur'an

Qur'an 48:29 Are Christians superior on Judgment Day?

Many Muslims think that this verse supports the superiority of Muslims. However we will see that a precise analysis leads to another conclusion:


a. Contradiction within the verse
Qur’an 48:29 opens with: “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those with him are forceful against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves.”
This first sentence of the verse is telling us about Islam “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah” and Muslims “those with him are forceful against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves”. The second part of the verse “You see them bowing and prostrating [in prayer], seeking bounty from Allah and [His] pleasure. Their mark is on their faces from the trace of prostration.” can be Jews, Muslims or Christians, because they all have that kind of practices. The last part of the verse is the most remarkable: “That is their description in the Torah. And their description in the Gospel is as a plant which produces its offshoots and strengthens them so they grow firm and stand upon their stalks, delighting the sowers - so that Allah may enrage by them the disbelievers. Allah has promised those who believe and do righteous deeds among them forgiveness and a great reward.” (Qur’an 48:29) The description in the Gospel means that it can be only Christians, because only Christians follow the Torah and the Gospel. Therefore a contradiction exists between the first part of the verse with the last part. The first part is about Muslims and the last part is about those who follow the Torah and the Gospel.

b. Qur’an refers to the Bible
Who are “they”? The Qur’an is telling us about “they”: “their description in the Torah” and “their description in the Gospel”, because the Torah and the Gospel are both part of the Bible, this is a clear reference to the Bible and to Christians who are following the guidelines of the Bible. The conclusion of the verse is: “Allah has promised those who believe and do righteous deeds among them forgiveness and a great reward.”, a clear reference to the character of a Christian who believes that Jesus Christ died for his or her sins and is living in grace to thank Jesus Christ for this by following the example of the righteous Jesus Christ.

c. Reference to the Parables of Jesus Christ
“A plant which produces its offshoots and strengthens them so they grow firm and stand upon their stalks, delighting the sowers” refers to the Parable of the sower by Jesus Christ in the Gospel: “Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:8). This parable has more to do with the ground than with the sower [1]. It means that people need to have an open attititude for the Kingdom of God by accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their heart.
It also refers to the Parable of the mustard seed: “Then Jesus asked, What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” (Luke 13:18-19, see also Matthew 13:31-33, Mark 4:30-32). The meaning is that people need the seed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with grace to be saved and to develop a righteous character to thank Jesus Christ.

d. Christians on Judgment Day
Qur’an 48:29 is a confirmation about the superior moral practices of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Christians. It is in agreement with other Qur’an verses that Christians are superior on Judgment Day:
"But those (Christians) who have faith and work righteousness, they are companions of the Garden: Therein shall they abide (For ever) " (Qur’an 2:82).
"Those who believe, and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve" (Qur’an 2:62, 5:69).

e. Conclusion
The Qur’an is saying that Christians who believe that Jesus Christ died for their sins and thank Jesus Christ for what he did by following his example will be superior on Judgment Day.


Notes:

[1] W.F. Albright and C.S. Mann, The Anchor Bible, Matthew, Doubleday, New York, 1971, 168.

Qur’an 3:85: Will a believer of another religion than Islam be a loser after death?