Psalm 22

Is the crucifixion of Jesus predicted in Psalms 22?

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons)

     Most Christians believe that Psalm 22 is a prophesy that was fulfilled by Jesus Christ at Calvary when he was allegedly crucified at the behest of the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate. The reason why Christians think that Psalm 22 foretells Jesus’ alleged crucifixion is because their New Testament makes abundant references to it as Daniel Estes says, “Psalm 22 is regarded as a messianic psalm because it is frequently quoted or alluded to in the New Testament narratives of the passion of Christ.”[1] Hence if  a Christian were to be asked why is Psalm 22 taken as a passage that prefigures Jesus Christ the typical answer that will be given is, “because the New Testament says so.” This is an excellent example of the kind of circular reasoning that missionaries and evangelists fall into as they try to prove their version of Jesus. In this article we will analyse some of the those relevant passages often used in missionary circles and see whether the Christian claim holds any water or not.

   Most frequently cited is the first verse which reads in English as, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”(Psalms 22:1). The relevant New Testament “citations” are Mark 15:34 and Matthew 27:46. Both places in modern versions of the Bible mention that Jesus cried out at the ninth hour the words, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”. At a simple glance both reports seem to correspond with one another verbatim, however upon further inspection we find that they do not exactly match in the textual witnesses available. In Mark 15:34 the transliteration in Greek variously reads, “ἑλωῒ ἑλωῒ λεμὰ σαβαχθανεί (Eloi eloi lema sabachtanei[Tischendorf]); Ελωι ελωι λαμμᾶ σαβαχθανι(Eloi eloi lamma sabachtani[Textus Receptus]); ελωι ελωι λιμα σαβαχθανι (Eloi eloi lima sabachtani[Byzantine text type]); ἐλωι ἐλωι λαμα σαβαχθανι (Eloi eloi lama sabachtani[Westcott/Hort]). In Matthew 27:46 the transliteration in Greek variously reads, ” ἐλώι ἐλώι λεμὰ σαβαχθανί (Eloi eloi lema saabachtani[Westcott/Hort); ἡλεὶ ἡλεὶ λεμὰ σαβαχθανεί (Elei elei lema sabachtanei [Tischendorf]); Ηλι ηλι λαμὰ σαβαχθανι (Eli eli lama sabachtani[Textus Receptus]); ηλι ηλι λιμα σαβαχθανι (Eli eli lima sabachtani[ Byzantine text type]). In a footnote to Matthew’s Eli, eli lema sabachtani Raymond E. Brown says:

“Variant ms. readings harmonize the form of God’s name in Mark/Matt so that both read Eloi or Eli. Similarly, there are attempts to harmonize the lama and lema difference, and witnesses in the Koine tradition read lima in Mark. The exotic sabachtani is written sabaktanei in Codex Vaticanus of Matt, sabapthanei in Vaticanus of Mark, and sabachtanei in Sinaiticus of Matt, sibakhthanei in Alexandrinus of Mark.”[2]

In the next footnote to the above Brown dismisses the variant Elei in Mark and Matthew as “an unimportant orthographic variant of Eli.” [3] What about Eli and Eloi and the other pervading variances? According to Brown the Eloi of Mark resembles Aramaic whilst the Eli of Matthew resembles Hebrew  and the lama of Mark resembles Hebrew whilst the lema of Matthew resembles Aramaic which has led some scholars to suggest a mixed Hebrew-Aramaic tradition that Brown says is not a necessary conclusion.[4] Brown also mentions that in Codex Washingtonensis of Matthew it reads Eli, eli ma sabachtanei. The following are the Aramaic and Hebrew renditions of Psalms 22:1/2 given by Brown[5]:

Mesoretic text in Hebrew: Eli, Eli, lama azabtani

Aramaic: Elahi, elahi, lema sebaqtani

Codex Bezae: Elei, elei, lama zaphthani

Life after Death: The Islamic Perspective

Life after death: The Islamic perspective

by Ibn Anwar

Death comes to us all. If there is one fact that no human being in human history can deny is that every man since the dawn of creation is absolutely subject to death. The Holy Qur’an emphatically reminds us of this inescapable truth in Surah al-Ankabut(29), verse 57:

كل نفس ذائقة الموت ثم إليناترجعون

“Every soul shall taste death: In the end to Us shall you be brought back.”

*The same reminder is repeated in Surah al-Imran(3), verse 185

No king or pauper can hide from the inevitable clutches of death:

اينماتكونوا يدرككم الموت ولوكنتم فى بروج مشيدة

“Wherever you are, death will come to you, even if you are in towers built up strong and high”(Surah Al-Nisa’(4), verse 78)

The exact time and hour of our demise is Allah’s prerogative as the Qur’an says in Surah al-Imran(3), verse 145:

… وماكان لنفس أن تموت إلا بإذن الله

“Nor can a soul die except by Allah’s permission…”

However, before we die every single one of us experiences life on earth. Life and death come in one package. Because life and death are inseparable opposites like the yin and yang symbol the former has a direct bearing on the latter. In Islamic doctrine the state of death and life after death that every individual will experience is directly affected by his or her way of living (deeds and misdeeds; good and bad choices) whilst on earth. This brings us to the question, “Why do we live?”

In answering this age old question ( i.e. what is the purpose of life?) the Qur’an says in no uncertain terms that we have been made to serve Him.

وما خلقت الجن والْإنس إلَّا ليعبدون

“I have not created the jinn and mankind except to serve Me.” (Al-Dhariyat(51), verse 56)

Serving God entails following His commandments and avoiding His prohibitions, that is, to do good and avoid evil. This life is but a temporary station in which we are to try our level best to generate as much good as possible and shun misdeeds. The Qur’an says:

… الذى خلق الموت والحيوة ليبلوكم أيكم أحسن عملاً

“He who created death and life, that He may try which of you is best in deed…”(Surah Al-Mulk(67), verse 2)

The Prophet s.a.w. is recorded to have said:

كن فى الدنيا كأنك غريب اوعابر سبيل وعد نفسك فى اهل القبور

“Be in this world as though you are a foreigner or passerby on a road and count yourself as a member of the grave.”(Bukhari, Ahmad, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)

Authorship of the Torah

Was it really Moses?

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons)

For centuries it was taken for granted within both conservative and orthodox Christian and Jewish circles that the first five books of the Old Testament were authored by Moses. Today, that attitude and belief has not changed in evangelist and conservative circles. The late evangelist Gleason Archer for example says:

“When all the data of the Pentateuchal text have been carefully considered, and all the evidence, both internal and external, has been fairly weighed, the impression is all but irresistible that Mosaic authorship is the one theory which best accords with the surviving historical data.” [1]

Disagreeing with the above designation Edward P. Blair states, “The Pentateuch nowhere clearly claims that Moses was the author of whole of it.”[2]

It was not until quite recently in history that the predominantly held view among Christian and Jewish scholars for Mosaic authorship of the Torah and the accuracy of details therein was seriously challenged. The German scholar Julius Wellhausen came to the scene in the 19th century(1876) and stirred the hornet’s nest  with his refined and elaborate ‘documentary hypothesis’ in Prolegomena to the history of Israel . Prior to him John Calvin questioned the literal interpretation of the creation story in Genesis:

“John Calvin, the greatest systematic thinker in the Protestant tradition, argued during the sixteenth century that Genesis I did not reflect the facts of physics and astronomy, but described the creation of the earth for the benefit of ancient Hebrew observers who had no understanding of science.” [3]

Torchbearers of knowledge in Islam

Female Scholars in Islam

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons) and al-Jamalullail

The transmission of hadith collections and even the compilation of new ones with very elevated isnads in the post-canonical era was an area in which women could excel. Because they often lived longer than men, women could become the most sought after transmitters of books. Major hadith scholars like al-Khatib al-Baghdadi traveled to Mecca to read Sahih al-Bukhari in the presence of Karima al-Marwaziyya (d. 463/1071, who had an especially elevated elevated isnad in the book, and Fatima al-Juzdaniyya was the main transmitter of al-Tabarani’s works. Until her death in 2008, Muslims students flocked to a small village in Yemen’s Hadramawt Valley to receive a hadith ijaza from the 105-year-old woman Safiyya al-‘Amdiyya.

Independent collections of hadiths by women were very rare; in the early period of hadith they were non-existent. But we know of at least two selections of hadiths from the post-canonical period compiled by women. A twelfth-century woman named Shuhda al-Katiba (d. 574/1178-9) put together a list of 115 hadiths that she picked from books she had been authorised to transmit, often with shorter isnads than the hadiths in the actual books themselves. The Musnad of Amat Allah Miryam al-Hanbaliyya of Nablus (d. 758/1357) has also survived until today.

(Jonathan A.C. Brown. Assistant Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle) [1]

In the time of the companions the beloved wife of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w., Aishah r.a. soared prominently over both women and men as Cambridge scholar Timothy J. Winter(now Sheikh Dr. Abdul Hakim Murad) and John A. Williams of College of William and Mary cites a Sunni source that says, “‘A’isha was, of all the people, the one who had the most knowledge of law, the one who was most educated, and compared to those who surrounded her, the one whose judgment was the best.'” [2] Both men and women are obligated to search for and acquire knowledge as the hadith of the Prophet s.a.w. says:

في مسند أبي يعلى الموصلي عن أنس عن النبي (ص) :  طلب العلم فريضة على كل مسلم

 وهذا الحديث وإن لم يكن ثابتاً فمعناه صحيح  

“In the Musnad of Abu Ya’la al-Mawsuli, from anas who relates that the prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim.”

The meaning of this hadith, though the hadith itself is not well authenticated, is true.” [3]

Hence it is no surprise that many of the greatest minds in Muslim history were women. Winter and Williams make mention of Bint al-Kamal who lectured in Damascus to several leading scholars including the celebrated Muslim jurist/scholar and traveller Ibn Batuta whose journeys spanned more than 75, 000 miles (unsurpassed by any other until 450 years later in the Steam Age). Other reknown female scholars mentioned by Winter and Williams include Karima al-Marwaziyya (who was one of the most famous scholars during her time), Fatima bint al-Hasan, Shuhda the Scribe, Ajiba bint Abi Bakr (Bint al-Kamal’s teacher) and Umm hani who in Winter and Williams’ words “mastered all the great academic disciplines of her time including theology, law, history and grammar, before taking up senior lectuering positions in many of the great academies of Cairo.”[4]

One of the great scholars in the Shafi’i madhhab or school of thought is Imam Al-Suyuti who is described as “…one of the Friends of God and His Signs to creation, the Mujtahid Imam and Renewer of the ninth Islamic century, foremost hadith master, jurist, Sufi, philologist, Ash’ari theologian, and historian, he authored works in virtually every Islamic science.” [5] Among his numerous teachers and instructors were over thirty female scholars. [6]

The following is a rather long, yet non-exhaustive list of more than 259 Muslim female scholars excluding those from among the Prophet’s companions and their successors taken from the Oxford scholar Mohammad Akram Nadwi’s preface to his magnum opus Al-Muhaddithat: The Women Scholars in Islam [7] *:

Blood or no blood?

Forgiveness comes without blood

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons)

What exactly is the  cause behind the fascination with blood sucking vampires in the western culture that has given rise to a plethora of vampire themed movies like Twilight and the like? Christianity is the predominant religion in the west. It spends so much time talking about drinking blood and its importance for the attainment of “eternal life”. Could it be that this blood based salvation/atonement doctrine is the impetus behind the popular culture phenomenon of vampires? In the vampire myth the creature sustains its existence by consuming blood. In Christian theology to attain eternal life one must accept the blood of Jesus and in Catholicism in particular the partaking of the Eucharist which involves the drinking and eating of the actual blood and flesh of Jesus is foundational. Can you see the parallel? Is it possible that the popular vampire myth has its roots in the Christian obsession with blood? I leave that for the readers to dwell upon. In this article we shall explore the issue of forgiveness in Christianity and if what it teaches is coherent and true or just plain false.

As we have mentioned above in Christian theology the shedding of Jesus’ blood is foundational. In fact, it is the key to forgiveness and salvation. One Christian blogger named John Chingford wrote an article entitled “Reply to a Rabbi Why There Can’t Be Forgiveness Without Blood Sacrifice”  in which he argues for the Christian case that blood is absolutely necessary to render void the sins of man. The Wiersbe Bible Commentary in its commentary on Hebrews 9 says, “God’s principle is that blood must be shed before sin can be forgiven (Lev. 17:11).”[1] The People’s New Testament Commentary on Hebrews 9:22 says, “Without shedding of blood is no remission. Every sin under the law required atonement, and no atonement could be made without blood.” [2] The average Christian says that the only way for sins to be absolved or atoned is through the blood of Jesus.

Mark 1:2 is still an error

Response to Sam Shamoun on Mark 1:2

by Ibn Anwar

I have been away from Unveiling Christianity for a good long while due to engagements elsewhere. However, a couple of days ago a friend of mine brought my attention to an article written by Sam Shamoun in rebuttal to my article on Mark 1:2. Though Shamoun raises some interesting points in his “examination”, his main argument really boils down to a standard Christian apologetic ploy. In this article we will illustrate the deficiencies of Sam Shamoun’s position and reaffirm the conclusion that was made in my previous article on mark 1:2.  This is a counter-rebuttal to his claim “Mark’s Prologue Examined In light of the assertions of an Incompetent Dawagandist”. To begin, let us reproduce the short article that I wrote for the benefit of the readers.

Human Error or Divine Incompetence?

by Ibn Anwar

Can you imagine a book that claims to convey factual information and data making a terrible factual error in its first paragraph? Let’s say we have a book called “101 Facts on Animals” and in the first supposed fact it makes an UNFACTUAL claim. Would you be taking that book seriously anymore or will you consider chucking it in the bin and find other books instead? This is the predicament that Christians face when the claim is made that the Gospel according to Mark is divinely inspired or “god-breathed”. At the very beginning of the book and in the first chapter of Mark we have a truly irreconcilable textual error.

In the beginning was an error….. “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I am sending my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way;” (Mark 1:2) I challenge every Christian in the world to show me where I can find in Isaiah the verse “Behold, I am sending my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way”. Believe me when I say that not even the Pope can help you here. That is because the verse does not exist in Isaiah, although you can actually find it in the Old Testament. To be more specific it is in the Torah. To be even more specific it is in Exodus! The words are different but the meaning is basically the same. “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.” (Exodus 23:20) How far apart exactly is Exodus from Isaiah? The answer to that is about 1000 years! How could such a mistake happened if God was guiding the hand of the anonymous author of Mark? Did God forget that it was His prophet Moses and not Isaiah who mentioned the verse? God forbid! It is more reasonable to contend that the reason for the unequivocal error is because Mark was written by anonymous individual who was not guided by God. The text is a clear corruption that should not be attributed to the divine. Some might try to argue that the verse actually reads, “in the Prophets” as opposed to “in Isaiah” as found in the King James Version. No doubt that the KJV based on manuscripts containing such a reading does say that. But that reading is only to be found in the majority of rather late manuscripts e.g. A, E, F, G, H, P, W, S, family 13, the majority of minuscules, Syriac Harclean of the Byzantine version and others. The earliest witness for the reading “in the Prophets” dates only to the fourth century. On the other hand the reading for “in Isaiah” as retained in most Bibles today are based on the most ancient witnesses(manuscripts) such as in Aleph, B, L, D, Q, family 1, 33, 205, 565, 700, 892, 1071, 1241, 1243, 2427, Itala MSS (a, aur, b, c, d, f , ff2, l, q, Vulgate, Syriac Peshitta, Syriac Palestinian, Coptic and so on. The reading is widespread and is found in almost all the Alexandrian, Caesarean and Western witnesses.* Thus the reading “in Isaiah” is closer to the original. Even if for the sake of argument we were to entertain the veracity of the KJV reading “in the Prophets” the textual predicament still remains. Exodus was not by Prophets but by a Prophet i.e. Moses. The Old Testament according to Jewish tradition is divided into three categories namely, Torah, Nevi’im and Ketuvim. Nevi’im means Prophets referring to the books attributed to Prophets. If the reading “in the Prophets” were to be true then it would be referring to the category of Nevi’im which does not include the Torah wherein Exodus is found. Whichever position one takes Mark 1:2 remains nothing more than a corruption! Mark 1:2 is yet another falsehood in “the book of God”. *Daniel Wallace on Mark 1 -end of article on Mark 1- (

In his response Sam Shamoun makes the claim that I have simply recycled “liberal attacks and criticisms” against the Bible:

Muslim dawagandist Ibn Anwar has become rather fond of rehashing the same old liberal attacks and criticisms against the Holy Bible that have been refuted over and over again. Just recently Ibn Anwar produced a short piece (1; 2) attacking Mark for ignorantly attributing a wrong quote to the Prophet Isaiah in Mark 1:2-3.

He then says that if I was honest I would do good to consult Bible commentaries that will provide me with the data to understand “what Mark was doing here”.

If Ibn Anwar was honest and truly interested in finding an answer to this alleged discrepancy all he had to do was consult some Biblical commentaries which would have provided him with the data to understand what Mark was doing here. In fact he could have found the answer on our site since we have addressed this assertion before, namely in response to another Muslim polemicist named MENJ.

The fact of the matter is that it is Ibn Anwar who is ignorant, not Mark, and he is the one who has made a gross blunder by erroneously assuming that Mark was mistaken since this exposes his ignorance of the Jewish exegetical practices employed during the time of Christ. It was a common practice amongst the Jews to take citations from different biblical writings – especially when such references touched on similar themes or ideas and/or used the same words – and attribute them to a single author. The rabbis even coined a term for this particular method of exegesis, namely gezera shewa.

From the above we can adduce that his main argument that I am wrong is that it was common practice for Jews to make citations  to different sources that have similar themes, ideas or words and attribute them to a single author. He then says that this is a particular method of exegesis used by Rabbis that is called gezera shewa. First of all, let us understand what this word means in the Judaic tradition.

The word itself literally means “equal category”. It is one of the Seven Rules of Hillel who is attributed as the earliest source for the said midrashic or Jewish exegetical principle.[1] Former Dean of the Yale Divinity school Harold W. Attridge explains:

“…the Rabbinic technique gezera shewa, which draws together two passages linked by a common word. At its simplest, this technique interpreted an ambiguous word in one context by its clear meaning in another. The technique could also link passages whose themes or motifs might be mutually illuminating.” [2]

The New Testament Greek manuscripts

Greek New Testament manuscripts vs. Arabic Qur’an and hadith manuscripts

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons)

Many Christian apologists argue that the Qur’an and hadith are historically unreliable. It is claimed that this is due to the scarcity of early manuscript evidence for either Qur’an or hadith. The latter is claimed to be far more unreliable because the earliest compilations date back to only Bukhari about 200 years after the fact. The following quotation is taken from a Christian paper on the subject captures the essence of such arguments raised against Islam by Christian missionaries :

“Documentary evidence for the Qur’an has always been difficult, due to the paucity of primary documents at our disposal (as was mentioned in the previous section). The oldest Muslim documents available are the Muslim Traditions, which were initially compiled as late as 765 A.D. (i.e. The Sira of Ibn Ishaq). Yet the earliest documents which we can refer to today are those compiled by Ibn Hisham (the Sira of the prophet), and the large Hadith compilations of al-Bukhari, Muslim and others, all written in the ninth century, and thus 200 to 250 years after the fact. They are much too late to be useful for our study here. Therefore we must go back to the seventh century itself and ascertain what documents are available with which we can corroborate the reliability of the Qur’an.” [1]

There are several erroneous claims made in the above quotation. The oldest surviving Muslim documents are not the ‘Muslim Traditions’, but rather the Qur’an itself. The so called “Qur’an of Uthman” at the Topkapi museum date to the late first century or early second century(hijri). Another so called “Qur’an of Uthman” which is kept at the Turk ve islam Eserleri muzesi is also dated to the late first century or early second century(hijri). Two other “Qur’an of Uthman” are found in Egypt (Masjid Al-Hussain, Cairo and Darul Kutub al-Misriyya) with similar dates. Then there are the first and late first century or early first century San’a manuscripts and codices. All of these and many more predate the the biographical works of Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham and also the hadith compilations of Bukhari and Muslim. The quotation also erroneously claim that all the hadith compilations date to the ninth century(200-250 after the fact). This is also false. The earliest documentation of hadith that has been discovered predate the Sihah Sittah(six authentic compilations e.g. Bukhari and Muslim) and it is the Sahifa of Hammam bin Munabbih written in the mid-first century(hijri). This has been noted by the hadith scholar Dr. M. Hamidullah in Sahifa Hammam bin Munabbih: The Earliest Extant Work On The Hadith. The compilations of hadith by the four great imams are also readily accessible today. All of them and others predate the compilations of Bukhari and the rest of the sihah sittah. The Christian missionary in the quotation claims that “They are much too late to be useful for our study here”. However, it has just been illustrated that this is an extremely inaccurate assertion. Nevertheless, the Christian author has made the judgment that anything that exceeds 200 years is too late to be of any use. Let us employ this criterion that he has used against Islam on his Holy Bible and see how it fairs. In order to do this I will produce scanned pages from Kurt and Barbara Aland’s The text of the New Testament [2] which was translated from their original Der text des Neuen Testaments in German. Both husband and wife(especially Kurt Aland) are notable textual critics and have worked with other prominent textual critics like Bruce Metzger. Kurt Aland was the head of the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Germany and editor of the Nestle-Aland edition of Novum Testamentum Graece (Greek New Testament). Kurt and Barbara Aland list all the papyri, uncials and minuscules from the earliest to the latest. In the table one can easily ascertain that there are only two documents that can be definitely said to belong to the second century C.E. namely, p52 and p90. The other earliest papyri are p32, p46, p64+67, p66 and p77. They are dated to either the late second century or early/mid third century. Note that no single surviving document dates back to the first century in the table! The overwhelming majority of all the Greek texts date from the 3rd to as late as the 17th century! The following is the table from pages 159 to 162 of The text of the New Testament listing all the Greek texts and manuscripts.