Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW’s) are a Christian denomination with many beliefs that stand out from mainstream Christianity. They are known for their potent evangelism, their preoccupation with the end of days and their unique translation of the Bible called the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.
In part one we learned a little bit about the history of the JW religion and discovered that they were a relatively new religion, being formed in 1870. We briefly mentioned their beliefs and their obsession with End of Days theories. In part two we discussed the many end of days predictions that have not eventuated.
In this conclusion to our study of the little understood religion known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses we will take a look at some beliefs that seem to be the same as Islam.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is not God. This is a statement that infuriates most Christians and has led many to declare the Jehovah’s witnesses to be pseudo Christians. Muslims, as we know declare categorically that Jesus is not God, therefore just reading this one little statement may lead a Muslim to say: ‘Oh this is just the same as us’. But is it?
Let us dig a little further into their belief about the role of Jesus.
JW’s condemn the Trinity as pagan idolatry and accordingly deny Jesus’ divinity. However they believe that although Jesus is God’s begotten son, he is inferior to God. Thus the similarity to Islam ends abruptly. God says in one of the greatest verses of Qur’an that He begets not:
Say (O Muhammad), He is God, (the) One. The Self-Sufficient Master. He begets not, nor was He begotten. And there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him. (Al-Ikhlas 112:1-4)
In addition to this flawed basic understanding of the nature of God, the JW’s also believe other outrageous (to Muslims) claims. They claim Jesus’ life, or what the JW’s call his sacrifice, became the ‘ransom’ price to redeem mankind from sin and death. God, they say, created all in Heaven and on Earth through Christ, the “master worker,” God’s servant.1 In their own literature the JW’s refer to Jesus as ‘His (God’s) first spirit creation, the master craftsman, the prehumen Jesus’.2
They go on to say that after Jesus’ resurrection by God, he was ‘exalted’ to a level higher than angel. The refutation of this is found in God’s own words in the Qur’an:.
He is the Originator of the heavens and the earth. How can He have children when He has no wife? He created all things and He is the All-Knower of everything. Such is God, your Lord! None has the right to be worshipped but He, the Creator of all things. (Al-An`am 6:101-102)
The idea that Jesus was the ransom to save our souls or forgive our sins is a concept completely at loggerheads with Islamic belief as Allah (Exalted is He) says:
O people of the Scripture! Do not exceed the limits in your religion, nor say of God anything but the truth. The Messiah (Jesus), son of Mary, was a Messenger of God and His Word (‘Be!’ – and he was), which He bestowed on Mary and a soul created by Him; so believe in God and His Messengers. Say not, ‘Trinity!’ Cease; it is better for you! For God is One God, far removed is He from every imperfection, far Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And God is All Sufficient as a Disposer of affairs. (An-Nisaa’ 4:171)
The belief that the original sin caused humans to inherit death and sin is also far from the teachings of Islam. Islam teaches us that human beings are born without sin and are naturally inclined to worship God alone (without any intermediaries).
To retain this state of sinlessness humankind needs to follow God’s commandments and strive to live a righteous life. If one falls into sin, all that is required is sincere repentance. When a person repents, God wipes out the sin as if it was never committed.
The Jehovah’s witnesses teach that no soul remains after death and that Jesus will return to resurrect the dead, restoring both soul and body. Those judged righteous will be given everlasting life on earth (which will become a paradise). Those judged unrighteous will not be tormented, but will die and cease to exist. What exactly does Islam say about this?
According to Islam, life continues in the grave after the body is buried. The soul of a faithful person, is easily removed from the body, clothed in a heavenly and sweet smelling garment and taken through the seven heavens.
The soul is ultimately returned to the grave, and a gate to Paradise is opened for the person, and its breezes come to him, and he smells its fragrance. He is given the glad tidings of Paradise and he longs for the Hour to begin. The soul of the unbelieving person, on the other hand, is removed from its body with a great deal of struggle but ultimately also returns to the body. The person is tormented in the grave until the Hour begins..
And the weighing on that day (Day of Resurrection) will be the true weighing. So as for those whose scale (of good deeds) will be heavy, they will be the successful by entering Paradise. And as for those whose scale will be light, they are those who will lose their ownselves by entering Hell. (Al-A`raf 7:8-9)
To their credit the JW’s avoid behaviors that God dislikes, including celebration of birthdays and holidays originating from false religions. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate their own birthdays, because it is considered a glorification of the individual rather than the Creator.
These statements certainly resonate with Islamic belief. However, because the JW basic concept of the Oneness of God is flawed their moral behaviour and values mean very little. God tells us clearly about the greatest losers on the Day of Judgment:
Shall We tell you the greatest losers in respect of (their) deeds? (They are) those whose efforts have been wasted in this life while they thought that they were acquiring good by their deeds. They are those who deny the proofs, evidence, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc. of their Lord and the Meeting with Him (in the Hereafter). So their works are in vain, and on the Day of Resurrection, We shall assign no weight for them. (Al-Kahf 18:103-105)
Thus we find that even if at first glance the Jehovah’s Witnesses seem to have a belief system that resonates with Islamic beliefs, this is far from the truth. Careful consideration reveals defects and mistakes in their basic theories. It appears that the Jehovah’s witnesses have very little in common with either Islam or Christianity. Their theories of Heaven and Hell, the Oneness of God, the Trinity and creation of the Universe are not acceptable to Muslims and it appears they are also not acceptable to most Christian denominations.