In several ways I can agree with his post, but in others I cannot. I was Roman Catholic before accepting Islam as the truly representative religion on this earth. It is, for example, absolutely true that God’s message is the key to faith. Note, that in the passage Steven Bailey quotes after John 6:53 (John 6:60-66) he says, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you – they are full of the Spirit[a] and life.” (NIV John 6:63).
The foot note [a] signifies a difference of opinion on whether “the Spirit” merits a capital letter – the Holy Spirit of revelation or the sincere spirit of Jesus.
“The Spirit gives life.” is an absolute truth on three levels.
1) A man is made up of two parts. His biological self and his spiritual being. In terms of our present life, the biological self comes first. We are genetically put together in the womb of our mothers and form into a complete self (fetus) inside it during the first 4 months of pregnancy. At that stage our soul, or spiritual being (Ruh) is combined with our biological self.
2) The angels are tasked with bringing the Ruh from God and placing it inside the Self, associating the physical creation with the spiritual one. Thus the Holy Spirit engenders life to the physical self.
3) The Spirit of Revelation, which Islam associate with the Angel Gabriel, is the means by which God communicates with His messengers and prophets who in turn convey the Message to the people. The acceptance of the Message is what separates the believer (Mu’min – one with open faith, one you can trust) and Paradise [Life] and the non-believer and Hell [Non-Life] (Kaffer – the coverer of truth, the obscurer of faith).
God tells us that our Spiritual Being actually pre-exists or physical self. That we genetically existed within the first man and God raised each associated soul in assembly before man’s cycle on earth began. He said, “Do you acknowledge I am your Lord (Creator and Owner) and you are my slaves (Property and Creations)?”
We all bore witness that we recognized this relationship. In other words, our spirits know Who is our Creator and Lord and this is the Fitrah (Natural State of Guidance – we instinctively submit to what we identify as our Lord) we are upon in the beginning. And this state, if we correctly identify Who our Lord is, is Life.
At the same time, the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Revelation and Animation, conveys life to men in two ways. It delivers the Ruh to its associated Self – starting our worldly life. It also delivers the Message of God to mankind by inspiring God’s prophets and messengers, charged to remind us (remind the Ruh of what it knows) of our duty to Allah and our inevitable end. If we listen to the message and it serves to remind us in thought, heart and deeds, then we achieve the greatest of achievements – Life everlasting in the hereafter.
The Self without the Ruh is devoid of guidance because it is devoid of Fitrah, which is why it is not significant in guidance. In fact, it is the Self that fights against the Soul seeking to wallow in the life of this world. It’s natural state is clinging to the world in which it came into being, rather than the realm wherein the Ruh came into being. It likes the easy way, the way of least effort. The hard way is that of struggle – struggle against the Self and towards the Spirit.
Let us look now, at the rest of what Jesus said: “The words I have spoken to you – they are full of the Spirit and life.”
Jesus identifies what the bread (John 6:48) is that he wants us to consume. It is not literally his flesh (John 6:51) and blood (John 6:53), his physical being, his incarnation that is worth NOTHING. It is metaphorically the message he conveys. This is a clear teaching against the supposed Salvation through his sacrifice (of the Self – which is worth NOTHING), but acceptance of His Spiritual Being (and creation) and the Message he conveys from God.
An authentic narrative or oral tradition – one whose chain of narrators is trustworthy all the way to the Prophet’s mouth via the companion Samit Ubada, whom God is pleased with, states that he whom Allah praises, Peace be upon him, said: “If anyone testifies There is no god but Allah, He is One and there is no associate with Him, that Muhammad is his servant and His messenger, that (the Messiah) Jesus is (the son of His slave-girl and) His servant and His messenger and His word which He bestowed upon Mary and is His Spirit, that Paradise is true, and Hell is true, Allah will admit him into Paradise (with the deeds which he had done even if those deeds were few) through any of its eight gates he likes.”
This tradition is conveyed in slightly different wording (hence the brackets above, the words of which appear in one narrative but not the other) is reported through Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 55, Number 644 and Sahih Muslim, Book 1, Number 0043, which can be viewed at the following sources:
The Quran reports Jesus spoke as a new born baby to his mother and a baby in the cradle in her defense when the people accused her of being a loose woman. Gabriel had told her that her conception was easy for God, achieved by the creative Word “Be” (and it is). Yet the Spirit of Fitrah was so closely entwined with his Self that he was able to speak Revelation from babyhood. He was also able, with God’s permission, to see into people’s larders, cure their sickness, create life from earthen figures (of birds) and raise the dead. In the Gospel of Luke he is recorded to have discussed theology with learned Rabbis even as a child and God identified him in front of John (the Baptist) as His chosen one (His beloved pais).
In the end, Jesus’ Spirit, the Bread he offered, the Message he had for them, was beyond his disciples’ capabilities to grasp. He says, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.” (NIV John 16:12)
He therefore prophecies the coming of a future messenger, like him, saying: “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.” (NIV John 16:13-14)
Muslims believe the Spirit of Truth is the same person, the advocate in John’s Gospel, who was prophesied by Jesus in the Quran. “And [mention] when Jesus, the son of Mary, said, “O children of Israel, indeed I am the messenger of Allah to you confirming what came before me of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmad.” (Sahih International, 61:6)
Jesus goes on to say the prophesied messenger will convey the same message that Jesus was entrusted to convey by “the Father”, which was embodied in him. He then says: “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” (NIV John 16:16)
The disciples were confused, and were not able to grasp what he had said. So after he told them in a figurative manner that life would be difficult, but would result in their rebirth (in the hereafter) he said, “Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” (NIV 16:22-23)
He explains that everything will be candid and easily understood, rather than in his usual figurative metaphor, explaining that when he said, “In that day you will ask in my name.” (NIV 16:26) he did not mean he would ask God on their behalf. He said, “The Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” (NIV 16:27-28)
The disciples at least partly understood his meaning. They said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.” (NIV 16:29-30)
It is clear that Jesus expected the Spirit of Truth to re-iterate the Truth that Jesus himself conveyed. And in the Quran, God clearly states that those who understood the Truth (and had submitted to it) would have no trouble in recognizing it when they heard the future advocate conveying it. He says, (my parentheses) “And We have [repeatedly] conveyed to them the Qur’an (the Word) that they might be reminded. Those to whom We gave the Scripture (the Book [Bible]) before it – they are believers in it. And when it is recited to them, they say, ‘We have believed in it; indeed, it is the truth from our Lord. Indeed we were, [even] before it, Muslims [submitting to Allah].’
Those will be given their reward twice for what they patiently endured and [because] they avert evil through good, and from what We have provided them they spend (in charity). And when they hear ill speech, they turn away from it and say, ‘For us are our deeds, and for you are your deeds. Peace will be upon you; we seek not the ignorant’.” (Sahih International 28:51-55)
So indeed I agree that God guides those who are bound to be guided, and these guided ones are the ones who recognize the Truth when they see it, submit to it and achieve the best reward that is Joy that none can ever take away.
Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you; My Peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give it to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (NIV John 14:27)
Many interpreters say this Peace refers to that very lack of hostility the world gives as the interpretation of “peace”. However, I would suggest that the Peace of Elohim and His messenger, Jesus, Peace be upon him, is the “Peace” (Islam) as Allah and His messenger, Muhammad, Peace be upon him, give: Security in the true worship of One God which results in inner certitude in this world and, more importantly, security in the next.
In other words, it is Hashalom/AlSalam; it is the very words (and condition) in the Quran with which the angels greet those who die “in a state of purity, saying , ‘Peace be on you; you may enter the Garden (of Paradise) because of (the good) which you did’.” (Sahih International 16:32)
All quotations from Sahih International can be explored at their site http://corpus.quran.com