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Offline Reader Questions

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Who are the 'Al-Nasara'? Are they Christians?
« on: May 18, 2014, 08:01:07 AM »
Dear br. Joseph. aslaamolaikum

There is often confusion by some as to what or who exactly the nasara were. Are these really the Christians from the al-Qur'an? Pls can you clarify from the al-Qur'an. Thank you so much!

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Who are the 'Al-Nasara'? Are they Christians?
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2014, 08:10:22 AM »
Wa alaikum assalam

Please see below my response to your question.


WHO ARE THE ‘NASARA’ FROM A QURAN'S PERSPECTIVE?

005:014 (part)
“And from those who said, indeed we are ‘nasara’, We took their covenant; but they forgot a part of what they were reminded of it. So we aroused between them enmity and hatred till the Day of Resurrection…”

In this verse, the Quran clearly recognises a group of people that identified themselves as the ‘Nasara’.  The implication from the verse is that these are a historic people (certainly from the context) of the Quran, who fell foul of their covenant and split into rival factions with enmity between them.

These people who recognised themselves as 'Nasara’ held as a doctrinal belief that Christ was the Son of God.

009:030
“…And the ‘al-Nasara’ say, 'The Messiah is the Son of God’ That is their saying with their mouths, they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before. May God destroy them! How they are deluded!…”

This is clearly a reference to certain Christians as no other group of people claim that the Messiah is the Son of God. The Quran continues to inform the reader that this is merely a saying from their mouths and such a suggestion forms a disbelief of old (9:30).

The ‘Nasara’ have also often been coupled in the Quran with the ‘Yahud’ (Jews) implying an interrelationship of beliefs / overlap of history. However, the Quran also shares disagreements between the two groups

002:113 (part)
“And the Jews say,- 'The Christians stand not on anything (nothing true) and the al-Nasara (Christians) say, 'The Jews stand not on-anything although they (both) recite the book….”

The above also make it clear that they have scriptures that they reference.

Amongst the group of the ‘Nasara’ at the time of the prophet, there also existed priests and monks who also identified themselves as ‘Nasara’

005:082 (part)
“…Indeed! We are ‘Nasara’. That is because there are among them priests(Qissis) and monks (Ruhban), and because they are not proud / arrogant”

005:018 (part)
“And say the Jews and Christians (al-Nasara), 'We are the children of God, and His beloved…'

This statement of ‘Children of God’ implying favoured creation or God’s people is quite consistent with the Biblical scriptures which often speak of ‘children of God’ / ‘God’s people’. Hence there is an implicit linkage between the Biblical scriptures and the claims of the ‘Nasara’ further cementing the fact that they were ‘Christians’ (claiming to follow Christ)

The above arguments from the Quran makes it absolutely clear as to ‘who’ the ‘Nasara’ were.  The term 'Nasara' (plural) is a collective term known to the Arabs to describe a people that claim to follow prophet Jesus. (Singular: Nasrani) i.e. The Christians.

This is also attested by ancient lexicologists who understand the term as a reference to Christians. Whether or not they refer to ‘Nazarenes’ of old is open to debate (recognised by lexicologists as a weak inference) and is superfluous to what was understood to mean by the term ‘Nasara’ when the Quran spoke to a particular audience.

  • "2 نصّرهُ , (inf. n. تَنْصِيرٌ, K,) He made him a Christian. (S, M, K.) It is said in a trad., [relating to the natural disposition of a child to adopt the true faith,] فَأَبَوَاهُ يُهَوِّدَانِهِ وَيُنَصِّرَانِهِ [But his two parents make him a Jew or make him a Christian]. (S.)

    نَصْرَانِىٌّ , (S, A, Msb, K, &c.) and ↓ نَصْرَانٌ , (M, A,) or this latter has not been used without the addition of the relative ى, (S,) or it has been sometimes used, (M,) and ↓ نَصْرِىٌّ , (M, Msb, K,) but we have not heard this used, (M,) [A Christian: or this is a secondary application, and the original meaning is a Nazarene:] fem. نَصْرَانِيَّةٌ, (S, A, Msb, K,) and نَصْرَانَةٌ, (S, A, K,) or the latter is used only by poetic licence: (IB:) ↓ نَصَارَى [applied to the Christians] is a rel. n. from نَاصِرَةُ, [or Nazareth,] a town of Syria, (S, M, K,) also called نَصْرَانَةُ, (Lth, IDrd, K,) or نَصْرَانُ, (S, Msb,) and نَصُورِيَةٌ, (M, Sgh, K,) without teshdeed, accord. to Sgh, (TA,) and نُصْرِىٌّ and نُصْرَى, (as in a copy of the M,) or نَصْرَى and نَصْرَوَةُ: (TA:) so originally, and then applied to such as hold the religion of its inhabitants: (Msb:) this is the opinion of the lexicologists; but it is of weak authority, though admissible as there are other anomalous rel. ns.: (M:) or [so in K, but in the S, and] نَصَارَى is pl. of نَصْرِىٌّ, (Kh, M, Msb, K,) like as مَهَارَى is pl. of مَهْرِىٌّ; (Msb, K;) or of نَصْرَانٌ (Kh, S, M) and نَصْرَانَةٌ, (S,) like as نَدَامَى is pl. of نَدْمَانٌ (Kh, S, M) and نَدْمَانَةٌ; (S;) but more probably of نَصْرَانٌ, because this word has been sometimes used, whereas we have not heard نَصْرِىٌّ used: (M:) and it is implied in the copies of the K, that أَنْصَارٌ is pl. of نَصْرَانِىٌّ; but correctly, it is a pl. of نَصْرَانٌ, without ى, as is said in the TS, and the L, in both of which is mentioned the saying of the poet
    لَمَّا رَأَيْتُ نَبَطًا أَنْصَارَا
    [When I saw Nabatheans, Christians], meaning نَصَارَى. (TA.)
    النَّصْرَانِيَّةُ The religion of the نَصَارَى [or Christians]. (K, TA.)
    نَصُورٌ One who aids, or assists, much or well. (TA in art. عقرب.)"


    LANE. E.W, Edward Lanes Lexicon, Williams and Norgate 1863; Librairie du Liban Beirut-Lebanon 1968, Volume 8, Page 2803

However, there is some support that the Arabic word ‘Nasara’ may have linkage with its literal meaning of ‘helpers’ (nasir) and the Quran certainly captures a narrative where the disciples of Jesus remarked “We are helpers / supporters (Nasir) of God" (3:52; 61:14). 

Therefore, there were (and still are) those Christians that have wayward beliefs (9:30) and those that have correct beliefs (5:82-83). Both groups were still known as ‘nasara’ and it is arguably the righteous, chaste ‘nasara’ that find favour with the Lord. Their food is lawful for believers as are their folk for marriage (5:5). [1]

The ‘Nasara’ (Christians) were simply asked to judge truly by the Gospel. [2]

005:047
"Let the people of the Gospel judge by what God has revealed in it. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what God has revealed, they are those who rebel (Arabic: Fasiquna)."


REFERENCES:

[1] MARRIAGE WITH THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK
http://quransmessage.com/articles/marriage%20with%20people%20of%20the%20book%20FM3.htm
[2] PEOPLE OF THE BOOK (JEWS & CHRISTIANS)
http://quransmessage.com/articles/people%20of%20the%20book%20FM3.htm
'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell