"The Son Of Man," Who Is He?
The Holy Qur'an presents to us the true Jesus Christ as "the Son of Mary;"
and the Holy Gospels, too, present him to us as "the Son of Mary;" but that
Gospel which was written on the white tablets of the heart of Jesus and
delivered to his disciples and followers orally, alas was soon adulterated with
a mass of myth and legend. "The Son of Mary" becomes "the Son of Joseph," having
brothers and sisters (1). Then he becomes "the Son of David;" (2) "the Son of
Man;" (3) "the Son of God;" (4) "the Son" only;(5) "the Christ;" and "the Lamb"
------------ Footnotes: 1. Matt. xiii 55,56; Mark vi 3; iii 31; Luke ii
48; viii 19-21; John ii 12; vii 3, 5; Acts i 14; I Cor. ix. 5; Gal. i 19; Jude i
2. Matt xxii 42, Mark xii 35, Luke xx 41, Matt. xx 30; ix 27; xxi 9; Acts xiii
22, 23; Apoc. v 5; Rom. xv 12; Heb. vii 14, etc. 3. About eighty-three times in
the discourses of Jesus this appellation is repeated. 4. Matt. xiv 32, xvi 16;
John xi 27; Acts ix 20; I John iv 15; v 5; Heb. i 2, 5, etc. 5. John v 19, 20,
21, 23, 24, 26, etc.; and in the Baptismal formula, Matt. xxviii. 19; John i.
34, etc. 6. Matt. xvi. 16, and frequently in the Epistles. 7. John i. 29, 36;
and often in the Revelation. ----------- end of footnotes
Many years ago, one day I visited the Exeter Hall in London; I was a Catholic
priest then; nolens volens I was conducted to the Hall where a young medical
gentleman began to preach to a meeting of the Young Men's Christian Association.
"I repeat what I have often said," exclaimed the doctor, "Jesus Christ must be
either what he claims to be in the Gospel or he must be the greatest impostor
the world has ever seen!" I have never forgotten this dogmatizing statement.
What he wanted to say was that Jesus was either the Son of God or the greatest
impostor. If you accept the first hypothesis you are a Christian, a Trinitarian;
if the second, then you are an unbelieving Jew. But we who accept neither of
these two propositions are naturally Muslims. We Muslims cannot accept either of
the two titles given to Jesus Christ in the sense which the Churches and their
unreliable Scriptures pretend to ascribe to those appellations. Not alone is he
"the Son of God," and not alone "the Son of Man," for if it be permitted to call
God "Father," then not only Jesus, but every prophet and righteous believer, is
particularly a "son of God." In the same way, if Jesus were really the son of
Joseph the Carpenter, and had four brothers and several married sisters as the
Gospels pretend, then why alone should he assume this strange appellation of
"the Son of Man" which is common to any human being?
It would seem that these Christian priests and pastors, theologians and
apologists have a peculiar logic of their own for reasoning and a special
propensity for mysteries and absurdities. Their logic knows no medium, no
distinction of the terms, and no definite idea of the titles and appellations
they use. They have an enviable taste for irreconcilable and contradictory
statements which they alone can swallow like boiled eggs. They can believe,
without the least hesitation, that Mary was both virgin and wife, that Joseph
was both spouse and husband, that James, Jossi, Simon, and Judah were both
cousins of Jesus and his brothers, that Jesus is perfect God and perfect man,
and that "the Son of God," "the Son of Man," "the Lamb," and "the Son of David"
are all one and the same person! They feed themselves on heterogeneous and
opposed doctrines which these terms represent with as greedy an appetite as they
feel for bacon and eggs at breakfast. They never stop to think and ponder on the
object they worship; they adore the crucifix and the Almighty as if they were
kissing the bloody dagger of the assassin of their brother in the presence of
I do not think there is even one Christian in ten millions who really has a
precise idea or a definite knowledge about the origin and the true signification
of the term "the Son of Man." All Churches and their commentators without
exception will tell you that "the Son of God" assumed the appellation of "the
Son of Man" or "the Barnasha" out of humility and meekness, never knowing that
the Jewish Apocalyptical Scriptures, in which Jesus and his disciples heart and
soul believed, foretold not a "Son of Man" who would be meek, humble, having
nowhere to lay his head, and be delivered into the hands of the evildoers and
killed, but a strong man with tremendous power and strength to destroy and
disperse the birds of prey and the ferocious beasts that were tearing and
devouring his sheep and lambs! The Jews who heard Jesus speaking of "the Son of
Man" full well understood to whom he was alluding. Jesus did not invent the name
"Barnasha," but borrowed it from the Apocalyptical Jewish Scriptures: the Book
of Enoch, the Sibylline Books, the Assumption of Moses, the Book of Daniel, etc.
Let us examine the origin of this title "the Barnasha" or "the Son of Man."
1. "The Son of Man" is the Last Prophet, who established "the Kingdom of
Peace" and saved the people of God from servitude and persecutions under the
idolatrous powers of satan. The title "Barnasha" is a symbolical expression to
distinguish the Savior from the people of God who are represented as the
"sheep," and the other idolatrous nations of the earth under various species of
the birds of prey, ferocious beasts, and unclean animals. The Prophet Hezekiel
is almost always addressed by God as "Ben Adam," that is "the Son of Man" (or of
Adam) in the sense of a Shepherd of the Sheep of Israel. This Prophet has also
some Apocalyptical portions in his book. In his first vision with which he
begins his prophetic book he sees besides the sapphire throne of the Eternal the
appearance of "the Son of Man." (l) This "Son of Man" who is repeatedly
mentioned as always in the presence of God and above the Cherubim is not
Hezekiel (or Ezekiel) him- self (2). He is the prophetical "Barnasha," the Last
Prophet, who was appointed to save the people of God from the hands of the
unbelievers here upon this earth, and not elsewhere!
------------- Footnotes: 1. Ezek. i. 26. 2. Ezek. x. 2. -------------
end of footnotes
(a) "The Son of Man" according to the Apocalypse of Enoch (or Henoh).
There is no doubt that Jesus Christ was very familiar with the Revelation of
Enoch, believed to be written by the seventh patriarch from Adam. For Judah,
"the brother of James" and the "servant of Jesus Christ," that is the brother of
Jesus, believes that Enoch was the real author of the work bearing his name (l).
There are some dispersed frag- ments of this wonderful Apocalypse preserved in
the quotations of the Early Christian writers. The book was lost long before
Photius. It was only about the beginning of last century that this important
work was found in the Canon of the Scriptures belonging to the Abyssinian
Church, and translated from the Ethiopic into the German language by Dr.
Dillmann, with notes and explanations (2). The book is divided into five parts
or books, and the whole contains one hundred and ten chapters of unequal length.
The author describes the fall of the angels, their illicit commerce with the
daughters of men, giving birth to a race of giants who invent all sorts of
artifices and noxious knowledge. Then vice and evil increase to such a pitch
that the Almighty punishes them all with the Deluge. He also relates his two
journeys to the heavens and across the earth, being guided by good angels, and
the mysteries and wonders he saw therein. In the second part, which is a
description of the Kingdom of Peace, "the Son of Man" catches the kings in the
midst of their voluptuous life and precipitates them into hell (3). But this
second book does not belong to one author, and assuredly it is much corrupted by
Christian hands. The third book (or part) contains some curious and developed
astronomical and physical notions. The fourth part presents an Apocalyptical
view of the human race from the beginning to the Islamic days, which the author
styles the "Messianic" times, in two symbolical parables or rather allegories. A
white bull comes out of the earth; then a white heifer joins him they give birth
to two calves: one black, the other red; the black bull beats and chases away
the red one; then he meets a heifer and they give birth to several calves of
black color, until the mother cow leaves the black bull in the search the red
one; and, as she does not find him, bawls and shrieks aloud, when a red bull
appears, and they begin to propagate their species. Of course, this transparent
parable symbolizes Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, Sheth, etc., down to Jacob whose
offspring is represented by a "flock of sheep" - as the Chosen People of Israel;
but the offspring of his brother Esau, i.e. the Edomites, is described as a
swarm of boars. In this second parable the flock of sheep is frequently
harassed, attacked, dispersed, and butchered by the beasts and birds of prey
until we come to the so-called Messianic times, when the flock of sheep is again
attacked fiercely by ravens and other carnivorous animals; but a gallant "Ram"
resists with great courage and valor. It is then that "the Son of Man," who is
the real master or owner of the flock, comes forth to deliver his flock.
------------- Footnote: (1). Judah i. 14. In the Gospels he is mentioned
as one of the four brothers of Jesus, Matt. xiii. 55, 56, etc. (2). It has also
been translated into English by an Irish Bishop Laurence. (3). Enoch xlvi. 4 -
A non-Muslim scholar can never explain the vision of a Sophee - or a Seer. He
will - as all of them do - bring down the vision to the Maccabees and the King
Antiochus Epiphanes in the middle of the second century B.C., when the Deliverer
comes with a tremendous truncheon or scepter and strikes right and left upon the
birds and the beasts, making a great slaughter among them; the earth, opening
its mouth, swallows them in; and the rest take to flight. Then swords are
distributed among the sheep, and a white bull leads them on in perfect peace and
As to the fifth book, it contains religious and moral exhortations. The whole
work in its present shape exhibits indications which show that it was composed
as late as 110 B.C., in the original Aramaic dialect, by a Palestinian Jew. At
least such is the opinion of the French Encyclopedia.
The Qur'an only mentions Enoch under his surname "Idris" - the Arabic form of
the Aramaic "Drisha" being of the same category of simple nouns as "Iblis" and "Blisa"
(l) "Idris" and "Drisha" signify a man of great learning, a scholar and an
erudite, from "darash" (Arabic "darisa"). The Qur'anic text says: "And mention
in the Book Idris; he too was a man of truth and a Prophet, whom We exalted."
------------- Footnote: (1). "Iblis," the Arabic form of the Aramaic "Blisa,"
an epithet given to the devil which means the "Bruised One." ------------- end
The Muslim commentators, Al-Baydhawi and Jalalu 'd-Din, seem to know that
Enoch had studied astronomy, physics, arithmetic, that he was the first who
wrote with the pen, and that "Idris" signifies a man of much knowledge, thus
showing that the Apocalypse of Enoch had not been lost in their time.
After the close of the Canon of the Hebrew Scriptures in the fourth century
or so B.C. by the "Members of the Great Synagogue," established by Ezra and
Nehemiah, all other sacred or religious literature besides those included within
the Canon was called Apocrypha and excluded from the Hebrew Bible by an assembly
of the learned and pious Jews, the last of whom was the famous "Simeon the
Just," who died in 310 B.C. Now among these Apocryphal books are included the
Apocalypses of Enoch, Barukh, Moses, Ezra, and the Sibyline books, written at
different epochs between the time of the Maccabees and after the destruction of
Jerusalem by Titus. It seems to be quite a la mode with the Jewish Sages to
compose Apocalyptical and religious literature under the name of some celebrated
personage of antiquity. The Apocalypse at the end of the New Testament which
bears the name of John the Divine is no exception to this old Judeo Christian
habitude. If "Judah the brother of the Lord" could believe that "Henoh the
Seventh from Adam" was really the author of the one hundred and ten chapters
bearing that name, there is no wonder that Justin the Martyr, Papias, and
Eusebius would believe in the authorship of Matthew and John.
However, my aim is not to criticize the authorship of, or to extend the
comments upon these enigmatic and mysterious revelations which were compiled
under the most painful and grievous circumstances in the history of the Jewish
nation; but to give an account of the origin of this surname "the Son of Man"
and to shed some light upon its true signification. The Book of Enoch too, like
the Apocalypse of the Churches and like the Gospels, speaks of the coming of
"the Son of Man" to deliver the people of God from their enemies and confuses
this vision with the Last Judgment.
(b) The Sibylline Revelation, which was composed after the last
collapse of Jerusalem by the Roman armies, states that "the Son of Man" will
appear and destroy the Roman Empire and deliver the Believers in One God. This
book was written at least fourscore years after Jesus Christ.
(c) We have already given an exposition of "the Son of Man" when we
discussed the vision of Daniel, (l) where he is presented to the Almighty and
invested with power to destroy the Roman Beast. So the visions, in the
"Assumption of Moses," in the Book of Baruch (or Barukh), more or less
similar in their views and expectations to those described in the
above-mentioned "Revelations," all unanimously describe the Deliverer of the
people of God as "Barnasha" or "the Son of Man," to distinguish him from the
"Monster;" for the former is created in the image of God and the latter
transformed into the image of Satan.
------------ Footnotes: 1. Dan. vii. See the article, "Muhammad in the
Old Testament," in the Islamic Review for November, 1938. ------------
2. The Apocalyptic "Son of Man" could not be Jesus Christ.
This surname, "Son of Man," is absolutely inapplicable to the son of Mary.
All the pretensions of the so-called "Gospels" which make the "Lamb" of Nazareth
to "catch the kings in the midst of their voluptuous life and hurl them down
into the Hell;" (1) lack every bit of authenticity, and the distance separating
him from "the Son of Man" marching with the legions of angels upon the clouds
towards the Throne of the Eternal is more than that of our globe from the planet
of Jupiter. He may be a "son of man" and a "messiah," as every Jewish king,
prophet, and high! priest was, but he was not "the Son of Man" nor "the Messiah"
whom the Hebrew prophets and apocalyptists foretold. And the Jews were perfectly
right to refuse him that title and office. They were certainly wrong to deny him
his prophethood, and criminal to have shed his innocent blood - as they and the
Christians believe. "The Assembly of the Great Synagogue," after the death of
Simeon the just in 310 B.C., was replaced by the "Sanhedrin," whose president
had the surname of "Nassi" or Prince. It is astonishing that the "Nassi" who
passed the judgment against Jesus, saying: "It is more profitable that one man
should die rather than the whole nation should be
destroyed," (2) was a prophet (3)! If he were a prophet, how was it that he
did not recognize the prophetic mission or the Messianic character of "the
------------- Footnotes: (1). Enoch xlvi. 4 - 8. (2). John xi. 50. (3).
Idem, 51. ------------- end of footnotes
Here are, then the principal reasons why Jesus was not "the Son of Man" nor
the Apocalyptic Messiah:
(a) A messenger of God is not commissioned to pro- phesy about himself
as a personage of some future epoch, or to foretell his own reincarnation and
thus present him- self as the hero in some great future drama of the world.
Jacob prophesied about "the Prophet of Allah," (1) Moses about a prophet who
would come after him with the Law, and Israel was exhorted to "obey him; (2)
Haggai foretold Ahmad (3); Malachi predicted the coming of the "Messenger of the
Covenant" and of Elijah; (4) but none of the prophets ever did prophesy about
his own second coming into the world. What is extremely abnormal in the case of
Jesus is that he is made to pretend his identity with "the Son of Man," yet he
is unable to do in the least degree the work that the foretold "Son of Man" was
expected to accomplish! To declare to the Jews under the grip of Pilate that he
was "the Son of Man," and then to pay tribute to Caesar; and to confess that
"the Son of Man had nowhere to lay his head;" and then to postpone the
deliverance of the people from the Roman yoke to an indefinite future, was
practically to trifle with his nation; and those who put all these incoherences
as sayings in the mouth of Jesus only make idiots of themselves.
------------- Footnotes: (1) Gen. xlix. 10. (2) Deut. xviii. 15 (3).
Hag. ii. 7. (4) Mal. iii. 1, iv. 5. ------------- end of footnotes
(b) Jesus knew better than everybody else in Israel who "the Son of
Man" was and what was his mission. He was to dethrone the profligate kings and
to cast them into the Hell-fire. The "Revelation of Baruch" and that of Ezra -
the Fourth Book of Esdras in the Vulgate - speak of the appearance of "the Son
of Man" who will establish the powerful Kingdom of Peace upon the ruins of the
Roman Empire. All these Apocryphal Revelations show the state of the Jewish mind
about the coming of the last great Deliverer whom they surname "the Son of Man"
and "the Messiah." Jesus could not be unaware of and un- familiar with this
literature and this ardent expectation of his people. He could not assume either
of those two titles to himself in the sense which the Sanhedrin - that Supreme
Tribunal of Jerusalem - and Judaism attached to them; for he was not "the Son of
Man" and "the Messiah," because he had no political program and no social
scheme, and because he was himself the precursor of "the Son of Man', and of
"the Messiah" - the Adon, the Conquering Prophet, the Anointed and crowned
Sultan of the Prophets.
(c) A critical examination of the surname "Son of Man" put three and
eighty times in the mouth of the master will and must result in the only
conclusion that he never appropriated it to himself; and in fact he often uses
that title in the third person. A few examples will suffice to convince us that
Jesus applied that surname to someone else who was to appear in the future.
(i) A Scribe, that is a learned man, says: "I will follow thee wheresoever
thou goest." Jesus answers: "The foxes have their holes; the birds of heaven
their own nests; but the Son of Man has no place where to lay his head." (1) In
the verse following he refuses one of his followers per- mission to go and bury
his father! You will find not a single saint, father, or commentator to have
troubled his head or the faculty of reasoning in order to discover the very
simple sense embodied in the refusal of Jesus to allow that learned Scribe to
follow him. If he had place for thirteen heads he could certainly provide a
place for the fourteenth too. Besides, he could have registered him among the
seventy adherents he had (2). The Scribe in question was not an ignorant
fisherman like the sons of Zebedee and of Jonah; he was a scholar and a
practiced lawyer. There is no reason to suspect his sincerity; he was led to
believe that Jesus was the predicted Messiah, the Son of Man, who at any moment
might summon his heavenly legions and mount upon the throne of his ancestor
David. Jesus perceived the erroneous notion of the Scribe, and plainly let him
understand that he who had not two square yards of ground on earth to lay his
head could naturally not be "the Son of Man"! He was not harsh to the Scribe; he
benevolently saved him from wasting his time in the pursuit of a futile hope!
------------- Footnote: (1). Matt. viii. 20 (2). Luke x. 1 -------------
end of footnote
(ii) Jesus Christ is reported to have declared that the Son of Man "will
separate the sheep from the goats." (1) The "sheep" symbolize the believing
Israelites who will enter into the Kingdom but the "goats" signify the
unbelieving Jews who had joined with the enemies of the true religion and were
consequently doomed to perdition. This was practically what the Apocalypse of
Enoch had predicted about the Son of Man. Jesus simply confirmed the revelation
of Enoch and gave it a Divine character. He himself was sent to exhort the sheep
of Israel (2) to remain faith- ful to God and await patiently the advent of the
Son of Man who was coming to save them for ever from their enemies; but he
himself was not the Son of Man, and had nothing to do with the political world,
nor with the "sheep" and "goats" which both alike rejected and despised him,
except a very small number who loved and believed in him.
------------- Footnotes: (1). Matt. xxv. 31 - 34. (2). Matt. xv. 24
------------- end of footnotes
(iii) The Son of Man is said to be "the Lord of the Sabbath day," that is, he
had the power to abrogate the law which made it a holy day of rest from labor
and work. Jesus was a strict observer of the Sabbath, on which day he used to
attend the services in the Temple or in the Synagogue. He expressly commands his
followers to pray that the national collapse at the destruction of Jerusalem
should not happen on a Sabbath day. How could, then, Jesus claim to be the Son
of Man, the Lord of the Sabbath day, while he was obliged to observe and keep it
like every Jew? How could he venture to claim that proud title and then predict
the destruction of the Temple and of the Capital City?
These and many other examples show that Jesus could never appropriate the
surname of "Barnasha" to himself, but he ascribed it to the Last Powerful
Prophet, who really saved the "sheep," i.e. the believing Jews; and either
destroyed or dispersed the unbelievers among them; abolished the day of Sabbath;
established the Kingdom of Peace; and promised that this religion and kingdom
will last to the day of the Last Judgment.
We shall in our next essay turn our attention to find all the marks and
qualities of the Apocalyptic "Son of Man" which are literally and completely
found in the last Prophet of Allah, upon whom be peace and the blessing of God!