Question: How do I explain the Trinity to a Muslim?
Answer: It's important to understand that because of the wording of some definitions that Christians use, many Muslims believe that Christians are polytheists. So it is very important that we rectify these misunderstandings concerning "The Trinity."
I would begin with the Koran, specifically 2.87 -
And most certainly We gave Musa (Moses) the Book (Torah) and We sent apostles after him one after another; and We gave Isa, (Jesus) the son of Marium, (Mary) clear arguments and strengthened him with the holy spirit, (2.87).
In this ayah God gives the Holy Spirit to Jesus. Here the Koran clearly recognizes the Three of the Scriptures; God, the Holy Spirit and Jesus. The word Trinity is from the Latin word trinitas which means “tri-unity.” Therefore the Trinity is simply the unifying of the Three together as one.
How are the Three unified?
Jesus said God is Spirit (singular) – John 4:24. God the Father is one Spirit. Whenever we have more than one spirit we have more than one God and that is polytheism. The Apostle Paul said …God is one – Galatians 3:20. There is absolutely no plurality in God the Father.
God is spirit and He has a “person,” which is His being, personality, will, intelligence, etc. His person is referred to as “soul” in the Hebrew Scriptures, and in the Hebrew that word is nephesh.
Behold! My servant whom I uphold, My elect One in whom My soul (nephesh) delights! - Isaiah 42:1.
Be instructed, O Jerusalem, lest My soul (nephesh) depart from you, lest I make you desolate, a land not inhabited - Jeremiah 6:8.
I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul (nephesh) shall not abhor you - Leviticus 26:11.
The Lord tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul (nephesh) hates - Psalm 11:5.
God’s “person/soul/intelligence” directs the operations of His Spirit. –
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth…And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters – Genesis 1:1,2.
Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit, they are created – Psalm 104:30.
I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh – Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17.
Here we can clearly see that the Mind of God wills and His Spirit responds. In Joel 2:28,
God pours out or "portions" His Spirit upon all flesh, thereby causing His Spirit to operate in multiples of the One Spirit that is God the Father. (This prophecy was fulfilled in Acts 2).
Jesus said that the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of the Father” – Matthew 10:20. The Holy Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of God throughout the Old and New Testaments, and the Holy Spirit and God are viewed as one.
Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for He has given you the former rain moderately, and He will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month - Joel 2:23.
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He (God the Father) shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth – Hosea 6:3. – (please note here that the Scripture does not make any distinction between the LORD (the Father) and His Holy Spirit, they are the same element).
Therefore, God is spirit and the Holy Spirit is His Spirit.
In order to procure our salvation, the soul/person of the Messiah must be a distinct entity from the Father in order to take our sins upon His soul (Isaiah 53:10).
Jesus’ soul/person is begotten or birthed. Anyone who is birthed, must come from a pre-existing substance. Jesus’ soul was birthed from the pre-existing substance of the Father’s Spirit. Jesus’ soul is the first soul to exist and is like ours except Jesus’ soul is the perfect image of God’s person in holiness and character. God will not give His glory to another, -Isaiah 42:8, He gave His glory to the perfect image of Himself.
The Koran tells us that Jesus was also given life as a man by God’s Holy Spirit –
“And Mary the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into (her body) of our Spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His books, and was one of the devout (servants).” (66.12)
God’s glory is His Spirit and we see in Koran 66.12, that Jesus was given life as a man by God’s Holy Spirit. Therefore His life force is God’s Spirit and Jesus is also joined to God by the Holy Spirit “to strengthen Him,” 2.87. God is never disconnected from His own Spirit, therefore making Himself one with the Messiah Jesus, and confirming the Messianic prophecy from Isaiah – “I have put My Spirit upon Him” - Isaiah 42:1.
Therefore we can see that the Trinity is merely a “tri-unity” of God’s person/soul, His Holy Spirit and the person of the Messiah Jesus. Jesus said, “I and My Father are one” –John 10:30 – One through the union of God’s Holy Spirit.
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