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Qur'an Recited in St Mary's Cathedral, Glasgow

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Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali criticises the reciting of the Qur’an in a Cathedral service last week. 

A video has appeared online showing the Qur'an being recited in an Epiphany service at St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow last week. The video was shared in a 7 January post on the Cathedral's Facebook page.

Rev. David McCarthy of St Thomas' church in Edinburgh commented:

"It's a strange and erroneous matter for the clergy leadership of a cathedral to allow a reading from the Quran which later goes on to deny the divinity of Christ. Of course it is nice to invite people of other faiths to be present for worship, but sadly this recitation reveals a naivety and the growing tendency towards a lack of confidence in the uniqueness of Christ.

My Muslim friends have a strong confidence in their faith and would not be at all happy if a passage like John chapter 1, which affirms Jesus is God, was read out in their mosque. So why did the leadership of the cathedral allow a recitation from a book which Muslims believe is the final unaltered revelation from God which supersedes the Bible?"


Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali issued a statement:

Christians should know what their fellow citizens believe and this can include reading the Qur'an for themselves, whether in the original or in translation. This is not, however, the same thing as having it read in Church in the context of public worship.

The passage read at St Mary's Cathedral, Glasgow, appears to be from the Sura known as Maryam or Mary and is about the birth of Christ. It affirms the virgin birth and speaks of Jesus as zaki or sinless, as rasul or messenger to whom a book has been entrusted and as nabi or prophet. It speaks of his unique birth, his coming death and his resurrection. Jesus is called the very word of the truth(or of God).

Much of this Christians can agree with but the passage also denies that God can have a son although the verb used, yattakhida, suggests God taking to himself a son. This seems to have the heresy of adoptionism in the background and is not what Christians believe.

They believe he is the eternal Word proceeding from the Father and son in this sense, as well as because of his unique birth and his resurrection from the dead. It is particularly insensitive to have this passage read in Church on the Feast of the Epiphany when we celebrate not only Christ's manifestation to the gentiles but also his baptism and the divine declaration, "you are my beloved son in whom I am well pleased".

The authorities of the Scottish Episcopal Church should immediately repudiate this ill-advised invitation and exercise appropriate discipline for those involved. The Archbishop of Canterbury should also distance the Church of England and the world wide Anglican Communion from this event.

As these comments indicate, the Qur'an explicitly denies that God can have a son and that Jesus is divine. The Church of England should exercise discipline for those involved and make clear that Qur'an recitation should play no part in Christian worship. 

Related Links:
In response to the Qur'an recitation in St Mary's Cathedral, Glasgow (Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali)
Cathedral marks Epiphany with Koran reading (Anglican Ink)
St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Glasgoe Koran Reading (Facebook)