To have a son is one of the aspirations of most people. It is often through our sons that we feel pride, stability and continuity. Having a child is a distinctly pleasurable and meaningful experience that most people seek. So why shouldn’t God have a son?
First of all, God isn’t human. He is not like us. True, He created us in His image, but we, in turn, shouldn’t project our image onto Him. The Quran says that “There is nothing like Him” (112:4). Having a son implies having a family – a wife, perhaps other children. Although a noble aspiration for humans, this is above the needs and desires of a god.
Secondly, why should God have a son and not a daughter? Just as we look down on cultures who value sons over daughters, while girls are just as lovable and valuable as boys, we should object to a patriarchic god. And if God were to have a son, wouldn’t it make sense that His first creation – Adam – would be the likely candidate? After all, He created Adam without a human mother, which would qualify him to be truly God’s son, and His only son. But he’s not, and nobody ever assumed so.
Third, what’s the point of having a son-god if the father retains the ultimate authority? Being God implies being perfect – absolutely knowledgeable, absolutely capable, absolutely powerful. There seems to be little need for a son, who could only serve as an heir, a deputy, a consultant, or some kind of subordinate. If God did have a son, either he would be a faithful servant to his father, or he would compete for authority and power. All of these notions negate the absoluteness and perfection of God, who has no need for another god or semi-god.
Fourth, the notion of a son being created for the purpose of redeeming God’s favored creation seems barbaric. Any society who has required, even once, a blood sacrifice, a human sacrifice, or a virginal sacrifice to avoid God’s displeasure or punishment would seem superstitious at best to most modern people. If we don’t accept such behavior among ourselves, how can we accept it in our God?
Fifth, and most importantly, the notion of God having a son negates His qualities of mercy and forgiveness. God says in the Quran that Adam “forgot” when he ate from the forbidden tree, and he asked God for forgiveness, and God forgave him (2:35-37). End of story. One of God’s most important qualities is that he is a merciful, forgiving Lord – this quality is mentioned repeatedly in the Quran.
Sixth, which is as important as fifth, God is also just. The story of original sin is simply about original sin, not an unforgiven sin, the burden of which passed to all mankind. As parents, we would never punish one of our children for the misdeeds of the neighbors. So why would we accept that from God, thereby ascribing to ourselves a far greater level of justice than to Him? If God isn’t just, how can He be God?
Why shouldn’t God have a son? Because it doesn’t make sense. What does make sense is that there is one God. That’s the only possibility that make sense to me. Belief in that single, exclusive God is the cornerstone of Islamic faith.