Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Worshiping Jesus as God

Exposing More of Ali Ataie’s Blunders and Distortions Pt. 1

Sam Shamoun

In this series of rebuttals I will be responding to the assertions made by Muhammadan apologist Ali Ataie in the following two, mostly identical youtube videos:

Did Jesus Allow Disciples to Worship him: Ali Ataie and Zakir Hussain Clips Refuting Christian Claim 

Koine Greek Analysis: Did the Disciples Worship Jesus? Ali Ataie

In these clips, Ataie mentioned that in Luke 4:8, our Lord quoted the following OT text in response to Satan’s tempting him to worship the Devil:

“You must fear the Lord your God. You must serve (ta'abod) Him and cling to Him, and swear by His name.” Deuteronomy 10:20

Ataie stated that the Hebrew verb abad is rendered as latreuo in the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, and argued that this latter term refers to the worship that is only due to God. This can be seen from the citation of it in the text from Luke:

“And Jesus answered him, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship (proskyneseis) the Lord your God, and Him ONLY shall you serve (latreuseis).”’” Luke 4:8

Our Lord plainly teaches that God alone is to receive latreuo.

Ataie then claimed that latreuo is never given to Jesus in the sacred Scriptures.(1)

He further argued that the inspired Christian Greek Scriptures never apply the words ho Theos (“THE God”) to the Lord Jesus.

These are the specific claims we plan to address in this present series.


Serving Yahweh God

It is vitally important to note that, even though the Hebrew word abad is often rendered latreuo as in the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible known as the Septuagint (LXX), there are places in which it is translated as douleuo, another Greek term meaning “to serve”.  Compare, for instance, the following examples:

“All the ends of the world will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will worship before You.  For kingship belongs to the Lord, and He rules among the nations. All the prosperous ones of the earth will eat and worship; all who go down to the dust will bow before Him, even he who cannot keep his own soul alive. Posterity will serve Him (ya'abdennu); it will be told to generations about the Lord;” Psalm 22:27-30

and my seed shall serve him (douleusei auto): the generation that is coming shall be reported to the Lord.” Psalm 21:30 LXX

“You said, ‘It is vain to serve(‘abod) God. What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked as mourners before the Lord of Hosts?’… Then you will again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves (‘obed) God and one who does not serve (lo 'abado) Him.” Malachi 3:14, 18

“Ye said, He that serves (ho douleuon) God labours in vain: and what have we gained in that we have kept his ordinances, and in that we have walked as suppliants before the face of the Lord Almighty?… Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, and between him that serves (tou douleuontos) God, and him that serves him not (tou me douleuontos).” LXX

“when the peoples are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve (la'abod) the Lord.” Psalm 102:22

“when the people are gathered together, and the kings, to serve (tou douleuein) the Lord.” Psalm 101:22 LXX

What makes this last example particularly relevant to our discussion is that the NT book of Hebrews takes the following section of this specific Psalm, which describes Yahweh as the unchanging Creator and Sustainer of the entire creation,

“From before You have laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They shall perish, but You shall endure; indeed, all of them shall wear out like a garment; like a robe You shall change them, and they shall pass away, but You are the same, and Your years shall have no end.” Psalm 102:25-27

And applies it to the Lord Jesus Christ!

“And again, when He brings the firstborn into the world, He says: ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him (proskynesatosan auto).’ Of the angels He says: ‘He makes His angels spirits, and His servants a flame of fire.’ But TO THE SON He says:Your throne, O God (HO Theos), lasts forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.’ AND, ‘You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the works of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; and they all will wear out like a garment; as a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not end.’” Hebrews 1:6-12

Here, the inspired author not only has God praising his Son as the immutable Lord who created and sustains all of creation, he also has the Father glorifying his Beloved as THE God who reigns forever and ever, and depicts him as ordering the entire angelic host to worship his Firstborn as Yahweh God!

That Jesus is being worshiped as Yahweh God can be easily proven by the fact that the text which the author cites here, is either from the following OT verse,

“Rejoice, ye heavens, with him, and let all the angels of God worship him; rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance, and recompense justice to his enemies, and will reward them that hate him; and the Lord shall purge the land of his people.” Deuteronomy 32:43 LXX

Or from this particular Psalm,

“Let all that worship graven images be ashamed, who boast of their idols; worship him, all you his angels… For you are Lord most high over all the earth; you are greatly exalted above all gods.” Psalm 96[Eng. 97]:7, 9

In both instances, it is Yahweh God whom the angels are commanded to worship.

Moreover, the Greek verb for worship (proskyneo) occurs only twice in the book of Hebrews, i.e., here at Hebrews 1:6 and then at Hebrews 11:21 where Jacob is described as worshiping Yahweh God:

"By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph and worshipped (prosekynesen) while leaning on the top of his staff."

So in the book of Hebrews proskyneo is the "worship" which God alone is supposed to receive.  

Therefore, the only way that God the Father could take OT references where God’s angels are instructed to worship Yahweh, and where Yahweh is identified as the unchanging Creator and Sustainer of all things, and ascribe them to the risen and glorified Christ, is if Jesus himself is Yahweh God Incarnate.

This brings us to the next part of our rebuttal.


(1) Ataie committed the same embarrassing blunder that another infamous Muhammadan apologist named Shibli Zaman did awhile back. Ataie claimed that the Greek word proskyneo is composed of two Greek words, pros (“toward”) and kyon (“dog”), and then likened it to dogs kissing their masters’ hands. Apart from this being a classic example of what is commonly known as an etymological or root fallacy, where a person erroneously assumes that the word is to be defined by, or is restricted to its root meaning, Ataie is simply mistaken about the word’s origin. Proskyneo DOES NOT come from kyon, but rather from the Greek word kus.

Just as embarrassing is Ataie’s attempt to connect the word proskyneo with dogs kissing the hands of their masters, when there isn’t a single lexical source that we are aware of that defines it that way! Rather, the one concordance that does mention dogs says nothing about kissing the hands. Here is what it actually states:

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance


From pros and a probable derivative of kuon (meaning to kiss, like a dog LICKING his master's hand); to fawn or crouch to, i.e. (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore) -- worship. (Bible Hub)

Notice that Strong’s mentions a dog licking his master’s hands, not kissing them, which makes absolute sense since dogs DON’T KISS but lick instead!

With that said, does Ataie really want us to believe that when the NT writers describe people rendering proskyneo to Christ, what they really meant to convey was that these individuals were actually licking the Lord Jesus’ hands just like any good dog?

This simply goes to show that Ataie does not know the Biblical languages as well as he thinks, and he should therefore refrain from pontificating on such matters lest he desires to further embarrass himself.

For a thorough refutation of this egregious blunder, we highly recommend the following rebuttals:

Competing for the "Worst Etymological Fallacy" Award?

Shibli Zaman on Etymology [Revisited] The Bluster Buster