Category: Columns

Three personal questions about God

This is the last in a series of articles contrasting Allah and Yahweh.

Previously: The Islamic Inquisition

Muslims and Christians agree that there is one God but understand Him differently. While it is politically correct to say Christians and Muslims worship the same God, no Muslim or Christian who truly understands his faith would agree with that statement.

In fact, we can see that Christians and Muslims worship distinctly different Gods by asking three personal questions: (1) Does God know me? (2) Does God love me? (3) Did God die for me?
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The Islamic Inquisition

This is the fourth in a series of articles contrasting Allah and Yahweh.

Previously: A Simple Start to Understanding the Trinity

Christians and Muslims agree that God is one. Christians believe in a triune God: one being in three persons. But Islam’s understanding of Allah as a monad — monolithic and non-relational — creates two significant challenges to a consistent doctrine of God in Islamic theology.

First, how do Muslims reconcile their belief that Allah is eternal and self-existent with their belief that the Qur’an also is eternal? It seems either that the Qur’an came into being, or there are two eternally existing entities: Allah and his word.

Second, since the Qur’an depicts Allah as loving, merciful, and gracious, with whom was he loving, merciful, and gracious before he decided to create? It seems that Allah and his attributes are contingent upon creation.

These issues, particularly the first one, prompted the Minha, an Islamic inquisition in the 9th century.
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A simple start to understanding the Trinity

This is the third in a series of articles contrasting Allah and Yahweh.

Previously: The oneness of God

The doctrine of the Trinity sets Christians and Muslims apart. In fact, to suggest to a follower of Allah that God has a Son, or that God exists in tri-unity, is to commit the unpardonable sin of shirk, which damns a soul to hell.

Islam is unwavering in its belief in Allah as a singular being — monolithic, distant, and unknowable. He only relates to people in acts of the will, not out of an eternal nature that is loving, merciful, and gracious.

What’s more, when engaging Muslims in conversation, it’s challenging to explain how one God exists in three co-equal, co-eternal persons. Some simplify the doctrine by employing analogies. For example, just as water from a single bucket can exist in three states — solid, liquid, and gas — so the Godhead is one essence in three persons.

But all analogies applied to the Trinity break down at some point. They simply cannot do justice to the magnificence of our Creator. So, maybe a better start is to lay out three biblical truths that offer a framework for the tri-unity of God.

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The oneness of God

This is the second in a series of articles contrasting Allah and Yahweh.

Previously: Tawhid and the Trinity

Muslims and Christians agree that God is one but understand oneness differently.

The Islamic doctrine of tawhid, or absolute oneness, is more than strict monotheism. Tawhid celebrates Allah as singular, indivisible, and monolithic.

Muslims insist that Allah has no “partners.” To say that Jesus is the Son of God, or that God exists as a Trinity, is to commit the unpardonable sin of shirk.

But the Qur’an does not exclude the possibility of Allah existing in tri-unity, according to the late Christian apologist Nabeel Qureshi. Rather, Islam’s most holy book rails against polytheism — the worship of multiple gods.

Qureshi writes: “Throughout the Quran, Allah regularly says that there is only one God (e.g., 16.51; 47.19; 112.1), but always as a rejection of polytheism. The Quran never rejects the possibility of one God subsisting in three persons. The omission is noteworthy, as this had been the orthodox doctrine of Christianity for centuries before Muhammad and the advent of the Quran.”
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Tawhid and the Trinity

This is the first in a series of articles contrasting Allah and Yahweh.

Muslims and Christians agree there is one God but disagree as to His name, nature, and attributes.

The god of Islam is Allah, meaning “the god” in Arabic. In the days of Islam’s founder, Muhammad, this meant that of all the tribal gods worshiped on the Arabian Peninsula, Allah was the only true deity.

Key to the Islamic concept of God is the doctrine of tawhid, or absolute oneness. It’s more than strict monotheism. Tawhid celebrates Allah as singular, indivisible, and monolithic.

Muslims insist that Allah has no “partners.” To ascribe partners to Allah — for example, to say that Jesus is the Son of God, or that God exists as a Trinity — is to commit the unpardonable sin of shirk, which damns a soul to hell.

The Qur’an makes it clear that Allah stands apart from his creation and does not engage in personal relationships. For example, Surah 17:111 reads: “Praise be to Allah, who begets no son, and has no partner in (His) dominion …”

In addition, the Qur’an instructs its readers to reject any notion that God exists as more than one person. It wrongly implies that Christians worship a Trinity consisting of God, Jesus, and Mary (Surah 4:171; 5:73, 116).

Further, Islam understands these to be three separate gods, and the Qur’an strongly warns Muslims against worshiping anyone but Allah. Here, Muslims and Christians may find some common ground, for Christians both reject the notion of Mary as a god, as well as the idea that three separate gods make up the Trinity.

In No God But One, Nabeel Qureshi points out that the Qur’an clearly denounces polytheism but does not exclude the possibility of Allah existing in tri-unity. Put another way, Qureshi says the Qur’an does not explicitly say Allah cannot exist as one God in three persons, even though Muslims strongly reject the biblical doctrine of the Trinity.
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