This is the second in a series of articles contrasting Allah and Yahweh.
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.”
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.
November 5 is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. North Korea continues its run as the nation most brutal toward its Christian citizens, but the vast majority of the top 50 persecutors are Muslim-dominated nations, according to the 2017 World Watch List.
Which begs the question: Is Islam hostile to Christianity?
Many Muslims worldwide condemn the violence done in the name of Allah, especially to Jews and Christians. They desire peaceful coexistence with their neighbors. Further, they cite passages from the Qur’an that support freedom of religion, and they embrace Jews and Christians as “people of the Book.”
Other Muslims, of course, follow a more violent path to achieve the goal of Islam: Bringing the world into submission to Allah.
All Muslims, however, honor Muhammad as the al-Insan al-Kamil, or “the person who has reached perfection.” Further, they seek to pattern their lives after him based on his words and deeds as revealed in the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sira.
So, it’s only fair to explore what Muhammad said about Jews and Christians, and how he treated them. After all, if he is indeed the ultimate role model, his life should exemplify how every Muslim thinks and acts toward others.
Muslims believe in the Injil, or gospel, but define it differently than evangelical Christians do. Further, they claim the church has corrupted the biblical texts so that only the Qur’an preserves the genuine good news.
In defining the gospel, Muslim commentator Yusuf Ali writes that “the Injil spoken of by the Qur’an is not the New Testament. It is not the four Gospels now received as canonical. It is the single Gospel which, Islam teaches, was revealed to Jesus, and which he taught.”
In other words, the gospel is the prophetic teaching of Jesus as captured in the Qur’an, directing all people to submit to the will of Allah.
Further, Muslims argue that Christians have altered the New Testament texts, resulting in doctrinal errors such as the deity of Christ, the Trinity, and original sin.
But a careful look at the Qur’an shows that Islam’s most holy book affirms the inspiration, preservation, and authority of the Gospel record. At the same time, it exposes the inconsistency of Muslim teachings about the Bible.
One day last December, Wheaton College political science professor Larycia Hawkins donned a hajib (Muslim head covering) and posted the following statement on Facebook: “I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”
That gesture, by a professor at an evangelical college, ignited a firestorm of controversy that continues to blaze. Wheaton administrators took exception to Hawkins’ statement. The media largely took exception to Wheaton. Social media took the story viral. And Christianity Today magazine editor Mark Galli opined, “We at CT are not sure we can unambiguously take a side at this point.”
Hawkins’ social media post revived important discussions about academic freedom, the theological integrity of Christian institutions, racial diversity, and other issues. But more important, it shed fresh light on a centuries-old debate: Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?
It’s an important question for which influential people across the religious spectrum offer a variety of answers.