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.”
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.
Their key message: Islam is a religion of peace.
No doubt many of the world’s Muslims prefer peace to the sword, decrying the acts of Islamist terrorists as perversions of true Islam.
And to be fair, Islam is a religion of peace, as long as peace is defined in Muslim terms.
A case in point: dhimmitude.
So, how do Christian missionaries teach Muslims about Jesus when Islam denies His deity and death on the cross? And how do new converts from Islam to Christianity worship Jesus without inviting severe persecution?
One answer is Chrislam, the bringing together of Christianity and Islam. Proponents of Chrislam say that because the Qur’an mentions Jesus and affirms certain biblical teachings about Him, Christianity and Islam share at least some common ground.
They further argue that if Christians avoid the offensive term “Son of God” when referring to Jesus, and emphasize His role as prophet rather than divine Savior, Muslims are more open to the gospel. Once they come to faith in Christ, Muslims may continue to worship at a mosque, pray Muslim prayers, and even partake in a pilgrimage to Mecca.
The hardline Wahhabi version of Islam has been the official religion of the Saudi state since 1932. All Saudis are required to be Muslim. The law of the land is sharia. The Qur’an is the constitution. In fact, life is so tough for “infidels” there that the state outlaws freedom of thought because “freedom of thinking requires permitting the denial of faith,” according to the Center for Religious Freedom.
The Saudi stance is severe but common in Muslim majority countries, where Christians in particular are persecuted. In fact, Christians are the most ill-treated religious group in the world today, according to studies by the Vatican, Pew Research Center, the Economist, and others. Christians are the victims of three-quarters of the world’s recorded acts of religious intolerance.