A guy at work today who is a Muslim told me we have the same God. At first that grated with me but after a while I began to think he might be right. There is only one God, but many different ways to (supposedly) reach him. I believe in the Christian way but that doesn’t mean we have a different God, right?
What are your thoughts?
Hi, What’s-your-name – or should I call you Deirdre? Or Maud? Or Agatha?
What’s in a name?
If you knew somebody called Phil Gregg and you were chatting to my wife about this “Phil Gregg” person, and you said, “Isn’t it interesting that he plays the Euphonium? And what a WONDERFUL sculptor he is! And what a BEAUTIFUL ballroom dancer!”.
Very soon my wife would start to look at you very funny. Because the Phil Gregg she knows is a string player – he can’t play anything you blow, and he was USELESS at art, and he can’t dance for toffee.
You’d soon cotton on that you had got two DIFFERENT Phil Greggs.
So in order to decide whether Allah is the same God as the Christian God, we need to check out what their faithful followers think they are LIKE.
For ease, we’ll use the Old Testament name for the Christian God, we’ll call Him “YHWH” (A Hebraism which means, “the one who exists, always has, always will”).
So what do the adherents of Islam and Christianity say about Allah and YHWH?
I’ll just pick out three characteristics which are fairly basic as indicators of the nature of Allah and YHWH.
1. Basic Statement of the Nature of God:
The accepted form of Islamic faith statement about Allah is as follows:
“There is no God but Allah and he has no son”. (see below for references)
As a Christian, you will be saying the following about YHWH:
“There is one God, existing in three persons. He has a Son and His name is Jesus, the Messiah, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
So you’ve already hit a problem. If a Muslim hears a Christian talking about God’s Son, he is bound to protest that the Muslim God has NO son. So it is not a matter of you saying Allah and YHWH are not the same God, this is what a true Muslim would have to say if you explained the nature of YOUR God.
[The Qu’ranic references about Allah having no son are:
Sura (a Sura is a Chapter of the Qu’ran) 17:111 ‘Say, “Praise be to Allah, who begets no son, and has no partner in his dominion”’
Sura 72:3 ‘And exalted is the majesty of our Lord, he has taken neither a wife nor a son’.
Sura 112:3 ‘He begetteth not, nor is he begotten.’]
2. How God’s holy demands are satisfied
The “Faith” principle is the central feature of YHWH’s relationship with His followers. Ephesians 2 8, 9 states this principle like this: 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
Allah recognises no “Faith principle” in this way.
He is satisfied by those who fulfil the “Five Pillars of Islam”:
a. There is No God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger.
b. Praying five times a day facing Mecca, and in the Mosque on Fridays.
c. Alms-giving, as a sacrifice to Allah, and an act of piety.
d. Fasting for one month at Ramadan.
e. Making a pilgrimage to Mecca.
3. Attitudes of Allah and YHWH towards the ungodly and enemies.
Quotes from the Qu’ran:
Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Qu’ran Sura 4:95
When ye travel through the earth, there is no blame on you if ye shorten your prayers, for fear the Unbelievers May attack you: For the Unbelievers are unto you open enemies. Qu’ran Sura 4:101
Let not the unbelievers think that they can get the better (of the godly): they will never frustrate (them). Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know. Qu’ran Sura 8:59-60
Quotes from the Bible:
Luke 10 27 He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
Matt 5 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Remember – if you decide Allah and YHWH are NOT the same God, this is no disservice to Muslims – they’d think exactly the same if you explained clearly what sort of God it is YOU believe in.