I know that this is a dangerous article for me to write given that it is not politically correct to write anything that can be conceived to be negative about Islam. But I am compelled to do so because of the nature of the subject. The current situations in Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and countless other Islamic countries have captured much of our attention. We can see the outrage and discontent in the people who protest. History teaches us that we need to be concerned about where these events will lead us.
Like most of my friends and acquaintances I didn’t know much about religions other than Christianity when I was growing up. I was raised in the “Bible Belt” in the southern United States. In my youth it seemed like there was a Christian church on just about every corner. To say the least, I had no idea what Islam or Muslims stood for nor who they worshiped. What I did know was that the great Olympic gold medal winner from the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Cassius Clay, announced that he had converted to “The Nation of Islam” and had become a Muslim shortly after winning the heavyweight championship of the world from Sonny Liston in 1963. At that point Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali and declared his allegiance to Allah. Some told me at the time that “Allah” was just another name for Almighty God and that Muslims worshipped the same God as Christians.
To tell the truth, just about everyone I knew was ignorant about what Muslims believed including my trusted church leaders. I didn’t pay much attention to the topic for many years. However, during Jimmy Carter’s presidency the Iranian hostage crisis was in the headlines for almost two years. Fifty-two US citizens were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of Islamic students and militants took over the Embassy of the United States in support of the Iranian Revolution. The crisis froze the presidency and scenes of Iranian radicals on the nightly news began my education as to how different the Muslim mind was from that of Christians and particularly Christian Americans.
I can still remember the grand jubilation in 1981 when, shortly after President Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, the Iranians released the fifty-two hostages. Within a year, under Saddam Hussein, Iraq invaded Iran and a long and extended war between these two Islamic countries ensued. I still didn’t know much about Islam.
In 1984 I recall reading a Newsweek Magazine article that greatly troubled me. The article depicted two Muslim fathers, one from Iraq and the other from Iran, which had “lost” their soldier sons in the Iraq/Iran war. Both of the sons were a mere 12 years old. The Iraqi father was ecstatic that his son had become a martyr by dying in the war. The Iranian father was disgusted with his son because he had been captured by Iran and was not martyred. His son had been sent into battle with little or no training and a rifle that didn’t even fire. He was included in the horde or human wave of first attackers that would proceed forward in front of the more highly armed and trained elite Iranian troops. Basically, he was to be sacrificed. The Iranian father disowned his son though the boy was still alive in an Iraqi prison. In the interview with the Newsweek reporter, he said that he was ashamed of his son and never wanted to see him again.
This article had a profound effect on me at the time. And now, some twenty-seven years later, I can still see the pictures of the fathers and the boys in my mind’s eye. I am just as perplexed now as I was then. I couldn’t understand how two fathers could send their twelve-year-old sons to war and hope they would be killed so they would be martyred for the sake of Allah.
Over the years, as my understanding of Islam grew, I got to the point where I realized that the God of the Bible and Islam’s Allah are in no way the same. They are markedly different. Unfortunately, countless world political leaders and even some renowned religious leaders continue to promote the belief that we “all serve the same god.” The fact is that there are so many differences between the two faiths that it is hard to imagine how either side could ever embrace any part of the other’s belief system. Perhaps that is why Christianity and Islam have been at such odds with each other for centuries and have so little understanding of each other.
In the aftermath of the 2001 World Trade Center bombing, I recall listening to a message by David Feddes of the “Back to God Hour” entitled “Christianity and Islam”. The radio program aired on February 3, 2002. I was so struck by the message that I ordered a printed copy and after it arrived I read it over and over. Recently I pulled out the message again and was compelled to use its contents to prepare a side by side comparison of the main points mentioned by Mr. Feddes. I have done my best to accurately reproduce Mr. Feddes’ statements primarily using his own words. Of course, this is not a comprehensive list, but it served me well as a good quick reference.
Mr. Feddes and the “Back to God Hour” have granted permission to include this material “in any format” given that credit is given to them. The information in the table below is thus credited in its entirety to David Feddes and the “Back to God Hour.” The table starts out with some of the similarities between Christianity and Islam and proceeds to then list some of the major differences between the two as they relate to the nature of God and Allah, beliefs about Jesus and eternal life, and the nature of living in love. After you have completed your review of the table, I think that you will conclude without question that Christianity and Islam do not serve the same God.
|Some Similarities||Christianity believes that there is but one god, not many. He is referred to as God.||Islam believes that there is but one god, not many. He is referred to as Allah.|
|Christianity rejects the pagan belief in various gods and goddesses.||Islam rejects the pagan belief in various gods and goddesses.|
|Christianity rejects pantheistic belief that all things are God or part of God.||Islam rejects pantheistic belief that all things are God or part of God.|
|Christianity believes in one all-powerful, all-knowing being, with no beginning or end, who rules over all things.||Islam believes in one all-powerful, all-knowing being, with no beginning or end, who rules over all things.|
|Christianity teaches divine creation, rejects random evolution.||Islam teaches divine creation, rejects random evolution.|
|Christianity opposes homosexuality and abortion.||Islam opposes homosexuality and abortion.|
|Christianity emphasizes honesty in business.||Islam emphasizes honesty in business.|
|Who is God?||Christianity teaches there is one God and that this one God is a union of three divine persons: Father, Son (Jesus) and Holy Spirit – the Trinity. The oneness of Father, Son and Spirit is such that it is wrong to speak of three Gods. There is only one God, an eternal union of love in the Holy Trinity. When the Bible says “God is love,” it’s not just because God is loving toward us but also because God’s inner being is characterized by the eternal love that unites Father, Son and Holy Spirit.||While Islam teaches there is one God, Muhammad rejected the Trinity. He fiercely opposed the Christian belief that Jesus is the eternal Son of God with the same divine nature as God the Father. He also denied that the Holy Spirit is a divine person. The Koran threatens painful punishment and hell for those who say Christ is God and who believe in the Trinity.|
|The Real Jesus||Christians believe that Jesus was born of a virgin and that He is the Son of God. They believe that Jesus is God. Jesus claimed to be God and proved it by rising from the dead.||Muslims believe that Jesus was born of a virgin through a great miracle. They believe Jesus was a prophet. They do not accept Jesus as the Son of God. They do not accept that Jesus is God and claim that many false statements have crept into the Bible over the centuries. Muslims say that the Koran, not the Bible, is the final authority on understanding who Jesus is.|
|Eternal Life||Christianity teaches that man is born in sin and is in need of a Savior. The Bible teaches that all have sinned and this includes the biblical heroes and prophets such as Noah, Moses, Isaiah, and David. Christians are saved by repenting and trusting God to forgive their sins through His Son Jesus.||Islam believes that humans are not born in sin and thus do not need salvation. Instead, they just need the guidance of the Islamic law. In direct opposition to the Bible, Islam teaches that serious sins were not committed by the prophets of God.|
|Christians believe that God chose to come down to earth in a form of a man, Jesus, to die for our sins to purify us and forgive us. Christians believe that our sins can be paid for by the suffering and death of Jesus. Christians believe that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son Jesus. If you have the Son as your Savior, then you have eternal life. Christians trust the death and resurrection of Jesus as the basis of forgiveness and eternal life.||Islam bases eternal life on how good a person is. A Muslim seeks eternal life by working for it. Islam teaches that man of his own effort has the ability to do what is necessary to have eternal life. To do so, a Muslim must submit to and faithfully keep the Five Pillars of Islam:
In addition, a Muslim must submit to the many other rules and regulations in the Koran to earn entrance into heaven.
|Christians believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty of sin for all who trust him. Jesus rose from the dead to give joyous eternal life to His people. This salvation is a free gift of God to all who believe and entrust themselves to Jesus.||Muslims teach that Jesus never died. Instead, they say that Jesus’ enemies thought they killed him but were fooled by appearances and that Jesus went directly to heaven without dying.|
|Living in Love||The Bible tells us of an incident where a woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus. Some wanted to stone her, but Jesus spared her life and told her, “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11).||The Koran tells of an incident where a woman came to Muhammad after getting pregnant through adultery. Muhammad treated her decently until she gave birth, and then had her stoned to death.|
|Christianity is rooted in the love of Jesus, who chose to lay down his life to pay for the sins of others. In the three centuries following His resurrection, Jesus’ followers spread His message by preaching, persuasion, and love.||Muhammad used military measures to advance Islam and after his death, Islam spread to other countries through military conquest.|
|Nations today with a biblical background basically enjoy freedom including speech and freely elected governments.||Nations today that emphasize Islamic law have limited freedom, limited freedom of speech, and few freely elected governments.|
|Christians believe that God designed marriage as a lifelong union of love between one man and one woman and that it is wrong to divorce without just cause. The Bible teaches that husbands are to love their wives enough to die for them, as Christ gave himself for His bride, the church (Ephesians 5:25).||Islamic law allows men to beat their wives. Men are allowed to have up to four wives. If a man divorces his wife, he gets to keep the children.|
|Christians believe that God is a great King. He is the Father. He is a friend who made a huge sacrifice to pay for the sins of those he loves. God is a close companion who lived among us in the person of Jesus. Christians approach God with reverence and awe but pray to Him in confidence. God dwells within man in the form of the Holy Spirit.||The god of Islam, Allah, is a master who deals with his servants on the basis of whether they follow his rules.|
My intent with this article is not to cause further division between Christians and Muslims. I am proud to say that I am an unashamed Christian and believe that God and His Holy Word, The Bible, are the final revelation of the one and only true God.
Shortly after the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center I had the privilege of teaching a Bible class to six Iranian refuges that had been relocated to the United States through an international refuge relief organization. Each of these six men had been raised as Muslims and each had converted to Christianity after leaving Iran. Most were eager to learn about the sufficiency of the Bible, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and leave their Islam faith behind as they started new lives in America. They were no longer welcome in Iran and would never be able to return to their homeland. Over the period of approximately one year each man found a good job and gradually integrated into society as constructive citizens. One man in particular, Akbar, was an ardent witness for Jesus. I will never forget that experience and trust that God is continuing to use each of these men to relate the truth about Almighty God and Allah to everyone they meet.
In closing, I am not trying to fuel the flames of hatred. I am simply trying to point out that the god of Muhammad is not the Father of Jesus Christ. I pray that you will place your trust in the Lord Jesus as your savior. Jesus is the way to salvation and there is no other way.