I currently live in Detroit, Michigan, which has a significant Arab population. The cities of Dearborn and Hamtramck especially have a substantial Arab communities, but even in my small town of Melvindale, it’s not uncommon to see women walk down the street in burkas or supermarket signs written in Arabic. It’s an incredible mission field for the Gospel. But recently, I have realized how little I know about Islam.
I think it's important that Christians stop fearing Islam and start seeking to understand it. In fact, the limited studying I have done has actually strengthened my Christian faith. As I read how Islam describes Allah, I see how my God is completely different. As I read about Islam’s path for salvation, I rejoice in Christ’s sufficient death for my sins. The Allah of the Qur'an is not the God of the Bible. I hope that as you read the following three contrasts between Allah and Yahweh, you will be both prompted to praise your glorious Savior and pushed to spread the Gospel to those who still dwell in darkness.
Allah didn’t come to earth
The doctrine of the Trinity and the deity of Jesus Christ are both rejected by the Qur'an: “...so believe in God and His messengers, and do not say ‘Three.’ Stop! It is better for you. God is one god, Far removed is it from His transcendent majesty that He should have a son” (An-Nisa 4:171). With no Trinity and no incarnation, Islam has no place for God stepping into his Creation. He never sent his Son to die for the sins of man, for he has no son. He demands that mankind draw near to him, but he did not draw near to man, let alone became one. It is therefore the duty of every devout Muslim to move toward God. Muslim author, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, states, “The Divine Being is not veiled from us, we are veiled from Him, and it is for us to try to rend this veil asunder, to try to know God” .
The God of the Bible is transcendent, but he is also immanent. He is one--yet three in one. He sent Jesus, God in flesh to walk among mankind and suffer alongside of them (Phil 2:5-11). As God in the flesh, he was "gentle and lowly" (Matt 11:29) and was "tempted as we are" (Heb 4:15). Yes, there is a veil between God and man, but while Muslims say that it is up to man to “rend this veil asunder,” Christians rejoice in the fact that Christ tore the veil from top to bottom when he died on the cross for your sins and mine (Matt 27:51). Christians can confidently draw near to him by the "new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh” (Heb 10:20).
God came to earth; Allah did not.
Allah doesn’t offer a personal relationship
Muslims and Christians alike esteem prayer highly. But Muslims do not view prayer as part of a personal, intimate relationship to God. Prayer is a formal expression of worship--a religious requirement as evidenced by the Adhan, the daily “call to prayer.” A Muslim can get to know Allah, but not in the sense of a personal relationship. The idea of having a familial relationship to God is “virtually blasphemous to a pious Muslim. Therefore, the very idea of talking to God in a casual manner, as though we have an intimate relationship with him, is very strange” . There are 99 names describing Allah in the Qur’an, and none of them speak of any fatherly relationship.
Christians call on God as their heavenly Father. John 1:12 says, “But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” Christ has graciously brought us into the family of God, making us joint heirs with him of his glory (Rom. 8:17). The prayer of the Christian isn’t merely the act of religious duty. It is the dependent, trusting cry of a child. Romans 8:15 beautifully contrasts the teachings of Islam and Christianity: “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba Father.”
God invites you into his family; Allah does not.
Allah doesn’t provide assurance of salvation
Islam teaches that salvation comes by faith and works. Those who “believe and do deeds of righteousness” (Al-Ma’idah 5:9), will be offered forgiveness. The pious Muslim must endeavor to outweigh his bad works with his good works: “And those whose scales are heavy [with good deeds] - it is they who are the successful, but those whose scales are light - those are the ones who have lost their souls, [being] in Hell, abiding eternally” (Al-Mu’Minun 23:102-103). Yet, even with faith and good works, a Muslim cannot have complete assurance of salvation (Al-Ahqaf 46:9), aside from the path of martyrdom. According to the Qur’an, those who are confessing Muslims will enter into Paradise; however, Allah retains the right to cast them into Hell if he has not destined them to Paradise. The common Muslim response to the question of their eternal destiny is, “God knows.”
The Christian's assurance for salvation is based in the fact that his security is rooted solely in the character of God, and not on one's personal righteousness. The Islamic view of salvation stands in stark contrast to Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Good works are not a requirement for salvation, for assurance would be impossible; instead, it is a result of our salvation. The entire book of 1 John was written so “that you may know that you have eternal life” (v. 13). The Christian can have complete assurance that his place in Heaven is secure, based on the unchanging promises of God, the witness of the Holy Spirit, and the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.
God provides assurance; Allah does not.
Christian, your God is unlike any other. He loved us so much that he stooped down to rescue us from our wretched rebellion. He lifts us up and welcomes us into his family, bestowing on us an eternal inheritance and calls us "Children of God." He secures us in his love, bestowing on us the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
People need to know this God. Muslims need to know him. So do Buddhists, Hindus, Atheists, and Mormons.
Let us share with them the good news of the Gospel, so that one day, they may join the "great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying with a loud voice, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'" (Rev 7:9-10)
 Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Ideals and Realities of Islam, (Hammersmith, London: Auqarian, 1994), 21-22.
 Irving Hexham, Understanding World Religions, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 445.
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