Have you ever wondered what the difference is between the Islamic Allah and Christianity’s God? Are they the same? What are their attributes? How does the view of salvation, heaven, and the Trinity differ between the two religions? Let’s unpack the answers to these questions and more!
Who is God?
The Bible teaches that there is only one God, and He exists as one Being in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is the uncreated creator and sustainer of the universe, our world, and everything in our world. He created everything out of nothing. As part of the Godhead, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were intrinsically involved in creation.
- “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
- “He (Jesus) was with God in the beginning. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:2-3).
- The earth was formless and void, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. (Genesis 1:2)
God is the Redeemer of all humans – He purchased our salvation through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. God’s Holy Spirit fills each believer: convicting of sin, empowering holy living, reminding of Jesus’ teachings, and gifting each believer with special abilities to serve the church.
Who is Allah?
The chief element of Islam is that “there is no god but Allah.” Islam (which means “submission”) teaches that everyone must submit to Allah, as nothing else is worthy of worship.
The Koran (Qur’an) – the holy book of Islam – says that God created the world in six days. Islam teaches that Allah sent Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, and lastly, Muhammad to teach people to submit to God and reject idols and polytheism (the worship of multiple gods). However, Muslims believe the scriptures God gave to Moses and other prophets were corrupted or lost. They believe God won’t send any further prophets or revelations after the last prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an.
The Qur’an teaches that Allah is the same God that Jews and Christians worship. “Our god and your god are one” (29:46) They believe Allah always existed and nothing is comparable to him. Muslims reject the Trinity, saying that “Allah was not beget, neither does he beget.”
Muslims don’t believe they can have a personal relationship with Allah, in the way that Christians do. They don’t consider Allah as their Father; rather, he is their god they are to serve and worship.
Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?
The Qur’an says yes, and Pope Francis says yes, but some of the controversy is a matter of semantics. In the Arabic language, “Allah” simply means god. So, Arabic-speaking Christians use “Allah” when referring to the God of the Bible.
But the Islamic Allah doesn’t fit with the Bible’s description of God. As we’ve already noted, the Qur’an doesn’t teach that Allah is the “Father.” They say Allah is their lord, sustainer, caretaker, and provider. But they don’t use the term walid Allah (father god) or ‘ab (Dad). They believe that calling themselves the “children of god” presumes too much. They don’t believe Allah is knowable in an intimate, relational sense. They believe Allah reveals his will, but not himself.
The Old Testament referred to God as Father and to David and the Israelites as the “children of God.”
- “You, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from old is your name.” (Isaiah 63:17)
- “O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)
- “I will be a father to him, and he will be a son to Me” (2 Samuel 7:14, speaking of David)
- “They will be called ‘children of the living God.’” (Hosea 1:10)
The New Testament is full of references to God as our Father and us as His children. And not just “Father,” but “Abba” (Daddy).
- “But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)
- “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:16)
- “. . . and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. (Romans 8:17)
- “Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Galatians 4:6)
A second stark difference between the Allah of Islam and the God of the Bible is the Trinity. Muslims believe Allah is one. Christians believe God is one but exists in the form of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet, but not God’s Son and not part of the Godhead. Muslims believe the idea of Jesus being God Incarnate is anathema.
Thus, Christians worship a completely different God than the Muslim Allah.
Attributes of Allah vs. the God of the Bible
Muslims believe Allah is omnipotent (all-powerful) and high above any created things. They believe he is merciful and compassionate. Muslims believe God is the most wise
They believe Allah is “stern in retribution” to those who oppose him and able to do all things (Qur’an 59:4,6)
- “He is God; besides Whom there is no god; the Sovereign, the Holy, the Peace-Giver, the Faith-Giver, the Overseer, the Almighty, the Omnipotent, the Overwhelming. . . He is God; the Creator, the Maker, the Designer. His are the Most Beautiful Names. Whatever is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Him. He is the Majestic, the Wise.” (Qur’an 59:23-24)
God of the Bible
- God is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipresent (everywhere at once). He is completely good and holy, self-existing, and eternal – He always existed and always will and never changes. God is merciful, just, fair, and wholly loving.
- God is love (1 John 4:8). Nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:35-39). He loved us so much He died for us so that we could have a relationship with Him. Our sin prevented a relationship with our perfectly holy God, so Jesus the Son became a man, died for our sins, rose on the third day, and ascended to heaven. Jesus did that so we could have relationship with God and salvation from our sins (2 Corinthians 5:19-21, John 3:16).
- God is a miracle-worker. As Creator, God has power over nature and can control it. He divided the Red Sea. Jesus walked on water and calmed the storm. God is a multiplier. He fed the 5000 with one boy’s lunch. God is faithful, and He fights for His people. God is our protector, rescuer, and strong tower of safety.
The Islam and Christian view of salvation
Muslims believe that Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, but they don’t think their descendants all inherited a sin nature. They believe sin is doing someone you shouldn’t do, or not doing something you should do. They don’t think Adam and Eve’s sin was terrible and that Allah forgave them because he is merciful. They don’t believe a sacrifice was necessary for salvation and that Allah simply forgives sins because he is merciful.
In Islam, salvation is based on believing in Allah’s oneness – in other words, being a Muslim. Muslims believe Allah forgives all sins except worshipping another god. They don’t believe Jesus is God’s Son and part of the Godhead (Quran 4: 48). Muslims believe in hell (Jahannam) as a place of fire and torment. Those who reject Islam go to hell (Jahannam) and Muslims who commit grave sins also go to hell, but not necessarily for eternity.
The Bible teaches that all people have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard (Romans 3:23). For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23). The Bible teaches that Jesus was the only person to live a sinless life. He died as a substitute for all people in the world – He took our punishment. God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sins, so that we could be made right with God through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The Bible says that if you declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). When we belong to Jesus, the power of the life-giving Holy Spirit frees us from the power of sin that leads to death (Romans 8:2)
The Islam and Christian view of heaven
The Qur’an teaches that heaven is a place of sensual pleasures (for men) where there is no sadness or fear. The Islamic heaven has rivers of water, milk, wine, and honey (Qur’an, 47:15). The best Muslims will get a glimpse of Allah’s face in heaven, although there is no suggestion of the intimate, personal friendship with God that Christians have even here on earth.
Islam teaches that Allah will weigh a person’s good deeds and sins from the Book of Life on the Day of Judgment. If a Muslim has more sins than good deeds, he will go to hell for a while until he has been punished for his sins. To get into heaven, a Muslim must perform good deeds, like praying regularly, going to mosque, reading the Qur’an, being kind to orphans and one’s parents, seeking knowledge, and having integrity and patience.
The Bible says that when Christians die and leave their earthly bodies, they have an eternal body made for by God Himself. We will be at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:1-9)
We must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many rooms (dwelling-places, mansions) . . . I am going there to prepare a place for you, and . . . I am coming again and will take you to Myself, so that where I am, there you also will be” (John 14:2-3).
“After these things, I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9-10)
The Muslim vs Christian view of the Trinity
The most fundamental element of Islam is that Allah is one, indivisible god; this strict monotheism is called Tawhid. Muslims incorrectly believe that the Christian concept of the Trinity means three separate gods. “They do blaspheme who say: ‘Allah is the third of three.’ There is no god except one God.” (Sura 5:73).
When Muhammad wrote the Qur’an, he confused the Trinity as meaning God, Jesus, and Mary. “And when God said, ‘O Jesus son of Mary, didst thou say unto men, “Take me and my mother as gods, apart from God”?’ (Qur’an 5:116)
The Bible explicitly teaches, in both the Old and New Testaments, that God is one:
- “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)
- “Now one of the scribes had come up and heard their debate. Noticing how well Jesus had answered them, he asked Him, ‘Which commandment is the most important of all?’ Jesus replied, ‘This is the most important: Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ . . . ‘Right, Teacher,’ the scribe replied. ‘You have stated correctly that God is One and there is no other but Him.’”(Mark 12:28-32)
God called Jesus His Son (Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22, Luke 9:35, John 3:16)
- “But Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; for that reason also the holy Child will be called the Son of God.’” (Luke 1:34-35)
- “After He was baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and settling on Him, and behold, a voice from the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” (Matthew 3:16-17)
The Biblical Trinity is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:
- “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19)
- “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (Jesus, John 14:26)
- “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.” (John 15:26)
Allah and Jesus
The Qur’an speaks of Jesus 97 times.
Islam teaches that Jesus (Isa) was Mary’s son and that Mary (Maryam) was a virgin when she conceived him. When Mary asked, “‘My Lord, how can I have a son when no man has touched me?’ He replied: ‘Even so, Allah creates what he wills, when he decrees a matter, He says to it, “Be”, and it comes to be’” (Surah 3:47).
The Qur’an calls Jesus the “Messiah” and a “Messenger” of Allah (4:171). It references Jesus and His mother eating food as evidence of their humanity: “The Messiah, son of Mary, was only a Messenger; Messengers before him passed away; his mother was a just woman; they both ate food.” (Qur’an 5:72-75).
However, the Qur’an denies that Jesus the Messiah was the same as Allah: “Those who say, ‘Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary,’ have certainly fallen into disbelief. The Messiah himself said, ‘O Children of Israel! Worship Allah—my Lord and your Lord.’” (Surah Al-Ma’idah; 5:72)
The Qur’an says the Holy Spirit supported Jesus: “We gave Jesus, son of Mary, clear proofs and supported him with the holy spirit.” (Surah Al-Baqarah; 2:87)
The Qur’an says Allah gave Jesus the Gospel: “Then in the footsteps of the prophets, We sent Jesus, son of Mary, confirming the Torah revealed before him. And We gave him the Gospel containing guidance and light and confirming what was revealed in the Torah—a guide and a lesson to the God-fearing.” (Surah Al-Ma’idah; 5:46)
Muslims put Jesus on the same level as Moses and other prophets, making no distinction between “what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and his descendants; and what was given to Moses, Jesus, and other prophets from their Lord.” (Surah Al-Baqarah; 2:136)
However, elsewhere, the Qur’an states Jesus is one of those nearest to Allah: “Remember when the angels proclaimed, “O Mary! Allah gives you good news of a Word from Him, his name will be the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary; honored in this world and the Hereafter, and he will be one of those nearest to Allah.” (Surah Ali-Imran; 3:45)
Muslims don’t think Jesus died on the cross. They say a different man, made to look like Jesus, is who actually died. They do believe Jesus ascended into heaven. “Remember when Allah said, “O Jesus! I will take you and raise you up to Myself. I will deliver you from those who disbelieve and elevate your followers above the disbelievers until the Day of Judgment” (Surah Ali-Imran; 3:55).
Can Muslims call on the Lord?
Anybody can call on the Lord!
- “In my trouble I cried to the LORD, And He answered me.” (Psalm 120:1)
- “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.” (Psalm 50:15)
- “Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29: 12-13).
- “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matt. 7:33-34).
It’s important, however, to realize the distinction between the Islamic Allah and the Lord of the Bible.
But many Muslims – millions in recent years – are doing just that! They are encountering the God of the Bible, who loves them despite their imperfections. They are encountering Jesus’ mercy and forgiveness. They are calling on Jesus as their Lord and Savior!
If you are a Muslim, you can call on Jesus as your Lord and Savior. You can receive forgiveness of your sins and the promise of eternal life. Your heart will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope God has given to those He calls. Christ will make His home in your heart as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. You can be restored to fellowship with God, walking in joyful intimacy and experiencing the incomprehensible love of Christ.