What is Islam ?
"Islam and Christianity - Many of the Muslim beliefs come from the Bible. The historical foundation for the Qur'an comes from the Old Testament. Yet even though there has been influence and there are similarities, the differences in the beliefs of the two faiths are striking. God Islam teaches the unity of God's essence and personality, explicitly excluding the Trinity as taught in the Bible. This emphasis on the unity of God comes across in other ways. Islam has God divorced from His creation, so unified to Himself that He cannot be associated with creation. His transcendence is so great that He acts impersonally. Because of their doctrine of predestination and the fact that both evil and good came from Allah, it makes their God very capricious. Whatever Allah chooses becomes right; this makes any true standard of righteousness or ethics hard to discern if not impossible to establish. This is unlike the God of the Bible who is righteous. The very word righteous means, "a standard." The Muslim finds it difficult to divorce the concept of father from the physical realm. To them it is blasphemous to call Allah or God your father. To do so is the same as saying that your mother and Allah had sexual intercourse to produce you! In addition, while calling God "Father" is to evoke thoughts of love, compassion, tenderness and protectiveness to Christians, it is not so to the Muslim mind. To him, a father is strict, shows no emotion, never expresses love, and is bound to his family by duty and for what his family can provide for him, not by devotion. Allah is also very deficient in such attributes as love, holiness and grace. Grace, of course, is rooted in the character of God (Ephesians 2).
As mentioned before, the Muslim holy books include the sayings of Moses, the prophets, David, Jesus and Muhammad. However, all of the previous sayings have been lost or corrupted. Only the Qur’an, the words of Muhammad, have been preserved free of error. They also supersede the previous revelations. Remember, the holy books mentioned in Islam are not exactly like our biblical Scriptures. One would presuppose that since the teachings of Christianity and Islam are clearly different, it would follow that the practical and social consequences of the doctrine would also be vastly different. This is precisely the case. As Guillaume mentions, this is nowhere better illustrated than in the status of women: The Qur’an has more to say on the position of women than on any other social question. The guiding note is sounded in the words, "Women are your tillage," and the word for marriage is that used for the sexual act. The primary object of marriage is the propagation of children, and partly for this a man is allowed four wives at a time and an unlimited number of concubines. However, it is laid down that wives are to be treated with kindness and strict impartiality; if a man cannot treat all alike he should keep to one. The husband pays the woman a dowry at the time of marriage, and the money or property so allocated remains her own. The husband may divorce his wife at any time, but he cannot take her back until she has remarried and been divorced by a second husband. A woman cannot sue for divorce on any grounds, and her husband may beat her. In this matter of the status of women lies the greatest difference between the Muslim and the Christian world. Since Muslim propagandists in this country persistently deny that women are inferior to men in Islam it is worthwhile to set out the facts. Surah 4:31 says: "Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other and because they spend their wealth [to maintain them]. So good women are obedient, guarding the unseen [parts] because God has guarded [them]. As for those from whom you fear disobedience admonish them and banish them to beds apart and beat them; then if they obey you seek not occasion against them (Guillaume, op. cit., pp. 71, 72). Christ In Islam the person and work of Jesus Christ are not seen in the same way as in Christianity. For the Christian the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the incarnate Son of God is the vital cornerstone of faith, yet the Muslim does not hold to either of these truths-that Christ is the Son of God or that he rose from dead. In fact, Muslims do not even believe Jesus was crucified; rather, many believe Judas was crucified in His place. Some, however, believe it was Christ on the cross but that He did not die. Islam does believe Jesus was a sinless prophet although not as great as Muhammad. While Surah 3:45-47 in the Qur’an speaks of the virgin birth of Christ, it is not the same biblical virgin birth. Jesus is certainly not the only begotten Son of God, and an angel -rather than the Holy Spirit-was the agency of God's power in the conception. However, the idea that Allah had a son is repugnant to them. Surah 4:171 states, "Jesus... was only a messenger of Allah ... Far is it removed from His transcendent majesty that He should have a son." John states concerning Christ, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth... And I have seen, and have borne witness that this is the Son of God" (John 1:14, 34). Christ's claim for His own deity and Sonship are unequivocal. In John 10:30 He claims equality with the Father when He states, "I and the Father are one. " For not only is the Sonship of Christ important per se, but the deity of Christ is also an important point of difference between Christianity and Islam since Islam denies the doctrine of the Trinity. Of the crucifixion, the Qur'an states in Surah 4:157, "They slew him not nor crucified, but it appeared so unto them. . !'Most Muslims believe Judas was put in the place of Christ, and Christ went to heaven. The Bible teaches that Christ went to the cross to pay the penalty for man’s sins, died, and was raised from the dead, appeared to the disciples and then ascended to heaven. Paul recounts the events this way: "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas and then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred" (2 Corinthians 15:3-6, NASB). Of the importance of the resurrection, Paul states, "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins" (2 Corinthians 15:17, NASB). Max Kershaw, in "How to Share the Good News with Your Muslim Friend," states: In this regard, the Muslim view of Jesus is significant. The Qur’an presents Jesus as one of the great prophets. He is called the Messiah. He is declared to have been born of the virgin Mary. He lived a sinless life (Surah 19:19). He accomplished many wonderful miracles, such as the giving of sight to the blind, healing of lepers and the raising of the dead (3:49). He is going to return to the earth again to establish Islam throughout the earth. He is called "the Word of God" (3:45) and "the Spirit from God" (4:171). Thus, Muslims have a high view of Jesus. But they are adamant in declaring that Jesus is not the Son of God and Savior. In fact, they believe that equating anyone with God is blasphemy, the unforgiveable sin. More than this, they do not believe that he was crucified. Instead, God took him to heaven without dying, and someone else died in his place. One particular passage in the Qur'an (4:156-158) seems to say this, but it is not clear. In fact, other Qur’anic passages speak of the death of Jesus (19:33) (Max R. Kershaw, How to Share the Good News with Your Muslim Friend, Colorado Springs: International Students, Inc., 1978). Boa comments: Unlike the God of the Bible, Allah has done nothing for man that cost him anything. Islam makes no real provision for sin. One's salvation is never certain since it is based on a works system and on complete surrender ("Islam") to the will of Allah. This religion rejects the biblical teaching of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, though it concedes that He was a sinless prophet. Mohammed did not rise from the dead, and there is no basis for a resurrection in Islam (Boa, op. cit., p. 55). Neill states with respect to Islam and the person of Christ: It is perfectly true that the central concern of Jesus was with the kingdom of God. But everything depends on the meaning that is put into the word "God." Here is perhaps the very heart of our differences. Islam conceives the possible relationship of man to God in one way, and the Gospel in another. While God was the exclusive source of the revelation to Muhammad, God himself is not the content of the revelation. Revelation in Islamic theology does not mean God disclosing himself. It is revelation from God, not revelation of God. God is remote. He is inscrutable and utterly inaccessible to human knowledge... Even though we are his creatures whose every breath is dependent upon him, it is not in inter-personal relationship with him that we receive guidance from him. At this central point the teaching of Jesus diverges from what the Muslim believes to be the essential prophetic witness. His God is a God who cares for his creatures, who is prepared to enter into fellowship with them, and is concerned that they should love him in response to his love. Under the law man was in the position of a slave; now under the Gospel he is called to freedom, to the freedom of grown-up sons in their Father's house. The Qur'an never uses the word "Father" of God. Jesus taught his disciples to address him as "Our Father!' The whole of the Gospel is summed up in these two words. If the possibility is admitted that God might be such as Jesus declared him to be, the incarnation presents itself no longer as a blasphemous and irrational impossibility, but as something that appears even appropriate, in the light of this new perception of what the fatherhood of God might be. The death of Christ at the hands of the Jews is rejected by Muslims on a priori grounds, which are absolutely convincing if the major premise is admitted. It is impossible that God should so desert a prophet in the fulfillment of his mission. It would be contrary to His justice to permit the suffering of an innocent on behalf of others. It would be contrary to His omnipotence not to be able to rescue a prophet in danger. Therefore Jesus cannot have been left helpless in the hands of his enemies (Neill, op. cit., pp. 66, 67). Sin and Salvation The previous differences between Islam and Christianity find fruit in the teachings of salvation. Neill comments: At the heart of the Muslim-Christian disagreement, we shall find a deep difference in the understanding of the nature of sin. It is not true to say that the Muslim has no sense of sin or of the need for forgiveness. He has both. But sin reveals its deadly nature only when it is seen in its effects on personal relationships; and such an understanding of it is almost necessarily excluded, as we have seen, by the Muslim's concept of the possible relationship between the believer and his God. The believer may sin against the law and the majesty of God, and if he does so he deserves to be punished. The idea that man by his sin might break the heart of God is not yet within the spectrum of the Muslim understanding of reality (Neill, op. cit., pp. 68, 69). The Muslim operates under a legalistic system and must earn his salvation. He holds to the Articles of Faith and follows the Pillars of Faith. For the Muslim, sin is lack of obedience to Allah. Thus, man is sinful by act only, not by nature. The Bible teaches that man is sinful by nature. Paul writes to the Romans, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23, NASB). These are historical roots which tie Islam to Christianity, yet this is where the similarity ends. Islam rejects the key doctrines of the Christian faith -the Trinity, the deity of Christ, Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, and the sin of man and his salvation by grace alone through faith in Christ. They also reject the Bible as the only authoritative book on which to base all matters of doctrine, faith and practice. When Islam rejects the truth of the written Word of God, they are left not only different from Christianity, but opposite from Christianity on all counts. Islam was founded by a dead prophet; Christianity was founded by the risen Savior. Conclusion Islam is one of the driving forces among world religions today, its growth closely tied to nationalism. But growth does not mean truth. The God of Islam is a very capricious one, too far removed from people to be personally involved or concerned. Not only is he impersonal, but he also emphasized judgment to the exclusion of love, and he motivates people by fear rather than by grace. Muhammad, the founder, has based his teaching on inaccurate and untrue interpretations of the Bible. There is no historical evidence to support Muhammad's contentions that either the Jewish or Christian scriptures have been corrupted. In addition, his teaching in the Qur’an is based on revelations which he initially believed were demonic in origin. Islam is an aggressive and impressive world religion. It appeals to those who welcome a religious world view which permeates every facet of life. However, it is ultimately unfulfilling. The Islamic God of strict judgment, Allah, cannot offer the mercy, love, and ultimate sacrifice on mankind's behalf that the Christian God, incarnate in Jesus Christ, offers to each man even today."