Islam & Christianity
Sura ‘Al-Fatihiah’ (The Opening) 1:1-7
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, The Beneficent,
the Merciful. Master of the Day of Judgment, You (alone) we worship; You (alone) we ask for help.
Show us the straight path, The path of those whom You have favoured; Not the (path) of those who earn
Your anger nor of those who go astray.
Jesus said: “...and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
NOTE: Authoritative Islamic texts are the Qur’an and Hadith. Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the revealed word of Allah (verse numbers differ slightly in different versions). Sura always stands for a chapter in the Qur’an. Islamic belief is that Muhammad is the perfect example to be followed by all Muslims. Whatever he said, practiced or approved is called Hadith. There are six different sets of authentic ahadith (Hadiths): Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmizi, Sunnan Ibn Majah and Sunnan Nasa’i. This pamphlet is intended to show the teachings and examples of Muhammad, and is not intended to be offensive to Muslims; many Muslims may have little real knowledge of what their god, Allah, and their prophet has said on this topic.
Islam and Christianity have many similar teachings, such as to not commit adultery, murder, lie, steal, etc. This leads many people to think that Islam and Christianity are equally good, or equally true; even the Qur’an proclaims that the God of the Bible (Yahweh) and the God of the Qur’an (Allah) are the same (Sura 29:46). However, just as different words can mean different things to different people, so too, when a Muslim and Christian talk, even though they use the same terminology, their meanings are substantially different.
For example, in Christianity, adultery starts in the heart. Jesus said that, “whoever looks at a woman with lust in his heart has committed adultery with her.” (Matthew 5:28).
Adultery refers not only to the physical act, but also to the heart attitude. In Islam, adultery is having sex with someone whom your right hand doesn’t possess (Sura 4:3; 33:50; 4:24 etc). Thus a Muslim is allowed to have up to four wives, temporary marriages, exchange wives, and have sex with slave girls, without having committed adultery.
In Christianity, sin is rebellion against God’s rightful place of authority; it pains and grieves God (Ephesians 4:30). All sinners will go to the lake of fire, unless they have their sins atoned for.
In Islam, although sin is transgression of Allah’s law, sin has no impact on Allah (Sura 3:144, 176; 4:111; 47:32). Sahih Muslim records, “Allah's Messenger said: If you were not to commit sins, Allah would have swept you out of existence and would have replaced you by another people who have committed sin, and then asked forgiveness from Allah, and He would have granted them pardon.” (Book 37, Hadith No. 6621, 6622).
The Nature of God
Beyond attitudes to sin, there are completely different ideas about the nature of God.
The Christian God is a personal God, who reveals His name, expresses a desire to live in us and through us; Christians are God’s children and His friends.
In Islam, everyone is a slave to Allah (Sura 19:92-93; 2:90; 3:79; 5:118; 6:18, 61; 7:194; 8:51). Allah cannot be your Father; it is unforgivable to associate anyone with Allah (4:48, 116). So to consider yourself a child of Allah, to call him ‘Father,’ in a real and personal way, is to blaspheme.
Furthermore, the concept of the “Trinity” is abhorrent to Muslims, who believe that the Trinity is: God, Jesus and Mary (Sura 5:116) rather than the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as Christians believe. As a result, they completely misrepresent and misunderstand the Christian understanding of the Trinity. The Muslim concept is akin to 1 + 1 + 1 = 3 (simple unity). Because God is infinite not finite, the Christian concept is a complex unity like infinity + infinity + infinity = infinity.
The God of the Bible does not change (Numbers 23:19; Jeremiah 4:28; Hebrews 7:21); but Allah is not bound by anything (2:106; 16:101; 7:99). As a result, the God of the Bible, Yahweh can be trusted and desires us to trust Him (Proverbs 3:5 etc.), but no one can trust Allah: Even Abu Bakr, the first Rightly Guided Caliph, said, “I swear to Allah that I do not feel safe from Allah's cunning even if one of my feet is already inside paradise...." (Khalid Muhammad Khalid, Successors of the Apostle).
Since Allah is not bound by any form of morality and the life of Muhammad exemplified this, sin is an elastic and relativistic concept (for more information, see our tract on Sin in Christianity and Islam).
Christianity forbids all forms of lying and deceit, all liars will be in hell (Psalm 15:1-3; Revelation 22:15). Islam permits deception in certain circumstances because Allah claims thirty times in the Qur’an that he misleads/sends astray people and that he is the greatest deceiver [Allaahu Khayrul-maakiriin] (Sura 3:54; 8:30). Allah says that he leads people astray (Sura 4:88, 40:33-34 etc).
Christianity requires that believers keep the oaths they made, even if it hurts (Psalm 15:4). Muhammad believed that lying was acceptable and even taught how to expiate [make amends for] an oath, ‘Allah willing, if ever I take an oath to do something, and later on I find that it is more beneficial to do something different, I will do the thing which is better, and give expiation for my oath.’ (Bukhari, Vol. 4, Hadith No. 361)
The purposes of the Bible and the Qur’an are substantially different. The Bible, although it contains many commands, is only a means to an end; the theme throughout is that mankind cannot be righteous without the help of God (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Hebrews 11:6; Ezekiel 34:11). Thus, Christians run to Jesus for atonement of sin and a transformed heart which hates sin in the inner most place. The function of the Qur’an is, as many Israelites thought and think about the Torah, is to show one how to earn favour with Allah/God through obedience. Thus, the Bible records God reaching down to save man from their sin, whereas Islam testifies that men are responsible for their own salvation. Muhammad implored,
Z ‘...O Fatimah (name of Muhammad’s most beloved daughter), rescue yourself from Fire, for I have no power (to protect you) from Allah in anything...’ (Muslim, Book 1, Hadith No. 398 and 402).
The Law in Christianity teaches our helpless condition, and tells us where to get the necessary righteousness; the Law in Islam tells you to jump higher with no assistance at all.
Christianity teaches that there is a broken relationship between God and mankind that needs restoration. Any soul that sins shall die in the lake of fire. The only way is through atonement, a life given to redeem your own. In Christianity, the only sinless one, the Son of God, Jesus Christ was given as that atonement:
“This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and
sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10).
“...if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One, and he himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2).
Islam offers guidance , but not salvation. In Islam, there is no broken relationship and no need of a mediator. Atonement is something you do to atone for sin (such as broken, intentional oaths, having sex during a fast etc), usually a “payment” of some nature, including punishment imposed by others who caught you. Thus atonement is limited to this world, so if you are punished now, or provide your own atonement via some payment, Allah will not punish you in the hereafter (Bukhari, Vol. 1, Hadith No. 17; Muslim, Vol. 3, Hadith No. 4235). So, for a sinless, innocent prophet like Jesus [Isa] to atone for your sin is an insult to Allah and forbidden in the Qur’an (Sura 4:112; 17:15 ?? etc).
Thus, the God of the Bible guarantees salvation, but Allah saves who he wills (see earlier section on trust). In fact, Allah guarantees that every Muslim will pass through hell (Sura 19:71-72).
In Christianity, you cannot truly follow God unless He has changed what is in your heart (Mark 7:21-23; Ezekiel 36:26). In Islam, you cannot truly follow Allah, until you change your own heart (Sura 13:11).
Heaven and Hell
Heaven, to a Christian, is to be with Jesus. While an actual place, the Christian cherishes the fact that it is with Jesus they spend eternity. In the Christian Heaven, there is no sin or sinner. The lake of fire is reserved for Satan and his angels, and sinners (Matthew 25:41).
Islamic Heaven [Paradise], has seventy-two (72) virgins for the lowliest person (Sura 56:22-40; Ibn Kathir on 55:72). There will be free-flowing wine in abundance (Sura 56:18; 76:5, 17; 78:34). Demons [Jinn], will also be in Paradise (Ibn Kathir, commenting on Sura 55:56-74).
Obedience to Governments
Christians are commanded to obey the government because they have been ordained by God (Romans 13). Muslims on the other hand are required to disobey, and not to submit to non-Muslims (Sura 25:52; 26:151; 33:1; 68:8 etc). They are not to take infidels/kafir [unbelievers/non-Muslims] as friends or Allah’s wrath will be upon them (Sura 3:28; 4:144; 5:51, 80-81; 9:23, 123; 58:14-15).
These differences are only the proverbial, tip of the iceberg. Although there are superficial similarities on some teachings, the fundamentals of the faiths of Christianity and Islam couldn’t be more different; they are mutually exclusive and diametrically opposed. Although many people think that Christians, Jews and Muslims worship the same God, exploring the natures of Allah and Yahweh (Jehovah), reveals them to be completely different beings. As a result, the practices of its followers are completely different.
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