Are Allah and God the same?

Feb 4, 2016 by

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?

It seems simple. Muslims view Allah as the creator, the one who called Abraham, the one who gave the Ten Commandments at Sinai. And there is only one God. So of course Muslims and Christians speak of the same God.

Ask Larycia Hawkins if it’s simple! On Dec. 10, she posted on Facebook that she, as a Christian, was going to wear a headscarf (the hijab) during Advent as an expression of compassion and solidarity with Muslims. She invited other women to do the same out of a shared humanity and shared theology: “we worship the same God.”

Wheaton College, where she teaches, immediately suspended her.

There are strong reasons to say that Muslims and Christians do not speak of the same God:

● Christians hold to a triune God and worship Jesus as God, while Muslims categorically disagree that Jesus is God, rejecting the trinity.
● If God is not different from Allah, then it was the one true God who spoke to Muhammad, and the Quran contains new revelations from God.

Yet there are also strong reasons to say that Christians and Muslims do speak of the same Creator God:

● Christian Bibles in Muslim areas of the world use Allah as a translation for God. When Christians there read Scripture with Muslims, God is Allah.
● It is easier for Christians to reach out to Muslims when the common ground is emphasized. In Acts 17:23 Paul referred to the Athenians’ altar to an unknown god and said, “What you worship as unknown, I now proclaim to you.” Paul was seeking common ground with the Athenians rather than focusing on differences. As differences between Islam and Christianity are sharpened, the barrier to conversion grows. Most of those with experience in mission work to Muslims are calling on Wheaton to not discipline Hawkins (as long as she holds Jesus as “the way, the truth, and the life”). Robert Priest, a mission and anthropology professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, wrote that if Hawkins is dismissed, “Muslims will learn the idea that faith in Jesus requires a repudiation of Allah” and “this will pose an enormous barrier to consideration of the truth and goodness of the gospel.”

So it’s not helpful for Wheaton or any of us to try to pin down whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God.

A better question: Do our Muslim neighbors have the fullest available understanding of God? The answer: We learn the tender fatherhood of God and see the gracious mercy of God most fully in Christ!

Harold N. Miller is pastor of Trissels Mennonite Church, Broadway, Va.

Comments Policy

Mennonite World Review invites readers’ comments on articles. To promote constructive dialogue, editors select the comments that appear, just as we do with letters to the editor in print. These decisions are final. Writers must sign their first and last names; anonymous comments are not accepted. Comments do not appear until approved and are posted during business hours. Comments may be reproduced in print, and may be edited if selected for print.

  • Elaine Fehr

    Here’s another strong reason why Muslims and Christians do not worship the same God:

    The Jews say Ezra is the son of God, while the Christians say the Messiah is the son of God. Such are their assertions, by which they imitate the infidels of old. God confound them! How perverse they are!
    —Qur’an 9:30

    The same sentiment is expressed numerous times in the Qu’ran.

    • Lukas Lumbantobing

      Yes, beware of taqiyya.

  • Muslims: God is One.

    Jews: God is One.

    Christians: God is Three.

    Seems to me that Muslims and Jews clearly believe in the same God. Whereas the Christians have concocted this weird Three-In-One Deity (the “triune godhead”) that can only be affirmed upon total suspension of the rational faculties.

    As Leo Tolstoy put it: “One can say with one’s lips that God is one and also three, yet no one can believe it for the words have no sense.”

    • Bruce Leichty

      What was once metaphorical has been turned into dogma, sadly. I don’t personally find the concept of the Trinity very helpful, nor do I think it is a necessary precondition for being a follower of Jesus Christ, so I find your statement about Christians to be overly broad. (And no, I am not setting up a new test for Scripture based on whether or not it is “helpful” to me or not.) I know most Mennonites have bought into the trinitarian dogma, but that is incidental to me. Trinitarian thought is talk “about” Jesus, not talk “of” Jesus or talk of Jesus about God. So — this is a bit a rarity — I am somewhat sympahetic to you on this point, Yankee Charlie.

      • Harold Miller

        Bruce and Charlie, does strange mean untrue? Perhaps it’s the opposite. A quote from C.S.Lewis: “It is no good asking for a simple religion. After all, real things aren’t simple. They look simple, but they’re not. The table I’m sitting at looks simple; but ask a scientist to tell you what it’s really made of–all about the atoms and how the light waves rebound from them and hit my eye…. Reality, in fact, is always something you couldn’t have guessed. That’s one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It’s a religion you couldn’t have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we’d always expected, I’d feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it’s not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have.”

        Those who knew Jesus best were Jewish monotheists, certain that God is one. Yet their experience caused them to be certain that Jesus was God, as well as his heavenly Father also being God. It defied logic and common sense, but they experienced it to be reality (just as light being a particle or a wave defies common sense but is experienced as a reality?). Then when they experienced the Spirit, they knew that this too was God.

        I delight in the idea! God is One; yet in that oneness is a community of persons–Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That’s one of the richest ideas, if true! At the core of reality lies not an isolated Self but a community of mutual love and delight. God has never, in all eternity, been alone. God has always been in relationship. Community, and unity in diversity, is at the heart of all things!

        • Charlie Kraybill

          Theological mumbo jumbo. And one of the reasons educated persons are leaving the church. These kinds of man-made religious formulations just won’t fly in the 21st century. Many Christians are surprised when confronted with the fact that the Trinity is not in the bible, and didn’t become official church doctrine until a council vote in the 4th century. Asking folks to accept the irrational is not an effective recruitment strategy in this day and age, when people have the freedom to think for themselves and church authority is at its weakest (thankfully).

          • Spencer W Bradford

            Light both wave and particle? Scientific mumbo jumbo. Just as physics seeks to account for data about light with descriptions of wave-like and particle-like activity, Trinitarian theology works at accounting for the Incarnation and testimony about God in Christian Scriptures.

        • Bruce Leichty

          Harold, I affirm the idea that reality is often more complex than it appears, but I think it is overbroad to say of the early disciples that “their experience caused them to be certain that Jesus was God.” I think the overbreadth of that statement is later theological overlay, and I believe Mennonites are descended (spiritually and possibly genealogically as well) from those early disciples who made no such claims, but who nonetheless wished to follow him. I also have difficulty with ideas that “defy” logic even as I confess that there are ideas and experiences that transcend logic. In the beginning was the Logos. The Trinity is also an unnecessary stumbling block in our theological relationship with Jews, when there are actually more significant stumbling blocks — along the lines of what Jesus proclaimed. Community is rich enough without forcing God to be a self-contained community. I also respect the fact that you find meaning in the Three-in-One formulation and would never say that what you wrote is mumbo jumbo, taking a not so subtle dig at the exalted Educated critics who are suddenly so all concerned with recruitment and delighted with the results in our world of a dearth of authority in the Church (not so much here).

    • Vic Reimer

      Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness.” Sounds like more than one to me! Then in Luke 3:21-22, we read, “Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the HOLY SPIRIT descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and A VOICE came from heaven, You are my BELOVED SON; with you I am well pleased.” Very clearly, there are three involved hear. This clearly identifies who the, “us,” and “our” are in the first verse. I will have you know also that both the Jews and the Muslims claim to accept the Pentateuch.

  • Bruce Leichty

    Is the God of Judaism the same God that we Christians worship? Actually, for that matter, is the God known to Joel Osteen the same God known to our Anabaptist forebears? The questions are not limited to the identity of Allah.

  • Vic Reimer

    If you will do your research, you will find that Allah is a moon god. This god pre dates Muhammed. There is no way that this god is the same as the Christian’s God – Yahweh!

    • Charlie Kraybill

      And if you were to do your research, you’d find that Yahweh was one of the members of the council of the chief god El (“the Most High”), and Yahweh was assigned the nation of Israel as his allotment among the gods. Yahweh and El predate the founding of Israel and they are not the same as Jesus’s Father deity (who, unlike El and Yahweh, is all about unconditional mercy and universal compassion).

      “When the Most High (El yon) gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated humanity, he fixed the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of divine beings. For Yahweh’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.” (Deuteronomy 32:8-9)