Category: “What is Islam, and what do Muslims believe?”


I am curious if there are Muslims who can answer this one simple question; “Where in the Qur’an does it say Allah loves me unconditionally?”

In spite of my current religious world view where in the Qur’an does it say “Allah loves me”? In the Qur’an where Allah specifically says “I Love You just as you are (unconditionally) .”

In Islam, what is the greatest act of love Allah has ever accomplished? I asked this question of several Muslims, and I got similar answers: he forgave us of our sins, he gave us families and provisions, he showed us mercy, he gave us the Qur’an. The answers didn’t vary much beyond these responses. I found them lacking.

Most Muslims believe that the Bible is not trustworthy, it has been corrupted, the Injeel (gospel) of Jesus has been lost, and the Qur’an restores God’s truth to mankind. But, that is another subject to be debated.

In John 15:13, Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay his life down for his friend.” I have the Nestle Aland Greek New Testament with the textual apparatus included in it. The textual apparatus is the complete listing (per verse) of any textual variants that occur in any of the ancient New Testament manuscripts. Therefore, it is a very easy thing to go to John 15:13 and look at the textual evidence to see if there are any manuscripts at all–anywhere that have any variation on that verse. There are none. In other words, there is not a single manuscript of the more than 25,000 manuscripts of the NT that have a different translation on that verse. Every single one of them says the exact same thing. I will, therefore, conclude that it is an authentic and reliable saying of Jesus.

Again, Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay his life down for his friend.” According to Jesus, the greatest act of love is to sacrifice one’s life for another. This means that giving one’s life for another is a greater act of love than providing food for him, giving him a family, being nice to him or being honest, helpful, or whatever. Self-sacrifice, to the point of death, is the very greatest act of love.

Has Allah performed the greatest act of love? The answer is no. Allah has not sacrificed himself at all. Allah has not died for another. Allah has not loved us to the point of death. In Christianity, Jesus, who is God in flesh (John 1:1, 14), laid His life down for us. Jesus performed the greatest act of love.

If Islam is true . . .

If Islam is true and Allah is the true God, then Jesus, a creation (according to Islam) has performed a greater act of love than Allah (according to the Bible). A mere man has outdone Allah in love and sacrifice. But, of course, Islam denies that Jesus ever died. They then say that Jesus has not done the greatest act of love. Their denial does not change the fact that Jesus died on the cross as is amply attested to by the eyewitnesses who wrote the gospel. Besides, whether or not the Muslim believes Jesus died on the cross does not change the fact that Jesus told us what the greatest act of love was–and Allah has not done it. Yet, according to Christianity He has. Since Muslims want Christians to adopt Islam, they are asking Christians to give up their Lord who has performed the greatest act of love on their behalf. Why would they want to do that?

If Christianity is true, then God has performed the greatest act of love. If Islam is true, then God hasn’t. Which “god” then is more loving: the one who speaks of love or the one who acts out love?

I have found nowhere in the Qur’an where it says that Allah is love. The Qur’an says that Allah loves people, but it never says that Allah is love. By contrast, the Bible clearly tells us that God is love.  “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him,” (1 John 4:16).

Who does God love?

Does God love all? In Islam, the answer is no. In Christianity, the answer is yes. Consider the following verses from the Qur’an.

  • “Whoever is an enemy to Allah and His angels and messengers, to Gabriel and Michael,- Lo! Allah is an enemy to those who reject Faith,” (2:98, Trans. Yusuf Ali)
  • “Say: Obey Allah and the Messenger; but if they turn back, then surely Allah does not love the unbelievers,” 3:32, Trans. Shakir).

Consider the following verses from the Bible

  • “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life,” (John 3:16).
  • “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you 45 in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? 47 “And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” (Matt. 5:43-48).

We can easily see the huge difference between the God of Islam and the God of the Bible. In Islam, God does not love all people. In the Bible, God does love all people. In Islam, Allah did not die for the sins of those who were not his. In the Bible, God did do that. In Islam, Allah has not performed the greatest act of love. In the Bible, God did exactly that.

My question to the Muslims is: “What makes you think that I want to give up my Lord, who loves me so much that He would die for me and did die for me, for a god who has not and cannot perform the greatest act of love?

 

 

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What is the origin of belief in Allah?

Allah is an Arabic word that means “God” or, more accurately, “the God.” In Western culture, it is commonly believed that the word Allah is used exclusively by Muslims to describe their God, but this is not actually true. The word Allah is used by Arabic speakers of all Abrahamic faiths (including Christianity and Judaism) as meaning “God.” However, according to Islam, Allah is God’s proper name, while Christians and Jews know Him as YHWH or Yahweh. When Arabic-speaking Christians use the word Allah, it is usually used in combination with the word al-Ab. Allah al-Ab means “God the Father,” and this usage is one way Arab Christians distinguish themselves from Muslims.

Before the inception of Islam, most Arabs were polytheistic pagans, believing in an unfeeling, powerful fate that could not be controlled or altered or influenced by human beings. Muslims regard Muhammad as the last and greatest prophet, and they credit him with restoring to the Arabs the monotheistic faith of their ancestors. Islam and Judaism both trace their spiritual lineage to Abraham, but the God-concept of Islam is different from that of Judaism and Christianity in some significant ways. Yahweh and Allah are both seen as omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and merciful. However, in both Judaism and Islam, God’s mercy is dependent, at least partly and many times fully, on man’s actions. The Islamic concept of Allah and the Jewish concept of Yahweh both deny the triune nature of God. They eliminate God’s Son, Jesus, and they also eliminate the Holy Spirit as a distinct Person of the Godhead.

Without Jesus, there is no provisionary salvation—that is, salvation is based on man’s effort rather than God’s grace. Without the Holy Spirit, there is no sanctification, no peace, no freedom (Romans 8:6; 2 Corinthians 3:17). Christians trust that by Jesus’ death and resurrection, along with the indwelling of His Spirit, sin is forgiven, the conscience is cleansed, and the human soul is freed to pursue God and goodness without the fear of punishment (Hebrews 10:22).

A Muslim may love Allah and wish to please Allah, but the question in his mind will invariably be “is it enough? Are my works enough to merit salvation?” Christians believe that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to provide an answer to the question “is my work enough?” The answer is, no, our work is not enough (Matthew 5:48). This is shocking to anyone who has been trying on his own to appease God. But this was the point of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1–48). The Jews that Jesus spoke to, just like the Muslims who follow Allah, were trapped by the knowledge that nothing they did would ever meet God’s perfect standard. But Christ’s perfect life, atoning death, and resurrection did meet God’s standard (Hebrews 10:10; Romans 8:1–8). Jesus’ message to the Jews and His message now, to Muslims and everyone else, is “repent and believe” (Mark 1:15). This does not mean “stop sinning” and “believe that God exists.” It means “turn from sin and stop trying to please God by your own ability” and “believe that Christ has accomplished everything for you.” The promise to those who trust Christ is that they will become the children of God (John 1:12).

Allah offers no such promise. Muslims believe Allah will be merciful to them based on his evaluation of their performance. But salvation is never sure; it is never a promise. When the Western world looks with horror on things like jihad and acts of Islamic terrorism, they get a glimpse of the powerful fear that Allah instills in his many of his followers. Faithful Muslims are faced with a terrible choice: obey the violent commands of an omnipotent deity whose mercy is given only to the most passionate and devoted followers (and perhaps not even then), or give themselves up as hopelessly lost and headed for punishment.

Christians should not regard Muslims with hatred, but instead with compassion. Their god, Allah, is a false god, and their eyes are blinded to the truth (see 2 Corinthians 4:4). We should be praying for Muslims and asking God to show them the truth, revealing His promise of mercy and freedom in Christ (2 Timothy 2:24–26).

 

With the increasing tensions in the Middle East in recent years, and  particularly the statements by Shiite Muslim extremists regarding the Twelfth  Imam, many people have begun to ask how this relates to Bible prophecies. To  answer, we must first find out who the Twelfth Imam is and what he is expected  to do for Islam. Second, we must examine the statements by Shiite Muslims in  relation to those hopes, and, third, we need to look to the Bible to shed light  on the whole issue.

Within the Shiite branch of Islam, there have been  twelve imams, or spiritual leaders appointed by Allah. These began with Imam  Ali, cousin to Muhammad, who claimed the prophetic succession after Muhammad’s  death. Around A.D. 868, the Twelfth Imam, Abu al-Qasim Muhammad (or Muhammad al  Mahdi), was born to the Eleventh Imam. Because his father was under intense  persecution, the Mahdi was sent into hiding for his protection. About the age of  6, he briefly came out of hiding when his father was killed, but then went back  into hiding. It is said that he has been hiding in caves ever since and will  supernaturally return just before the day of judgment to eradicate all tyranny  and oppression, bringing harmony and peace to the earth. He is the savior of the  world in Shiite theology. According to one writer, the Mahdi will combine the  dignity of Moses, the grace of Jesus, and the patience of Job in one perfect  person.

The predictions about the Twelfth Imam have a striking  similarity to Bible prophecies of the end times. According to Islamic prophecy,  the Mahdi’s return will be preceded by a number of events during three years of  horrendous world chaos, and he will rule over the Arabs and the world for seven  years. His appearance will be accompanied by two resurrections, one of the  wicked and one of the righteous. According to Shiite teachings, the Mahdi’s  leadership will be accepted by Jesus, and the two great branches of Abraham’s  family will be reunited forever.

How do the statements of Shiite  Muslims, such as the former President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, tie into  this? Ahmadinejad is a deeply committed Shiite and has claimed that he is to  personally prepare the world for the coming Mahdi. In order for the world to be  saved, it must be in a state of chaos and subjugation, and Ahmadinejad feels he  was directed by Allah to pave the way for that. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly made  statements about destroying the enemies of Islam. The former President and his  cabinet supposedly signed a contract with al Mahdi in which they pledge  themselves to his work. When asked directly by ABC reporter Ann Curry in  September 2009 about his apocalyptic statements, Ahmadinejad said, “Imam…will  come with logic, with culture, with science. He will come so that there is no  more war. No more enmity, hatred. No more conflict. He will call on everyone to  enter a brotherly love. Of course, he will return with Jesus Christ. The two  will come back together. And working together, they would fill this world with  love.”

What does all this have to do with the Antichrist? According to  2  Thessalonians 2:3-4, there will be a “man of sin” revealed in the last days  who will oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God. In Daniel 7 we  read of Daniel’s vision of four beasts which represent kingdoms which play major  roles in God’s prophetic plan. The fourth beast is described (v. 7-8) as being  dreadful, terrible, exceedingly strong, and different from those which came  before it. It is also described as having a “little horn” which uproots other  horns. This little horn is often identified as the Antichrist. In verse 25 he is  described as speaking “great words against the most High, and shall wear out the  saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be  given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time” (3 ½  years). In Daniel 8, the vision of the ram and the goat identifies a king who  will arise in the last days (v. 23-25), destroy many people, and stand up  against Christ, but this king will be broken. In Daniel 9:27 it is prophesied that the “prince that shall come” would make a 7-year covenant  with many people and then bring in much desolation. Who will this Antichrist be?  No one knows for certain, but many theories have been given, including the  possibility that he will be an Arab.

Regardless of the various theories,  there are a few parallels between the Bible and Shiite theology that we should  note. First, the Bible says that the Antichrist’s kingdom will rule the world  for seven years, and Islam claims that the Twelfth Imam will rule the world for  seven years. Second, Muslims anticipate three years of chaos before the  revealing of the Twelfth Imam, and the Bible speaks of 3 ½ years of Tribulation  before the Antichrist reveals himself by desecrating the Jewish temple. Third,  the Antichrist is described as a deceiver who claims to bring peace, but who  actually brings widespread war; the anticipation of the Twelfth Imam is that he  will bring peace through massive war with the rest of the world.

Will  the Antichrist be a Muslim? Only God knows. Are there connections between  Islamic eschatology and Christian eschatology? There certainly seem to be direct  correlations, though they are like reading the descriptions of a great battle,  first from the perspective of the loser, trying to save face, and then from the  perspective of the victor. Until we see the fulfillment of these things, we need  to heed the words of 1 John  4:1-4, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to  see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into  the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that  acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every  spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of  the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the  world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one  who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

Islam is a religious system begun in the seventh century by Muhammad. Muslims  follow the teachings of the Qur’an and strive to keep the Five  Pillars.

The History of Islam
In the seventh  century, Muhammad claimed the angel Gabriel visited him. During these angelic  visitations, which continued for about 23 years until Muhammad’s death, the  angel purportedly revealed to Muhammad the words of Allah (the Arabic word for  “God” used by Muslims). These dictated revelations compose the Qur’an, Islam’s  holy book. Islam means “submission,” deriving from a root word that means  “peace.” The word Muslim means “one who submits to  Allah.”

The Doctrine of Islam
Muslims summarize  their doctrine in six articles of faith:
1. Belief in one Allah: Muslims  believe Allah is one, eternal, creator, and sovereign.
2. Belief in the  angels
3. Belief in the prophets: The prophets include the biblical prophets  but end with Muhammad as Allah’s final prophet.
4. Belief in the revelations  of Allah: Muslims accept certain portions of the Bible, such as the Torah and  the Gospels. They believe the Qur’an is the preexistent, perfect word of Allah.
5. Belief in the last day of judgment and the hereafter: Everyone will be  resurrected for judgment into either paradise or hell.
6. Belief in  predestination: Muslims believe Allah has decreed everything that will happen.  Muslims testify to Allah’s sovereignty with their frequent phrase,  inshallah, meaning, “if God wills.”

The Five Pillars of  Islam
These five tenets compose the framework of obedience for  Muslims:
1. The testimony of faith (shahada): “la ilaha illa  allah. Muhammad rasul Allah.” This means, “There is no deity but Allah.  Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” A person can convert to Islam by stating  this creed. The shahada shows that a Muslim believes in Allah alone as deity and  believes that Muhammad reveals Allah.
2. Prayer (salat): Five ritual  prayers must be performed every day.
3. Giving (zakat): This  almsgiving is a certain percentage given once a year.
4. Fasting  (sawm): Muslims fast during Ramadan in the ninth month of the Islamic  calendar. They must not eat or drink from dawn until sunset.
5. Pilgrimage  (hajj): If physically and financially possible, a Muslim must make the  pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia at least once. The hajj is performed  in the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar.

A Muslim’s entrance into  paradise hinges on obedience to these Five Pillars. Still, Allah may reject  them. Even Muhammad was not sure whether Allah would admit him to paradise  (Surah 46:9; Hadith 5.266).

An Evaluation of Islam
Compared to Christianity, Islam has some similarities but significant  differences. Like Christianity, Islam is monotheistic. However, Muslims reject  the Trinity—that God has revealed Himself as one in three Persons: the Father,  Son, and Holy Spirit.

Muslims claim that Jesus was a mere prophet—not  God’s Son. Islam asserts that Jesus, though born of a virgin, was created like  Adam. Many Muslims do not believe Jesus died on the cross. They do not  understand why Allah would allow His prophet Isa (the Islamic word for “Jesus”)  to die a torturous death. Yet the Bible shows how the death of the perfect Son  of God was essential to pay for the sins of believers (Isaiah 53:5-6; John 3:16; 14:6; 1 Peter 2:24).

Islam teaches that the Qur’an is the final authority and the last revelation of  Allah. The Bible, however, was completed in the first century with the Book of  Revelation. The Bible warns against anyone adding to or subtracting from God’s  Word (Deuteronomy  4:2; Proverbs  30:6; Galatians  1:6-12; Revelation  22:18). The Qur’an, as a claimed addition to God’s Word, directly disobeys  God’s command.

Muslims believe that paradise can be earned through  keeping the Five Pillars. The Bible, in contrast, reveals that sinful man can  never measure up to the holy God (Romans 3:236:23). Only by God’s grace  may sinners be saved through repentant faith in Jesus (Acts 20:21; Ephesians  2:8-9).

Because of these essential differences and contradictions,  Islam and Christianity cannot both be true. The Bible and Qur’an cannot both be  God’s Word. The truth has eternal consequences.

“Beloved, do not believe  every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because  many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of  God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from  God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the  spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it  is already in the world” (1 John  4:1-4; see also John  3:35-36).