There seems to plethora of blog posts being written on the topic, “Is the god of Islam the same God of Christians?” I might as well weigh in on the topic, in spite of the fact that I try to speak to things that are not simply trending. This topic is an important topic, and I will tell you it is not in my heart to be offensive to anyone in making distinctions that I make. It is my desire to offer my personal perspective.
One of the earliest books I read as a young Christian was Francis Schaeffer’s, He is There and He is not Silent. I still have the paperback copy, and a far as I can recall I have never opened it since first reading it. I do not consciously remember much of the content. I mention it simply because if God were silent we would not be able to know much about Him, and we certainly would not be able to know Him personally.
Christians have historically maintained that the Bible is the Word of God to man, and not simply a book written by men about God. As such it is Revelation. God reveals Himself to us. The word revelation literally means, “an unveiling”. God unveils Himself to us. In a very real sense the Bible contains a progressive Revelation. It is not progressive in the sense it moves from less true to more true. The first words are every bit as true as the last. Instead it is progressive in the sense of less complete to more complete.
As a Christian I believe the Bible is therefore unlike any other book, period. It alone is the Word of God. I know that Muslims will claim that their book is “The Book” and that it is the only source of truth. But from my perspective this is not so, and I will simply refer to Allah as the “god” who is described in the Quran. In contrast I understand the God of the Bible to be a God who is revealed.
With that said, someone might argue that Allah is simply the Arabic word for God. It is difficult in a culture where they have not known God, for example, some West African people groups that I have been around, to talk about God when there is no other word except the one imported from Arabic. That said, CLEARLY THE ALLAH DESCRIBED IN THE QURAN IS NOT THE SAME AS THE GOD WHO IS REVEALED IN THE BIBLE.
When Jesus is born, revealed in the Bible as God incarnate (in human flesh), He is described as the “Word of God” in the Gospel of John. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1). Then in v. 14 we read, “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” By the very description employed Jesus is described as revealing God. When Philip said, “Show us the Father,” in John 14, Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”
Hebrews 1 speaks of God being revealed in bits and portions by the prophets in years gone by, but the complete and FINAL revelation coming in Jesus. The God revealed in Jesus is very different than the god who is portrayed in the Quran. We might argue that Mohammed misunderstood who God is, but we would have to say the same thing about many Christians. I have often encountered people who have some strange syncretistic notion of a god that is very foreign to the God of the Bible.
When Moses encountered God in the burning bush, he asked, “What is Your name?” The answer that comes in our English translations is “I AM.” The Hebrew is written in the eternal present which means, “I was am, I is am, and I will be am.” I know that is not good English grammar, but it is good theological understanding. The Hebrew answer to Moses question speaks of the eternal “is-ness” of God. God IS who He is, not who we decide to make Him.
Back to the encounter Moses had with God. The Hebrew transliterated into English would be YHWH. (In the Hebrew text you read from right to left, so it would be HWHY). Because Israel was concerned about blaspheming God by mispronouncing His name they quit speaking it. By the time the Bible was to be translated into English no one remembered what the correct pronunciation would be WHY? It is because Hebrew has no vowels. So vowels were added, and originally folks thought it was Yehovah, pronounced Jehovah. Today many Bible scholars believe the correct pronunciation is Yahweh. All of that relates to the choice of vowels placed between consonants.
Because I believe the Bible is God’s Word, is Revelation to mankind, the book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the final Word on this topic. Is the God of Christians the same God as the “Allah” of Islam? From my perspective the answer depends on what we mean by “Allah”. If we are simply using the Arabic word for God, then my answer is maybe. If, however, we are referencing the god described in the Quran compared to the God revealed in the Bible, then the answer is unequivocally “NO!”
Returning to my beginning point, if God were silent and He did not reveal Himself or interact with people we would not know Him. Because He chooses to make Himself known to us we must understand that He is not who we fashion Him to be. That would be idolatry. An often used saying these days (with little meaning) is this: “It is what it is.” Not to trivialize this subject in any manner, let me close by saying it this way, “GOD IS WHO HE IS” (and not who or what we fashion Him to be.)