Chapter 6: The God of the Qur’an
by Robert Morey
slam claims that Allah is the same
God who was revealed in the Bible. This logically implies in the positive
sense that the concept of God set forth in the Qur’an will correspond in
all points to the concept of God found in the Bible. This also implies in
the negative sense that if the Bible and the Qur’an have differing views
of God, then Islam’s claim is false.
This issue can only be decided by a
comparison of the two documents in question. It should not be decided on
the basis of religious bias on any side, but by a fair reading of the
texts of both books.
The Attributes of God
The Orientalist Samuel Zwemer pointed
out in 1905:
There has been a strange neglect on the part of most writers who have
described the religion of Mohammed to study Mohammed’s idea of God. It
is so easy to be misled by a name or by etymologies. Nearly all writers
take for granted that the God of the Koran is the same being and has
like attributes as Jehovah or as the Godhead of the New Testament. Is
this view correct?
Most people simply assume that the
God of the Bible and the God of the Qur’an are one and the same God, just
under different names. But, as Zwemer asked, is this correct? When we
compare the attributes of God as found in the Bible with the attributes of
Allah found in the Qur’an, it is rather obvious that these two are not the
same God. As a matter of historical record, Christian and Muslim scholars
have been arguing over who has the true view of God ever since Islam arose
as a religion. The biblical view of God cannot be reduced to that of Allah
any more than Allah can be reduced to the biblical God.
The historical background concerning
the origin and meaning of the Arabian “Allah” reveals that Allah cannot be
the God of the biblical patriarchs, the Jews, or the Christians. Allah is
merely a revamped and magnified Arabian pagan moon deity. As Dr. Samuel
Sclorff points out in his article on the essential differences between
Allah of the Qur’an and the God of the Bible:
believe that the key issue is the question of the nature of God and how He
relates to His creatures; Islam and Christianity are, despite formal
similarities, worlds apart on that question.
Let us look at some of the historical
difference that have been pointed out time and again between the God of
the Bible and the Allah of the Qur’an. These points of conflict have been
noted in scholarly works for over a thousand years.
These points of conflict are recognized by all standard works on the
subject. Therefore we will give only a brief survey of the issues
Knowable vs. Unknowable
According to the Bible, God is
knowable. Jesus Christ came into this world that we might know God:
And this is eternal life: to know you, the only true God, and the one
whom you sent—Jesus Christ.
But in Islam, Allah is unknowable.
He is so transcendent, so exalted, that no man can ever personally know
Allah. While according to the Bible man can come into a personal
relationship with God, the Allah of the Qur’an is so distant, so far off,
that no one can know him.
Personal vs. Impersonal
The God of the Bible is spoken of as
a personal being with intellect, emotion, and will. This is in contrast to
Allah, who is not to be understood as a person. This would lower him to
the level of man.
Spiritual vs. Nonspiritual
To the Muslim, the idea that Allah is
a person or a spirit is blasphemous because this would demean the exalted
One. But the concept that “God is a spirit” is one of the cornerstones of
the biblical nature of God as taught by Jesus Christ himself in John 4:24:
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in sprit and
Trinitarian vs. Unitarian
The God of the Bible is one God in
three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This Trinity is
not three gods but one God. When we turn to the Qur’an, we find that it
explicitly denies the Trinity.
Say not “Trinity”; desist: it will be better for you; for God is One
God; Glory be to Him.
states that God is not a Father and Jesus is not the Son of God. Neither
is the Holy Spirit God.
Limited vs. Unlimited
The biblical God is limited by His
own immutable and unalterable nature. Thus God cannot be anything and
everything. In Titus 1:2 we are told, “God cannot lie.” We are also told
this in Hebrews 6:18. God can never act in a way that would contradict His
divine nature (2 Timothy 2:13).
But when you turn to the Qur’an, you
discover that Allah is not limited by anything. He is not even limited by
his own nature. Allah can do anything, anytime, anyplace, anywhere with no
Trustworthy vs. Capricious
Because the God of the Bible
is limited by his own righteous nature and there are certain things He
cannot do, He is completely consistent and trustworthy. But when we turn
to study the actions of Allah in the Qur’an, we discover that he is
totally capricious and untrustworthy. He is not bound by his nature or his
Loving vs. Unloving
The love of God is the chief attribute of the biblical God as revealed in
such places as John 3:16. God has feelings for His creatures, especially
man. But when we turn to the Qur’an, we do not find love presented as the
chief attribute of Allah. Instead, the transcendence of Allah is his chief
attribute. Neither does Allah “have feelings” toward man, a concept
foreign to Islamic teaching. The idea of Allah having feelings toward man
would reduce Allah to being a mere man, a blasphemous concept to a Muslim.
Active vs. Passive
does not personally enter into human history and act as a historical
agent. He always deals with the world through his word, prophets, and
angels. He does not personally come down to deal with man. How different
is the biblical idea of the incarnation, in which God Himself enters
history and acts to bring about man’s salvation!
Attributes vs. No
Qur’an never tells us in a positive sense what God is like in terms of His
nature or essence. The so-called “99 attributes of Allah” are all negative
in form, signifying what Allah is not, but never telling us what he
is. The Bible gives us both positive and negative attributes of
Grace vs. Works
Lastly, the Bible speaks much of the
grace of God in providing a free salvation for man through a Savior who
acts as an intercessor between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). Yet in the
Qur’an there is no concept of the grace of Allah. There is no savior or
intercessor according to the Qur’an.
In conclusion, when you examine the
attributes of the God who has revealed Himself in the Bible to the Allah
who is described in the Qur’an, they are not the one and the same God.
The Same God?
After presenting this material to a
group of people, one person responded that he believed that Islam and
Christianity worshiped the same God because they both worshiped “only one
God.” What he failed to understand is that monotheism in and of itself
does not tell us anything about the identity of the one God who is to be
worshiped. In other words, it is not enough to say there is only one God
if you have the wrong God!
Someone could say that Ra, Isis, or
Osiris is the one true God, but this does not mean that Christian and
Egyptian deities are one and the same. Ancients could have taught that
Ba-al or Molech was the one true God. Or again, the Greeks could have
argued that Zeus or Jupiter was the one true living God. But merely
arguing that there is one God does not automatically mean that the one God
you choose to worship is the right one.
In this case, the God of the Bible
has revealed Himself in such a way that His nature and His names cannot be
confused with the nature and names of the surrounding pagan deities. The
cult of the moon god which worshiped Allah was transformed by Mohammed
into a monotheistic faith. Because Mohammed started with a pagan god, it
comes as no surprise that he ended up with a pagan god. As the German
scholar Johannes Hauri points out:
Mohammed’s monotheism was just as much a departure from true monotheism as
the polytheistic ideas…. Mohammed’s idea of God is out and out deistic.
Is Allah in the Bible?
In a conversation with an ambassador
from a Muslim country, I pointed out that the name Allah came from an
Arabic word that had to do with the worship of the moon god in pre-Islamic
Arabia. As such, it could not be found in the Hebrew Old Testament or in
the Greek New Testament. The ambassador used two arguments by which he
hoped to prove that the Bible did speak of Allah.
First, he claimed that the name Allah
was found in the biblical word allelujah. The “alle” in the first
part of the word was actually “Allah” according to him! I pointed out to
him that the Hebrew word allelujah is not a compound Hebrew word.
That is, it is not made up of two words. It is one single Hebrew word
which means “praise to Yahweh.”
Also, the name of God is in the last part of the word, jah, which
has reference to Yahweh or Jehovah. The name Allah simply cannot be found
in that word.
He then proceeded to tell me that when Jesus was on the cross and he cried
out, “Eli, Eli,” he was actually saying “Allah, Allah.” But this is not
true either. The Greek New Testament at this point gives us the Aramaic
(not the Arabic) translation of a portion of Psalm 22:1. Jesus was saying,
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It is a far cry to go from
“Eli, Eli” all the way to “Allah, Allah.” It simply cannot be done.
Wrong Time Period
matter of historical record, it was impossible for the authors of the
Bible to speak of Allah as God. Why? Up until the seventh century when
Mohammed made Allah into the “only” God, Allah was the name of a pagan
deity! Since the Bible was completed long before Mohammed was ever born,
how could it speak of a post-Mohammed Allah?
reality, the name Allah never came across the lips of the authors of
Scripture. The biblical authors would never have confused Allah with
Jehovah any more than they would have confused Ba-al with Jehovah.
The Arabic Bible
radio show in Irvine, California, an Arab caller responded to these
observations by asking, “But doesn’t the Arabic Bible use the name ‘Allah’
for God? Thus ‘Allah’ is a biblical name for God.” The answer depends on
the time period. Was the Bible translated into Arabic in Mohammed’s day?
No! The first Arabic translation of the Bible did not appear until
around the ninth century.
By the ninth century, Islam was the
dominant political force in Arab lands and the men who translated the
Bible into Arabic faced a difficult political situation. If they did not
use “Allah” as the name for God, they might suffer at the hands of
fanatical Muslims who, as part of their religion, believed that the Allah
of the Qur’an was the God of the Bible. Since “Allah” was by this time the
common name for “God” because of the dominance of Islam, translators bowed
to the political and religious pressures and put “Allah” into the Arabic
Since the Arabic translation of the
Bible came 900 years after the Bible was completed, it cannot have
any bearing on whether “Allah” was originally a name for God in the Bible.
In the end, the rather obvious fact is that a ninth-century Arabic
translation of the Bible cannot be used to establish the argument that the
biblical authors who wrote many centuries earlier in Hebrew and
Greek used the Arabic word “Allah” for God. Credulity has its limit!
Many Westerners assume that Allah is
just another name for God. This is due to their ignorance of the
differences between the Allah of the Qur’an and the God of the Bible and
is also due to the propaganda of Muslim evangelists who use the idea that
Allah is just another name for God as an opportunity to convert Westerners
to Islam. The Bible and the Qur’an are two competing documents that differ
in their concept of deity. This fact cannot be overlooked just because it
is not in conformity with the present popularity of religious relativism.