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Click here to purchase a printed copy of this bookChapter 6: The God of the Qur’an

by Robert Morey[1]

I

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?[2]

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:

I 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.[3]

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.[4] These points of conflict are recognized by all standard works on the subject. Therefore we will give only a brief survey of the issues involved.

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 truth.

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.[5]

The Qur’an 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 limitations.

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 word.

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

Allah 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 Attributes

The 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 God.

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.[6]

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.”[7] 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

 As a 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?

In 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

During a 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 Bible.

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!

Conclusion

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.


[1]This chapter is reproduced from Chapter 5 of Dr. Morey’s book The Islamic Invasion (Las Vegas, NV: Christian Scholars Press, 2001).

[2]Samuel Zwemer, The Muslim Doctrines of God: An Essay on the Character of Allah According to the Koran (New York: American Tract Society, 1905).

[3]Samuel Schlorff, “Theological and Apologetical Dimensions of Muslim Evangelism,” Westminster Theological Journal, vol. 42, no. 2 (Spring 1980, p 338.

[4]For the Christian view of God, see H. Spencer, Islam and the Gospel of God (Madras: S.P.C.K., 1956) and Augustus Strong, Systematic Theology, p. 186. For the Muslim viewpoint, see Mohammed Zia Ullah, Islamic Concept of God (London: Kegan Paul Inter., 1984).

[5]Sura 4:171

[6]Quoted in Zwemer, Muslim Doctrines, p. 21.

[7]International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ed. Orr), II:1323.


Introduction Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Appendix

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