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Don Stewart :: Is the God of Islam Personally Knowable?

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Is the God of Islam Personally Knowable?

Islam – Question 14

The God of the Bible is a Person. Not only can we know certain facts about Him, He can be personally known by those who believe in Him. What about the God of Islam? Can he be personally known?

The Islamic View of God

There are a number of observations that we can make about Islam’s view of God. We can sum them up in the following manner.

1. Allah Is Impersonal

The God of Islam is not knowable in this sense that a person can have a relationship with him. Allah is a distant and impersonal God. Thus, Muslims do not have a relationship with Allah as Christians have with Yahweh or Jehovah, the God of the Bible.

2. Allah Is in Complete Control of Every Detail: Humans Have No Choice

In Islam, Allah has complete power over every detail of a person’s life. He is all-powerful in such a way that people are not able get close to him. Allah with his own will makes his own decisions. He does what he wants and no one can question this. Allah wills one to go to heaven and another to go to hell. Allah wills one to live and another to die. Allah wills who in the womb will live and who will die. His control is over everything.

3. Allah Does Not Love Those Who Are Not His

There is nothing in the teachings of Islam about Allah’s love for sinners. Allah loves only those who obey him. In fact, the love of Allah is not a central theme in the Quran.

4. Allah Is Merciful in the Sense That He Provides for Humanity Not That He Withholds Punishment for Sin

At the beginning of every Surah of the Quran, all 114, with the exception of Surah 9, are the words, “In the name of God, the gracious, the merciful.” Hence, the mercy of Allah is stressed in the Quran.

To Muslims, the concept of mercy is not Allah’s refusing to give people the punishment they deserve, but rather the fact that he provides humanity with such things as rain and food.

The Christian Response

Christianity responds to Islam’s doctrine of God in the following manner.

1. God Is Personal

The God of the Bible is a personal God. He has the attributes, or characteristics, of a person. His personal nature is something which is stressed in Scripture.

In addition, He takes a personal interest in the lives of each believer. Rather than being a God who is “far off,” and doesn’t care, the God of the Bible is intimately concerned about the lives of those who are His. Peter wrote,

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7 NIV)

He cares for us.

While the God of the Bible is to be respected He is not to be trifled with. He is an awesome God, a majestic God. Though He is awesome and majestic the God of the Bible has made a way in which humans can know Him in a personal way. Jesus called those who believe in Him, His “friends.” We read in John’s gospel,

“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15 RSV)

No such concept exists in Islam. There is nothing in Islam where Allah would consider his followers as his friends. Thus, we find huge contrasts between Christianity and Islam when it comes to the relational aspect of God. In Christianity, there is a relationship while in Islam, there is none.

2. Humans Have Legitimate Choice

Contrary to Islam, humans can actually choose or reject God. The Bible teaches that we humans can, and do, make free choices. In the Book of Joshua we read about this.

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” So the people answered and said: “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; for the LORD our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went and among all the people through whom we passed.” (Joshua 24:15-17 NKJV)

The people of the nation of Israel were given a choice as to whom they would serve. When given a choice in this instance, they chose to serve the Lord. This theme is found throughout the Bible. God gives humans a choice and holds them responsible for the choices they make.

3. God Loves Sinful Humanity

Contrary to Islam, the Bible teaches that God does indeed love sinners. Paul wrote to the Romans and explained how Jesus Christ died for us while we were still sinful.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8 ESV)

The New Living Translations puts it this way.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:6-8 NLT)

Jesus Christ loves lost sinners and He died for lost sinners. This is in contrast to Allah, who does not love sinful humanity.

4. God Shows Mercy to Sinners

There is also a difference when it comes to showing mercy. God of the Bible shows His mercy in that He offers sinners something we do not deserve, salvation from sin. Paul wrote to Titus about the wonderful mercy which the Lord offers.

He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5 NLT)

Paul wrote about the richness and mercy that God has showed to lost sinner. He put it this way in his letter to the Ephesians.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so very much, that even while we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s special favor that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ, and we are seated with him in the heavenly realms—all because we are one with Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-6 NLT)

The God of the Bible is rich in mercy. The God of Islam is not merciful in the same sense as the God who revealed Himself in the New Testament through Jesus Christ. Although Allah is called “the merciful,” He is not the merciful God of the Bible. These two conceptions of God could not be more different.

In sum, we again find that the Christian position and the Islamic position are completely at odds. The God of the Bible is knowable; the God of Islam is not.

Summary – Question 14
Is the God of Islam Personally Knowable?

The God of Islam is not the same God as found in Scripture. Indeed, their differences are legion.

When we compare the two we find that Allah is an impersonal God who has predestined every thing that occurs. He is called “the merciful,” not in the sense that he refuses to punish those who deserve it, but rather in the sense that he provides for the existence of humanity. He cannot be approached on a personal level by humans. He is an impersonal, aloof God who is to be feared, not loved.

This is in contrast to the God of Scripture. He is a personal God who has given people actual choice. Each of us is responsible for the choices that we make, we are not puppets.

Furthermore, He is intimately involved in every aspect of our lives. The God of Scripture cares for us and thus we care for Him.

In addition, the God of Christianity has shown mercy to sinful humanity. The Bible stresses the fact of the great mercy of God. Jesus Christ took upon Himself the judgment we all deserve. Indeed, He has died as a substitute for each of us so that we do not receive the punishment which we so richly deserve. This act shows the depth of mercy that God has shown to the human race.

The love of God is another theme found throughout the Bible. Though the human race has rebelled against Him, and is in a sinful state. Yet, He still loves us. We respond to His love by showing our love for Him.

While the God of the Bible is an awesome God who deserves the utmost respect, He can also be personally known. We begin a relationship with Him the moment we believe. This relationship is developed throughout our lives. This is in direct contrast to the teachings of Islam of a God who is unknowable to humans.

Therefore, when we compare to the concept of God in Islam and Christianity we again find that they could not be more diverse.

How Does a Person Achieve Salvation in Islam? ← Prior Section
What Does Islam Believe about Resurrection, Judgment, and the Afterlife? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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