Chapter 3: What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an

I recently invited everyone to a read along in Let’s Read About the Qur’an Together! The plan is to read What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an by James R. White together.

Feel free to grab a copy of the book and join in at anytime! So far, the following has been covered:

Chapter 3: Allah: Tawhid, Shirk, the Mithaq and the Fitra

In chapter 3, James White explains Tawhid, Shirk, the Mithaq and the Fitra. He compares and contrasts these Islamic doctrines with Christian doctrines explaining the importance of them to Muslims. The chapter closes with an important and sometimes disagreed upon question of whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God.

Tawhid and Purity of Worship

Tawhid is the Islamic doctrine of monotheism – the oneness of Allah. Islam’s doctrine of God is Unitarian (one God/one person) in direct contrast to the Christian doctrine of God which is Trinitarian (one God/three persons). White shows importance of tawhid in Islam by quoting Allamah Al-Sadi explaining tawhid is required for proper worship Allah and even salvation.

The Shahada

The Shahada is the profession of faith one says to become a Muslim. White first provides the English translation “”There is only one God worthy of worship, and Muhammad is His messenger.” In Arabic, la ilaha illa l-Lah, wa-Muhammadun rasulu l-Lah.” (Kindle Locations 789-790).

White ties the Shahada into tawhid’s monotheism. He then explains there are three types of tawhid: of lordship, of worship, and of Allah’s attributes. The word tawhid is not found in the Qur’an much like the word Trinity is not found in the Bible. However, tawhid is clearly taught in the Qur’an. The strongest Islamic apologetic arguments for tawhid are those against Trinitarianism.

The Unforgivable Sin of Shirk

Shirk is the sin of idolatry in Islam committed by associating anyone or anything with Allah. For example, the Christian belief that Jesus is God would be shirk. White quotes from Surah 4:48 showing from the Qur’an that shirk is unforgivable. Unforgivable, that is, if one dies while committing shirk. White further explains that Allah may forgive murder in the next life, but not shirk. One may also be forgiven of shirk by becoming a Muslim.

The Mithaq and the Fitra

Mithaq is Allah’s covenant with all of Adam’s decedents which holds all people without excuse for not worshiping Allah. This covenant means everyone is without excuse for committing shirk. White defines fitra as the “natural, innate inclination and knowledge of Allah’s existence and of monotheism” (Kindle Location 903).

Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God?

The question of whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God is contentious in some Christians circles. White says it is probably the question most often asked in public dialogue. He quotes Surah 29:46 which states Muslims and Christians (People of the Book) worship the same God.

I’m going to pause here and leave readers to consider this question given the above information from this chapter.

So, do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?

Here I blog…


tagged as , , , , , in apologetics,books,Christianity,Evangelism,Gospel,theology

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 AndrewLindsey July 12, 2013 at 2:30 pm

In Breaking the Islam Code, J.D. Greear writes:
“Believing wrong things about God and worshipping him incorrectly doesn’t mean one is worshipping a different God. Many first-century Jewish people rejected the Trinitarian nature of God and that Christ was a messenger of God. Yet the apostles did not say that those Jews were worshipping a different God, just that they were worshipping the one true God incorrectly. Nor did the apostles come up with a new name for God to distinguish him from the Jewish God. Jesus did not tell the Samaritan woman he encountered at the well in John 4 that she worshipped the wrong God, but that she understood and worshipped God incorrectly.”

“Muhammad preached many incorrect things about the one true God, but he made clear that he was referring to the God of the Old Testament, the God first revealed to Adam and Abraham. Thus, it is my opinion that it will be most helpful to start wit the one, true revealed God of Abraham as the common ground to begin discussing the gospel with a Muslim.”

2 Ken Temple July 12, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Without the revelation of the incarnation, the New Testament revelation about the eternal Son of God/ word of God who became flesh; and the accompanying NT revelation about the Holy Spirit; the doctrine of the God of Islam, Allah; is very similar to the concept of “The Lord”/Yahweh/Elohim/God in the OT.  That is usually what people mean when they say, “Christians and Muslims worship the same God”.   Muslims claim to and are trying to worship the same doctrinal content of the God of the OT – eternal, invisible, sovereign, creator of all things, the Almighty.  But in reality, the God of the Bible was always Trinitarian and the Son/Word was always there with the Father (John 1:1-5; 1:18; 17:5) and the Holy Spirit was always there in eternity past.  ( Genesis 1:2; John 15:26)  So, in reality because they reject the Trinity and the Deity of Christ and incarnation and Sonship of Christ, the god Muslims worship is not the true God.  But the referent is the same; who they are trying to worship is the same idea, as far as monotheism, and the sovereign creator of all things doctrine is concerned.

3 Ken Temple July 12, 2013 at 10:51 pm

But the referent is the same; who they are trying to worship as the one true God who created all things and is sovereign is the same idea, (except for the incarnation and Trinity); as far as monotheism, and the sovereign creator of all things doctrine is concerned.

4 Ken Temple July 12, 2013 at 10:54 pm

Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?  short answer, doctrinally, no.  Since Islam rejects the incarnation, eternal Sonship, Deity of Christ, and the Trinity, they cannot be worshiping the same God.  
But they think and claim that they are worshiping the one true Almighty creator of all things who is eternal and Spirit and invisible and one.  And they would never call God “Father”, as Surah 112 tells them that is wrong.

5 TalalItani July 14, 2013 at 4:43 pm

[QURAN Chapter 2,
verse 62] Those who believe, and those who are Jewish, and the Christians, and
the Sabeans—any who believe in God and the Last Day, and act righteously—will
have their reward with their Lord; they have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.
You can read the whole Quran here, in Modern English

6 AndrewLindsey July 15, 2013 at 9:44 am

I quoted Greear because he gives the most persuasive case for “yes” that I have found. Notice, though, that White and Greear- though answering the proposed question in opposite ways- are really not as far apart on the issue as they would seem. White says Muslims and Christians do not worship the same God, therefore Muslims need to repent and find salvation in Christ. Greear says Muslims seek to worship the same God as Christians (the one true God, revealed to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), but they believe wrong things about God and worship Him incorrectly, therefore they need to repent and find salvation in Christ.
Ken Temple: I’m looking at Surah 112 in a couple of translations. Though it says that God does not “beget,” I don’t see it prohibiting worshippers from calling Him “Father.” Is there another Surah you were thinking of?

7 Ken Temple July 15, 2013 at 10:13 am

AndrewLindsey – that is what Muslims think just by the words “Father” and “Son”, automatically mean “marriage” and “sex” and “there must be a mother”.   Surah 112 seems to be a deliberate slam against “Father” and “Son” language, because the Qur’an never understood what the Christians meant by these terms.  There may be other verses, in other Surahs, but off the top of my head I cannot think of them right now.  The Tafsirs of Surah 112 can provide more information on how Muslims view that.
Basically, regarding Greear’s analysis – this is generally true; except for one thing, and that is “ultimately, no one is really sincerely seeking God on his own” – (Romans 3:9-23 – no one seeks for God, no not one) – so we should not grant that; rather those that are elect from nations of Muslims will eventually be true seekers, because God will be drawing them as they hear the gospel.  
John Piper and Al Mohler have an excellent discussion of this issue with 2 Muslims and 2 other Evangelicals in an ETS meeting -

8 Ken Temple July 15, 2013 at 10:15 am

TalalItani Can the Christians believe in Jesus as the eternal Son, the eternal Word who became flesh and hence, the Deity of the Messiah, and the Deity of the Holy Spirit and the Trinity?  (and the crucifixion of Jesus and resurrection from the dead)


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