Yahweh or Allah: What’s the difference?
Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?
This week, I have engaged my Muslim friends and neighbors with the question of whether or not we, as Christians, worship the same God as they do? Is there a difference between the God of the Bible, Yahweh, and the god of the Qur’an, Allah? It can be hard to have this discussion when we use the same word, “God” to describe different people.
Furthermore, when I try and clarify that I am talking about God and Jesus Christ, the Son of God, they say that they believe in Jesus Christ, as well. But Christians know that this is not true. In my experience, this has been the first pressure point in separating Allah from Yahweh.
What does the Qur’an say about all of this?
Well, it plainly says in Surah 29:46:
O Muslims! Do not argue with the People of the Book (or, the Christians) except in the best of ways, save with such of them who are unjust; and say: “We believe in that which has been sent down to us and that which has been [sent] down to you; our God and your God is One, and to Him we surrender [or, and we are Muslims to him].”
The Qur’an is outrightly claiming that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, but how do we, as Christians, understand this statement? Muslims claim that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Jesus are all prophets of Allah, and Christians claim that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses are all great men of faith in God.
Who is Jesus?
Who do Muslims say Jesus is?
The trickiness in communicating with Muslims is that they actually hold to many of the same truths that Christians do about Jesus. For example, they believe in the virgin birth; they believe that Jesus was a great teacher and miracle-worker; they believe He ascended to Heaven and they even believe that He will return one day. Christians affirm all of these things, however there are a few differences.
Who do Christians say Jesus is?
Christians believe that Jesus is God incarnate, that he died on the cross for our sins, and that he rose from the dead and appeared to over 500 eyewitnesses. As I have pointed out before, this is categorically not the same Jesus.
Putting it all together
So how does this help us answer the question of whether or not Allah and Yahweh are the same god? It comes down to who Jesus is, because if Jesus is the Son of God, then he cannot be the Son of Allah because the Qur’an vigorously advocates for the fact that Allah does not have a son and is the only God.
The splitting point is the doctrine of the Trinity.
As Christians, we believe and hold firmly to the mysterious wonder that is the Three persons of our one God: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This, however, is completely unacceptable to the Muslim. Hear the words of the Qur’an, in Surah 4:171:
O People of the Book (again, this is referencing Christians)! Commit no excess in your religion, nor say anything but the truth about Allah. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a Messenger of Allah, and His word which he conveyed to Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allaha dn His Messengers, and say not “three.” Cease, [it is] better for you! Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His transendence that He should have a son, when His is all that the heavens and all that the earth contain. And Allah is present as [their] Custodian.
Where does this leave us? With a very clear understanding: The God of the Bible, Yahweh, who sent His only begotten Son into the World to be a ransom for sinners and who offers eternal life and indwells with the Holy Spirit those who believe in Him, is assuredly and eternally not Allah. Then who is Allah? Just a relatively new name for an old, fallen angel.
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