What is Islam?

Question
I don't desire a book, but can you contrast three areas of Christianity and Islam? Or, are they just the same religion with different names?
Answer

Christianity and Islam are not the same religion. They serve different Gods, view Jesus and salvation differently, and vary on a host of other topics as well. Eternal life and death weigh in the balance. Limited to three areas let us contrast: (1) the Trinity, (2) Jesus, and (3) salvation.

Of The Trinity:

Islam: The fundamental article of faith in Islam, the shahada, affirms that "There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah." The monotheism of the Quran could be summarized in Surah 112:1-4: "Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; and there is none like unto Him." In Islam, a/the Trinity is a denial of monotheism and foreign to the Muslim scripture (though 4:171, 5:72-75, and 5:116 are debatable). God is simply acknowledged as Allah, who is one person; a strict unity. There is no other God in existence. Allah is the creator of the universe (3:191) and sovereign over all (6:61-62).

Christianity: The doctrine of the Trinity has traditionally been formulated with the language "three persons, one essence." The formulation is meant to convey the following ideas:

  • 1. There is only one God.
  • 2. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.
  • 3. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all distinct persons from one another.

God is sovereign (Isa. 44:6; 54:5; Dan. 4:17, 25; Rev. 1:8) and he did create the universe (Gen. 1; 2 Kings 19:15; Job 26:13; 38:4; Psa. 33:6; Prov. 3:19; Isa. 42:5; 45:12; Jonah 1:9; Col. 1:16).

See:
Does the Doctrine of the Trinity Matter?
The Trinity or the Truth?
Equality in the Godhead
WCF, Chapter 2

Of Jesus:

Islam: Muslims respect and revere Jesus as a great person. They consider Jesus to be one of the greatest of God's messengers. While the Quran confirms his virgin birth, it says that Jesus is not the son of God (9:30-31) and is not divine (3:59; 5:17, 75; 43:59). It does not believe that Jesus is part of a triune Godhead or that Jesus died on a cross.

Muslims believe that Muhammad (b. 570 AD; d. 632 AD) is a greater prophet than Jesus because he brings a later revelation from God dictated by an angel. Muhammad died, but never resurrected.

Christianity: Jesus is fully God (Matt. 16:16; John 1:1-14) and the second person of the Trinity. He humbled himself (Phil. 2:6-11), became fully human, being born of the virgin Mary (Matt. 1:23), was/is sinless, so that He as the God-man (Col. 2:9) could be the atonement for the sins of the elect (2 Cor. 5:21). After he lived a perfect and sinless life, he was crucified (2 Pet. 2:21-25) and then rose again from the dead (Acts 4:10; 1 Thess. 4:14). He will return to judge the world. He is Christian's representative in heaven (1 Tim. 2:5), interceding on their behalf (Heb. 7:25). Jesus is the only way by which people can be reconciled to God (John 1:12; Acts 4:12; Rom. 5:1; 1 Pet. 2:24).

See WCF, Chapter 8.

Of Eternal Life:

Islam: The Quran rejects the idea of redemption. Salvation depends on a person's attitudes and actions, what they do. It is salvation by good works. Judgment Day occurs on the day of resurrection. Muslims go to paradise/heaven (3:142, 183-185, 198). Everyone else goes to hell (3:196-197). Judgment is based on a person's deeds (5:9; 8:29).

Muhammad taught that "three things can continue to help a person even after death: charity (acts of kindness) which he had given, knowledge which he had taught, and prayers on their behalf by a righteous child."

Christianity: A true Christian is given the gift of faith and by the sovereign grace of God and "in Christ" receives the gift of eternal life (John 17:3). It's all done wholly by Christ - unearned, undeserved, and totally free! (Rom. 6:22-23). Though a Christian is saved UNTO good works (Eph. 2:8-10) and sanctification follows regeneration; regeneration in Christianity depends on what Christ has done: "For there is no deliverance through any other person, nor has any other name on earth been given by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

See WCF, Chapters 9-18.

References

Answering Islam, website.
Biblical Counseling Keys on Islam, by June Hunt, Hope for the Heart.
Islam and the Bible: Why Two Faiths Collide, by David Goldman, Moody, 2004.
Islamic-Dictionary.com.
Richard Pratt, General Editor. Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 2003.
The Islamic Invasion, by Robert Morrey, Faith Defenders, 2001.
The Quran.
WCF.
Winning the War Against Radical Islam, by Robert Morrey, Faith Defenders, 2004.

Related Topics

Is Jesus the ONLY WAY to Heaven?
What is the Oldest Religion in the World?
What is the Trinity?
What is Buddhism?
What is Chrislam?
What is Christian Science?
What is Deism?
What is Freemasonry?
What is Hinduism?
What is Islam?
What is Jehovah's Witnesses?
What is Mormonism?
What is Polytheism?
What is Satanism?
What is Scientology?
What is Sikhism?
What is the Unification Movement?
What is the Word of Faith Movement?
Images of Muhammad
50 Reasons Jesus Came to Die?
Jesus a False Prophet? - Deuteronomy 13:5
Muhammad a Prophet like Moses? - Deuteronomy 18:18-19
Jesus was not cursed? - Deuteronomy 21:22-23
Journey to Mecca? - Psalm 84:6
Islam and LORD, Lord? - Psalms 110:1
Muhammad and Machmaddim? - Song of Songs 5:16
Jesse and Ishmael? - Isaiah 11:1-2
The coming of Mohammed? - Isaiah 21:7
Muhammad and Jerusalem's Judgment? Isaiah 29:12
Jesus or Muhammad the Messenger? - Isaiah 42
Prophet of Peace? - Jeremiah 28:9
Islam and Jesus' Sacrifice? - Hosea 6:6
Does Habakkuk predict the Prophet Mohammed? - Habakkuk 3:3
Muhammad and the Baptism of Jesus? - Matthew 3:11
Peacemakers and Islam - Matthew 5:9
Jesus, Jonah, and Islam? - Matthew 12:40
Jesus Only for the Jews? - Matthew 15:24
Praying in a Prostrate Position? - Matthew 26:39
Not my will be done and Islam? - Luke 22:41-42
Islam and Jesus resurrection body? - Luke 24:39
Islam and Jesus' Death
Muhammad and the Holy Spirit? - John 14:16-17
Touch Me Not? - John 20:17
Jesus, The Son of David and Islam? - Acts 2:30
Are Mormonism and Islam similar in any way(s)?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).