Muslim Conversation – Concept of God



Worshipping only one God

A person becomes a Muslim by reciting and meaning these words: There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah.

Muslims think that Christians worship three gods. There is a denial of the doctrine of trinity in the Quran, which equates the doctrine with three gods.

Surah 5:73. They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no God except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them.

Surah 5:116. And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah.?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden.

Christians can agree with Muslims to condemn the type of trinity spoken of in the Quran, namely the worship of three gods – Allah, Jesus and Mary. However, this doctrine of trinity is not the same as the doctrine of trinity that Christians believe in. The Christian doctrine of trinity is not about the worship of three gods; it is about the worship of one God, who is a unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Dialog: Do you know that Christians worship only one God?

Dialog: If Muslims tell you they don’t believe in the doctrine of trinity, ask them what they understand by the doctrine of trinity.

Explain to your Muslim friend that Christians do not worship three gods. The Bible clearly teaches the worship of only ONE God.

(Deu 6:4 NIV)  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

But there is no such thing as a simple ONE. Even the one atom – thought to be the smallest unit – is a complex one made one made up of protons, electrons and neutrons.

The Tawhid (or doctrine of God) in Islam stresses the Oneness and Unity of Allah. Allah is also not a simple ONE but a complex unity of all His attributes. Muslims speak about the 99 names of Allah, which also describes His attributes. Allah is a Unity of all these attributes.

The Quran also teaches that Allah has a Spirit and Word. Allah’s Spirit is eternal. When He created man and breathed into man His Spirit, man became an eternal being, which will either spend eternity in heaven or hell.

Suah 32:9. But He fashioned him in due proportion, and breathed into him something of His spirit. And He gave you (the faculties of) hearing and sight and feeling (and understanding): little thanks do ye give!

God’s Word is also eternal. Was there a time in eternity past when God did not have His ability to speak? Of course not! God’s Word had existed with Him from eternity past.

Therefore, even the ONE Allah of the Quran is a unity comprising also His Spirit and His Word.

Likewise, the ONE man is a composite of spirit, soul and body.

(1 Th 5:23 NIV)  May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Quran also teaches this concept. In Surah 32:9, man has a spirit, which was breathed into him by God.

Man also has a soul.

Surah 3:25. But how (will they fare) when we gather them together against a day about which there is no doubt, and each soul will be paid out just what it has earned, without (favour or) injustice?

The man that has a spirit, soul and body is still ONE man.

The God described in the Bible is ONE God, who is a Unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Jesus said in John 10:30 “I and the Father are one.”

Later when Jesus asked his disciples to baptize followers he told them to do so in ONE name (singular), even though he mentions the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

(Mat 28:19-20 NIV)  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, {20} and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Attributes of God

The attributes of God are good topics to dialog with your Muslim friends about God. The Quran is full of wonderful descriptions about God. Many attributes of God can be found in these short verses alone.

Surah 59

22. Allah is He, than Whom there is no other god;- Who knows (all things) both secret and open; He, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

23. Allah is He, than Whom there is no other god;- the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of Peace (and Perfection), the Guardian of Faith, the Preserver of Safety, the Exalted in Might, the Irresistible, the Supreme: Glory to Allah. (High is He) above the partners they attribute to Him.

24. He is Allah, the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of Forms (or Colours). To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names: whatever is in the heavens and on earth, doth declare His Praises and Glory: and He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.

Dialog: What do you think are the attributes of God. How does the Quran describe God?

Christians can affirm that we have in common many of the attributes of God. Two attributes that we want to highlight to Muslims are the mercy and justice of God.

Both the Quran and the Bible teach that God is merciful.

Quran: Surah 6:12. Say: “To whom belongeth all that is in the heavens and on earth?” Say: “To Allah. He hath inscribed for Himself (the rule of) Mercy.

Bible: Dan 9:9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him;

In addition, both the Quran and the Bible teach that God is a just God.

Quran: Surah 4:40. Allah is never unjust in the least degree.

Bible: Psa 89:14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.

Christians can proceed to explain that because God is BOTH merciful and just, it has tremendous implications on how God reacts towards sin and sinners.

Because God is both just and merciful, the way He responds to sin has to be in a way that is consistent with both His justice and His mercy. The Bible teaches that through atonement, God can respond to sin in a way that can be consistent with both His justice and mercy. Being just, He has to execute punishment for sins. Being merciful, He took on that punishment Himself on our behalf.

There was a story about a young woman who was caught for speeding. She was brought to court where the judge pronounced a fine of $100. After that, the judge did a surprising thing. He got down from his chair and walked down to pay the fine. The judge did so because he was the girl’s father. Being a judge, he had to be just and pronounce the sentence. But because he loves his daughter, he is willing to take the punishment and pay the fine himself.

Names of God
An incomprehensible God

When Christians talk to Muslims about the trinity of God, we can admit that the doctrine is beyond (not against) human logic. We do not know how one God can exist in three Persons. But we accept it without asking how because it is something that is taught in the Bible.

This is similar to the term Muslims would use – bila kaifa (which means without asking how).

Muslims believe that Allah has two hands, bila kaifa, as He has said ” I have created with my two hands,” – [38:75] and he has said, “nay! Outstretched are both His hands” – [5:69] and that Allah has eyes, as He has said “under Our eyes it floated on” – [54:14].

God is not totally comprehensible to us because He is an infinite Being while we are all finite beings. It is therefore not correct to try to fit God into our human logic and deny any attribute of God we cannot understand.

Even the Quran teaches that God is incomprehensible.

006.103 YUSUFALI: No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision: He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things.

God begetteth not, nor is He begotten

Surah 112

1. Say: He is Allah, the One and Only;

2. Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;

3. He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;

4. And there is none like unto Him.

Since Muslims accept these truths about God, they immediately have to reject:

That God has a physical son
That Jesus, who is the begotten Son, is God

At first glance, the Muslim understanding of God in Surah 112 seems to run totally contrary to what Christians believe. Actually this is not so. The contradiction lies in the use of the way the Quran and the Bible use the word “beget”.

Dialog: When the Quran says that God begetteth not, nor is He begotten, we Christians can agree to that.

When the Quran says that Allah begetteth not, it is saying Allah did not take for Himself a wife and cause her to give birth to a physical son.

Surah 72:3. ‘And Exalted is the Majesty of our Lord: He has taken neither a wife nor a son.

Explain to your Muslim friends that Christians do not think of Mary as God’s wife and Jesus as God’s physical son. When we say that Jesus is the Son of God, it is because the Son is the exact representation of the father, similar to our expression “Like father, like son.”

Here we can also use the term “anak bulan” to explain this truth to Muslims.

Likewise, Christians can agree with Muslims that God is not created. When the Quran says that Allah is not begotten, it is saying that God is eternal. He was not “born” or did not come into existence at any point in time. Anyone who did not exist from eternity cannot be God.

Christians also believe that one of the attributes of God is eternity. When Christians say that Jesus is begotten, we are not saying that Jesus came into existence when he was born into this world. In fact Jesus taught that He had existed even before Abraham.

Why then is Jesus referred to as God’s begotten son? The word “begotten” came from the Greek word “monogenes” which carries two related meanings. One is that of “one and only one”. We see several instances when the Bible described how Jesus healed somebody’s only child, and how important that child was to that person because he/she is the only one. (Luke 7:12, 8:42, 9:38)

The word “monogenes” also carries the meaning of “unique, special, one of a kind”.

(Heb 11:17)  By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.

We all know that Isaac was not Abraham’s only son as he had another son called Ishmael. Yet the Bible uses “monogenes” to refer to Isaac because of Isaac’s special position. He was born of Abraham’s wife while Ishmael was born of Abraham’s maid. Another reason why Isaac is unique as compared to Ishmael is because Isaac was promised the covenant of God.

(Gen 17:19)  Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.

A God we can know personally

Discussion topic: Explain to your Muslim friend that the Christian concept of God is a personal one. It is like a Father-Child relationship. It is like a friendship.

Muslims will never think of calling God using the term “Father”. God is someone who is to be feared and obeyed. One Muslim wrote, “in my heart I still feared being struck dead for calling the Almighty God “My Father.”

Jesus teaches us to call God our Father.

(Mat 6:9 NIV)  “This, then, is how you should pray: “’Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

This is not a new concept. Even in the Old Testament, the people acknowledged God as Father.

(Isa 64:8 NIV)  Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

051.056

SHAKIR: And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they should serve Me.

A God who grieves when we sin

Dialog: Explain to your Muslim friend that because God loves us like a Father, He can even grieve when we sin.

In Islam, God is too exalted to be affected by our sin. The God of the Bible is not too lofty for Him to be unaffected by our sin. In fact, the Bible teaches that our sin grieves God.

An earthly parent would be grieved if his children falls into wrongdoing by stealing, taking drugs, etc. because the parent knows that such wrongful actions will only lead to adverse consequences. Similarly, because God loves us, He is grieved by our sins.

(Psa 78:40 NIV)  How often they rebelled against him in the desert and grieved him in the wasteland!

(Gen 6:5-6 NIV)  The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. {6} The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.

Does God love sinners?

Dialog: The God of the Bible loves everyone including sinners.

The Quran teaches that God does not love sinners.

Surah 19:96. On those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, will ((Allah)) Most Gracious bestow love.

Surah 2:190. Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.

However, the God of the Bible loves even sinners.

(Rom 5:8 NIV)  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. *

God loved the sinning world so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins so that we need not perish.

(John 3:16 NIV)  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Share with your Muslim friend the parable of the prodigal son taught by Jesus. Even though the son has sinned against his father, his father never stopped loving him and patiently waited for him to come back.

(Luke 15:11-24 NIV) Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. {12} The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. {13} “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. {14} After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. {15} So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. {16} He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. {17} “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! {18} I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. {19} I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ {20} So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. {21} “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ {22} “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. {23} Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. {24} For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

 

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