Christianity and Islam: Diametrically Opposed

“Diametrically opposed”? To be honest, this is one of those terms I can’t recall ever using throughout my life. And to be fair, it’s probably more familiar with those who sport a mathematical mind or inclination.

“Diametrically opposed” is synonymous with “contradictory”, “paradoxical”, “hostile”, “in opposition to” or “irreconcilable”, to name a few. I’ve had a look around, and I like the clear definition provided by Grammarist:

The phrase diametrically opposed means to be completely and directly in opposition to something.

By this definition, when we compare the personal and trinitarian Christian God (YHWH: God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spiritual; coequal but unique) and that of Islam (Allah) they are completely and directly in opposition with one another.

Now, I appreciate how blunt this sounds given the apparent similarities present between these monotheistic faiths, and when you Google something like: “Muslims and Christians worship the same God”, you’ll receive millions of results. However, those who attest that they are, have been misinformed by a cunning lie.

Yes, both Christians and Muslims worship one God, and in the books within the Torah, the Nevi’im, and the Ketuvim of the Hebrew Bible, known collectively as the TaNaK, God and Allah do bear similarities. Moreover, the Qur’an references, or plagiarizes many of the stories found in the Old Testament, attributing their authorship to the illiterate Muhammed who claimed revelation from Allah.

As I’ve noted above, the One God that Christians worship is composed by the three persons of the Holy Trinity — God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. “The Trinity changes everything“. Again, to claim that the Christianity and Islam are the same is horribly inaccurate and ignorant.

Moreover, during my study for this topic, I found that the roots and teachings of Islam and Christianity exhibit a span of inequitable deviations. These deviations strike at the very heart, nature and character of God, His gift of salvation by grace not works, and His relationship with us through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Let’s have a closer look…

Christianity

Christianity is the World’s most widespread and followed faith. As we see in the First Council of Nicaea in the year 325 A.D., the Christian God is Triune: God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Although the term “trinity” isn’t found in God’s Word, we’re told within the gospels and epistles of New Testament, there are three persons in the Godhead.

See, for example:

Christians believe that the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible are the inspired, unchanging and true Words of God, received by approximately forty authors over approximately fifteen-hundred years. Although there are scores of different versions and translations of the Bible, the many thousands Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic writings that have been recovered and recorded are without fault. (For more information, see: “How Was the Bible Written and Transmitted?” by Brennan Breed).

Although Christianity and Judaism both rely on the Hebrew Bible, Christians believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the prophesied saviour of the world, who paid the penalty we each owe to God for our sins. Jesus was crucified, died, was buried, and then rose three days later, defeating the power of sin and death forever.

See: Matthew 27:32-56; Mark 15:21-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:16-30.
The Crucifixion of Jesus between two criminals on Golgotha (the place of the Skull), or Calvary-the hill above Jeremiah’s Grotto or small cave. Tradition declares it was here that the prophet Jeremiah composed the book of Lamentations, the only book in the Bible that consists solely of laments/mourning.

Christians believe that from the moment we enter the earth and breath our first breath, we have a sinful nature; inheritors of the original sin detailed in Genesis 3. However, by having faith in Jesus Christ as our resurrected Lord and saviour, Christians are filled with His Spirit, inheriting a new, perfect and eternal life alongside God in the new Jerusalem.

See:

Simply put, Christians worship a gracious, resurrection God, and believe that:

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:8-10

Another difference you’ll see between Christianity and Islam is the act of tithing by believers. In the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament), we see that tithing was obligatory (see Leviticus 27:30-33). Ten percent of a person’s wealth was given to support the widows and the Levites (as the only tribe who didn’t worship the Golden Calf (Exodus 32:25-28), the Levites were set aside as “God’s portion” of the Israelites, but had no permanent land or tribal inheritance (Numbers 18:20-21; Deuteronomy 10:9; 18:1).

Indeed, as we see in Malachi 3:6-12, failure to pay one’s tithe and offering was regarded as theft against God Himself.

Breaking Covenant by Withholding Tithes

6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.

“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’

8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.

“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’

“In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.

Malachi 3:6-12

We read in the New Testament that,

7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7

So for Christians, although most churches expect that you put something in the offering bag, or send a direct deposit into the church’s bank account, tithing is not compulsory. However, as we’re taught in Mark 10:31, Jesus has told us to ‘love our neighbors as ourselves’. Thus, tithing is something we do out of love, not obligation. This is well outlined in Jesus’ confrontation of the Pharisees we see detailed in the gospel of Matthew:

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. These things should have been done without neglecting the others.

Matthew 23:23
Jesus’ final word on the cross: “Tetelestai”– “It is finished”

Islam

[I want to clarify that the passages I’ve quoted from the Qur’an have only been used to articulate the beliefs of Muslims. I don’t believe that the Qur’an is God’s Word].

Islam is the World’s second-largest religion. Muslims follow a works-based conviction, built around the five pillars (arkan) of Islam which don’t contain any original moral value:

  • The profession of faith (shahada),
  • Daily prayers (salah, or salat),
  • Alms-giving (zakat),
  • Fasting during Ramadan (sawm),
  • Pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj), which is to be carried out once in one’s lifetime.

Similarly to Judaism, for Muslims, God is one person; He’s not Triune. According to the Prophet Muhammed, the apostle Paul changed Jesus’ words regarding his oneness with God:

 In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful Proclaim, “He is the One and only God. The Absolute God. Never did He beget. Nor was He begotten. None equals Him.”

Surah 112:0-4

He to whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and who has not taken a son and has not had a partner in dominion and has created each thing and determined it with (precise) determination.

Surah 25:2

Instead of believing that God’s Word is true (John 17:17) and unchanging (Matthew 24:35Isaiah 40:8), Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet, a teacher, and worker of miracles (Surah 3:49; 5:110; 9:30). They don’t acknowledge the words of Jesus in John 10:30, 17:11 and 17:21, which detail that Jesus and God the Father are One.

According to early commentators, Muslim’s don’t believe that Jesus Christ was crucified or even killed. They simply call it an incorrect “assumption”. They believe that Allah raised him up to himself. (Surah 4:155-158).

Unlike the free grace bestowed to believers by God the Father through Christ the Son, the only thing that Allah offers is the threat of punishment for human weakness and disobedience. As we see in relation to martyrdom at Al-Islam.org, Muslims believe that 

  • Nothing and nobody can intercede between the sinner and God,
  • Salvation must be earned and deserved,
  • It is not the crucifixion and the cross that causes salvation, but it is the realization of the truth that causes it,
  • Martyrs are the super-models of the divine message.

What Jesus did, according to Christian doctrine, was a unique action by a unique being (the crucifixion of the Son of God), not possible and necessary for humanity to copy. But what Muhammad did was to convey the practical guidelines of righteousness, and he himself lived within those guidelines to prove their practicability for the rest of humanity.

A. Ezzati – The Concept of Martyrdom in Islam

Like Christians, Muslims believe that the Bible is the Word of God, but only when it doesn’t contradict their Qur’an (Recitation). Again, I find this a bit peculiar. You see, Muhammed recited the Qur’an in the sixth to early seventh century A.D; he clearly misunderstood the correct way to use the term “contradict” (you see, similar to the rules of evidence, the former controls the latter). It was written down during the first caliphate of Abu Bakr.

Muslims believe that the Torah, the Psalms, and the four Gospels found in the Christian Bible have been corrupted due to translation errors; they believe that the Qur’an has no variations. This last point is only possible, of course, for a copy from the original tongue.

In reality, there are many different translations of the Qur’an by writer and language from the seventh to the twenty-first century (I try my best to avoid referencing Wikipedia, but this is pretty good list of translations of the Qur’an).

In addition, the Qur’an contains a multiplicity of contradictions (take a wander through Matt Slick’s work with CARM on the Contradictions within the Qur’an). Supporters of the Qur’an can say whatever they like, but there are no contradictions in the Bible.

The Mormons, or latter-day-saints, believe that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ which Joseph Smith had received and interpreted off the gold plates of Nephi from Moroni, the son of Mormon, in 1827. After Smith had completed his translation of them, an angel of God took them back up to heaven. According to Smith, the two golden plates, Laban’s sword and Aaron’s breastplate are waiting beneath the Hill Cumorah until the end of the world.

Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the perfect Holy Word of God, preserved on Mosaic-like table its in heaven. Indeed, these “two faiths have become associated in several ways, including Mormonism’s being called the Islam of America.”

The Book of Mormon is a compilation of what prophets in the Americas thought were the most important, spiritual messages their people received. They went to great lengths to protect these scriptures, which were engraved on gold plates, for their posterity.

Mormon Church, What is the Book of Mormon?

Muslims believe that over twenty-three years, the Qur’an was spoken to Muhammed, a very religious merchant who lived between 570-632 A.D. through the angel Gabriel (the same angel seen in Daniel 8:16, 9:21; Luke 1:19 and 1:26). By the year 630 A.D., Muhammed had unified much of the Arabian Peninsula under the single faith of Islam.

Muslims have a statement of faith known as the shahada, which says: “There is no God but God (Allah), and Muhammed is His Messenger.”  You will see this phrase written in Arabic on the flags of several Islamic groups:

  • Al-Shabaab: “the Youth” in Arabic, a jihadist group with close ties to al-Qaeda, based out of East Africa and Yemen. Al-Shabaab practices a strict interpretation of shari’a law;
  • Boko Haram: a terrorist organisation in Niger, Chad and Northern Cameroon;
  • ISIS: the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/the Levant, also known as Daesh or Da’ish, an acronym of al-Dawla al-Islamiya fil Iraq wa al-Sham. In Arabic, the term Daesh sounds similar to the Arabic verb,  دعس, which means to crush, trample, or tread underfoot. However, If you have a look at Sound Vision.com, you’ll read that,

ISIS is diametrically opposed to everything he [Muhammed] taught and expected his followers to adhere to. 

ISIS does not represent Islam or Muslims.

Abdul Malik Mujahid, What would Prophet Muhammed think of ISIS?

If one wishes to become a Muslim, the shahada must be recited three times in front of witnesses. Muslims must also perform the ritual prayer known as Salah five times a day while facing Mecca (the birthplace of Muhammed located in the Sirat Mountains, Western Saudi Arabia).

The Hajj, or annual pilgrimage to Mecca, is usually carried out by two to three million Muslims. However, the Saudi Ministry of the Hajj and Umrah have announced that due to the concerns posed by COVID-19, “only 60,000 residents and citizens of Saudi Arabia will be permitted to perform Hajj” this year (2021). Just to note, the price of this obligatory pilgrimage isn’t cheap.

For instance, from America, and depending on the duration of your stay, your pilgrimage will cost between $2,499 to $12,995 USD, plus the Maulim Draft (Hajj Draft or Hajj Fee of $315 per person) and Qurbani or Zabiha (Dumm-E-Shukar fee of $175 per person). As around two million Muslims attend the Hajj per year, even if they spent the minimum amount, the national earnings from this pilgrimage is more than the annual GDP of many nations.

Muslim’s worshipping together by walking anticlockwise around the Ka’aba seven times once a year during their ‘Hajj’, or pilgrimage to Mecca. This movement is called ‘Tawaf’ in Arabic; ‘circumambulation’ English.

Indeed, We see you ˹O Prophet˺ turning your face towards heaven. Now We will make you turn towards a direction ˹of prayer˺ that will please you. So turn your face towards the Sacred Mosque ˹in Mecca˺—wherever you are, turn your faces towards it. Those who were given the Scripture certainly know this to be the truth from their Lord. And Allah is never unaware of what they do.

Al Baqarah 2: 144

Similar to the 10% (at least) offering or tithe given by Christians to their church (see Malachi 3:8-11; 2 Corinthians 9:10), Muslims must give zakat (purification, growth), a 2.5% portion of their income, to various Islamic charities that assist refugees, provide for poor people, and aid to those trapped in war zones. Not to be confused with Sadaqah, the act of giving voluntarily.

Alms-tax is only for the poor and the needy, for those employed to administer it, for those whose hearts are attracted ˹to the faith˺, for ˹freeing˺ slaves, for those in debt, for Allah’s cause, and for ˹needy˺ travellers. ˹This is˺ an obligation from Allah. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.

At-Tawbah 9:60

It’s been detailed in a US senate hearing on International Trade and Finance back in 2002, that although most of these Islamic charities and NGOs are legit, some, such as the Islamic Saudi Arabian based Al Haramain, have diverted charitable donations to terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and scores of others (see the Evolution of Islamic Terrorism).

Jesus’ warning and summary of our lesson for today:

15 Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. 16 You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.”

Matthew 7:15-20

After comparing the Allah of the Qur’an and the Yahweh of the Bible, it should be apparent that they could not be referring to the same God.

Mr. Daniel Janosik
Adjunct Faculty (Apologetics), Columbia International University

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