ABRAHAM WAS FATHER OF JEWS, CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS
The monotheists of the world – those who believe in one God, not many gods – are Jews, Christians and Muslims. They all have a common father, Abraham, who lived about bc 2,000. The Bible tells a lot about him (Genesis 11-25). Abraham had two sons, Isaac and Ishmael.
Ishmael became the father of the Arabs, and thus progenitor of the Muslims.
Isaac’s son, Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel) became father of the Jews (thus the Bible name ‘Children of Israel’ and ‘Israelites,’ and today simply the nation of ‘Israel’).
Christians, Jews and Muslims agree that this is the correct skeletal genealogy of our ancestors.
ISLAM RELIGION WAS FOUNDED BY MUHAMMAD
The Prophet Muhammad was born about ad 571 in the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. He was an orphan raised by a succession of relatives. A rich uncle sent him on trading excursions to the north where he met Christians. At age 25, he married a wealthy 40-year-old widow who bore him three daughters.
After marriage, he began to show mystical traits and frequently withdrew to the hills for contemplation. At age 40, he received what he believed was a revelation from God calling him to denounce the paganism and polytheism of Mecca and preach the existence of the one God, Allah. He then founded the Islam religion, incorporating many concepts from Judaism and Christianity.
Those who believe in one God and accept Muhammad as his messenger are called Muslims (meaning ‘those who submit to God’). Muslims believe that God has spoken through numerous prophets down through the centuries; the greatest being Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad.
QUR’AN IS MUSLIMS’ WORD OF GOD
Muhammad claimed to receive visions from God over a period of 22 years and these visions have been recorded in a holy book called the Qur’an (‘recitation’). The Qur’an (Koran) is the Word of God in Islam; the holy scriptures to supercede the Old and New Testaments which Muslims believe have been corrupted by Jews and Christians.
Of the 28 prophets mentioned in the Qur’an, 18 are Jewish, four are Arabian and three are Christian. Since Muhammad is the most recent, Muslims say he’s the greatest. In their view, Jesus was a great prophet, but not divine. Only Allah is divine.
The Qur’an teaches the absolute unity and power of God; the creator and controller of the universe. It forbids lying, stealing, adultery and murder. It teaches patience, kindness, courage and generosity. The main doctrines – called the five pillars of Islam – are:
- CONFESSION OF FAITH (shahada) – ‘There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Prophet of ’ One becomes a Muslim by publicly reciting this creed.
- PRAYER (salat) – Facing Mecca, Muslims should say ritual prayers at prescribed times five times daily, alone, in company, or in the mosque (equivalent to Christian church or Jewish synagogue). The congregational prayer at noon on Fridays, which usually includes a sermon, is particularly important for adult males.
- FASTING (Ramadan) – During Ramadan (ninth month of the lunar calendar), Muslims must not eat or drink, smoke or have sexual relations between dawn and sunset.
- ALMSGIVING (zakat) – Muslims must give 2 1/2% of their income and certain kinds of property to charity.
- PILGRIMAGE (hajj) – If he can afford it, every Muslim is required once in his lifetime to worship at the Ka’aba, Islam’s most holy shrine in Mecca.
ALLAH CANNOT BE KNOWN PERSONALLY
Muslims believe Allah’s transcendence is so great that he’s not personally knowable.
He’s capricious because both good and evil come from him. Whatever Allah decrees is right and this makes any standard of righteousness difficult to discern. Even though Allah is said to be loving, this attribute is almost ignored, and his stern justice is overriding.
Salvation is never certain since it’s based on a works system and on complete surrender to the will of Allah. At the day of resurrection and judgment, those who have obeyed Allah and Muhammad will go to an Islamic heaven, called Paradise; a place of sensual pleasure. Those who have not obeyed will be tormented in hell.
MUSLIMS MISUNDERSTAND CHRISTIANS
Muslims are forbidden to investigate Christianity. This causes many social and political tensions.
Due largely to a misunderstanding of the trinity, most Muslims think Christians have three Gods: a father, a son and a spirit. (And some think a fourth, the virgin Mary.) This idea is very repugnant to Muslims, who have unyielding belief in ONE GOD and who fight (Jihad, holy war) against polytheistic ‘infidels’ in order to protect Allah’s honor.
The Apostles’ Creed, a traditional statement of Christian faith, illustrates how the beliefs of Christians and Muslims are in essential agreement on many major points. Muslims reject those affirmations which are crossed out and accept the rest:
‘I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth: and in Jesus Christ, His only son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.
‘He descended to hell; on the third day rose again from the dead, ascended to heaven, sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty, thence will come to judge the living and the dead.
‘I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the remission of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.’
Qur’an I 1:
Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Creation, the Compassionate, the Merciful, King of Judgment-day. You alone we worship, and to You alone we pray for help. Guide us to the straight path, the path of those whom You have favored, not of those who have incurred Your wrath, nor of those who have gone astray.
Qur’an IV 135:
O believers, believe in God and His Messenger and the Book He has sent down on His Messenger and the Book which He sent down before. Whoso disbelieves in God and His angels and His Books, and His Messengers, and the Last Day, has surely gone astray into far error.