Is Allah God? This is one of the most often asked questions I am asked when discussing Islam with my Christian friends. And it is a question that needs to be answered carefully and correctly.
Suppose the two of us are walking down the road, and we see a man who looks like our good friend John. So we shout out, “John!” The man turns around, and we quickly notice that he is not our friend John. He has hair like John’s hair. He has many features that are just like John’s features, but it is not John.
The man turns around and says “Yes?” We say, “Oh, sorry, we thought you were John.” He says, “Yes, I am John. That is my name—you called me, right?”
The answer to that question is both yes and no. We did call his name, “John,” but in reality, he was not John. At least not the John that we know and love. So, back to the question: Is Allah God?
The Arabic word for God is “Allah.” So, if you were to attend a service of Christians living in an Arabic-speaking nation, you would hear them offering prayers to Allah. Because that is the Arabic name for God.
However, much of the time people are not asking, “Is 'Allah' the Arabic name for God?” They really want to know if the two beings are actually the same. Specifically, they want to know whether the God of Islam is the exact same god as the God of Christianity. In order to answer this, we must find out whether their attributes are exactly the same in total.
We know that there are qualities that make God Who He is. There are both moral qualities that make God Who He is, and there are amoral qualities (not having to do with morality) that make up Who He is.
Both Allah of Islam and the God of the Bible do share many of the amoral qualities that make up a divine being. For instance:
- Omniscience - both of these beings are said to know everything.
- Omnipresence - it is claimed by both that they are everywhere, at all times.
- Omnipotent – both God and Allah are said to be all-powerful beings.
So, yes—there are similar characteristics in both of these beings, which may indeed cause some to have problems in differentiating between Allah of Islam, and the God of the Bible.
However, while they do have some identical traits, they do not have all the same characteristics. One Characteristic that is not shared is the fact of the Trinity.
One glaring difference is the fact that Christians believe that there are three who possess the conditions that make up God, and yet God is actually One. Meanwhile Muslims believe that there is only one being that is God, that there is no such thing as the Holy Spirit, and that Jesus is not God.
So, from the start we see that the two beings known as “God” and “Allah” are not one and the same. For a further study on the Godhead, read the tract entitled: The Godhead.
When we dig even further in our research, we find that the moral qualities that make God Who He is are not at all consistent with the moral qualities that make up Islam's Allah.
God’s Love, or Allah’s Love?
We know that the God of the Bible loves all mankind. The Bible contains passages such as:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.(John 3:16)
The Bible makes it clear that even before man loved God, it was God that loved man first.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.(Rom. 5:8)
For a further study of Christ, read the article entitled: Christ: Our Hope
However, we find that Allah only loves those who first love him, and does not love the unbelievers.
Say [O Muhammad]: If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your faults, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Say: Obey Allah and the Apostle; but if they turn back, then surely Allah does not love the unbelievers.(Qur’an 3:31-32)
Then turn thy face straight to the right religion before there come from Allah the day which cannot be averted; on that day they shall become separated. Whoever disbelieves, he shall be responsible for his disbelief, and whoever does good, they prepare (good) for their own souls, that He may reward those who believe and do good out of His grace; surely He does not love the unbelievers.(Qur’an 30:43-45)
If these passages are true, then we learn that Allah does not love all people. His love is predicated upon whether or not a person will come to him first.
This is the opposite of the God of the Bible. Allah only loves those who first love him, while God loved us first. So, we conclude that the love of God and the love of Allah are not the same.
God’s Justice, or Allah’s Justice?
Any Bible believer quickly understands that God cannot be with sin. God hates sin (Psa. 5:4). His anger is against sin (Psa. 7:11). God cannot be with sin; it is contrary to Who He is.
Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.(Isa. 59:1-2)
Sin separates man from God.
In order for God to be just and righteous, He has to punish sin. His holiness will not allow sin to be within His presence. He, therefore, cannot just overlook sin. He cannot maintain His Justice, and at the same time just say "I forgive you" and sweep sin under the rug. He does not just pretend that sin is not sin. Sin is contrary to God, and sin must be punished.
According to the God of the Bible, the correct punishment for sin is spiritual death. We learn from Romans 6:23 that
the wages of sin is death… (Rom. 6:23). So when individuals sin, they earn for themselves spiritual death.
God also says that sacrifice is necessary for sin to be forgiven. The Old Testament is full of animal sacrifice. However, the New Testament tells us that Christ would be the one and only sacrifice that could actually take away sin (Heb. 10:1-10).
Therefore, at a certain point in time, God took on the nature of man so that he might pay the atoning price for the sin of the world. He died as a perfect and sinless man. Therefore, sinful man may be redeemed and have his fellowship with a sinless God restored. Isaiah says of the Christ:
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.(Isa 53:4-5)
Again he says:
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.(Isa 53:10:11)
What about sin and atonement in Islam? There is no real need for any atonement.
From the most reliable Islamic sources, we understand that Allah’s justice does not demand that sin be punished. Allah can simply overlook it with no type of atonement necessary.
Allah’s justice is not the same as the justice of the God we read about in the Bible. Allah’s "justice" appears to be arbitrary and does not require a sinless sacrifice at all. Instead, Muslims may simply earn their salvation by good works, or may be granted it arbitrarily. Speaking of Muslims, the Quran states:
Those are they from whom We accept the best of what they do, and overlook their evil deeds. (They are) among the owners of the Garden. This is the true promise which they were promised (in the world).(Qur'an 46:16, Pickthall)
And as for those who believe and do good works, We shall remit from them their evil deeds and shall repay them the best that they did.(Qur'an 29:7, Pickthall)
So, sin is simply "overlooked" and does not need to be atoned for, unless the payment is simply "good works."
Physical Ailments May Bring Salvation
We also learn that in Islam, Heaven is earned not only by good works, but can also be arbitrarily granted to people who have certain physical illnesses.
Sahih Al-Bukhari 5653. Narrated Anas bin Malik: I heard Allah's Messenger saying, "Allah said, 'If I deprive my slave of his two beloved things (i.e., his eyes) and he remains patient, I will let him enter Paradise in compensation for them'."
Sahih Al-Bukhari 5652. Narrated 'Ata bin An Rabah: Ibn 'Abbas said to me, "Shall I show you a woman of the people of Paradise?" I said, "Yes." He said, "This black lady came to the Prophet and said, 'I get attacks of epilepsy and my body becomes uncovered; please invoke Allah for me.' The Prophet said (to her), 'If you wish, be patient and you will have (enter) Paradise; and if you wish, I will invoke Allah to cure you.' She said, 'I will remain patient,' and added, 'but I become uncovered, so please invoke Allah for me that I may not become uncovered.' So he invoked Allah for her."
Narrated 'Ata that he had seen Umm Zufar, the tall black lady, holding the curtain of the Ka'bah.
Sahih Al-Bukhari 5647. Narrated 'AbdullAht: I visited the Prophet during his ailments and he was suffering from a high fever. I said, "You have a high fever. Is it because you will have a double reward for it?" He said, "Yes, for no Muslim is afflicted with any harm but that Allah will remove his sins as the leaves of a tree fall down."
Sahih Al-Bukhari 5640. Narrated Aishah: The wife of the Prophet Allah's Messenger said, "No calamity befalls a Muslim but that Allah expiates some of his sins because of it, even though it were the prick he receives from a thorn."
So, according to Islam, sin can simply be dismissed due to “calamity,” and sickness in this life.
Dying in Jihad Brings Salvation
Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward.(Quran 4:95)
Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord; They rejoice in the bounty provided by Allah: And with regard to those left behind, who have not yet joined them (in their bliss), the (Martyrs) glory in the fact that on them is no fear, nor have they (cause to) grieve.(Quran 3:169-170)
It has been reported on the authority of Jabir that a man said: "Messenger of Allah, where shall I be if I am killed?" He replied: "In Paradise." The man threw away the dates he had in his hand and fought until he was killed (i. e. he did not wait until he could finish the dates).(Sahih Muslim 20:4678)
The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: 'All the sins of a Shahid (martyr) are forgiven except debt.(Sahih Muslim 20:4649)
I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "The example of a Mujahid in Allah's Cause-- and Allah knows better who really strives in His Cause----is like a person who fasts and prays continuously. Allah guarantees that He will admit the Mujahid in His Cause into Paradise if he is killed, otherwise He will return him to his home safely with rewards and war booty."(Sahih Bukhari 52:46)
I asked the Prophet (peace be upon him): Who are in Paradise? He replied: "Prophets are in Paradise, martyrs are in Paradise."(Abu Dawud 14:2515)
So, we see that dying in battle supposedly allows Muslims a direct entrance into Heaven.
Jews and Christians will carry the sins of Muslims
In a rather strange view of "atonement," if it may be called that, Muslims believe that their sins will be placed upon others.
Abu Musa reported that Allah's Messenger said: When it will be the Day of Resurrection Allah would deliver to every Muslim a Jew or a Christian and say: That is your rescue from Hell-Fire.(Sahih Muslim 6665)
Allah’s Apostle said: No Muslim would die but Allah would admit in his stead a Jew or a Christian in Hell-Fire.(Sahih Muslim 6666)
Allah’s Messenger [said]: There would come people amongst the Muslims on the Day of Resurrection with as heavy sins as a mountain, and Allah would forgive them and He would place in their stead the Jews and the Christians.(Sahih Muslim 6668)
Given all of this information about the justice of God and the justice of Allah, it is evident that these two beings are not the same. The justice of Allah is not the same as the justice of God.
God’s Morality or Allah’s Morality?
Allah is said to be the greatest deceiver. While modern versions of the Quran use the wording “Allah is the best of planners,” the word that is translated "planners" here is derived from a root meaning ‘to scheme" or "to deceive." Notice:
And they (the unbelievers) planned to deceive, and Allah planned to deceive (the unbelievers), and Allah is the best of deceivers.(Qur'an 3:54)
Are they then safe from Allah's deception? No one feels safe from Allah's deception except those that shall perish.(Qur'an 7:99)
And (remember) when the unbelievers plotted deception against you (O Muhammad), to imprison you, or kill you, or expel you. They plotted deception, but Allah also plotted deception; and Allah is the best of deceivers.(Qur'an 8:30)
However, the Bible makes it clear that God cannot lie:
That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us...(Hebrews 6:18)
Notice that God cannot lie. It is against His very nature. But Allah not only deceives, but is the best of the deceivers.
It is interesting to note that while Allah is said to be the greatest of the deceivers, The Bible says Satan is the deceiver of the world, the father of lies:
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.(John 8:44, see also Rev. 12:9)
Much more could be added to these points, and many other points could be made. However, the question has been sufficiently answered. While Allah of Islam has certain attributes that coincide with the God of the Bible, when understood in their proper light, it is clear that these two beings are not one and the same.
Some say, "We will never be able to reach out to Muslims if we don’t admit that these beings are the same." However, I do not believe it is wise to compromise Truth—in fact we are commanded not to.
I trust in God’s Word. I trust that His Word is the power to save (Rom. 1:16). I truly believe that when His Word falls on sincere and honest Muslim hearts, they will hear and believe (Luke 8:12).