Exploring Islam 06
6. Allah versus God - The Oneness of Allah
Welcome to ‘Exploring Islam’. We are now starting to look at some of the beliefs of Islam and see how they are similar or different to those of Christianity. For this session we shall examine the concept of Allah, which is simply the Arabic word for God and existed before Islam. These words are the same linguistically, but what about the characteristics behind them between the Islamic Allah and the Christian God?
No description of Allah would be complete without emphasising the oneness of his being. His superiority in all things immediately sets himself as unique. Qur’an 112 – ‘Say: He is Allah, the One! Allah, the Eternally Implored by all! He begets not nor was begotten. And there is none comparable to him.’
There are also verses which specifically assert that Allah is different from the Trinitarian view of God in Christianity, which Islam understands as being in fact three gods not one. Quran 4:171b – ‘So – believe in Allah and his messengers, and say not “Three” – Cease! (It is) better for you! – Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from his Transcendent Majesty that he should have a son.’
When Muhammad was first proclaiming these verses, which would later become the Qur’an, he was attempting to move the Arab people away from polytheism, the belief and practice in worshipping many gods. In conjunction with his understanding that Christians had corrupted their message from Allah given by the Islamic prophet Jesus to include Jesus’ divinity, it is understandable that there was a real need for an explicit difference to be made with the Islamic perspective of Allah.
For Christianity, the concept of God is inseparably bound to the term ‘Trinity’, that of God the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. To believe in such a doctrine is for a Muslim to commit one of the worst sins defined as shirk, to associate anything else to the one and only Allah. This primary difference in belief between these religions centered on the person of Jesus Christ can act as one of the tallest barriers preventing useful religious discussion, and ultimately for a Muslim to convert to Christianity.