Islam and Christianity: A Revealing Contrast
By James F. Gauss
(Excerpt from Islam and Christianity: A Revealing Contrast)
Muslims claim that Allah is their god, but Jesus said: “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me” (John 8:42, NKJV). The Islamic faith, because it is not a covenant faith with Jehovah God, cannot accept Jesus as the Son of God and therefore denies the existence of God the Father.
Followers of Islam are taught through their holy book, the Qur’an, to persecute and kill the infidels or non-believers (principally Christians and Jews). While they accept Jesus as a prophet to the Jews, they are taught to despise and hate all followers of Christ and Jehovah God. The question is: If Muslims accept Christ as a prophet of Allah as they claim, then why is it that Jesus, His teachings and His followers are not welcome in any Muslim circle?
Yet, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6, NKJV).
The Apostle John, who was the only one to use the term “antichrist” in the Bible, made it abundantly clear that, “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:22-23, NKJV).
In his second letter, John continues this theme by stating: “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. . . . Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds” (2 John 7, 9-11, NKJV).
Muhammad, as many before him and after Jesus, definitely brought forth a new and dramatically divergent doctrine or “gospel” than that which was preached by Jesus and His apostles. It was a doctrine that so conflicted with Judaism and Christianity that early converts could only be won over by the threat of the sword.
Birth of Muhammad and Islam
The Prophet of Islam or The Apostle, as Muhammad is called, was born in AD 571 (some sources use 570). His father, Abdullah, died before Muhammad’s birth and his mother, Amina, died in 577 when he was only six. Muhammad then stayed with his grandfather until he died two years later. Muhammad was then raised by his uncle, Abu Talib. (1)
“The evidence that a prophet was active among the Arabs in the early decades of the seventh century,” wrote Patricia Crone, professor of Islamic history at Princeton University, “must be said to be exceptionally good.” (2)
“Everything else about Muhammad,” Crone continued, “is more uncertain. . . we can be reasonably sure that the Qur’an is a collection of utterances that he made in the belief that they had been revealed to him by God.”
In 586, at the age of fifteen or sixteen, Muhammad participated in the war of Fijar between the Arabian tribes of Hawazin and Quraish (or Quraysh). Although not a combatant, he had the responsibility of recovering the enemy’s arrows for his Quraish uncle. (3, 4)
When he was in his early twenties, Muhammad had the good fortune of being introduced to the wealthy Hadrat Khadija. Muhammad took on the responsibility of managing her prosperous trade caravan. A year later, in 595, although Khadija was fifteen years his senior, Muhammad took her as his first wife. He would live with her monogamously for twenty-five years until her death in 619. (5)
For someone sent by God, Muhammad seemed uncertain of his status. “Say: I am not the first of the apostles, and I do not know what will be done with me or with you: I do not follow anything but that which is revealed to me, and I am nothing but a plain warner.” (surah 46:9)
In 610, when he was around forty years old, Muhammad had his first “revelation” from the angel Gabriel in a cave on Mt. Hira. His experience is recounted in the writings of the eighth century Muslim, Ibn Ishaq, in his Sirat Rasul Allah:
When it was the night on which God honored him with his mission, and showed mercy on His servants thereby, Gabriel brought him the command of God. “He came to me,” said the Apostle, “while I was asleep, with a piece of brocade whereon was writing, and said ‘Recite!’ and I said ‘What shall I recite?’ He pressed me with it so tightly that I thought it was death; then he let me go and said ‘Recite!’ I said ‘But what shall I read?’ – And this I said only to deliver myself from him lest he should do the same to me again, but he said:
‘Recite: In the Name of thy Lord who created,
Created man from blood clotted,
Recite! Thy Lord is the most beneficent,
who taught by the Pen,
Taught that which they knew not unto men.’
“So I recited it, and he departed from me. And I awoke from my sleep, and it was as though these words were written on my heart.
“Now none of God’s creatures was more hateful to me than an (ecstatic) poet or a man possessed; I could not even bear to look at them. I thought, ‘Woe is me – poet or possessed. Never shall Quraysh [Muhammad’s pagan Arabian tribe in Mecca] say that of me! I will go to the top of the mountain and throw myself down that I may kill myself and gain rest.’ I raised my head towards heaven to see, and lo! Gabriel in the form of a man, with feet astride the horizon, saying, ‘O Muhammad! Thou art the Apostle of God, and I am Gabriel.’ I stood gazing at him, moving neither forward nor backward; then I began to turn my face away from him, but towards whatever region of the sky I looked, I saw him as before.
“I continued standing there, neither advancing nor turning back, until Khadija sent her messengers in search of me . . . .” (6, 7)
If it is to be accepted that the above account of Muhammad’s first revelation is true, then there are several problems with it. Ibn Ishaq’s recounting of Muhammad’s experience was written more than a century and a half after the visitation of Gabriel. According to the Muslim Sacred Texts web site, “[Ibn Ishaq’s] original work survived only in quotations from it by other authors . . . However, it has been possible for modern scholars to re-establish much of the original text.” (8) The question must be asked: How does one re-establish the original text if the original text was lost? Can one rely on the quotations of others passed down through the centuries as being accurate and true to the original?
Translations of the Bible do not try to recreate text from some Scripture that was lost, but only from known and preserved manuscripts, some of which have authenticated multiple and identical copies.
While there are many accounts in the Bible of God sending angels to bring a message to mankind, God always chose to speak directly with His chosen prophets (as recorded in the Old Testament). The prophets in turn always referred to God as the author of their spoken words. Muhammad is the first (of the class of prophets that he put himself in – Moses, David, Isaiah, et al) that proclaimed his prophetic words came from an angel – and one that he first thought was demonic.
“Muhammad’s doubts are troubling,” wrote Mark Gabriel, “for what major prophet doubts the source of his prophetic revelation? . . . Certainly no major prophet in the Bible attributes God’s revelation to demons, as Muhammad believed . . . .” (9)
After this visitation, Muhammad thought he had been visited by Satan and that he was possessed by a demon (10), so much so, that he wanted to commit suicide. He thought he was crazy and wanted to die. Not a very fitting beginning for a prophet who later became convinced that he was chosen as Allah’s last and most important prophet. It was only after he returned from Mt. Hira to the waiting arms of his wife, Khadija, that his demeanor changed. When he saw her, he said, “Woe is me – a poet, or a man possessed!” Khadija reassured him with these words: “Rejoice, O son of my uncle, and be of good heart! Verily by Him in whose hand is Khadija’s soul, I have hope that thou wilt be the prophet of these people.” (11) Muhammad did not receive words of reassurance from Allah but from a woman. He considered Khadija’s words to be a reliable confirmation of the visitation and his calling, even though later revelations from Allah disclosed that women were only half as intelligent as men and could not be relied upon because they were often deceivers.
In hadith 3:826, Muhammad is quoted as saying, “’Isn’t the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?’ The woman said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘This is because of the deficiency of a woman’s mind.’” If this was Muhammad’s opinion of the mental capacity of women and, according to the traditions of Islam, he only spoke that which was revealed to him by Allah, then how could he trust the witness of a woman who was not even present during his visitation?
Another difficulty with this story are the words attributed to Gabriel in which he said that man was created from a blood clot and that God taught man by the pen. Gabriel’s creation account contradicts the biblical account which states, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (Genesis 2:7, NKJV).”
While the written word of God has been essential in spreading God’s truth over the centuries, it was first the spoken word that the prophets received from God to warn and teach the faithful and the unbelievers. And, while Muhammad declared he proclaimed God’s Word, Jesus was God’s Word. “In the beginning was the Word,” John’s Gospel offers, “and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4).
The words of God, according to Jesus, are not presented to man by the angels, by mere mortal men (such as Muhammad), or even by sacred writ, but by the Holy Spirit of God himself. “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit,” Jesus told His disciples, “whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you. (John 16:13-15)
Throughout human history and in current times God has sent angels to bring a message to His people or to provide protection. However, God’s primary method of communication is through the revelation-knowledge of the Holy Spirit.
However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him [Isaiah 64:4]” – but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment:
“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him [Isaiah 40:13]?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:9-16)
This dubious beginning for Muhammad’s prophethood was further complicated by what followed or did not follow. Unlike the prophets of old where God revealed His Word to them on a regular basis, Allah did not reveal himself again to Muhammad through Gabriel for three years. Once again Muhammad became depressed and suicidal. As he received revelations in the years following, his wives believed the visions were authentic because Muhammad would frequently go into trances or convulsions (12) – a state of being that Jesus attributed to demon possession. (See Matthew 12:22; 17:14-18.)
Unlike Moses and other prophets before him, Muhammad never had a personal encounter with the god of his affections. “Narrated Aisha: ‘Whoever claimed that (the Prophet) Muhammad saw his Lord, is committing a great fault, for he only saw Gabriel in his genuine shape in which he was created covering the whole horizon (hadith 4:457).’”
At one point Muhammad even claimed to have communicated with the dead (13) and on numerous occasions changed Allah’s revelations to suit himself. (14) Jesus also spoke to the dead, but He did so because He had power over death as demonstrated in the resurrection of Lazarus. (See John 11.)
In AD 613, Muhammad began to preach the tenets of Islam in Mecca. The word Islam means submission to Allah. To be a Muslim is to be one who is completely submitted to Islam or Allah; to be a slave of Allah. Almost from the very beginning of this new faith, “The goal of Islam [wa]s to produce a theocracy with Allah as the ruler of society, a society with no separation between religion and the state. This society would have no democracy, no free will and no freedom of expression (15).”
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1. Caner, Ergun Mehmet and Emir Fethi Caner. Unveiling Islam, 2002. Kregel Publications, div. of Kregel. Inc., p. 40.
2. Crone, Patricia. What Do We Actually Know About Mohammed? Open Democracy, August 31, 2006. Http://www.openDemocracy.net. Accessed June 2, 2007.
3. Islamic History (Chronology). Http://www.barkati.net/English/chronology. Htm. Accessed January 30, 2007.
4. Before and After Conversion to Islam. Http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/ Articles/companion/01_abu_bakr.htm. Accessed February 1, 2007.
5. Caner & Caner, p. 40-41.
6. Muhammad the Messenger. Http://www.sacred-texts.com/isl/isl/isl11.htm Accessed February 19, 2007.
7. Wood, David. A Bewitched Prophet? Examining Muhammad’s Psychological and Spiritual Stability. Http://answering-islam.de/Main//Authors/Wood/bewitched_ prophet.htm. Accessed February 19, 2007.
8. Muhammad the Messenger.
9. Gabriel, Mark A. Islam and Terrorism, 2002. Published by FrontLine, a Strang Company, Lake Mary, Florida, p. 42.
11. Muhammad the Messenger.
12. Caner & Caner, p. 44.
13. Ibid, p. 44.
14. Ibid, p.45.
15. Safa, Reza F. Inside Islam: Exposing and Reaching the World of Islam, 1996. Charisma House, Lake mary, FL., p.19.
Dr. James F. Gauss has worked with and researched the Muslim faith and the Muslim culture in America for the past five years. Dr. Gauss has 40 years of writing and speaking experience, as well as numerous radio and television appearances. He has written hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines, and has published seven Christian books. He has taught and preached on biblical principles for thirty years. More from Dr. James Gauss' Blog
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