Understanding Islam’s Religion and Doctrine

  Our BreakPoint editor, Jim Tonkowich, met with a Muslim friend just after Ramadan, the month in which Muslims are obliged to fast daily from sunrise to sunset. Jim asked, "Do you feel closer to God after the fast?" His friend laughed. "That's not a Muslim question," he replied, "That's a question Christians ask. God is to be obeyed because he is God." This interchange highlights critical differences between what Christians believe and what Muslims believe. The first difference has to do with God. Christians understand their relationship with God as between a loving Father and his children. The Church is called the bride of Christ who Christ loves and for whom he died. The picture expressed in the Bible and in Christian hymnody and spiritual writings is one of intimacy, warmth -- even passion -- between a loving God and his redeemed people. And our God reveals himself as one God in three Persons -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is love and intimacy within the Godhead before he created anything. Allah, the Arabic word meaning "the God," is never understood in this way. Allah is removed, aloof, and distant. He is a god of justice, not a god of love. His revelation is primarily a revelation of his will. While Islam lists the Old and New Testaments among the scriptures, from its point of view, Christians believe in three gods because we believe that God is Trinity. Muslims believe that Allah's will has been revealed through prophets. Their list of prophets includes Moses and Jesus, but they believe that the greatest prophet was Muhammad. Muhammad had visions in which he claimed the angel Gabriel appeared to him and revealed Allah's will. The record of these visions is the Qur'an that can be seen as the constitution of Islam. The Shari'a or Islamic law, applies the Qur'an to every aspect of life and gives Islam its sociopolitical and geopolitical agenda. All of Islam is upheld by the "Five Pillars of Islam" to which every Muslim is to submit. These are: the belief that there is no god except the one god, Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet; prayer five times each day; giving to the poor; the yearly fast of Ramadan; and, if possible, a pilgrimage to Mecca, the Arabian city were Muhammad first established Islam in A.D. 622. Four of the pillars revolve around the Islamic doctrine of man. Muslims believe that children are born sinless and Muslim and are subsequently led astray. Guidance in the form of the Islamic law is necessary to live a life pleasing to Allah who, after death, will judge each person by weighing the good done against sins. Salvation is not necessary since all people have in themselves the ability to obey. Entry into heaven is a matter of submission and personal effort -- no assurance, by the way. This is easiest, of course, in an Islamic state that enforces Islamic law. To judge by some of what I've heard in the past few weeks, you'd think Islam was little more than a variation of Christianity and Judaism. Not so. Islam's ideas about God, humanity, and salvation are vastly different from the biblical doctrines. And ideas -- I'll never get tired of saying -- have consequences.


Chuck Colson



  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary