Many people today in an attempt to promote unity and tolerance between all three monotheistic religions claim that the god of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity is the same god but is called by different names by each group. Islam uses the name Allah, Judaism uses the name Jehovah, and Christianity uses the name Jesus to identify their god. Some even claim that Judaism is preceded by Islam just as Christianity is preceded by Judaism and that each of these three groups shares in common its ancestry.
I will not attempt to address every possible question that could be associated with this topic but only some of the more pertinent issues in hopes of sheading some light on this complex dilemma. Who is Allah? Was Allah the Biblical God or a pagan god in Arabia during pre-Islamic times? We can speculate about the past or we can look at what historical writings and archaeological evidence reveals. Biblical theological conclusions will also be addressed.
The God of the Bible did not come into being as He is eternal and has always existed. In the first book of the Bible, Genesis chapter 1 records how He created the universe, including the sun, moon, and stars. He created the earth’s atmosphere, land, and water. He created all the animals and the first man and woman who He named Adam and Eve. After sin entered the world as recorded in Genesis chapter 3, mankind began a wholesale rebellion against God and by chapter 6 mankind was so corrupt as a whole that God destroyed the whole world with a global flood. Only eight people out of several billion were preserved in an ark and lived through the flood in order to re-populate the earth. When these eight people who were the only people alive on planet earth stepped from the ark, everyone on planet earth possessed the knowledge of God. But as you can guess, as children were born and families developed, many chose to reject the knowledge of God and the worship of God. Since humans are designed with an innate desire to worship something, most created gods for themselves and then worshipped images of created things.
Archaeologists have uncovered temples to the moon-god throughout the Middle East, from the mountains of Turkey to the banks of the Nile. The most wide-spread religion of the ancient world was the worship of the moon-god Allah. In the first literate civilization, the Sumerians have left us thousands of clay tablets in which they described their religious beliefs. The crescent moon symbolized the cult of this pagan deity who was worshipped throughout Mesopotamia, by the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Akkadians.
Throughout Genesis chapters 12-17 of the Bible, is the historical record of Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac. Abraham lived in the Ur of the Chaldeans which is modern-day Iraq. Abraham, his father, and his ancestors have a long and documented history of worshipping Allah the moon-god. In the Biblical account, God speaks to Abraham:
Genesis 12:1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household to the land that I will show you. 12:2 Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, so that you will exemplify divine blessing. 12:3 I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse, and all the families of the earth will bless one another by your name.” 12:4 So Abram left, just as the Lord had told him to do, and Lot went with him. (Now Abram was 75 years old when he departed from Haran.)
God led Abraham to the land of Canaan which includes modern-day Israel.
In Genesis chapter 15, God makes a covenant with Abraham to confirm the land promise and all that God had promised to Abraham and his descendants. God promised to give Abraham a son who would be his heir and who would have many descendants. After waiting ten years for his wife Sarai to conceive, Sarai suggested that Abraham should take her maidservant Hagar in an attempt of have a son with her, which Abraham did. Happy wife, happy life, right? Well, Sarai wasn’t so happy once she found out that Hagar was pregnant with Abraham’s child. Genesis chapter 16 records the following:
Then Sarai treated Hagar harshly, so she ran away from Sarai. 16:7 The Lord’s angel found Hagar near a spring of water in the desert – the spring that is along the road to Shur. 16:8 He said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” She replied, “I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai.” 16:9 Then the Lord’s angel said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her authority. 16:10 I will greatly multiply your descendants,” the Lord’s angel added, “so that they will be too numerous to count.” 16:11 Then the Lord’s angel said to her, “You are now pregnant and are about to give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard your painful groans. 16:12 He will be a wild donkey of a man. He will be hostile to everyone, and everyone will be hostile to him. He will live away from his brothers.”
16:15 So Hagar gave birth to Abram’s son, whom Abram named Ishmael. 16:16 (Now Abram was 86 years old when Hagar gave birth to Ishmael.)
God promised to take care of Hagar, Ishmael, and his descendants but look at what God says in chapter 17. In verse 2, God confirms that covenant that He had made with Abraham concerning his heir and the heir’s descendants by providing him the son of promise. This means that Ishmael was not the son of promise and that God’s covenant that He made with Abraham concerning the land that God promised, the blessing that God promised, the son that God promised, and the descendants that God promised would all be fulfilled not through Ishmael, but through the son to come. This covenant between Abraham, the son of promise, and his descendant is “everlasting” according to the following verses.
17:7 I will confirm my covenant as a perpetual covenant between me and you. It will extend to your descendants after you throughout their generations. I will be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 17:8 I will give the whole land of Canaan – the land where you are now residing – to you and your descendants after you as a permanent possession. I will be their God.”
God is confirming the fact that He has called out from among the pagan world around him a man (Abraham), provided a son (Isaac) to that 100-year-old man and his 90-year-old wife that would eventually produce what is known as the nation of Israel, and that this covenant will not be revoked.
17:19 God said, “No, Sarah your wife is going to bear you a son, and you will name him Isaac. I will confirm my covenant with him as a perpetual covenant for his descendants after him. 17:20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you. I will indeed bless him, make him fruitful, and give him a multitude of descendants. He will become the father of twelve princes; I will make him into a great nation. 17:21 But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this set time next year.”
It should be clear from these verses that God blessed Ishmael from which the Arabs have descended, but God’s covenant and his promises are to Isaac and his descendants, Jacob and the twelve tribes of Israel. One of the twelve tribes is the tribe of Judah. Judah means “praise.” Judah is where that name “Jew” came. Let me make clear that Arabs came from Ishmael. Not all Arabs are Muslims. Some Arabs are Christians.
Muhammad did not live until some 2500 years after Abraham. So Islam did not precede Judaism but Allah did. However, Allah being the moon-god was preceded by the God of the Bible since He is eternal and created the moon that represents Allah. Muhammad was raised in the religion of the moon-god Allah, but went one step further than his fellow pagan Arabs. While they believed that Allah was the greatest of all gods and the supreme deity in a pantheon of deities, Muhammad decided that Allah was not only the greatest god but the only god.
So does Allah share historical commonality with the God of the Bible? Yes, but Allah is viewed as a pagan deity in the Biblical record and the archaeological record, and is not an extension of revelation from the God of the Bible. The Old Testament of the Bible constantly rebuked the worship of the moon-god (Deuteronomy 4:19; 17:3; 2 Kings 21:3, 5; 23:5; Jeremiah 8:2; 19:13; Zephaniah 1:5, etc.). When the nation of Israel fell into idolatry, it was usually the cult of the moon-good. As a matter of fact, everywhere in the ancient world, the symbol of the crescent moon can be found on seal impressions, pottery, amulets, clay tablets, cylinders, weights, earrings, necklaces, wall murals, etc.
Around 1445 BC, or 450 years after Abraham, God set the nation of Israel free from Egyptian bondage. He used a man named to Moses to lead them across the desert to the land that God had promised them. God makes another covenant with Moses on behalf of the nation of Israel as recorded in Exodus chapter 9:
3 And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”
God once again set this nation apart from every other nation and every other so-called god. He gave Moses a constitution for this new nation that is referred to in the Bible is the “Law” or the “Mosaic Law.” This “Law” was not ever given to anyone other than the nation of Israel, the Jews. Within this Law, God set up a temporary sacrificial system to “atone for” or “cover” the sins of the people of Israel until “Messiah” could come to “take away” or “remove” sin permanently. The Mosaic system was to be followed to the letter of the law until Messiah came to offer His blood as the permanent sacrifice for all sin for all time.
Hebrews 10:1 For the law possesses a shadow of the good things to come but not the reality itself, and is therefore completely unable, by the same sacrifices offered continually, year after year, to perfect those who come to worship. 10:2 For otherwise would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers would have been purified once for all and so have no further consciousness of sin? 10:3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year after year. 10:4 For the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins. 10:5 So when he came into the world, he said, “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me. 10:6 “Whole burnt offerings and sin-offerings you took no delight in. 10:7 “Then I said, ‘Here I am I have come – it is written of me in the scroll of the book – to do your will, O God.’” 10:8 When he says above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sin-offeringsyou did not desire nor did you take delight in them” (which are offered according to the law), 10:9 then he says, “Here I am: I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first to establish the second. 10:10 By his will we have been made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 10:11 And every priest stands day after day serving and offering the same sacrifices again and again – sacrifices that can never take away sins. 10:12 But when this priest had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, he sat down at the right hand of God, 10:13 where he is now waiting until his enemies are made a footstool for his feet. 10:14 For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy. 10:15 And the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us, for after saying, 10:16 “This is the covenant that I will establish with them after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws on their hearts and I will inscribe them on their minds,” 10:17 then he says, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no longer.” 10:18 Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
This is one of the major differences between Judaism and Christianity. Orthodox Judaism is still practicing the Mosaic Law and looking for Messiah to come. Christianity believes that Jesus is Messiah and that the Mosaic Law and its sacrificial system and rituals are now obsolete since they have been fulfilled by Jesus Messiah. The God of Christianity is none other than Jesus Christ Himself who is seen as God in human flesh. The book of Colossians explains this phenomenon:
1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, 1:16 for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him – all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers – all things were created through him and for him. 1:17 He himself is before all things and all things are held together in him. 1:18 He is the head of the body, the church, as well as the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead, so that he himself may become first in all things. 1:19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son 1:20 and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross – through him, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
One can discover even more of the nature of Yahweh, the God of Judaism and the Old Testament, through the revelation of Jesus.
Hebrews 1:1 After God spoke long ago in various portions and in various ways to our ancestors through the prophets, 1:2 in these last days he has spoken to us in a son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he created the world. 1:3 The Son is the radiance of his glory and the representation of his essence, and he sustains all things by his powerful word, and so when he had accomplished cleansing for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Yahweh, the God of Judaism and Jesus, the God of Christianity are completely compatible in every way. Jesus is the completion or fulfillment of what Yahweh promised in the Old Testament concerning sin and forgiveness. Yahweh, the God of the Bible, is NOT Allah the god of the Koran. There are fundamental differences between Yahweh and Allah in terms of personal attributes, theology, morals, ethics, soteriology, eschatology, theocracy, and in almost every other aspect. The claim that Allah is the God of the Bible and that Islam arose from the religion of the prophets and apostles is refuted by solid, overwhelming archeological and historical evidence. Islam is nothing more than a revival of the ancient moon-god cult. It has taken the symbols, rites, ceremonies, and its name from the ancient pagan religion of the moon-god. It is sheer idolatry and should be rejected by all those who follow the Torah of Judaism and/or Jesus Christ.
When God led the nation of Israel out of Egyptian bondage and gave them what is known as the “Ten Commandments”, the first two commandments speak to the fact that Yahweh is the one true God and will tolerate no worship of other gods.
Exodus 20: God spoke all these words: 2 “I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you from the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is on the earth beneath or that is in the water below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children to the third and fourth generations of those who reject me, 6 and showing covenant faithfulness to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
The worship of Allah in the form of “carved images or likeness” is considered idol worship by Yahweh. Jesus makes a similar claim in John 14:6
Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Since Allah and the God of the Bible are not the same god in any form or fashion, to worship both is to be polytheistic, which undermines the most basic aspect of Christianity. Christianity at its core is trusting Jesus alone. Trusting in “karma”, “being a good person”, “keeping the Ten Commandments”, “trying hard”, “feeling sorry for sins”, “hoping that things will turn out well”, “going to church”, “tithing or giving money”, “helping the poor”, “being tolerant of everyone”, or anything or anyone other than Jesus alone will not make you right with God or reserve a place in heaven for you. There are NOT many ways to God with different labels and practices from different cultures or belief systems. Jesus is the only way, or He is no way. If He is correct in who He is, what He did, and what He taught, then all other ways to God are incorrect. It is your decision what you believe.