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The God of Muslims and Christians!

Introduction:

The 9/11 has further widened the gulf between the followers of two main faiths of the world. Although Islam like Christianity or any other religion has nothing to do with the acts of few desperate heretics [takfiri in this case] using terror and violence as a tool to achieve their political objectives under the garb of religion. However now a days it is trendy to claim that the God of Muslims is different to the God of Christians. The rhetoric of the myth gave a tacitly playful acknowledgement of the existence of two Gods, but the question was understood as not asking about the existence of two actual Gods, but whether or not Christians and Muslims were imagining the same being; the entity who would be the one true God. But it is not that simple either, because one may say that he believes in the one true God, who happens to be a wrestling with some one, or walking. One may talk of the “one true God” and mean the same thing as others think as far as the term itself goes, but it does not highlight the characteristics of God, which they would not agree on. Hence the question should not be phrased causally as; “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?” (as we can agree there could only be one God), but instead: “Do Christians and Muslims perceive a God with either identical or similar enough characteristics to be called the same Being?”

Perceptions:

Generally people tend to relegate the divine to an object of speculation due to their knowledge based upon intellect and common sensual perceptions. Generally people have no doubts about anything that they can perceive through their senses, which is accepted as the fundamental truth. However, if one is in the desert at noon and see a lake in the distance, but only finds sand when reaches that area, what appeared to be a lake turned out to be mirage. Likewise if a pencil is placed in a glass of water it will look as if it is broken, though in actual fact it is not. In a late night gathering, if the people start discussing about the supernatural-ghosts, while traveling back home, many get so carried away that they feel as if a ghost or demon is following them, whereas in reality it is just an illusion. A magician will produce strange objects which seem to be real, even though they are not. Hence human senses can be deceptive, but does this mean that people should doubt the existence of something they can feel? Quite the reverse because if they doubt what they see, hear and feel, there will be a conflict between fact and fantasy that will eventually drive them nuts. But another condition may be added here about obtaining knowledge – meaning, certainty regarding the existence of what is sensed. The mind may misjudge something the first time it perceives it. For example, it may think a mirage is a lake, but the second time it sees it will not make the mistake. Similarly it will soon realize that even though the pencil on the glass of water looks broken, in fact it is not. The various ways in which the senses delude us are limited and easy to recognize. This includes the tricks that magicians perform and the circus activities.

Any theological exposition which carries the idea of God, somewhat frivolously, reshaping God as an object to be discussed, is against God’s transcendence [beyond the ordinary range of human perception]. It must be appreciated that such approach may lead to erroneous conclusions. Consequently when people articulate God in such a manner, they do not speak of God, but of an idol, with what ever ‘name’ they choose. However much one may wish to accurately know of God, the divine is something that cannot be comprehended by humans in totality due to limitations of human perception, but allegory makes the incomprehensible as comprehensible. Thus many people may perceive God, in their own way depending upon his [or her] level of intellect, perceptions and knowledge, though openly may be claiming to follow a specific creed. Thus the question as to who is right and who is wrong depends upon the parameters and perceptions.

Defining God & Attributes:

“Hence, do not coin any similitude for God! Verily, God knows [all], whereas you have no [real] knowledge.”[Qur’an;16:74]

Since “definition” is, in the last resort, equivalent to a delimitation of the qualities of the object thus to be defined in relation to, or in comparison with, another object or objects: God, however, is “sublimely exalted above anything that men may devise by way of definition “Do not blaspheme against God by regarding anyone or anything as comparable with Him, or by trying to define Him in any terms whatsoever”

“And yet, some [people] have come to attribute to all manner of invisible beings a place side by side with God -although it is He who has created them [all]; and in their ignorance they have invented for Him sons and daughters! Limitless is He is His glory, and sublimely exalted above anything that men may devise by way of definition:”[Qur’an:6:100]

Utterly remote is He from all imperfection and from the incompleteness which is implied in the concept of having progeny. The very concept of “definition” implies the possibility of a comparison or correlation of an object with other objects; God, however, is unique, there being “nothing like unto Him” (Qur’an;42:11) and, therefore, “nothing that could be compared with Him” (Qur’an;112:4) – with the result that any attempt at defining Him or His “attributes” is a logical impossibility and, from the ethical point of view, a sin. The fact that He is undefinable makes it clear that the “attributes” (sifat) of God mentioned in the Qur’an do not circumscribe His reality but, rather, the perceptible effect of His activity on and within the universe created by Him. [Excerpts; ‘The Message of Qur’an’ by Muhammad Asad]

Do all Christians believe in Jesus to be God?

It is generally thought that all true Christians believe in Jesus to be God. This statement has inherent contradiction, who will define the term “True Christian”? All the Christian’s groups/ sects claim that only their belief is the ‘true’ one, others are false. Let us analyze if all the Christians hold exactly the same concept of God:

  1. The present popular Christian concept of God was not known to the early followers of Jesus Christ who, continued to worship the God of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses in the Jewish temple, like Jesus Christ. Hence the concept of God of early Christians is similar to the Jews and Muslims but it differs with the present day Christians raising the question as to who the true Christians are?
  2. The concept of God held by Prosperity Gospel Pentecostals differ greatly from that held by double-predestinarian Calvinists.
  3. The concept of God held by a pacifist Mennonite differ greatly from the concept held by a pro-war believer in Manifest Destiny.
  4. The concept of God of Unitarians differs from the Protestants and Catholics.
  5. Many prominent Christian figures hold divergent concepts of about God, like Mother Teresa’s [a Roman Catholic] concept of God differ from Jerry Falwell’s [A Fundamentalist evangelist founder of Group known as the ‘Moral Majority’].

Obviously there are significant differences among Christian groups, so significant that some Christians deny that other Christians are truly Christians.

Commonalties:

No rational person, well versed with the history can dispute that the three claimants of monotheistic faith, trace ancestry to a singular God of Abraham, however it can certainly be debated whether or not the God perceived and represented by each has markedly different characteristics. It is no secret that Islam, Christianity & Judaism have common roots. Hence the God depicted by each is so remarkably similar.

If Christians differ so greatly from one another in their perceptions [concepts] of God, then the Muslims and Christians may also have noteworthy differences as well. Yet, they have important concepts in common – for example:

a)      They claim to believe in the same God that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, the prophets and Jesus believed and followed.

b)      The knowledge gained through study of history of religions reveal that that both depictions of the God evolved from earlier concepts of God, that El became Eloh’im who is called YHVH in the Bible, and Allah in the Qur’an.

c)      In each case the God has commanded war and peace at varying times.

d)      In each case, the God is on the side of the oppressed, Who holds those who hoard resources with fiery contempt.

e)      Each is depicted as a God who saves men by his Grace but will one day judge man by his works and come down to reign on the earth.

f)        It cannot be denied that the God as mentioned in the Qur’an and the God of the existing Bible display differing characteristics at some places. But if the temptation to force the Old and New Testaments into a seamless theology is resisted, it would be found that the God of the OT and God in the NT have differing characteristics as well.

  • The New Testament God is also referred as the ‘God of our fathers..’ [Acts 3:13 and 5:30] and the ‘God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob..'[Acts;3:13] (these are common Old Testament usages). Acts;7:2 He is referred to as the ‘God of glory.’ In Luke 1:32, 35 and 76 He is referred to as ‘the Highest.’ Luke;1:68 terms Him ‘the Lord God of Israel’.
  • “He hath ordained for you that religion which He commended unto Noah, and that which We inspire in thee (Muhammad), and that which We commended unto Abraham and Moses and Jesus, saying: Establish the religion, and be not divided therein. Dreadful for the idolaters is that unto which thou callest them. Allah chooseth for Himself whom He will, and guideth unto Himself him who turneth (toward Him). And they were not divided until after the knowledge came unto them, through rivalry among themselves; and had it not been for a Word that had already gone forth from thy Lord for an appointed term, it surely had been judged between them. And those who were made to inherit the Scripture after them are verily in hopeless doubt concerning it. Unto this, then, summon (O Muhammad). And be thou upright as thou art commanded, and follow not their lusts, but say: I believe in whatever Scripture Allah hath sent down, and I am commanded to be just among you. Allah is our Lord and your Lord. Unto us our works and unto you your works; no argument between us and you. Allah will bring us together, and unto Him is the journeying.”(Qur’an;42:13-15).

a)   They believe God is Omnipotent, All-Merciful, and without any imperfection. [Qur’an;6:18, 6:54 & 85:14, 36:82  Psalms;139:7, Isaiah;40:28, Exodus;34:6-7, Psalms;119:64, Ephesians;2:4, 2 Samuel;7:22 ].

b)   Most of the Christians today believe that God is revealed most fully and gloriously in a crucified person [Jesus], while the Muslims [like early Christians] believe that it is beyond the human vision to perceive Him [Qur’an;6:103, also John;1:18, 1Timothy;6:16, Exodus;33:20].  God is not a ‘being’ like any creatures or thing known to human. Hence the God can be comprehended through ‘His works’ or ‘signs’. The God in Abrahamic faiths is Supreme, Creator and Sustainer Who created the universe and all the creatures. Muslims believe that God is revealed gloriously through the Signs [ayahs] of His existence manifest through the last inspired book [Qur’an] as well in the existence of human self, the cosmos and all other signs in His Creations [Qur’an;10:6, 2:164, 30:20, 39:59, 1:101, 12:105, 4:174-175 and many more]. (Some Christians seem to have a concept closer to Islam’s, substituting the Bible for the Quran.) So there are commonalities and divergence.

Is the God mentioned in the Qur’an and the Bible different? Certainly, at least as much as the God in the Old Testament and New Testament are different. This is to say, both texts try to describe the same God, but have attribute to him differences. So how big of a difference does there have to be, before one may call these different Gods?

1        Many make a great deal of the difference of Trinity, although then we must also say that Judaism worships a different God from Christians as well.

2        Moreover any sect of Christianity that rejects the concept of Trinity, as well as many or most Christians before the 4th century C.E creeds, do not worship the same God either.

3        There is the difference of the Christ, but even this is not so clear as it seems to appear. It is no secret to historians that it took several hundred years for the idea of Christ’s coequal status with God-Father to become orthodoxy (a la filioque).

4        Just as Christ is one of greatest prophets and a Messiah in Islam, Christ was no more than a Messiah (and not coequal with God) to many Christians in the pre-creedal centuries (and many continue this line of thought even today).

The Christians have to closely look in to many aspects, which need serious consideration:

1)      At what point does the line of exclusion should be drawn at fellow Christians in the same way Christians exclude the Muslim for differing beliefs?

2)      What about particular atonement models which many Protestants unknowingly hold on to and decide who is a “True Christian” or not?

3)      What about differing concepts of afterlife?

4)      Differences on Resurrection?

5)      Differences on Virgin Birth?

6)      Differences in how to view inspiration?

7)      Differences in predestination and God’s determinism?

Pervasive Myth of Orthodoxy

These are some of the glaring differences which have evolved into creed-level fundamentals over time for some Christian or another (or Muslim), but there is a pervasive myth of orthodoxy within the Church that undermines the key point here. That is to say, every Christian wants to believe that he believes the same as the early followers of Christ did, but this myth of consistency and orthodoxy across churches in the beginning betrays in itself an ignorance of history.

1)      At what point do the Christians consider the other an other because his God is too other?

2)      At what point rather than looking for insight, merely looking for a reason to label a Christian as liberal or unorthodox, or a Muslim an extremist, misogynist, and racist in a violent religion?

Choosing to use rhetoric that encourages the idea that the other is a follower of another God and not my God gives approval that the other; Is pagan, ignorant, not righteous hence will lose in the end to the true God. However these aspects do not make rhetorical or physical violence easier to justify. Based upon their intellect, instincts, knowledge and personal experience, individuals may formulate their own “inner concept of God”. So the issue becomes meaningless.

The Name of God:

Let us first find out what the name means: A name is a word or group of words used to refer to an individual entity (real or imaginary); the name singles out this entity by directly pointing to it, not by specifying it as a member of a class. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the term “common name” is sometimes used roughly as the equivalent of “noun”; the concern in this treatment is with what is more specifically a “proper noun,” or “proper name,” although a wholly logical distinction has never been established between the two classes. For instance, it is possible to refer to the same entity, in this case a river, in two distinct ways:

(1)       “The Colorado is a beautiful river,” and

(2)       “The river that flows through Austin is beautiful.”

Because there is only one river that flows through Austin, Texas, the subject of sentence (2) is unambiguously identified, and the reference of the sentence is fully individual. The subject of sentence (2), however, is not a name but rather a nominal (noun) phrase that specifies one member of the whole class of rivers by indicating a unique property of it. The word Colorado in sentence (1), on the other hand, is a name, because it directly points to the specific river. The fact that there is more than one river called Colorado, and that more specific information is sometimes needed to identify the one being discussed (e.g., “I prefer the Texan Colorado to the California one”), does not change the status of “Colorado” as a name, because each of the two rivers is referred to in the way required by the definition.

Now let us consider the English word ‘God’, the name given to the Single, Unique, Supreme deity, the Creator and Cherisher of all which exists in the entire universe.  The study of history of religions reveal that that depictions of the God evolved from earlier concepts of God, that El became Eloh’im who is called YHVH in the Bible, and Allah in the Qur’an.

False Deities are nothing but mere Empty Names:

It is said that a ‘rose’ may be called by any name, it will remain ‘rose’ and its fragrance will not change with the change of name. Similarly if an idol is given the name of god, it will not become god, it will remain what it is. Qur’an mentions:

“Is, then, HE who has every living being in His almighty care, [dealing with each] according to what it deserves – [is, then, He like anything else that exists]? And yet, they ascribe to other beings a share in God’s divinity! Say: “Give them any name [you please]: but do you [really think that you could] inform Him of anything on earth that He does not know – or [do you] but play with words? “Nay, goodly seems their false imagery to those who are bent on denying the truth, and so they are turned away from the [right] path: and he whom God lets go astray can never find any guide”.(Qur’an; 13:33)

Most of the commentators explain this phrase as an expression of utter contempt for those allegedly “divine” beings: i.e., “they are so unreal and meaningless as not to deserve even a name”. It is also conceivable that we have here an echo of the statement, to be found in Qur’an;7:71, 12:40 and 53:23, to the effect that those false objects of worship are but “[empty] names which you [disbelievers] have invented”:

The various names of God among Hebrews represent God as he is known, as well as the divine aspects which are attributed to him. The numerous names of God have been a source of debate amongst biblical scholars. The researcher of Pentateuch [first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures] have discovered two types of scripts by ‘P’ [Priestly] writers. The ancient sources call one as ‘J’ [because the writer called the divine as Jehovah] and the second ‘E’ [as the author preferred more traditional name of God, ‘Eloh’im’]. ‘J’ and ‘E’ scripts differ in some aspects, ‘J’ describes God as anthropoid, walking in the garden of Eden like a ruler, enjoying the breeze, after the floods smelled a sweet odor of burnt offering by Noah, while Abraham sees Him as a guest in his tent [Genesis;3:8-9, 6:6, 8:21, 18:1-5].  But in the script of ‘E’ God is more of supernatural. He does not appear before men rather sends His angel as messenger. ‘E’ was sure that Moses seeing God in the burning bush was a new stage of manifestation by Eloh’im. Moses asked His name, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob called Him El, Jehovah said “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh”     [I Am That I Am] [Exodux;3:13-15]. “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shall you say unto the children of Israel, I AM has sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shall you say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me unto you: this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.”[Exodus;3:14-15]

This complex sentence [I Am That I Am] was a Hebrew idiom meaning “Whom ever I Am,” or “mind your own business”. In the primitive world, knowing some one’s name was synonymous to gaining control over him. God could not be subdued in this way. In medieval times, God was sometimes called The Seven. Among the ancient Hebrews, the seven names for the Deity over which the scribes had to exercise particular care were: Eloah, Elohim, Adonai, Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh, YHWH (i.e. Yahweh), Shaddai, Zebaot.

Brief Description of Names of God & His Titles in Bible:

Monotheism has been clearly emphasized in Bible, the verse from the book of Deuteronomy contains an exhortation from Moses (peace be upon him):”Shama Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adna Ikhad“. It is a Hebrew quotation which means: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord”(Deuteronomy;6:4, Isaiah;43:11, 45:5,46:9). Jesus (peace be upon him) also said: “Shama Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adna Ikhad ”[“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord”](Mark;12:29), “..There is none good but one, that is, God..”(Mathew;19:17).  Qur’an says: “Your God is one God; there is no one worthy of worship except Him, the Compassionate, the Merciful.” (Qur’an;2:163). The monotheism in Islam is called Tawhid in Arabic; Allah, the One and Only God. Allah says:, “Say: He is Allah the One and Only; God the Eternal, the Uncaused Cause of All Being ; He begets not, and neither is He begotten; And there is nothing that can be  compared with Him.”(Qur’an;112:1-4). Attributes of Allah has been mentioned at many places in Qur’an some references are Qur’an; 2:255, 59:22-24, 42:11-12, 11:6, 6:59, 31:34, 4:164, 7:143, 31:27, 6:115, 4:87, 2:133). Similarly according to Bible, God says: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:” “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.”(Exodus; 3:15, 20:3-5, Deuteronomy 5:7-9, 1Timothy;2:5). God has been addressed with different names in Bible, the most prominent one are mentioned below:

  • “ELOHIM” (or Elohay) is the first name for God found in the Bible, and it’s used throughout the Old Testament over 2,300 times. Elohim comes from the Hebrew root meaning “strength” or “power”, and has the unusual characteristic of being plural in form. In Genesis 1:1, we read, “In the beginning Elohim created the heaven and the earth.” Right from the start, this plural form for the name of God is used to describe the One God, a mystery that is uncovered throughout the rest of the Bible. Throughout scripture, Elohim is combined with other words to describe certain characteristics of God. Some examples: Elohay Kedem – God of the Beginning: (Deuteronomy 33:27). Elohay Mishpat – God of Justice: (Isaiah 30:18). Elohay Selichot – God of Forgiveness: (Nehemiah 9:17). Elohay Marom – God of Heights: (Micah 6:6). Elohay Mikarov – God Who Is Near: (Jeremiah 23:23). Elohay Mauzi – God of My Strength: (Psalm 43:2).Elohay Tehilati – God of My Praise: (Psalm 109:1). Elohay Yishi – God Of My Salvation: (Psalm 18:47, 25:5). Elohim Kedoshim – Holy God: (Leviticus 19:2, Joshua 24:19). Elohim Chaiyim – Living God: (Jeremiah 10:10). Elohay Elohim – God of Gods: (Deuteronomy;10:17).
  • “EL” is another name used for God in the Bible, showing up about 200 times in the Old Testament. El is the simple form arising from Elohim, and is often combined with other words for descriptive emphasis. Some examples: El HaNe’eman – The Faithful God: (Deuteronomy 7:9). El HaGadol – The Great God: (Deuteronomy 10:17). El HaKadosh – The Holy God: (Isaiah 5:16). El Yisrael – The God Of Israel: (Psalm 68:35). El HaShamayim – The God Of The Heavens: (Psalm 136:26). El De’ot – The God Of Knowledge: (1 Samuel 2:3). El Emet – The God Of Truth: (Psalm 31:6). El Yeshuati – The God Of My Salvation: (Isaiah 12:2). El Elyon – The Most High God: (Genesis 14:18). Immanu El – God Is With Us: (Isaiah 7:14). El Olam – The God Of Eternity (Genesis 21:33). El Echad – The One God: (Malachi 2:10).  “Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us?” [Malachi;2:10]
  • “ELAH” is another name for God, used about 70 times in the Old Testament. It is very similar to Arabic “Allah” or ‘Eelah’.  Elahh [hla]’ (Aramaic; el-aw’): corresponding to God. In Hebrew [hwla] ‘elowahh el-o’-ah; probably prolonged (emphat.) from [la]’el ale; a deity or the Deity:–God, god. Again, when combined with other words, we see different attributes of God. Some examples: Elah Yerush’lem – God of Jerusalem: (Ezra;7:19), Elah Yisrael – God of Israel: (Ezra;5:1), Elah Sh’maya – God of Heaven:(Ezra 7:23). Elah Sh’maya V’Arah – God of Heaven and Earth: (Ezra;5:11).
  • “YHVH” is the Hebrew word that translates as “LORD”. Found more often in the Old Testament than any other name for God (approximately 7,000 times), the title is also referred to as the “Tetragrammaton” meaning the “The Four Letters”. YHVH comes from the Hebrew verb “to be” and is the special name that God revealed to Moses at the burning bush. “And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM; and He said, thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you… this is My eternal name, and this is how I am to be recalled for all generations'” (Exodus;3:14-15). Therefore, YHVH declares God’s absolute being – the source of everything, without beginning and without end. Although some pronounce YHVH as “Jehovah” or “Yaweh,” scholars really don’t know the proper pronunciation. The Jews stopped pronouncing this name by about 200 A.D., out of fear of breaking the commandment “You shall not take the name of YHVH your God in vain” (Exodus;20:7). (Today’s rabbis typically use “Adonai” in place of YHVH.) Here are some examples of YHVH used in scripture: YHVH Elohim – LORD God: (Genesis;2:4). YHVH M’kadesh – The LORD Who Makes Holy: (Ezekiel;37:28). YHVH Yireh – The LORD Who Sees/provides: (Genesis;22:14). YHVH Nissi – The LORD My Banner: (Exodus;17:15). YHVH Shalom – The LORD of Peace: (Judges;6:24). YHVH Tzidkaynu – The LORD Our Righteousness: (Jeremiah;33:16). YHVH O’saynu – The LORD our Maker:(Psalm;95:6).

Since the Christians initially had the Old Testament scriptures as their ‘Bible’ and frequently quoted from it in the New Testament, some of the names for God carry over into the New. Most frequently simply the term God is used. Jesus in referring to God calls Him Father [metaphorically, being the Creator and Sustainer, not biologically]. The New Testament in completion of the Old adds the revelation of Jesus Christ as being a name for God, as one of the divine persons in the trinity. The Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost is considered to be fully equal as such being part of the three persons.

‘Jesus’ is the Greek form of the Hebrew human name ‘Joshua’:

Word ‘Jesus’ has never been used as name of God, it is a later development after Jesus. According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary; ‘Jesus’ is the name derived form the Hebrew ewvwhy Yahowshuwa` [yeh-ho-shoo’-ah or Yhowshua {yeh-ho-shoo’-ah}; Jehovah-saved; Jehoshua (i.e. Joshua)], the name of a Jewish leader: also spelled as –Jehoshua, Jehoshuah, Joshua. It became Jesus in Greek [from IhsouV : Iesous (ee-ay-sooce’) ].  Hence ‘Jesus’ is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua, which was originally Hoshea [Oshea evwh](Numbers;13:8,16), but changed by Moses into Jehoshua (Numbers;13:16; 1Chronicles;7:27), or Joshua. After the Exile it assumed the form ‘Jeshua’, whence the Greek form Jesus. “And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he said, I came down from heaven?” [John;6:42]

Names of God: The Lord Revealed in YHVH is the Lord Revealed in Yeshua (Jesus)?

The Christians claim and believe that the LORD who revealed Himself as YHVH in the Old Testament is revealed as Yeshua (Jesus) in the New Testament. They take support from John;8:56-9, where Jesus presents himself as the “I AM.” When challenged by some Jewish leaders regarding His claim of seeing Abraham (who lived some 2000 years earlier), Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was  I AM.” [Obviously from ‘I Am’ here Jesus meant that ‘I Am’ (The God) existed before Abraham (‘I Am’is the name of God revealed to Moses, Exodus;3:14-15, also explained above). If Jesus would have said; “I am (me) is ‘I Am’(God) who existed even before Abraham”, then one may interpret it to mean that Jesus was claiming Divinity. But Jesus said; “..before Abraham was  I AM” which simply means that, God (I Am)  existed even before Abraham, who knows and told him (Jesus). Earlier it is mentioned that; “Jesus answered, If I honor myself, my honor is nothing: it is my Father that honors me; of whom you say, that he is your God:”[John;8:54]. The Jewish leaders were looking for an excuse to ridicule Jesus so they seem to have deliberately misinterpreted.

God can also be called with other beautiful names suitable to His attributes: “He is Allah! There is no deity worthy of worship except Him! To Him belong the most beautiful Names [attributes of perfection].”(Qur’an;20:8). Islamic traditions mention ninety nine (number not fixed) names of Allah like;  Ar-Rahman (The Merciful), Al- Hayy (The Ever Living), Al-Qayum (The Self-Subsistent). Ar-Rahman (The Merciful), is the most recited name of God by the Muslims, because they start every good work small or big, by stating: “In the name of Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful”. Hence  Ar-Rahman (The Merciful) is the one of the most common attributable name of Allah [God]. Some people get embroiled in to the names and attributes of God, by perceiving Him like a human or any other creature, such an approach leads to nowhere. They forget that God is Unique and there in none like Him.(Qur’an;112:4, Exodus;9:14; Deutronomy;33:26; 2Sameul;7:22; Isaiah;46:5,9). This simply lead the Pope to accept the reality.

Pope Declares that Allah and Jehovah are the names of same God.

In his weekly general audience in late May of 1999, Pope John Paul II addressed Muslims in a series discussing “inter-religious dialog.” He quotes from the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church n. 841 which states, “… together with us they (Muslims) adore the one, merciful, God.” The Pope and many other religious leaders today, who are being wooed into the ecumenical movement, are accepting the idea that the God of the Koran and the God of the Bible are one and the same. [Issue Date: January/February 2000]

The Devil [Satan]- Cannot be Equated with God:

People devoid of rational arguments in desperation accuse that the Muslims have been deceived by Satan, who presented himself as God. This is not a new accusation; the non believers even during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) resorted to such asinine slander. Due to utter ignorance they do not realize that Satan [Devil] has been cursed in Qur’an repeatedly. How can the writer of a book can curse himself? The Muslims are commanded to start the recitation of Qur’an and other noble works by praying to seek Allah’s refuge against the mischief of Satan, the cursed one”[Qur’an;16:98, 41:36]. Any one can read the Qur’an, no where Qur’an appreciates the Satan [devil or evil], rather devil is condemned and rejected with full harshness:

“Did I not charge you, O ye sons of Adam, that ye worship not the devil Lo! he is your open foe! ”[Qur’an;36:60]

“O believers! Do not follow the footsteps of Satan: because anyone who follows the footsteps of Satan is seduced by him to commit acts of indecency and wickedness. If there had not been the grace and mercy of Allah upon you, none of you would have ever been purified from that sin, for it is Allah Alone Who purifies whom He pleases, and Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. ”[Qur’an;24:217]

“Nor is this [Qur’an] the utterance of a devil worthy to be stoned”[Qur’an;81:25]

“And We have guarded it from every outcast devil”[Qur’an;15:17]

All the emphasis is on believe in One Supreme God, His messengers, revealed books, the Day of Judgment and performance of good deeds. Hence the hollow statement is rejected in totality. Satan is just one of creatures, while endeavouring to lead men astray, Satan never claims to be God’s “equal” (Qur’an;7:20, where he speaks of God, to Adam and Eve, as “your Sustainer”, or Qur’an;15:36 and 39, where he addresses Him as “my Sustainer”, or Qur’an;8:48 and 59:16, where he says, “behold, I fear God”) but, rather, tries to make men’s sinful doings “seem goodly to them” (Qur’an;6:43, 8:48, 16:63, 27:24, 29:38), i.e., persuades them that it is morally justifiable to follow one’s fancies and selfish desires without any restraint. But while Satan himself does not make any claim to equality with God, the sinner who submits to Satan’s blandishments attributes to him thereby, as it were, “a share in God’s divinity”.

“And when everything will have been decided, Satan will say: “Behold, God promised you something that was bound to come true! I, too, held out [all manner of] promises to you – but I deceived you. Yet I had no power at all over you: I but called you – and you responded unto me. Hence, blame not me, but blame yourselves. It is not for me to respond to your cries, nor for you to respond to mine: for, behold, I have [always] refused to admit that there was any truth in your erstwhile belief that I had a share in God’s divinity.”(Qur’an;14:22)

It must be stressed, in this connection, that the Qura’nic expression Shaytan is [also] often used as a metaphor for every human impulse that is intrinsically immoral and, therefore, contrary to man’s best – i.e., spiritual – interests. In his commentary on this passage, Razi remarks: “This verse shows that the real Satan (ash-shaytan al-asli) is [man’s own] complex of desires (an-nafs): for, Satan makes it clear [in the above] that it was only by means of insinuations ‘(waswasah) that he was able to reach [the sinner’s soul]; and had it not been for an already-existing [evil] disposition due to lusts, anger, superstition or fanciful ideas, these [satanic] insinuations would have had no effect whatsoever.”

The images below except the first image, are taken directly from The Holy Bible in Arabic [al-Kitâb al-Muqadis] which is used by Arabic-speaking 15 to 20 million Christians in the Middle East. The first image below is a verse from the Qur’ân – which is the Muslim scripture. In the images, the Arabic word Allah is underlined in red so that it can be easily identified. Upon comparing the images, one should be able to clearly see that the word Allah appears in both the Qur’ânic and Arabic Bible images. Indeed, the word Allah appears throughout Arabic translations of the Bible, since it is simply the Arabic name for Almighty God. It will help quell the doubts of those who have been duped into believing that Muslims worship a different God – either by the hostile media or by Christian missionary propaganda.

Allah Bible-2

Conclusion:

The Muslims doubtlessly believe in One Supreme God, the God of universe, the humanity, the God worshiped by Prophet Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad [peace be upon them all]. Most of the learned Christians like Pope John Paul II and others also believe that the God of Muslims and Christians is the same. While there are many common perceptions, there are differences as well. The most significant being the concept of Trinity, which is also not unequivocally supported even by the Bible, hence many among the early Christians and many even now remain opposed to it. If there are differences among the Christians about perception of God, but they remain Christians, then what is the logic for undue criticism of Muslims with almost identical perceptions. Effort should be made to narrow down the differences to find common ground for the peace.

“Say: “O followers of earlier revelation! Come unto that tenet which we and you hold in common: that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall not ascribe divinity to aught beside Him, and that we shall not take human beings for our lords beside God.” And if they turn away, then say: “Bear witness that it is we who have surrendered ourselves unto Him.”[Qur’an;3:64]

_________________________________________________

References:

The Message of Qur’an by Muhammad Asad.

‘The Creator’ by Aftab Ahmad khan

‘Islam-introduction’ by Sheikh Ali Tantawi

‘The History of God’ by Karen Armstrong.

‘The Great Transformation’ by Karen Armstrong.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_God_in_Judaism

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=52&letter=N

http://www.mrwebauthor.com/mrmrswebauthor/names/

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_are_the_New_Testament_names_for_God

http://www.allaboutgod.com/names-of-god.htm

http://taddelay.wordpress.com/2009/10/15/do-christians-and-muslims-believe-in-the-same-god/

http://healtheland.wordpress.com/2007/11/13/fundamentalist-christianity-101-muslims-and-christians-do-not-worship-the-same-god/

http://www.brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/q-r-hell-etc.html#more

http://wp.me/pCgrB-ge

http://taddelay.wordpress.com/2009/10/15/do-christians-and-muslims-believe-in-the-same-god/

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Sources/Allah/BibAllah.html

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