Is the Koran similar to the Bible?
Islam is not only Arabia's major religion, but
also the fastest growing religion in the world. In the United
States there are now over " 6 million Muslims, more than
thirty times the number of a decade ago."1 This startling
and phenomenal growth is a real challenge to Christians hoping
to bring as many as possible to Christ before the Second Coming.
Should we as Christians be concerned? How does Islam figure into
God's divine plan of the ages?
One of the most widely accepted ideas about Islam
is the belief that "Allah" is one and the same as the
God of the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Bible. But, is
it really true that "Allah" is just another name for
the Jewish or Christian God? Is the Qur'an another inspired book
which honors the revelation of what is called the Judeo-Christian
The Rise of Islam
Mohammed was born in A.D. 570 into the Arabian
tribe of Quraysh which was in control of the city of Mecca –where,
incidentally, pagans would come to worship at the Kabaah stone2.
Commonly understood to be afflicted with epileptic-type seizures,
these attacks became the means of Mohammed’s receiving visions
and dreams3. When Mohammed was forty years old, he declared that
Gabriel appeared to him in the name of Allah and commanded him
to preach a true religion. Islam, the religion he taught, means
full surrender to Allah.4 In a hard and cruel Arabian culture
saturated with laws of revenge, spirits and jinns, he taught a
righteous Allah and exhorted a better morality to the people of
Over the course of twenty-three years, these "revelations"
from Allah were written down, – first by his wife, then
by scribes—on palm-leaves and various other substances conveniently
at hand. (Eventually these were compiled into 114 Suras or chapters
with no particular chronological or subject order.) Mohammed announced
that he was the "Comforter" Jesus promised to send5
He made concessions to the Jews on celebrating the Sabbath and
selecting Jerusalem as the point of direction in prayer. Also
he appealed to them by claiming to be their Messiah. But when
the Jews would not acknowledge him as Messiah—or even a
prophet—he "retaliated with revelations in which Allah
charged the Jews with corrupting the Scriptures, killing the prophets
and rejecting messiah."6.
As the number of converts increased, however,
a fierce opposition to the new prophet arose from the chief pagan
religionists. With his persecuted followers, Mohammed fled to
Medina. Gradually Mohammed appeared in a new character –
no longer content to convert his adversaries by words or concessions…he
chose the sword. By attacking and looting caravans,7 Mohammed
established his authority in Arabia and finally returned in triumph
to rule Mecca. While claiming to restore the "primitive purity…lost
by Jews and Christians….Unlike the Jews, the pagans preferred
conversion to martyrdom."8 Within a century after the Prophet's
death, Muslim Arabs were administering an empire stretching from
southern France through North Africa and the Middle East, across
central Asia. Today the fear of the encroachment of Western society
and materialism has renewed Islamic fundamentalism causing alarm
to the West.
Who is Allah?
Many people assume that the God of the Bible and
the God of the Koran are the same God—just with different
names. However, up until the seventh century when Mohammed announced
Allah as the only one true God, "Allah" was the name
of the widely worshipped moon god throughout ancient Mesopotamia.9
This adaptation from pre-Islamic Arabia can be verified, "Allah
is found…in Arabic inscriptions prior to Islam"10 In
order to accommodate the pagan population in Arabia, he chose
Allah, the prominent moon god (who was married to the sun goddess),
from the many celestial gods. "Allah is a contraction of
al-llah, an old Kaaba god."11 It is no wonder the Arab scholar
Nazar-Ali has observed: "Islam retained many aspects of pagan
religion"12 It is "heathenism in monotheistic form."13
No wonder the crescent moon is the symbol of Islam! And no wonder
a pilgrimage to the black Kaaba stone is one of the Five Pillars
(requirements) of Islam till this day.14 Mohammed’s monotheism
was merely the declaration that Allah was the greatest god in
a pantheon of pagan gods! Although second- and third-century Christians
had incorporated some pagan notions into their belief concerning
the God of Abraham, Allah was not the further revelation of the
true God of Jews and Christians.
But are there any similar character attributes
between God Almighty of the Bible and Allah of the Koran? In the
Bible, God is distinctly presented as not only all-powerful, wise
and just, but also very loving towards mankind. In fact, He sent
His only begotten Son to die for man so that mankind can be saved
from the penalty of their sins–death. Though every chapter
of the Koran begins with the words, "In the name of God the
Compassionate, the Merciful," the terrors of hell are stressed—in
fact, seven levels of hell for the unbelievers or the wicked (Sura
3:10, 63, 131; 4:56, 115; 7:41; 8:50; 9:63, etc.)15 Who are the
unbelievers? While Jews and Christians are referred to respectfully
as the "People of the Book," because they do not accept
Mohammed, they are actually condemned. "The unbelievers among
the People of the book [Jews and Christians] and the pagans shall
burn for ever in the fire of Hell. They are the vilest of all
creatures" (Sura 93:1).
By contrast, the God of the Bible could never
have permitted a literal, burning place of torment anywhere in
His universe. Only the doctrines of men would misrepresent God's
character and promote Satan's lie, "Thou shalt not surely
die," instead of God's warning, "In the day that thou
eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 3:4; 2:17).
God's penalty for sin was death, not eternal torture. The Koran
hundreds of times threatens with hell those who reject Mohammed's
appeal. "For those who have denied and scorned Our Revelations…Hell
shall be their couch, and sheets of fire shall cover them"
(Sura 7:41). For centuries—in one form or another—man
has exploited other men with the fearful threat of hellfire. Islam,
like "Christianity," has tragically misrepresented God's
true character and plan.
Allah is not a further revelation of the God of
the Bible, but declared as the one and only greatest of the celestial
pre-Islam gods of Arabia—altogether different in person
and character from the Lord God of the Bible.
The Koran (Qur'an)
There are many correspondencies between the Bible
and the Koran (which was completed centuries later). What accounts
for these similarities is that "Mohammed had connection with
Jews and Christians of every quarter of the civilized world"16.
But the contradictions are many, such as, the Koran teaches Jesus
was not crucified and that he is not the son of God (Sura 4:156).
"Far is it removed from Allah's transcendent majesty that
He should have a son" (4:171). While Mohammed acknowledged
the Pentateuch of Moses, the Psalms of David and the Gospel of
Jesus—he taught that "because these scriptures have
suffered such corruption, they can no longer be trusted; and the
Koran now replaces them."17
In the Koran, Paradise is pictured as one vast
garden—otherwise very sensually described as providing for
each "blessed male" plenty of wine and "dark-eyed
virgins for his pleasure" (Sura 56:12-37, 56). This view
of reward to the faithful hardly compares to the Christian's hope—nor
even to a Jewish vision of a messianic kingdom on earth. It is
more likely the imagination of a seventh century Arabian culture's
polygamy. While the Koran allowed for four wives (Sura 4:3), according
to the Muslim scholar and statesman Ali Dashti, Mohammed had twenty
two.18 No problem, Mohammed had later received a special revelation
from Allah allowing for his exception (Sura 33:50). Actually,
later revelations were allowed to "abrogate" earlier
ones (Sura 2:106).
The Hebrew Scriptures elevated women (Deut 21:14-16);
the Christian Scriptures teach: "There is neither male nor
female…ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28)
While the Koran provided for certain privileges Arab women had
not enjoyed before, how much more justification does one need
for wife beating than the Koran? Sura 4:3 says, "Men have
authority over women…as for those from whom you fear disobedience…beat
them." Sadly, the record shows a consistent subjugation of
Moslem women through the centuries. Moslem women are rarely seen
in public, and if so covered completely. She would risk her life
appearing not completely covered. (Satan, it is believed, can
be seen in "a lock of woman's hair emerging from under a
headscarf" as much as in "the occupation of Palestine
by the Jews"19.)
Although many Muslims desire to live peaceable
lives, many other "Islamic Fundamentalists" draw inspiration
from the Koran, "God may know the true believers and choose
martyrs from among you…that God may test the faithful and
annihilate the infidels" (Sura 3:40,41).
The disjointed, contradictory and sensuous verses
of the Koran can hardly be compared to the progressive, orderly
harmony of the 66 books of the Bible which have one consistent
theme of salvation for all mankind.
The Sword of Islam
Jihad means "struggle"…for Islam.
This struggle exists inwardly against self, but also outwardly.
Against Arab unbelievers who did not peacefully submit, Mohammed
preached the jihad or holy war, a crusade in the name of Allah.
"The preponderant tone of the Koranic passages dealing with
unbelievers," admits one author appealing for understanding
of Islam, "is aggressive…‘Those that make war
against Allah and His apostle…shall be put to death or crucified
or have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides or be
banished from the country.’ (5:36)"20 Jesus never taught
or used physical violence to force people to believe His message
or accept Him as the Messiah. When Peter took out his sword, Jesus
told him to put it back in its sheath (Matthew 26:51-54). Alas,
Christianity through history has also used violence of every sort
on unbelievers—but its Founder never taught it. Clearly
the Koran encourages violence upon "infidels." From
Sura 48:29, "Mohammed is Allah's apostle. Those who follow
him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another."
Islam, therefore, is not compatible with Christianity
or Judaism. Allah is not the same as the God of the two Testaments
of the Bible. The Koran borrows from the Bible but at the same
time contradicts it. On the other hand, Christianity and Judaism
are harmonious and provide for a universal Kingdom. Furthermore,
those who have now rejected God and His Bible will have an opportunity
to come up to Jerusalem to "learn" of Jacob's God (Isaiah
2:1-4) and live forever in a Paradise on earth. Faithful Christians
will be "kings and priests" in heaven to bless all those
on earth—including Moslems who submit to the loving God
of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
1.Thomas W. Lippman, Understanding Islam (New
York: Meridian), 134. 2.Holy Wars, The Rise of Islamic Fundamentalism,
Dilip Hiro (New York: Routledge), 1989, 5. 3.The Story of Civilization,
Vol. IV, Will Durant (New York: Simon and Schuster) 1950, 169.
4.Ibid,161, 163. 5.McClintock & Strong, Ecclesiastical and
Biblical Cyclopedia, Vol. VI, 407. 6.The Story of Civilization,
169 7.Understanding Islam, 115. 8.Jacques Jomier, How to Understand
Islam (New York: Crossroad), 15,16. 9.The Moon-god Allah, In The
Archeology of the Middle East, Dr. Robert A. Morey, Research and
Education Foundation, 3. 10.Encyclopedia Britannica, I:643. 11.The
Story of Civilization, 184 12.Michael Nazar-Ali, Islam: A Christian
Perspective (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1983), 21 13.Augustus
H. Strong, Systematic Theology (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1976),
186. 14.John L. Esposito, Islam: the Straight Path (New York:
Oxford University Press), 1988, 93 15.The Story of Civilization,
177-179. 16.McClintock & Strong's, "Muir's Testimony,"
pp. 118, 119, 153 17.al-Maqqari, Ahmed ibn Muhammad, History of
the Mohammedan Dynasties in Spain, ii, 146. 18.Robert Morey, The
Islamic Invasion (New York: Harvest House), 85,86 19.Rah e Ma
(Our Path), Party of Allah "Theoretical Booklet," Tehran,
1982, 22,23 20.Understanding Islam, 120.