Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Sermon Illustrations and Examples Comparing Christianity and Islam

This article provides Christian leaders with information about Islam that can be used as illustrations and examples in teaching and discipleship ministries. For example, when teaching about salvation, you can illustrate how not all religions have God acting to save you by quoting this verse from the Qur’an and Hadith.

Say, “I [Muhammad] am not something new among the messengers, and I do not know what will be done with me or with you. I only follow what is revealed to me. I am only a warner.” (Qur’an 46:9)

Allah's Apostle said [at a funeral], “As for him, by Allah, death has come to him. By Allah, I wish him all good. By Allah, in spite of the fact that I am Allah's Apostle, I do not know what Allah will do to me.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 7003; vol 9, bk 87, no 131)

If Muhammad did not know what would happen to him then no Muslim can know what Allah will do with them (apart from the Jihadist martyr). Allah has done nothing to save you in Islam. However, Christians can know where we stand with God because of the finished work of Jesus.

Why include references to Islam in your teaching?

  • Islam is a major worldview and Muslim populations are growing in most countries.
  • Islam is very active in teaching a false Gospel and we need to inform, warn, and protect Christians from this.
  • Islam is a mystery to many Christians and they do not know how to respond to it and what to say to their children.
  • Islam forces us to be clear on the Trinity, Incarnation, church history, which is a good thing.
  • Islam has been, and is, responsible for a significant amount of suffering of our Christian brothers and sisters.

I hope this article gives you ideas for how to demonstrate the uniqueness of Jesus and the Bible, and encourage your congregation to engage with their Muslim friends.

TOPICS

  • Comparing the Bible and Qur’an as whole books
  • Jesus and Muhammad
  • Yahweh and Allah
  • Temple
  • Worship
  • Trinity
  • Incarnation
  • Sin and human nature
  • Judgement
  • Salvation
  • David and Bathsheba, Muhammad and Zaynab
  • Mary/Miriam
  • Idolatry
  • Other resources

COMPARING THE BIBLE AND QUR’AN AS WHOLE BOOKS

Showing the difference between the Bible and Qur’an is a great illustration of how amazing the Bible is. The Bible is not one book but a collection of many books from many prophets. However, the Qur’an only has what Muhammad said. It does not contain Genesis or Isaiah or any of the books of the prophets. It is just what Muhammad said. Muslims do not believe the prophets, they believe what Muhammad says about the prophets. Islam says to Christians, “Do not read the prophets yourself, let Muhammad tell you what they mean.” Imagine if someone came into church and said, "Do not read the Bible, I will tell you what it means." How would you respond? This is what Muhammad does. Isn’t it good that we read all of the prophets!

JESUS AND MUHAMMAD

When teaching about the sinless life of Jesus you may like to demonstrate that Muhammad does not claim this for himself. Jesus perfects humanity not Muhammad.

So know [O Muhammad] that there is no god except Allah, and ask forgiveness for your sin and for believing men and believing women. (Qur'an 47:19)

Jesus cast out unclean spirits and Christians are not to fear the spiritual realm. However, Muhammad was subject to evil spirits and Muslims today are to fear them because if Muhammad could be affected, how much more a common Muslim.

Narrated Aisha: Magic was worked on the Prophet so that he began to fancy (imagine) that he was doing a thing which he was not actually doing. (Sahih al-Bukhari 3268; vol 4, bk 54, no 490)

Narrated Anas: Whenever the Prophet went to the toilet, he used to say, O Allah, I seek refuge with You from all offensive and wicked things (evil deeds and evil spirits)." (Sahih al-Bukhari 142; vol 1, bk 4, no 144)

Jesus called God father while Muhammad said we can only be slaves. Muslims do not call God father.

It is not fitting for the Merciful (Allah) to take to himself a son. There is none in the heavens and the earth who will not come to the Merciful except as a slave. (Qur’an 19:92-93 and 5:18)

Jesus knew where he was going but Muhammad did not.

Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going.” (John 8:14)

Say, “I am not something new among the messengers, and I do not know what will be done with me or with you. I only follow what is revealed to me. I am only a warner.” (Qur’an 46:9)

Allah's Apostle said [at a funeral], “As for him, by Allah, death has come to him. By Allah, I wish him all good. By Allah, in spite of the fact that I am Allah's Apostle, I do not know what Allah will do to me.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 7003; vol 9, bk 87, no 131)

The cross. It is commonly believed that the Qur’an denies the crucifixion of Jesus. I do not hold this view as explained in the, Crucifixion training video.

Jesus’ great commission was the preaching of the Gospel and discipleship of all nations. Muhammad’s great commission was the military conquest of those who did not accept him. Jesus sent out missionaries. Muhammad sent out Jihadists.

Fight those who believe not in God and the Last Day and do not forbid what God and His Messenger [Muhammad] have forbidden - such men as practise not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book [Christians and Jews] - until they pay the tribute [the terms of surrender] out of hand and have been humbled. The Jews say, 'Ezra is the Son of God'; the Christians say, 'The Messiah is the Son of God.' That is the utterance of their mouths, conforming with the unbelievers before them. God assail them! How they are perverted! ... It is He who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that He may uplift it above every religion. (Qur’an 9:29-33)

Narrated Jubair bin Haiya: 'Umar sent the Muslims to the great countries to fight the pagans. When Al-Hurmuzan embraced Islam, 'Umar said to him. "I would like to consult you regarding these countries which I intend to invade." ... [we say to these countries] Our Prophet, the Messenger of our Lord, has ordered us to fight you till you worship Allah alone or give Jizya (i.e. tribute). (Sahih al-Bukhari 3159, 3160; vol 4, bk 53, no 386)

YAHWEH AND ALLAH

Deuteronomy 18:20 indicates that speaking in the correct name of God is important. The word for god in the Old Testament is elohim. The name of God in the Bible is Yahweh. The word for god in the Qur’an is ilah. The name of God in the Qur’an is Allah. Islam replaces the name Yahweh with Allah. Muhammad did not speak in the name of Yahweh but Allah.

TEMPLE

There is a lot of space given in the Bible to the tabernacle/temple, however, the Qur’an has no temple theology. That is, no concept of God coming to dwell with his people, no idea of a priesthood to mediate between a holy God and a sinful people, no idea of a sacrifice of atonement to turn aside God’s wrath. Highlighting these difference shows the beauty of what the temple achieves.

Temple training video

WORSHIP

In Christianity, we are dead in our sins and unable to worship God. We are saved so that we can worship God forever. In the Bible, the New Creation is described in temple language and for the worship of God. In Islam, it is the opposite. You are capable of worshiping God now, and if you do you will be rewarded in paradise where worship is no longer required. The descriptions of paradise in the Qur’an do include the virgins (Q56:36), but more importantly, there is no worship in Islamic paradise. Paradise is the place of reward. See Qur’an 56:1-56. Here is a Muslim discussing it. Therefore, when teaching about worship you can point out that not all religions view worship the same.

Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? No one worships God. We are all dead in our sins. Jesus is the only true worshiper who has given the Father the perfect worship. Our worship is only acceptable through Jesus.

TRINITY

Like Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims reject the Trinity. However, if you reject the Trinity you still have to define the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Father is God, the Son is the angel Michael, and the Holy Spirit is a force. This does not work. Hebrews 1 and Colossians 2:18 say Jesus is not an angel, and the Holy Spirit intercedes for us to the Father so is not a force. For Islam, God is not Father, Jesus is just a man, and the Holy Spirit is the angel Gabriel. Again, this doesn’t work because in the Qur’an Allah breathes his Spirit into Adam and Mary (Q21:91) which means God breathes an angel into Adam and Mary. Gabriel becomes the breath of life. Therefore, when teaching on the Trinity you can encourage your congregation by showing that the Trinity is the only solution that is true to Scripture.

Secondly, there is no problem with the Trinity and there is no need to appeal to mystery. God is a higher-order personal being. God’s being and person are not limited by time and space. God is different to us. The reason Muslims have a problem with the Trinity is that they use logic derived from their own experience of existence to decide what is logical about God. They use what is true of a human to say what is logical about God. You cannot use yourself as the basis to say what God must be like. You cannot use yourself as a model for God. God is a higher-order personal being.

Trinity training video

INCARNATION

When teaching the Incarnation it can be helpful to refer to Islam to clarify what we believe. Muslims are taught that the Incarnation means God changed his nature and became a man. This is not what we believe. We believe the divine Son added to his person a human nature. Jesus has two natures: one divine and one human. His divine nature did not change. As an act of grace, not necessity, the Son added to his person a human nature to bring humanity into the presence of his Father. Explaining the Islamic misunderstanding helps to clarify the work of Jesus.

Islamic theology's anti-Incarnational stance locks the creator out of his creation, something which the Qur'an and Hadith do not do.

[Some] faces, that Day, will be radiant, looking at their Lord. (Qur'an 75:22-23)

And your Lord comes with the angels, row upon row. (Qur'an 89:22, 2:210)

Narrated Abu Sa'id Al-Khudri: We said, "O Allah's Apostle! Shall we see our Lord on the Day of Resurrection?" He said, "Do you have any difficulty in seeing the sun and the moon when the sky is clear?" We said, "No." He said, "So you will have no difficulty in seeing your Lord on that Day as you have no difficulty in seeing the sun and the moon (in a clear sky)." [...] Then the Almighty will come to them in a shape other than the one which they saw the first time, and He will say, 'I am your Lord.' (Sahih al-Bukhari 7439; vol 9, bk 93, no 532s)

Incarnation training video

SIN AND HUMAN AND NATURE

In Islamic theology everyone is born pure and the aim of life to keep or regain a certain level of purity. Different Muslims achieve different levels of purity, and like being on a ladder, different levels of nearness to God. Sin makes you go down the ladder, good deeds take you up.

Do you reckon giving water to the pilgrim and visiting the Sacred Mosque [in Mecca] to be the same as those who believe in God and the Last Day and strive [Arabic: Jihad] in God’s way. They are not equal in God’s view. (Qur’an 9:19-20)

Those of the believers who sit still, other than those who are suffering some injury, are not on an equal footing with those who strive [Jihad] in God’s way with their possessions and their persons. God gives preference in rank to those who strive [Jihad] with their possessions and their persons [placing them] above those who sit still. God has promised each the fairest reward, but he bestows a mighty way on those who strive, in preference to those who sit still: Degrees of rank from Him and mercy and forgiveness. God is Forgiving and Compassionate. (Qur’an 4:95-96)

See how We prefer some of them over others; and the world to come is greater in degrees and greater in preferment. (Qur’an 17:21)

In Christianity we think of everyone at the same level, all sinners, coming to the Father equally through Jesus. The Islamic understanding inevitably leads to comparing yourself to others.

Second, according to Islam, the problem is not with human nature but with the system. Islam wants to change the system. We need a change of system not nature, and Islam is the perfect religious system. All other religious systems have been corrupted.

Third, sin is not a major problem before God as this hadith shows.

Abu Ayyub Ansari reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: If you were not to commit sins, Allah would have swept you out of existence and would have replaced you by another people who have committed sin, and then asked forgiveness from Allah, and He would have granted them pardon. (Sahih Muslim 2748-2749; bk 37, no 6621-6622)

JUDGEMENT

Islam denies the saving work of Jesus on the cross, however, it still needs to give an explanation for how God deals with sin. The Qur'an teaches that on Judgement Day our good and bad deeds will be weighed in the balance.

Then those whose scales are heavy, they are the successful. And those whose scales are light are those who lose their souls, in hell abiding. (Qur'an 23:102-103)

God may help Muslims by overlooking their bad deeds and multiplying their good deeds by a random amount so that their scales will have more good deeds.

Lo! Allah wrongs not even of the weight of an ant; and if there is a good deed, He will double it and will give (the doer) from His presence an immense reward. (Qur’an 4:40)

Whoever brings a good deed will receive tenfold the like thereof, while whoever brings an ill-deed will be awarded but the like thereof; and they will not be wronged. (Qur'an 6:160)

Those are they from whom We accept the best of what they do, and overlook their evil deeds. (They are) among the owners of the Garden. This is the true promise which they were promised (in the world). (Qur'an 46:16)

Therefore, the Qur'an does not teach that God simply forgives our sins. Instead it says that he will show favoritism to Muslims in judgement. He will multiply their good deeds and ignore their bad deeds; he will have mercy without justice. In the cross we see the mercy and justice of God come together.

SALVATION

Muhammad did not send out his Jihadists with a message of salvation, but with an ultimatum to submit to Islam. Salvation is important in Islam, but it is not the main message. How you are saved in Islam depends upon what you do. Muslims who die on Jihad have a promise that they go directly to paradise. These Muslims have assurance of salvation.

If you are killed or die in God’s way, pardon and mercy from God are better than what they collect. If you die or are killed, you will be gathered up to God. (Qur’an 3:157-158)

Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: On the day of the battle of Uhud, a man came to the Prophet and said, “Can you tell me where I will be if I should get martyred?” The Prophet replied, “In Paradise.” The man threw away some dates he was carrying in his hand, and fought till he was martyred. (Sahih al-Bukhari 4046; vol 5, bk 59, no 377)

If you are not a martyr you cannot know what will happen to you. Even Muhammad did not know what would happen to him.

Say, “I am not something new among the messengers, and I do not know what will be done with me or with you. I only follow what is revealed to me. I am only a warner.” (Qur’an 46:9)

Allah's Apostle said, 'As for him, by Allah, death has come to him. By Allah, I wish him all good. By Allah, in spite of the fact that I am Allah's Apostle, I do not know what Allah will do to me." (Sahih al-Bukhari 7003; vol 9, bk 87, no 131)

Most Muslims expect to go to the grave and then hopefully to paradise later. In Islam, there is no act of God to look to for salvation as there is in Christianity. Christianity is the only religion in which God has acted to save you.

Salvation training video

DAVID AND BATHSHEBA, MUHAMMAD AND ZAYNAB

David coveted another man’s wife and was rebuked and punished by God (2 Samuel 11ff). Muhammad coveted another man’s wife and Allah changed the law and gave her to him.

One day the Messenger of God went out looking for Zayd. Now there was a covering of haircloth over the doorway, but the wind had lifted the covering so that the doorway was uncovered. Zaynab was in her chamber, undressed, and admiration for her entered the heart of the Prophet. (Al-Tabari, The History of al-Tabari, U.S.A., New York: SUNY, vol. viii, p. 4)

Muhammad’s desire for Zaynab was obvious and so Zayd, his adopted son, offered to divorce her so Muhammad could marry her. However, marrying your daughter-in-law was taboo in the Arabian culture. Then Muhammad said that God told him that all adoptions were cancelled. (Islam does not practice adoption but only fostering.)

God has not put two hearts inside any man [...] nor has He made your adopted sons your real sons. (Qur’an 33:4)

With adoption laws now cancelled, Zayd was no longer Muhammad’s son and Zaynab was no longer his daughter-in-law. Then Muhammad said that God told him:

When Zayd had finished with her, We [God] gave her to you in marriage. (Qur’an 33:37)

Muhammad coveted another man’s wife. He then said that God changed the law so that he could have her. This event is like the story of David and Bathsheba - but in reverse. Muhammad never struggled in his obedience to God the way Jesus did. In Muhammad's case, his god changed the laws for him so that he got what he wanted.

Narrated Aisha [one of Muhammad’s wives]: I said (to the Prophet), "I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires." (Sahih al-Bukhari 4788; vol 6, bk 60, no 311)

MARY/MIRIAM

Mary and Miriam are different forms of the same name.

In the Qur’an, Jesus’ mother is the sister of Aaron and Moses.

They said, “O Mary, you have done an unbelievable thing. O sister of Aaron.” [...] That is Jesus, the son of Mary. (Qur’an 19:27-34)

And We gave him [Moses], from Our Mercy, his brother Aaron as a prophet. (Qur’an 19:53)

Muhammad also identifies Jesus' mother as the daughter of Imran. Imran is the Arabic word for Amram.

And Mary, the daughter of ‘Imran. (Qur’an 66:12)

The name of Amram's wife was Jochebed the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt. And she bore to Amram Aaron and Moses and Miriam their sister. (Numbers 26:59)

Muhammad has mixed up the two women. He has no understanding of the historical timeline.

IDOLATRY - THE BLACK STONE

Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 26:1)

If, in addition, I take and set before you for inspection these very images, you will, as you go over them, find how truly silly is the custom in which you have been reared, of worshipping the senseless works of men's hands. Anciently, then, the Scythians worshipped their sabres, the Arabs stones, the Persians rivers. (Clement of Alexandria, c. 215, `Exhortation to the Heathen: Chapter 4', Ante-Nicene Fathers. ed. Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson; Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 1995. vol. 2, p. 184)

Narrated Abu Raja Al-Utaridi: We used to worship stones, and when we found a better stone than the first one, we would throw the first one and take the latter, but if we could not get a stone then we would collect some earth (i.e. soil) and then bring a sheep and milk that sheep over it, and perform the Tawaf [a circular totem walk]. (Sahih al-Bukhari 4376-4377; vol 5, bk 59, no 661)

Islam boasts of being the pure worship of God, however, at the heart of Islam is a idolatry.

Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Daw'ud reported that 'Umar approached the Black Stone and kissed it. Then he said: “I know that you are a mere stone that can neither harm nor do any good. If I had not seen the Prophet (peace be upon him) kissing you, I would have never kissed you.” Al-Khatabi said: “This shows that abiding by the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is binding, regardless of whether or not we understand its reason or the wisdom behind it.” Such information devolves obligation on all those whom it reaches, even if they may not fully comprehend its significance. It is known, however, that kissing the Black Stone signifies respect for it, recognition of our obligation toward it, and using it as a means of seeking Allah's blessings. (Sayyid Saabiq, Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Indiana, U.S.A: American Trust Publications, 1991, vol. 5, p. 75)

ISIS member Abu Turab Al Mugaddasi said that they would destroy the Kaaba in Mecca: “If Allah wills, we will kill those who worship stones in Mecca and destroy the Kaaba. People go to Mecca to touch the stones, not for Allah.” Reported ISIS Member Says They Will Destroy The Kaaba In Mecca, 'Kill Those Who Worship Stones'

Do not let Muslims trick you into thinking that Islam offers the pure worship of God. The pre-Islamic idol still remains in Mecca.

OTHER RESOURCES

Online training videos for you and your church

My Youtube channel

My book, Where to Start with Islam