Project Prayer: Ramadan 2017
Day 3: Islam 101 – Allah, the great god
By Jordan Rowley, spiritual coordinator, Climbing For Christ
Mosque in Moshi, Tanzania: “None to be worshipped but Allah.” (Photos by Gary Fallesen)
Allah is the Arabic word for god. Although for centuries it has been used when referring to the gods of other religions as well (like Judaism and Christianity), it has essentially become the name of the god of Islam.
In addition to the name Allah, Islamic tradition says that there are 99 special names of god. These names are referred to as al-asma al-husna, meaning, the best names or most beautiful names. Examples include al-Rahman (the merciful), al-Rahim (the compassionate), al-Mutakabbir (the supreme), al-Jabbar (the strong) and many others. In addition to names of Allah being great, Allah himself is revered as the great god. We’ve all heard the phrase “Allahu Akbar”; it’s the Muslim declaration that god is greatest.
Part of Allah’s greatness is derived from his absolute power. Anything and everything that happens in this world is because he wills it. The phrase in sha’ Allah, meaning “if god wills,” is often used by Muslims to acknowledge the complete control Allah is thought to have over every aspect of life.
Many today believe that Christians, Jews and Muslims all worship the same great god. This is largely because these three monotheistic religions share so many of the same stories. For example, all three religions revere men like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, even King David.
Islam even honors Jesus as a great prophet. In fact, in the days of Islam’s infancy, even the prophet Muhammed himself believed Christians, Jews and Muslims worshipped the same god. It’s commonly taught in Islam that each of these religions were built upon the one before – often with the latest prophet of god being sent to offer corrections to the prior, once pure, religion that had been corrupted over time.
Muslims believe Islam, established in the 7th century, to be the latest, greatest and final rectification. The Qur’an in fact refers to Muhammad as the “seal” or the last of the prophets.
The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, is where the early church meets Islam. This building was a church from 537 to 1453 and converted into a mosque during the Ottoman Empire from 1453 to 1931. It was then turned into a museum, displaying Islamic calligraphy sandwiching a mosaic of Mary holding the baby Jesus, among other mixtures of Christianity and Islam.
In spite of these beliefs, the truth is that followers of Christianity do not worship the same god as Muslims.
Yes, there are a number of similarities in our beliefs, but the differences far outweigh them. The most irreconcilable difference, of course, is the atoning death of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, for the sins of mankind.
Let’s join in prayer today:
- That the True and Living God, our Heavenly Father, would open the hearts of many Muslims to this saving truth.
- That Jesus would send His laborers into His harvest to share His Good News – that God became man in the person of Jesus, became sin upon the terrible cross, and made a way for us to have peace with Him.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16 (NKJV)