Since I have become interested in knowing more about Islam, I decided to read the Qur’an. And, since the Qur’an is probably not on the top of your Best-Loved-Books list (unless you are Muslim), I’ve decided to share some of what I’ve learned with you. It will broaden your knowledge base without taking too much of your time!
First off, I read the Kindle Qur’an and it was written in Old English (King James style) which made it rather more tedious than was necessary, but it’s what I had, so I made do.
The Qur’an, meaning “the recitation” is the “Bible” of Islam. Muslims believe it is a verbatim word from Allah (Arabic for God). It was written by Muhammad, the Prophet of Allah, over a period of 23 years. He said he received the Qur’an in revelations from Allah through the angel Gabriel. His experienced his first vision when he was 40 years old, around 611 A.D.
Being an avid Bible scholar for many years, I was interested to see how reading the Qur’an would compare with reading The Bible and I was quite surprised. I did not expect it to “feel” inspired because I believe only The Bible is the inspired Word of God, but I expected it to be something more than it was, simply because so many Muslims accept it as their sacred book.
My overall impression was not positive. It claims to be the final word from God given through His final Prophet, Muhammad. It claims superiority over The Old and The New Testaments because they have been corrupted through time. It uses those sacred books to bolster its claims of inspiration even as it disparages them. It claims that Allah, the one and only God, is the God of Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Noah, Lot, etc., even though Allah is not Yahweh. Allah seeks to replace Yahweh and demote Jesus to the status of a man who is a lower order of a prophet than Muhammad. And, for all that, in quality, the Qur’an seems like a candle next to The Bible which is a SUN by comparison.
The Qur’an lacks a chronological historical flow. It proclaims that Allah is the Creator and mentions the creation of mankind, sun, moon, stars, plants, animals, and Jinns, in various places; but there is no coherent creation story which puts it altogether in perspective. There is no good reason given for creation. There is no development of a loving relationship between Allah and His creation or His creatures. Allah is a distant God Who maintains a Transcendent relationship with His creation.
There are no lengthy, well-developed stories about main characters with family lines that can be related to in a coherent fashion like one finds in The Bible. There are oft-repeated short stories about Noah, Abraham, Moses, Aaron, Pharaoh, Lot, Joseph, Mary and Jesus, Adam and Eve, and a few others; but they are scripturally inaccurate and totally disjointed. If I had no Biblical knowledge I would have been totally confused about their true place or purpose in history.
Mohammad was rejected by the Arabs when he first started sharing his Qur’anic messages from Allah. So, it seems he used Abraham, Lot, Noah, Moses, and a few other non-Biblical characters, as examples of prophets who were sent to warn people about coming judgement and were also rejected. In that context, he was able to threaten those who rejected him with the same type of destructions which had befallen those who had rejected the previous prophets and were destroyed.
The Qur’an is full of threats of hell, fire and punishments for non-believers in Allah and His Prophet. There are nearly 500 verses on punishments. After reading all that, I realized, by comparison, the Bible hardly mentions hell at all. (The Qur’an, a book with 114 chapters, has 172 punishment with fire verses and 97 hell verses, besides other punishments. The New Testament has only 27 verses about hell and Hades, and the Old Testament has 37 verses about hell and Sheol. That’s less than 1 verse per book in The Bible and many of them are non-threatening references like “You will not leave my soul in Sheol” and “If I make my bed in hell, You are there.”
[17:8] “We have made hell a prison for the unbelievers.”
[32:13 ] “I will certainly fill hell with the jinn and men together.”
[98:6] “Surely those who disbelieve (in Islam) from among the followers of the Book (Bible) and the polytheists (believers in the Trinity) shall be in the fire of hell, abiding therein; they are the worst of men.”
And that reminds me of a joke: There was a church who was happy to have a pastor leave because they thought he preached too much about hell. After they had their new pastor for awhile, someone asked what they liked about him and they said they liked his preaching on hell. What was the difference? They said the first pastor preached about hell like he wanted them to go there! The second pastor wanted to save them from it!
That is the difference one can feel between the Qur’an and The Bible. The Qur’an seems to delight in describing the tortures non-believers and the wicked will be forced to endure. It makes it clear that Allah has created those who go to hell for that purpose and nothing will change their destiny. Whereas The Bible says hell was “created for the devil and his angels” and God delights in providing a way to help us avoid going there! Jesus, the God-Man Savior, is the heart of The Bible from Genesis to Revelation!
The Qur’an is also loaded with promises of rewards for believers in Allah who perform enough good works to make up for whatever bad they have done. Allah says everyone must bear their own load. No one else can provide help for them. They must profess a belief in Allah and His Prophet, be diligent in daily prayers, practice charity, practice fasting, travel to Mecca once in their life, if possible, and follow Qur’anic teachings.
The rewards for believers are gardens with rivers flowing under them, an endless supply of fruit, milk, wine, honey, meat, etc. Green silk clothing, green silk couches, green carpets and pearls, silver and gold for adornment. There are youths to serve refreshments. There are also mansions and other gardens with beautiful young virgins for those whose deeds merit extra benefits.
For believers who make it, the afterlife is a place of leisure, pleasure and abundance. Whatever the heart desires is provided. The problem is, since it is based on works, no one knows if they will make it until the day of judgement when the books are opened and all deeds are reviewed and Allah decides who is deserving. The Qur’an says Allah is just and fair. Your deeds decide your fate.
At first I was surprised at the many similarities between Allah and Our Heavenly Father. Allah claims many of the familiar attributes of God that we understand; such as, Everywhere Present, All-Knowing, All-Good, and All-Powerful. He also claims to be the only God, the Creator of the heavens and earth and all that fills them, the First and the Last, Sovereign, Infinite, Almighty, Just, Exalted, Wise, Holy, King, etc.
However, it is obvious that Allah revealed Himself as far less relational than Our Father in Heaven. The Qur’an says repeatedly that Allah is One and cannot be more than One! It repeatedly says Allah has no son! Nothing is equal-to or like Him. He has no physical form and stays aloof from His creation. He is not knowable by mere humans.
Consider these statements carefully. Allah has no Godhead relationship like the Trinity shares (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). He claims to be an Absolute Loner. He has no Divine Son like Jesus and He has no sons and daughters like us. He never claims a close, loving relationship with His creatures like Our Father in Heaven does.
[4.171] Allah is only one God; far be it from His glory that He should have a son,
[5.18] And the Jews and the Christians say: We are the sons of Allah and His beloved ones. Say: Why does He then chastise you for your faults? Nay, you are mortals from among those whom He has created…
[9.30] And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths… may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!
[18.4] And warn those who say: Allah has taken a son.
[23.91] Never did Allah take to Himself a son, and never was there with him any (other) god–
Anyone who takes The Bible seriously would have to reject the authority and authenticity of the Qur’an. Our Heavenly Father proclaims His love for all mankind throughout both The Old and The New Testaments. He sent His Son, Jesus, to be with us in a human form so we could know God personally. And because He loved us “while we were sinners” He allowed His Son to die on the cross for our sins so we can have eternal life– and know it before we face the judgement.
Allah is not like our God. Allah loves “the doers of good, those who guard (against evil), the patient, those who trust, those who judge equitably, those who are careful (of their duty), the doers of justice, and those who fight in His way in ranks as if they were a firm and compact wall.” Allah does not love “the unjust, the proud, the treacherous, the sinful, the extravagant, the unfaithful, the ungrateful, the exultant, the self-conceited, the boastful, any ungrateful sinner and unbelievers (those who disobey Allah or his Apostle).”
Allah does not identify Himself with His creation. Allah does not provide a sacrifice or any means to help save sinners from His judgemental wrath to come. He requires submission to His will and good works to earn one’s own salvation– if possible. No guarantees.
Let’s close with some scriptures that assure us of Our Heavenly Father’s love and provision for us. If you are not a child of God by faith in Jesus, I encourage you to believe His word and invite Him into your heart even as you read these passages.
“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are”. 1 John 3:1
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”. Luke 12:32
“In this is love, not that we love God but that He loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation of our sins”. 1 John 4:10
“We ARE children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ”. Rom 8:17
“For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life”. John 3:16
“God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us”. Romans 5:8
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world that we might live through him”. 1 John 4:9
“But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying ‘Abba! Father!'” Galatians 4:4-6
“When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’, it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God”. Romans 8:15-26.
“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. John 15:13
“I have loved you with an everlasting love”. Jeremiah 31:3
I haven’t covered everything of interest in the Qur’an so I may continue this in another blog. I hope this is enlightening, encouraging and a blessing to you whether you are Christian, Muslim or otherwise.
You are loved!