How Muslims understand the Bible

Is the God of Islam also the God of the Bible?

Answer: Yes and No
Explanation: Muslims use the word Allah as the name for the God of Abraham. The word “Allah” is also used by Christians in the Arabic Bible as the word for God. The Islamic holy book, the Qur’an, is full of references to the Biblical characters and prophets. Here is a short list of Biblical characters found in just four verses of the Qur’an (chapter 6, verses 84-87): Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, David, Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Zechariah, John, Jesus Elijah, Ishmail, Elisha, Jonas, and Lot. There a dozens of other references to biblical characters in the Qur’an. While these people are all mentioned in both the Qur’an and the Bible this does not mean that Muslims and Christians are in total agreement about God.

The abundant references to Biblical characters in the Qur’an definitely show that Mohammed was influenced by many aspects of Jewish and Christian teachings. However his idea of God does not include very significant Christian concepts about God. For example Muslims are unitarians and Christians are trinitarians. Islam does not know God as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In addition Muslims deny that Jesus died on the cross and that he was raised from the dead.

Is Mohammed prophesied in the Bible?

Muslims often point to two texts in the Bible as evidence that the coming of Mohammed was foretold even in the Bible. In Deuteronomy 18:15: “The Lord your God will raise up for you (the Israelites) a prophet like me (Moses) from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.”

Muslims attempt to say that the Ishmaelites are the “brothers of the Israelites” mentioned in this text. Mohammed is said to be a descendant of Ishmael through one of the sons (either Nebajoth or Kedar). However in Deuteronomy 17:15 the Israelites receive specific instructions concerning kings using the same words: “You shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.” From the context it can plainly be seen that the word “brother” here means someone from among the Israelites themselves. The Apostles believed that Jesus was “the Prophet” mentioned in Deuteuronomy 18 (See Acts 3:22-23 and 7:37).

The other main passages which are cited by Muslims are John 14:16-18 and 16:7-15. Muslims sometimes try to say that Christians changed the original Greek wording of the text concerning the “helper or comforter”. For them the original word was not “helper or comforter” (parakletos in Greek) but “periklytos” meaning “glorious or honoured one.” They say this refers to Ahmed, a form of the name Mohammed, which means “he praised one”. It is significant that there are no known Greek texts of John 14 and 16 which use the word “periklytos” instead of “parakletos.” In addition the activities of the Holy Spirit mentioned in the texts do not match well with the life of Mohammed.

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