ARE ALLAH AND GOD THE SAME?

Slate‘s Steven Waldman asks, Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? It’s an more complicated question than most of us think, apparently.

When George Bush last month declared that Christians, Jews, and Muslims worship the same God, some of his evangelical supporters had a holy cow. They have been arguing for some time that Islam is a fundamentally dangerous and false religion, and then the most important evangelical in America, George Bush, goes and pays Muslims the ultimate compliment.

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Richard Land, a top official of the Southern Baptist Convention, explained the theology. “The Bible is very clear about this. There is only one true God and His name is Jehovah, not Allah.”

Haggard and Land were articulating a common view among evangelicals. In a poll of evangelical leaders at the community level, 79 percent disagreed with the statement that Muslims and Christians “pray to the same god.”

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As evidence that Jews, Christians, and Muslims “have always assumed their differences to be about the character rather than the identity of God,” Miles points to life in medieval Spain, where people of the three faiths mingled and disagreed with each other about the “same divine subject.” Thomas Aquinas, for instance, wrote Summa Contra Gentiles in part to refute the Muslim philosopher Ibn Rushd, but he never tried to make the argument that Muslims were praying to a different God.

Muslims have been even clearer about the kinship among all “peoples of the book.”


Update (1314): Kristopher Vilamaa posts on this too and swears he didn’t see mine first.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. jen says:

    The three faiths stem from the same root – Abraham. Abraham had two sons – Ishamael and Isaac. Ishmael is the father of Islam. Isaac is the father of Judaism out of which stems Christianity. If you read the story of Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac in Genesis 15-21 you can see the blessings and curses that got the whole ball rolling for the conflict between the brothers (tribes).

    So, essentially President Bush was correct in the general statement that we worship the same God, but from that one common point the three faiths diverge.

  2. James Joyner says:

    That’s always been my take as well. Indeed, the question always struck me as odd. I guess the argument is that the Muslim view of God’s character and will is so radically different from that of modern Christians that it amounts to two different deities.

  3. jen says:

    That’s because Ishmael’s view of God was from a cursed standpoint where Isaac was blessed. Add the “prophecies” from Mohammad and the Koran and you have a warped (for lack of a better word) faith.

  4. Bryan says:

    Richard Land, a top official of the Southern Baptist Convention, explained the theology. “The Bible is very clear about this. There is only one true God and His name is Jehovah, not Allah.”

    This is one of my pet peeves. Actually “His” name isn’t even “Jehovah.” It would more correctly be pronounced “Yahweh” if we knew how to pronounce it – which we don’t. YHWH are the English equivalents to the Hebrew letters from the old testament.

    “Jehovah” is a later adaptation of “YHWH,” since the letter “J” didn’t even exist until at least 600 years after Christ.

    What about “Jehovah”, you ask?

    This Christian spelling and pronunciation came about in past centuries when the letter ‘J’ actually sounded like the modern ‘Y’, and the letter ‘V’ sounded like the modern ‘U’ or ‘W’. Since this is no longer true, this is one reason why this spelling really should not be used. Furthermore, the spelling, ‘Jehovah’ (sometimes ‘Jahovah’), does not use the correct vowels. Christian scholars deliberately chose to use the vowels ‘a’ and ‘o’ associated with the Hebrew word, “adonay” (Hebrew for “master”).

    For modern usage, the spelling “Jehovah/Jahovah” is phonetically unacceptable for Three reasons:

    1. The modern ‘J’ isn’t pronounced the way it was then (that is, like ‘Y’), thus leading the uninformed to an incorrect pronunciation.
    2. The modern ‘V’ isn’t pronounced the way it was then (that is, like ‘U’ or ‘W’), thus leading the uninformed to an incorrect pronunciation.
    3. The vowels used in “Jehovah” or “Jahovah” are not correct, and were simply assigned by arbitrary choice rather than any kind of Hebrew language analysis.

    In short, “Yahweh” is reckoned to be the most correct spelling and pronunciation of GOD’s name.
    http://www.mindspring.com/~bab5/BIB/name.htm