Opinions on faith and life

Islam: A Comparison with Christianity

2002-01-01

In this comparison of Islam with Christianity, we will examine the two religions in the following areas:

The Text

The Bible— External Evidence

Please see other Bible Text articles here for a complete treatment of the issue of Bible reliability.

The Bible— Internal Evidence

The previous section represents the external evidence supporting the Bible, that is, evidence from outside the text itself. It is the result of literary, historical, and scientific research over hundreds of years by scholars both friendly and hostile to the Bible. Now we will consider the internal evidence, which is evidence provided by the text itself.

Although critics of the Bible have long attempted to show that it is full of contradictions, none can be found. In every alleged instance of contradiction, a thorough study of the whole Bible resolves the dispute. The same is true of alleged historical and scientific errors. No other religious writings, and few ancient documents, enjoy the unrivaled accuracy and clarity of the Bible.

In spite of the Bible’s having been written over a period of about 1500 years by people from different continents and cultures, it has an amazing unity of thought and doctrine. All attempts to prove that the various books of the Bible were edited to produce this unity have failed. Regarding prophecy, only the Bible even attempts to predict the future, and with 100% accuracy. Again the critics tried to post-date the scriptures to explain away this fact, but the dates of the writings have been firmly established as pre-dating the prophecies.

There are many other ways in which the Bible is absolutely unique among religious writings. No other writings can come close to answering the most basic questions: How did everything come into existence? Why is there death and decay? How will it all end? No other religion offers a personal relationship with God or the absolute assurance of eternal life with him. No other holy books are written so that the average person can understand them. While other writings are often cryptic and mystical, the Bible is clear and reasonable. And no other religious writings have been the object of hatred that the Bible has been, which has survived many attempts at wiping it off the face of the earth.

Clearly, in the light of such overwhelming external and internal evidence, no reasonable person can doubt the authenticity and uniqueness of the Bible. It stands alone as the most influential book of all time.

The Koran— External Evidence

Historical research has proven that the Koran has been corrupted. It contains many grammatical errors and non-Arabic words, and there are many conflicting readings of the text. Many parts of the originals have been lost. For example, one Sura (chapter) originally had 200 verses in the days of Ayesha, but by the time of the Uthman standardized text, it had only 73. There are also many instances of verses being added or removed for political reasons, or due to disputes between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. After Muhammad’s death there was great confusion as to what material should be included in the Koran. In the mid 600s, a standard text was made official, and all others were destroyed.

Obviously, compared to the mountain of external evidence supporting the Bible, there just isn’t much to say about the Koran. As a result, most Muslim apologists will center their arguments around attacks on the Bible. This is why it is so important for Christians to know the facts about our Biblical texts, and to be familiar with Christian apologetics.

The Koran— Internal Evidence

Using the current official Koran text, are there any self-contradictions, or discrepancies with the Bible?

Self-contradictions abound. Either all Noah’s family was saved, or some drowned. Either God took 8 days to create the world, or he took 7. There are several different accounts of Muhammad’s original call to be a prophet. Undoubtedly, many more such embarrassments were cleaned up by editors.

Discrepancies with the Bible also abound, as shown in the section on doctrinal statements. The only way for Muslims to accept the Koran’s teaching that the Bible is God’s Word is to claim that the Bible has been corrupted. But this is a false accusation. Since the Koran was written only a few hundred years after the Bible was finished, how can anyone account for such a huge degree of corruption in such a short time? If God was incapable of protecting his Word even for a few hundred years, why should we believe the Koran has been uncorrupted for over a thousand?

The Bible and the Koran are hopelessly incompatible, and the evidence overwhelmingly supports the Bible as being the true Word of God. There is just no evidence of any kind for the Koran to stand on.

Doctrinal Statements

The Bible

Genesis 16:11-12, 17:18-21, 21:3 Isaac, Ishmael, covenant
Matthew 1:1-17 Jesus’ genealogy from Abraham and Isaac
Luke 3:24-38 Jesus’ genealogy back to Adam
Galatians 4:22-31 two covenants
Genesis 1:26, Ex. 3:14, Deut. 6:4, Ps. 45:6-7, Isaiah 46:9, Matt. 28:19, Luke 11:15, John 14:26, 16:13, John 17:1-5, 20:22, Acts 1:4-5, 2:33, 19:2, etc. proof of the Trinity
John 5:18, 6:38, 10:30 Jesus & Father One yet distinct
Luke 1:35, John 1:1-5, 14, 18, 3:16 the Son of God
Isaiah 48:16 God doesn’t speak in secret
John 2:19-21, 1 Tim. 2:3-6 crucifixion, resurrection
Rev. 22:13 Jesus is the FIRST and the LAST
Malachi 2:16, Matt. 5:31-32, Mk. 10:2-12, Col 3:19, 1 Peter 3:7 husbands and wives
Deut. 32:35, Isaiah 34:8, Rom. 12:19, 1 Peter 3:9 teachings on vengeance
ohn 3:16-17, Acts 4:10-12, Rom. 5:10, 10:9-10, Eph. 2:8-9 Salvation by faith, not works, only through Jesus
The Koran

(note: Sura numbers differ from one translation to another)

Hostility towards Jews and Christians Sura 2:105-115, 129, 9:28-39
No religion but Islam; others are losers Sura 3:79
believers don’t take Jews / Christians as friends Sura 5:56
Lie in ambush for infidels, who must repent or die Sura 9:5
salvation by works Sura 9:18
Abraham was a Muslim! Sura 3:60
Muhammad is naught but a Messenger Sura 3:138
Muhammad seal (last) of the prophets Sura 33:40
a man can beat a rebellious wife Sura 4:38
The Koran’s Jesus
Not crucified; it was a likeness of Him Sura 4:135
Not God, just a messenger Sura 4:169, 5:19, 76, 79
Not the Messiah Sura 5:19, 76
Not the Son of God Sura 19:91, 93
The Koran’s God
Made a covenant with Abraham and Ishmael Sura 2:119
Has no son Sura 19:91, 93
Is the same as the God of the Bible (YHWH) Sura 29:45
Has not begotten Sura 112:1
Is not a Trinity Sura 4:169, 5:77
(Sura 5:50, 70 and throughout Koran: Who are We and Us, who do God-like things? If God is not a Trinity, and Muhammad is just a messenger, then who else has God-like powers?)

Motivation

The Bible

The Bible commands us to love God and love other people. It teaches respect for property and authority, considerate treatment of the weak, and concern for the lost. It shows us how to administer justice, cope with adversity, and return the love of God. The highest ideals known to mankind are found in the Bible. Any who accept it as the Word of God are powerfully motivated to exhibit the highest standards in all areas of life. Contrary to most, if not all, other holy books, the Bible emphasizes the condition of the heart as of first importance, with outward behavior being changed as a result.

The Koran

Although the Koran does teach respect for property and other high ideals, its motivation is not the love of God but the fear of him. Outward behavior is essential to salvation, and believers obey not because they want to, but because they must. The teachings of the Koran motivate men to domineer women, to hate and kill, and to ruthlessly spread Islam by force. Jews and Christians are named as the enemies of Islam and are condemned to Gehenna.

Practice

The Bible

Practice is, of course, the result of motivation. The obvious result of following the teachings of the Bible is a civilizing influence on society. Historically, the Bible has had a strong, positive effect on the development of humane governments and much scientific research. Yes, there have been those who did evil in the name of Christianity, but they did so in spite of what the Bible says, not because of it. Where true Biblical Christianity is practiced, people are free and prosperous. The United States has been an example of how God blesses nations that honor him (and what happens when they stop).

The Koran

The results of acting on what the Koran motivates people to do are obvious. Islam was spread by the sword, in obedience to the Koran. After Muhammad’s death, many who had followed him abandoned his teachings, thinking they were free at last. But the true believers persecuted them until Islam was firmly established. In every country where Islam has been dominant, the people have been impoverished and oppressed. No Islamic country allows freedom of any kind. Those Muslims that are considered extreme or fanatical are simply taking the Koran literally. Contrary to popular opinion, it isn’t the violent Muslims who are not practicing true Islam, it’s the peaceful ones! Those who claim to be peaceful must somehow spiritualize the Koran, believing it to teach only spiritual warfare. But there is no contextual justification for such a view, and no historical precedent.

To our shame, though, some Christians do the same thing. They don’t like the clear teachings of Scripture, so they spiritualize them to mean something else. The people who do that are ripe for deception, because they will be easily persuaded to accept false teachings and religions. If the actual words don’t matter, then any belief will do.

The following quotes are from the preface to Volume II of The Koran Interpreted.

p. 8 Whenever I hear the Koran chanted... there is sounding all the time the insistent beat of a drum. p. 10 When it is read aloud or recited it has an almost hypnotic effect that makes the listener indifferent to its sometimes strange syntax and its sometimes, to us, repellent content. p. 16 This, the mystic’s approach, is surely the right approach to the study of the Koran
Since the Koran is best revealed when chanted, it bears a strong resemblance to shamanism (witchcraft) and Hinduism; the western concepts of analysis and logical reason are abandoned in favor of emotion and enlightenment. This, of course, points out yet another difference between Allah and Jehovah: Jehovah is a God of order and reason, quite the opposite of a god whose writings can only be truly known through chanting and emotion, the mystic’s approach.

Leading by Example

Jesus

When comparing religions, it’s a good idea to find out what kind of people founded them. It’s one thing for your friends to speak well of you, but another for your enemies to do the same. This is true of Jesus. Whether in the Bible or other sources, even his enemies have had to acknowledge, at the very least, the superiority of his teachings. He is flawless in every way, and is still the undisputed champ of Resurrection! After seeing his life on earth and hearing his teachings, the world must at least acknowledge him as the best example of a religious leader. No other person in history is as widely quoted or emulated.

Muhammad

From the Preface to Volume I of The Koran Interpreted:

p. 15 If Muhammad... was indeed the illiterate person the Muslims represent him to have been, then... the Koran is, as they assert it to be, a standing miracle. p. 15 - ...he was... the victim of a certain amount of self-deception... liable to morbid and fantastic hallucinations... p. 16 - he was... an earnest though mistaken teacher...

Conclusion

Compared to reading the Bible, reading the Koran is a very tedious chore. It is composed mostly of endless repetitions of the anti-infidel theme, with a few dubious re-tellings of some Biblical passages. Actual doctrinal statements are few and far between. If I were to liken the Bible and the Koran to physical objects, the Bible would be a strong brick building, while the Koran would be a glob of jelly mixed with shards of glass.

Primary Sources

The Koran Interpreted by A. J. Arberry The Facts on Islam by John Ankerberg and John Weldon Behind the Veil-- Unmasking Islam by Abd El Schafi Aspects of Islam by D. B. MacDonald Islam: A Way of Life by Philip K. Hitti Evidence That Demands A Verdict by Josh McDowell