A Contrast of Christianity and Islam


Both Christianity and Islam recognize a Creator who has absolute sovereignty over His creation. The God of the Koran and Islam is Allah. Both Jews and Christians believe that Jehovah of the Bible is the sovereign Creator and has absolute authority over His creation. They both cannot be correct because of the claims in each of the Holy Books – they contradict each other. The Bible claims that Jesus is the Son of God, whereas the Koran denies it and considers the claims to be blasphemy.

This contrast of these two belief systems was written for both Muslims and Christians. The truth lies in the question: Was Jesus, the son of Mary, also the Son of God? I have tried to be fair in my teaching of these truths.

In Islam, the expression is “if Allah wills.” The Bible’s entire focus is on a personal God reaching down to take man’s hand and pulling him out of the bondage of his sins. The entire story is one of atonement and redemption. Here we have the great contrast between the world’s religious systems and the Bible.

Dr. Timothy George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School, in his book “Is the Father of Jesus The God of Muhammad?”, asked a question.

How would you characterize someone who believes in the literal, verbal inspiration of Scripture, who holds that Jesus is God’s virgin-born Messiah, that Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, bodily ascended into heaven, and will one day return to do battle with the antichrist and in the end truly reign on earth? This person knows that Satan is alive and well on planet Earth, that angels and demons are real forces to be reckoned with and that after death everyone on earth will go to one of two places – the burning fires of hell or the beautiful palaces of heaven. This individual does not believe in evolution but believes that God created the world in six literal days. This person happens to be a tee-totaler, is strongly pro-life, and is committed to traditional family values. Women are highly regarded in the religious community to which this person belongs, but they do not function as preachers and leader there. This person is also deeply patriotic, regards pacifism as a weakness, deplores the separation of church and state and believes that government (ideally) should enforce God’s will in every area of society.”

Dr. George says, “At the heart of the Christian faith are three fundamental beliefs Islam has always rejected “the Trinity, the Incarnation, and redemption by divine grace through the cross of Jesus Christ” (p 41). We could also add the fact that the Muslims do not accept the bodily resurrection of Jesus. However, they do believe that he ascended into heaven without dying. From the Koran, we read these words,“That they said (in boast), ‘We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah’; but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not. Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise” (Koran 4:157-158, Abdullah Yusuf Ali).

Dr. George adds these words, “Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share a common passion for the oneness of God, the transcendent Creator and Lord of all that is” (p 45). “Among the many distinctive truths Christians proclaim, the one that set them apart from Islam most fundamentally is this: The God of the Bible is the God who has forever known himself, and who in Jesus Christ has revealed himself to us, as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. The Trinity is the basis for the entire Christian life – the basis of everything we believe and teach. It is something confessed by all orthodox Christians – Greek Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholic Christians, historic Protestant Christians, and others as well” (p 55).

Muhammad and the Muslims have a misconception of the Christian view of the Holy Trinity. Muhammad believed that the Trinity consists of the Father, the Virgin Mary, and their son, Jesus. Muslims believe that Christians teach that the Father had physical, sexual relations with the Virgin Mary and that Jesus was conceived from this relationship. Therefore, they consider the idea of the Holy Trinity as an abomination against the One Sovereign Holy God, whom they call Allah.

From another source and the Koran, we get the following statements.

“Muslims believe in the Absolute Oneness of God, Who is a Supreme Being free of human limitations, needs and wants. He has no partners in His Divinity. He is the Creator of everything and is completely separate from His creation. God says in the Quran [Koran] regarding the Trinity: ‘O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not ‘Trinity’: desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him: (far Exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs’” (4:171, Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation).

“And behold! Allah will say: ‘O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah?’ He will say: ‘Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden’” (5:116, Abdullah Yusuf Ali).

Other strong contrasts are between the God of the Bible and the God of the Koran. On the Answering Islam website, there is an article entitled The Character of God in Bible and Quran (Koran). This is an excellent article contrasting the two views. I have selected the following statement, “In the same way, when I pay close attention to the character of God portrayed for us through the biblical narratives, and then I compare it with the Qur’an, I get the strong sense that the Qur’an plays a different tune, that it does not exactly match the God of the Bible, even though the Qur’an claims to be from the same God. Source: (“The Character of God in the Bible and the Koran“. This is a very good website and you may want to visit it.

Now, let us compare and contrast some of the differences between the Bible and the Koran.


The Bible – is a collection of books that, when taken as a whole, presents a living testimony of a Supreme Being who reigns over the universe that He created. In the beginning, God established a master plan for this universe, and throughout the ages, He slowly and progressively revealed this plan to mankind. Except for the first two chapters of Genesis and the last two chapters of Revelation, the entire book is a story of redemption and God seeking a relationship with mankind. The Bible reveals a struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. It has been said that the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.

The entire Bible looks forward to and back to the cross where God the Son died and became an atonement for the sins of mankind so that man could be redeemed from the bondage of his sins. The picture is that of God extending His hand to pull man out of the quicksand of sin. He established a relationship and companionship comparable to the marriage relationship between a man and woman – a relationship in which men and women could live abundant lives through the blessings of God’s grace and the infilling of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible was divinely inspired by God Himself and written over 1800 years by 40-plus authors from all walks of life. It was written in different places and at different times, on three different continents, and in three different languages, yet it reads as if one person wrote it.

Josh McDowell, in his book Evidence that Demands a Verdict, writes an apologetic (defense) of the Bible. The above comments and what follows are taken from his book. He quotes from F. F. Bruce’s book The Books and the Parchment, Fleming H. Revell.

“’Any part of the human body can only be properly explained in reference to the whole body. And any part of the Bible can only be properly explained in reference to the whole Bible.’ The Bible is not simply an anthology; there is unity which binds the whole together. An anthology is compelled by an anthologist, but no anthologist compiled the Bible” (p 19).

McDowell adds, “The Bible has been read by more people and published in more languages than any other book. There have been more copies produced of its entirety and more portions and selections that any other book in history. Some will argue that in a designated month or year more of a certain book was sold. However, over all there is absolutely no book that reaches or even begins to compare to the circulation of the Scriptures. The first major book printed was the Latin Vulgate. It was printed on Gutenberg’s press” (p 21).

On the uniqueness of its survival, he writes, “Written on material that perishes, having to be copied and recopied for hundreds of years before the invention of the printing press, did not diminish its style, correctness nor existence. The Bible, compared with other ancient writings, has more manuscript evidence than any ten pieces of classical literature combined” (p 21).

The Koran (Quran) – is a collection of revelations received by the prophet Muhammad from a spiritual being claiming to be the angel, Gabriel. Islamic historians claimed that his revelations began in 610 AD and continued piecemeal over twenty years. Muhammad was an illiterate man; thus, he could neither read nor write. In the beginning, Muhammad was not sure whether the spirit was of God or Satan. His revelations, in the form of dreams, visions, and unpredictable trances, were written by others on whatever was available – leaves, skins, mats, stones, or bark. There seems to be evidence that friends of Muhammad memorized the recitations and recounted them to others. Those who memorized were called reciters. During a battle, one of the reciters was killed, resulting in the loss of part of the revelations.

To understand the Koran, we must first understand Muhammad – what influenced him before the revelations and how the revelations changed his life. We need to go back to a world before Muhammad was born. The Arabs worshipped pagan gods. The center of their worship was a cube-like block structure called the Kaaba, located in the center of the city of Mecca. Muslim legend holds that the structure was built by Adam and was restored by Abraham and his son, Ishmael. Surrounding the Kaaba were 360 pagan gods, one for each day of the lunar year.

The holy month of Ramadan is celebrated for one month out of the year. Muhammad’s grandfather once curated the Kaaba. Today, to Muslims, it is the holiest site on earth, the center of the earth, and the entry door into heaven.

At an early age, Muhammad took a job working with a camel caravan. As time passed, he became the leader of the caravan and later married the owner of the caravan, Khadija. As Muhammad traveled across the country, he met many Jews, Christians, and believers of other religions. Since Muhammad could neither read nor write, he relied on others to read. He remembered the stories he heard during his travels. Although history does not entirely reveal the sources of his knowledge, it is evident, as you read the Koran and Hadiths (sayings and traditions of Muhammad), that he was strongly influenced by what he had been told. There were probably many religious discussions as the caravan workers sat around the campfires at night. Thus, the Koran reflects many Jewish and Christian influences. Zoroaster’s teaching and belief in God’s oneness probably also influenced him.

The Koran also reflects the views of Christian heretical groups such as Arianism, which taught that Jesus was not fully divine. Arius taught that the Father existed before the Son, thus placing the Father and Son on a different level. This literally meant that the Son was a created being. The church bishops later addressed and clarified this heretical teaching at the Council of Nicene in 325 AD, when they declared that Jesus was fully divine.

We also see the influence of another heretic, Marcion, who believed that the God of the Old Testament was different from the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was anti-Jewish and “rejected the entire Old Testament and also those New Testament writings which he considered favored Jewish readers – Matthew, Mark, Acts, and Hebrews.”

The Eastern Greek Church was strongly influenced by Platonism and, in many ways, influenced the Church at Alexandria, Antioch, and surrounding areas. Some Muslim scholars believe that Paul got the idea of the physical resurrection from the Platonic view of a spiritual resurrection.

The Koran also reflects the influence of several uncanonized books known as the Apocrypha, such as the “Infancy Gospel of Thomas”, “Gospel of James”, perhaps the “Gospel of Barnabas”, etc. The caravan workers could also have discussed why these books were not canonized around the campfires at night. Some believe that Muhammad’s wife, Khadija, may have been a member of the Egyptian Coptic Church.

We need to look at the influence these revelations had on Muhammad’s later life. Muhammad became a furious warrior fighting against the non-believers of Islam, slaying the unbelievers, raping the women, and taking the spoils of warfare. He thought the killing of Christians and Jews was not only divinely sanctioned but also mandated.

The Koran says, “And slacken not in following up the enemy” (4:104a, Abdullah Yusuf Ali). “O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protector” (5:51a, Abdullah Yusuf Ali). “They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them” (5:73, Abdullah Yusuf Ali). “Say: ‘Obey Allah and His Messenger’: But if they turn back, Allah loveth not those who reject Faith’” (3:32, Abdullah Yusuf Ali).

In 630 AD, Mohammad marched on the city of Mecca with an army of ten thousand men. There he cleansed the Kaaba of idols and declared it to be the temple of Allah.

Muhammad died in 632 AD at the age of 62. His followers continued to spread the claims of Allah across the Arab nations, by the way of the sword, basing their efforts on the Islamic tenet of Jihad. For many years, under an Islamic leader who was head of the Islamic authority known as the caliphate, Islamic warriors swept across the Middle East, Northern Africa, and parts of Europe, killing and enslaving millions in the name of Allah.

Let us consider another factor. Whereas the Bible was inspired and written by many authors over many years, the Koran was a so-called revelation to one man, Muhammad, who claimed to be the last and most authoritative of the prophets. There is no actual confirmation for his claims.

The Koran was canonized and standardized in 653 AD during the caliphate of Uthman. Muhammad’s revelations were collected from many sources and compiled into one book. However, the Koran is markedly fragmented in many places. Also, many of Muhammad’s sayings and traditions were compiled in different collections called the Hadiths. Muslims consider the Koran and Hadiths sacred.


Only in the Bible do we see God’s revelation revealed in prophecy. We do not find this in any other world religion’s sacred texts. The study of Biblical prophecy foretells events that have unfolded and will continue to unfold across history. It has been said that the Old Testament is the New Testament hidden, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. There is as much design in God’s word as in His creation. We can follow the golden thread of prophecy from the beginning of Genesis through the end of Revelation.

We have the prophetic written word, and God uses types, shadows/patterns, numbers, covenants, and Jewish feasts to weave His prophetic word together. We should be aware that all of these point to the work Jesus completed on the cross. The Old Testament contains over 300 references to the Messiah fulfilled in Jesus. According to the book of Hebrews, the entire Mosaic Law was a shadow of the work completed upon the cross.

For a deeper study of this subject, see the section on Biblical Symbols in this forum.

Love of God

Bible – The God of the Bible is a loving God who seeks intimacy with mankind. His very nature and character are pure love. In the Bible, God “draws near,” “comes down,” and “seeks after us” to enter into an intimate relationship with us. The whole Bible portrays the story of God seeking man. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 8:5, NKJV). “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, NKJV).

The God of the Bible reveals Himself and seeks fellowship and companionship with the people.

Koran – In stark contrast, the Koran portrays God as one who is far away and transcendent. A Muslim theologian has said, “God reveals only his will, not himself. He remains forever hidden. Even though he is near as the jugular vein as the Koran states, this is a ‘technical’ nearness, since just as we are not ‘aware’ of our jugular vein most of the time and don’t have a personal relationship with it, this only conveys that God is everywhere (far and near) like the air that is around us. Allah love is conditional and accidental. Love is something God does; not what God is.” He does not love everyone, only the faithful Muslim. The conditional nature of Allah’s love is shown in the following verses in the Koran, “On those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, will (Allah) Most Gracious bestow love” (19:96, Abdullah Yusuf Ali). The Koran also says, “Allah loves not transgressors” (2:190b, Abdullah Yusuf Ali).


Bible – The Bible teaches that sin is contrary to the Holy character of God and His justice demands satisfaction. “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23, NKJV). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23, NKJV).

The Bible teaches that when Adam sinned all his descendants inherited a sin nature and thus are born with a sin nature. God has also imputed sin to our account because of the fall of Adam. This is called original sin. Yet, because of our sin nature, we have all committed personal sins against a Holy God and each of us has a rebellious spirit. Before God changes our hearts, we have a nature that desires to be independent from God, our Creator.

Koran – The Koran does not teach the doctrine of the fall of man nor original sin. Muslims do not believe that sin is imputed – salvation is a process that we work through during our lifetime. According to the Koran, man was born free to live a sinless life. “The Koran says that Adam forgot to walk in the right way. Sin is forgetfulness, heedlessness, a failure to remember. This forgetting to obey is the result of inherent weakness, not active rebellion against God.” According to Islamic teaching, one way to overcome forgetfulness is to pray constantly. Their definition of sin says that it is anything against the teaching of Islam or against the will of Allah. We should also note that teachings within the Koran assumed that physical death was natural and planned for all mankind before the fall and was not the result of Adam’s sin.


Bible – The Bible teaches that God’s justice demands that the shedding of blood atone for sin. “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22, NKJV). Immediately after Adam sinned, God killed two animals and offered a sacrifice for Adam’s and Eve’s sins. He then clothed Adam and Eve with the skins of the animals. From that day forward, until the cross, man was commanded to offer animal sacrifices to cover their sins. However, the Hebrew book says that animal sacrifices were not enough. “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Heb. 10:4, NKJV).

Therefore, in the fullness of time, God sent forth His son to die on the cross for the atonement of all past, present, and future sins. “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:12, NKJV).

The shedding of Jesus’ blood became a propitiation, thus satisfying God’s wrath against us. The Apostle Paul said, “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Rom. 3:25, NKJV). By confessing and repenting of our sins and accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are saved because of the shedding of His blood. The Apostle John wrote, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12, NKJV).

Islam – Allah does not require a blood atonement for sins. “Adam ‘atoned’ for his sin by saying ‘My Lord I have sinned and if you do not forgive me and have mercy upon me then I shall indeed have lost.’ So, God forgave him. Similarly, all human beings have the door to forgiveness left open to them by God until the day they die. There are no intermediaries between mankind and God. If they sincerely repent to God, ask His forgiveness, and forsake their evil deeds before their hour comes then He shall forgive them and there is nothing more pleasing to Him than to forgive the sins of one who comes to Him in sincere repentance.”

“If you have faith in God, believe in His messengers, and obey His commands then He shall multiply every single good deed that you do many, many times and erase your evil deeds, until on the Day of Judgment His mercy shall cause your good deeds to far outweigh your evil deeds and grant you passage into an ecstasy and Paradise so great that we cannot even imagine it, to abide there eternally. In the Hereafter there is only reward and no work” (source: from the book What did Jesus really say, Web Site Islam.com). However, there will not be any fellowship with Allah as he will reside above the seventh heaven.

Dr. Timothy George in his book Is The Father of Jesus The God of Muhammad? makes the following statement, “Islam teaches that God’s messengers and prophets have brought the very thing forgetful and ignorant human being most need, namely, divine guidance, the perfect distillation of which is the Quran. Obedience to God’s revealed guidance is the way to salvation, and it involves both correct belief and righteous acts: ‘To those who believe and do deeds of righteousness hath God promised forgiveness and a great reward’” ((Koran 5:10), pp 109). The Muslims finds salvation by walking “the straight path”. Walking the straight path begins by keeping the five Pillars of Faith: 1) Affirmation of the creed (Shahada), 2) Observance of Salat (obligatory Prayers), 3) Paying of Zakat (charity), 4) Observance of Sawm (fast) during Ramadan, and 5) Performance of Hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca.

Shahada – Every Muslim must confess the creed: “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger [Prophet] of God.” By confessing this creed, a Muslim agrees to abide by all the teachings of Muhammad and to be faithful in living by the Koran. All authority is invested in the messenger, Muhammad. “O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if ye do believe in Allah and the Last Day: That is best, and most suitable for final determination” (4:59, Abdullah Yusuf Ali). “It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path” (33:36, Abdullah Yusuf Ali).

Zakat – Required charity of a Muslim. It is given by free Muslims (not slaves), who have a certain amount of wealth. A person with less than this does not need to give zakat. Generally, the amount is about 2.5 percent of one’s annual income.

Zakat – Required charity of a Muslim. It is given by free Muslims (not slaves), who have a certain amount of wealth. A person with less than this does not need to give zakat. Generally, the amount is about 2.5 percent of one’s annual income.

Hajj – During a person lifetime, a person is expected to make a pilgrimage to Mecca unless prohibited by health or lack of finances.

We also need to keep in mind that Islam is a complete lifestyle: religious, social, legal, and political. A good Muslim will commit to living out this complete lifestyle by keeping the commandments of the prophet Muhammad. Many countries are Islamic States and, therefore, practice Sharia law. “Most Muslims believe Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Qur’an, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad” (Wikipedia).

Dr. Timothy George in his book Is The Father of Jesus The God of Muhammad? gives this summary of the Muslim concept of Salvation. “The Quran strongly emphasizes that everyone will reap the fruits of his or her own deed on the day of judgment. No soul will bear another’s burden (Koran 6:164).”

The Muslim scholar Abul A’la Maududi has described the final accounting in this way.

‘Man will stand by himself—helpless and alone—to render his account, and awake the pronouncement of judgment, which shall be in the power of God alone. Judgment will rest on one question: Did man conduct himself, in submission to God, in strict conformity with the truth revealed to the prophets, and with the conviction that he would be held responsible for his conduct in life on the Day of Judgment? If the answer is the affirmative, the reward will be paradise; if in the negative, the punishment will be hell'” (pp 113).


In the Bible, Christians are told to go into all the world and make disciples for Christ through the showing of love and ministry. According to the teachings and examples of Muhammad, Muslims are told to go into the world and make disciples for Allah by way of the sword. Those who do not believe should be killed or enslaved. The Koran says, “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book [Jews and Christians], until they pay the Jizya [poll tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (9:29, Abdullah Yusuf Ali).

Some will say that this is the view of radical Islam and not the teaching of peaceful Islam. We must keep in mind that history has recorded that Muhammad preached and practiced Islam with the sword.

For an additional study on who Jesus is, go to my post: “Is Jesus the son of God.”

Note: All quotations for the Koran were copied from the Web Site: “The Holy Quran.”

Scripture quotations marked NKJV are taken from the New King James Version of the Bible, copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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