ARE CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS PRAYING TO THE SAME GOD?
Mutual Respect Requires Us To Reply In The Negative.
Vast segments of Islam and Christianity will say - “NO”. Muslims and Christians adhere to 2 diametrically opposed revelations: Islam speaks of a god who is One and his name is Allah; Christianity proclaims a Triune God - Father, Son And Holy Ghost. Trying to reconcile these revelations with the notion that Muslims and Christians have not understood the fullness of the true god is condescending and betrays an ignorance of revelation based religions. The axiom that all religions worship the same God is a popular expression based on well intentioned ignorance. It’s sounds nice but is devoid of any sensibility toward Islamic and Christian belief systems. A Muslim would never agree to the assertion that Allah and the Triune Christian God are one and the same. Christians would heartily agree!!
Does this mean that Islam and Christianity are destined to collide? Again the answer is “NO”. The Biblical accounts abound with examples of peaceful co-existence between God’s people and those from different religions and cultures. Joseph played a critical role in pagan Egypt; he found ways to work with Pharoah, a self proclaimed god-king. Moses took advice from Jethro, Midianite. Nehemiah was an administrator in the Persian court which was sympathetic to a universal vision of religious beliefs. And Jesus did not offend the gods of the Roman Empire; He also resisted all forms of national religiosity as embodied in the Zealots.
What of the texts which appear to encourage conflict between between worshippers of other gods and God’s people? The Old Testament prophets in their attempt at protecting the transformational calling of God’s people, railed against syncretism and idolatrous worship. There is however no evidence of God’s people taking arms against other nations of different religious beliefs on the basis of religious calling. As a counter argument, however, the destruction of the Canaanite peoples by the Israelites and the conflicts between the Philistines and Israel appear to foster inter religious warfare. A closer reading however of these episodes within the larger narrative of God’s judgement over the sins of His own people, Israel, would lead us to the idea that God’s sovereign judgment does not favour any religion or nation. He uses the nations of the earth as his temporary instruments to judge other nations. For instance, Israel was his instrument of judgement against the Canaanites; He used Babylon later to judge Israel. Whatever favour Christians enjoy as God’s people is derived from the favour that God the Father showed his Son, Jesus.
As Christians, we are called to be peacemakers. This is not easy, especially in countries where other religions dominate. The Biblical testimony of Daniel is an important model for Christians who struggle as a minority. Christian leaders are called to peacefully co-exist with people are hostile in their attitudes toward God’s people.
Lord, grant us the patience to bear with injustices and the courage and humility to stake our claims and rights. Hence the constant need for dialogue and mutual understanding so that we may all live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (1 Timothy 2: 1-2).