The Quran seems to suggest - and many Muslims would like to believe - that Christianity and Islam have much in common. Sura 5:82 states, "Thou wilt surely find the most hostile of men to the believes [Muslims] are the Jews and idolaters; and thou wilt surely find the nearest of them in love to the believers are those who say 'We are Christians.' Thus, according to Allah, Christians are closest in love to Muslims and hold much else in common as well.
Nothing can be further from the truth. While there are a scant few similarities between Islam and Christianity, for the most part Islam is at odds with nearly every tenet of faith in Christianity, and even in stark contrast to what Christianity teaches at minor, and seemingly insignificant, details.
This article will be a living document. As I discover more examples in Islam of its direct opposition to Christianity, I will append this article. The subjects covered below are in no particular order.
Islam stands in opposition to Christianity at every level. Opposites don't attract. There is nothing attractive about Islam.
Crucifixion of Jesus
Nothing in Christianity is as fundamental to the faith as the death and resurrection of Jesus. As the apostle Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19, "And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless, and you are still under condemnation for your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ have perished! And if we have hope in Christ only for this life, we are the most miserable people in the world." (NLT)
The Qur'an denies the crucifixion of Christ, and in doing so also denies the resurrection; if there was no death there can be no resurrection. Sura 4:157 states, "That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of God, 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, for of a surety they killed him not."
Yet the crucifixion of Jesus is one of the best documented historical facts ever, not just based on the eyewitness accounts recorded in the Bible, but from external sources as well, many of them hostile to Christianity. For a more detailed account, see the article "Was Jesus Crucified?"
For this reason alone, one must reject the Quran and Islam.
Salvation: Grace or Works?
The Qur'an teaches one achieves eternal salvation to an eternity in paradise, and thus escapes the eternal torment of hell fire, through good works. If one has more good deeds to place on the scales of judgment than bad deeds, one can hope to find favor with Allah and spend eternity in bliss rather than in torment. Sura 23:102-103 states, "Then those whose balance of good deeds is heavy, they will attain salvation; but those whose balance is light, will be those who have lost their souls, in Hell will they abide." And even Muhammad, Allah's chosen final messenger for mankind, did not know of his eternal destiny. "Say: I am not the first of the apostles, and I do not know what will be done with me or with you: I do not follow anything but that which is revealed to me; I am nothing but a plain warner." (Sura 46:9)
The Bible clearly teaches salvation by grace alone through faith alone and not by any works or effort on our part. "For by grace you have been saved, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) While the New Testament does address the subject of works (James 2:14, 18) it is only within the context of a demonstration of a present saving faith. Works are a result OF our salvation, not FOR our salvation. In Islam the opposite is true.
Salvation: Whose Blood Needs Shed?
Jesus died for you; Allah wants you to die for him!
This is a bit pithy, but true nonetheless. In Islam, the only way one can have absolute assurance of salvation is to become a shahid, or martyr in an act of jihad. Martyrs bypass immediately the day of judgment and enter paradise. Sura 3:169-171 states, "And reckon not those who are killed in Allah's way as dead; nay, they are alive and are provided sustenance from their Lord, rejoicing in what God has given to them out of His grace ..."
In Christianity one achieves salvation only through the shed blood of Jesus, given for the remission of our sin. From the beginning of time, God has required the shedding of blood of an innocent animal to atone for the sins of the people. The sacrificial system established in the Old Testament was symbolic and forward looking to the time when God would provide the ultimate sacrifice, paid by Jesus himself, whom John the Baptist identified as the lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). We don't need to shed our own blood; it is of no use. Only the blood of Jesus, the perfect and sinless man, can be offered as a substitute for our own blood. "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sin, according to the riches of His grace." (Ephesians 1:7)
"... then marry such women as seem good to you, two, three, or four ..." (Sura 4:3) Islam permits men to have up to four wives, provided he can give of his time and money equally between all wives. Testimonials demonstrate such polygamous arrangements are rarely harmonious, and rarely does the husband treat all wives equally. Jealousy ensues among the competing wives, and one wife is usually select as the favorite, relegating the rest to inferior status. Many books have been written on this subject.
Although in Old Testament times God permitted (though never endorsed) polygamy, God's design has always been and always will be for one man and one woman. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." (Ephesians 5:31)
Muhallil Marriage or Adultery?
If a Muslim man divorces his wife three times, the divorce is considered irrevocable. "So if a husband divorces his wife irrevocably, he cannot, after that, remarry her until after she has married another husband and he has divorced her." A muhallil marriage allows a woman who has been irrevocably divorced from her husband to enter into a marriage contract with a new husband, with the intent of having sex with him and then seeking a divorce so she can then be reunited back to her first husband. This is the requirement in Islam. I discuss all manner of marriage and divorce issues in the article "The View of Women in Islam."
In the view of the Bible, Islam essentially forces the divorced woman to commit adultery as a requirement to be reunited back to her first husband. Jesus said, "But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery."
Islam permits a man to divorce his wife for any reason, or no reason at all. A woman cannot divorce her husband, however. According to sharia, the reasons for divorce can include simple dissatisfaction with her, or that she served a cold meal, or that she does not keep the home tidy enough, or that she refuses his sexual advances. Sura 4:128 says "If a wife fears cruelty or desertion on her husband's part, there is no blame if they arrange an amicable settlement between themselves ..." Ibn Kathir, the Islamic scholar and Quran commentator, says of this verse, ".. the husband notices something unpleasant about his wife, such as old age or the like, and wants to divorce her ..." Any reason will do.
Divorce was never a part of the design in God's plan. Married couples are committed for life, at least that's the way God designed it. Jesus said in Matthew 19:8, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce, but from the beginning it was not so."
A Woman's Hair
Muslim women must cover their hair to control the sexual advances of men who apparently are very weak and cannot control themselves. In Islamic societies, women who refuse to cover with a veil are seen as "loose women" or prostitutes and are asking for unwanted advances from men. Sura 33:59 states, "O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believes to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies. That will be better, that they should be known as free respectable women so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is ever oft-forgiving, most merciful." One has to ask: annoyed by whom? If the women fail to veil themselves, does this verse suggest they are allowing themselves to "be annoyed" by Muslim men? Islam suggest a woman's hair is a sexual temptation to men.
Christianity recognizes a woman's long hair as something precious and honoring to the woman, not dishonoring as in Islam. "But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her, for her hair is given to her for a covering." (1 Corinthians 11:15) Nowhere does the Bible even suggest a woman's hair might sexually arouse a man. And men are responsible for controlling their own sexual desires, not women. "I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness." (Romans 6:19)
Slaves of God or Children of God?
The relationship of a Muslim to his god is that of a slave to a master. Muslims are nothing more than slaves of Allah. In fact, a common name for Muslim males is Abdullah, which literally means "slave of God." Allah views his subjects as slaves and nothing more. "Islam" actually means 'to submit' and a Muslim is 'one who submits' - to the will of Allah, to the commands of Allah, as any good slave submits to the commands of his master. Muslims are born slaves of Allah, live all their lives as slaves of Allah, and die as slaves of Allah.Their only hope is that the have been enough of an obedient slave to merit Allah's mercy on judgment day.
However, Christians are not slaves of God, but rather "Children of God." That is a much more pleasant relationship. If you had a choice, would you prefer to be a slave of a king or a child of a king? You can immediately see a stark difference between Islam and Christianity. We are invited to call God by intimate names such as Abba, Father (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6) Those who choose salvation through Jesus Christ are gain the right to be called "Children of God." (John 1:12)
Pride and Arrogance or Humility and Meekness
The Quran instills in Muslims a sense of superiority, pride, and arrogance. When you encounter an arrogant Muslim, don't blame him or her; blame their holy book. This is why around the world Muslims view non-Muslims as inferior, worthless, disposable. Although a few Muslims will deny that the intent of the following verse is to instill a sense of superiority, for the majority of Muslims worldwide, it is exactly how they understand this verse: Sura 3:110 - "Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in God. If only the People of the Book had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors." Pride is exactly what inspired Satan's revolt against God, which led to his expulsion from heaven. Yet pride is what Islam encourages, no doubt because of its Satanic roots.
But the Bible warns sternly against pride, arrogance, and superiority. "The Lord will destroy the house of the proud" (Proverbs 15:25). "Everyone proud of heart is an abomination to the Lord" (Proverbs 16:5). "He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife" (Proverbs 28:25). "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18). "I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible" (Isaiah 13:11).
Moreover, Jesus taught humility, meekness (power under control), and shunned the thought of supremacy. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). "If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all" (Mark 9:35). "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted" Luke 14:11). "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6).
Islam: Kill Those Who Curse You; Christianity: Bless Them!
Muhammad is said to be the ultimate example of conduct for Muslims to emulate and follow. Sura 33:21 states, "Ye have indeed in the Messenger of God a beautiful pattern of conduct for any one whose hope is in God and the final day...". So when we examine how Muhammad treated those who ridiculed or mocked him, what do we find? He ordered them murdered! The biography of Muhammad by Ibn Ishaq recounts many examples of Muhammad dispatching his warriors to kill those who wrote poetry mocking him, or songs which criticized him. Space limitations do not permit all these to be listed here, but I document some of these incidents in the article "Morals and Ethics: Muhammad or Jesus?"
And once again, Christianity takes the moral high ground in this area. Jesus taught, "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44). Following the example of Jesus, the apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse" (Romans 12:14). And even when Jesus was on the cross, at the moment of his most excruciating pain, he said of those who put him there, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34).
God: Knowable or Unknowable?
The god of Islam is a mystery. He is unknowable. Islam declares that Allah is transcendent and distant, so much so that there is no way to possible know Allah to any degree. The well known Islamic scholar Al-Ghazali stated, "The end result of the knowledge of the 'arifin is their inability to know Him, and their knowledge is, in truth, that they do not know Him and that it is absolutely impossible for them to know Him." Former Muslim and author Abdul Saleeb writes, "The Islamic view of God involves a form of agnosticism. Indeed, the heart of Islam is not to know God but to obey Him ... Despite all the names of God in the Qur'an, in orthodox Islam we confront a God who is basically unknowable."
Christians have a God who we can not only know but who invites us into relationship with Him! The very fact that we are described as Children of God, and can call God our Father indicates a close relationship of a family. We have a God who cares for our personal concerns (Matthew 6:25-31). As Jesus was praying right before his betrayal, he said, "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (John 17:3). I want a God I can know and who invites me to know Him.
Man: Born Good or Born Sinful?
Islam teaches all humans are born in a natural state of goodness and purity. Absent is any notion of original or imputed sin from Adam and Eve's original disobedience. "A fundamental precept of Islam is that human nature is essentially good" (source here). To sin is simply to act outside the will of Allah; to disobey a given rule; to forget what Allah said. It is mere forgetfulness and nothing more. Synopsis of sin in Islam here.
Christianity teaches that man inherited a sinful nature from the very beginning. This can clearly be seen just in the daily interactions of toddlers among one another. Who taught a little child to be possessive of her toys? To become angry when another child takes a toy? To throw tantrums when she doesn't get her way? These are the "good" humans Muslims say we were created as? Further, the Bible confirms our sinfulness. King David wrote, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me (Psalm 51:5). Paul writes to the Romans, "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned" (Romans 5:12). We learn also "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
Muslims have no mechanism with which to wipe away their sins. They can only hope to achieve enough good to offset their sins on judgment day. But Christians have the mechanism for our sins to be forgiven. "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1).
Islam: No Man Can Bear the Sin of Another; Christianity: Jesus Did!
The Qur'an repeatedly states unequivocally that nobody can be responsible for the sins of another, and each man is obligated to bear the burden of his own sin. "And whatever wrong any human being commits rests upon himself alone; and no bearer of burdens shall be made to bear another's burden" (Sura 6:164). "Whoever chooses to follow the right path follows it but for his own good; and whoever goes astray goes but astray to his own hurt; and no bearer of burdens shall be made to bear another's burden" (Sura 17:15). These two verses are set in the context of sinning - each man's sins will be his burden alone - and nobody else can bear the burden of sin for another. This is a direct slap in the face of Christianity.
Yet the prophet Isaiah prophesied hundreds of years in advance one who would come to bear the burdens of mankind:
Surely He has born our griefs and carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth.
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
And this prophecy is an exact word picture of Jesus Christ, who did take our burden of sin upon himself. Any Muslim who wants his burden lifted need only to come to Jesus, the one who took our punishment for us.
Islam: Pray Toward Mecca; Christianity: God Hears You From Any Direction!
Five times a day (Sunni Islam) Muslims stop what they are doing, lay out a rug or prayer mat, faced toward Mecca, and pray to Allah. Praying toward Mecca is so important that a news report in 2009 made headlines when it was discovered more than 200 mosques were incorrectly aligned. It is so important to know which direction one must face that one can download a smartphone app that points toward Mecca, regardless where in the world you might be. This seems to suggest that Allah only hears prayers if one prays while facing Mecca. This makes Allah appear to be weak and pathetic, because he can only hear in one direction.
The God of Christians can hear prayers from anywhere in the world, and can hear from any direction those prayers are spoken! We have no rules about when to pray, how to pray, or what direction to face as we pray. Our God is beyond all that nonsense; He's a much bigger God. If you want a big God, come to the God of the Bible, the God of Christians, who can hear you any time, anywhere.