Correspondence: Christianity or Islam (Part 1)
Conception of God; Prophets
by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, Islamia College, Lahore
The Light (Pakistan), 16th February 1923 Issue (Vol. 2, No. 4, p. 3)
In the following lines, I intend to point out some of the most important, but simplest and straightforward differences between Christianity and Islam. As for the conclusion, I leave it to the just and unbiased minds of the readers themselves.
1. Conception of God:
Islam presents the unity of God in the simplest and the purest of all the forms. It associates nought with Him. Unity is the keynote to the conception of the Divine Being in Islam. The laws of nature and the very nature of man itself declare His Unity, which is a cardinal doctrine of the faith of Islam. Again, the God of Islam is not the God of any particular caste, creed, or country. He administers to the need of every individual or nation alike.
He is described in the Holy Quran (1:1) as the
“Lord of the worlds,”
and thus while widening the conception of the Divine Being, it also enlarges the circle of the brotherhood of man so as to include each and every nation of the earth, and so broadens the outlook of human sympathy. He is Beneficent and Merciful. His mercy encompasses all things. He is not a mere judge, but the supreme master of the whole of the creation. He is Self-Sufficient. He needs no helper. He begets not nor is He begotten. He is perfect in the fullest sense. He is Ever-Living and Ever-Present. He is Omniscient and Omnipotent. There is no limitation to His powers. He tires not. He needs no rest. He is the Light of the world, and it is through Him that the darkness is removed. He is the only forgiver of sins.
On the other hand, the Christian God is not a Lord (Rabb) but simply a “father” (Abb); he is not a sole master, but a mere judge. He is not self-sufficient, because he needs a son. He is not perfect, because He cannot forgive. He is tired, because he needs rest. He is not one, but three.
The second crucial difference between the two religions is about the belief in prophets.
Islam says that all the religious personalities, such as Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna or Confucius, who appeared in different ages and in different countries — whether they were in India, China, Europe or Persia — for the spiritual guidance and advancement of humanity, were all true messengers of God. Each one of them was sent for the reformation of his own people.
وَ لَقَدۡ بَعَثۡنَا فِیۡ کُلِّ اُمَّۃٍ رَّسُوۡلًا
“A warner or a spiritual guide has been sent to every nation”
is the verdict of the Holy Quran (16:36). Thus, a Muslim while believing in all the prophets of God widens the circle of human love and sympathy. He believes that all the religions of the world were true, as revealed by God.
On the other hand, Christianity says that with the exception of Jesus Christ, the only son of God, all the other religious personalities were sinful and were not noble, and the same is the attitude of every other religion.
If a Christian or a Hindu comes under the fold of Islam, he loses nothing, because he continues to love or honour Jesus Christ or Krishna, as he did before, but on the other hand, he gains something, and that is, he begins to respect and honour all the other good and righteous personalities of the world. But if a Muslim becomes a non-Muslim, he creates hatred and ill-will for all the good and noble persons of all the other religions and confines his love and honour to one single personality.
In short, Islam presents Godhood as a perfect unity, and prophethood as a belief in all the prophets of the world, and hence its cosmopolitan nature.
[Read the next part: ‘Part 2’]