A Dialog About The One True God

a-dialog-about-the-one-true-god

by Roland Clarke of Answering-Islam dot org.

Barack Obama recently delivered a much publicized speech in Cairo – an impassioned plea for building bridges across our deeply divided world. A year earlier King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia made a similar appeal in his inaugural speech at a World Conference on Dialogue in July 2008.”Religion should be a means to iron out differences and not to lead to disputes.” He admitted that “most of the dialogue [between religions] has ended in failure” but he was hopeful that we can succeed by emphasizing “the common link between us, which is a belief in God.” ()

This conference continued an earlier dialogue initiative in which 138 Muslim leaders sent a letter to prominent Christian leaders expressing their earnest desire “not to let our differences cause hatred and strife between us [Christians and Muslims].” This same concern was voiced in Africa Perspectives (Feb. 2008) which summarized the keynote address as follows, “Islam is anchored on the concept of Tawheed … the spread of peace is central to the message of Islam and the existence of diversity create[s] the opportunity for interaction and dialog rather than a reason for conflict.”

It is well known that the prophets called people to worship the one true creator God. Indeed this call was grounded in the rescue story known as the Exodus. The Qur’an clearly says that Allah intervened when Moses’ people were enslaved and oppressed by Pharaoh in “the Great Calamity”. Allah “saved” them from Pharaoh’s murderous intentions. (Surah 2:50; 37:115)

Testimony of the Prophet Moses

The Bible uses similar words in describing this story. This rescue is prominent among the ten commandments. In fact it is a vital part of the first commandment which reads:

I am the Lord your God who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. You must not have any other god but me. (Exodus 20:2,3).

Later prophets often recalled this epic story using it to re-emphasize the first commandment.

 But I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Saviour except me. … I made you, and … I will save you. To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal? Some pour out their silver and gold and hire a goldsmith to make a god from it. Then they bow down and worship it. … when someone prays to it, there is no answer; it can’t rescue anyone. … Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; … there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Saviour; there is none but me. (Hosea 13:4, NIV, Isaiah 46:6-9, NIV)

Notice how false gods are contrasted with Yahweh God. This same contrast is seen in the story of Moses when he met with his father-in-law, Jethro, a Midianite priest. We read how Moses told Jethro,

everything the LORD had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians on behalf of Israel. He also told about all the hardships they had experienced along the way and how the LORD had rescued his people from all their troubles. Jethro was delighted when he heard about all the good things the LORD had done for Israel as he rescued them from the hand of the Egyptians. “Praise be to the LORD,” Jethro said, “for he has rescued you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh. … I know now that the LORD is greater than all other gods.” (Exodus 18:8-11)

God’s oneness is inseparably linked with his saving power. Idols are proved false because they cannot save. The LORD God is the only one worthy of worship because he alone can save. This is the same message we find repeated in the writings of the prophets.

Testimony of the Prophet Jonah

The twin truths of God’s oneness and saving power are also seen in the story of Jonah. No doubt you remember how Jonah was caught in a terrible storm. The sailors, who were also in the boat, tried desperately to avoid drowning by every possible means – including praying to their gods – but to no avail. Finally, the underlying cause of the storm came to light. Jonah confessed he was to blame and humbly accepted the punishment that was rightfully his. He was duly thrown overboard.

But it so ‘happened’ that Jonah was swallowed by a huge fish, and was vomited on shore three days later. Jonah’s prayer from the fish’s belly affirms God’s oneness – again, in contrast to idols. He prayed,

But you, O Lord God, snatched me from the jaws of death! … Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies. But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise … For my salvation comes from the Lord alone. (Jonah 2:6-9)

Testimony of King David

These same two truths are echoed again in the writings of David the harpist. He wrote, “praise God our savior! … Our God is a God who saves! The Sovereign Lord rescues us from death… Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations … He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods. The gods of other nations are mere idols …” (Psalm 68:19,20; Psalm 96:2-5)

David could confidently make these statements because of many personal experiences. For example, as a young man he volunteered to face the giant Goliath, saying, “The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine.” (1 Samuel 17:37)

It is interesting to notice how Goliath sneered at David with contempt and “cursed him by the names of his gods.” Needless to say, the outcome proved that his idols were false gods. They couldn’t save him.

Testimony of King Hezekiah

We read another story in Isaiah 37 which highlights these same two truths. King Hezekiah was besieged by the vastly superior armies of the King of Assyria. Sennacherib taunted Hezekiah in a letter, describing how all the gods of other nations had failed to protect them against his mighty army. He bragged that Hezekiah’s God also could not save him.

Faced with this life threatening situation, Hezekiah prayed, “It is true, LORD, that the Kings of Assyria have destroyed all these nations. And they have thrown the gods of these nations into the fire and burned them. But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not gods at all – only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands. Now, O LORD our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O LORD [Yahweh], are God.” (Isaiah 37:18-20)

God heard Hezekiah’s prayer and vindicated himself before the world. It is interesting to see how Sennacherib’s defeat had a similar outcome to Pharaoh’s defeat. God said to Pharaoh (through Moses), “I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16)

Many other rescue stories could be cited, such as Joseph, Daniel, Shadrack, Meshak and Abednego. Each of these stories highlights God’s intervention in a dramatic rescue (salvation) which shows God’s surpassing greatness – in contrast to false gods. I encourage you to read these stories for yourself in Genesis chapters 37-50 and Daniel chapters three and six.

Question

Do Muslims and Christians agree there is only one true living God? Yes. Do the Qur’anic accounts of the prophets mention God’s saving power? Yes, however, Muslim scholars have not deemed this title ‘Saviour’ to be worthy of inclusion in the list of 99 beautiful names of Allah. The Qur’an does not seem to recognise this attribute as a prominent name – one which stands out as a distinguishing mark of the one and only true God. Indeed, it seems that this omission has caused Muslims to undervalue an important attribute that was intended to enhance God’s honour and praiseworthiness on a global scale.

We have already glimpsed how Moses’ victory over Pharaoh revealed God’s surpassing greatness among “all nations” – in contrast to Pharaoh’s gods who were powerless to save the Egyptians. Similarly, the rescue story of King Hezekiah shows how God honoured himself before “all kingdoms of the earth”.

This worldwide perspective is underscored again by the prophet Isaiah, “There is no other God but me, a righteous God and Saviour. There is none but me. Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other. I have sworn by my own name … Every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to me.” (Isaiah 45:21-23)

God commands everyone to look to him for salvation. All of us have disobeyed God, even as Jonah did. We are all under God’s wrath but thankfully the Lord shows forbearance. If he did not exercise restraint the Bible says, “all people would pass away – all the souls I have made.” (Isaiah 57:17) The Qur’an also testifies to this truth, saying, “If God were to punish men for their wrong doing he would not leave on the (earth) a single living creature; but He gives them respite for a stated Term…” (Surah 16:61) I urge you to take this warning seriously.

In conclusion, let me encourage you to reflect on a prophecy of a joyous day of salvation when God will “swallow up death forever [and] … wipe away all tears.” (Isaiah 25:7-9) These hope inspiring words resonate with a longing for eternity which God has “planted in our hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Isaiah’s prophecy rings true with our aspiration to reach a destination where there is no death, no fear and no sorrow – a heavenly home mentioned in both the Qur’an and the Bible. May I encourage you to read a meditation entitled “Is Death the End?” that explains this in more detail.

Note: All Biblical quotations (unless specified otherwise) are taken from the New Living Translation. All Qur’anic quotations are from Yusuf Ali’s translation.

:: Access from,

http://www.answering-islam.org/authors/clarke/savior.html

:: Access date 14 Peb 2012.

Sophislam,

Christians accuse that Islam is not the continuation of Christianity. One of the reasons is, that there are many things in Christianity that are abrogated by Islam. Totally Islam contradicts the faith of Christianity.

Christians believe that Jesus is the savior. Thus, if Islam is the continuation of Christianity, so Islam must adopt that belief too.

Christians begin to look at the 99 Beautiful Names of God. In this 99 Names, there are names like, Alghafoor means the Most Forgiver; Almuhaimin means the Most Maintainer, Alkhalik means the Creator. Christians see, that in 99 Names, there is no name as The Savior, whereas Jesus is believed as One.

In one aspect, Christians come to the scenery that that there is no name Savior in Islam 99 Beautiful Names means that Christianity is excelling Islam. Islam can say anything it wants, but still it can not be the savior for the people, Christians think. And, why is there no name Savior in 99 Beautiful Names while the rests are there? Does God of Islam refuse to be the savior? Or, does God of Islam want to inspire the people that the savior-ness lays on the good deeds of the people, not on the good will of God? If so, then once again, Christianity excels Islam!

What would Muslims say to answer this criticism?

Apparently Muslims will unable to answer this. Saying that the idea of saviorness didn’t come from God at all but it was invented by people hundred years after the death of Jesus will not work to satisfy Christians. Or, the idea of saviorness contradicts the logic (therefore Christianity as a whole contradicts the logic), cannot silent the Christians. Before all, Christians have known that there is no ayah in Alquran expressing that God is the savior. Alquran only contains ayah like that God is merciful and Most-forgiver.

All what Christians want to hear is, is savior the center of belief in Islam if Islam wants to be the continuation of Christianity?

It is apparent that Islam is the continuation of Christianity and Judaism as well. Teachings that lived in Judaism and Christianity will be preserved in Islam even though they will present in another forms (with one remark, that some teachings in Judaism or Christianity may be the heresies so Islam will annul them). Since God is the savior in Judaism and Christianity, so there is no denial that God of Islam is the savior also. And, of course this saviorness of God of Islam will be the center of Islamic teachings.

Islam itself means the SAVIOR. Islam is the salvation. He who chooses Islam as the religion will be the one who will be rescued from the path of Satan and from the sins he had committed. Muhammad in a hadith says,

It is impossible that hellfire will touch the skin of he who says, “I declare that there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger”.

Islam has come to the people with the light of life, the capability to see the bad from the good, and to distinguish the way that can lead the people to the salvation. All the good deeds he commits will be rewarded, unlike the disbelievers whose their good deeds will be annulled.

God sees that the name of Savior is not fit to be placed in the 99 Names. Meanwhile, the 99 Beautiful Names is in Islam alone. And, Islam itself is the Savior.

Christians may argue that it is not right to say that the saviorness in Christianity or Judaism occurs in the name of Muhammad’s religion. They will use the argument that Muslims are still required to do the good deeds to enable them to enter the paradise. We have to observe that the saviorness of Jesus does no good at all because NT – OT explain that some people will be sent to hellfire even though they believe in Jesus and his words and they make many miracles in the name of Jesus. Jesus himself ever curses his people to be those who will dwell in hellfire!

If I believe in Jesus as the divine son (which means I convert to Christianity) that doesn’t automatically help me to be free from the threat of hellfire even though I have tried to be nice boy. The lies I said, the bad deed I committed, etc will cause me to be sent to hell by Jesus. In Jesus’ kingdom, the hell is never empty and emptied. There will be still Christians who dwell there.

Islam, viewed from its name, has become the core of heavenly religion (Judeo – Christianity – Islam tradition) whereas the saviorness is the center of Judaism and Christianity (or, exactly, the Teachings that brought by Iesa Ibn Maryam).

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