Allah: Just and Merciful?


Note: A variety of issues are touched on in the discussion between a Muslim and a Christian in the correspondence dialogue recorded below. At heart it is a comparison not only of specific beliefs, or of the validity of texts, but of the entire worldviews: the Christian versus the Islamic worldview. The discussion centres on the attributes of Allah as described in the Quran, versus the attributes of the God of the Bible. Also included is discussion on the nature of sin, and its punishment. Thus this discussion gives a comparative view of the internal coherence of each world and life view. These are matters of eternal consequence, not only for the writers, but also for you the reader. There can only be one truth, only one way, as God has clearly revealed in the Bible. (We do not hesitate to let our Christian world-and-life view shine through at all parts of our website!) Names and e-mail addresses have been removed; original format and content are retained.


COMMENT FROM A MUSLIM READER:

The Koran wrong? [re: your website]

...because of its contradictions with earlier revelation (cf. Deuteronomy 13:1-5).

The earlier revelation ...... not in its original form.


OUR RESPONSE

Thank you for your thoughts and short comment. The text which you mention from Deuteronomy 13:1-5 I would argue in contrast is indeed an excellent text to refute the Quran, and especially Muhammad's concept of Allah, which does not at all match the revelation of the Old and New Testaments (Torah and Injil). Clearly the "later revelation" which claims to be based on the earlier stands in clear contradiction! Galatians 1:8-12, written near two thousand years after the Deuteronomy passage (and some 600 years prior to Muhammad's arrival on the scene in south central Arabia), by the inspiration and guidance of God, gives very much the same statement, showing the unity and truth of the Holy Scriptures:

"But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed... I make known to you brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ."

This can be applied most clearly to Muhammad's receiving of "revelation" from the angel..

In denying the person and work of Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, God Incarnate, the Quran and hadith end up denying either the holy justice of God, or minimizing the sinfulness of man, along with denying God's revelation of Himself and His salvation.

Apart from the person and work of Jesus Christ there is no hope of resolving these two:

(1) God's perfect, unchanging, transcendant holiness and righteous justice,

(2) and the pervasive sinfulness of every human heart.

All men have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Whatever the law of God says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

"Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in [God's] sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin." The righteousness of God is revealed and given through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. (Romans 3:19-26)

As Christians, by God's compassionate goodness, we know that we are sinful, that we, just as all others, do not deserve God's kindness. We know that we have fallen far short of His Holy standards for our lives. In Jesus Christ we have forgiveness and mercy, and full assurance that we are forgiven - by the goodness of God. "Ask and you shall receive." Matthew 7. Living out of the goodness and love of God, by His forgiving sacrifice in Jesus Christ, we then strive to walk in holiness and purity according to His law and commandments.

The law of God has two purposes: to show us our sinfulness and need of forgiveness and mercy, which we due to our sin can never earn by good works! And then as we receive the gift of forgiveness, the law is our guide for living as we seek to live lives of thankful obedience and submission to the gracious, just, and most holy God of all creation.


COMMENT FROM MUSLIM READER:

Shortly: Your 'assumption' is that your whole bible is the truth..


OUR REPLY:

True enough, that certainly is my presupposition, and my faith, and I believe it is the position which is logically coherent and forms the only coherent world and life view. I am quite happy as well to explain and defend that.

Your assumption in contrast is that the Quran and Islam supersede the Bible, and that they form a coherent worldview. However this fails on several categories -- the assumption that the Quran is the truth, the revelation of God, and is not corrupted while the Scriptures (which "form its basis/roots") which are its historical antecedent are; internal contradictions and problems rife within the Quran and hadith as bodies of writings which make truth claims; and the lack of a consistent world and life view within Islam.

The fact is we each have presuppositions, and faith as everyone in this world does. What is the true test is which presuppositions, faith and truth claims are indeed true and consistent internally and as they are applied to worldview. God is true and righteous altogether. He is unchanging and does not lie. The fact that our universe has laws, order, logic, is a reflection of who God is. So also our thinking and life is to be patterned and ordered after His revealed will to us.

I would be interested in hearing cogent arguments for Islam as a faith and worldview.


COMMENT FROM MUSLIM READER:

The truth can't be proven by sweet and soothing words.


OUR REPLY:

Truth as truth will not contradict itself. It will form a harmonious basis for logic, science, and law, and all of life. If truth cannot be conveyed and shown in words and propositions, you have mere folly and emptiness. Sound and fury signifying nothing.


COMMENT FROM MUSLIM READER:

Yes, and some of the dogmas in the world today still strive on using words, soothing words....


OUR REPLY:

Indeed some words are soothing and empty; some transient and ultimately meaningless as a vapor; some claiming truth but being folly leading to a harsh reality; but the Word of the Lord endures forever; convicting and terrible, sharper than any two-edged sword, searching and deep, awesome and transcedant, humbling man the created and exalting God the Creator.


COMMENT FROM MUSLIM READER:

but the Word of the Lord endures forever; convicting and ....

..'claimed' to be the word the Lord.


OUR REPLY:

"Find those who say, "We are Christians": Because amongst these are Men devoted to learning. And men who have renounced The world, and they Are not arrogant." Sura 5:82

"If thou wert in doubt As to what We have revealed unto thee then ask those who have been reading The Book [the Bible] before thee..." Sura 10:94


COMMENT FROM MUSLIM READER:

Yes 'claimed'....

"Find those who say, "We are Christians": Because amongst these are Men devoted to learning. And men who have renounced The world, and they Are not arrogant." Sura 5:82

Those were the true 'nasara' certainly not the current 'christians'. Again, it is very easy 'to claim' for something....

"If thou wert in doubt As to what We have revealed unto thee then ask those who have been reading The Book [the Bible] before thee..." Sura 10:94

The Book... which book? Certainly it is not the current Bible.


OUR REPLY:

"it is very easy 'to claim' for something..."

as you have done.. to defend and explain is of course another matter.


COMMENT FROM MUSLIM READER:

Yes it applies to both of us and to anybody for that matter, since we are talking about so many people's fate here.

It is people like us who should be more responsible. Millions of people's fate are at stake. It feels good when you can come up with 'convincing' and (again) 'soothing' argument and talk... talk like salvation etc. It feels good when you think you have 'win' the 'war'.

But, please..... Be frank at least with our own selves. Listen to your heart, your own deepest feeling. Am I in the truth? Or are we just looking for excuses, looking for arguments to suit certain dogma? Dogma passed on for generations?....

It is us who will get the most of the blame if we misguide the people.


OUR REPLY:

Eternal life or eternal punishment.. many souls are certainly at stake -- indeed each and every one in this world; that is why there is urgency in seeking to know and defend the truth, and to understand what is really the revelation and will of God. To claim that salvation in Christ is mere soothing talk is a claim, but one you have not backed up in any way; a claim which is false. Indeed the Word of God, the Bible, says there is no other way, no other hope of being saved from the just wrath of God against sin. Sin is pervasive, and taints your heart and motives, just as it does mine. God is perfectly holy and just; He will bring perfect justice to bear on all of mankind, every individual -- He knows all of the secrets of men. He will not compromise righteous judgement in compassion and mercy -- no, but He has made a way where the two meet together in the person and work of Jesus Christ, the sinless One. You however claim that there is another way; you have the soothing talk of man simply following the five pillars, and earning his way by good deeds. But there is none righteous, no not one; all have sinned and fall short of God's holy requirements. We must be holy, and righteous indeed in all our actions, in all our thoughts, but we cannot as sinful men meet God's just and holy standard. That is where and how we see His great grace, mercy and compassion in Jesus Christ; the sacrifice, the penalty we rightly deserve has been paid, for those who would humble themselves before Him, confess their sins, and seek to live holy lives of repentance, thankfulness, and worship to God for His goodness.

"But, please..... Be frank at least with our own selves. Listen to your heart, your own deepest feeling. Am I in the truth? Or are we just looking for excuses, looking for arguments to suit certain dogma? Dogma passed on for generations?...."

Are we? Are you? Am I? Those are good questions to ask; to think and pray about; to earnestly study, to wrestle with, for indeed it is a matter of eternal consequence. Your dogma has indeed been passed on since the 6th century AD... Mine since God spoke and created all things. The Bible says that if you do not repent of sin, and believe in the saving work of Jesus Christ, you will be justly condemned to face the wrath of God in Hell for all eternity. As I believe and am convicted of these things in heart and soul, for me to do anything less than to seek to share this truth with others would be at the least shameful sin against God's undeserved goodness to me, and selfishness to those whose very eternal state is at stake. We will both stand before God, there is no doubt of that. You at present hope to do so on the basis of your own works; I know my own works and know my sin, and know that there is no hope for me, but God's great and good grace and love in Jesus.

It is us who will get the most of the blame if we misguide the people.

Perhaps in your belief the most blame; those who misguide from the truth of God's revealed Word will however suffer the anger and judgement of God who has so abundantly made Himself and His requirements and call for our hearts and lives clear in His Word, and in Jesus Christ.


COMMENT FROM MUSLIM READER:

You at present hope to do so on the basis of your own works; I know my own works and know my sin, and know that there is no hope for me, but God's great and good grace and love in Jesus.

Not just in Jesus (Isa) but in everybody in all His creations. And there is always hope in everyone including Isa, including you including me .... Isa was not and will not be responsible for anybody else's sin. Every body is responsible for his own deed.


OUR REPLY:

Isa was not and will not be responsible for anybody else's sin. Every body is responsible for his own deed.

Yes, we are each completely responsible for our own deeds. Jesus was never "responsible" for our sins, but He freely took upon Himself the just judgement of God, the punishment for the sins of the people of God. That is God's goodness and mercy -- freely giving His Son, and His Son freely offering to take the place of sinful men, of all those who would trust in Him. Our responsibility to submit to God and His revelation of forgiveness in Jesus is never done away with, nor is our responsibility to live according to His holy law - His requirements for our lives.

And there is always hope in everyone...

There is always hope in God's goodness and mercy, while we live in this world, while we are yet in the land of the opportunity of receiving salvation and forgiveness. But if you think there is hope in your own deeds and actions, apart from God and His grace in Jesus Christ, you are sadly and fearfully wrong. There is, and can only be one true way to God.. it is not by works but by faith in Jesus, this faith will then be proved and shown in a life of righteousness and holy thankfulness for God's mercy in Jesus, and in reliance on that mercy.


COMMENT FROM MUSLIM READER:

Yes, we are each completely responsible for our own deeds. Jesus was never "responsible" for our sins, but He freely took upon Himself the just judgement of God, the punishment for the sins of the people of God. That is God's goodness and mercy -- freely giving His Son, and His Son freely offering to take the place of sinful men, of all those who would trust in Him.

No. God is able to forgive without giving anybody or anything. Simple.


OUR REPLY:

That is quite a claim; soothing words indeed.. in fact far more soothing than the Word of the God who will not allow any sin to go unpunished; than a God who is perfectly holy and just, than a God who knows all the secrets of men, who will judge every thought and every motive, and who requires justice and truth in every detail. Than the God who will give just judgement for every sin, just punishment for every sin. Far more soothing than the God who "is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:29

It is true the Allah of Islam does give -- he gives up righteousness and truth by simply ignoring man's sin, if they have a slight edge of good works more than bad. Islam compromises the very being of God, His character and revelation, His holiness, purity and justice; and fails to recognize the pervasity and depth of man's sin and sinful character before God.

The God of Scripture, of the Old and New Testaments, of Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, the prophets and apostles, instituted and required blood payment for sin; teaching the severity of sin, and pointing to the promise -- the promise of One who would be the Redeemer, the Messiah, the Lamb of atonement for the sins of the people. All of the Old Testament, the Law and the Prophets, points to the coming of Jesus Christ, to His person and work.

The Quran claims to stand on the foundation of the Torah and Injil, but constitutes a complete and radical paradigm shift away from the truth of God's revelation. Allah is claimed to be forgiving in the final judgement, if you have more good in your life than bad. You seek to soothe yourself, and Islam seeks to soothe you, by imagining that you are good enough to make yourself right before God. However the reality is, apart from those who are in Christ Jesus, none will stand in the judgement, but all others will be condemned to eternal punishment. Jesus said "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6

"For the wages of sin are death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus." Romans 6:23

"The righteous God tests the hearts and minds... God is a just judge." Psalm 7:9-11

"And He [Jesus] said, What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these things come from within and defile a man." Mark 7:20-23

"You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgement. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement... whoever says "you fool!" shall be in danger of hell fire..."

"You have heard that it was said to those of old, You shall not commit adultery, but I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart..." Matthew 5:21..28

"My blood .. is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins." Matthew 26:28

Many of the Jews as well did not believe the words of Jesus. "He [Jesus] said to them, You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." John 8:23


COMMENT FROM MUSLIM READER:

He is just. Therefore he punishes who committed sin accordingly.


OUR REPLY:

True. But then how can you hope to stand before God in the judgement on the basis of your own deeds, with the thought that if you have enough "good" God will simply ignore the bad? Especially when you consider how even the best of the good deeds are tainted with motives of selfishness, pride, greed, etc. And considering how often there is anger, lust, covetousness.. God is not concerned with the mere external act, but with our hearts and minds.


COMMENT FROM MUSLIM READER:

He is just. Therefore He does not have to send anybody (including Isa) to 'pay' for the sin of the people.


OUR REPLY:

In a message dated 07/31/2000 9:13:29PM, you write:

He is just. Therefore He does not have to send anybody (including Isa) to 'pay' for the sin of the people.

In a message dated 07/26/2000 7:54:37PM, you write:

He is just. Therefore he punishes who committed sin accordingly.

Taking those two statements together, who then is going to pay for your sins?


COMMENT FROM MUSLIM READER:

He is also merciful He can forgive. He can forgive without sacrificing anybody. Without being unjust to anybody. But first and foremost everybody is accountable to his own doing.


OUR REPLY:

You wrote:

1.He is just. Therefore He does not have to send anybody (including Isa) to 'pay' for the sin of the people.

2.He is just. Therefore he punishes who committed sin accordingly.

My question was: Taking those two statements together, who then is going to pay for your sins?

You wrote:

3.He is also merciful He can forgive. He can forgive without sacrificing anybody. Without being unjust to anybody. But first and foremost everybody is accountable to his own doing.

Here in these three statements you gave, you show the fundamental nature of the god you serve. Allah you claim:

1.(a) Is just.

(b) Therefore he punishes those who sin accordingly.

Then you claim:

2.(a) He is just.

(b) Therefore he does not have to send anybody to pay for anyone else's sin.

Now taking these two statements together, the logical implication is that Allah will, and must, because he is just, punish individuals for their sin. But you see here is where we differ, and where you have a serious problem. Allah as you describe him first (1) is just; as he would be if he punished every sin accordingly; and indeed he can maintain his justice (2) without sending another to pay for anyone else's sin, and simply let them pay for it themselves. However if he is infinitely holy, infinitely just, and *unchanging in his attributes* -- that is unable to compromise any one attribute of his being against another -- then if he has not sent any substitute to pay for your sin, the clear follow through is that you must pay for all of your sins yourself. If God is infinitely holy, then each sin is a mockery of that infinite holiness, and is worthy of infinite punishment. You then must bear his justice and infinite wrath against your sins against him. Now however you claim (3) that Allah is merciful, that he can forgive, simply by saying "I forgive". However if this is true then Allah's mercy is simply a negation of his justice. Allah's justice and mercy then are not infinite, true, and unchanging, pervasive, and harmonious attributes of his being; rather they are attributes like those of a man: conflicting, partial, incomplete, and changing. Allah is not infinitely just and righteous. He is not completely just and righteous in all things, in all his being, for he ignores justice and righteousness in order to be what you claim is merciful. Thus Allah in some cases ignores sin. He then is not holy, righteous and good. The clear reality is that the Allah of Islamic theology is a changing being, not one who is unchanging and who always remains true to himself.

Numbers 23:19 (Torah)

"God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?"

Malachi 3:6

"For I am Jehovah, I change not;"

This clearly shows why the Triune God of the Bible can only be the One True God. In the Trinity alone can God maintain perfect, full, and unchanging justice toward sin. The Triune God alone is unchanging in His attributes. He alone always remains true to who He is. He is infinitely holy, and so Jesus His Son is the only one who as God Incarnate, could take upon Himself our nature and bear the full and infinite wrath and punishment due to us. Jesus being God, could bear the infinite justice of God. Jesus being God, could walk a life of perfect holiness -- perfect to the very standard of God Himself -- perfect in every motive, in every desire. Jesus being God, as God, could freely offer to bear our punishment, to be our substitute, to take upon Himself our humanity. And so only a Triune God can truly forgive man's sin; only the Triune God can make a way of salvation and remain perfectly just and holy at the same time.

Allah in contrast is changeable in his character and attributes. He is not infinitely and unchangingly just. He is not infinitely and unchangingly holy. He ignores justice. He ignores truth. He compromises truth as a man compromises truth. The Allah of the Quran in fact appears to be like a man, or the idea of a man, rather than the self-revelation of God. Allah cannot be God, and is not God. Indeed your own teachings say that Allah is the great makkar -- the great deceiver. You do not serve God of all creation, but another.. and you remain in your sin, before the wrath of the One True God, who is infinite in perfection, unchanging in holiness, in justice, and who will not allow any sin to go unpunished.

"The wages of sin are death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ."

The Bible teaches that men are hard of heart in their sin, in their worship of false gods, in their rebellion against God's perfect revelation of His holiness. Man has always desired to create a god of his own imaginations rather than to follow the true God, who is the same yesterday, today and forever. I pray that you will see and understand, that the grace of God has been revealed in His Word, in Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth and the light.

The Gospel (Injil):

John 1:1-14

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 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 1:29

"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, "After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me."

John 3:13-21

Jesus said "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practising evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."


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