Do Muslims, Christians and Jews worship the ‘same God?’

Courtesy of Coek
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Courtesy of Coek Interfaith Seminary Logo

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“Allah” is an Arabic term that derives from a combination of the definite article al- (“the”) with ilah, an ancient Arabic term for “deity.” “Allah” therefore means “the [only] deity,” and that’s what Christians and Jews generally mean by the word “God.” Islamic tradition describes God further by means of the “99 Most Beautiful Names.” Among these names are Merciful, Compassionate, All-Hearing, All-Seeing, All-Knowing, Oft-Returning, Just Judge, Giver of Life, Bringer of Death, Victorious, Beneficent, and Guide. Muslims traditionally meditate on these names as they ply their “rosary” beads. Christians and Jews will find nothing in the list that is in any way incompatible with their own fundamental beliefs.

Like Christians and Jews, Muslims believe God created the universe from nothing and has communicated through a series of prophets. Allah is intimately involved in the events of human history, which ends for each individual with death, resurrection, judgment and either reward in Heaven or punishment in Hell. As for the ultimate fate of the human race collectively, Muslim tradition holds that history will end with a cosmic conflict in which the Messiah will play a role in subduing a figure very similar to the “Anti-Christ.”

From the Jewish perspective, the 99 Names describe the God of the Hebrew Scriptures almost perfectly.

From the Christian perspective, two essential aspects of God are conspicuously missing from the Islamic list of divine attributes: the notions that God has become flesh in the Incarnation and consequent Divinity of Jesus, and that God is both One and a Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Are the “God” of Jews and Christians and the “Allah” of Muslims the same Supreme Being? I think it’s fair to say at least that they are so remarkably similar that members of the three faiths have ample reason for considering themselves siblings as “Children of Abraham.”