Islam and the Trinity

By Sarah R. Enterline

There are many out there today who attempt, in the name of peace, to try and show that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. That Allah and Jehovah are one and the same. Muslims especially take offense at this because they believe Christians have committed the one, unpardonable sin of shirk, or adding partners to God. We, as Christians, understand that the Trinity is not how we say God is. God is as God has acted, and throughout history, God has acted as Creator, Savior, and Transformer. God is as He shows Himself and He has shown Himself to be a Trinity.

There are many reasons Islam rejects a Trinitarian God. First, Muslims don’t believe that God can reveal Himself at all, let alone as a Trinity. Second, there are many misunderstandings in Islam as to what the Trinity actually is. In Surah 5.116-119, it describes the Trinity as Jesus, Mary, and God. This is very different than the Trinity of the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and God the Father that was written about in traditional Christianity. However, Muhammad was illiterate, and so it follows that he would have never read the New Testament, or any of the writings of the early church fathers. Unfortunately, this has led to much confusion as to who or what the Trinity is. There are many other instances of the Qur’an misquoting Biblical stories and doctrines as well, (see Suras 19.28, 66.12, 20.25-30, 28.38, 29.38, 40.25-38, 20.85-87, 95-97, 7.124).

Also, in Surah 5.73, it states that Christians believe that God is one of three separate gods, but this too is incorrect. We consider the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and the Father as one God in unity. In this case and others, it appears as though the Qur’an denies incorrect Christian heresies, not orthodox beliefs. The Qur’an also argues that divine plurality leads to chaos, not cosmos. In Surah 21.22, it states that there cannot be more than one omnipotent and necessary being. This attack on Christianity once again comes from a naïve understanding of its orthodox beliefs. We believe that our God is three persons in One Being. There is never chaos because they share a nature and will always agree with each other. God is a Being in communion.

Another reason Islam challenges the Trinity is that they say that we violate the law of non-contradiction because we claim God is Three and One at the same time. The law of non-contradiction states that a being cannot be A and non-A at the same time and in the same sense. But God is One in one sense and Three in another sense. We don’t say that God has one essence and three essences, or one nature and three natures in the same sense. He has unity in plurality. G.K. Chesterton has said, “The Christian doctrine on the Trinity is one of the strongest arguments for the Christian faith….And the only answer for unity and diversity, in the world as we know it,” (Lingel, Christian Apologetics to Islam).

The Doctrine of the Trinity is a summary of the encounter of Christians with the one living God. Our God’s Nature is revealed through His interaction with human beings, and part of that interaction is through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The Bible relates God’s intimacy with His people – as a father, a shepherd, husband, lover, etc. If God desires intimacy, than it makes sense that He would become one of us and indwell us to have constant communication with us. Scripture demands a Trinitarian God*, therefore the Qur’anic Allah and the God of the Bible cannot be one and the same.

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– Taken from notes on Dr. Sasan Tavassoli’s Apologetics to Islam class. For more reading on the topic, check out Answering Islam, by Dr. Geisler and Abdul Saleeb or www.answering-islam.org.

*Is. 48:16; Gen. 1:1-13; Matt. 28:19; Luke 1:35; Jn. 14:16-26, 17:7-10; 1 Cor. 12:4-6, 2 Cor. 13:14, Eph. 4:4-6, 2:18; 1 Peter 1:2, Jude 20-21.

 

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