We want to thank you
for your recent letter. In response to your letter,
may we comment point by point?
You have said of the
booklet The Facts On Islam1
you are not sure whether "to laugh at the ignorant
statements or to cry because of the deliberate lies."
Of course, we will be happy to correct any factual
errors (as opposed to interpretative differences) if
you would be so kind to point these out. Hundreds of
scholars have spent a lifetime studying Islam. They do
not always agree and sometimes they make errors. It is
always possible that we have also made errors and
would appreciate the chance to make any needed
Let us assure you that
our motive was not, in any way, to produce a booklet
that contained distortion or lies. A lie is defined as
a "false statement made with the purpose of
It would seem the
problem between us is one of a priori assumption and
subsequent interpretation based on that assumption.
For example, as long as Muslims truly believe that the
God of the Bible and the God of Islam are the same
God, it is virtually impossible that they would
interpret the conclusions in our booklet as anything
else but "distortion," "false," and "lies." If the
Koran is God’s latest revelation and it denies that
God has a Son, then obviously, Christians must have
tampered with the Bible—and all non-Koranic
conclusions derived from the Bible are, by definition,
In other words, it is
the assumption of Islam—that Allah really is the
author of both the Bible and the Koran and that
Jehovah and Allah are one in the same—that conditions
and interprets the Muslim response to our booklet.
However, the real question is, "Is the assumption
valid?" Only Muslims think it is. Obviously, if
Muslims are incorrect in this assumption, then the
conclusions in our booklet could be correct.
In light of their
contrary premises and beliefs, perhaps it is best that
Muslims and Christians should "agree to disagree."
From a Christian perspective, it is difficult for
Muslims and Christians to dialogue effectively if
Muslims insist upon changing the nature and attributes
of the biblical God into those of the Koranic Allah.
But biblical teaching concerning God cannot be so
easily disposed, as we will later show. Even scholars
of comparative religion agree that the Muslim and
Christian concepts of God are not the same. It is only
Muslim belief, based on the teachings in the Koran,
that accepts a belief that Allah is the one true God,
making Jehovah the same deity (now presumably
corrupted by Christians.)
Have Muslims ever
proven that Christians distorted God’s nature as
revealed in the Bible? No. This is why Christians
believe it is the biblical God who is the one true
God—and not Allah.
Among the specific
charges you make are: "Among the ‘facts’ mentioned in
your book is the blasphemy that ‘Allah’ is one of the
Arab pagan Gods! You borrowed this one, like the
others, from Anis Shorrosh."
But, in fact, never did
we state that "Allah is [currently] one of the Arab
pagan Gods." We were careful to point out that the
current conception of Allah is different from the
earlier pagan deity named Allah. Further, we did not
borrow this from Dr. Shorrosh. We noted the fact being
referenced in several texts on comparative religion.
When you say, "You can
ask the Christians and Jews who speak Arabic: whom do
you worship?... They will tell you Allah", this is a
good illustration of the semantic problems that arise
when God-concepts are confused.
Allah as a generic term
for God is one thing. But for Muslims the term "Allah"
is imbued with the meaning that the Koran and Muslim
tradition give it—Allah is a specific kind of deity
(e.g., Unitarian) with specific attributes. He is not
the Christian God who is trinitarian and also who has
specific attributes, some of which are different from
The Christian God and
the God of Islam are simply not the same God.
Therefore, true Christians and Jews who speak Arabic
will not tell you they worship Allah if by
Allah you mean the God of Islam. Christians will tell
you they worship the God of the Bible and Jews will
tell you they worship the God of the Old Testament.
But neither the God of the Old Testament or the New
Testament is the God of the Koran. (Again, Allah may
be one of the standard Arabic words for the generic
term God—but one cannot logically conclude from this
that the God of Islam (Allah) and the God of the Bible
(Jehovah) are the same God.)
You have kindly
encouraged us to "come and worship the God worshiped
by Jesus and by all the prophets. The God to whom
Jesus fell to face and prayed. The God to whom Jesus
cried for help. The God of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses,
Jesus and Muhammad. Your God and my God. The Creator
But if, as Christians,
we are committed to the biblical God, who warns and
commands us in Exodus 20:3 "You shall have no other
Gods before me," how can we possibly come and worship
a different God? If we did, we would be guilty of
This illustrates why as
Muslims and Christians we must learn to "agree to
disagree." Based on their respective religious
traditions, neither committed Muslims nor Christians
can logically be expected to change their beliefs. To
be a "Christian" requires obedience to the Person and
teachings of the Jesus of the New Testament—not the
Jesus of the Koran. Why? Because the great
preponderance of the textual and archaeological data
require the conclusion that the gospels are accurate
portrayals of the historical Jesus. This is why it is
a historical fact that Jesus did and taught what the
New Testament documents say he did and taught.
Those who disagree
should be able to offer objective, independently
established evidence to the contrary before they can
expect others to accept their conclusions.
Unfortunately, the frequently rationalistic and biased
critical conclusions of liberal Christian scholarship
are simply not objective, nor are they independently
established, not are they very convincing.
But to return to your
earlier argument re: a "pagan" Allah, the paganism of
pre-Islamic religion and its connection to Islam are
well known. But unfortunately, as Dr. Morey remarks:
Since the faith of Islam would deem
it blasphemous to even suggest that the teachings of
Muhammad and the Quran find their source in earthly
pre-Islamic custom, culture, and religion, no Muslim
scholars did any research on what pre-Islamic Arabia
It was thus left to Western scholars
since the turn of the century to discover the
cultural and literary sources that Muhammad used in
the construction of his religion and of the Quran
This is why every Western reference
work on Islam begins with a section on pre-Islamic
Arabia and its influence on the teachings and
religious rites of Muhammad. The historical
background of Islam cannot be ignored.
Indeed, if sources for Islam can be
found in pre-Islamic Arabian culture, custom, and
religion, then the doctrine that Muhammad’s faith
and the Quran were brought down from Heaven and do
not have any earthly human origin would be at stake.
Muslims frequently argue in a circle
at this point. They argue that since the faith of
Islam and the Quran were sent down out of Heaven,
there can be no earthly sources or materials that
were used in their construction. Thus they begin
with the assumption that such things cannot be.
But Western scholarship cannot make
such a gratuitous assumption. As we shall see, the
Islamic faith and the Quran itself can be completely
and sufficiently explained in terms of pre-Islamic
Arabian culture, custom, and religion.
Special attention should be made to
the pioneering work of Julius Wellhausen, Theodor
Noldeke, Joseph Halevy, Edward Glaser, William F.
Albright, Frank P. Albright, Richard Bell, J.
Arberry, Wendell Phillips, W. Montgomery Watt,
Alfred Guillaume, Arthur Jeffery, etc.2
In other words, the
paganism of pre-Islamic religion and its connection to
Islam have long been documented. For example, the
Abingdon Dictionary of Living Religions, states
the following concerning Allah:
Allah was a central figure in the
pre-Islamic pantheon, but he seems not to have been
worshiped as the chief deity. The Quran (Sura
53:19-20) mentions three deities who were apparently
thought to be daughters of Allah: Manat, Al-Lat, and
Al-Uzza, who were widely venerated. This notion
parallels the position of Baal in the
Northwest Semitic pantheon (Gordon). The Meccans
regarded Allah as the creator and possibly the
controller of the weather, functions appropriate to
the head of a pantheon (see Sura 13:16; 29:61, 63;
31:25; 43:9-19). Jinn were also thought to be
related to Allah (Sura 37:158) and to associate with
him in his activities (Sura 6:100).... In the Quran
God is seen as above his creation, directing it by
his will. He guides whom he wills and leads into
error whom he wills (Sura 13:27; 74:31), sealing the
hearts of sinners (Sura 7:99-100).3
Britannica asserts that during Muhammad’s time,
"some men regarded Allah as a ‘high god’ who stood
above lesser deities" (Vol. 12, p. 606). It also notes
that "the earliest passages of the Quran... call on
[the Meccans]... to be grateful and to worship ‘the
Lord of the Kabah,’ who was thus identified with God"
In Volume 9, page 927,
it observes: "The area of Mecca was a sacrosanct
territory that other tribes feared to attack, and its
little temple, the Kabah, sacred to a shadowy deity
known simply as ‘the god’ (Allah, probably from Al-Ilah,
the god, and cognate with Aramaic Alaha), had been
skillfully raised by the Quraysh to the position of an
Arabian pantheon in which all the gods were worshiped
(it even included Christian icons, or pictures) and in
which the Arab tribes came on pilgrimage to worship
and to trade....By the time that Muhammad was
born,...the influence of both Judaism and Christianity
was experienced even in the inner areas of Arabia. A
general notion of a supreme and sovereign deity seems
to have been held by many Arabs, and some were
identifying the God of the Jews and Christians with
Allah, the Lord of the Kabah."
This is why Dr. Robert
Morey states in his book on Islam, "The archaeological
and linguistic work that has been done since the
latter part of the 19th century has unearthed
overwhelming evidence that Muhammad constructed his
religion in the Quran from preexisting material in
Dr. Morey also points out that some 360 gods were
represented at the Kabah, and that a new deity could
be added if a traveler came into town and wanted to
worship his own god at the holy site.
Morey also points out
Neither is "Allah" a Hebrew or Greek
word for God as found in the Bible. Allah is a
purely Arabic term used in reference to an Arabian
Hasting’s Encyclopedia of Religion
and Ethics states, "‘Allah’ is a proper name,
applicable only to their [i.e., Arab] peculiar God"
[Vol. 1, p. 326].
According to the Encyclopedia of
Religion, "‘Allah’ is a pre-Islamic
name...corresponding to the Babylonian Bel (Baal)
[Paul Meagher, et. al., ed., The Encyclopedia of
Religion, 1979, Vol. 1, p. 117].5
Due to past experiences with
recalcitrant students who found it hard to believe
that ‘Allah’ was a pagan name for a peculiar pagan
Arabian deity in pre-Islamic times, the following
citations are given:
"Allah is found...in Arabic
inscriptions prior to Islam" [The Encyclopedia
Britannica, Vol. 1, p. 643].
"Allah was known to the pre-Islamic
Arab; he was one of the Meccan deities" [Gibb,
Encyclopedia of Islam, Vol. 1, p. 406].6
Like us, he also cites
Dr. W. Montgomery Watt, a professor of Arabic and
Islamic studies at Edinburgh University and visiting
professor of Islamic studies at College de France,
Georgetown University and the University of
Toronto—who has done extensive work on the pre-Islamic
concept of Allah. Montgomery concluded:
In recent years I have become
increasingly convinced that for an adequate
understanding of the career of Muhammad and the
origins of Islam great importance must be attached
to the existence in Mecca of belief in Allah as a
"high god." [Watt, Muhammad’s Mecca, p. vii]7
Morey further comments
upon the "daughters of Allah" which we referred to
The name Allah was used as the
personal name of the moon god versus other titles
that could be given to him.
Allah, the moon god, was married to
the sun-goddess. Together they produced three
goddesses who were called "the daughters of Allah."
These three goddesses were called Al-Lat, Al-Uzza,
The "daughters of Allah," along with
Allah and the sun goddesses were viewed as "high"
gods. That is, they were viewed as being at the top
of the Pantheon of Arabian deities.8
Dr. Morey concludes:
"The significance of the pre-Islamic
source of the name Allah cannot be overestimated"
and, "The Quran’s concept of deity evolved out of
the pre-Islamic pagan religion of Allah-worship. It
is so uniquely Arab that it cannot be simply reduced
to Jewish or Christian beliefs."9
In light of all this,
we are forced to agree that:
In the field of comparative
religions, it is understood that each of major
religions of mankind has its own peculiar concept of
deity. In other words, all religions do not worship
the same God under different names.
The sloppy thinking that would
ignore the essential differences which divide world
religions is an insult to the uniqueness of these
Now let us turn to an
even more important issue in Christian-Muslim
dialogue. Is it truly possible for Muslims to accept
what the Koran teaches concerning the Bible—and
to simultaneously reject what the Bible
teaches? We discussed this subject in our booklet.
In a paper delivered
September 29, 1989, Dr. Gleason L. Archer also made a
number of relevant observations on this topic. He
shows that the Koran accepts the plenary inspiration
of the Old Testament and the Gospels of the New
Testament as being the authoritative Word of God. The
Koran itself it said to be a verification of the
contents of the teachings of the Bible.
Dr. Archer alleges that
the efforts of present day Muslim apologists to
discredit the teachings of the Bible places them in an
impossible position of contradicting the Koran.
For example, in Sura 5
Muslims are commanded to consult the Greek and Hebrew
Scriptures for confirmation of Muhammad’s revelations
in the Koran. Yet, Muslims characteristically attempt
to discredit the Greek and Hebrew Scriptures, which
their own Bible affirms to be the Word of God.
This is tantamount to rejecting the authority of the
Koran that they claim to defend.
Dr. Archer also points
out that the only solution to the dilemma is if the
text of the Old and New Testament that we now possess
is "radically different" from that which existed in
the period of Muhammad. Citing a variety of
manuscripts of the New and Old Testament (Codex
Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Alexandrinus, the
Dead Sea Scrolls, etc.) he proves that the Bible we
now possess is the same Bible that existed in
Muhammad’s time. He then reveals:
In view of this universally
acknowledged evidence of the antiquity of the
[biblical] text of Scripture, the same Scripture
which we now have with us in the scholarly editions
of the Bible in its original languages, it is
completely out of the question that the Quran could
have been referring to any other text than that
which has been preserved to us down to the present
time. No other conclusion can be drawn from these
data but that the Quran certified the accuracy and
binding authority of the Bible, even though in point
of fact it differs from it essentially in its
doctrine of God and of salvation. Any Muslim
apologete, therefore, who seeks to discredit the
text of the Bible in any way, puts himself in
rejection of the authority of the Quran itself, for
he implies the Quran is in error in regard to the
Holy Bible! There is no way in which he can evade
the charge of imputing error to the very Quran which
he professes to uphold.
The problem this raises
is obvious. The Koran and the Bible teach an entirely
different theology concerning the nature of God
(Trinitarian vs. Unitarian), the nature of Jesus
Christ (incarnate God vs. a human only virgin-born
prophet), and the nature of salvation (by grace
through faith alone vs. faith and works).
In other words, the
Bible and the Koran teach such entirely different
religious philosophies they cannot possibly be
reconciled. As Dr. Archer comments;
There remains only one credible
explanation of this paradox: the author of the Quran
did not really know the full or indeed the essential
teaching of the Bible as it existed in the early 7th
century A.D. This ignorance betrayed in the Quran
would seem fatal to its claims of inerrant
authority, and serves to make it clear that the
Quran was indeed composed by Muhammad himself rather
than having been revealed to him by God. The
omniscient Lord of the universe could have never
dictated the statements cited in the Suras above
quoted, since they implied a harmony of doctrine
between Bible and Quran which simply does not exist.
For example, in the
Koran Jesus is a Muslim. But this is not the Jesus of
the Bible—or history—as proven by the New Testament
documents. In the Koran, God is one Person only—but
again, this is not the Trinitarian God of the Bible.
In the Koran, salvation
is achieved solely by faith and good works—but this is
not the teaching of the Bible which stresses again and
again that salvation comes only through the grace of
God by faith alone. Biblically, good works are the
product and not in any manner the cause of salvation.
It is faith in the atoning death of Christ for our
sins (alone) that saves men.
What all this means is
that the Koran and Bible could not possibly be
inspired by the same God.
Another problem is seen
in Sura 16:101 and 2:105 which clearly teach that God
supersedes and abrogates various Scriptures for other
Scriptures. The immediate impression one receives is
that Allah has the authority to change his mind or
even contradict himself.
As Archer comments, "If
so, this precludes the Muslim critic from attacking
the credibility of the Bible itself on the basis of
alleged contradictions between different passages. Yet
we hasten to add that two propositions that contradict
each other cannot both be true. A credible defense of
Scripture must deal with alleged contradictions in
such a way as to show that they are only apparent, not
real—even though the Quran does not regard this
defense is necessary."
Finally, Dr. Archer
shows that despite the claims of Muslim apologists
that the Koran has not been accurately recorded or
This claim is however very difficult
to sustain in light of the account given by Muslim
authors considering the standardizing of the text of
the Quran. In the mishkatu’ Imasabih chapter
3 we are informed that by the command of the first
caliph, Abu Bakr, the text of the Quran was
"collected" by Zaid Ibn Thabit "from palm leaves and
stones and from the breasts of those who had learned
by heart" the various revelations. This earliest
collection took place in A. H. 14, or 636 A.D. after
Muhammad’s death. Abu Bakr’s copy was taken over by
Caliph Umar after the former had died, according to
Al Bukhari. Later it came into the possession of
Hafsah, one of Muhammad’s widows. Some time
afterward the next Caliph, Uthman, commissioned Zaid
to make fresh copies of Hafsah’s manuscript and send
it out to various centers of the Caliphate as the
only authoritative text. The reason for this was
that there were by this time so many discordant
forms of various Suras even among the Hafizun
disciples of the Prophet who had learned it by
heart, that standardization was absolutely necessary
if later schisms were to be avoided within the
Muslim community. Qustalani even states that after
Hafsah’s death her copy was torn in pieces by Mirwan,
who was Governor of Medina, and so the identity of
Uthman’s text with that of Abu Bakr is called in
question. The only motive for Hafsah’s text to be
destroyed could have been that it was believed to be
dangerously deviant or defective from the standpoint
of Governor Mirwan.... It should be added that the
old cuphic script in which Arabic was then written
was of rather uncertain interpretation. Not only did
it lack any vocalization, but far more serious was
the lack of diacritical dots to distinguish
consonants like b, t and th and even n and y, all of
which were written as a single vertical jog.
Needless to say, the fact that active verbs and
passive verbs are often identically written made for
a good deal of disagreement as to what the written
text really meant, until such time as the vowel
points were added at some later period. These
factors made for a great deal of disagreement far
more serious than was the case with the Sopherim
text of the Old Testament, which, to be sure, also
lacked vowel points until the advent of the
Massorets around 800 A.D., but which accurately
distinguished the consonants in their writing
system. In light of the foregoing data, it can only
be said that the problem of establishing the
original, supposedly inspired, text of the Quran is
far more serious than is the case with the Hebrew
Old Testament, for which thousands of manuscript
copies are still available for textual criticism
ranging in age from the 2nd century B.C. to the 11th
Our dear friends, let
us assure you that we bear no ill will toward any
Muslims all of whom are created in God’s image and
loved by Him. But we truly believe that Islamic
teaching is a hindrance to accurate knowledge of God
and true salvation. This is why open dialogue is so
today, in Muslim countries worldwide, Christian
missions are prohibited by law, and Christians are
still being persecuted by Islamic governments.
Let us ask you a
question. Are Muslim missions restricted or denied
permission to operate in America? Would they be in any
nation where democratic or Christian principles rule?
Muslims are free to proselytize as they choose.
Let us ask you another
question. Do Muslim countries grant this courtesy to
members of the Christian faith? Do you think this is
an equitable situation? When Muslims have
historically—and today—persecuted Christians and when
Muslim scholars characteristically slander
Christianity—e.g., using the false arguments of
discredited liberal scholarship—(something you charge
us with) do you think those charges are truly fair?
Our God commands us to
do good to all men and to respect the image of God in
them. But He also commands us to "preach the Gospel to
all men" and to "contend earnestly for the faith once
for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). This was
the intent in our booklet.
For six hundred years
Christianity had already independently
established its truth claims before the world. God
declares that Christ’s resurrection from the dead gave
"proof to all men" of a coming day of judgment (Acts
17). Centuries later, Muhammad arrived claiming that
Jesus was not God, that He was not resurrected from
the dead and that Christianity was a false religion.
Christians have a right
to defend their personal convictions. When anyone
alleges that Christianity is a false religion, we
think it is only fair that a response be allowed which
includes the critical evaluation of the specific truth
claims of those who make the allegations.
We do regret any
unnecessary offense. We want to thank you again for
1 Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John
Weldon, The Facts on Islam (Eugene, OR:
Harvest House Publishers, 1991)
2 Dr. Robert A. Morey, Islam
Unveiled (Shermans Dale, PA: The Scholars
Press), pp. 33-34.
3 Keith R. Crim, Roger A. Bullard,
Larry D. Shinn, eds., Abingdon Dictionary of
Living Religions (Abingdon Press, 1981), p. 23.
4 Morey, Islam Unveiled, p.
5 Ibid., p. 46.
7 Ibid., p. 48.
8 Ibid., p. 49.
9 Ibid., p. 51.