Following up the question of the relations between Christianity and Islam, it ought to be noted that Christians have made great efforts to try to draw closer to Islam and to try to lessen the old gaps between the two faiths. But do we believe in the same God?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

841 The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”

I hate to dissent, but Muslims do not believe in the Trinity, and how they can therefore believe in the same God we do escapes me. The relevant extracts from the Koran are:

  • “They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them,” (Quran 5:73, Yusuf Ali).
  • “They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the third of three; when there is no Allah save the One Allah. If they desist not from so saying a painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve,” (Quran 5:73, Pickthal). 

Nor do Muslims believe in the Divinity of Christ:

  • “They indeed have disbelieved who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary. Say: Who then can do aught against Allah, if He had willed to destroy the Messiah son of Mary, and his mother and everyone on earth? Allah’s is the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them. He createth what He will. And Allah is Able to do all things,” (Quran 5:17, Pickthal)
  • “And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they!” (Quran 5:30, Pickthal)

I cannot think I can have understood the teaching of the Catholic Church here, but on my, no doubt, uninformed reading of the Catholic Catechism, this seems to be taking things further than we really can.

The way in which we deal with a religion which claims to be a ‘later revelation’ and which denies central tenets of the One True Faith matters. One of the things I respect most about Islam is the utter conviction of people like my convert friends that their faith is true and that it is the one way to salvation. When Christians seem to collude by maintaining that we ‘adore the one merciful God’, the Muslims I know are contemptuous of us. They do not think we worship the same God, and they see our insistence that we do really as a sign of weakness.

Perhaps our approach here reflects our lack of certainty about Truth, as a society. But there is only one way, one Truth and one Life, and that is Christ. However we, as Christians, may disagree about aspects of that  Truth, if we are Trinitarians, we do believe in the same God, and to my way of thinking, it would be more fitting if the Catechism said that about all Christians who believe in the Trinity.

I give Islam the respect of believing it believes what it says and not what it would be nice for Christians to think it believes.