Even though I live in a very conservative Muslim society, I grew up in a somewhat liberal Muslim family. Furthermore, my Muslim upbringing was unique due to my father and mother's serious involvement in Islam. I personally do not consider myself very religious. However, throughout all this time I never doubted the fundamentals of my religious faith.
I thought of Islam as a faith with such high ideals that I did not consider myself worthy of the name Muslim, but I whole heartedly believed that Islam was God's last and most perfect religion for all mankind, based on God's final revelation, the Qur'an, and the prophet Muhammad, God's seal of prophethood. My view of other religions, especially Judaism and Christianity, was that although they were fundamentally the same, since they had all been revealed by one God, they were inferior to Islam because they had to various degrees corrupted the original message of their founding prophets -- something that we as Muslims have not done.
My religious views were radically challenged when I was surfing the Internet one day and came across so many interesting things about Christianity and the Bible.
I have some questions to ask:
- How come your word of God says one thing and our word of God says something different?
- Does it matter which God one call to?
- Why would God create someone He knows will reject Him?
How come your word of God says one thing and our word of God says something different?
Perhaps a better question to ask is whether God is able to accurately give His message to mankind. In one sense the Muslim religion claims that He is able to do so, but in another sense they don't believe it is really possible. Let me illustrate this: A. S. Hashim, M.D., in his book Iman Basic Beliefs, states:
"In the case of the Gospel, the Torah, and the Psalms, none of these were written the same way as the Holy Qur'an was. They were written some years following the life of that particular Prophet, and the people who wrote them could not simply write all the revelations accurately. Actually, some of the teachings were also lost to those people. There were also many changes and many additions. So, we don't know which part of the Gospel is the truth and which part is not. The same is true with the Torah and the Psalms." [page 45-46].
What Mr. Hashim is stating is a belief that the writers of the Bible were not inspired by God. Instead, he assumes the books of the Bible were written by uninspired men attempting to record what an inspired prophet said. The bias comes because this is how the Qur'an came about (though as a Christian I disagree that Mohammed was inspired by God). There is an assumption that the Bible came about in the same manner.
Yet, Moses personally wrote his books. "And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD" (Exodus 24:4). In fact, the reason books were accepted into the Bible is not because they were written about an inspired man but because they were provably written by inspired men. The tests for such were recorded by Moses:
"But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.' And if you say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?' - when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him" (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).
If a message comes from God, then it must be true -- always. God isn't able to lie (Titus 1:2), even when speaking about the future. Despite the claim of corruption, the Bible has always shown itself to be accurate. Prophecies always came true as given, even when they involved people who had no interest in God or His word. Even small facts in the Bible have always been accurate. It is interesting that archeologist will often use the descriptions in the Bible to locate places to dig. Atheists have such a hard time with this that they try to insist that the books were written after the events they prophesied because they no no man is able to foretell the future with that great of accuracy.
A second test is reliability:
"If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods' -which you have not known-'and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst" (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).
God's message is consistent. Therefore, if a prophet claiming to speak for God contradicts what has already been proven to be from God, then he is known to be lying. Again, the books of the Bible have always shown incredible unity in the message being brought -- so unified that some want to claim that it all had to have been written at a later time at one time. People just don't write as consistently as what is found in the Bible.
Finally, a third test is that God has always backed up His prophets by giving them miracles to work to prove He was behind the words. "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?" (Hebrews 2:3-4).
God never expected people to take a man's word that he was speaking for God. God invited people to examine His book and teachings to see for themselves that they are what they claim. "Tell and bring forth your case; Yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, A just God and a Savior; There is none besides Me" (Isaiah 45:21).
We have copies of books of the Bible which date back to nearly 200 years before Christ. What is amazing is that in all the copying that has occurred is that the Bible hasn't changed. There are several copiest errors, but those are detectable and correctable. But the message has remained the same.
Therefore, given the foundation of the Bible, if some later revelation is going to claim that it is an extension of God's prior revelations it must match the same criteria. What has happened, instead, is that followers of later revelations want to change the rules. They rather say the old isn't accurate -- despite the evidence contrary -- and that theirs is true. But the very fact that it is different is a warning that either the Bible or their book is not from God.
Does it matter which God one call to?
Since the God portrayed in the Qur'an is different from the God described in the Bible, yes, it does make a difference. Neither Islam nor Christianity accept worshiping a different God. "Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"" (Matthew 4:10). Therefore one or the other must be chosen.
If we get to choose, then man is in control of religion and not God. "Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; For shall the thing made say of him who made it, "He did not make me"? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, "He has no understanding"?" (Isaiah 29:16). But if God demands exclusive worship of Himself, then it is God who is in control.
Why would God create someone He knows will reject Him?
See "Why did God put the tree in the garden if He knew man would sin?" for an explanation.