Muslims and the Love of God

We Become Like What We Worship

(by The Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.M., Th.D.)

[My responses to the Islamic quotes below are in brackets [] and in blue.]

I read a book by Patrick Sookhdeo, a convert in his later life from Islam to Christianity, from Muhammad to Christ. The title is The Challenge of Islam to the Church and Its Mission (2009). Since it is an inside story, I found it very interesting. There is an appendix by a German convert to Islam (Dr. Murad Hofmann), titled: “Differences between the Muslim and the Christian Concept of Love,” written in September 2007, and another appendix by the Barnabas Fund, “The Concept of Love in Islam,” which appears to be a Christian organization. As a side matter, the Islam scholar is ignorant to what the Church teaches about the Triune God and what our sources are. He quotes the Book of Mormon several times as if it were Christian. That is incredible ignorance; for no one in recognized any branch of the Christian Church thinks Mormonism and the Book of Mormon are Christian.

What the Islamic scholar said about love in the Koran:

  1. “Allah interacts with His creation in a loving manner and commands the love and affection of all true believers” (p. 146). [How can Allah interact with his creation if he is a monad, only having one person. Love requires at least one other person as the object in order to have love manifested. Love directed toward creation but not toward another person is bazaar, at the least. How can a person [Allah] be fulfilled by things {creation]. But if Allah was always just one person, or not really even a person at all as many of their scholars say, how could he ever have loved anything? Above all, love is relational, between beings, and beings of the same peer. (See below where the Son of God is our peer as man and the Father’s peer as God.) Moreover, if Muslims say that when Allah created, he now can exercise love, we have a god who was made complete by his own creation. By contrast, in the Holy Trinity we have three equal persons, each one having the divine essence in its fullness, and each one loving the other two infinitely. Likewise, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit love their creatures because they first loved one another. So Christians can love this one God in three persons because He FIRST love us (1 John 4:19).]
  2. Regarding Allah, Hofmann says: “Nevertheless, He remains unfathomable, unimaginable, unseizable, incomprehensible, indescribable. . . . we must not coin any similitudes for God” (p. 150). “Therefore, we can legitimately go about defining God in negative terms only, listing what cannot be said of Him. . . .” Yet Muslims are “expected to love Allah more than anything else.” [Muslims are stuck having to “define” their god only in negative terms because he/it is allegedly too mysterious, to vague, too high for humans to know him/it. Yet they are to love this unknown and unknowable God. For instance, they can say that he/it is not bound to his word since he/it is sovereign, but they cannot say for sure that he/it is love.]
  3. “As much as the Christian faith, Islam teaches that the love of God must translate into compassion for man. However, Muslims are a bit more hesitant when it goes to use the word “love.” In general they prefer to designate the same attitude as brother—and sisterhood” (p. 151). “Statements on brotherhood in the Qur’an most explicitly refer to relations between Muslims.” [In other words, there is no statement in the Qur’an to love our neighbor as ourselves. Moreover, we can see why because their god does not love unless loved first. Moreover, Muslims treat their woman badly: if their god does not forgive people in love, and whose word can change at a whim, is it any wonder that Muslim men treat their wives so badly. Indeed, being able to have four wives cheapens their value, and being able to divorce them by saying “I divorce you three times” in the presence of qualified witnesses (four adult males), is whimsical. We can see that Mohammed was the product of his time with polygamy being practiced and coming over into Islam.]
  4. “The idea that God might “love” what He created is not self evident. On the contrary, one might argue that love establishes a longing and dependency between the lover and loved one that is irreconcilable with God” (p. 152). [Now we can see the Islamic sense of love: dependency, rather than mutual self-giving. One can love without dependency by giving oneself to another without asking anything in return.]
  5. “Given the dual nature of Jesus [He does not understand Christianity, for we do not teach that Christ had a single dual nature, for that would be impossible for one nature to be both infinite and finite, but we teach that after the incarnation the Son had two distinct natures joined in the one person of the Son of God.] in the eyes of Christians, his love for mankind may be understood more easily by them as corresponding to the human sentiment which all men and women experience” (p. 152). Hofmann says of the love between us and Jesus that it is a “startling intimacy . . . that for Muslims borders on, or crosses over into, blasphemy.” [I’m not sure what Hofmann means by “intimacy” but surely we Christians enjoy a personal relationship with the Father through the Son and by the power of the Holy Spirit that cannot be had anywhere else. The Son added a sinless human nature to Himself. He has always been one person, and that did not change at His incarnation, but now He is also has two natures: one divine that He has always had and the other human. Islam says Allah is too distant and too unlike us to know us on a personal level, but we know the infinite Father through the limited human nature of the Son and the infinite nature of Son. We go to our heavenly Father through the humanity of the Son who as one person is also “connected” with the Father through His deity. Thus, we have a personal relationship with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, all by the merits of the Son who died on the cross for our sins. Of course, He died in His humanity, not in His deity.]
  6. Yet Hofmann maintains that when the Qur’an says that Allah loves, it must mean that Allah “approves” someone, for love involves commitment and is subject to change that cannot be true of one who is immutable. Then Hofmann documents from many passages from the Qur’an that Allah does NOT love unbelievers or transgressors (p. 153). [That is contra the Bible that says: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). And very telling, Hofmann says that Allah will love us if we first love him, the very opposite of 1 John 4:19 in the Bible where we read: “We love Him BECAUSE He first loved us.” In the Gospel, the Triune God is the One who initiates love and we sinners respond in kind. Then Hofmann gives away the Islamic view of love.] After quoting some verses from the Qur’an about Allah loving people and creation, he says: “Admittedly, these quotations could be seen as proof for a love of God for His creation comparable to the love human beings are capable of. But this interpretation must be ruled out as incompatible with the very nature of God as sublime and totally self-sufficient.” Then Hofmann admits: “. . . the concept of loving one’s enemy is nowhere to be found in Islamic doctrine” (p. 154). [He then admits that it is constitutionally impossible for humans to love their enemies. That is why ISIS and al queda hate us so much and want to murder us—their god is like that.]
  7. The Barnabas Fund’s says of their book: “The Qur’an never states that God is love” (p. 158). It is insightful when the Fund proclaims that Allah’s love is from his will (he rewards those who act upright) but not from his nature, revealing that Allah’s does not have love as part of his attributes. [Is there any wonder that al qaeda and ISIS hate those they attack and seek to murder them with bombs, suicide bombers, decapitation, raping women, killing children, etc. They have become like the god they worship, full of anger, hate, and demands for submission, etc.] The Qur’an is clear: “He loves not those who reject faith” (Q 30:45). Again, God’s love for the Muslim who follows Muhammad “is a reward rather than a relationship” (p. 159). [In Islam Allah reveals himself through his law, his commands, which call for submission and obedience. By contrast, in Christianity we have a personal relationship with the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who loved us so much that He sent His divine Son to live and die for our sins. A god who is always shouting commands and demanding obedience, and will throw you in hell if you don’t please him, makes for a people who are the same. So save yourself by obedience to God’s law is the Galatian heresy that the Apostle Paul confronted in Galatians.]
  8. Again, the Barnabas Fund proclaims: “in Islam God reveals himself mainly through his law (shari‘a) which calls for submission and obedience. While in Christianity God is personal and establishes personal relationships of love with humans, in classical Islam god is seen as totally self-contained and beyond personal relationships. In Islam, although Allah loves certain Muslim people of whom he approves, he is not bound to love them even if they deserve his love. Ultimately God is not obliged to do anything, but acts as he wills, sometimes in an entirely capricious manner” contrary to what he says will happen (p. 160). “The role of humans is to submit, fear, and obey God and his law” (p. 160).
  9. Regarding amputation, stoning, and flogging as required by shari’a law, the leader of the Islamic Center of South Plains in Lubbock, TX, claimed that “harshness was part of shari‘a and any attempt at softening it was giving in to Western Christian concepts which were incompatible with Islam.” The Islamic leader stated that “personalized faith, like that of Christians, leads to corruption and immorality. He preferred the detachment and severity of Islam, citing the Qur‘anic verse: “And let not pity for the twain withhold you from obedience to Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day.” [The Barnabas Fund explains: “In this view, harshness rather than love and mercy are at the heart of Islam. The inference is that Christianity is weak and contemptible because it has love and mercy at its core” (pp. 160-161).]
  10. [Let us Christians know and revel in the grace of the Triune God revealed to us in the Incarnation, and that the persons of the Holy Trinity are one in being and essence, sharing the very same divine nature, yet they desire to have a relationship with us sinners, which can be done through the One who is both God (the Father’s peer) and man (our peer). Therefore, we know how to love one another because we have learned it from the God we worship with each Person of the Holy Trinity loving the other persons, but there is no instance where one Person is said to love Himself. There is no self-love by the Members of the Holy Trinity, as there has to be in Allah with only one person, but each person of the Holy Trinity loves the other two and seeks to exalt them. (Read John 14, 16.)]

AMEN.

 

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