'Islam is an Arabic word that means submission or surrender' to Allah (1). Our question is, does the God of the Bible also expect submission? Yes! Jesus said: 'Why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say' (2)? When a woman called His mother blessed because she nursed Him, He replied: 'Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it' (3). He explained his relationship with his disciples as follows: 'Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me (4).
NB. There is no correlation between Allah (the God of the Muslims) and the God of the Bible (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Muslims deny that Allah has a son. So 'Allah' and 'God' are not the same. This can be seen in the hostile reactions of Muslims toward Christians. (We will use the terms 'Allah' and 'God' to distinguish between them.)
Both God and Allah demand submission. What is the difference between the two kinds of submission? God leaves it to people to make voluntary decisions whether they want to submit to Him. Jesus said: 'If you love Me, you will obey Me' (5). Man is free to love or not to love God, to obey or not to obey Him, because love and loyalty cannot be forced. Laws to submit only breed outward submission. The Holy Spirit uses people to spread the Gospel and influence those that are receptive. To the one who loves God, it is a commitment to obey Him, because he understands that God's will (His commands) lead to a better life, now and eternally after death. When God says: 'This is love for God: to obey His commands' (6), it is always in the context of freedom. It would have been nonsensical to create man with a free will and then not to allow him to exercise it. That is the whole issue around eternal life with God: it is built on a free decision, as eternity is very long and God will never allow a possible traitor on His renewed earth.
Islam is different: they make use of very strict rules to see that everybody obeys the prescribed rituals and ceremonies. Moslems are not left to decide for themselves whether they would like to serve Allah. Defection from Islam is severely punished. They resist evangelism by Christians in their countries, although they freely practice their religion and convert others in non Islamic countries. Why would that be? Can Allah not protect his religion and teachings in a free society? Apparently not.
The difference between Christianity and Islam is seen in their eternal perspectives.
- God plans to renew heaven and earth (thus a real physical place) and live there eternally with those resurrected people who had chosen to follow Him before they died. For that purpose He calls and prepares individuals. Jesus will always be the King (so all His subjects are submitted to Him). Yet He is also typified as the eternal Bridegroom who loves His Bride, the church. (See the world wide attempts to deny marriage as the union of one man and one woman, for life). The true believer in Jesus (not a talking one, but a doing one) is sure of his eternal destination with God on the new heaven and earth.
- Islam's heaven is different. Allah will weigh the deeds of deceased men on his scales to decide who may enter. So a Muslim's eternal destination is a very uncertain thing and the only way to make sure he is on the right side of Allah is to adhere to his laws. There is no freedom, no individuality, and no surety of a love relationship that will culminate in eternal life with the beloved. Allah brooks no nonsense: total submission is required and free will is of no value.
- Dr Anis A Shorrosh, Islam revealed, A Christian Arab's view of Islam, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1988, p 21.
- Luke 6:46
- Luke 11:28
- John 14:21a
- John 14:15
- 1 John 5:3