I will always remember that it was a friendship what got me so interested in Islam.
I am still interested – more than before – but not for the same reasons I was at the beginning. In plain English, I am not converting to Islam. But as I mentioned before, you would benefit greatly from reading the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and the Quran. It would help you to grasp much better issues that will arise when having random conversations with your Muslim friends.
YHWH or ALLAH
Issues like WHO you pray to will arise, and you need to avoid confusion. My Muslimah asked me for God’s personal name the other day. She said “God” is just a general term, and that ALLAH is His personal name. As you can already imagine, the personal name of God is surrounded by plenty of controversies. I will try to explain this issue as much as I understand. This post is not exhaustive, but I hope to share some light into this subject.
The proper name of God in the Hebrew Bible is YHWH. Even Merriam-Webster defines the tetragrammaton YHWH as the biblical proper name of God. That proper name of God is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible an astounding number of 6,220 times. Actually, if you own a Bible, wherever you see the word LORD – all uppercases – that means YHWH. Unfortunately, we do not know how to pronounce it as the name was never spoken audibly. That name was regarded by the Jews as too sacred a name to be uttered out loud.
Now, concerning ALLAH, some Christian apologists say it is only the general word for God in Arabic, but not God’s proper name. Allah is in Arabic what Elohim would be in Hebrew – God in general. Elohim appears 2, 598 times in the Bible. The same goes for the Hebrew word Adonai – a master or Lord- which in Arabic would be Rabb. Adonai appears 448 times in the Bible. I guess all this names are nice, but when it comes to PROPHECY, all the Prophets of God for Israel used the name YHWH. And the name YHWH is nowhere to be found in Quran.
This is actually one of the reasons why the Jews do not recognize Mohammad as a prophet for Israel. He might have been a prophet for his own people – the Arabs – but not a prophet for the Jews. The most important agreement was that Abraham was the father of both the Jews (through his son Isaac) and the Arabs (through his son Ishmael). But the chief disagreement came on the issue whether Mohammed was indeed the last of the prophets to be sent by God and that his word was the final revelation. The Jews found the idea unthinkable since prophecy had end long before, and the words of the Torah could never be superseded.
Further, Mohammad maintained that the Jews had distorted their own Bible: Abraham did not attempt to sacrifice Isaac to God at Mount Moriah, one of the hills of Jerusalem; rather, Abraham took Ishmael to Mecca, where he offered to sacrifice him to Allah on the Black Stone of Kaaba. So yeah, the Jews are also upset that Muslims claim their Hebrew Bible is corrupted.
WHERE TO BEGIN?
I think all this argument starts in Exodus 3:13-15, where God talks to Moses at the burning bush. In this chapter, we find God referring to Himself as I AM. It has been long supposed that the name YHWH was derived from the verb that is used to make I AM, namely היה (haya), meaning to be or to become, or rather from an older form and rare synonym of haya, namely הוה, hawa. Hence, y-hawa or Yahweh, the proper imperfect of the verb, rendered the name HE IS.
When God tells Moses I AM, God is saying that He has no dependence upon any other. He was, He is and He will always be. God is self-existent and He is self-sufficient, therefore NOBODY can claim this name for Himself, but Himself. THIS IS HIS NAME and ONLY HIS NAME forever.
Do not get me wrong, but I know the God that I worship. I don’t care much for His proper name. I know God’s goodness in my life. I have seen His miracles worked out for my own good and the good of others. He has blessed me greatly. So for all I know, I can call Him by the name of Thomas, and He will answer me. I am not trying to be disrespectful to my Maker. But when I pray, He knows I am praying to Him. And ONLY Him. So I personally think it is a matter of conscience.
For a Muslim, it might be difficult to call God by the name of YHWH because from birth he has always heard God’s proper name is Allah. For an uninformed Christian living in the West, Allah might sound like the God of ISIS, so he would never dare pray to Allah. But Arab Christians say Allah is God. These Arab Christians sing to Allah, and worship Allah with full understanding that Allah is the Godhead of the Trinity, and Yasūʿ al-Masih [Jesus] as their Savior.
JESUS NEVER SAID, “I AM GOD, WORSHIP ME”
You got me right there. Jesus never said that literally, but His actions spoke more than His words.
- God is the First and the Last. Quran 57:3 and Isaiah 44:6 agree with this statement. Then you see Jesus in the Book of Revelation 1:17-18 saying, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last”.
- Only God can forgive sins. Jesus boldly forgave sins in Mark 2:5-7. What do you do with Jesus authority in light of Quran 3:135 if only Allah can forgive sins?
- Allah will resurrect those who are in their graves according to Quran 22:7. Then you have Jesus saying He is the resurrection in John 11:25.
- Allah is the Final Judge according to Quran 22:56-57. But Jesus also claimed to be the Final Judge in Matthew 25:31-32 as the Son of Man. This is the same Son of Man who will come with the clouds of heaven to judge the world according to the Prophet Daniel’s prophecy about Messiah.
- In John 20:28, doubting Thomas says, “My Lord and My God” while referring to Jesus.
- In Matthew 28:16-17, the eleven disciples worshipped (προσκυνέω) Jesus. They literally prostrated themselves in front of Jesus to kiss His Deity. The disciples bowed down to Jesus as Muslims bow down while doing rakaʿāt.
I AM – A BIG DEAL UNDER MOSAIC LAW
In John 8:48-58, the Jewish religious leaders are accusing Jesus of being possessed by a demon. Jesus replied that Abraham rejoiced at the fact of one day seeing Jesus’ day. The leaders then mocked Jesus saying He was not even fifty years old, and here He was claiming to have seen Abraham.
‘Very truly I tell you’, Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I AM!’ At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
Why were the Jewish religious leaders so upset about what Jesus said? They wanted to stone Him… Was it just because they did not personally like Him? Of course not! It was because of what Jesus was claiming to be. The I AM that Jesus mentioned here goes back directly to God’s own name that God can only claim for Himself. That name YHWH that God gave Moses in Exodus 3:14.
This was a blatant blasphemy for any Jew in Jesus’ time. Jesus was claiming to be YHWH. Such a statement was punishable by death under Mosaic Law. That is why they grabbed the stones. They literally wanted to kill Him. From a legal standpoint, though, the Jews could not execute a person by stoning anymore, for the Romans had taken from them the option of implementing capital punishment directly (John 18:31). The Jews were required to go through the Roman judicial system for executions, and for a non-Roman, that meant crucifixion.
This sheds a lot of light in my research of non-Christian sources to provide evidence that Jesus actually died on the cross. There are plenty. I will write about each one individually because this is one of my main interests lately.
Jesus was hanged on Passover Eve. Forty days previously the herald had cried, “He is being led out for stoning, because he has practiced sorcery and led Israel astray and enticed them into apostasy. Whosoever has anything to say in his defense, let him come and declare it.” As nothing was brought forward in his defense, he was hanged on Passover Eve.
Babylonian Talmud. Sanhedrin (43a)
What apostasy was Jesus leading Israel into? Obviously His claims to be God. He claimed to be YHWH. Even the commentary of the Quran that I am reading (by Abdullah Yusuf Ali) acknowledges the fact that the Jews charged Jesus with blasphemy as claiming to be God (note 395). And the sorcery? Well, the Jewish leaders were ascribing Jesus’ miracles to the power of demons.
But as I see it, Jesus talked like He was God. Jesus acted like He was God. And Jesus gave evidence for claiming this authority rightfully. Although Jesus never uttered the words I AM GOD, I believe His real identity is established by the proof that He gave. After all the evidence, why would Jesus have to give anybody a statement? If people are open for the truth, they will recognize this evidence. Those who ignore this evidence won’t even be convinced if Jesus were to add the statement they demand from Him.
When in doubt ask YHWH. ALLAH promises to be found when you seek Him with all your heart 🙂