Islam & Christianity

As Seen In The Bible

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Christianity and Islam are two great religions of the world, each with over a billion followers. Though they have many things in common, practically speaking, there is a wide gulf separating them. One of the main reasons is lack of knowledge and proper understanding of each other's views. We need to explore the possible avenues which can bring them together so as to be able to mutually benefit from their common heritage.

One such approach could be for a Muslim to explain to his Christian brother that Islam is not an alien religion, as he might think; it is very much Biblical, in the sense that what was taught by all the prophets of God (as we find them in the Bible) is being followed today by Muslims. It is the Muslims who are best adhering to the teachings of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), and hence they rightly deserve to be called the "true followers of Jesus Christ". This is exactly what this booklet tries to convey.

There is absolutely nothing original in the contents of this booklet. It is simply an attempt to put together certain relevant verses and passages from the Bible which substantiate the Muslim claim that Islam is not a new religion, unfamiliar in its outlook and fundamental doctrines. References are quoted, from the New Revised Standard Version and the New International Version. This material was originally prepared as a talk given to a big group of Filipino Christians working in Bahrain; and Alhamdulillah, it was well received. 'Mohammed (peace be upon him) in the Bible' being a complementary topic, two articles on the subject (originally published elsewhere) are appended.

Discover Islam takes pleasure in printing this presentation as a booklet. This will not only help in erasing various misconceptions in the Christian mind, but also in equipping a Muslim with a proper understanding for communicating with a Christian brother/sister. May God reward Shaikh Essam Eshaq and Dr. Linda Thayer for going through the draft and making constructive comments.

Nothing from us except with the help of God.

Syed R.   Ali Bahrain



The reader may be wondering what 'Islam' has to do with the Bible, as the Bible is the holy book of Christians, and Islam is a different religion altogether! As we shall see, this is a superficial judgment.

The fact is that there is a great deal of common ground between Muslims and Christians - both share many beliefs, like belief in one God, His messengers and prophets, the divine revelation sent to them, the Day of Judgment, heaven and hell, etc. Outside of Christianity, there is no other religion, besides Islam, that makes it an article of faith to believe in Jesus Christ (peace be upon him)* and in God's revelation to him - the Gospel. Muslims believe that he was conceived supernaturally without a human father, and that he performed great miracles, like giving life to the dead and healing the blind and the lepers, by God's power. Muslims also believe in his Second Coming. Jesus and his mother Mary (peace be upon them) are highly respected and revered in Islam.

With this orientation let us proceed to examine both Islam and Christianity in the Bible. The subject will be treated under the following titles:


  1. The origin and meaning of the name 'Islam'

  2. The concept of 'Islam' in the Bible

  3. The practice of 'Islam' in the Bible


  1. The origin and meaning of the name 'Christianity'

  2. The practice and meaning of 'Christianity' in the Bible



The Name 'Islam' Its Origin And Meaning

When a person is born, he is given a name. By this name he is recognised and identified. As a proof for his name there would be some valid document. In the same way, to validate the name of a religion we should look for two things:

  • The identity certificate, i.e., is that really its valid name? If so, where it is recorded?

  • The certifying authority, i.e., who has given it this name?

The identity certificate:

'Islam' is the original name of this religion revealed by God. It is recorded in the holy book of Islam - the Qur'an.

The [only true] religion (way of life) in the sight of God is Islam.

(Chapter 3: verse 19)

If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he shall be among the losers.


A person who practices 'Islam' is a 'Muslim'. The root letters s-l-m occur in the two related words in the Arabic language. Arabic is a sister language to Hebrew (of the Old Testament) and a sister language to Aramaic, spoken by Jesus (pbuh).

Who is the certifying authority?

Is the name 'Islam' given by Muslims themselves, or by Arabs, or by other people, or by Prophet Mohammed (pbuh)? Or, has the name itself acquired the usage in the course of time? The answer is that the names 'Islam' and 'Muslim' are given by none other than God Himself.

This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed my favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion


...It is He Who has named you Muslims, both before and in this [Revelation].


This is one of the reasons why "Mohammedan" is not an acceptable term inplace of "Muslim", even though Muslims are the followers of Mohammed (pbuh). Why should anyone call them 'Mohammedans', when they already have their name 'Muslim'?

The name 'Islam' is not just a word for identification; as, for example, "fish"; a sea animal with certain features is recognised as 'fish', but the word 'fish' by itself does not carry any functional meaning. This is not the case with the word 'Islam'. It is not just a name for identification. It also carries some functional meaning in it. Its meaning conveys the essence of the religion's outlook and objectives. It has two elements of meaning:

  1. Submission to the will of the One and Only God, the True God.

  2. Peace (the same root as in 'As-salam Alaikum', meaning 'peace be unto you').

In fact, these two meanings are not separate from each other; they are interrelated. Thus, the fullest meaning of Islam is the attainment of peace through submission to the will of the One True God.


  • The Concept Of 'Islam' In The Bible

  • Do we find the word 'Islam' in the Bible?

    We do not find it as a term, for which there are three main reasons:

    It is an Arabic word, and the Bible in our hand is an English translation of Ancient Greek and Hebrew.

    Islam" is a translatable word. Since it bears some meaning, it lends itself to translation.

    Many religions of today, being identified by means of names ending with "ism" and "ity", did not exist during Biblical times. There was either the religion of obeying the One and Only God, or there was idolatry. People were either believers in the One God, or they were pagans or heathens.

    Obviously, when we want to look for the word 'Islam' in the Bible, we have to look for its translated meaning only.

    "Submission to the will of the One True God"

    What does 'submission' mean here? It means total obedience, loving and willing. In the Biblical terminology, it means 'keeping the commandments', or 'doing the will of God'. We find these phrases in many places in the Bible, both in the Old Testament and New Testament. The following are a few examples:

    In the Old Testament, we read about what God requires of his people:

    So now, 0 Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? Only to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his decrees, that I am commanding you this day for your own well-being

    (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)

    These verses clearly state that God requires the following:

    To fear Him

    To walk in all His ways

    To love Him

    To serve Him with heart and soul

    To keep His commandments

    One phrase encompassing all the above points is: "Total, loving, and willing submission to Him". The Arabic term, 'Islam', has just this meaning.

    If God is fair and just, He will not require something from the Israelites and something else from the Arabs or the Americans or the Indians or the Filipinos. He is God for all people in the world; He is the Creator of all. It is evident, therefore, that God wants man to be nothing but "Muslim" to Him.

    Not only this, God wants man to be 'Muslim' to the core, to be Muslim every moment of time, and to be Muslim wherever he is, as we read 'the Great Commandment':

    Hear 0 Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as a frontlet on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

    (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

    The same message was proclaimed by the other Prophets of God.


    David, charged his son Solomon, saying:

    "I am about to go the way of all the earth," he said. "So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.

    (I Kings 2:2-3)

    Solomon, addressing the congregation of Israel:

    ... so that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other. Therefore devote yourself completely to the Lord our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.

    (I Kings 8:60,61)

    Samuel, addressing the people:

    If you fear the Lord, and serve and obey him, and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the Lord your God - good! But if you do not obey the Lord, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you,.." "But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart;...

    (I Samuel 12:14,15 & 24)

    Joshua, in his farewell address:

    And Joshua said to the people, 'You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.' And they said, 'We are witness... The people said to Joshua, 'The Lord our God we will serve, and him we will obey

    (Joshua 24:22,24)

    In the New Testament, we find Jesus (pbuh) teaching the same - to keep the commandments, and to do the will of God, i.e., to submit to the will of God.


    Eternal life through submission to God's commands:

    Then someone came to him and said, 'Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?' And he said to him, 'Why do you ask me about what is good? 'There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.'

    (Matthew 19:16-17)

    The Kingdom of heaven through submission to the will of God:

    Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

    (Matthew 7:21)

    Even the word 'submit' is used:

    Submit yourself therefore to God

    (James 4:7)

    How beautifully Jesus (pbuh) declared his 'Islamic' mission!

    My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to complete his work.

    (John 4:34)

    How humbly Jesus (pbuh) showed his submission to God!

    I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek to do not my own will, but the will of him who sent me.

    (John 5:30)

    Jesus (pbuh) recognised Muslims as his brothers and sisters:

    For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven, is my brother and sister and mother

    (Matthew 12:50)


    Peace is used in a comprehensive sense - peace with the Creator, peace of mind, peace at heart, peace in society, etc. This element of meaning of 'Islam' does not seem to occur so frequently as does the first one. Following are some of the verses which are suggestive of this translation.

    The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence for ever.

    (Isaiah 32:17)

    Righteousness is the result of keeping the commandments

    (Deuteronomy 6:25).

    And peace is the result of righteousness. 'Peace' is the meaning of 'Islam' in the sense of 'eternal quietness, confidence, trust and assurance' i.e., salvation.

    Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

    (John 14:27)

    Jesus (pbuh) was talking about the 'Peace':

    The Peace, that was his Peace

    The Peace, that he was passing over to others

    The Peace, that was not worldly peace

    The Peace, that was to comfort the heart

    The peace, that was to remove fear

    The 'Peace' to which Jesus referred here, was not a worldly peace; it was the one which he called his food and mission, as we have read in John 4:34. He possessed it and wanted to pass it on to others. It was to remove the fear of damnation, and was to comfort the heart for life eternal.

    This peace is 'ISLAM'.

    Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God

    (Matthew 5:9)

    Here Jesus (pbuh) seems to be referring to those who submit themselves to God ('Muslims') as 'peacemakers', who as a result are called 'children of God', meaning the people of God, or the people loved by God, God certainly loves the people who keep His commandments and submit themselves to His will, as stated in the Ten Commandments:

    But showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments,...

    (Exodus 20:6).

    The above expression in Matthew 5:9 is comparable to that in the Psalms:

    Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands.

    (Psalms 112:1)

    Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways

    (Psalms 128:1)

    Based on the above discussion, one may be wondering:

    How is it that all the Prophets of God were teaching 'Islam', even Jesus (pbuh) ? Were they, in fact, 'Muslims' ?

    The answer is "YES". 'Islam' was the religion of all the Prophets, including Jesus (pbuh). Their true followers were also 'Muslims'. This is what we Muslims believe.

    The fact is that:

    Islam is not a new religion, which was founded or started by Prophet Mohammed (pbuh).

    The term 'Muslim' goes back much further than Mohammed (pbuh).

    Prophet Mohammed's role was simply completion of the original message, fulfillment of the original religion, and presentation of the final, pure and permanent guidance to mankind, as revealed to him from God.

    The Qur'an tells us:

    Say (0 Muslims!): We believe in God, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord; we make no distinction between any of them; and we bow to God (in ISLAM)'.


    The same religion has He established for you as that He enjoined upon Noah - that which We revealed to thee - that We enjoined upon Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, that you should remain steadfast in religion and make no divisions therein.


    Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a strict Muslim.


    These points will become clearer as we proceed.


    *   Muslims use the phrase "peace be upon him" or the abbreviation (pbuh) whenever any prophet's name is mentioned; this is an expression of respect and reverence for him.   Back


    This page last updated 10/11/2009 12:39 p.m.