The question asked needs a more nuanced answer than a simple yes or no. When most people ask this question they want to prove that “my God is better than your God.” Please allow me to look at God through a broader lens than the narrow lens of “us against them” mindset. To illustrate this point, consider the testimony of former Muslims. Most former Muslims I talk with would say that they did have an understanding of God when they were Muslims but that it was an incomplete or partial understanding of God. When Christian theologians are asked to describe God, they talk about the communicable and incommunicable attributes of God. In other words, there are multiple ways of looking at God. Therefore, let me try to make sense of this.
As to the essence of God, such as God as creator, sustainer, and the three omnis–omnipresent (all present), omniscient (all knowing) and omnipotent (all powerful)–Muslims and Christians explain God with these terms. In fact, the early Christian church in the Arabic-speaking world used the word Allah for God. The pagan Arabs also had a god named Allah who was the superior God above all other gods. However, Muhammad in the 7th century took the word Allah for the new religion called Islam for which he is considered the founder. It is at this time that we see other characteristics associated with the name Allah.
Ahmed Ali Haile (a former Muslim) in his book Teatime in Mogadishu: My Journey as a Peace Ambassador in the World of Islam (Herald Press, 2011) makes the point that Allah in Islam set him up to understand Christ in the Bible. He found the sketchy allusions to the prophets in the Qur’an which peaked his interest in reading the Bible where the stories of the prophets are fully developed. He found God revealed in the Bible through Christ Jesus which was only an illusion in Islam. When I talk with former Muslims, they say that they had a concept of God as creator and sustainer of the world as a Muslim but never could get to know him personally. God remained distant and unknowable.
A mystical Sufi movement that expresses this longing to know God more intimately has grown withn Islam. Sufis or mystical Muslims are searching for God and calling to him. As a lover seeks after his love, so Sufis seek and call after God, though God remains distant and unattached. But the concept of God is there.
As to the character (Person) of God, such as how he relates to his creation and his characteristics, Muslims have 99 names of Allah. Some of the characteristics of Allah in the 99 names are very similar to those of Jehovah as revealed in the Bible, but others diverge greatly from the self-revelation of God throughout the Old and New Testaments. Therefore, the Allah of Islam is not the God of the Bible.
Let me explain. To find the central characteristic of Jehovah God in the Bible we look into the throne room of heaven as revealed in the book of Revelation or Isaiah 6, where the elders cry, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.” The fundamental characteristic of the God revealed in the Bible is his righteousness, which drives all other characteristics (see Isa 6, Psalm 89:14; Ex 34:6-7). Within Islam, Allah’s main characteristic is power, which drives all other characteristics. Therefore, Allah can condemn the best person in the world to hell and the worst person to heaven. Why? The answer Muslims gives is because God has the power to do whatever he wants. This is a fundamental shift in the character of God.
Another distinction between the two concepts of God is the self-revelation of God. Jehovah of the Bible comes down and reveals himself to man. The highlight of this self-revelation is the incarnation of Jesus Christ (which Muslims reject). We are invited into a personal relationship with God. In contrast, God’s self-revelation in Islam is in a book, Al –Qur’an. Muslims hold that man is to obey Allah for this is his duty. There is no relationship expected between God and man and to say so would bring God down to the level of man. An important understanding of God in Islam is that Allah must remain wholly other from the creation of man. There can be no similarity between God and man. This is in direct contrast to how God relates to his creation throughout the Old and New Testaments.
Ultimately, Allah leads to Islam and Jehovah leads to Christ.
Fleenor, Lester. 2005. God Almighty God Almighty!: His Word for Christians, Jews, And Moslems. Nappanee, IN.: Evangel Publishing House
- How Muslims Understand God http://www.30-days.net/islam/howmuslims/howgod/
- The nature or character of God in the Bible and in the Qur’an go to: http://answering-islam.org/lovesus.html
- YAHWEH OR ALLAH – AN APPROPRIATE COMPARISON? http://www.answering-islam.org/Gilchrist/charity.html#4