Do Muslims Worship the Same God Catholics Do?

CCC 841, quoting the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium 16, from Vatican II, declared:

The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.

Some will say this declaration does not indicate Muslims believe in the same God we do because it only says “Muslims… profess to hold the faith of Abraham,” not that they actually do. So what gives?

The Council fathers were certainly careful to say Muslims “profess…” but not that they “profess” to believe in one God. It says they “profess to hold the faith of Abraham.” “The faith of Abraham” involves more than simply acknowledging that God is one. CCC 59-64 teaches that “the faith of Abraham” includes:

“The people descended from Abraham” who “would be the trustee of the promise made to the patriarchs, the chosen people, called to prepare for that day when God would gather all his children into the unity of the Church” (CCC 60).

The Catechism goes on to point out that the people who possess the true “faith of Abraham” include:

“the patriarchs, prophets, and certain other Old Testament figures” who “have been and always will be honored as saints in all the Church’s liturgical traditions” (CCC 61).

Paragraphs 63-64 in the Catechism continue:

Israel is the priestly people of God, “called by the name of the Lord,” and “the first to hear the world of God,” the people of ‘elder brethren’ in the faith of Abraham. (64) Through the prophets, God forms his people in the hope of salvation, in the expectation of a new and everlasting Covenant intended for all… a salvation which will include all the nations. Above all, the poor and humble of the Lord… as Sarah, Rebecca, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Judith, and Esther… The purest figure among them is Mary.

Muslims could hardly be included in this number.

However, it is a distortion to claim from this that Muslims do not truly believe in the one true God because it was clearly after having said Muslims “profess to hold the faith of Abraham,” that the Council fathers then declared: “… together with us they adore the one, merciful God…”

These are two distinct declarations:

1. [Muslims] profess to hold the faith of Abraham.

2. Together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.

CCC 841 also references Vatican II’s Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate, 3, that makes the teaching of the Council perhaps even clearer:

The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even his inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God.

Once again, we see first the declaration that Muslims “adore the one God…” made definitively. Then, the fathers say “Islam link[s] itself” to Abraham. Once again, we have two clearly distinct declarations.

Is the Muslim God Our God?

There are many things taught in Islam that are so radically opposed to what we believe as Catholic Christians, that some will say, “Well, perhaps they believe in one God, but the ‘one God’ they believe in is not the same God we believe in because, for example, the Koran teaches:

  1. Women are inferior to men (Sura 4:34)
  2. Men can, and even should, ‘beat’ their wives in some circumstances (Sura 4:34).
  3. Belief in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ is false (Sura 4:157-159).
  4. Belief in the divinity of Christ is blasphemy (Sura 5:72).
  5. Belief in Jesus Christ as ‘the Son of God’ is grave error (Sura 19:35; 10:68).
  6. Muslims are commanded to ‘fight against’ Christians and all who disagree with them. Sura 9:29 says:

    Fight those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, nor follow the Religion of Truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgement of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.

    7. God wills moral as well as physical evil. In fact, Sura 37:94 says, ‘He [Allah] created you as well as what you do,’ whether good or evil.

8.  ‘God does not love the unbelievers’ (Sura 3:32).

And this is just to name a few areas of major disagreement. We could write volumes on the problems with Muslim doctrine.”

Many claim there is a point where errors regarding what “the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth” teaches become so far removed from the truth that it becomes necessary to say that God being spoken of is no longer “God” at all. My take is that as long as a person understands the basic metaphysical truth that God is “the one, merciful God,” then errors concerning what God has said, or what he has revealed about his inner life are simply errors about those things, not about God as the one, true God.

Some will argue that if someone presents, for example, their “God” as teaching the rape of small children to be okay, then that God is not God at all. And I get that. Though I would still argue this person has God wrong on what God teaches, not on who God is metaphysically, but again, I get the point, and it is worth pondering.

But at any rate, if it is possible for a person (or a faith, like Islam) to believe in the one true God, but so distort what God teaches that he (or it) ceases to truly believe in the “one true God” in reality, then, according to the Church, Islam has not reached that point in its errors.

Thus, we Catholics have to be careful to distinguish between the fact that Muslims believe in the one true God “living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,” and the fact that they get it wrong—profoundly wrong—when it comes to both who God has revealed himself to be in the New Testament, and what he has taught his people.

We pull no punches as Catholics when it comes to pointing out the errors of Islam. But we also need to begin by getting it right concerning the things about which we agree.

Ask a Saint – He Knows

Pope St. John Paul II strikes the balance beautifully, concisely, and without compromise between acknowledging what Muslims get right, and challenging where they go wrong, in his excellent book, Crossing the Threshhold of Hope. After pointing out that the Church has a “high regard for Muslims who worship one God, living and subsistent, merciful and omnipotent, the Creator of heaven and earth,” he then observes after reflecting on Islam and the Koran:

Whoever knows the Old and New Testaments, and then reads the Koran, clearly sees the process by which it completely reduces Divine Revelation. It is impossible not to note the movement away from what God said about Himself, first in the Old Testament through the Prophets, and then finally in the New Testament through His Son. In Islam all the richness of God’s self-revelation, which constitutes the heritage of the Old and New Testaments, has definitely been set aside. Some of the most beautiful names in the human language are given to the God of the Koran, but He is ultimately a God outside of the World, a God who is only Majesty, never Emmanuel, God-with-us. Islam is not a religion of redemption. There is no room for the Cross and the Resurrection(p. 92).

St. John Paul first acknowledges the truth that Muslims get it right when they profess faith in one God. Then, and only then, does he point out they have it as wrong as wrong can be when it comes to what God has revealed to us in Scripture about who he is, and, I would add, what he asks of his people by way of his commandments.

 Tim Staples is Director of Apologetics and Evangelization at Catholic Answers, but he was not always Catholic. Tim was raised a Southern Baptist. Although he fell away from the faith of his childhood, Tim came back to faith in Christ during his late teen years through the witness of Christian…

This article is reprinted with permission from our friends at Catholic Answers.
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  • Max Effort

    It’s simple. The god that Muslims believe in want you to send your sons to die for him.
    The God that we Catholics believe in sent His Son to die for us.

    They are NOT the same.

  • Short answer: NO.

    Long answer:

    Let’s say that I, Paul Ben, decided to invent my new religion and to make it legit and credible, I connect it to other worldwide religions by cleverly include in it the same god, prophets, etc.

    I cleverly deceived millions and made it a worldwide religion.

    Now comes the time when I succeeded in deceiving the leaders of the other religions that I took my ideas (and god) from to the point where the leaders of these other religions acknowledged in their Councils and Catechisms the truthfulness and the common ground (and god) that my new religion shares with theirs.

    Question: Does that make my new religion TRUE?

    Short answer: NO.

    Long answer: According to Catholicism, YES.

    “The Council fathers then declared: “… together with us they (the Muslims) adore the one, merciful God…” “

  • Phil Atio

    You seem to have forgotten about the martyrs for Jesus. You must also die for him, both physically and spiritually.

  • Phil Atio

    Whatever the saints and council may say, based on numbers three through five, it’s clear that if the New Testament documents are to be trusted, then Islam is clearly and unequivocally anti-Christian. I’m not sure how could be viewed as non-Satanic. It denies THE central axial teaching of the Church.

  • Atg

    Does the possibility exist that who Muhammed was really in “contact” with was Satan? Scripture says he can “become an angel of light” and knows scripture perfectly. So Satan, or any fallen angel, can really make up a new religion based on Judaism and Christianity and make you believe that Mary and Jesus are important to them and the prophets of the Old Testament (Abraham), and still throw some anti-any religion that is not Islam in there? Cause the things you mention the Koran says, are very very specific about Jesus. Why not Budism or Hinduism? We know Satan lost not because any other belif but Christ’s.

  • noelfitz

    Note: “together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”.

    The answer is ‘yes’. What part of this is ambiguous?

  • stephen

    Belief in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ is false (Sura 4:157-159).
    The Mohammedans believe this dogmatically.

    I thank God that there are many Catechism of the Catholic church. The recent and currently most popular version is full of modernist language and ambiguity.
    Catechism are guides to interpret tradition. scripture and the majesterium. In and of themselves they are not dogmatic.

    I reject this interpretation, unless there can be found any reference to this absurdity of a holy hug with Islam made prior to 1960.

    It may be a bit easier to simply look to some recent news from the Islamic dominated part of the world. Christian churches burned to the ground, be-headings, and sex slavery all in the name of Allah.

  • Hammer Islam

    Islam accepts Jesus as a prophet, not God. That makes no sense! Jesus stated on numerous occasions that He is devine, the Son of God, the Father. Why would Muslims believe in a prophet that lies? Islam is a 10th century cult built on nothing devine.
    IOB IHS!

  • Hammer Islam

    How many Muslim hospitals are there? Answer = ZERO. How many Catholic hospitals are there? Answer = +20,000.

  • spitfire1938

    What a waste of words. Islam is simply a corrupt political system designed for subjugation and built around male dominance and pedophilia! Mohammed ‘borrowed’ the name ‘Allah’ from another nomadic Tribe that worshiped multiple “Gods” and of whom ‘Allah’ was their Chief God! It’s all a fraud, in my view!

  • JTLiuzza

    I agree with Stephen.

    I am a simple man but God is Triune: Father, SON, and Holy Ghost. That is Truth. If your “god” is not Triune by virtue of the fact that you reject the Son and His Divinity, then your “god” is false. Hence, “Allah” doesn’t exist and muslims worship a made up entity.

    And modernist ambiguity and gibberish coming out of the council documents is nothing new. In time (hopefully my lifetime), that will all be sorted by a holy Pope.

  • Max Effort

    But Christian martyrs are NOT asked to take innocent victims along with them; they are NOT promised scores of virgins in the afterlife as reward for killing those innocents.
    I would have hoped that the difference would be obvious.

  • The question should be:

    Can Catholics believe, trust or even doubt what the Councils and Catechisms say about Islam?

    Are the Councils and the Catechism telling us the entire, whole TRUTH?

  • Phil Atio

    Cite your sources. Where are Muslims told to kill “innocents”? Where did you read they’re promised scores of virgins?

  • JMC

    The radical Moslems themselves refer frequently to the “77 virgins” who will meet them in Paradise when they “martyr” themselves to their cause. And as for Mohammed having been in contact with Satan…I doubt it. But Our Lady did tell Mary of Agreda that Satan would use Islam against Christians, even referring to a second great conflict between them, *after* the Moors had finally been driven from Spain. This reference can be found in Agreda’s “Mystical City of God,” though you have to pay attention to spot it. Agreda found the prediction so dreadful that she could not write it frankly, but only referred to it obliquely. It is only hindsight that tells us what she meant.

  • Nonsense. Muslims worship a demon or perhaps the devil himself. Their religion is law and fear – violence and subjection. Individuals can be converted but their doctrine is unredeemable and it is slanderous to assign any part of the horrifying book, the Quran to the God of Abraham.

  • John Doman

    I tend to agree with you, hard as it is to admit.
    If more Muslims condemned the Taliban, Boku Haram and Al-Quaeda, I wouldn’t. But they DON’T.

  • John Doman

    If aliens were to come to earth and examine the actions of humanity, they’d easily believe that “Allah” was the name of some bloodthirsty demon-god who demanded human sacrifice. After all, they’d see men commit the most evil, heinous acts while shrieking “Praise Allah.” In the name of “Allah” they’d see men kidnap, rape and torture innocent schoolgirls. In the name of “Allah” they’d see men stone women to death for committing “adultury” (defined as marrying some non-muslim or even someone the father didn’t like). And, of course, they’d see other worshippers of “Allah” never condemn these scum.

  • John Doman

    Only they don’t seem to take the “merciful” part seriously.

  • John Doman

    Not just die for him. KILL for him. Because apparently God isn’t powerful enough to deal with humans who deny him.

  • Almario Javier

    The Jews also believe that of Christ, yet suggesting the Jews do not worship the same God we do would be patently ridculous, and for good reason.

    And IIRC the early medievals even considered Islam to be more a heresy of Christianity than a different religion altogether. Recognizing that someone worships the same God you do doesn’t mean he can’t be profoundly wrong about His qualities.

  • Almario Javier

    Again, do the Jews, who reject the divinity of the Second Person of the Trinity, count as worshipping a false god? No, and neither do Muslims. Their error is false worship, notvfalse gods.

  • Almario Javier

    IIRC there often are such hospitals in Muslim majority countries or regions. In fact, what drives many to join organizations like Hamas or slightly less repellent ones like the Egyptian Ikhwan is that they provide hospitals and schools that charged a more reasonable rate and provided easier access to healthcare than secular hospitals did. The world is not America.

  • Almario Javier

    If we cannot trust the most explicit expositors of the Magisterium in the classic cases where they exercise that power – through teachings signed onto by the Pope on faith and morals intended to bind all the faithful – what use is Catholicism?

  • Almario Javier

    Which makes them sinners and expounders of error, not idolaters.

  • They cannot because those groups are practicing Islam as it is written and has it has been practiced since its inception. Within any ideology there is always a spectrum of practice among its adherents. Do you think everyone that was a member of the Nazi party was shoving Jews into ovens? Of course not, there were the true believers, the go-along-to-get-along crowd and those that secretly despised it but publically adhered to it out of fear. Within Islam, as within Christianity there are those that are observant and those that act out of habit or social expedience – and everything in between. But if you want to know what the doctrine of Islam is – ask the Taliban, Boku Haram and Al-Quaeda, they are the true believers and their practice is indistinguishable from the practice of the forefathers.