Following up some requests here and there for basic information etc re Islam, following the terrible events of 15 March 2019, it seems practicable, at least regards time, for me to devote a few weekly posts to Islam and my understanding of it.
Post number 1, today, proceeds from a question about "God" according to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Is it the same God?
(I guess this is pretty much the same question as whether Christians can call God, "Allah" or not.)
This is a fraught question because whether we answer Yes or No, there are ramifications!
"Yes, it is the same God" feeds the great and attractive myth of modern, Western secularism, that all religions are the same, and why can we not all get along, e.g. making cathedrals into inter faith venues.
"No, it is not the same 'God'" feeds - potentially tragically - into the clash of religions, if not civilizations, nations and races, because it fosters difference in society, especially in societies in which there is not a settled state of respect and reconciliation between races, religions, nations. The kind of difference, now experienced sadly in Christchurch, wherein a "white supremacist" feels emboldened to massacre Muslims.
The fact of the matter is that there is no easy, straightforward answer.
Consider the following aspects of the matter:
1. Yes, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are "Abrahamic religions," each affirming the significance of Abraham as an ancient patriarch of the respective faiths, and thus each affirming the God of Abraham is the God whom their adherents worship. (In this sense God = Jehovah, Allah, Theos.)
2. Yes, all three faiths are monotheistic, affirming that there is only one God, that God is one (indivisible), and that the one God is God of everything (the whole universe, or, if you will, multiverse). That is, not only do the three faiths deny that other gods exist, they also deny that the God they worship is in any sense merely nationalistic (God of Israel) or tribal (God of the Arabs ... or of Englishmen).
3. Yes, on the particular matter of the use of the word "Allah" for "God", Arab Christians use this term as do Arab Muslims. (It is a bit trickier in Malaysia where there is a ban on the use of the word "Allah" in Christian Scriptures published there.)
4. No, the three faiths do not agree on what they believe about the God of Abraham. In particular, neither Judaism nor Islam accepts the Christian claim that the fullest revelation of God is found in Jesus Christ, that consequentially God is believed to be One-yet-Three, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. That is, when we move beyond the bare name, "God", beyond the bare claim, that God is One (without rival, indivisible), into description of God, our understanding of "who" God is, which is also a claim about "how" God relates to us and us to God, then there are significant differences between the three Abrahamic faiths.
That is, the answer to the question at the beginning of the post is, "Yes and No."
But could we also say the "Yes" is very important? When we emphasise the "Yes" we are open to finding what we have in common, to seeing the points of respective theologies which we can unite around, and generally to appreciating what each faith might teach the others about the Godness of God.