Last August the Washington Post Web site posed this question to readers: “Do you think that Muslims, Christians and Jews all pray to the same God?” One Muslim respondent wrote yes, each of the three major monotheistic faiths “pray to the God of Abraham.”
Christian respondents, however, were equivocal or hostile to the notion. “Jews pray to Yahweh,” one Virginia woman wrote. “As a Christian, I pray to the same God.” But she insisted that “Muslims pray to Allah. Allah is not the God of Abraham.” This woman might be surprised that Christian Arabs use “Allah” for God, as do Arabic-speaking Jews. In Aramaic, the language of Jesus, God is “Allaha,” just a syllable away from Allah.
It is certainly true that Christian Arabs use “Allah” for God. But Kearney ignores the substantial point that even though they may share a name, any examination of the particulars of Christian and Islamic theology reveals that the deities in question are quite different in character. This is acknowledged by Muslims as well as Christians. The Qur’an says of a central tenet of Christianity: “The Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!” (Sura 9:30). The same God?
Still, who can blame her? Earlier that month, NPR reported Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza City intoning, “there is no God but Allah.” Last week, The Los Angeles Times mentioned mourners for a slain Baghdad professor reciting, “there is no God but Allah” at the university campus. In September, The New York Times reported an assassinated Palestinian uttering, “there is no God but Allah” before he died.
“There is no god but God” is the first of Islam’s five pillars. It is Muhammad’s refutation of polytheism. Yet to today’s non-Muslims, the locution “there is no God but Allah” reads as an affront, a declaration that inflammatory Allah trumps the Biblical God. This journalistic rendition distorts the meaning of the Muslim confession of faith.
But Kearney gives no evidence that the phrase “there is no God but Allah” is a distortion, just his own word. This is argument by assertion; politically correct wisdom received from on high. Hasn’t Kearney ever read a transcript of the Islamic supremacist sermons preached in Gaza City mosques? A real case could be made that the phrase as currently used by journalists conveys its precise meaning–that all other gods and all other religions are inferior to Islam.
You can find many of those sermons documented in Onward Muslim Soldiers.