The Birth of Islam
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8).- Galatians 1:6–9
Before we begin our comparisons of the specific doctrines of Islam and Christianity, it will be helpful for us to trace the origins of the Islamic religion. We will do this by offering a brief survey of the life of Mohammed, the founder of Islam.
Mohammed was born in 570 a.d. in the city of Mecca, which is located in modern day Saudi Arabia. The culture into which he was born was largely polytheistic, although Jews and marginally Christian sects were also present in Arabia. Mohammed early on grew dissastisfied with the polytheism of his surroundings but remained religious, traveling into the hills surrounding Mecca to pray.
At age 40, while on one of these retreats, Mohammed claimed to have been visited by the angel Gabriel, who issued God’s call to him to be the last prophet sent to mankind. Mohammed began to receive the revelations that would be later collected into the Qur’an, which is the book of scriptures for Islam. These suppopsed revelations emphasized the absolute unity of Allah (God) and the need to worship him alone.
Mohammed’s wife, Khadija, was among his earliest converts, but for many years he was not able to attract many followers. Mohammed was outspoken, however, and the leaders of Mecca increasingly viewed him as a threat. In 622, the Muslim community fled to the city of Medina where Mohammed was installed as leader. In Medina Islam grew in strength and Mohammed set his sights on conquering Mecca. He soon began leading raids on Meccan trading caravans, and after many skirmishes he was able to take control of Mecca without bloodshed, two years before his death in 632. Islam spread quickly, largely by means of the sword, into northern Africa, Asia, and Europe and has had a lasting influence on world civilization.
Like the founders of many other sects and religions, Mohammed claims to have received a visit from an angel. This angel preached a gospel different from that found in Scripture, and thus we reject Mohammed’s claims. Today’s passage tells us that the only Gospel is the apostolic Gospel, and we must judge all “prophets” according to whether this is the Gospel they proclaim.
Mohammed did have contact with some Christian groups whose orthodoxy was questionable on matters like the person of Christ. Is it just possible, looking at things from a human perspective, that Islam would never have been established if someone was available to explain accurately the way of God to Mohammed? Nevertheless we know that Islam was established in God’s providence. Ask the Lord to help you understand biblical doctrine so that you can defend it.
Passages for Further Study
2 Tim. 2:15
1 John 4:1