These questions and answers are from Dick Bailey who has serve most of his life as a missionary to Muslims. Dick served in Pakistan for 15 years and also spent many years in the New York City area ministering to Muslims. These answers come from a life of interaction and witnessing to Muslims. We hope that these questions and answers will encourage you and equip you to share the good news of Jesus Christ, even to Muslims.
Do you believe in Allah? (Is Allah the same as the God of the Bible?)
This question is more commonly asked by Christians than by Muslims, and it really has two facets. One is about the word, “Allah” and its historical origin. The pagan Arabs before Muhammad worshipped Allah as one of many gods, and some say he was believed to be the moon God. If we are going to consider the historical origins of words, then we would have to admit also that the English word, “God” comes from a Germanic pre-Christian, pagan source. “Allah” is generally considered by Muslims to be the personal name of the one true God and not a generic name like the English “God.” Its linguistic derivation seems to be related to the Hebrew name “El” (plural “Elohim”).
The other facet of the question is about the meaning in the mind of a Muslim when he/she uses the word, “Allah.” In my opinion, the only thing that matters about any word is what it means to the people using it. Muslims believe that Allah is all powerful, the creator of all that exists, eternal, and that he is the only God. There is no other word in Arabic which comes nearer to the Biblical meaning of God than the word, “Allah” does. Of course there are areas of theology in which Islam and the Bible differ a great deal. For example, while Muslims believe in the omnipotence, transcendence, unity and eternality of God, they do not understand his self revealing nature (his immanence) or his self sacrificing agape love. Therefore the incarnation and the atonement of Christ make no sense to them.
It is usually unproductive to tell a Muslim that he/she needs to reject “Allah” and believe in “God,” but it is far more helpful to say something like, “We also believe, as you do, that God is one God, the great creator, who is able to do anything, but I want to share with you something in the Bible about Almighty God’s self giving love and his self revealing nature, which you might not have heard.” This was the approach of the Apostle Paul in Acts 17:22-34 as he spoke to the pagans of Athens, Greece at that time.