This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.Islam believes itself to be a continuation of the grand revelation of God to mankind; beginning with Adam, Abraham, and Moses, then continuing through Jesus and the apostles, and finally ending with Muhammad. Muslims see themselves as the culmination of thousands of years of revelation and teaching climaxing in the person of Mohammad and the giving of the Koran. In fact, the Koran depicts the Islamic religion as the true and purer versions of both the Jewish and Christian religions.
"No; Abraham in truth was not a Jew, neither a Christian; but he was a Muslim and one Pure of [sound in] faith; certainly he was never of the idolaters. Surely the people standing closest to Abraham are those who followed him, and this Prophet [Mohammad], and those who believe [on him]; and God is the Protector of the believers." (Koran 3:60-61)Judaism and Christianity were temporary interludes until a time of fulfillment; intermediate attempts by God to help His people "get it right" and to restore them as a true Muslim people. To properly understand Islam and those who claim the Muslim faith it is important to realize that they do not see themselves as separate from the faith and history of the Jews and the Christians rather they see themselves as the fulfillment and the representation of the true faith God always sought from mankind. Muslims believe that they are standing in the path blazed by the prophets of old.
"The people were one nation [mankind but was one people]; then God sent forth the Prophets, good tidings to bear and warning, and He sent down with them the Book with the truth, that He might decide between the people touching their differences [decide the disputes of men]; and only those who had been given it were at variance upon it [disputed], after the clear signs had come to them, being insolent one to another [full of mutual jealousy]; then God guided those who believed to the truth, touching which they were at variance [had disputed], by His leave [permission]; and God guides whomsoever He will to a straight path." (Koran 2:209)
"and the believers; each one believes in God and His angels, and in His Books and His Messengers [Apostles]; we make no division between any one of His Messengers [Apostles]. They say, 'We hear, and obey." (Koran 2:285)Furthermore, the Koran also claims possession of the words of Jesus and His disciples.
"Say you: 'We believe in God, and in that which has been sent down on us and sent down on Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac and Jacob, and the Tribes, and that which was given to Moses and Jesus and the Prophets, of their Lord; we make no division between any of them, and to Him we surrender.' And if they believe in the like of that you believe in, then they are truly guided; but if they turn away, then they are clearly in schism;" (Koran 2:130-131)Muhammad, the Koran, and Muslims all claim to be following a faith that is built upon all that came before them. They claim all the prophets, the apostles, and even Jesus Himself. However, the very faith they claim to be following is the same faith that is often contradicted or abrogated in the Koran. Many of the teachings of Jesus are directly contradicted in the Koran and much of the history recorded in the Jewish scriptures is repeated with great historic error. For all their claims of continuing and confirming the past, they seem to have never actually read or learned from what went before them.
For example, from Abraham we learn of a great promise of one who's coming would bless the entire world. "By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice." (Genesis 22:16-18) This great blessing was to come through Issac and not Ishmael which is why later Abraham would send out Ishmael so that the inheritance might remain secure with Issac; God encouraging Abraham, "Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named." (Genesis 21:12) However Islam teaches that God's final revelation. this great blessing to mankind, came through the Arabs and not the Jews.
From Jesus we learn that there is only one way to God and is through Him. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'" (John 14:6) Jesus was our atonement with God, our salvation from death, and the forgiveness of our sins. He was the final answer from God and the end of the prophets and apostles of old. "He had one more to send, a beloved son; he sent him last of all to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.'" (Mark 12:6)
From the Apostles we learned the message Jesus came to preach and teach and we understand that, once and for all, and for all time, the message of God had come unto mankind and that there was no need for another. "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power." (Hebrews 1:1-3) However, the Koran claims to be yet another revelation and testament from God.
All these things, while claiming the prophets and apostles, Islam has failed to hear and understand. They claim them but they do not hear them. It is one thing to claim to be following the path of the prophets of old but it is another to actually be walking in the message they brought us from God. There is very little in the religion of Islam that retains the image and revelations of the Christian or Jewish religions. It is a religion unto itself.
More to come...