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God so loved the World...

The Loving God

Often Muslim friends claim that the message of love given by the God of the Bible is also given by Allah in the Qur’an in a far better way. Whereas there are others who totally reject this attribute of God and say that one cannot expect God to be a loving God, He can only be merciful.

The Qur’an

A close examination of the Qur’an will reveal that neither idea is correct. In two verses, Allah is referred to as Al-wadud, the loving one [1]. In two other passages, this attribute of God is conditional.

To show His love for mankind, Allah first expects mankind to love Him: “Say, (O Muhammad, to mankind); If ye love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you?” [2]. So the idea that God cannot be a loving God, is in conflict with the Qur’an itself.

The Qur’an and the Bible

Now we turn to the suggestion that the message of love given by Allah in the Qur’an is better than that given in the Bible. First of all, we quote some relevant verses from the Tawrat (the Torah) and the Injil (the Gospel).

In the Tawrat it reads:

“What does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul?” Further, it says; Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.” And again it is decreed: “Obey the commands I am giving you today – to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” [3]

The Injil says,

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” [4]

Comparison

In contrast, the Qur’an does not contain the command to love God with “all your heart, soul and mind.” What in fact we do find is the Muslim is asked directly and indirectly to love Allah in order to seek to turn aside His wrath and gain His approval in response: “If ye love Allah… Allah will love you…” [2]. However, can the love which seeks its own security be genuine? Does it proceed from the heart?

Whereas the Qur’an leaves it as an option: “If ye love Allah”, the Bible enjoins it, “Love the Lord you God”. Isa al-Masih called it the “First and greatest commandment”. [5] A commandment is intended to be compulsory.

Unconditional Love

Despite our failure to keep this commandment, we learn from the Bible that, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” [6]

Now when we search the Qur’an, we will not find this kind of active love from Allah. It says very little about God’s unconditional love for mankind. In the Qur’an, God’s love is an expression of approval, solely to those who do good. For example, “Lo! Allah loveth the beneficent”, and, “Allah loveth not the disbelievers”. [7]

The Injil says that God loves the whole world, which means the whole of humankind. The message from God is peace and security through Jesus, but in contrast the Qur’an and the traditions of Islam tell us that God has already created some for Hell and some for Paradise. For example, we read;

“And if thy Lord had willed, He verily would have made mankind one nation…” [8]

“He sendeth whom He will astray and guideth whom He will…” [9]

“There is not one of you but shall approach it (hell). That is a fixed ordinance of thy Lord. Then We shall rescue those who kept from evil-doers crouching there.” [10]

The Divine Decree

The Prophet of Islam is alleged to have said, “God created Adam, then passed His right hand over his back and brought forth from it his offspring, saying, ‘I have created these for paradise and they will do the deeds of those who go to paradise.’ He then passed his hand over his back and brought forth from it his offspring, saying, ‘I have created these for hell and they will do the deeds of those who go to hell.’” [11]

Nevertheless, these statements are contradictory. If Allah had already decided exactly which individuals would go to paradise and which individuals would go to hell, then it would not have been intelligent for him to send (as Muslims claim) 124,000 messengers to this world to lead mankind into the straight path. How is it then that God of the Qur’an “misleadeth whom he pleases and guideth whom he pleases?” [12] Such inconsistency is untruly attributed to the Divine Creator, and is unloving. The Bible says God is patient, “not wanting anyone to perish, but wanting everyone to come to repentance” [13].

Depth of Love

This brings us to the conclusion that according to the Qur’an, the Bible’s perfect view of the capacity for genuine mutual love between God and man, is not possible. True, the Qur’an twice refers to Allah as the loving God, yet it does not portray the depth of love in the nature of God as revealed in the Bible, that “God is love”, that God defines love. [14]

Assurance

A Muslim is not sure whether he will have any forgiveness or not. Even the Prophet of Islam was not sure. In the Qur’an, his words to many were: “... I am no new thing among the messengers (of Allah), nor Know I what will be done with me or with you… “ [15]

According to Islam, a Muslim is supposed to love God as a Ghulam (slave). Such love cannot serve as a good example. Genuine love could only be expected of man if God himself were infinitely loving. The Bible presents the loving God very clearly and emphatically:

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent hi Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” [16]

We cannot fully love God unless He first reaches down to us. This brings us to the final conclusion that, “We love because He first loved us”. [17] We keep His commandments not solely because it is our duty, but because His is such love that we are constrained by it to love and obey Him in return. Therefore we consider that the Bible’s portrayal of the love of God is given in utter fullness and gives the reader the real and true view of our Almighty God.

Steven Masood

Bible quotations are taken from the New International Version. Qur’anic quotations are taken from “The Meaning of the Glorious Qur’an”, trans. Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall (Karachi: Taj Company, n.d.)

References

  1. [1] Qur’an 11:90; 85:14.
  2. [2] Qur’an 2: 195 and 3: 31
  3. [3] Deut. 10:12; 11:1 and 13
  4. [4] Matthew 22: 37
  5. [5] Matthew 22: 38
  6. [6] John 3: 16
  7. [7] Qur’an 3: 32 and Qur’an 2: 195.
  8. [8] Qur’an 11: 118
  9. [9] Qur’an 16: 93
  10. [10] Qur’an 19: 71, 72
  11. [11] Wali ad-Din Muhammad b. ‘Abdallah al-Khatib, “Mishkat Al-Masabih”, trans. James Robson (Lahore:M. Ashraf, 1981), p.27
  12. [12] Qur’an 14; 4 2
  13. [13] Peter 3: 9 1
  14. [14] John 4: 8
  15. [15] Qur’an 46:9 1
  16. [16] John 4: 8 1
  17. [17] John 4: 19
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