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Christianity and Islam share much common ground Both trace their roots to Abraham Both believe in prophecy Gods messengers apostles revelation scripture the resurrection of dead and the centrality of religious community This last element is especially important Both Christianity and Islam have a communitarian dimension what the church is to Christianity the umma is to Islam Despite these significant similarities however these two world religions have a number of significant differences as well I would like to comment on these -- not to engage in any kind of polemic since I consider polemic a sign of religious immaturity but to foster better understanding A true dialogue between religions can be built only on nuanced understanding and not caricature I will discuss these differences under four general headings I -- The Understanding of God Muslims and Christians worship the same God Allah The basic testimony of Islam is called the shahada the first clause of which states that la ilaha illa Allah -- There is no god but God This is certainly a statement that Christians would affirm But how Christians and Muslims conceptualize God in their respective theologies is actually quite different The emphasis in the Islamic theology of God can be summarized by one word tawhid which means absolute unity Muslims insist that there is no distinction within the Godhead God is sublimely one Thus the Islamic polemic against Christianity has centered on the doctrine of Trinity This is the central doctrine that causes problems for Muslims when they consider Christianity Muslims have caricatured Christians as tritheists guilty of shirk that is attributing an associate to God By believing in the Trinity Muslims say Christians believe in three gods This attitude is expressed in the Quran Say not trinity Desist It will be better for you For God is One God 4171 They do blaspheme who say God is one of three in
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