Is Islam the Enemy of Christianity?

02 November, 2016
Q I came to the conclusion that Islam is the enemy of Christianity, this is what history tells me and I think it is the same today. I know that as a Christian, Muslims are against me because of what I believe about Jesus. I have studied the differences between our two faiths and have come to the conclusion that we do not believe the same thing and your goal as Muslims is to stamp out the historic Christian faith along with Judaism as Quran mentions in 9:29.


Salam (Peace) Dear David,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

At the outset, I would request you to read my answer with the charity characteristic of a follower of Christ. You have every right to express your anger and disagreement; but I request you to be a little considerate to me, though you are inclined to consider me an enemy. But Christ has taught us to love even our enemies.

First of all, please understand that we Muslims have the utmost respect and love for Jesus Christ, whom we call Isa Al-Masih. We believe that he was born miraculously without a father and that he performed many miracles by the grace of God. But of course, we do not believe that he was the Son of God in the Christian sense; we do not believe that he is God. Because, as categorically stated in the Bible, God is ONE and ONE ONLY.

The whole of the Old Testament rings with the command of Jehovah Whom only we should worship:

[Thou shalt have no other gods before me.] (Exodus 20:3)

[Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is ONE LORD] (Deut. 6:4)

[I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no savior.] (Isiah 43:11)

Now see the New Testament testimony:

[And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:] (Mark 12: 29).

Here Jesus repeats the Old Testament command quoted earlier.

[And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he] (Mark 12:32)

This is our belief; and the Quran only restates what is said here.

Our position about Christianity is the following:

We believe that the present Christians are mostly followers of Paul and the later church fathers who introduced many ideas into Christianity, which Christ did not preach. It is clear from the New Testament that Christ did not claim to be God, nor did he ask his followers to worship him.

Now my dear friend, can you quote one verse from your Holy Scripture which categorically negates the quotations I gave above and teaches that God is three in one or one in three as you claim?

But in spite of your belief about Jesus (peace be upon him) that he is the Almighty God, we do not equate you with polytheists. We respect you as Ahl-al-Kitab, or People who have a divine scripture, along with Jews.Is Islam the Enemy of Christianity? - About Islam

Before I explain the verse you quoted, let me quote one Quranic verse, which bears out our relationship with you as Christians:

{… and the nearest among them in love to the believers will you find those who say, “We are Christians”: because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant.} (Al-Maida 5:82)

This means that of all religious groups, it is Christians whom we as Muslims should take as nearest to you; because, among them we will find ascetics and very humble and pious people.
God says in the Quran that of all the women of the whole world, the most honored is Mary the Mother of Jesus. In fact, she is the only woman mentioned by name in the Quran. And what is more, there is a whole chapter in her name: Surat Maryam or Chapter Mary.

The Quran mentions all the miracles of Christ mentioned in the Bible except the turning of water into wine. The Quran calls Jesus a Servant of God, a Messenger of God, a Word from God, and a Sign for Mankind.

Before I come to the exact verse you quoted, I would like to say that Islam is a comprehensive way of life. In its completeness, Islam has its political and economical dimensions. Therefore, it has its own form of statecraft, administration, jurisprudence, defense etc. based on the Quran and the Sunnah (the words and deeds of the Prophet, which serve as a practical expression of the Quran).

Now the verse:

{Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the jizyah (tribute) with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.} (At-Tawbah 9:29)

This is a verse taken from Surat Baraah or At-Tawba. This surah (chapter) of the Quran was revealed in the context when the newly organized Muslim Ummah (society) was engaged in defending themselves particularly against the Pagans.

The major question dealt with here is, as to how the Muslims should treat those who do not accept the newly formed government.

We must understand that before this, there was no systematic government of any sort in this part of Arabia. What prevailed was a crude kind of tribal system, which was being replaced after a period of turmoil.

The people who were fighting against the Prophet and his companions were the polytheists, but in Madinah the Jews also were one with the polytheists in opposing the Muslims.

The expression, “the People of the Book” here refers to the Jews. (They can be Christians or Jews; but since it was the Jews here who opposed the Muslims, the reference is to them). Anybody who did not obey the law of the government was liable to be penalized. But consideration was given to those who accepted the offer of protection by the government. Protection was offered to those who paid the jizyah, a tax levied from non-Muslims in the place of the tax levied from Muslims called zakah.

Jizyah was a tax misunderstood by many; since only non-Muslims were asked to pay it. But remember that the Muslims were also paying a tax; the two taxes were known by two names.Is Islam the Enemy of Christianity? - About Islam

Zakah, the Muslim tax could not be levied from non-Muslims, since it was a religious duty. It would have been quite unfair to the non-Muslims to ask them to pay the zakah, because the rates and the method of exaction were very strict. But it would be equally unfair to the Muslims, if the non-Muslims were not asked to pay some tax to the government as a compensation for the protection they too were getting.

In the above verse, the question of subduing arises since there was rebellion. They had to obey the law of the land, as it is mandatory in any system, which includes payment of taxes.

‘Acknowledging the religion of Truth’ means either to embrace it or grant it the right to govern, since the majority and the government belong to it. There is no question of forced conversion here, since there is the option of paying the jizyah.

This is the meaning of the verse, and if it is taken out of context, it would not make sense; or it would be mistaken, of course, as an unjust law.

In a situation where racial profiling and racial segregation is being considered quite necessary even in the bastions of freedom and democracy, it would be interesting to compare the two systems; taking into consideration the times and the circumstances as well.

You refer to the Quranic injunction that Muslims should not take others as friends, in preference to Muslims. The Quran does not say that Muslims should not have Christian or Jewish friends, but only that they should not spurn other Muslims, just to have Christians and Jews as friends. This is a frank and honest approach; and any sensible person can see this is the norm in any society, whether it is openly stated or not.

The present-day Muslims who mostly violate this guidance of Allah are facing the dire consequences at the moment. For example in the West, for the wickedness of a handful of extremists among Muslims, the Christian governments are maltreating their Muslim friends, disregarding all norms of fair dealing.

Those very Arabs who are the closest friends of the Americans are asked to get out of America, they are being treated like dirt as the African Americans were once treated in America.

But see what Allah commands in this verse:

{O you who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do.} (Al-Maidah 5:8)

And again,

{O you who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you swerve, and if you distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do.} (Al-Nisaa 4:135)

So, my dear brother, the Muslims cannot act unjustly against anybody according to the Quran, even when there is hatred and enmity. If wrong has been done by Muslims, they were violating Allah’s commands in the Quran.

So, please understand that Muslims do not want to kill Christians or anybody. They are allowed to fight only for self-defense as the last resort. Only when their existence as Muslims is threatened can they fight.Is Islam the Enemy of Christianity? - About Islam

Just as you have every right to defend your beliefs, we too have our right to defend our beliefs. We do not want to impose our beliefs on you especially because the Quran says what means:

{Let there be no compulsion in religion; truth stands out clear from error.} (Al-Baqarah 2:256)

You have written: “…I will never support you in any way shape or form”. Even when we are badly in need of your love, your charity, dear brother? The Christ we know, (who is our own prophet) will not forgive you for saying this. Please be charitable, and if you really believe that we are in the wrong, have not you at least a duty to pray for us so that God guides us along the true path?

Repent and seek God’s forgiveness, as I too shall do, for all the wrongs I have done knowingly and unknowingly. We very badly need Allah’s mercy and grace.

May the Good God guide both you and me along the right path and protect us.

I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.


About Professor Shahul Hameed
Professor Shahul Hameed is an Islamic consultant. He also held the position of the President of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.