Short Answer: Although both Muslims and Christians agree that there is only One God—the message of both Prophet Muhammad and Jesus—later teachings in Christianity teach a corrupted message, one not in line with true monotheism. “The Christian belief in Trinity undermines, contravenes, and invalidates the belief in Oneness. Christians say, God is One, but at the same time there are three persons in the One God—this, indeed, is a clear case of quibbling, as you have put it.”
Salam (Peace) Peter,
Thank you for your very insightful question.
As you have written, the primary testimony of faith in Islam is “la ilaha illa Allah”, which means that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah, the Creator.
And you have given the first part of the Nicene Creed as the primary creed of Christianity: “Credo in unum Deum [Patrem] omnipotentem” (I believe in one God, the [Father] Almighty).
The Islamic credo is essentially in agreement with the Christian creed when you put it this way.
In fact, if we examine the whole of the Bible to find out the actual concept of God taught by all the prophets and the books of the Bible (both the Old Testament and the New Testament), you can arrive at what you have written.
And basically there is no difference between the Islamic concept of God and Christian concept of God.
And indeed the Jewish concept of God is no different, either.
You have said that what comes after the primary declaration of faith is mere quibbling. I do not agree with this. And I will explain why.
Not Just Quran: Why The Sunnah Matters
In the case of the Muslim shahadah (testimony of faith), the second part is “Muhammad Rasulu Allah” (Muhammad is the Messenger of God).
You can see that the Muslims accept this as authentic since they received the first part through the second part, that is- the revelation given by God to Muhammad (peace be upon him-PBUH).
In Islam, there is no question of a Muslim accepting the first part of the shahadah and denying the second.
To do this would make someone no longer Muslim.
Obviously, there is no quibbling in this matter.
Again, the second part of the testimony, that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, means that it is Muhammad who is authorized to teach and explain the word of God, which he received from God—as did other prophets before him.
So, Muslims receive the Quran and the sunnah (the example of the Prophet) together as the fundamental sources of Islam.
Of course, if you ask which is the more fundamental of the two, the answer is the Quran.
In fact, the sunnah is the Quran as praxis, without which God’s guidance remains, to a great extent, a set of precepts and admonitions.
So, despite the secondary status of the sunnah, it is of equal importance to Muslims as humans confronting everyday reality.
The Full Nicene Creed Contradicts Monotheism
Now we can have a look at the full Nicene Creed. To save time and space, I give only the English translation:
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in One Lord, Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages; God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one substance with the Father, by Whom all things were made… And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, Who, together with the Father and the Son, is adored and glorified…
Here you can find how pure monotheism is watered down by the introduction of the Mithraic idea of a Trinitarian Godhead.
“God is one but three persons” is a far cry from the concept of the Oneness of God preached by all the prophets of God, including Jesus Christ.
The Christian belief in Trinity undermines, contravenes, and invalidates the belief in Oneness.
Christians say, God is One, but at the same time there are three persons in the One God—this, indeed, is a clear case of quibbling, as you have put it.
Another instance is its corollary: namely Jesus is fully God and fully man.
It is beyond us, and it must be to any reasonable human—if one does not suspend one’s logical faculties temporarily for this purpose—to accept this idea of Jesus being fully God and fully man!
And God knows best. Hoping this was helpful. Thank you and please keep in touch.
(From AboutIslam’s archives)