Is Allah the Same as the God of Christianity, and Is It OK for Christians to Pray to Allah?

May 24, 2017 09:28 AM EDT

One of the questions plaguing Christians today is whether Allah is the same as the God of the Bible. If so, is it then acceptable for Christians to pray to Allah?

Earlier this year, controversy broke out at the Scottish Episcopal Church when a teenage girl was invited to read passages from the Quran about the birth of Jesus Christ during a service at the Scottish Cathedral. The move earned intense backlash from the Christian community, but church leaders maintained it was meant to improve interfaith relations.

A few weeks ago, a pastor from Smithfield, North Carolina admitted he worshiped Allah during interfaith gatherings, believing Christianity and Islam worship the same God and that they "share common origins and scriptures." 

Such controversies often lead Christians to ask if 'Allah' is just a different name for the God of Christianity and Judaism.

Christian apologist and New York bestselling author Nabeel Qureshi wrote a blog for RZIM that answers the question, "Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God?"

Qureshi said he used to believe that God and Allah are one. However, the deeper he studied the Christian faith, the more convinced he became that this belief is not only untrue but favors "Islamic assertions." He gave several reasons for this.

First, Christians believe that Jesus is God, while Muslims don't. Jesus being God is a basic doctrine of Christianity, and it does not agree with Islamic teaching.

"For Christians, Jesus is certainly God, and for Muslims Jesus is certainly not God. How can it be said that Christians and Muslims worship the same God? This fact alone is enough to settle the matter," he wrote.

Second, the Christian faith sees God as Father. However, the Quran does not regard Allah as a father.

"According to Jesus, God is our Father, yet the Quran very specifically denies that Allah is a father (112.1-4)," Qureshi said. "In fact, in 5.18, the Quran tells Muslims to rebuke Jews and Christians for calling God their loving Father because humans are just things that God has created."

Third, Christianity embraces the doctrine of the Trinity, of having one God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. On the other hand, Islam teaches the principle of the Tawhid, or "the absolute oneness of God."

"Islam roundly condemns worship of the Trinity," Qureshi wrote. "Tawhid specifically denies the Trinity, so much so that it is safe to say the doctrine of God in Christianity is antithetical to the doctrine of God in Islam. Not just different but completely opposed to one another."

Qureshi explained that who God is as Father, Son and Spirit and what God is as a Triune being are "fundamentally incompatible" with who Allah is according to the Islamic faith. Plus, Islam condemns the worship of the Christian God.

"According to Islam, worshiping the Christian God is not just wrong; it sends you to Hell. They are not the same God," Qureshi said.

Then why do many believers embrace the principle that God is the same as Allah? Qureshi said they have clung to the Islamic assertions about God-that because the Quran teaches Christians and Muslims worship the same God, then it must be true.

"The Quran says that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, so it must be the same God," he said. "Ultimately, this is the reasoning of those who believe, as I once did, that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, and it is flawed."

Acknowledging that many Christians may not agree with this principle, Qureshi gave a reminder to the body of Christ.

"Muslims and Christians do not worship the same God, but given the complexity of the matter we all ought to stop demonizing those who disagree with us," he said.