An Explanation of the Incarnation and the Biblical View of Allah for Muslims

To understand the incarnation, you first have to understand the Biblical concept of Allah (I will use Allah, since I believe this is a good Arabic word for God). You need to see how we see Allah in order to understand how we can even possibly believe He could have done something like the incarnation.

The Qur'anic and Biblical views of Allah are totally different. If a person presupposes that the Qur'anic view of Allah is the one that they will believe in, then the incarnation does not and will never make sense. There is no way to prove the incarnation if Allah is seen in this way.

However, the incarnation will make perfect sense if someone presupposes that the Biblical view of Allah is the one they want to believe in. It is only a natural, logical outcome of who Allah says He is in the Bible. So, before trying to explain or "prove" the incarnation, I will spend a little bit of time explaining the differences between how Muslims see Allah and how Biblical Christians see Allah.

In Islam, Allah is "transcendent," which is a big, long, theological word basically meaning that He is beyond us as human beings, and unrelated to anything that we can know or comprehend. He is unknowable, impersonal, a being that does not relate or interact with His creation in a personal way. There is nothing about His attributes or characteristics that is even remotely like something human beings can relate to.

In Islam, Allah has 99 names. However, "love" is not one of them as far as I have been able to tell in the various lists I have seen of the 99 names. I have read the entire Qur'an (in English -- unfortunately my Arabic is not that good!) and it appears to me that Allah seems to only love those who love Him. The only time it is mentioned that Allah is loving is in relationship to those who follow Him. Anyone else seems to be outside of that love until they have come under submission (islam/salam) to Him.

The Islamic view of Paradise is a place where Allah is not obviously present. There are many pleasures to be experienced, but Allah is not a part of any of these pleasures. Allah is never mentioned as being a part of the experience of being in Paradise, and He is "absent" from being there.

However, in the Bible, Allah is not unknowable or impersonal. He is a personal God, a God who interacts and relates to His people. He is a God who wants a relationship with each human being in the same way that we would relate to another person who is a friend or family member.

It would be too hard to quote, because it is mentioned too many times in the Bible (I'd have to quote most of it!), but over and over and over again, Allah is described as a loving Father. He is seen as a Father, not from a physical point of view, but in the same way that a loving father relates to his children is the way the Bible describes Allah as relating to His believers.

In fact, we are taught to pray, "Our Father who is in Heaven . . ." and the Bible describes the true believer as a person who have been given the power to become a child of Allah. We Christians call our fellow Christians "brother" and "sister" not because we have a common brotherhood as human beings, but because we are brothers and sisters with all the others who see Allah as their Father and who are part of the family of Allah.

Allah is a God of love, a God who loves every single person in the world, not just those who love or obey Him. In fact, in one part of the Bible it says that "Allah is love," and the primary characteristic of Allah is that He loves in a perfect way. He loves human beings purely because He cannot do any other thing but to love them. He loves them without cause or reason. His love is not conditional on them obeying Him or loving Him back. He would love anyone just because they are human.

Allah's love is something we do not deserve as human beings, but He gives it to us anyway. We do not have to do anything to earn it, we cannot be good enough to get it from Him, because we cannot be perfect like He is. It doesn't matter how bad we are or how good we are -- Allah will still love us in a perfect way that only He can do.

The highest commandment in the Bible is to love Allah with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. The whole basis for relating to Allah is to be based on love. He loves us, so we should return that love and attempt to love Him as best we can.

Allah is a personal God of relationship. Knowing Allah (not knowing ABOUT Him) is one of the primary goals of the Christian. We are to know Him in a personal way and relate to Him like we would a friend or a family member that we dearly love. The relationship with Allah is to be a heart relationship of intimacy and depth, not just a head knowledge of what He is supposed to be like.

Getting back to the description of Paradise, Allah and a relationship with Him is the center of the Biblical description of Heaven. The whole reason a Christian wants to go to Heaven is so that he or she can be with Allah and see Him face to face. When a Christian dies, we sometimes say that he or she has gone to be with the Lord.

The primary pleasure in Heaven will be being in Allah's immediate presence. There will be no sun there, nor will there ever be night, because the light of Allah will light all of Heaven at all times. There will be no crying there because Allah will personally wipe every tear away. We will spend the rest of forever doing nothing but worshipping Allah as He sits on His throne. In our minds, the idea of spending eternity away from Allah is the ultimate essence of Hell.

Allah being a personal God who wants a relationship with His creation is one of my favorite themes that runs through out the whole Bible. In the Bible it says that in the Garden of Eden, Allah would walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day (sorry -- I cannot remember the Qur'anic name for the first two human beings!). When they sinned, He came looking for them.

The Bible also says that the prophet Enoch (pbuh -- I don't think this prophet is mentioned in the Qur'an) did not die. He walked with Allah and had such a close relationship with Allah that Allah took him straight to Heaven without dying.

The Bible says that Prophet Musa (pbuh) spoke to Allah like a man speaks with a friend. He asked Allah if he could see Allah's face, but Allah told him that no one can see Allah and not die. But since Musa (pbuh) insisted, Allah put him in a crack in a cliff and covered it as He passed by so that Musa (pbuh) would not die. Then Allah uncovered Musa (pbuh) and allowed him to see His back side as He passed by. When Musa (pbuh) wrote down the Tawrat, it was directly given to him from Allah, not an angel. In fact, all of the prophets who wrote the parts of the Bible such as the Zabur and Injil received their revelations directly from Allah and not from Jibrail or any other angel.

Numerous times in the Bible Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) is called "the friend of Allah." I especially like this, because most Christians see Allah as their best friend, but most don't realize that they also need to be a friend to Allah. Ibrahim (pbuh), however, was so close to Allah that Allah Himself said that Ibrahim (pbuh) was His friend.

The whole Zabur is Prophet Dawood (pbuh) telling his feelings from the depth of his heart, and much of it is talking about how he relates to Allah and how Allah relates back to him. The Bible says that Dawood (pbuh) was "a man after Allah's own heart," and so was someone who knew Allah so well that he thought and felt about things the same way Allah does.

When Prophet Sulayman (pbuh) built a temple to worship Allah in, Allah came down from Heaven in a cloud, and the cloud covered the temple. I have personally seen this kind of a thing, too. I went to a church in New York city when I lived near there. One time I got to church late, and everything was smoky inside. You couldn't see across the room very well because it was so hazy.

Also, according to the Bible, the way Sulayman (pbuh) got his wisdom was because Allah personally appeared to him and asked him to request anything he wanted. When Sulayman (pbuh) asked for wisdom, Allah told him that because he had asked for that and not riches and fame, that Allah would also give him the other good things he had not asked for.

There are many, many other instances of Allah speaking directly to people in the Bible and of people who had personal relationships with Allah, but I would again have to mention so much of the Bible to do it that it would take me too long to finish this and you'd never have it as you do now!

However, the Bible also says that Allah does not show favoritism to anyone, and that Allah is unchanging. The prophets had Allah speak to them directly, but in my opinion this is not something just limited to the prophets in the Bible.

Many times people in the Bible are compared with sheep, and Allah is referred to as a shepherd, and in the Bible Allah says, "My sheep hear my voice." So, any Christian who is willing to listen has the ability to learn how to hear from Allah. Not all Christians realize this, so if you ask them they may not say this is so, but then that is because they don't really know what the Bible says about this.

One time someone asked me to take something to somebody else for them. I didn't know the person or where they lived, but had been given an address. When I got to the address, it was a big apartment complex with maybe 50 apartments, and I had not been given an apartment number. So, I went to the manager's apartment, hoping the manager knew which apartment they lived in. However, the manager was not home. So, I started to go back to tell my friend I couldn't find the place. I was going to go straight, but stopped and asked Allah what I should do. I heard something in my mind say, "Go left," so I went left. Then while walking in front of an apartment door, the same voice in my mind said, "Go to this door." When I got to the door, I saw the name of the person I was looking for on the mail box.

Something similar happened to a friend of mine once. She needed a place to live, but had been unable to find a place. She had to move out of the place where she lived the next day. She was on a street she didn't know, and Allah told her to stop and knock at the door of one of the houses. When the person came to the door she said, "I'm looking for a place to live. Do you know anyone who is looking for a roommate?" The person said, "Yes, the house across the street has some people who are looking for someone to move in." She went and knocked on the door across the street, and there were three people living there who were looking for another Christian who was serious about her religion to come move in with them. She was able to move in the next day.

Now, you might think these are just weird experiences or coincidences, but it has happened to me in even more dramatic ways, too. When I moved from New York to California, I knew that Allah wanted me to move to come to school here. However, I had not heard back from the school if they had accepted me or not. But, if I were to get here before school started, I knew I had to start driving my car to get there in time. Also, I did not have a place to live or stay when I got here. I didn't have a job here, and I didn't have enough money to last beyond the first few months of living here. But I knew Allah wanted me to come, so I left.

I figured that if I had to, I'd sleep in my car when I got here. However, I wasn't sure the car was going to make it all the way. It's about a 6400 kilometer trip, and the car had 201,600 kilometers on it, so it was a very old car. I had only paid one dollar for the car (Allah gives me lots of good things for really cheap prices!), and had had it for more than a year and a half, so decided that if the car didn't make it, I would just leave it where it died, since I had gotten my money's worth out of it.

Well, about half way across the U.S. I was able to call the school and found out they had accepted me, so I kept driving. Well, after about five days worth of driving, I only had one more day or so of driving to go before I got to Los Angeles. But, then the car started leaking oil really bad. I once took a class on auto mechanics for women, so I don't know everything about cars, but I know enough to know if a problem is serious or not. Well, the oil started leaking so badly that I knew I needed to stop someplace to see if I could get it fixed.

Well, I was in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico. This part of New Mexico is a vast, empty, almost desert area. I had been driving through it most of the day and had not seen houses or cows (the U.S. version of camels!) or anything that indicated anyone was living anywhere nearby. While driving I had been thinking, "The U.S. had a war with Mexico for THIS?" There's nothing there that I could see that anyone would want!

Well, I started to pull over at one of the highway exits, when Allah told me to keep going and not stop there. So, I went on and drove for a ways further till I came to the next exit. I pulled off the highway at this exit. Later I found out that the exit where I stopped was the only place that buses ever stopped within 160 kilometers or more. If a person didn't have a working car, there was no way to get to any other area but by this particular bus. If I had stopped any place else but that spot I would have never been able to find a way to leave or continue on my journey without trying to get someone I didn't know to take me to this particular town.

My car was going to cost more money than I had to fix, so I decided to leave it there. Then, while waiting to go to the bus station, a man saw me and saw the car. He asked what I was going to do with the car. I told him I would leave it there. He asked how I was getting where I was going, and I told him the bus. He asked how much that cost, and I told him $65. Then he said, "If I give you the money for the bus ticket will you give me the car?" Well, I wasn't about to tell him I only paid one dollar for that car, and I wasn't going to be able to keep the car anyway, so I sold my car for more than I paid for it. I don't know of anyone who's ever done that, unless they had a really expensive car to begin with!

Then, while on the bus, the voice in my mind very clearly said, "Your baggage is not on the bus." When I got to Los Angeles, none of my bags were there. Since I knew about it ahead of time, I wasn't surprised, and it helped me not to be upset about it. My stuff came in two days later, so I got it back no problem.

The night before the bus was to arrive in L.A., I called the only people I knew in Los Angeles. Actually, I didn't know them at all, but my parents did. I told them my bus was arriving 9 a.m. the next morning and that I didn't have a place to stay or live. The wife told me that they would gladly come to the bus station and get me and let me stay with them.

Two days later I woke up and Allah told me that I would find a place to live that day. I went out looking for a place to live and found someone who wanted a roommate, but I couldn't move in for two weeks. I went back to the place I was staying and told them that. The family told me, "Oh, we are planning to go out of town for two weeks and need someone to stay at our house to house-sit." The day they got back was the day I was able to move into the apartment.

After paying for the apartment, my classes and enough food for two weeks, I only had $5 left and no other way to get money as far as I knew. I was almost out of soap, so I told Allah that I needed some soap. I walked out the door of my new apartment and saw a sign that said, "Free food, soap, etc." I was able to get enough food to last the rest of the month, and the soap I needed.

Then I was able to find a job about two weeks later. I got my first paycheck the day before rent was due. However, the job I had was still not enough to pay for my school tuition very easily. Later I managed to get another job. One of the benefits of the job was that they'd pay for my classes so that I got them all for free. Other than my first two terms at school here, I have had all my classes for free!

When my brother died several years ago, Allah speaking to me was a major form of comfort. Allah said, "My heart is breaking because your heart is breaking." Knowing that Allah felt the same way that I did was a big help in the middle of a very hard time in my life.

Another way Allah speaks to me is by telling me what He wants me to pray for. Before praying for anything, I try to find out how Allah wants me to pray for it. Well, California had had six years of draught when I moved here. Allah told me to pray for rain. That week it rained twice. This was several years ago and the government determined that the draught ended that year that I prayed for rain, and has not considered California to be in a state of draught since then.

Then, Allah told me to pray for the criminal justice system here. I think one of the reasons there is so much crime in this part of the world is that they don't punish criminals severely enough. The next day they announced that the first execution in 20 or 30 years (I forget how long) would be done in California the next week. Since then there have been several executions of people who committed horrible murders while committing other crimes at the same time.

When Allah tells me what to pray for people, things happen, also. Before I pray for them I ask Allah to clear my mind of anything I might want to say and ask Him to put the words He wants me to pray in there instead. I have had several people tell me that what I prayed for them was the exact same wording that they had used when they had asked Allah for something and that there was no way I could have known that this was something they wanted prayer for.

I've had the same thing happen to me. I once had an accident and hurt my foot really badly. It took the doctors two years to figure out what was wrong, and in the meantime every time I took a step it felt like a nail was in my foot. I went to the doctor one day and he decided to take new X-rays to see if he could figure out what was wrong. Even though he still didn't know what was actually causing the pain, the X-ray showed that the calcium levels in the bones was less than it should be. I never said anything to anyone about this, and the doctor and I were the only two people in the world that knew about the decalcification of the bones.

Well, that week I went to a Bible study. The leader of the Bible study didn't know I had a problem with my foot. Somehow it ended up at the end of the Bible study that he decided he and another person there were going to pray for me and my foot. While praying, he started asking Allah to fix the calcium levels in the bones. There is no way he could have known about that without Allah telling him.

Anyway, all this long explanation to show that the Biblical concept of Allah is that Allah is a personal God who wants to have a personal relationship with all of His people. When a person understands this, the incarnation isn't something that is out of character for a God like this.

The incarnation is actually Allah becoming a human being so that we could understand or know Him and how to relate to Him better. It was a part of Allah's revelation of who He is to us. In Islam and all other religions, man is trying to reach up to Allah. However, in the Bible, Allah is trying to reach down to us as human beings and reveal Himself to us in a way that will enable us to relate to Him the way He wants us to relate to Him.

Many people seem to think that when comparing Islam and Christianity that the Bible and the Qur'an are seen in the same way and that Jesus (Isa -- pbuh) and Muhammad are seen in the same way. However, if you look at how these things are really looked at, this is not so.

Prophet Isa (pbuh) is seen in Christianity in the same way that the Qur'an is seen in Islam. Muhammad is seen in the same way that we see the Apostle Paul. The Bible, as a record of what the prophets said and did, is more like the Hadith and Sunnah.

Isa al-Masih (pbuh) is the revelation of Allah, an expression that demonstrates who Allah is and what He is like. Even the Qur'an calls Him the "Word of Allah" (Kalamatullah), which is also what the Bible calls Him.

You see, Allah wanting to reveal Himself to us and be in a loving relationship with us, lowered Himself to become like us so that it would easier for us to relate to Him and know who He is. Isa al-Masih (pbuh) was and is that physical human form of Allah. As someone I heard once described it, "Allah put on mankind like a garment." He put on a physical body, because many times we are limited as human beings to the physical world around us, and cannot fully understand the spirit world that Allah is a part of. He became like us so that we would be capable of understanding and relating to Him just like we would a friend. Because we know what Isa al-Masih (pbuh) is like, we have a better way of knowing who Allah really is and how to be able to relate to Him.

If someone doesn't agree with or has problems believing in the incarnation, it is because they are taking a different view of Allah than that described in the Bible. It is that different view of Allah that should be examined and argued about rather than the incarnation. The incarnation makes perfect sense to those who believe in the Biblical view of Allah. It is in direct contradiction to the Qur'anic view of Allah.

It would be very hard for someone to prove to me that Allah is not personal. I have had too many experiences of Him showing Himself to be caring and concerned about even little things in my life. He is too real to me as a personal, loving being that I have a hard time even considering that He might not exist.

I once considered converting to Islam. In fact, I almost actually did it. I actually spent two hours with my brain telling me that everything about Islam made sense. But one thing stopped me. My relationship with Allah. In my heart Isa al-Masih (pbuh) is too real to me as Allah, and that relationship is too important to me. I knew I couldn't give that up, no matter what my brain was saying. Deep, deep down inside my heart I loved Allah as I knew Him too much to be willing to give that up. If Allah had not meant what He did to me, I would be a Muslim now. However, I couldn't give up my best friend. I just couldn't.

Since then I have never regretted that decision. Allah is alive and real, and my relationship with Him has gotten better and better. The deeper a relationship that I have with Allah and the more I know Him, the more important He becomes to me. I don't obey Him because it will determine whether I go to Paradise or not, but because I love Him as a result of His love for me. My relationship with Him is what motivates me and gives me the desire to do what pleases Him. As a friend, I want to treat Him right, and so don't want to do anything to upset Him. The whole basis of how I relate to Allah is a loving relationship with someone who is real and close, and not some God who I can never know in a personal way.

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