Islam and Christianity - Two Faiths, One God
Islam and Christianity - Two Faiths, One God

The University of Vienna, Austria
18 May 1979
In the name of ALLAH, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

The mission of all God's apostles and prophets (Peace be upon them) was based on an essential corner-stone and well grounded pillar, that is to guide human beings to the existence of the Creator of the universe: therefore, mankind must believe in, and worship God in order to be happy therein and lead a righteous life. Besides, God's apostles emphasized the fraternity of human creatures whom God created (Adam and Eve were their parents); the criterion of excellence being piety, righteousness and virtuous deeds. The Quran says:

O mankind! Lo! We have created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and have made you nations and tribes, that ye may know one another. Lo! Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah, is the most righteous of you, Allah is Knower, Aware. T.Q., Sura 49, verse 13.

As a result of belief in God and the fraternity of all human beings, mankind must necessarily live a life of love, agreement, cooperation and peace.

All God's legislations were revealed to emphasize this purport. The prophets of God at various times showed humanity that God's religion is always the same, that they are intimate brothers with no enmity or conflict, that the aim of their message is one, that He Who raised them is One, and that the fundamentals of their religions are one - void of any contradiction or contrast.

In order to fix this fact in the minds and hearts of generations, strenuous efforts and close collaboration must take place on the part of the world thinkers of all revealed religions. This is the doctrine that I have been striving to propagate and preach for the last 35 years among all sincere believers. I am motivated by this doctrine in addition to its being the key to the welfare of human beings and their peaceful life without malice or hatred, by some verses in the Quran and the Gospel, which testify and prove that all revealed religions do not disagree in their doctrinal origins and human objectives. The Quran says:

He has ordained for you that religion which He commended unto Noah, and that which We inspire in you, and that which We commanded unto Abraham and Moses and Jesus, saying: 'Establish (the religion) and be not divided therein'........ T.Q., Sura 42, The Counsel, verse 13.

This text is a doubtless testimony that God's religion at all times and with all prophets is the same, and that God orders His prophets and their peoples to unite and agree and not to be different and separate.

In the Quran there are many examples of this meaning such as:

We have sent thee Inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him: We sent Inspiration to Abraham, and Ismael, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms T.Q., Sura 4, The Women, verse 163.

God gave the same revelation in quality and topic: thus, all prophets draw from one main spring or source; moreover, it is evident that the Quran orders the Muslims to believe in all God's prophets and to obey their commandments:

Say (O Muslims): 'We believe in God and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob and the Tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received and that which the Prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them'.... T.Q., Sura 2, The Cow, verse 136.

Anyone that reads the Quran will see that its long Suras (chapters) ennoble and dignify Christ and his mother Virgin Mary. The Quran also mentions and clarifies Christ's miracles and it tells of miracles not found in the Gospel itself, such as creating birds out of clay into which he breathed and gave life with God's assistance. Another miracle of Jesus is speaking to people from the cradle.

In the Quran, there are two other long Suras pertaining to Christ: the first is Mary and the second is the Imran Family, the family of Jesus Christ. In these two Suras, we are told of Mary's giving birth to Christ after her angelic conception through the Holy Ghost Gabriel:

And when the angels said: O Mary! Behold, God has chosen you and made you pure, and has preferred you above (all) the women of creation..... O Mary! Behold, God gives you glad tidings of a word from Him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near to God. He will speak unto mankind in his cradle and in his manhood, and he is of the righteous T.Q., Sura 4, The Imran, verses 42-46.

The Quran addresses the Muslims clearly indicating Christ's high rank with God:

The Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was a messenger of God and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him T.Q., Sura 4, The Women, verse 171.

These ideas, or more precisely, this belief which Muslims are ordered to embrace about Christ and Christianity made their hearts open to receive all Christ's teachings and facilitated convergence and cooperation between Muslims and Christians, under the good care of the Quran and the Apostle of Islam and all the believers.

The Quran shows, very clearly, that Christians are the closest to Muslims on account of the good morals and virtues they share with them. It says:

And you will find the nearest of them in affection to those who believe those who say: 'Lo! We are Christians' that is because there are among them priests and monks, and because they are not given to arrogance. When they listen to that which has been revealed unto the messenger, you see their eyes overflow with tears because of their recognition of the truth. They say: 'Our Lord, we believe. Inscribe us as among the witnesses'.... God has rewarded them for their saying Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide forever. That is the reward of the good T.Q., Sura 5, The Food, verses 82-85.

As a result to this positive attitude of Islam towards Christianity and the Gospel, many ancient Christians were stimulated to express their belief and recognition of Muhammad and his religion. Some of them even granted the Muslims moral and financial aid to solidify and propagate Islam such as the Emperor of Ethiopia (Abyssinia) in the 6th century C.E., who asked the oppressed Muslims who migrated to his country to recite some verses from the Quran concerning Christ and his faith. He, as well as his monks, wept and declared their recognition of Muhammad's being a prophet. He said: The teachings of Christ and Muhammad flow out from one source. That Emperor did not given up Christianity when he said that, for Islam does not order Christians to ignore the commandments and teachings of Jesus Christ. The Quran addresses Christians:

Let the people of the Gospel judge by that which God has revealed therein T.Q., Sura 5, The Food, verse 47.


We bestowed on him (Jesus) the Gospel wherein is guidance and light T.Q., Sura 5, The Food, verse 46.

Prophet Muhammad has said: I am the closest of all people to Jesus son of Mary. He also said: Prophets are brethren from one father, from different mothers, but with one religion. He said: You Muslims shall conquer Egypt. If so, be kind to its Christian people. The fourth Caliph, Ali, and the great leaders of Islam used to say to their contemporary Christians: We do not prevent you from believing in Christianity, indeed we order you to obey it. Such examples are countless.

Isn't it the utmost degree of fraternity, love, affection and collaboration when Muhammad made his private mosque a place for worship for his Christian guests in Medina?

Do not be surprised when you know that the Muslims made of their great Omayyad Mosque a joint temple of worship for Muslims and Christians who entered it through one gate, when Damascus was the capital of their great state. They divided the mosque into two parts and they used to say their prayers before each other.

All this was the inevitable outcome of understanding the great propinquity and respect between these two great revealed religions in ancient times. They agreed in aim and object, there was no long opposition in their essence and origin. It is well-known, in this respect, that Omar, the second Caliph, when in Jerusalem, refused to say his prayers in the Holy Sepulcher lest the Muslims turn that church, or part of it, into an Islamic mosque. Thus, he observed its sanctity.

Muhammad commanded Muslims to be kind to Jews and Christians, the followers of the two revealed religions. He said: Whoever causes mischief to a Christian or a Jew shall be my enemy on doomsday and he shall pay for it. He also said: Be good to Coptic Christians. When the son of the Muslim governor of Egypt beat a Christian on his head after a quarrel, the latter went over to Omar in Madinah asking for justice. Omar summoned the governor and his son and gave the Christian a whip to beat his opponent in the presence of the great men of the state. After the Christian took revenge for himself and abstained from beating the governor himself when Omar asked him to, he said: I have received justice. Christians pray God to reward You!. Turning to his governor, Omar said: Why do you enslave the freely born people?

Islam has not stopped at this border concerning affection for other revealed religions. It has gone further and implanted love in emotions and feelings. We recall when the Persian idolaters defeated the Byzantine Christians, the Muslims grieved. Gabriel descended, consoled the Muslims and brought good tidings that the Christians would be victorious in less than nine years. This occurs in the Sura of the Roman Byzantines:

Alif. Lam. Mim. Defeated have been the Byzantines in the lands close-by; yet it is they who, notwithstanding their defeat, shall be victorious within a few years: with God rests all power of decision, first and last. And on that day will the believers rejoice in God's succor: He gives succor to whomever He wills, since He alone is almighty, a dispenser of grace. T.Q., Sura 30, The Romans, verses 1-5.

The prophecy came true and the Muslims were delighted.

Islam, by its teachings and principles, has been able to turn millions of infidels into believers in God, in Christ and in all prophets and revealed testaments.

The Quran has made of Muslims and Christians affectionate brothers who live in happiness and cooperation. Why don't we see this again in our time among ourselves especially when atheism has shrouded most parts of the world with its dark shadows and injustice, and it is getting ready to swallow the remainder. It is high time we called aloud for a meeting between Muslim and Christian leading religious men and thinkers to achieve affinity between the souls of all followers of revealed religions and spiritual familiarity and proximity of all mankind adopting this maxim: Cooperation in common points and tolerance concerning trifles of difference.

In this world of trouble and disorder there is no need for separation or discord. Why don't we meet and come to a mutual understanding when both of our religions necessitate kindness, charity, piety and virtue. Christianity says: Love God your Lord with all your heart and mind and love your kin as you love yourself! Muhammad says: Any one of you won't be a true believer unless he loves for his fellow humans what he loves for himself. Christ says: The merciful will be in Paradise on virtue of their mercy. Muhammad says: The Merciful God will be compassionate to those who give mercy: Be merciful to those on earth to receive the mercy from Him in heaven. Christ says: Give whoever begs you and don't send back who wants to borrow from you. Muhammad says: All creatures are God's dependents. The most favored to Him is he who is most beneficial to them.

Even the theological doctrine about God, the Creator, the Matchless, the Partnerless Lord, is clearly illustrated in the Bible and in the Quran. In St. John's Gospel, Christ says: And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. In St. Mathews we read: the Lord, your God kneel, and Him alone worship. God addresses Muhammad in the Quran saying:

Say: 'He is God, the One! and: Know there is no god but God.

When Christ was asked about doomsday, he said: None knows when that day and that hour comes. The same was told to Muhammad in the Holy Quran:

They ask thee of the (destined) Hour, when it will come to port. Say: 'Knowledge thereof is with my Lord only. He will alone manifest it at its proper time'. T.Q., Sura 7, The Heights, verse 187.

There are countless texts in the Quran and the Bible which suggest that the two religions agree on the worship of the Almighty Sole-Creator. Thus, it is taken for granted that there should be trifling differences in interpretation, which even occurs among the followers of one religion, which ought not to prevent compromise and accord of hearts and spiritual affiliation for the benefit of peace, faith and mankind, the likeness of which is a bouquet of variegated flowers that dazzles and fascinates when arranged in good proportion.

The data affirming the proximity of our two religions in origins and aims led many scholars and theologians in the Orient, Muslims as well as Christians, to preach cooperation, careful study and dialogue between Islam and Christianity for the sake of faith and the welfare of humanity and peace. This standpoint led the great Christian poet Halim Damous to say:

By God, all religions are merely windows through which worshipers see God. By God, all religions are merely windows through which worshipers see God.
Mankind will not discriminate between Muhammad and Jesus if they understood the essence of their religion.
I feel the presence of Jesus in the Quran, and in the Bible I sense the spirit of Muhammad. I feel the presence of Jesus in the Quran, and in the Bible I sense the spirit of Muhammad.

The Arab poet-laureate Ahmad Shawqi said: The diversity of religions must not lead to separation or hostility among human creatures nor books and prophets. All faiths are the store of utmost wisdom: their essence is the love and fear of God as well as tolerance.

In consequence of this meeting of love and affection among the followers of both religions, among their leaders, scholars, and men of letters, and after the sons of the Quran, here in the Orient, the cradle of Islam, have greeted the sons of the Gospel, and the followers of Christ have blessed the followers of Muhammad, and after the spiritual branches of the tree of Abraham have met, in essence and core wherein the fundamentals are one and the prophets brothers from one father, of one religion but various mothers, isn't it incumbent upon us, we the believers of all revealed religions, to meet and cooperate as our prophets did meet in their teachings and commandment? Mustn't all leaders of religions rise in a spiritual revolution to reject fanaticism and stagnancy, and to preach affection, fraternity and peaceful living? Isn't it necessary to do our best to build a new world of spirit for humanity in the light of perfect satisfaction and genuine well-being?

The politicians and diplomats of this century have established the United Nations and the Security Council after the League of Nations. They hold everlasting conferences and councils of disarmament, the banning of nuclear and strategic weapons which if they were used but once would not leave a living creature on this earth. But has the world gained the long awaited peace? Do human beings live in peace? Has misery been abolished? Is there no more hunger? Are there no more wars? Have inventors stopped producing destructive weapons?

Can't the theologians and leaders of religion immensely contribute to the enlightenment of people of various countries and religions by asserting and emphasizing that God and His prophets command nothing but brotherhood, peace and affection among the human race, and that malice and hostility are upbraided by the prophets?

If humanity does not receive deliverance through the people of profound integrity and faith working in acquaintance and religious toleration, the situation will be awful and God will rebuke us in the world Hereafter for every shortcoming, fanaticism and discord that may increase devastation, agony and bloodshed.

We, the faithful, are badly in need of a heavenly spiritual organization which will allow us to collaborate to bring about peace to a world which needs cooperation and brotherhood. The field of science requires our efforts because we still find the weak and the powerful, the oppressed and the oppressor, the usurped and the usurper. All the modern accomplishments in geology, in outer space, in the depths of the oceans, in polar expeditions and in the oil and metal industries, all this has not been able to cure mankind of malice and ill-will.

Remedies are available, the illness is pernicious and it calls for operations by heart and soul physicians who have excellent prescriptions to rid humanity of wretchedness and ruin.

We are no enemies to atheists, we are their fellow beings. We call them to present their arguments and seek the truth. We invite them onto the path of safety and fraternity. We mean to be sincere advisers to them, and this can be achieved by the cooperation between the faithful thinkers of revealed religions and other schools of thought. The call of the contemporary politician for peace has proved to be fruitless. So, let us try the call of the modern rational faith. Let the followers of the three religions collaborate. Muhammad says: Man is the brother of man whether he likes it or not. Christ says: Love your kin as you love yourself. And Moses preached the same thing.

Even the Soviets, through professing the non-existence of God and that life is materialistic, have held scores of religious conferences for the sake of peace. What has the free world done, the Western world I mean? How many religious conferences have been held here? Hardly any.

In spite of the shortcomings and negative indications, I am hopeful and optimistic that the Christian must one day embrace the Muslim and the Gospel must come to an understanding with the Quran. Here in the Orient they have long been with each other. And they will meet once more, with God's leave, in our present day all over the world. Thus, a new spirit will be imparted to the world with the fragrance of love, brotherhood and peace, and will obtain God's reward and pleasure in the Hereafter. This optimism of mine is not sentimental or emotional. It is impelled by what many Christian and non-Christian thinkers declared in some religious conferences in various parts of the world. Before relating to you their recommendations, I would like to impart to you what the wise Bernard Shaw wrote: I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high esteem for its flooding vivacity. But owing to some ignorance or hateful fanaticism it was portrayed to be the opponent of Christianity and Christ. After I had studied the life of Muhammad as being a great man, I found out that he was far from being Christ's adversary. He is indeed a savior of mankind as his brother Christ.

Lamartine, the great French poet wrote: Muhammad was a prophet, a leader, a mental conqueror and propagator of a doctrine that is in agreement with the free conscious mind.

Tolstoy, the famous Russian writer, said: Muhammad did not claim to be the only prophet, he also affirmed that Moses and Jesus were prophets too. He taught that Jews and Christians should not be compelled to abandon their faiths. One of the advantages of Islam is its good will towards Christians, Jews and their men of religion.

Mahatma Ghandi, the supreme Indian leader, said: I shed a stream of tears when I read the life of Muhammad, the great prophet. How can one that seeks truth like me not bend his head to this character who labored for nothing more than the advantage of humanity?

What I have quoted is scanty when compared with what hundreds of writers and thinkers have said about Muhammad, his personality and teachings, and the Holy Quran.

Coming back to the resolutions that the world religious conferences made, the Vatican declared in the clearest term that Islam is a revealed religion. This is a step forward. The conference of Cordova, in 1977, declared that Muhammad is the prophet and apostle of God.

All this and many others have led me to be hopeful that the future must be replete with goodness, cooperation and love between the revealed religions as they are branches from the tree of Abraham. When this goal is achieved, humanity will lead an affectionate and peaceful life that will exclude ruin and devastation.
Excuse me if I say to you that we, the Muslims, have surpassed you in love of your Prophet and in our devotion to Christianity. Our Qur’an has always supported and befriended the Old and the New Testaments. In one of its texts it says:

Say (O Muslims): 'We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Issac, and Jacob and the Tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received and that which the Prophets received from their Lord. T.Q., Sura 2, The Cow, verse 136.

After all this, will the followers of the Torah and the Gospel embrace and love the followers of the Quran?

Muhammad says to the Muslims, I am the closest adherent of Jesus and Moses Here and in the Hereafter. So, let the Christians say also. We support you, our Muslim brethren, for our God is One and the source of our religions is the same.

We have come to know you through our Quran and the teachings of our Prophet, therefore know us. We shook hands with you, embraced you, studied you and we adore Christ and his revealed Gospel and his Virgin Mother, therefore, shake hands with us, embrace us, study us and retaliate in the same terms or better.

Our being remote from each other resembles two brothers who have been lost for several years. One day, one them wandering in a wasteland catches sight of some distant object which he takes for a beast. He is proceeding to kill it when, on approaching closer and closer, he meets his lost brother face to face. They embrace and shed tears of joy at reunion after such a long absence.

We are in need of coming nearer and nearer until we embrace and meet in full understanding. This will soon be effected by the cooperative efforts of all sincere and faithful adherents of every religion. There will remain one obstacle only which believers will not mind or be displeased with. We wonder if we could overcome it!

It is the great anger of Satan with our alliance which will entail the joy of the Merciful God and His Prophets and believers everywhere. It is convenient now to conclude with what the Quran says of Christians,

And you will find the nearest of them in affection to those who believe (to be) those who say: 'Lo! We are Christians'. That is because there are among them priests and monks, and because they are not given to arrogance T.Q., Sura 5, The Food, verse 82.

Therefore, to this discussion and agreement, to this dialogue and cooperation, let all lovers of peace in the East and the West, all theologians and scholars, men of the press and statesmen, every lover of humanity, every believer in God, let all come along. This summon makes those who hear it responsible to obey- otherwise, God and their conscience shall reproach them.

May our hope come true. Therefore, let us start working, thinking, discussing and holding councils. God says in the Holy Quran:

And say Act! God will behold your actions, and His messenger and the believers T.Q., Sura 9, The Repentance, verse 105.

God will assist us as long as we support His cause. God will give victory to those who make His cause victorious. Peace and God's Mercy and Blessings be on you all always!

Cardinal Koening receiving Sheikh Ahmad kuftao in Austria 1979

Sheikh Ahmad Kuftao delivering his speech in Austria 1979

Cardinal Koening and Sheikh Ahmad Kuftao in Dengiz mosque Damascus Syria 1979

Cardinal Koening and Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro in Dengiz mosque Damascus-Syria

Cardinal Koening and Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaro in Dengiz mosque Damascus-Syria 1979