The Bible and Quran clash since Yahweh avoids complete aloneness in his essence, while Allah has no internal unity of persons in his isolation. Discerning God’s Oneness opens the door know who God is.
Absoluteness contrasts with unity. Absoluteness demonstrates completeness in how Allah is one without any other persons. Unity, however, reflects a joining of persons. Yahweh and Allah’s Oneness show how each willingly shares or holds back. We are partakers of his divine image in creation, and Yahweh desires to connect with us. Oneness in Unity (Trinity) avoids isolation; Absolute Oneness guards it.
Pronouns and Deity
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut 6:4). The key to Jewish Monotheism focuses on connection – The Lord our God shows an existing relationship between God and his people of faith. One could say, for the absolute-oneness-concept deity: “The deity,” with no allowance to attach personal pronouns since the Shahadah of Islam (there is no god but Allah) does not incorporate any pronoun in their creed. In contrast, the Oneness in Unity allows a relationship using the phrases our God or your God (Deut. 6:4-5). Therefore, the door opens for connection because He first shares unity within himself and extends this to His followers.
Understanding God’s oneness by the pronouns or lack of pronouns reveals the major contrast in these critical texts (Deut. 6 and Surah 112). So, both are one, but Yahweh’s oneness intents to connect but Allah stands alone in oneness.
Oneness, not Threeness
Quite often, when we lived among those who believe in Absolute Oneness, they questioned us, “Do you believe in one or three gods?” The question’s importance for Middle Easterners ties the basis of belief with their concept of Allah as the one and only. My typical personal response was, “God is one, and he loves us.” Thus, affirming a key idea and creating a thirst for Yahweh’s desire to connect with each of us. Christians never believe in three gods but must assert the belief in God’s oneness more often without denying the Trinity. (See my article comparing Absoluteness with Trinity.)
Interestingly, Surah 9:31 states, “They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One Allah. There is no Allah save Him. Be He Glorified from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him)!” Muhammad M. Pickthall, ed., The Quran (Medford, MA: Perseus Digital Library, n.d.). Islam typically accentuates a sense of absolute oneness to counter Christianity. “If Allah had willed to choose a son, He could have chosen what He would of that which He hath created. Be He Glorified! He is Allah, the One, the Absolute” (Surah 39:4).ibid. Allah categorizes absolute oneness with no son, no partner, and no likeness.
Sadly, instead of creating clarity, they counter their uninformed biblical ideas. In biblical thinking, the Lord Jesus as the eternal Son is never considered created or a choice to become a son, as this Surah presupposes.
Importantly, when speaking of God as Trinity in Central Asia, the “threeness” of the word stood out more than the onenessTajik: сегона, Uzbek: uchlik. becoming a glaring obstacle to sharing the truth. In the Middle East, believers use an Arabic word for Trinity (تثلیث), and confusion ensues. Unfortunately, there will always be misunderstandings and natural resistance when explaining the Trinity to Muslims because the Quran presents the Christian truth as a false doctrine. Al-Ghazali, a prominent and well-known Islamic philosopher, stated, “Oneness is the indication of the true, multiplicity is the indication of the false.” Al-Ghazali Kitab Sharh Aja’ib al-Qalb. Translated by R. J. McCarthy in Deliverance from Error. Louisville: Twayne Publishers, 1980, 190. Thus, Al-Ghazali would say the Trinity is heresy.
For these reasons, in Central Asia, I began to stress the essence of Yahweh’s oneness during initial conversations with our neighbors and friends, which helped them better understand what the Bible—not the Quran—says about Yahweh. The ability in discerning God’s oneness in the Central Asian context gave meaning to theological words and often clarified many situations. Today, in speaking with Muslims, we need to know what terms they are using and what they mean by these terms. The nature of the deities’ “oneness” presents a contrast that determines a distinct perspective on marriage.
Complexity of Oneness
When discerning God’s oneness, this reveals a complexity. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light” (Gen. 1:1–3). We see God, his Spirit, and his Word (“God said”) functioning in unity to create. They relate without rival partnerships in creation. Unity, not disunity, labels their essence and work. Yet, Muslims assume this unity is another deity or a partner to the true God. Yet, unity cultivates unity in personal being and function, never displaying an internal rivalry.
For further reading, see Searching Below the Surface.