To be a Muslim in essence means privately and publicly believing in the one, divine, transcendent, omnipotent God, Allah in Arabic. Interestingly, the root of this Arabic word for God is identical to the root of the Jewish word for God.
Muslims use many beautiful names for Allah, each describing a divine quality. The most common terms are The Beneficent One and The Merciful One. Those concepts of God provide a theological understanding for the Muslim customs surrounding prayer.
Connected with that faith in the one God is a belief that Muhammad is God’s messenger. This prophet is neither the founder of the Muslim religion nor a divine individual. Rather, he is the last of God’s many messengers to this world that include Abraham, Moses and Jesus.
Belief in these two points allows a person to enter Islam and become a Muslim.
Reading through the Bible’s Old Testament, also known as the First Testament or Hebrew Scriptures, one discovers the revelation of this one God to a chosen people. God commands these Jewish persons—living in the midst of polytheistic cultures—to be faithful by clinging to a monotheistic religion even though surrounded by temptations.
“I am who am,” God says to Moses, “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:14-15).
In giving the Chosen People the Ten Commandments, the Supreme Being declares, “I, the Lord, am your God…. You shall not have other gods besides me….You shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God…”(Deuteronomy 5:6-9).
Followers of Christ accept this teaching of the Hebrew Scriptures and have faith in the one true God. Trinitarian Christians, however, also believe in Jesus’ teaching about God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That central mystery of the Trinity is problematic for Jewish and Muslim people. Belief in these two points allows a person to enter Christianity and become a Christian.