Immutability of God

How often I have heard people say that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Upon close inspection, the reality is that YHWH and Allah have a completely different makeup, proving that they cannot be the same God.

One method of identifying God is by naming His attributes. An attribute of God is not what makes up God, but rather defines who God is. In other words, God isn’t merciful, but God’s essence is mercy. God embodies mercy. God defines what mercy is by the fact that He is merciful. So what is are some attributes of God? God is wisdom, God is grace, and God is holy. Probably the most often cited attribute of God’s is His perfect, self-sacrificing love.

For this article, let’s focus on God’s immutability. That is the doctrine found in the Bible that assures us that He never changes. Hebrews 13:8 refers to Jesus as being “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” The same thing is revealed in Hebrews 1:12, Psalm 102:27, and Malachi 3:6, to name a few. So why is this attribute so important? It is because God’s immutability encompasses every other attribute, and through immutability, every other attribute becomes eternally significant. The immutability of God means that God’s wisdom is everlasting, His grace is everlasting, as well as His mercy, forgiveness, comfort, compassion, love, and everything else imaginable. Imagine if God decided to change who He is. What if the day comes that God would say, “I didn’t really mean it when I said I will never change. I am God. I choose to no longer be a God of love.” What assures us, besides our faith that such a thing will never happen? God’s great plan of redemption provides that such complete assurance is automatically part of the package.

We see the desirability of immutability of others in how we assure that someone will not default on a commitment. We secure a significant enough investment in the cause that it would be foolish for that person to reconsider the commitment. If someone wants to secure an item of merchandise to come back later and complete the transaction, we might require them to make a down payment. The amount would be enough to assure us that they would complete the commitment because there is too much invested to do otherwise. The loss would be too great. Lending institutions do the same by asking for collateral. In God’s case, He placed the greatest imaginable investment in our redemption in giving His only begotten Son to be brutally tortured and killed. It was a 100% down payment invested in eternity. It is a completed ransom that cannot be withdrawn (Ephesians 1:13-14). We are God’s purchased possession, paid in full. God has also provided a down payment, the Holy Spirit, until the completion of our inheritance is realized!

The Bible communicates this truth in a surprising way that reverses our thinking on His nature. We tend to think that God can do anything. It may be a new avenue of thought to see in the scriptures that there actually are things that God cannot do. God even says they are impossible for Him to do, not because God is too weak, but because He is so strong that God has the power to fix a permanent limitation on Himself that, because of His perfect nature, even He cannot possibly overcome. God cannot lie or deny Himself, which is the essence of His immutability. There are many things that God WILL not do, but these things are specifically stated that God CANNOT do (2 Timothy 2:13, Titus 1:2, John 10:35).
So do Muslims believe Allah is immutable? Typically, the answer is no. While there is some level of disagreement, most Muslims would not name Immutability as an aspect of Allah since it is not one of his 99 names.[i] Additionally, the Qur’an itself rejects this notion.

Qur’an 006:054:
When those come to thee who believe in Our signs, Say: “Peace be on you: Your Lord hath inscribed for Himself (the rule of) mercy:

Other translations say that Allah “ordained” mercy upon himself. Moreover, multiple Hadith discuss that when Allah created mercy, he divided it into 100 parts, keeping 99 for himself, and giving one to mankind. There are numerous such Hadith appearing in the most respected collections.[ii]

So it is very clear that the Islamic literature teaches Allah created mercy, giving most of it to himself. This means that mercy is not part of Allah’s essence, but is rather a created attribute. Before the time of its creation, mercy was not an attribute of Allah. Allah somehow made the decision to give himself mercy, meaning that before that decision, he had none. The skeptical reader may question this line of reasoning, since time doesn’t have much meaning in eternity past. However, such a rebuttal misses the point. An infinite and eternal God does not create His attributes. He “is” the collection of His attributes. If there were a time when Allah was not merciful, and he changed himself, then there could very well come a time in the future where he again is not merciful. Since Allah has shown that he can change himself, there is nothing precluding him from doing so again in the future.

YHWH is immutable. Allah is not. How can anyone justify or even suggest that Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

[i] http://www.islamicity.com/Mosque/99names.htm

[ii] Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 76, Number 476 and Sahih Muslim, Book 37, Number 6629.

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The Position of Al-Mahdi

In the last article, I compared the Islamic end-times figure Al-Mahdi to the Antichrist. If you have not read that article, I suggest doing so first before reading this article to gain a better context of the material being discussed.

The comparisons between Al-Mahdi and Antichrist revealed a striking anti-parallel. These are startling enough, yet the behavior of Al-Mahdi as laid out in the Hadith make his identity even plainer. To explore this topic more fully, consider the Islamic prophecies that discuss Al-Mahdi and his first interaction with Jesus.

Remember that Al-Mahdi, while considered the “rightly-guided one” in Islam, is not a prophet. Though he will unite the world under Islam, both spiritually and politically, he does not hold the office of prophet. Indeed, he cannot be a prophet, as Muhammad is the last prophet within Islam (Qur’an 33:40). Therefore, if Al-Mahdi declared himself a prophet, it would undermine the entire religion of Islam and thus his very status as its rightly guided leader.

Consider also the Muslim view of Jesus during the end times. There are a variety of prophecies within Islam regarding Jesus’ return. These range from where He will first appear, what He will accomplish for Islam, and what He will say and do to Christians. As a Muslim, one prominent Hadith states that Jesus will break the cross, kill the pig, and abolish the jizya, the tax on non-Muslims. In essence, Islam views Jesus as the one who will destroy Christianity once and for all by repudiating the cross, making pork illegal, and eliminating any legal status for non-Muslims in Muslim lands.

Back to the point, though, let’s examine what happens when Al-Mahdi and Jesus meet, and what we might glean from their interaction. There are numerous Hadith that discuss this encounter. One such reference to a hadith and its immediate interpretation is as follows,

And ‘Eesa ibn Maryam (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) will come down and their leader will say to him: ‘Come and lead us in prayer.’ But he will say: ‘No, one of them should lead the others in prayer, as a sign of honour from Allaah to this ummah.’” Narrated by Muslim, 225. So ‘Eesa (peace be upon him) will follow the Mahdi in prayer… [i]

At first glance, this might seem innocuous enough. However choosing who leads the prayer within Islam is an important decision. There are rules governing who it should be, the man to be chosen based on knowledge of the Qur’an and Islam. Now remember that according to Islamic theology, Jesus is a prophet, and Al-Mahdi is not. So, these prominent and well-known Hadith say that a prophet takes a voluntary back seat role relative to someone who is not a prophet. This is odd at best, as the Qur’an teaches that prophets are a special class of humanity (3:161). Yet it seems even stranger when you consider this is in reference to a prophet who was gone for 2,000 years, residing in heaven no less, and has freshly returned to help lead his people into world domination through the cleansing of false religions. According to Islam, one of Jesus’ first acts is to defer to someone else as a means of giving honor in a religious setting. Who exactly is this character who the Muslim Jesus wishes to exalt above himself?

Apparently, some Muslims have caught on to the fact that something here is amiss. However, such doubts are quickly squashed by Muslim scholars who point out the literature does not leave room for such inquiry. Note how the Shi’ite encyclopedia deals with such questioning,

“They say, Jesus has higher status than to pray behind a non-Prophet. This is a bizarre opinion since the issue of prayer of Jesus behind al-Mahdi has been proven strongly via numerous authentic traditions from the Messenger of Allah, who is the most truthful.” [ii]

So the Muslim literature is clear that Jesus is a prophet, Al-Mahdi is not, and yet Jesus defers to him in prayer. Within Islam, the Muslim Jesus raises Al-Mahdi to a higher spiritual status than himself.

The question left to ponder is whether the Bible has a similar anti-parallel prophecy. In Islam, we have two end-times figures, the Muslim Jesus and Al-Mahdi, and Jesus elevates and supports Al-Mahdi. In the Bible, as it happens, there are two beasts, and the second beast, later referred to as the “false prophet” directs worship toward the first beast (Revelation 13:11-12). Once again, we have two strikingly similar but opposite prophecies occurring. In Christianity, the false prophet directs worship toward the Antichrist. In Islam, the Muslim Jesus directs honor and religious position to Al-Mahdi.

Any clever enemy of God would co-opt His prophecies and twist them into the exact inverse scenarios. This is precisely what we see within Islamic end-times literature when contrasted with that of Christianity.

[i] https://islamqa.info/en/43840
[ii] https://www.al-islam.org/shiite-encyclopedia-ahlul-bayt-dilp-team/sunni-documentation-imam-al-mahdi

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Identifying Al-Mahdi

The theme of this blog is inversions; theological concepts that are totally reversed when compared within Christianity and Islam. Some are minor yet revealing. Others are nothing short of shocking.

Perhaps no two things are more polar opposites than the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Antichrist. By definition, the word “antichrist” means “against Christ.” Whether the Antichrist is merely an agent of Satan, Satan incarnate, or begins as the former and ends as the latter is less important than the fact that the Antichrist will be a direct force in implementing Satan’s agenda as much as possible here on earth.

For almost two millennia now, Christians have tried to identify the groups, systems, or institutions that would formulate the kingdom of Antichrist. Every generation tries to shoehorn the political or religious boogieman of its day into a Biblical framework that will predict future events. Therefore, care must be taken not to make the same mistake in our current times. What we do know is that Satan exists (John 8:44), he has strategies (Ephesians 6:11), and that he masquerades as an agent of light (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). What we would expect then is that whatever form the kingdom of Antichrist will take, it will look good on the surface. Its evil nature will only be revealed prior to its inception by deeper investigation but after its inception it will become readily apparent once it has had time to run its course and its fruits are manifested (Matthew 7:16).

Speaking of end-times, as it happens, Islam has its own set of end-times prophecies. While a complete analysis of the Islamic end-times scenarios would take way more space than available here, we can focus in on one particular aspect of it. Within Islam, there is an end-times figure known as Al-Mahdi. In Arabic, Al-Mahdi means “the rightly guided one.” Muslims believe that in the last days, Al-Mahdi will come on the scene and unify the world under Islam. He will be considered the best of humanity. For example, consider this quote form Ayatullah Baqir al-Sadr and Ayatullah Murtada Mutahhari in the book The Awaited Savior

“A figure more legendary than that of the Mahdi, the Awaited Saviour, has not been seen in the history of mankind. The threads of the world events have woven many a fine design in human life but the pattern of the Mahdi stands high above every other pattern. He has been the vision of the visionaries in history. He has been the dream of all the dreamers of the world. For the ultimate salvation of mankind he is the Pole Star of hope on which the gaze of humanity is fixed..” [i]

Muslims the world over, both Sunni and Shi’a, await the advent of Al-Mahdi. In this previous article, I discussed one irony of how Muslims will recognize his coming. Yet, in a more practical sense, the Hadith do set out some guidelines as to how Muslims can identify him. I have listed them in the following table. Simultaneously, I have listed some Biblical passages describing the Antichrist and his kingdom. Please compare carefully.

Islamic Sources Regarding Al-MahdiChristian Sources Regarding Antichrist
World ruler“He will reappear on the appointed day, and then he will fight against the forces of evil, lead a world revolution and set up a new world order based on justice, righteousness and virtue…ultimately the righteous will take the world administration in their hands and Islam will be victorious over all the religions.” [ii] It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. Revelation 13:7
Leads from Jerusalem“Jerusalem will be the location of the rightly guided caliphate and the center of Islamic rule, which will be headed by Imam al-Mahdi” [iii] who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 2 Thessalonians 2:4
Spiritual Leader“Al-Mahdi will receive a pledge of allegiance as a caliph for Muslims. He will lead Muslims in many battles of jihad. His reign will be a caliphate that follows the guidance of the Prophet.” [iv] All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. Revelation 13:8
Changes times and laws“Surely the number of months with Allah is twelve months in Allah’s ordinance since the day when He created the heavens and the earth,” Qur’an 9:36

“It is considered a divine command to use a calendar with 12 lunar months without intercalation, as evidenced from the Holy Qur’an.”[v]
He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. Daniel 7:25
Kills Jews and Christians“The Mahdi will offer the religion of Islam to the Jews and Christians; if they accept it they will be spared, otherwise they will be killed.” [vi] So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. Revelation 12:17
Uses beheading as method of execution[8.12] When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them. Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, Revelation 20:4a
Makes 7 year peace treaty[Muhammad] said: “There will be four peace agreements between you and the Romans [Christians]. The fourth agreement will be mediated through a person who will be from the progeny of Hadrat Haroon [Honorable Aaron] and will be upheld for seven years.” [vii] And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” Daniel 9:27
Man on the white horse“I find the Mahdi recorded in the books of the prophets…For instance, the book of Revelation says “and I saw and behold a white horse…and he that sat…on him went forth conquering and to conquer.” [viii] Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. Revelation 6:1-2

In the Islamic end-times prophecies, the names have been changed. The villain is the hero. The antagonist is the protagonist. All of the prophetic details remain intact, but the players have been swapped. Satan knows God’s prophecies and that they cannot be thwarted, so the best approach to lead people astray is by constructing a complete anti-parallel set of prophecies marking himself as the hero.

As a Christian, if this does not break your heart for Muslims, I don’t know what could. Satan has completely turned around prophecies in order to get Muslims to willingly submit to the Antichrist kingdom. As a Muslim, don’t you find it odd that your religion has a completely inverted set of prophecies compared to the Injil?

** This article relied heavily upon the advance research done by Joel Richardson in his book The Islamic Antichrist. I highly recommend it as it delves much deeper into this topic.


[i]https://www.al-islam.org/the-awaited-saviour-muhammad-baqir-sadr-murtadha-mutahhari/prologue
[ii]ibid
[iii] Muhammad ibn Izzat, Muhammad ‘Arif, Al Mahdi and the End of Time (London, Dar Al-Taqwa, 1997) p.40
[iv] Abdulrahman Kelani, The Last Apocalypse, An Islamic Perspective, (Fustat, 2003), pp. 34-35
[v] Dr. Waleed A Muhanna, A Brief Introduction to the Islamic Calandar
[vi] Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini in Al-Imam Al-Madhi: The Just Leader of Humanity.
[vii] http://www.islam.tc/prophecies/imam.html
[viii] Muhammad ibn Izzat, Muhammad ‘Arif, Al Mahdi and the End of Time (London, Dar Al-Taqwa, 1997) p.15

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