A Question of Supremacy: the "Apostle's Creed" of Islam or the Apostles' Creed of Christianity

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When you see the ISIS black flag or the Saudi Arabian green flag they both have something in common, which is the Muslim confession of faith written in Arabic. The 'shahadah' as it is known, is part and parcel of the first words a Muslim infant hears and the last they might hear before death. Every time the mosque caller calls the Muslim community to prayer he announces the 'shahadah.' In a fashion this can be called the Apostle's Creed of Islam as it centers on Muhammad.

The Saudi flag also contains a sword beneath the 'shahadah' which celebrates the Muslim tradition which relates that Muhammad said, "I have been made victorious through terror." It also features the green color of the family of Muhammad, and the ISIS flag has a round circle which indicates the seal of Muhammad.

The words of the 'shahadah' might sounds fairly innocuous at first glance or at first listen. Here is a slightly amplified version of them, which follows the sense of the Arabic:

"I bear witness to the fact that Allah of Islam is greater... [greater than any deity in the world] and even greater than great."

"I bear witness to the fact that Muhammad is THE apostle/messenger of Allah   [and by definition is the final revealer of the will of Allah]

The Apostles' Creed of Christianity on the website of the CRCNA which covers its beliefs it has a section on the Apostles' Creed and describes it as such: "This creed is called the Apostles' Creed not because it was produced by the apostles themselves but because it contains a brief summary of their teachings. It sets forth their doctrine "in sublime simplicity, in unsurpassable brevity, in beautiful order, and with liturgical solemnity." Source here.    

The Creed reads: 

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
      creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
      who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
      and born of the virgin Mary.
      He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
      was crucified, died, and was buried;
      he descended to hell.
      The third day he rose again from the dead.
      He ascended to heaven
      and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
      From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
      the holy catholic* church,
      the communion of saints,
      the forgiveness of sins,
      the resurrection of the body,
      and the life everlasting. Amen.

Instantly one encounters a confession of faith in One who is Almighty, namely "God the Father." Whereas Islam repeatedly denies that Allah of Islam is Father, this Christian creed asserts it in its first line. Jesus is described as  "his only Son." As well, might is ascribed to Jesus as he is seated in power at the "right hand of God the Father almighty" and he has the position of being the final judge of all humans, and by extension, even Muhammad.

Whereas the visual emblems of the 'shahadah' show the power of the sword wielded by its founder and followers, the Apostles' Creed demonstrates that Jesus was the victim of the sword ... i.e. crucified and dead ... and yet conquered the sword by "the resurrection" and ascension.  

Some observations:

As we compare and contrast these two creeds, we cannot help but observe that the Islamic one is focused on a fallible human being who is said to be the revealer of the ultimate Deity. The second creed is focused on Jesus who is fully God and fully human and is by nature of his Deity in full communion with the Father and as the Gospel of Matthew tells us, "knows" Him and "reveals" Him  (Matthew 11:27). The book of Hebrews also tells us that in these last days God has spoken "in Son" — not only through him, but in him, and by him (Hebrews 1:1-2).

The data above suggests that we actually have two creeds which are in direct opposition as rivals for supremacy. It can remind us of the encounter of Moses and Pharaoh as the question boiled down to "who is ultimately supreme — Pharaoh and by extension the gods of Egypt, or YHWH? The Exodus Bible story, and many other places in the Bible show by word and action that YHWH and the Lord Jesus Christ are incomparable. The Biblical account and Church history show that in the rivalry for supremacy the community of YHWH and the Body of Christ frequently are humiliated in the short term. 

Conclusion:

At the end of his life Muhammad vowed that neither Christians nor Jews should occupy the Arabian peninsula as they posed a threat to the supremacy of Islam. This supremacy was encapsulated by the 'shahadah.'  It would appear for all intensive purposes that flags of ISIS and Saudi Arabia are witnessing to this supremacy. Yet Islam and Muhammad have a rival who is unstoppable, uncontainable, unrestrainable and the  promises that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth" (Philippians 2:10) and that the "earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea." (Habakkuk 2:14) will come to pass. The Apostles' Creed of the historic Christian Church truly says JESUS AKBAR!  Jesus is greater! Yesterday, today and tomorrow.

For further reading:

1. Mark Durie has written a very helpful booklet on helping former Muslims to break out of the spiritual bondage that comes from reciting the 'shahadah'.

Here is a link to an article that describes his book Liberty to the Captives.

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