In the Bible, we are told that human beings are made in the image of God. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:26,27) This is a strong thread in the writings of the American founders, that humans have inextinguishable urges toward goodness and wisdom because of our spiritual heritage, which transcends our material lives and points toward our certain future in heaven.

Talk about a confidence booster! Talk about high self-esteem! All we have to do is believe Jesus is Who He said He is, and trust Him and love Him, and we have eternal life!

The Bible instructs us that we are the children of God, and should act accordingly, following God’s model of good, kind and loving conduct toward other people, friends and foes. Because of the concept of the fatherhood of God, we have the concept of the brotherhood of man, with no connotation that women are of any less value whatsoever than men, nor that unbelievers in God are of any lesser worth and dignity than Christians: “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” (Luke 6:35)

God is a Christian’s role model, as shown in the Bible. The concept of being God’s “child” implies that He wants closeness and intimacy with us, as shown by the use of the nickname “Abba” (“Daddy”) for God in the Bible. Like any proud father, He wants us to try to be like Him — to be like Jesus. You know: love everybody, hurt nobody, and put other people above yourself, even at the risk of your own life. Here is a God Who degraded his own stature, and came down to Earth and took on human form in order to teach us about His love and grace. When you believe in Jesus, you believe that His Holy Spirit is so close to you that He is living right in your heart, directing your path, protecting you, and loving you, every step of the way.

This is just such a huge contrast with the concept of Allah and His non-relationship with humans, in Islam. I think it’s THE crucial difference. Allah is unknowable and unapproachable, and doesn’t condescend to make promises to specific humans, so Muslims can’t really be certain if they make it into heaven until after they die. There’s a lot of fear because of this. It explains their body posture when they pray. I think the Islamic self-image as slaves of Allah, rather than children, is the reason for a lot of the practices in sharia law, the massive Islamic rules of behavior, which are causing so much controversy as Islam spreads into Western Civilization and clashes with it continually. I think the Islamic self-image is the reason for a lot of behaviors that have caused Islam to get criticized so widely and so harshly over its existence.

Muslims do not view themselves as Allah’s children. In fact, it is blasphemous in Islam to say that Allah even HAS children. To Muslims, it is blasphemy to say that humans are made in God’s image. The Qur’an makes that clear in 112:4, which is such an important verse that it is said to be worth one-third of the Qur’an’s entire value: “And there is none like unto Him.” In Surah (or Chapter) 42:11, Allah is described as “the Originator of the heavens and the earth; He made mates for you from among yourselves, and mates of the cattle too, multiplying you thereby; nothing like a likeness of Him; and He is the Hearing, the Seeing.”

Well, gee. Moo! Just kidding, there. But this is the crux of the difference: Christians believe they are very, very special to God and each of us has distinct, priceless, eternal value. In stark contrast, Muslims believe they are part of a faceless herd, nothing at all like the One Who created them. To get to heaven, they have to do certain things. It is a “works” religion where you have to “earn” heaven. Christianity is a “grace” religion, in which heaven is offered to us as a gift just for believing and being baptized.

The stern, unequivocal commandment in Islam that humans are NOT made in the image of Allah has led to commandments in the Hadith, the collection of important sayings and rules that accompanies the Qur’an, that there should be no images in art. In fact, if a Muslim sees a picture or a “high grave” or anything else that has an image, he is instructed to “obliterate it,” or else.

That explains why Islamic jihad fighters in the Middle East are destroying priceless artifacts and antiquities of the ancient world as they roam about trying to take over various areas, much to the world’s astonishment and despair. It also explains why there are no human figures in Islamic art — just mosaics and patterns. No images!

Here is the rub: if a Muslim person is not supposed to have been designed in the image of the Creator, and if, in fact, the Creator is unknowable and unreachable, then how does a Muslim person know how to be? Who is the role model?

Easy! Mohammad, the Prophet of Islam, who dictated the Qur’an, which is said to be God’s REAL Word, not the Bible. Mohammad is the designated role model for Muslims to follow.

Muslims throughout the centuries have been encouraged to emulate Mohammad in order to live a life that is pleasing to Allah. That would be fine if Mohammad were a great guy. But — and it pains me to record these — look at the practices in Islam even today* that are modeled directly after the practices that Mohammad displayed in his own dictation of the Qur’an:

• Theft is punishable by amputation of the right hand.
• Criticizing or denying any part of the Qur’an is punishable by death.
• Criticizing Mohammad or denying that he is a prophet is punishable by death.
• Criticizing or denying Allah is punishable by death.
• A Muslim who becomes a non-Muslim is punishable by death.
• A non-Muslim who leads a Muslim away from Islam is punishable by death.
• A non-Muslim man who marries a Muslim woman is punishable by death.
• A man can marry an infant girl and consummate the marriage when she is 9 years old.
* A woman can have 1 husband, who can have up to 4 wives; only Mohammad can have more.
• A man can beat his wife for insubordination.
• A man can unilaterally divorce his wife; a woman needs her husband’s consent to divorce.
• A divorced wife loses custody of all children over 6 years of age.
• Testimonies of four male witnesses are required to prove rape against a woman.
• A woman who has been raped cannot testify in court against her rapist(s) without four witnesses.
• A woman’s testimony in court, allowed in property cases, carries half the weight of a man’s.
• A female heir inherits half of what a male inherits.

(*These are supplied by my wonderful friend, born a Muslim in Egypt but converted to Christianity, Dr. Mark Christian, www.globalfaithinstitute.org)

I really do think this is the key. What can be done about it? You’ve got me there.