They are promised they will be given a new burst of faith as soon as they submit to Allah under Islam - the only true religion. They are told that Mary and her son Jesus are "recognized" under Islam and that Islam in fact is the purest form of their "old" monotheistic religion, free from all the errors implanted there by confused Jews and Christians.
The truth about the common origin of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is much more complicated and in fact, speaking strictly from a religious point of view, Muslim Allah and the Judeo-Christian Yahweh come from different worlds and are alien to each other. They are entirely different deities.
Of course all so called Muslim "scholars" will deny this with vigour and bring up evidence against it. Let us look first then why many theologians (apart from some Islamic apologists) reject Allah as the same deity as Yahweh.
A long time before the times of Muhammad the Quraish tribesmen from Mecca (Mohammed's tribe) worshipped well over 360 different deities from which the most powerful was Hubal - the Moon God. It is often argued that the Bedouins (nomads) from the pre-Islamic era were more likely to worship
the spirits of their ancestors rather those gods
Why the Moon God?
The evidence points to the ancient beliefs of the Middle East. The Arabs who settled in the cities inherited the Moon God from the civilizations of Mesopotamia. Ancient Sumerians worshipped the Moon God under several names and among them were Nanna, Suen and Asimbabbar. The symbol of the Moon God was the crescent moon.
As Prof. Potts pointed out, “Sin is a name essentially Sumerian in origin which had been borrowed by the Semites.” In ancient Syria and Canna, the Moon-god Sin was usually represented by the moon in its crescent phase. (Full Article)
Sure - they say, there was Hubal in Mecca and this deity was worshipped there together with other 360+ gods. This is why Muhammad got rid of all these idols and converted all the Arab tribes into the only and true religion - Islam.
There are however strong arguments against this interpretation.
If it is true that Muhammad abandoned all ancient Quraish deities and Hubal - the most powerful one, why is it that many Islamic rites and customs are the same as the old pagan ones?
In Islam most of the rituals performed (today) by devoted Muslims in the name of Allah are connected to the pagan worship that existed before Islam. Pagans practices of the Pilgrimage of Kabah once a year–the Fast of Ramadan, running around the Kabah seven times, kissing the black stone, shaving the head, animal sacrifices, running up and down two hills, throwing stones at the devil, snorting water in and out the nose, praying several times a day toward Mecca, giving alms, Friday prayers, etc. are strictly followed by Muslims today. Nobody can deny the fact that, all the above rituals of Muslim’s hajj today—existed well before the arrival of Islam. (source )
The word "Allah" was used to describe Hubal long before Muhammad as well. For those who want to follow up the etymological discussion concerning these words, several arguments can be found very well summarized by Syed Kamran Mirza HERE
It is the the possibility that other people may believe Allah to be an ancient pagan god instead of the god of Abraham and Moses, which worries them.
And so they argue the Crescent and the Star are not actually Islamic. It was the Turks who adopted it from .Constantinople.
They claim further - the Crescent and the Star had not been used by the Muslims before the fall of Constantinople (1453).
The star and the crescent as depicted in a few flags of Muslim countries do not have any significance in the Islamic faith. In other words, the reason for depicting these symbols on flags is not Islamic or religious. On the contrary, it is primarily a continuation of a tradition set by the vast Ottoman-empire (for a period of over half a millennium), which has prompted some of the modern Muslim states to depict these two symbols on their flags. One may, however, ask why did the Ottoman-empire opt for the star and the crescent on its flags. No specific answer can be given for this question. There could be a number of possible reasons.(Source)
Furthermore, the Muslims experts will argue, it was Muhammad himself who had the revelations from Allah, and who told him all about Ishmael, Abraham, Moses and Jesus and so we know from the main source that Muhammad was considered the most important and the last prophet.
Well this still leaves one additional problem.
Why is it that the insignificant sign of the Crescent can be seen on all mosques, prominently displayed on their minarets and domes?
Let's us consider the validity of some Islamic arguments.
Unlike the Old or New Testaments, the Quran isn't a narrative. It consists mostly instructions and rules mixed with references to the book and a lot of repetitive material.
The sparse and contradictory references to biblical stories indicate that Muhammad did not have the slightest idea what Judaism or Christianity were all about. He understood religion to blind obedience and repetitive rites and rituals rewarded by simple pleasures (on earth and in paradise): booty, gold, horses, camels, comfort of the tent and lots of sex.
You can review most of the biblical errors and contradictions which
the Quran contains HERE .
Muhammad learnt soon enough that his knowledge of the Bible was not up to the task to convince the Jews and Christians that he was one of the Lord's prophets and so he accused them of changing the true story. In fact he 'made' all ancient prophets from the past testify against all Judeo-Christian beliefs.
This was a clever ruse. From then on he did not have to learn much at all and he just used his imagination in creating a "biblical" past which overrode the existing tradition.
Why did Muhammad try to absorbJudeo-Christian beliefs in Islam?
Rejected by his own tribesmen as a prophet, Mohamed had to consider the Jews and Christians living on the peninsula as his next targets for conversion. From his point of view there was not a great deal of a difference - one god is one god- and so after "experiencing" some "extra revelations" Mohamed included ALL people of the book or scripture as acceptable followers.
After his "escape" to Medina, Muhammad, found there a rich and vibrant Jewish community and so he tried to convince those people to become his followers. At this stage he even forced his companions to pray in the same direction as the local Jews and to fast at the same time.
The Jews of Medina rejected Mohammed's conversion proposals. His second hand knowledge of the Jewish Holy Scriptures and his inability to grasp the irreconcilable differences between his Koran and the Jewish religion made it impossible for him to argue his case and win the Jewish support. Mohammed's initially favourable opinion about the Jews turned into anger and so he reverted to facing Mecca in his prayers and to Ramadan as
the fasting period.
Let us return to consider the Crescent being adopted from Constantinople by the Turks. Well I am afraid it is just another piece of Muslim deception.
Was it a pagan symbol of Diana in 1453 AD as some allege? In a state so dedicated to its Orthodox Christian faith that it rejected a help offer from the Pope because it would mean religious compromise? This is a most unlikely explanation, especially as we do know what the official flags of Constantinople looked like.
There was one with the a combination of the St. George Cross (red on a white field) with the arms of the ruling family of the Paleologues. There was another one used by the last "Roman" emperor with the symbol of the eternal Roman Empire - two headed eagle. No crescent moon and a star I am afraid.
But what about the Muslim claims that the Cresent and Star Muslims had never been used before the fall of the Byzantine Empire?
History of the origin in the usage of the Crescent and Star: During the Byzantine Empire, the city of Byzantium (a.k.a. Constantinople and Istanbul) was Dedicated to Diana, goddess of the hunt. The crescent was the symbol of Diana. In 330 CE, Constantine rededicated the city to the virgin Mary, whose star symbol was added to the previous crescent. When the Turks took possession of Byzantium, they found lots of crescent flags and adopted it as a symbol of good omen. In 339 BC, Philip of Macedon (the father of Alexander the Great) was thwarted from overtaking the city of Byzantium because his army was spotted due to a bright crescent moon. “The star and crescent” was first hoisted on behalf of the Muslims by Mahomet II after the capture of Constantinople in 1453 CE. Prior to that, it was common on the arm of knight and esquires. A star within a crescent was a badge of Richard I, 250 years before Constantinople fell. They quit using it when it became the banner of Muslims. It has been used more and more ever since by Muslims in a way to identify themselves. Sultan Othman, founder of the Ottoman empire, had a dream of crescent moon growing bigger and bigger until it reached East to West. (Source)
Isn’t it just clever? Of course the flags by now would be hard to produce as evidence.
Unfortunately for the Muslim theologians and apologists there is massive evidence, which clearly proves that The Crescent and the Star were used widely in diffrent parts of the Islamic empire, long before the fall of Constantinople.
There was the crescent symbolizing Hubal and the Star as his prophet long time before the fall of Constantinople and the heroic death of the last Byzantine emperor who was killed defending the walls of what was left of the Eastern Christian Byzantine Empire.
And so the Crescent and the Star do symbolize not only the ancient Moon God and his prophet but also the link with the ancient polytheistic world of beliefs (some theologians argue that the star - initially a female deity, symbolizes not Mahomet but Islam).
This is also why we have certain problems in understanding the mentality of Muslims.
For the ancient world it was important to keep the gods happy and it was irrelevant how many atrocities were committed in due process.
Lying was only bad when it displeased the gods, stealing and looting for your gods was fully justified.
And so it is for the Muslims, who must submit to their god and all good deeds are not there for their own sake but to make him happy.
The Judeo-Christian tradition created objective ethical values - good and evil. These values exist independently of our own existence as opposed to the values of the ancient gods where GOOD was what the Gods liked even if it was killing other human beings or pillage or destruction.
On occasions like this many would point out that Christians are perfectly capable of killing as much as Muslims.
Of course this is true.
We are all the same biological species and as such we can commit atrocities beyond descriptions. However, Judaism and Christianity were based on a universal moral law, (as the believed) revealed by God and deeply implanted in human beings even if they did not obey this moral law. The moral law - and the universe in which men lived was accessible through reason and many of the theological debates throughout history became the basis of scientific development. Aristotelian philosophy was absorbed into Christianity in the Middle age giving the world one of the richest unions of philosophy and theology the word has ever known. Speculation and reason, were seen as gifts from God to be used to understand the divine plan and the laws of the universe more deeply. By contrast In Islam Allah is remote and unknowable and his ways are not open to be understood to any extent by human reason.
Ancient pagan religions justified our weakness, cruelty, greed: in contrast the new religion did not justify our weakness but tried to enable us to rise above it - the new religions Judaism and later on Christianity, tried to improve human kind and were the basis for much of the scientific, social and artistic development in the western world.