Exploring the Perception of God among Muslims and Christians

Author: Rehana Mushtaq

Supervisor: Dr. Naumana Amjad

Degree: MSc

Year: 2010-2012

University: Institute of Applied Psychology, Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan


The current research is primarily a qualitative exploration of the perception of divine being among a Pakistani sample. We explored what attributes of God are salient among Pakistani Muslims and Christians. The first study investigated the association of 50 Muslim adults for two words Allah and God. They were asked to write 10 words that came to their mind when they thought of Allah and God. Participants then ranked the top 25 words. Cluster analysis was used on ranking of the participants. The frequency of the words such as Merciful, Beneficent, Creator, Loving, Great, One, Helpful, Everlasting, Powerful, Protector, Forgiver, Beauty, Sovereignty, Guide, Almighty and Giver was greater for Allah than for God. The frequency of the words such as lord, worship, respectable and unseen was greater for God than for Allah. Second study explored similarities and differences in perception of God among 100 participants (50 Muslims and 50 Christian adults). Same method as first study was used. They wrote down 5 words which they associated with Allah and God. The common words for God (that were given by both Muslims and Christians) were: Merciful, One, Creator, Powerful, Beneficent, Loving, Almighty, Giver, Helper, Great, Holy, Lord, Everlasting, Protector, Faithful, Kind, and Forgiver. The words given only by Christians for God were: Caring, Pray, Superior, and Glorious. Words given only by Muslims were: Spirit, Wise and Listener. It seems from these results that there is overwhelming similarity in perception of God among Muslims and Christians in terms of attributes they associate with a Divine Being. For Muslims the Divine being is evoked by word Allah hence they associate the attributes greatly with Allah than with God. For Christians the Divine Being is evoked by word God. Social Psychologists can use this evidence to build interfaith harmony and Divine consciousness among larger Pakistani multi-faith community.

Keywords: God, Allah, Perceptions, Christians, Interfaith.

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Corresponding Address: Department of Applied Psychology, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan. Email: chairperson@appsy.pu.edu.pk, Phone: 92-42-9231245

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