Compare And Contrast Islam And Christianity Religion Essay
The Middle East is a significant historical region where it served as the birthplace for many cultures and religions such as Christianity and Islam. As they expanded from this region, both of these religions had substantial impact on the course of history. However, Christianity and Islam have their similarities in religious beliefs and their differences in expansion between the two religions.
The Arabs like the Christians and the Jews, believed in unseen spirits such as gods, desert spirits, demons, and so forth. The Christians and Islam each believed that there is only one true God that sends down a messenger to observe the people. The Christians believed that Jesus was the messenger that God sent down and the Islam believed that Muhammad was inspired by an unseen spirit when they questioned if the spirit was the one true God. The people between the two religions believed that if they do good deeds then they would go to Heaven (the Christian's belief) or Paradise (the Islam's belief). And the sinful one will go to hell. Both religions have their own book that they believe are the words of God. The bible is the book that the Christians believe are the words of God and the Qur'an, or the Recitation, was a book established in 650 that the Islamic regards as the unalterable word of God.
The differences between Christianity and the Islamic are the expansions between the two religions. The Christians established new churches in cities and this made the spread of Christianity during the first two centuries an essentially urban phenomenon. Since the Arabia had very few cities Islam was spread mostly through villages and rural areas. There was a major difference between the expansion of Christianity and Islam and that between the methods used to spread their messages. During the first two centuries, Christians did not force their religion on others but relied on missionaries, preaching, and leading godly lives to draw people to the one true...
B Compare and Contrast essay: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism Introduction of Religions Christianity most widely distributed of the world religions, having substantial representation in all the populated continents of the globe. Its total membership may exceed 1.7 billion people. Islam, a major world religion, founded in Arabia and based on the teachings of Muhammad, who is called the Prophet. One who practices Islam is a Muslim. Muslims follow the Koran, the written revelation brought by Muhammad. The Muslim world population is estimated at more than 1 billion. Islam is the quickest growing religion. Judaism is one of the world's oldest religious traditions. Pre-modern Judaism constituted (and traditional Judaism today constitutes) an integrated cultural system of Jewish law, custom, and practice encompassing the totality of individual and communal existence. It is a system of sanctification in which all is to be subsumed under God's rule. Judaism originated in the Middle East, but Jewish communities have existed at one time or another in almost all parts of the world, a result of both voluntary migrations and forced exile or expulsions. Origin The central element of Christianity is the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus of Nazareth, a Jewish rabbi, attracted a following of people who believed him to be a new prophet. Their recollections of Jesus' words and deeds recall his days on earth and the miracle of his resurrection from the dead on the first Easter. These Jewish Christians began the first churches, in Jerusalem. Much like Christianity Islam was based on the prophesies and teaching of person or prophet, Muhammad. In Mohammed's time (570?-632), the Arabian Peninsula was inhabited by nomadic Bedouins and city-dwelling Arabs. Muhammad began his ministry at the age of 40, when, he claimed, the archangel Gabriel appeared to him in a vision. At first Muhammad confided his visions only to his family and close friends. After four years he began to preach openly in his...
Christianity Vs Islam
On the surface, Islam and Christianity appear to have very little in common, however, as you get deeper into areas such as rituals, beliefs, ethics, founders, and sacred objects, the two show strong mutual similarities, particularly in the fundamental areas. In this essay I will compare and contrast the doctrines that make up the worlds largest and most recognized religions, Christianity and Islam.
The word Islam means "surrender" or "submission," submission to the will of Allah, the one God. Muslims are those who have submitted themselves. The basic creed of Islam is brief: Both Muslims and Christians are monotheists, believing in the same god, referred to as "Allah" by the Muslims and "God" by Catholics. Islam teaches that there is one God, the creator and sustainer of the universe. This God, Allah, is compassionate and honorable. Because he is compassionate, he calls all people to believe in him and worship him. Because he is also lawful, on the Last Day He will judge every person according to his deeds. On the Last Day, all the dead will be resurrected and either rewarded in heaven or punished in hell.
Christianity parallels the singular view of God. In the Christian Bible one of the Ten Commandments states that "I am the Lord thy God.....thou shalt have no other gods before me". Also, identical to Islam, God is considered the creator of the universe, and he is also just. On the last day, or judgment day, the same holds true within Islam and Christian beliefs, the dead will be resurrected and either rewarded with heaven or punished with hell.
In Islam, God sent prophets to communicate his will. These prophets, all mortal men, were elected messengers to whom God spoke through an angel or by inspiration, this is identical to Christianity. Another example of the use of prophets was God sending Moses to free his people out of Egypt. Both Islam and Christianity...
Compare Contrast Religion
Comparisons and Contrasts between Christianity, Islam, and Judaism
Between the religions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, there are many similarities and differences that are dealt within each of them. Throughout these religions, we can compare and contrast different aspects of each religion such as some of the basic facts of their histories and some of the religious beliefs each of them have in common and or make them different from each other. In the country known as Palestine, the religions known as Christianity and Judaism were founded each by different men. Jesus was the man who began the creation of Christianity and a man named Moses was the founder who established the religion of Judaism. In the country of Saudi Arabia the religion of Islam was born and founded by a man named Muhammad. Considering each of the religions origins, Christians were known as the people who believed in Christianity and spoke in the original language of Aramaic or Greek. The people who believed in Judaism Spoke in the original language of Hebrew and as for the people who trust in Islam spoke Arabic and are known as Muslims.
Between the Christians, Muslims and Jews, the Christians have the largest population of the religions with 2 billion members, and as for the Islamic religion, there consists of 1.3 billion Muslims and in the Judaism religion, there contains are about 14 million Jews that take part. This makes Christianity ranked the largest religion, Islam the second largest and Judaism the 12th largest out of all religions that exist. The main concentration of Christians takes place in Europe, North and South America and as of today, there is rapid growth of Christianity proceeding in Africa. Muslims are focused mainly in the Middle East and South East Asia and the main consumption of Jews are located in Israel, Europe and the United States. Each religion has a sacred text that everyone in a certain religion believes in. Christians and Jews both believe in the Jewish...
Christian Mission To Muslims
Since September 11, the Muslim communities have been under siege by the media and the entire world. We have seen how the miss conceptions of Muslims have spread all over the media. As a Christian I begin to think that they should be treated as normal people. "When a radical fundamentalist, start a sect with ideas that differ from what the Muslim religion stands for, we begin to stereotype all the Muslims as the same. But when a Christian begins a killing spree a cross the nation, know one stereotypes all the Christians as one."
As a Seventh Day Adventists Christian, I believe that we as a church body, we have to reach this people with compassion and understanding, because not all of them are evil like they are shown to be. I believe that ignorance is the root of hatred, an as Christians, we should be like Jesus, understand them, and cater to their needs.
To be able to understand the Muslim mind we have to learn their background and how their religion was develop. Is hard to learn when you already have preconceived prejudices about Muslims, but that's when we have to pray to God for wisdom, understanding, and an open mind.
Islam originated in the seventh century A.D. During this time, Islamic scholars were very fluent in the areas of physics, mathematics, chemistry, astronomy, geography and medicine. Muhammed (570-632 A.D.) was the founder of Islam. He became an orphaned at the age of six, when he became a teenager he decided to join the merchants who traded goods from town to town along the caravan routes. He became a master trader for a businesswoman, then married the woman who was a widow.
Muhammed was a man with a lot of spiritual insight, but he became depressed by the commercial greed and the excess of polytheism around him, he spent most of the time in seclusion and meditation. Muslims believe that while Muhammed was meditating in a cave, the archangel Gabriel appeared to him. The vision came to him first in 610 A.D. and thereafter at intervals over...
Islam is the fastest growing religion on the entire planet, yet it is misunderstood by millions. Islam (meaning peace and submission to God), is a religion of ethics, obedience, harmony, and is based on a faithful belief system. It exists in various parts of the world, spreading its tranquility to all Muslims (adherents of the religion). Since the time the religion was revealed, Islam has laid out a religiously pure belief system and has promoted advancements in several branches of science. Interestingly, Islam has also been considered as a religion of cruelty, oppression, and brutality. Soon after Muslim immigration into America and other regions in the western world, Muslims have found it increasingly difficult to endure these misconceptions. The religion of Islam is not a religion of hatred and violence, but a religion of respect for all humans and God. This is the true Islam, the religion of equality, morality, and faith.
Islam enforces its belief system by establishing several rules and regulations. The five pillars of Islam constitute the foundation of the religion. The pillars symbolize the necessary duties of every Muslim. By obeying to the commandments of the five pillars, Muslims will become religiously pure and are ensured to enter heaven in the afterlife. The five pillars include belief, five daily prayers, fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, alms, and pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The first pillar, belief, requires every Muslim to believe that Allah (Arabic word for God) is the only God and that Muhammad was his last messenger. The second pillar, five daily prayers, obliges Muslims to pray five times each day. The five prayer times are early morning, afternoon, late afternoon, evening and night. (4) The third pillar, fasting, asks Muslims to fast from sunrise to sunset everyday during the holy month of Ramadan. The fasting allows Muslims to save food to donate to the poor and experience the hunger that a person in poverty...
Islam is a peaceful religion with many aspects to explore. The religion is surrounded by myths from the unknown. Following our journey of myths we will explore the tools of knowledge, the sacred texts of Islam, symbols, and practices. Once an understanding of Islam is established we will explore the historical foundation of Islam and the similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity.
Explanations of myths related to the religion
There are many myths surrounding the Islamic religion. As with anything that people do not know or understand, there is going to be misconceptions and myths in regards to beliefs and practices. There are several myths that relate to Muslims and violence, Muslims and their relationship with other religions and their beliefs and practices.
Since September 11, 2001, many Americans have the misconception that Muslims are violent terrorist. The Islamic faith promotes peace. There are some people that have misinterpreted the teaching of Islam. The truth is, "the entire Qur'an, taken as a complete text, gives a message of hope, faith, and peace to a faith community of one billion people"(Huda, 2006, 5). Another myth that goes hand and hand with the terrorist myth is most Muslims are Arabs. It is not uncommon for Americans who travel by plane to say, "All eyes were on the Arab while on the plane." Truth, Mecca is in the Middle East but that is not where most of the Muslim population lives. "The country with the largest population of Muslims is Indonesia" (Huda, 2006, 3). Some believe that, "Islam promotes jihad to spread Islam by the sword and kill all unbelievers"(Huda, 2006, 7). The actual meaning of jihad is "to strive"(Huda, 2006, 7). To the Muslim community jihad is the ability to practice religion in light of oppression and persecution. "The Qur'an forbids coercion in religion, recommending instead that Muslims invite others to the Way by their wisdom, beautiful teaching, and personal example" (Fisher, 2002,...
Jesus and Muhammad Paper
The purpose of this of this paper is to both compare the lives of both Jesus and Muhammad. A contract of historical religious figures will also be done. One will find that their lives, deaths, histories, and teachings are surprisingly similar, yet contrasted by major differences. How these figures helped to shape modern Christianity and Islam in addition to how these religions are carried out today will be explored.
Jesus was born to Joseph and Mary of Galilee. “The birth took place in Bethlehem a few years before the first year of what is now known as the Common Era” (Fischer, 2005, p.287). It is a Christian belief that Jesus was born through Immaculate Conception and conceived through the Holy Spirit. There are traces in the Bible that point to Jesus being a direct descendent of Abraham. During Mary’s pregnancy, Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus. It was Roman law at that time, “that everyone should travel to their ancestral cities for the census” (Fisher, 2005, p.288). As there was no room for them to stay upon reaching their destination in Bethlehem, they stayed in a stable. It is within that stable that Jesus is said to have been born. It is Christian tradition that upon the night of Jesus’ birth, three sages brought to Jesus the gifts of gold, frankincense, and Myrrh.
At 12 years of age, Jesus journeyed with Mary and Joseph on their yearly trek to Jerusalem for Passover. He became lost, but later was found in a temple speaking with Rabbis. Jesus and the rabbis were speaking of the Torah. He had an excellent understanding of the Torah that was far beyond his years. Biblical history of his early adult life is nonexistent. Jesus’ biblical story resumes when Jesus is approximately 30 years old, requesting that John the Baptist perform his Baptism. John initially refused, believing that it was not his place, but Jesus was extremely resolute. It is believed that Jesus was baptized because of his commitment to God. Jesus walked on water, performed exorcisms, healed the sick, and resurrected the dead.
Jesus had 12 disciples from varying professions and many followers from different classes. Jesus taught throughout the land. He preached to groups across the countryside. His main focal point was to teach the people love for one another and love for God. Jesus taught that his wisdom was from God. He thought of himself as a shepherd who would easily sacrifice himself for his flock. He was considered a threat by many.
Jesus was deceived by one of his disciples, Judas, traded information about Jesus that led to Jesus’ arrest. Jesus gave instructions to his disciples in what was to be known as the last supper. Shortly after the last supper, Jesus was brought into custody and brought before Pontius Pilate who sentenced him to death by n. Jesus was crucified, and died on the cross.
He rose from the dead. Upon his resurrection, numerous disciples proclaimed to have seen Jesus after he had risen from the dead. The decuples as well as observers of Jesus’ resurrection aided in the establishment of Christianity. Christianity soon increased power throughout the Roman Empire. The cross developed into the largest symbol of Christianity. Jesus’ death particularly changed the life of Saul, who had been a large criticizer of Jesus. Saul was baptizes and renamed himself Paul (Fisher, 2005). Paul began to preach Christianity throughout the Mediterranean. Paul assisted in the development and spread of Christianity. Christianity was impacted and thrived because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Muhammad was born Mecca in approximately 570 Common Era and is considered the last of the prophets (Fisher, 2005). Muhammad’s Uncle was his primary caregiver because his father had passed before his birth. Like his uncle he became a shepherd. It was a Christian who concluded that Muhammad was a prophet by markings on his body when he ventured into Syria with his uncle. Muhammad worked for a woman named Khadijah, who at 25 years of age, offered to marry him (Fisher, 2005). Khadijah was one of Muhammad’s biggest spiritual supports.
At 40 years of age, during the period of the year know as Ramadan was visited by Gabriel, an angel sent by God, who requested Muhammad to speak what is currently known as the Qur’an. (Fisher, 2005) Muhammad was uncomfortable and afraid of the experience he had. He was comforted and supported by his wife who continually encourages him.
A few years later Muhammad started speaking publically. He accumulated a few followers, but there numbers were minimal. Muhammad was stoned and tortured by a group of elite businessmen. Soon after, Bilil, a follower of Muhammad was persecuted. He was tortured because he would not reject Muhammad as God’s chosen prophet. Muhammad and his followers left public sight to go into seclusion for meditation and prayer. Upon Muhammad’s re-arrival in Mecca, was still regarded badly, and the persecution became worse. In his 50s, Muhammad ascended through the heavens, met with Adam and Jesus, saw both heaven and hell, and received the blessing of the God (Fisher, 2005).
Muhammad departed Mecca and went into seclusion with his friend Abu Bakr. The two lived in a quiet cave. While residing in the cave, Muhammad educated in the “secret practice of the silent remembrance of God” (Fisher, 2005, p. 367).
Jesus and Muhammad are similar in that they are both noted for beginning and strengthening their religions. No two men throughout history have done more to shape the future than Jesus and Muhammad. Many countries and cultures can trace their traditions and laws back to their influence. Both Christianity and Islam teach of one God that is almighty and powerful. Both taught the Old Testament and the beliefs within it. There is an ongoing legacy that each has left behind. There influence can be seen in their written works such as the bible and the Qur’an.
There are many prime differences between Jesus and Muhammad. Each of their followers was affected in different ways by them. Jesus’ followers were affected by his teachings, believe him in God in the human form, and worship him like a god. They pray, and attend mass, believe that they can receive the body and blood of Christ through communion, and receive baptisms to cleanse their sins. Followers of Islam pray 5 times daily to God. Unlike Christians, they do not believe that Mohammad was god, nor do they worship him. They believe that Mohammad was sent by God, but is not God.
Jesus is said to be without sin, and to never have married, while Mohammad had sinned and asked for forgiveness. Mohammad also married. Jesus performed miracles while Mohammad mad no claim over being able to control nature. Jesus rose from the dead, while after Mohammad’s death it was the end. Jesus taught his followers about love and kindness while Muhammad taught his followers about surrender and sets of laws. Muhammad taught that all must achieve deliverance by following the five pillars of Islam. It is believed by some followers of the Islamic faith that if one is a martyr that they will gain the favor of Allah and will have heavenly reward.
One of the active "survivors" of practiced faiths in America is Islam. Before and even after the incident of September 11th, more and more disappointment, frustration and curiosity towards Islam and Muslims have aroused amongst Americans. The Reason behind those mixed feelings is that it is said that a group of Muslim "terrorists" were behind the tragedy that occurred to the Trade Center in New York. That has resulted in the lost of many innocent lives and corruption of the nation. Afterwards, Americans were intimidated by this religion, and what it brings to the world, so they sought to learn about it. Surprisingly, studies by Brendan Bernhard in his book White Muslim show that the number of converts after September 11th had risen in America more than ever before (Bernhard p.14).
One may wonder how Islam attracted the American public despite the tragedy that has occurred and said to be done by the Muslims. The Book White Muslim gives an overview on different converts after September 11th. In addition, the articles Muslims in America After 9-11 and As the Smoke Began to clear give a closer look on the Muslim and non-Muslim American reactions after September 11th. Moreover, September 11th drew eyes on Afghanistan (Muslim nation that is run by the Taliban movement, the accused leader of the attack of September 11). Therefore, Muslim women of Afghanistan were discussed numerously in America; through the topic on the unjust treatment they face living as Muslim woman. Afterwards, the controversial issue on American Muslim woman arose in America about their way of life as Muslims. To get a clearer idea on this particular issue, in Muslim Women in America what is previewed is the Muslim woman's role and her place in Islam and American society in general. The book also discusses the difficulties Muslim woman face living in America as well as the reason behind American woman converting in Islam. The article Living a Muslim in American Society also addresses the...
Islam( In The Eyes Of Western Media)
(THROUGH THE EYES OF WESTERN MEDIA)
The worldwide Islamic revival of the 1970s and the 11 September 2001 attacks
on the United States have prompted many to predict that the two cultures are
on a major collision course. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the
West. Nevertheless, the West
has many stereotypes and misconceptions about Islam that are due to the
media, prejudice, and ignorance. Islam is often looked upon as a
"extremist", "terrorist", or "fundamental" religion. Many people hate Islam
and do not want to acknowledge its true teachings. In many cases, the
media's reports about Islam are incorrect due to ignorance. This is one of
the reasons why the West often hates Islam. In contrast to what many
Westerners think of Islam, Islam is a peaceful religion, which does not
promote any forms of uncalled for fighting or "terrorist" actions.
Today, the West, with little or no understanding of Islamic history, has
a new enemy, "a new demon that has replaced the Red menace of the Cold war,
i.e., radical Islam" (Agha 6). This "radical Islam", a stereotype common to
Western thought, portrays Muslims as fundamentalists or potential
terrorists. Some of these ideas that the Western people have about Islam are
due to the mass media of the West. Reporters who cover the Muslim world
often know very little details about it. The media then develops a distorted
image of Islam that Western culture adopts (Agha 2).
A major factor which contributes to Islamic stereotyping in the West is due
to the media's ignorance of selecting their words that describe Muslims.
Some common names heard or seen in the news about Muslims are "extremist" or
"terrorist". These words are misleading and are mainly anti-Islamic. The
media rarely uses more neutral terms such as "revivalist" or "progressives"
Just for political reasons, the US officials repeatedly claim that the issue
Islam In The Media
Why islam is negatively portrayed in western media
Islam is one of three abrahamic religions, alongside christianity, and judaism. Christianity and judaism are arguably the most similar religions to islam, and have similarly spread into western culture from their middle eastern and eurpean origins. Throughout the ages, each have had their drops in reputation, sectarian wars, and misunderstandings, which still carry on strongly today. With today's media however, being more widespread, easily accessible, sporadically based and cheaper than ever to use, any media target will get hit much harder than a target hit even just a decade ago. Since September 11, the muslim population has been in the spotlight by media outlets, and where reporting is, under a journalists code of conduct, supposed to be fair and balanced, it is qestionable why the vast majority of reports about islam and any muslim activities have been negative.
In contemporary reporting, there are facets that determine news coverage and what makes something news worthy; prominence, obscurity, timeliness, proximity and disaster. while islam is no new occurrence to the west, it's major impacts culturally and socially have only recently emerged. When the biggest, and arguably the most covered event in history is the World rade centre bombings, one of the obstacles for islam is that it has entered western awareness through a very problematic avenue. When an event such as the trade centre bombings occurs so suddenly, and massive amounts of people are killed, a potent mix of a need for timeliness, proximity, and most of all disaster, will command news authorities to very quickly narrow down to a culprit- with full edia force.
“bad news is good news. as is often obsrved, there is little mileage in reporting the sfe arrival of air craft, the continued health of a film star,or the smooth untrouled negotiations of a wage sttlement.”
An us Vs them mentality had immediately been forged by press agencies...
Islam, Terrorism, Jihad And Media
Islam, Terrorism, Jihad and Media
A bomb goes off in a marketplace in Tel Aviv. A suicide bomber launches himself in a bus full of people in the street of Baghdad. Foreign tourists get massacred at a holiday resort in Nairobi, Kenya. This can go on and on. We all have heard this kind of pathetic news in the media. These kinds of incidents are widely known as Islamic terrorism according to the western media. All such incidents have come to be identified with the religion of Islam. Such incidents from past and present have undoubtedly affected Muslims worldwide and more so in the West. Any Muslim, who wants to practice his/her religion and expresses the pious desire to live under the umbrella of Islam, is labeled a fundamentalist or extremist. However, are such beliefs and opinions about Islam really justified?
A couple of things we all have to remember: Islam is not an Arab religion, it's a religion of 1.2 billions of people worldwide. Not all of them are involved with terrorism. One of the many shortcomings that have arisen in the West is judging Islam by the conduct of a minority of its people. By doing this, segments of western society have deliberately portrays the desperate actions of many Muslims, and have given it the
name of Islam. Such behavior is clearly not objective and seeks to distort the reality of Islam. For if such a thing was done - judge a religion by the conduct of its people - then Muslim too could say that all Christianity is about child molesting and homosexuality whilst Hinduism was all about looting and breaking up mosques. Generalizing in such a manner is not seen as being objective, yet we find that the Western world is foremost in propagating this outlook on Islam. So what is real Islam? How does one dispel the myths, which have been created and spread so viciously? The only way one can examine Islam is to simply examine its belief system, the Qur'an and Sunnah, not on Osama Bin Laden's activities. This is the way to find the truth...
Does The Media Correctly Portray Islam?
In a recent survey, a television network randomly asked people what came to mind when they heard the word Islam (Boston Globe 2005). The majority of the responses were 9/11, terrorists, suicide bombers, Saddam Hussein, and other things along those lines. This may have reinstated the opinions of those who thought poorly of Islam, and already believed it to be a "United States hating" terrorist religion. Now I see these fallacies even more clearly because I too had similar beliefs; but after taking a course on terrorism, I have since reconsidered my outlook. The survey did show to viewers, with more knowledge of Islam, the common misconceptions that many people in this country have. After 9/11 it was quite difficult for the media to shine light on the peaceful religion that is Islam. However obvious it may have seemed to some, they still should have explained that the terrorists did not represent the population as a whole, and that not all Middle Easterners are anti-USA. Many people still do not know the difference between you're average Islamic person, and Islamic Extremists. The media has a responsibility to contribute to Americans understanding of Islam and Islamic Extremism, and with my newfound knowledge I feel I have a responsibility to inform others of these erroneous beliefs.
The word Islam can mean submission, surrender, reconciliation, resignation, secure, to be safe and sound, and many others. This may surprise those who do not know the distinction between Islam and Islamic Extremists. Islamic Extremists are groups of people who hate the United States, and are against any other religion but their own. Extremists tend to exaggerate the Qur'an in their favor, to give a purpose to killing thousands of innocent civilians. If you take the actions of the Islamic Extremists, and you then look at the basic attributes of a Muslim you will find that they contradict what they supposedly stand for. Another common misinterpretation is that Muslim, and Arab are...
What's the difference between Christianity and Islam?
The relationship between Islam and Christianity is definitely a 'live' issue, an issue of contemporary concern. It is an issue of concern in our world, given the ongoing problems in Iraq and Palestine and the controversial role played by our own government and the government of the USA in those parts. It is an issue of concern in this country, given the explosion of asylum seekers and refugees who are of Islamic faith coming into this country. Also, in the last 20 years some 20,000 people born here in the UK have converted to Islam. It is an issue of concern for many of us on a personal level, the Muslim people we work with, live near, that our children perhaps go to school with.
As with all religions, but perhaps more acutely with Islam because of the national and international political issues, the pressure is on to downplay the differences between Islam and Christianity and emphasise the similarities, even to the point of saying along with President Bush, that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. But before I start to show just some of why that is a false assumption I want to make a couple of things very clear. These differences between Christianity and Islam are never an excuse for political hatred. They are never a valid justification for war. Neither do they justify more stringent immigration control. None of those things are a valid way to apply these differences.
I'm going to answer this question under two headings, similarities and differences.
There are many similarities between Christianity and Islam, here are some of the main ones as far as I can tell.
Both say that there is One God.
And that God is sovereign, he rules history.
The existence of Angels is another similarity.
Islam and Christianity both have Prophets and prophecy (Including many of the same characters Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, Jesus).
Both believe in a Heaven and Hell and God's future judgment.
So, what's the difference, given all these things in common? After all, isn't 'Allah' just the Arabic word for 'High God'?
The main differences centre around Jesus.
Islam and Christianity disagree over Jesus' identity
Although Muslims believe in one God, as do Christians, they reject as heresy that this one God is three persons. For more detail on what Christians believe on this, see the slot we did on this a few weeks ago which is posted on our website. For now, let's suffice to say that Muslims reject the idea of God being three in one. Especially, the Qu'ran (main holy book of Islam) is strong on saying that Jesus isn't God;
'Isa (Jesus) was simply a created human being, and a slave of Allah'
Jesus is given great honour in the Qu-ran, his status as a prophet and as a miracle-worker, even as God's Christ is strongly affirmed. But he's not God. In contrast the Bible is adamant that far from being just a created being, that Jesus is God himself become a human being.
'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God...The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.'
John 1:1 and 14
Islam and Christianity disagree over Jesus' death
Because Jesus is just a prophet, (albeit a great one) it is unthinkable to the teachings of Islam that a prophet of Allah could die a horrible shameful death like a crucifixion. So the Qu'ran actually goes so far as to claim that Jesus didn't die on the cross, Judas died in his place, God made him to look like Jesus as payback for his wicked betrayal of Jesus and the two were switched at the crucial time.
'...in reality he was not killed or crucified, and those who said he was crucified lied.'
In contrast, the early Christians were willing to stake their honour, face ridicule and shame, by declaring that Jesus was the messiah who was crucified, that he did die a shameful painful public humiliating death. So Paul can even boast that
'...we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to Gentiles.'
1 Corinthians 1:23
Because they disagree over these two things there is a third fundamental disagreement between Islam and Christianity.
Islam and Christianity disagree over the way to escape judgment
In Islam, the way someone gains God's approval and escapes his wrath on the final day of judgment is by 'falah', that is a word that means self-effort or positive achievement. Submit to God and follow all of his directives as found in the Qu'ran. Judgment day will involve some kind of weighing up of what we've done wrong and what we've done right. And even then entry into heaven is down to whether or not Allah decides to grant you mercy on the last day. This is diametrically opposed to Christianity. According to the Bible, no-one can ever be good enough to deserve God's favour, to win God's heaven, because from birth we are all pre-disposed to rejecting God and living our lives our own way. That's why it was necessary for God himself to shrink into a human body and die on a cross, dying the death we deserve.
The only way to escape judgment and rejection from God according to the Bible is for God himself to have taken the full force of that judgment for us, which is what Jesus' humiliating death on a cross was all about. What we need according to the Bible is not 'falah' but faith. To have faith in, to trust, to rely on Jesus and his death as our escape route. Those with faith in Jesus now can be sure that in the future God will welcome them into his heaven with wide open arms as if they deserved to be there as much as Jesus himself.
Ultimately then Islam and Christianity present two very different gods who may share some similarities but who have different identities and ultimately different standards. To pretend they are the same is patronising to both Muslims and Christians. Such smoothing over the cracks is also dangerous as it might well prevent people from engaging with the real issues, who is the God who is really there and how can I be in relationship with him?
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