Similarities And Comparison Between Koran And The Bible Religion Essay
The world has witnessed the creation of many different religions of which only some have gained high notoriety, truth and fame. As for the most common ones that people are following today, they are three: Judaism, Islam and Christianity (Prothero, 2007). The Bible and the Koran are the foundations of the two latter religions and therefore are the ground of belief in God. As a matter of fact, these two sacred books directly or indirectly guide the life of billion human beings. Thus the Koran and the Bible are not like any other books and they certainly deserve a particular attention. It is while reading these texts that we are supposed to understand who is God since they are considered as God's words.
The Koran is the sacred book of Muslims, as the Bible is to Christians. Indeed, Muslims look at the Koran as the infallible word of the Almighty. Thus, they consider themselves having liabilities toward what this holy text oblige them to follow. Here the term obligation should not be understood as a common duty to perform. In fact, it should be regard as many actions by which Muslims become bound to do something imposed by the decision of the Almighty.
Moreover, the terminology "Koran" is an Arabic word which literally means recitation. When the Muslim prophet Muhammad received revelations from God, which has later become the Koran, he applied the name “Koran” to every individual fragment of the book; but was later used to designate the entire book. The Koran was considered by Muhammad and his people as a miracle which gave evidence of the truthfulness of its prophetic mission. Considered as a holly book divided into 114 Surates or chapters, and written in a poetic Arabic prose, the Koran precisely contains the religious, social, civil, commercial and military code of the religion of Islam (M.H.Shakir, 2000). It also includes a large number of narratives told in the Jewish and Christian writings and scriptures. These narratives are tales of Prophets and other members of the communities in which Muhammad lived (Weil, 1895, pp. 343-359). The teachings and education of the Muslims is situated in history with regard to Mohammed's coming. He is considered as the successor of Jesus (who is not the Holy Spirit in Islam), to whom the Koran was given through the angel Gabriel. In most Muslim countries, the Koran is considered as the most important source of law and society norms. Everybody refers to the book in all different situations in life because the word of God is binding (Federspiel, 1998, pp. 97-110). Moreover, Muslims believe that Mohammed is the last prophet that God has sent to his people on earth and until the end of time; there will be no other prophet in the future. In addition to that, Muslims believe in one and only one God, creator of the world, and whose angels are the ministers and messengers of his word. As for Christians, they have a strong faith in a future life and always think about the day of the Last Judgment.
On the second hand, the teachings of the Christians stand in relation to the coming of Jesus, the Messiah with the New Testament (different from the Old Testament, which includes all books before Jesus). The new testament, the Bible, is composed of the Gospels which means the good news, tales about the life of Jesus with his disciples, Acts of the Apostles (relating the life of the disciples after Jesus' teaching), the Epistles (composed of letters and correspondences sent by the Apostles) and visions of John (Apocalypse) which constitute the second part of the Bible (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2002).
Furthermore, Christians believe in one a unique God and the Trinity. Trinity means that there are three entities involved in Christianity and the three of them form one person (entity), these corresponding parts of this entity are the father (God), the son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. As Islam, Christianity believe that it is necessary to love God with all one’s heart, to love one’s soul and one’s neighbor as oneself for and by God’s love.
Nowadays, a large majority of believers and especially in Western countries claim that the Bible and the Koran should not be read literally any more. They believe that these books should be considered as exhortations to the love between people, and not as an appeal or a call to hatred and massacres. As we have said before, both books agree on a major issue which is the uniqueness of the Almighty. In addition, they include some common themes, stories and characters that show similarities between these two holly books. Hence, in this paper, we will discuss three main common issues which are prominent in the two texts of the Bible and the Koran: the character of Abraham, the identity of angels and the story of Moses as it appears with high similarity in the two texts.
Abraham is a common character among the three monotheistic religions represented in the Koran and the Bible. His life is mainly a family story. In fact, while his wife Sara is old and sterile, Abraham receives the promise of a descendant as numerous as the" sands of the sea and the stars of the sky "(Genesis 21, 12-13). He will finally have two sons. The first one is Ismail who is born from the maid Agar and the second one is Isaac the legitimate son that he will have from Sara afterwards receiving the divine prediction. To the two sons, a huge descendant is promised: “it is by Isaac's name that will be called your race. As for the son of your maid, I shall make of him a nation because he is of your race (Genesis 21, 12-13). Ismail will have twelve sons like Jacob, the Isaac’s son, who is going to have twelve sons who are going to make the twelve tribunes of Israel. (M.H.Shakir, 2000) The tradition attributes to one of them the Jewish descendants and to the other one the Arab descendants.
The rabbinical tradition often presents Abraham gathering his two sons and given to each of them a territory fairly distributed on the lands of Canaan. The center and on the West is going to be for Isaac and the East for Ismail. Both brothers are emotionally close and their direct descendants are from the same family, Esaü, Isaac son who married the daughter of Ismail as stated by the (Genesis 28, 9).
More precisely, Abraham was a nomad coming from Ur, in Chaldea; he created the notion of “Promised Earth” and at the same time the link between "earth - ethnic group” that stick to it, and the perception of a unique God that is the origin of the big revolution which is the monotheism.
In addition, Abraham, ancestor of Jesus was cited in 21 out of 27 books. He occupies a very important place in the New Testament. The two genealogies found in St. Matthieu and St. Luc refer to him as the direct ancestor of Jesus. The promise and the benediction offered to Abraham in prayer are done through Jesus (Luc 1,73), (Actes des Apotres 3,25). However, Jesus declares that he is older than Abraham (Jean 8, 31-59). For Jean, the real descendant of Abraham is the one who believes in Christ. It is through Abraham that filiations form between Judaism and Christianity and also between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. For Muslims, Abraham was the first one to believe in one and only one God even prior to Judaism: he pleased God by his faith (common to all monotheistic religions) and not by his obedience to the law (only for Judaism) which came at a later time.
For Christians, it is St. Paul who exploits this idea making of Abraham the elite of God thanks to his faith and not to his obedience. The fact that God is primarily aimed at pagan Abraham foreshadows the universal elision of the Christ.
Moreover, Abraham cited 69 times in the Koran, is an essential character. The story of his faith, of his obedience and submission is very remarkable in the text. The episode of the sacrifice is ritualized during the pilgrimage to Mecca.
The second issue that is present in both the Bible and the Koran is how angels are identified in the two texts. The word angel comes from the Greek word “aggelo” which means “messenger”, in Hebrew Malachim. These divine messengers are present in many different cultures of the Mediterranean area such as the Sumerian, the Babylonian, the Egyptian and the Roman civilizations. These messengers are brought up continuously in the text of the Torah, the New Testament and the Koran. In these sacred texts, angels are spiritual creatures created by God in order in order to serve as an intermediary between Him and the human beings. The presence of these messengers is manifested in different ways. They are found everywhere, regardless of age, culture, tradition and religion. Their origin is lost in the mist of time, and they are still represented in the same way: bright beings of human form, with two wings. Civilizations, people change, languages change, but these things remain resolutely mysterious and universal. Since the baby who "smiled at the angels" to the "guardian angel" who will protect us even if we are not "beautiful as an angel", angels are still today part of our daily lives.Écouter
For instance, Gods’ messengers who came to announce to Abraham that his wife Sara is pregnant took a human form just like Raphael, the angel sent from the heavens to help Toby (Book of Toby). Another form in which the angel may appear is in dreams, for example, an angel has appeared in Joseph’s dream in order to tell him about the divine origin of the pregnancy of Marie (Matthieu1, 20). In some other cases, the appearance of the angels is accompanied by dazzling lights as in the case where a dazzling light announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds (Luc 2, 9). For Mary, it was only through the voice of the angel that she sensed his presence; she heard the voice of the angel Gabriel who came to announce to her the birth of Jesus. In the Koran, Marie gets the news from “angels” in the plural form without any precise information about their nature. The role of the angel Gabriel is prominent in the Koran since God has sent all the messages of the Koran to Muhammad through his voice (John Bechtle, 2008). The angle Gabriel is actually one of the seven along with Michel and Raphael who are always ready to be involved in the Lord’s glory. However, among the seven angels, only these three are cited in the Bible, the other ones are cited in apocryphal texts and rabbinic tales.
In addition to being messengers, the angels also have the function of protection like the angel who saves the prophet Daniel from the lion’s den (Daniel 6, 21). In Christianity, this characteristic of angels has created the idea of the guardian angel which has first appeared in Spain in the 15th century. (John Bechtle, 2008) In the Koran, guardian angels are mentioned as being in charge of keeping men from demons, preventing them from bad encounters and diseases: “Angels are following men in every step they make, in front of them and behind them, they are protecting them by an order of GOD”( Koran 13, 11). When the day of the last judgment comes, there are two angels that stand on each side of the person to gather and record his/ her deeds (Koran 50, 17-18).
In heavens, the angels insure the liturgy around the lord’s throne. In Islam, their role is to praise God “To celebrate the praises day and night without growing tired” (Koran 21, 20) and to protect the throne “that they will carry the day of the final judgment” (Koran 40, 7)
In the Bible, it’s the Cherubs and the Seraphs, which are angels in the top of the celestial hierarchy who surround the Lord’s throne or protect with their wings the Ark of the Convenient. Isaac (Koran 6, 14) confirms in his vision about the presence in front of God of many seraphs who “had each six wings”. As for the cherubs, they have four Wings. The Prophet Ezekiel describes them as follows: “they looked like humans. Each one of them had four faces, and four wings; they had a human’s face from the front […], a face of lion from the right […],a face of bull from the left […] and a face of eagle." (M.H.Shakir, 2000) There is nothing in the New Testament that describes the angels in details. The Christian iconography of the first centuries distinguishes them by the nimbus which surrounds their head. However, it is stated in The Koran that the angels have “two, three or four wings! " (The Koran 35, 1).
The Christian tradition admits the existence of a fallen angel, Lucifer or a Satan, who occupies in the infernal hierarchy a similar place to the one occupied by the archangel Michel. In the Apocalypse, Satan becomes the antichrist (the opponent). Similarly, in the Koran, we also find a rebel angel, Iblis, who refuses to prostrate to God with the others angels and he is blasted by God: " go out from here, you are blasted! Curse is on you until judgment day” (The Koran, 15, 28-36).
Another common issue in the Bible and the Koran is the story of Moses’ life. Moses is the most important and essential in the Jewish history. He is quoted more than 900 times in the Bible and is the Biblical character that is present most in the Koran. Moses can be looked at as the father of Jesus Christ and Muhammad since he is as prophet and founder of a rigorous monotheism. Moses is an essential common face of the three monotheistic religions even if his historical existence is not proved. According to the Bible, that dedicates 4 out of 5 books to his extraordinary life, Moses is from the tribe of Levi. He was born in an immigrant Jewish family in Egypt, he was hidden as a baby by his mother in a basket in the middle reeds of the Nile to escape the death (Bradley, 2008). That is where he was rescued by the pharaoh’s daughter (Exodus 2, 1-10)
Similarly, in the Koran, many events of Moses’ life recall the biblical story except for few details. In the Koran, it is the pharaoh’s wife who adopts the found child and not his daughter. He was raised in the pharaoh’s palace and nourished by his Jewish mother. Moses grew up very quickly to become a liberator of the unfairly treated Hebrew people in Egypt. As a consequence of his good will, he killed an Egyptian and was obliged to flee. It was during his exile that God appeared to him in a ‘’burning bush’’ as a sign of the new alliance in the origin of his vocation .having received the power to interpret the signs (BBC Team, 2009). Moses was chosen by God to lead his people to the Promised Land. His mission is long and difficult because the Hebrew people were still tempted by idolatry. Over the numerous miracles that punctuate his story, Moses’ authority has been strengthened first in front of the pharaoh when he warned him about the seven plagues of Egypt.
This episode is especially emphasized in the Koran with more details. Moses was tested by the magicians, then he triumphed over their tests but the pharaoh stayed incredulous becoming the symbol of those who do not submit themselves In God's will and will be punished for it. Nevertheless, it is probably the crossing of the red sea miracle that is the most famous episode of Moses’ life (BBC Team, 2009).
In the Koran, Hebrew people are shown as ungrateful and openly hostile to the wishes of their savior prophet. Just like Mohammad, Moses must impose monotheism on his people. Therefore, Hebrew people remain forty years in the desert so that none of those who had known Egypt enter the Promised Land.
Moses accomplished his mission but died at the age of 120 in the top of the ‘’Mont Nebo’’, gazing at the Promised Land he will never walk in. this divine punishment ,puzzling enough gave an extraordinary character to the patriarch whose tomb is lost to this date because the Lord has buried him in an unknown location.
Moses is the liberator of his people but especially the legislator of the monotheism, requiring the worship of the unique, invisible, omnipotent, omniscient and perfectly fair God. God gave him, at the top of the ‘’Mont Sinai’’, the Law tables where the Decalogue is registered. For the Jewish tradition, he is the alleged author of the Pentateuch where the law contents are stated.
This first legislator is mentioned as a sign of continuity between both testaments, between the two alliances, “because the law was given to Moses, the grace and the truth came by Jesus Christ” (Jean 1, 17).
Alongside this patriarch has received special graces that made from him an exceptional figure in the Bible and the Koran. He was the only prophet of the bible to have seen god from the back and talked to him as a friend. This large intimacy with God is a unique favor which made Of Moses a being close to the holiness. The Koran states about Moses that he is:”the one to whom God has really spoken “(Koran 4, 164), as we speak to “a confidant” (Koran 19, 52).
This Prophet of alliance is so pervasive in the iconography. In the Christian texts, Moses is depicted with long horns on the forehead, an image that came from a translation mistake of St. Jerome in the vulgate, where the Hebrew word ‘’bright face’’ is translated to ‘’horned face”. Another distinctive sign is the beard and his attribute, the tables of the law, enroll an imaginary patriarch and legislator Moses (BBC Team, 2009).
To conclude, in the present essay we have tried to examine the main significant matches and parallels between the Koran and the Bible. We notice that as a matter of fact, these two sacred books significantly shares major similarities from the beginning to the end. The present paper give an idea about the similarities between the two books in three main issues which are character of Abraham, the identity of Angels and finally the tale of Moses.
In fact, God, the creator, the last Day of Judgment, the eternal life and the eternal death are all common points between Islam and Christianity. In addition, many characters from the Old Testament such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Jonas are cited also in the Koran. Even Jesus and the Holy Spirit are mentioned in the sacred texts of Islam. However, all these similarities can only provide a broad description of the two religions. The main difference between the Koran and the Bible is related to the person of Jesus Christ.
According to the Bible, Jesus is not only a prophet but also the only son of God; however the Koran explicitly denies the trinity of Jesus. The Old and the New Testaments affirm that the suffering of Jesus and his death on the cross were necessary to save the sinners from the original sin. Nevertheless, the Koran rejects not only the crucifixion of Jesus, but also the original sin and the necessity of redemption
Another difference between Islam and Christianity is about the eternal life. While the Bible states that only those who believe in Jesus-Christ being the son of God and belief that he has been crucified on the cross can access the eternal life. On the other hand, the Koran clearly affirms that only those who believe that Mohamed is the last prophet sent by God and that the Koran is the simple and only truth will inherit the eternal life. For the Muslims, the Christians are committing a terrible and unforgivable sin which is the polytheism by believing in the principle of trinity.
After detecting and explaining these main similarities, we can ask an important question: Are there other reason than religious that can explain the main actual problems occurring between the Western and Eastern countries? We guess that these similarities can be considered as a hope for the future of the Middle-East problems and in general Jewish and Muslim people.
In fact, as we have stated in this paper, religion can be regarded a very influential tool that can overcome many human problems and control important conflicts. Nowadays, the search for spirit still considered as n essential and consequential issue for human beings. We think that as in a first hand, religion was seen as the trigger of many human wars and conflicts that occurred for many decades and centuries rubbing many civilization, it can become as an informational and informative tool that will gather many societies around the same themes that are respect and love.
In order to write this paper, we have used many sources. Some of them are directly quoted through the essay and the others have served a basis for analysis and interpretation. In fact, citations from the Genesis and the Koran have been quoted as they appear in the holy texts, whereas explanations of Muslims and Christian behaviours are used as a ground for further analysis.
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