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The Quran And The Bible Comparison Religion Essay

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Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.

Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

All around the world, There are diverse religions depending on the kind of values, beliefs, culture, and practices with which the one of us has grew up. Those aspects have a direct relationship with the different religious books that represent the ultimate and most important reference that edify and enlighten these rules for any one of us. Accordingly, these books provide us also with instructions, regulations, and set of laws organizing our lives and paving us the way to stay in this world in the best possible manner. Having the chance to enroll in the class of World Literature was for me an opportunity to study and explore different important literature works which for sure helped to enrich, improve and develop my critical thinking abilities. Among the works that I have read are for instance, Gilgamesh that said to be to first ever great heroic narrative of world literature and that is originated back to the prehistory. The Iliad that I have seen as a movie and read and that is talking about the great story of two great civilizations: the Trojans and Achaeans. In addition, and more importantly, the two literature works that I have enjoyed the most are:

From the one hand, there is the Hebrew Bible which is the sacred writings of the Jews and it encompasses a rich variety of texts from different periods in poetry and prose. For instance, the Old Testament (Torah) is the holiest writing of Jews that means the law and instructions. Also, it is important to read this section of the Old Testament since even the prophet Mohamed showed respect to it. In addition, the torah dates to 1200 B.C when it was first spoken and 1000 B.C when it was first written (Benjamin R. Foster, 2009). Therefore, the Bible remains the ultimate source to study the Jewish civilization and people from different modes and perspectives and to communicate with them with best possible manner.

On the other hand, the Qur’an is defined as the holy writing or book by all Muslims, it is considered as the authentic sayings of God that the prophet Mohammed received orally. Muslims refuse totally the idea that says that the prophet is the source of Qur’an, Mohammed for Muslims is just a messenger to whom God transmitted a message to deliver to the rest of humanity. The Qur’an is mainly the ultimate proof of god’s mercy for us, for the whole Muslim community it is considered as the confirmation and the accomplishment of the previous holy books namely the Bible and the Torah. The content of the Qur’an doesn’t address direct life issues but talks more generally about life values and principles, it talks also about different topics such as skies and earth, the environment, nature, different races, natural phenomena ethical issues, history of old people and their moral examples. The Qur’an occupies the most important place in the Muslims’ mind, this shows mainly in the fact that majority try to make their children learn the Qur’an by heart and understand the meaning of the words in it. The Qur’an wasn’t revealed to Mohammed in one part but in different parts that took twenty three years in Mecca and Medina, it is composed of hundred and fourteen sections classified under different themes. The Qur’an is of high value for Muslims as it constitutes the one and only miracle of the prophet Mohammed represented in the oral revelation of god’s words. Qur’an was translated to different languages in different parts of the world for understanding matters. However the only reference for Muslims stays always the Qur’an in Arabic because of the interpretations that may have a different meaning if translated.

It seems for granted that many issues around religion have been exhausted and dealt with thoroughly to the extent that no further work on them would be given the interest it owes. Those issues have received much interest on the expense of the current issues that brainstorm the mind of writers and scholars. Every one of them tries his best to contrast and compare the principal aspects of different religions, namely Qur’an and the Bible. What really brought this topic to the surface and made of it the hot spot in media and theology studies are the recurrent events that have made of our planet a volcano-like crater. Samuel Huntington’s work “The Clash of Civilizations” could be considered as the drop that made the situation even worse and tense. In his book, Huntington points out that the world is heading towards a global clash between civilizations of which religion is the heart. Religion is, therefore, considered as the essence and the backbone of every civilization. In other words, religion is not only the law that people can watch to reach a better after life, but also it has always been a central means of organizing human life and dynamics.

Thus my humble work will try to contrast and compare Qur’an and the Bible, though it is not a simple task as it sounds to be. My attempt will not cover all the specific distinctions, but rather would shed some light on the major concepts that are witness in both religions.

It is true that both religions, Qur’an and the Bible, share many meeting points to the extent that both are labelled as the Abrahamic religions bearing in mind it is so difficult to compare and contrast them as in the Bible there is such a wide range of beliefs and practices among different wings of Christianity: Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, churches, the Anglican communion, and the tens of thousands of Protestant faith groups. The same case applies to Islam knowing that there are four different schools -called Madahib: Malikki, Hanafi, Chafii and Hanbali. These schools are referred to as the Sunni Madaheb and they are methods or ways of interpreting of the religious materials in the three levels: beliefs, religious practices and law.

To simplify the task, I will limit myself to three major aspects that can be tracked in both religions and to see how every religion views those subject matters and what version it gives to them. I will tackle the concept of uniqueness of God in both religions. Then I will try to cover the notion of revelation as well as the Ten Commandments and Qu’ran.

1-GOD

Herman Roborgh (2009), in his article “Paradoxes of Christianity and Islam” argues that “The scriptures of both Islam and Christianity are full of paradoxes. Some readers of paradoxes simply emphasise only one part of the paradox and neglect the other. Critics of Qur’an and of Bible feast on one-sided interpretation of this sort. Other readers smooth over the apparent contradictions or are so dulled by familiarity that they do not even notice them”.

Accordingly, we can believe that there is a plain reality that no one can deny which is the agreement of both religions on the concept of the oneness of God and His power. This notion is referred to in Qur’an as “Tawheed”. In Qur’an God, could be translated as Allah, is the unique and supreme. He is the creator, sustainer, ordainer, and judge of the universe. God has 99 names all of which testify that He is the owner of the judgement day. He is the one that would describe or ascribe all existing things: “God is the First and the Last, the Outward and the Inward; God is the Knower of everything (Sura 57:3). Meanwhile, Muslims are to consider themselves as the servants and friends of God since He is the almighty and has full knowledge of the secrets of the heart (Roborgh 2009). Therefore, He deserves to be worshipped and glorified alone and no one else should be worshipped or taken as an intermediate between the followers and Him.

“Muslims believe in one unitary and omnipotent God – “Allah”. The ultimate purpose of humanity is submission to Allah in every aspect of life including faith, family, peace, love and work. Islam is strongly monotheistic and abhors both the attribution of divinity to any human and the notion that Allah might be divisible”. It means that primary concern for Muslims must be to believe in the oneness of God and to avoid the attribution of any human characteristics to God such as mortality or family. This is strongly felt is this Sura “They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One God (Allah): there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: (far is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him).” Quran 9:31

As for Christians, God or Lord is unique. We can start with what The Bible dictates in (One of the Commandments) “You shall not have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3. This strongly shows that Christians are to believe in one God and not to involve another one in worshipping him. Yet, the main difference with the Qur’an is that the Bible believes that God has a son, according to the concept of Trinity which is the nucleus of the Athanasian Creed which states that: “There is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the father, of the son, and of the Holy Ghost is one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal. The father is god, the son if god, and the Holy Ghost is god. And yet they are not three gods, but one god… (Marmarinta Umar P Mababaya).

Despite having and believing in one god, we can see that power, regard and endearment are divided on the three corners of the cross: Lord, Son and the Holy Spirit. This seems to be contradictory. Both religions view God as a central character, which personifies power, wisdom and knowledge; virtues that mortals are unable to fully reach. Passages from the scriptures demonstrate such a fact. D. Emmanuel (2008) argues that “The awareness of God and the belief in his initiative to reach out to humanity appears to be at the heart of both Bible and Qur’an. God appeared to Adam and conversed with him person to person (Sura 2: 31; cf. Genesis).”

In Qur’an as well as in Bible, the power of God lies in one word “Be”. All His orders and wishes are executed merely by uttering this word. Muslims go further to say that “be and it is” is the secret of the beginning of the universe. The same notion is seen in The Bible. To illustrate we can mention the story of the creation of the universe. This story states that God created heaven and then created the earth but some time later God noticed that darkness was dominating all over and then the spirit of God said “Let there be light,” and there was light.

2- Revelation

This leads us to talk about the second common point between Qur’an and Bible which Revelation of God. The Qu’ran and Bible have given us many clues and details about the existence of a merciful and caring God. W. Rauschnebusch (2010) concludes that “since the creation of the world, the invisible character of God, his everlasting power and godhead, has been discerned through his visible works”. To put it differently, we can say that we feel the existence of god though we don’t see Him and, hence, maintain a sort of connection with him via his creations that really keep us perplexed everyday. God has been addressing his messengers as well as all his followers in three different ways: first, that God has spoken to humanity as person to person; second, that his revelation was fragmentary in its contents and forms; and third, that revelations culminated in one who by his peculiar relations to God guarantees a perfection to which broken and incomplete revelations did not attain. Consequently, to account for our weakness and blindness, God has reached down to us and has revealed himself to men. Both religions point out that God revealed himself to us and gave us knowledge of himself.

“The Qur’an claims to be the culmination of all the previous Revelations, and contains the fundamental teachings of all the previous Prophets and Scriptures. Referring to the previous Prophets and their Books, God says to the Muslims: “These are they whom Allah guided, so follow their guidance.” (6:91) “A Messenger from Allah, who recites unto them the pure Scriptures, wherein are the lasting commandments.” (98:2-3)” (Khalid Saifullah Khan)

Nevertheless, how revelation has taken place is the key difference that lies between Qur’an and Bible. Father Zakaria Boutros says that god delivers his godly message when a spiritual contact occurs between the prophet or messenger and God and that the Holy Sprit which is the spirit of god gives meanings and thoughts to men’s spirit. Christians insist on the absence of an intermediary between god and men or the messengers unlike in Islam. Revelation in Islam is the Qur’an and its assembly. Sometimes God enters in a direct revelation with his prophet to transfer what is in godly thoughts and knowledge or he relies on an intermediary like angels.

Nasr Abu Zayd (2010) points out that “Muhammad’s first encounter was not with the Lord; it was with the angel. In this encounter, the divine is presented in an intimate personal”. This mean that God’s revelations have taken many forms to approach His prophets and messengers. These forms or ways differs from the two Abrahimic traditions “religions”. The Qur’an, in one verse, pointed to the three ways of revelation saying:” It is not fitting for a man that God should speak to him except by inspiration, or from behind a veil, or by the sending of a messenger to reveal, with God’s permission, what God wills: for He is Most High, Most Wise {Consultation Chapter (Surat Ash-Shura) 51}.

By the direct revelation we mean the insertion of the meaning or knowledge into the heart of the prophet. This is clearly noticed in the Hadith Narrated by Ibn Masoud from Ibn Hayan: the prophet, said: the Holy Spirit inserted into me a converse:” No soul will die until it fulfils its sustenance”. This concept is close to the Christian way of revelation since it doesn’t implicate any kind of intermediary between god and his chosen prophet.

The second type of revelation according to the Qu’ran is behind a veil while addressing his prophets such as Moses.

The third kind of revelation is sending an angel with a message to deliver. The angel in charge of this is Gabriel. – Al-Bokhary Narrated from Aeisha that Al-Hares Ibn Hashim asked the prophet Muhammad: “How the revelation comes to you, he said: sometimes he speaks to me and I recognize him, another time the angel comes to me in a human form speaking to me and I recognize what he says.”

All Muslim scholars agree on the fact that Qur’an is the speech of Allah be it in words or meaning. But this definition may lead us to overlook or exclude another type of text in Qur’an from being a part of Allah’s revelation. It is the Hadith Qudssi which refers to the inspiration of meaning from Allah but the words are from the prophet Muhammed. This kind of revelation does not exist in Bible. This constitutes in itself a huge difference between revelation in Qur’an and that in the Bible.

What is really typical is that during most revelations messengers and prophets were subject to some supernatural events and happenings that mankind is not used to. These events might have great psychological and physical complications. To illustrate, Moses lost consciousness when he entered in a dialogue with God on the mountain of Sinai. Another instance could be the weird cold the prophet Muhammad felt in a hot day when the angel descended to him with the message from Allah. Once back, he asked his wife to warm him up by putting more blankets on him.

I also end this part about revelation with the quote of Montgomery Watt ;”After all these considerations, what have Christians to say about the prophethood of Muhammad? For Muslims, Jesus is a prophet and is indeed something more than a prophet, since the Qur’an (4.171) speaks of him as ‘God’s word which he put into Mary and a spirit from him’. For Christians the question of Muhatnmad’s prophethood is difficult… [Life of many Muslim people changed to better even in hard circumstances]… These points lead to the conclusion that the view of reality presented in the Qur’an is true and from God, and that Muhammad is therefore a genuine prophet.”( Niyazi BEKI 2005).

3-The Ten Commandments

Sebastian Gunther, who is a pioneer scholar in the University of Toronto, draws the conclusion that the Ten Commandments are very fundamental for communities, societies and cultures of Judeo-Christian tradition. They are like the Magna Carta for social order. “The commandments are not intended as concrete legislation (or “laws”) but as a formulation of conditions for membership in the community, to be enforced by God, not by any human authority. They are essentially categorical imperatives – of universal validity, above time and independent of circumstances. The Ten Commandments comprise the most famous set of religious and ethical rules in the world.” (Royal Ontario Museum) Here the need for this question rises. Does Qu’ran have any account for the Ten Commandments? And are they similar to the ones in The Bible?

As far as the Ten Commandments of Bible are concerned, they are divided into two groups of five commandments. The first five ones revolve around the relationship between God and his followers. Whereas the other five remaining commandments regulate the interactions between people themselves. Qur’an, on the other hand, does not contain any specific passages or ayah for the Ten Commandments, but on two different areas, Qu’ran makes hints to the commandments when we come across the ayah when God reveals Himself to Moses in the mount of Sinai. In these verses we have the impression that God is recommending to Moses to abide by his dictations when dealing with the Jews. “(142) And We appointed with Moses thirty nights and We completed them with ten, so the appointed time of his Lord was forty nights … (143) And when Moses came [to Mount Sinai] to Our appointed time and his Lord spoke with him … (144) Said He, ‘Moses, I have chosen thee above all men for My Messages and My Utterance; take what I have given thee, and be of the thankful.’ (145) And We wrote for him on the Tablets of everything an admonition and a distinguishing of everything” Surat Alaaraf. 7:142-5 (late Meccan period). Here we see that God has given Moses Tablets in which the commandments were written. They are sort of laws or contracts between Moses and the Jewish.

It is of a paramount importance to mention that the Qur’an believes strongly that The Bible has been corrupt and that all its texts are not reliable sources since they have been modified and lost their divine originality as a consequence to many factors such as personal interest. Yet many happenings coincide to a great extent with what have been mentioned in Qu’ran.

Conclusion

All in all, through this paper, I tried to compare and contrast some notions in Qur’an and The bible. Of course, it is hard to cover all the paradoxes and similarities between the two Abrahimic religions. For this reason and many others, I opted for three major points which are God, revelation and The Ten Commandments.

I came to the conclusion that Qur’an and The bible share many common points much more than the differences they have. Both of them believe in the oneness of God and his supreme power. The also agree on a set of qualities and characteristics of God. God is the creator of the universe and the unique judge. The second point along which I contrasted both religions is revelation. God’s revelation to people is mentioned in both sacred books but what differs is the way of this revelation. The need to launch and maintain a communication between the creator and his creatures seems indispensable because prophets and people always need guidance from the one who knows everything- God. Last but not least, The Ten Commandments constitute the guide line or Magna Carta that regulate life for the Christians. Though they are not directly cited in Qur’an, there are some hints that could be interpreted as the Ten Commandments.

My humble works seems far away from perfection, and further work must be carried to shed more light on this complicated issue. As a Muslim, I strongly believe that the reference text should be Qur’an which is the original version that has not undergone any kind of forging or modification unlike The Bible.


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