Essay, Research Paper
Comparison of Islam to Christianity and Judaism
Islam has long been viewed by many in America as a fringe religion. When many Americans here the term Islam or Muslim they associate it with such groups as the Nation of Islam or the Black Muslims. However these groups and others like them often have very little in common with the true Islamic faith. They use the term Islam to generate support for their causes, but in so doing they often destroy the public?s view of the main Islamic faith.
The People of the Book is an honorary title given to the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. All three religions believe in one God and in his word, delivered through the prophets: Moses received the word of God in the Torah, Jesus and the Gospels and Muhammad and the Quran. The three religions also share a similar belief in prophethood; many Christians are stunned to hear that many Biblical prophets are also considered Islamic prophets. The Quran says in (2:136)
Say we believe in God, and the revelation given to us, and the revelation given to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob and the tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to the prophets from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another of them, and to Him we are submitters.
Islam does have many differences from the other two religions but it does preach a message of tolerance. Mohammad said, ?Whoever hurts a person from the people of the book it will be as though he hurt me personally.? Islam is closer to Christianity and Judaism then they are to each other since it recognizes both as divine religions where Christians have already seen their Messiah and the Jewish people are still awaiting his appearance.(Islam and the Others)
There is no room in Islam to believe that God could have walked the earth. They hold God in such a high, and majestic place that even to consider such a thought is ridiculous. They can also not believe the fact that God worked for six days and then had to rest on the seventh day. God is all powerful and therefore would not need a day of rest.(Islam and the Others)
The Jewish and the Muslim religions could be considered cousins because of Abraham, their common grandfather. Abraham was married to Sarah, but because she was barren Sarah offered Abraham her slave Hagar. Hagar had one child, a boy named Ismail. Sarah grew jealous and forced her husband to ban the two from her house. (The annual Muslim ritual of Hajj honors the pain the mother faced when her food ran out and she was searching for water until the sudden eruption of the well.) Years later Sarah had a son named Isaac, the father of Jacob who became Israel, father of the twelve tribes. From Abraham?s lineage came fourth two religions: Islam through Ismail and Judaism threw Isaac. To the Muslim people Ismail and Isaac are two equally blessed prophets. However to the Jewish people Abraham had only one son, Isaac, because Ismail?s mother was a maid.
A major difference between the two religions is their stances on Jesus. The Muslims believe Jesus was a genuine messenger of God, sent to deliver God?s message to the
Jewish people. The Quran says:
?We killed Christ Jesus son of Mary the messenger of God?But they killed him not, nor crucified him…only a likeness of that was shown to them and those who differ therein are full of doubts with no knowledge but only conjecture to follow. For a surety they killed him not: Nay, God raised him up unto Himself, and God is most exalted, wise.
This passage also brings up another interesting view of the Islamic faith. By saying that it was not Jesus who was crucified, but rather a likeness of him, the Islamic faith is releasing any responsibility for Jesus death on the Jewish people.
The Muslims hold Jesus and Mary in very high regard. Although Jesus is not considered to be the Messiah by the Muslims he is considered to be a very important prophet. Jesus cannot be the Messiah because according to the Quran God cannot be begotten. ?He is Allah the one; Allah, the eternal, absolute; He begets not, nor is he begotten; and there is none like unto him.? To support their claim that Jesus cannot be God many Islamic people point to Mark?s Gospel. In Mark 10:18 Jesus says, ?Why callest thou me good? There is none good but One, that is God? Later in Mark 15:34 Jesus calls out ?My God, my God, why thy hast forsaken me?? The Muslims point to these two passages and ask why does he refer to another. In the first passage he seems to say that he is not as good as God, and in the second he calls out to God. If he is truly God then why would he refer to himself as someone else.
The trinity also possesses a problem to the Muslims. Muslims do not believe God can be limited or structured into three separate and distinct pieces. He is too powerful and too magnificent. The Quran says, ??your God is One God: whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner.? Muslims also point out that the idea of the trinity was not even followed until the fourth century. It was at this time that the Congress of Nicaea decreed it, and the Roman Emperor Constantine backed it up with force.
A major belief in Christianity is the idea of original sin. Christians believe that the devil tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, and Eve tempted Adam. This was the original sin, and as a result they were banished from the Garden of Eden to Earth. Now every newborn inherits the original sin and they must be cleansed of it. Islam emphasizes the actions of the individual. The Quran version of the Adam and Eve story has Adam repenting to God and God forgiving him. Muslims believe you are accountable for your own actions, you cannot inherit the sins of your parents or other fore fathers. ?Whoever receives guidance receives it for his own benefit, and whoever goes astray does so to his own loss. No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another.?(Quran 17:15)
The concept of confession is also a foreign topic to Muslims. Forgiveness is a central part of the Islamic faith, however they believe that when a person seeks absolution it is between that individual and God. Muslims do not believe a third party needs to be involved. In fact they believe that forgiveness is Gods power alone, and no mortal has the right to forgive people on behalf of God.
The word Islam means ?submission to the will of God? Islam is a faith that few westerners understand. Many people from a negative opinion of this religion without investigating what it truly stands for. Muslims do not want to hurt or kill everybody, they want a world where people are free to choose their own beliefs and practice any way they choose. As we enter into the next millennium and cultures are drawn together people need to learn about and experience each other?s religions.