Christianity Vs. Islam Essay, Research Paper
Christianity and Islam — Are They Really That Different?There are hundreds of religions in this world. Of the many religions two of the most prominent are Islam and Christianity. It is averaged that there are 750 million people practicing Islam and another 1 billion practicing Christianity. The roots of Islam are actually in Christianity. History books indicate that one night; God by way of the angel Gabriel came to Muhammad (In Christianity this is the same Angel that brings the news of Jesus’ birth.). The message Muhammad received was that there was but one God, not many gods, as most Arabs believed. This God was creator of the world (In Christianity, it’s documented in Genesis Chapter 1 verse 1, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth), and He would one day judge. Both of these religions share almost the same framework, but they also differ in many ways. 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 but important; there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah. Islam teaches that there is one God, the creator and sustainer of the universe. This God, Allah, is compassionate and just. Because He is compassionate, He calls all people to believe in Him and worship Him. Because He is also just, 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 with heaven or punished with hell. In Christianity one of the Ten Commandments states that “I am the Lord you God…you shall 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 as in Islam in the Christian beliefs, the dead will be resurrected and either rewarded with heaven or punished with hell. Mankind is regarded as the crown of creation, entrusted by God with management of earth and its many wonders. In Christianity this was Adam, who had dominion over all the animals and beasts of the earth. Islam sees humanity as weak and prone to disbelief in God and to disobedience to His will. Humanity’s weakness is pride. In the Christian religion it was pride that caused the downfall of man, Eve thought that God had no right to tell them what they could and could not eat after the serpent propagated her. 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. Identical to Christianity, an example of this was God sending Moses to free his people out of Pharaohs land in the story of the Exodus. In Islam, they also believe in forgiveness, another basic Christian principle, Islam teaches that God is always ready to pardon the individual and restore him to the sinless state in which he started life. In Christianity this is called being “born again”. The life of each Muslim is always within the community of the faithful: All are declared to be “brothers to each other,” with the mission to “enjoin good and forbid evil.” Within the community, Muslims are expected to establish social and economic justice. They are also expected to carry their message out to the rest of the world. In the early Islamic community, this meant the use of force in the form of jihad, or holy war. This also happened in the Christian faith, it was known as “Crusades”, where missionaries would go out and spread the word of God. The intent was not to force conversion on anyone; the Koran and the Bible forbade this. The object of jihad and the crusades was to gain political control over societies and run them in accordance with the principles of Islam and Christianity. Both took separate paths to accomplish their prospective goals, thus explaining the Islam influence in the Middle East and North Africa, and the Christian influence in Europe and North America. During the decades following the death of Muhammad certain essential principles were singled out from his teachings to serve as anchoring points for the Islamic community. These have come to be called the “five pillars of Islam.” Similar to the five pillars, the Ten Commandments are regarded as law in the Christian faith. The Koran, the Islamic “Holy Scripture”, relies heavily on Christian traditions. It was Muhammad’s contention that Christianity had departed from belief in God’s message as revealed in their Scriptures. God had sent many prophets, among them Abraham, who is considered the founder of the faith for Islam, as he is also for and Christianity. The Koran, using sources in the older Scriptures and later traditions, relates the stories of Abraham, Joseph, Moses and Aaron, David, Solomon, Jesus, and others, all of whom are declared to have been true prophets whose messages were largely ignored: “We sent forth Noah and Abraham, and bestowed on their offspring prophethood and the Scriptures . . .. After them we sent other apostles, and after those, Jesus the son of Mary.” The lack of success these prophets had was reflected in Muhammad’s own experience, as he preached the oneness of God to the Arabs in Mecca. The implication was that he was the last in the series of prophets, the last reveler of divine truth.
After Muhammad’s death in AD 632, it was feared that the content of the revelations might be lost, as those who had originally memorized it began to die. It was therefore decided to collect all the revelations, from whatever source, and make a compilation. Even at this early date, variations in the Koranic revelations were becoming common in different parts of the new Islamic Empire. So that there would be a definitive version, the Caliph (the caliphs were successors of Muhammad) created an Authorized Version. This is similar to the Holy Bible and its many different translations … the most used, but hardest to read, being the King James Version. Islam recognizes two forms of prayer. One is the personal, devotional, and spontaneous type, not bound by any rituals or formulas. The other is ritual, often congregational, prayer, with specific words and postures, to be offered five times a day: at sunrise, midday, midafternoon, sunset, and before going to bed. Similar to Christianity, which requires you to prayer individually, but also collectively. Congregational prayer is started with the imam, the prayer leader, standing at the front of the mosque facing Mecca, the holy city of Islam being the death place of Muhammad). The congregation is lined up in rows behind him. (There are no seats in a mosque.) Each prayer consists of several units, during which the individual is standing, kneeling, or prostrate. At every change in posture, “God is great” is recited. The chief day of communal worship is Friday. Believer’s gathers at the mosque to pray, and listen to portions of the Koran, and hear a sermon based on the text. The sermon may have moral, social, or political content. Islam has no ordained clergy such as Christian churches who are considered “holy men”, but there are men specially trained in religion, tradition, and law that are community leaders.The hajj, “pilgrimage,” is an annual Muslim rite that every believer is expected to take part in at least once in his lifetime. The pilgrimage is intended to reenact the hegira, the flight of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in 622. Most travelers will visit both cities, in addition to performing a number of other ritual observances. The pilgrimage culminates with the feast of sacrifice, one of the two major festivals that are celebrated during the Islamic year. Christianity does not require such a pilgrimage, but most Christians indirectly have the need to visit Jerusalem, the birthplace of Jesus. Most Christians consider it an honor to visit it. Islam and Christianity are indeed woven from identical fabrics. In a sense, it was geography that separated these prodigal brothers. In recent years people (Christians) have come to view Islam as an “evil” religion, mainly because of the fanatics, but they must also look at the Christian fanatics who kill, and bomb in the name of God. I believe that all religions are going to have their fanatical supporters that believe that what they are doing is in God’s Will. I only hope that one day that one day that all people realize that we are all here to work together for the good of human kind. No matter what we call the father of our existence, God or Allah, that we are a common people with a common goal. Even though religion is helpful for support, it also creates disturbances. Thus all the religions in the world have their faults and their pluses, but in short they are all intertwined