A Comparison of Islam and Christianity

Middle East
Grade: A (90%)
System: IB
There are hundreds of religions in this world. Of them two are the most
prominent. Islam and Christianity. It is averaged that there are 750 million people
practicing Islam, and another 1 billion practicing Christianity. The start of Islam is
actually derived form Christianity, history books indicates that one night in the
year 610, the first of many revelations came to Muhammad from God by way of
the angel Gabriel (In Christianity this is the same Angel which brings the news of
Jesus’ birth, Jesus of course is the founder of Christianity). The message
Muhammad received told him that there was but one God (Identical to the
inception of the Ten Commandments), 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 mankind (This is also true in Christianity: “The Lord will
judge his people.” Hebrews 10:30). Both of these religions share almost the same
framework, but they also differ in many ways.

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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: 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 the whole created order. 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. 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 that was God sending
Moses to free his people out of Pharaohs hands. In Islam, they also believe in
forgiveness, another basic Christina 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; this was forbidden by the Koran
and the Bible. 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.”
Some early, and more fanatical, believers added jihad as a sixth pillar, but it was
never accepted by the whole community. Similar to the five pillars, the Ten
Commandments are regarded as law in the Christian faith.

The revelations that Muhammad received were collected into a new book,
the Koran, directing his followers what to believe and how to live (In the same
manner, the Bible is a collection of writings from prophets, including Abraham,
Moses, Elijiah, etc. Identical to the Muslim prophets.) Many Muslims (the name
for people who practice Islam) believed that everything Muhammad said and did
was inspired by Allah, many reports of his sayings and deeds were collected. At
first these were just remembered and spread by word of mouth. Later they were
captured in writing, to serve as an additional guide for believers, along with the
Koran.

The Koran 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 died. 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 `Uthman (the caliphs were successors of
Muhammad) commissioned one of the Prophet’s followers, Zayd ibn Thabit, and
others to sort through and pull together all the material and compare it with the
remembrances of those who had learned it by heart. In this manner, an
authorized version was created.The arrangement of putting the longer chapters
first and the shorter ones last violates the chronological order of the revelations
as they came to Muhammad. But a fairly accurate chronology can be worked out
on the basis of knowledge about Muhammad’s life: He began his work in Mecca,
spent a long period in Medina, and returned again to Mecca. In addition, the
chapters indicate in which place the many revelations came to him.The main
emphasis of the book is on the oneness of Allah, in contrast to the multiplicity of
gods worshipped by the Arabs. These gods are denounced as powerless idols
who will be unable to help unbelievers on the day of judgment. Other doctrines,
common to Israel’s later history and early Christianity, were incorporated into the
Koran, as well. There is a strong assertion of belief in the resurrection from the
dead, in angels and devils, and in heaven and hell.All of humanity is regarded
as subject to the will and power of Allah. It is He who has created and will one
day judge mankind. The faithful are called upon to believe in Allah and to listen to
His Prophet.

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.

(“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves…….) In Islam, before you prayer,
ablutions are performed by washing the hands, feet, and face. A person called
the muezzin calls for prayer and chants from a raised platform or minaret tower at
the mosque (the house of communal worship). earlier Christianity, in order to
prayer to God sacrifices had to be made i.e.: lamb, goat, etc. 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
Muhhamed). 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 either standing, kneeling, or prostrate. At every change in posture,
“God is great” is recited.The chief day of communal worship is Friday. Believers
gather at the mosque to pray, 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 a Christian churches, but there are men specially
trained in religion, tradition, and law
The hajj, “pilgrimage,” is an annual Muslim rite that every believer is
expected to take part in at least once in his lifetime. From the seventh to the tenth
day in Dhu al-Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar, thousands of Muslims
converge on the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia to visit the holy shrine of the
Kaaba in the Great Mosque. Tradition has it that the shrine was built by Abraham.

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 birth place of Jesus. most
Christians consider it an honor to visit it.

Fasting. In the second chapter of the Koran is the statement “Fasting is
decreed for you as it was decreed for those before you.” Because the Koran was
first revealed to Muhammad in the month of Ramadan, the whole month was set
aside as a period of fasting. During each day, from first light to darkness, all
eating, drinking, and smoking are forbidden. Those who are ill or on a journey
may postpone the fast until a “similar number of days later on,” according to the
Koran. The second major festival of the Islamic year begins at the termination of
the fast and lasts several days. In Christianity, this could be compared to the
Lenten period, where Jesus was sent to the desert for 40 days and nights, where
he was tempted by Satan. Christians usually give up something of importance
during that period. Although some do go on fasts, it is generally not as long. The
end of the 40 day fast is known as Ash Wednesday, which begins the most
holiest point in the Christian calendar (Good Friday, and Easter).

Another similar attribute both religions share is the given of money. In
Islam, the zakat is an obligatory tax, a contribution made by Muslims to the state
or to the community. In the modern period, the zakat has become a voluntary
charitable contribution. In Christianity this is known as tithe. Believers are
expected to contribute 10% of there salary to God (“Bring the whole tithe into the
storehouse, that here may be food in my house”)
As you can see 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. Thus all the religions in the world have it’s
faults and it’s pluses, but in short they are all intertwined