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Islam & Christianity- A Brief Comparison

It is difficult to compare Christianity to any other religion, because there is such a wide range of beliefs and practices among various wings of Christianity: Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox churches, the Anglican Communion and the tens of thousands of Protestant faith groups. Some commentators have suggested that Christianity consists of a number of different religions which share little more than the Bible and the name of their religion. Protestant Christianity is obviously divided into a least liberal and conservative wings – divisions which hold few beliefs in common. Some of the descriptions below will thus necessarily be somewhat simplistic and lacking in precision but give an idea of commonalties and differences between Islam and Christianity.

A Comparison:

Parameters Christianity Islam
Ancestor Abraham Abraham
Meaning of the name: Believer in Christ (Messiah in Greek). Christ Worshipers ‘Submission to the will of God’, one word in Arabic is ‘Islam’.
Name of a believer: Christian. Muslim.
Date of founding: Circa 30 CE. 622 CE.
Name of founder(s): Yeshua of Nazareth ( Jesus Christ, pbuh)  & Paul. Most religious historians credit Muhammad (pbuh) as the founder. However, Muslims regard Islam as dating back to the time of creation of Adam
World’s population as followers: 33%. 20%.
Growth rate / year 2.3% 2.9%
Growth rate: % of world’s population: About 0.0%. Increase of about 0.6%/yr.
Estimate to  be most popular religion 2023 CE (if above numbers are valid) to beyond 2200 CE
% of U.S. population as followers: Estimates 76%, declining about 0.8% a year. 2001 ARIS study estimates 0.5%; some Muslim groups estimate 6 million (2%).
Internal divisions: Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant Sunni, Shi’ite, Sufi, a mystical tradition.

Beliefs:

Concept of deity: Most believe in Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one Godhead. God (Allah) is one and indivisible. They believe in a strict monotheism.
Status of Jesus Chris (Yeshua of Nazareth): Generally considered the Son of God, worshiped as God; part of the Trinity. Very highly respected as the second-last prophet & Christ.
Birth of Jesus Christ (Yeshua of Nazareth):: Virgin conception, Liberals: conventional birth Virgin conception.
Death of Jesus Christ (Yeshua of Nazareth):
Christians believe: Executed by Roman Army circa 30 CE, trough crucifixion.
Muslims Believe: Jesus was neither killed by crucifixion nor suffered death. It was made to appear as such, there is confusion and conjecture about his death. Muslims believe that he ascended alive into heaven.
Location of Jesus Christ Ascended into Heaven Ascended into Heaven
Identity of “another  comforter” (John 14:16:) Holy Spirit Muhammad (pbuh)
Second coming of Jesus Conservatives: expected near future. Liberals, varied. Anticipate the second coming in the future before D of J.
Status of Adam: Disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. A prophet,  sin of disobedience was forgiven on repentance.
Main holy book: Bible Qur’an
Original languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek. Arabic.
Status of the holy book: Conservatives: inerrant Word of God. Liberals: historical spiritual document. God’s word, final revelation, dictated by angel Gabriel. Protected by God.
Additional guidance: Writings of leaders of early Church. Roman Catholics: church tradition. The Hadith — sayings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Ijtehad by scholars.
Ethic Of Reciprocity  (Golden Rule):
Christians: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”(Matthew;7:12)
Muslims: “Not one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” 4;Hadith,An-Nawawi;13
A Baby’s Status At Birth
Christians: Various views. One is that a baby is born with a sin nature, separated from God. God needs to grant grace so that he may be saved.
Muslims: All babies are a born in a pure state of submission to Allah. However, as they mature they are often taught other beliefs by their parents and their culture.
Life after death: Either Heaven or Hell. Catholics believe in Purgatory as a third state. Heaven or Hell.
Basis of determining destination after death:
Christians: There is no consensus in Christianity. Different faith groups hold Various diverse beliefs: trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior, good works, church sacraments, baptism, avoiding certain actions.
Muslims: Once they reach puberty,  account of deeds is opened, recorded. To attain paradise, at death, their faith and good deeds (helping others, testifying to the truth of God, leading a virtuous life) must outweigh their evil deeds.
Confessing sins:
Christians: Roman Catholic: to God or Jesus, either directly or through a priest; Others: to God or Jesus
Muslims : Direct to Allah (God)
Probably the Most Misunderstood Term:
Christians: 1)Immaculate Conception: Roman Catholics believe that the conception of the Virgin Mary, circa 20 BCE, was without sin. Many incorrectly relate it to Yeshua’s’ conception. 2) Trinity 3) Original Sin
Islam: Jihad: internal, personal struggle towards the attainment of a noble goal for the cause of Allah. Many incorrectly equate it to “holy war”” for power or political gains. The legitimate warfare declared by Islamic state, with self (person) or through possessions in self-defense or against tyranny, to help oppressed people of any faith for the cause of Allah is permitted with in strict ethical rules, including safety of civilians.

Practices:

Current Interpretation of the Holy Book:
Christians: Ranges from statements of the Pope in Roman Catholicism to resolutions at conventions among Protestants.
Islam: Learned scholars in various countries. There is no single spokesperson or authoritative group.
Name of worship center: Church, cathedral. Mosque, or any clean area
Main worship: Sunday; Saturday for some. Five times daily, special congregation on Friday, Eids.
Church and State:
Christians: Largely considered separate. Most Christian countries are democracies
Islam: Integrated, but not theocracy: The political authorities work within bounds of Islam. No institutionalized clergy like Pope.    Islam is a way of life covering all aspects of religious, spiritual, political, social, economical & legal aspects.
Law Generally restricted to legal matters. Shari’a Covers moral, religious and legal matters. Hardly in real practice except few countries at present.
Legislation 

 

Prerogative of the people Prerogative of God, main sources: Qur’an, Sunnah, Ijmah (consensus) and Qayas (logical reasoning).
Use of statues: Common in some denominations Absolutely forbidden. Considered a very serious form of idolatry.
Main Holy Days:
Christians: Most Christians celebrate at least Christmas, Easter,  associated holy days
Islam: Eid al-Fitr; Eid al-Adha, Melawd; lunar month of Ramadan; Ashura
Status of Women:
Christians: Variable. Conservatives & liberals differ greatly
Islam: Maximum rights granted including right of divorce (khula) & inheritance. However strongly affected by cultural traditions. oppressed in some countries
Marriages Forbidden:
Christians: Inter-faith marriages, in the Eastern Orthodox church. Marriages between conservative Christians and others, within conservative Christianity.
Islam: A Muslim woman is not permitted to be married (or remained married) to a non-Muslim man. Muslim men may marry the pious Christian or Jewish women.
Racism:
Christians: Promoted by the LDS church until 1978. Still supported by Christian Identity, KKK, and other Christian fringe groups. Officially rejected by almost all other denominations. But remains widespread.
Islam: Racism is totally rejected in Islam; respect of humanity, belief, deeds is criteria.
Reaction to Apostasy
Christians: Prior to 1792, the end of the “burning times,” execution was possible
Islam: Traditionally, death to the apostate, being rebellion against society, rarely practiced.
Historical treatment of Jewish people (Prior to World War 1):
Christians: Prolonged, widespread anti-Judaism, anti-Semitism, oppression, mass murder.
Islam: Taxation for state protection, exemption from military service and Zakah, General tolerance, in Muslim Spain, Ottoman Turkey enjoyed privileged status
Basis of Calendar:
Christians: Gregorian solar calendar.1 CE occurred four to seven years after birth of Jesus.
Islamic lunar calendar. 1 AH occurred in 622 CE, the year of the Hegira when Muhammad (pbuh) migrated from Makkah to Medina.
Most Misunderstood Practice:
Christians: The sacrifice of the Mass, a Roman Catholic ritual. Some Native Americans and others interpreted it as a form of ritual cannibalism.
Islam: Female genital mutilation. Wrongly considered a religious requirement of Islam. Actually it is cultural tradition common in some countries of Northern Africa. It is unknown in many Muslim countries. Polygamy: Not obligatory, Islam fixed upper limit of unlimited Polygamy, conditional to equal, fair treatment to all wives. It helps the orphan, widows, divorced women to live respectable life, as generally there is shortage of men due to war and other reasons. Not much practiced now. Bible has laid no limit; the Hebrew prophets had many wives and concubines as per prevalent practice of that time.

Notes:

  1. Most religious historians view Islam as having been founded in 622 CE. The origins of Islam date back to the creation of the world. ‘Surrender to Will of God’ in Arabic is ‘Islam’, monotheistic religions preached practiced by all Prophets, rituals varied in each time.
  2. Muslims traditionally acknowledge respect for Prophet Muhammad, Jesus and other prophets by adding phrase (peace be upon them) or an abbreviation “(pbuh)” after their names.
  3. The Christian church is normally considered to have begun at Pentecost, 50 days after Christians believe that Jesus was executed. Unfortunately, the year is unknown. The books included in the Bible differ among Christian faith groups. The Roman Catholic Church includes the Apocrypha; most other Christian denominations do not. Members of the approximately 100 faith groups in the LDS Restorationist movement, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) add other holy books, including the Book of Mormon. Christian Scientists consider Mary Baker Eddy’s book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” to be a major resource.
  4. Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the literal word of God, as dictated to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) through angel Gabriel over a period of 23 years. It is the only book that is considered free of error (tahrif). They also believe in: 1)The Scrolls of Abraham (Suhuf-i-Ibrahim) which have been lost. 2) The Tawrat (Torah; the Pentateuch from the Hebrew Scriptures) which Muslims believe were altered by ancient Hebrews. 3)The Zabur which Muslims believe are the Psalms from the Hebrew Scriptures.4) The Injil (the Gospels; the original revelations to Jesus). Muslims accept the contents of Gospels, which are not in conflict with Qur’anic narratives, since Gospels have been corrupted over time. They believe that all the previous scriptures were meant of for specific people and period, but Qur’an, being the Last Testament is valid to guide the humanity till end of time, it supersedes all of them. God has Himself taken responsibility for its protection, evident form last 14 centuries.

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