Religious beliefs are a very sensitive topic to discuss with individuals. We have been engaged in a war for several years all because of religious beliefs. Why do we believe this? Because that is what we have been told and what we have chosen to be our worldview. For this reason I have chosen to compare and contrast the religion of Christianity of the United States and the Islam religion practiced by the country of Iraq. I am most intrigued by the terrorist actions. We have heard on the news is that the hijackers of the flights on September 11, 2001 felt that they are fighting for Allah. For this reasoning I wanted to research what the Islam religion was to help establish a more balanced view.
Muslims believe there is the one almighty God, named Allah, who is infinitely superior to and transcendent from humankind. Allah is viewed as the creator of the universe and the source of all good and all evil. Everything that happens is Allah’s will. He is a powerful and strict judge, who will be merciful toward followers depending on the sufficiency of their life’s good works and religious devotion. A follower’s relationship with Allah is as a servant to Allah.
Though a Muslim honors several prophets, Muhammad is considered the last prophet and his words and lifestyle are that person’s authority. To be a Muslim, one has to follow five religious duties: 1. Repeat a creed about Allah and Muhammad; 2. Recite certain prayers in Arabic five times a day; 3. Give to the needy; 4. One month each year, fast from food, drink, sex and smoking from sunrise to sunset; 5. Pilgrimage once in one’s lifetime to worship at a shrine in Mecca. At death — based on one’s faithfulness to these duties — a Muslim hopes to enter Paradise. If not, they will be eternally punished in hell.
For many people, Islam matches their expectations about religion and deity. Islam teaches that there is one supreme God, who is worshiped through good deeds and disciplined religious rituals. After death a person is rewarded or punished according to their religious devotion. Muslims believe that giving up one’s life for Allah is a sure way of entering Paradise. (www.everystudent.com)
Christians believe in a loving God who has revealed himself and can be known in a personal way, in this life. With Jesus Christ, the person’s focus is not on religious rituals or performing good works, but on enjoying a relationship with God and growing to know him better.
Faith in Jesus Christ himself, not just in his teachings, is how the Christian experiences joy and a meaningful life. In his life on Earth, Jesus did not identify himself as a prophet pointing to God or as a teacher of enlightenment. Rather, Jesus claimed to be God in human form. He performed miracles, forgave people of their sin and said that anyone who believed in him would have eternal life. He made statements like, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”1
Christians regard the Bible as God’s written message to humankind. In addition to being an historical record of Jesus’ life and miracles, the Bible reveals God’s personality, his love and truth, and how one can have a relationship with him.
Whatever circumstances a Christian is dealing with in their life, the Bible teaches that they can confidently turn to a wise and powerful God who genuinely loves them. They believe that God answers prayer and that life takes on meaning as they live to honor him. (www.everystudent.com)
Similarities between Christianity and Islam
Islam is similar to Christianity, both believe that:
– There is only one God. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
– God sent prophets such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Joseph, John the Baptist, Jesus, etc.
– People should follow the Ten Commandments and the moral teachings of the prophets.
– Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virgin; therefore Jesus was born miraculously.
– Jesus Christ is the Messiah and he performed miracles.
– The Old testament/Torah and the new testament/Gospel) are holy scriptures.
– Satan is evil; therefore, people should not follow Satan.
– An Anti-Christ will appear on Earth before the Day of Judgment.
– Jesus Christ will return by descending from Heaven and will kill the Anti-Christ.
– The Day of Judgment will occur and people will be judged.
– There is hell and paradise.
Differences between Christianity and Islam
There are 3 main differences between Islam & Christianity. Today, most Christians believe in the Trinity, meaning that God has 3 forms (Father, Son, Holy Ghost/ Spirit). The concept of trinity was not adopted by Christianity until the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. Some of the early Christians were Unitarians. Even today, there are Christian Unitarian churches that do not accept the Trinity. Notable Rationalist Unitarians include thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson (American), scientists such as Isaac Newton (British), as well as famous figures such as Florence Nightingale (British) in nursing and humanitarianism, Charles Dickens (British) in literature, and Frank Lloyd Wright (American) in architecture.
While in the Islam religion, Trinity is totally rejected. Jesus is neither God, nor Son of God (in the literal sense). Jesus was a human prophet and not divine. Muslims worship only God, the one and only the creator of the universe. This God (the Quran refers to as Allah) is the God and creator of Jesus and is the same God that Jesus in the current Bible refers to as Father and to whom Jesus used to pray. Muslims consider Mohammad, Moses, and Jesus as prophets and messengers sent by God (“messengers” is term that refers to prophets who brought Holy Scriptures to their people as a message from God). These prophets were human beings, not divine, and should not be worship directly or indirectly. Muslims believe that each human being can be called son/daughter of God because he/she was created by God. So there is nothing special or divine about Jesus being called son of God and therefore Jesus should not be worshiped. Finally, angels (such as Gabriel) are servants/agents of God. Angels are created by God; therefore, they are not divine and should not be worshiped.
Second, The Quran says Jesus did not die on the cross, but God made it appear that way to people. Furthermore, the Quran also says that Jesus was ascended to Heaven by God. Most Christians today insist Jesus was crucified and died on the cross, but two days later was resurrected.
Finally, Christians believe in the concept of “Original Sin” which means that human beings are born as sinners, bearing the burden of the “Original Sin” of Adam and Eve. Muslims do not believe in the ‘Original Sin” for 2 main reasons. First, in the Quran, God forgave Adam for what he has done. Secondly, according to the Quran, no one should be made to bear the burden of someone else’s sin or mistake because it is unfair. (www.discoveringislam.org)
I enjoyed reading this book and doing additional research to give me a more open view of the Islam religion. Many individuals know little about Islam except what has been presented to them through the media. Despite the fact that very few Muslims have engaged in terrorism and many terrorists have not been Muslim, there is a tendency in Europe and North America to associate Islam with the terrorism. (Twelve Theories of Human Nature, pg. 137) There is always need for education including moral education. This applies to the young and old, but we all remain capable of learning throughout life. Understanding other religions strengthens your faith but also allows you a better understanding of the spiritual beliefs of others. I am sad to say my ignorance of the Islam religion as well as the media attention that was given created a worldview for me that I am ashamed of. I am reminded of a quote that I read recently that reminded me of how I should view the world, ‘Your beliefs do not make you a better person, your behavior does.’
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