A Comparative Study of Christianity and Islam
A Comparative Study of Christianity and Islam –Collaborated by Lin Chuangsen, Lin Fan, Zheng Feng & Zheng Jia I. Introduction Christianity and Islam, along with Buddhism, are considered to be the world’s three largest religions. As a particular form of human experience with distinctive qualities and patterns, they play an important part in all human cultures. Christianity and Islam are closely related to each other, because they both revere Abraham and certain other patriarchs mentioned in the Bible as their spiritual ancestors.
However, their similar points are not nearly guarantee that their followers can get along, owing to numerous differences between them. And it has been proved that most of the religiously motivated conflicts, mass crimes against humanity and genocides in the 20th century were between Muslims and Christians. Thus, it should be of great value to probe into the similarities and differences between these two religions. II. Similarities Firstly, the origination for both religions has a lot to do with the class conflict and oppression. They both came into being in response to people’s eagerness for peace and stabilization.Secondly, both religions profess monotheism, holding belief in a single God.
Thirdly, they both have internal divisions, with various wings of unique beliefs and practices. Christianity has many more wings, such as Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, the Anglican, the Protestant and many others. As for Islam, there’re three main wings, namely Shi’ite (conservative), Sunni (moderate) and Sufi (mystical). Fourthly, they both believe in life after death, maintaining that people will go to either Heaven or Hell according to their deeds, good or evil.Fifthly, both religions show the same reaction to apostasy, practicing execution to apostates. Finally, both religions have substantial representation in all the populated continents. III.
Differences 1. About the religions themselves 1) Meaning of the name. “Christianity” is a Greek word meaning Messiah, a believer in Christ. But the word “Islam”, in the Arabic language, means “surrender” or “submission”—submission to the will of God. 2) Name of a believer. A follower of Christianity is called a Christian while a follower of Islam is called a Muslim. 3) Date of founding.
Christianity was founded by Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth at the middle period of the 1st century, much earlier than the founding of Islam which was created by Muhammad in the early 7th century. 4) Original home. Jerusalem had been the center of the Christian movement at least until its destruction by Roman armies in ad 70, and it was from this center that Christianity radiated to other cities and towns in Palestine and beyond. Islam, however, was originated in the Arabian Peninsula and gradually spread into Syria, Egypt, North Africa, and Spain to the west, and into Persia, India, and, by the end of the 10th century, beyond to the east. ) Their development and percentage of the world’s population as followers. It has been pointed out by most religion theorists that Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world. Today about 1 billion Muslims are spread over 40 predominantly Muslim countries and 5 continents, and their numbers are growing at a rate unmatched by that of any other religion in the world.
Despite the political and ethnic diversity of Muslim countries, a core set of beliefs continues to provide the basis for a shared identity and affinity among Muslims.According to some rough statistical calculation, the percentage of the world’s population Muslims take is up to 33% or so while Christianity occupies merely 20%. What’s more, it has been noticed that numbers of Christians have remained quite steady for decades while Muslims keep increasing with a growth rate of about 0. 6% per year. And it is estimated that Islam, rather than Christianity, is to become the most popular world religion in the near future. 2. About their beliefs 1) Concept of deity.
Most Christians believe in the Trinity—three persons in one Godhead, namely Father, Son and Holy Spirit.Muslims, however, insist that there is only one all-powerful, all-knowing God, indivisible, who created the universe. They call it Allah. This rigorous monotheism, as well as the Islamic teaching that all Muslims are equal before God, provides the basis for a collective sense of loyalty to God that transcends class, race, nationality, and even differences in religious practice. Thus, all Muslims belong to one community, irrespective of their ethnic or national background. 2) Status of Yeshua. Christians generally consider Yeshua to be the Son of God, part of the Trinity, and worship him as God.
But Yeshua is very highly respected as the second-last prophet. 3) Birth and death of Yeshua. Both Muslims and the Conservative Christians insist on Yeshua’s virgin birth while the liberal Christians maintain his normal birth. As for his death, Christians believed that Yeshua was executed by Roman Army and eventually ascended to Heaven while Muslims held that Yeshua was neither killed nor crucified nor suffered death but he just ascended alive into Paradise. 4) Status of Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve fall from Paradise as a result of disobeying God’s prohibition, and all of humanity is cast out of Paradise as punishment.In Christians’ eyes, man is born with such an original sin and it’s Jesus Christ who came to redeem humans from this original sin so that humankind can return to God at the end of time.
In contrast, the Muslims maintain that Adam and Eve were free from all major sins and faults. After their initial disobedience, Adam and Eve repented and were forgiven by God. Consequently, the descent by Adam and Eve to earth from Paradise was not a fall, but an honor bestowed on them by God. Adam and his progeny were appointed as God’s messengers and vice regents, and were entrusted by God with the guardianship of the earth. ) Holy book and its status and original languages. The Holy book embraced by Christians is the Bible which the Conservatives consider to be the inerrant word of God while the Liberals look upon as a historical spiritual document. Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek are all its original languages.
Muslims’ Holy book is Qu’ran which is regarded as the timeless word of God, “the like of which no human can produce”, originally written in Arabic. 6) Status at birth. Christians hold that a baby is born with a sin nature, separated from God.And God needs to give him grace so that he may be saved. In Muslims’ view, however, a baby is born in a pure state of submission to Islam. 7) Confessing sins. A Christian always confesses his sins to either God or a priest while a Muslim would do to Allah.
3. About their practices 1) Name of worship center. The worship center for Christians is called church or cathedral while that for Muslims is called Mosque. 2) Worship date. The Christians practice their worship on Sundays while the Muslims do it on Fridays. 3) The relation between church and state.For Christianity, church and state are largely considered to be separated from each other.
Thus, we can find that most Christian countries are democracies. On the contrary, as of Islam, church and state are invariably integrated. And we can therefore discover that most Muslim countries are dictatorships. 4) Law and legislation. To Christians, their law is generally restricted to legal matters and the legislation lays strong emphasis on the prerogative of the people. But to Muslims, their law covers both moral and legal matters and the legislation stresses the prerogative of God. ) Use of statues.
Statues are quite common in some denominations in Christian communities while statues are absolutely forbidden in Muslim communities. 6) Status of women. Conservative and Liberal Christians differ greatly in their attitudes towards women. But in Muslim countries, women are always severely oppressed, due to strong influence by cultural traditions. 7) Marriage. In the Eastern Orthodox church, inter-faith marriages are practiced. But within Conservative Christianity, marriages between conservative Christians and others are allowed.
The case in Muslim countries is more or less the same as that in the Eastern Orthodox. A Muslim woman may not be married to a non-Muslim man. 8) Treatment of Jewish people. Historically, Christians practiced prolonged and widespread anti-Judaism, anti-semitism, oppression and mass murder to Jewish people while Muslims showed general tolerance to them apart from the additional taxation. But recently, changes in their attitudes have taken place. Christians have lessened their anti-semitism from historical levels and gradually showed support of Israel, particularly since the Second World War.Muslims, however, have turned their tolerance into massive opposition, discrimination and physical attacks since the creation of the State of Israel and the occupation of Palestine.
9) Openness to new members. Relatively speaking, Islam is much more open to new members than Christianity. Children born to Muslim parents are automatically considered Muslim. And at any time, a non-Muslim can convert to Islam by declaring himself or herself to be a Muslim. A person’s declaration of faith is sufficient evidence of conversion to Islam and need not be confirmed by others or by religious authorities.And this openness to new members may partly account for the faster growth of the Muslim community. IV.
Conclusion All in all, as the world’s major religions, Christianity and Islam do have some features in common, such as the cause for their creation, their internal divisibility into various wings, their belief in monotheism and life after death, their reaction to apostasy and so on. But we should admit that a lot more differences regarding different aspects lie between the two religions, which probably become the main origin of many current religious conflicts.