Islam and Christianity remain two major religions in the world with followers spanning across the globe. Numerous are the times that the two religions have been at crossroads resulting to tragic results as followers lock horns over the differences in religious beliefs. Where these conflicts over time have been a source of immense scholarly interest, the two prominent figures in both religions, Jesus and Mohammad continue to draw wide follower-ship and inspiration across the globe both to their followers and to their admirers.
Both these religious figures are considered to wield great authority and are core to the respective religious beliefs, however, while Jesus is regarded as God, Muhammad to the Muslims is a prophet of God. The life of Jesus can tentatively be traced back to the seventh BC. He was born to Joseph and Virgin Mary. At a tender age, Jesus lived an ordinary life working as an apprentice carpenter. Though born to an ordinary father, Jesus life was poised for greatness and his conception through the Holy Spirit and birth by immaculate Mary was testament to this.
His humble beginnings, being born in a manger and the subtlety of his first career have been used to point out the obvious simplicity of Jesus and are seen as his key strong points. Jesus lived a fulfilling life but yet controversial and highly tumultuous. His venture into religion commenced at the age of 12 years when he seemingly got lost and was found in a temple, teaching. (Robert, 1931) There exists scanty details of Jesus childhood and the canonical gospels rarely venture into this, the next account of his life after the childhood event in the temple was in his early thirties when he began his mission.
The canonical gospels have a number of differences in their account of Jesus’ life, presenting the views in accordance to the author’s testimony which atimes is seen as containing discrepancies. His accomplishments however are well chronicled leaving no doubt of the immense influence he wielded, simplicity of his teachings and the fact that he was God. Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the river Jordan marking the commencement of his mission. This would also mark the start of his tribulations.
There are important hallmarks in his life both centering on the miracles that he performed, his disciples or followers, his trial and also his crucifixion. He reigned at a time of despotic leadership by King Herod; his death was politically instigated due to the belief that he was the King of Jews (Gregory, 2000). The life of Muhammad though similar in its greatness and inspirational prowess is differently told. He was born in 570CE and too had an ordinary and humble childhood. As fate would have it, he became an orphan at a tender age and had to rely on his uncle Abu Talib for his upbringing.
Though his childhood has not also been clearly outlined, his childhood and teenage hood endeavors have been mentioned revolving around tending to animals and later plunging into merchant-hood. He got married while aged 25 where he would later retreat into the mountainside due to the hardships he faced in Mecca. His mission and the formation of Islam commenced at the age of 40 when Muhammad began receiving revelations. With his message, he acquired a number of followers but his mission was faced with hostility in Mecca where he faced threats of persecution.
He retreated to medina where gathered immense followers and returned to Mecca which he annexed. He united the existing tribes with his message giving rise to a wide following of Islam in Arabian Peninsula. Unlike the story of Jesus and his teachings which were written by his disciples, Muhammad before his death compiled his revelations into the holy book, Qur’an, giving rise to one of the fast spreading religion (Life of Mohammed, 1856). The significance of both Muhammad’s and Jesus death to the specific religions has been widely studied.
Both these religions gained prominence after their deaths. Jesus messages and life story were compiled by his disciples and are contained in the New Testament. It is these texts that were used to spread the good news as his message has come to be referred. Jesus death gained prominence as it was seen as a fulfillment of the existing prophesies. Muhammad’s death though not of great significant as his life also led to the spread of Islam far and wide. Muhammad had lived a full life and had clearly outlined the direction that Islam was to take.
His death however was significant as it helped unite the various warring Arab tribes and ensured that they played a major role living in the region regarded as the cradle of Islam (Life of Mohammed, 1856). Both Christianity and Islam have been regarded as peaceful religions, preaching oneness and togetherness. Controversy however has arisen throughout history over the various methods that have been used to spread the message. Jihad, the Muslim Holy War has been in application where those in opposition of the word and of Allah’s message have been persecuted.
Christianity has also had its share of violence and hostility where the crusaders violently exterminated those that refused to heed to the gospel. This however has changed in the recent times and both religions have taken to the use of missionaries to spread the word (Mark, 1998). Mohammad and Jesus remain revered figures in the respective religions. There exists a difference in how they are worshipped though. Christians regard Jesus as God and hence accord him the praise and respect befitting the God. The bible refers to him as the way, the truth and life. This has been the basis of Christians worship for Jesus.
Mohammad on the other hand is revered not as a God but as a prophet. To Muslims, Mohammad was the senior most prophets and Jesus too contrary to what Christian’s belief was not a Son of God but was also a prophet (William, 1996). To reiterate on the significance of their deaths, it is crucial to point out that Muhammad’s death has not received immense interest compared to Jesus death as it held no specific religious implications. A close examination of the canonical gospels indicates that Jesus message and the validity of his teachings lay in the fulfillment of the various prophesies.
Jesus had clearly prophesied of his death and also his resurrection. The true validity of his teachings does not lie in his teachings and miracles but rather in his death and the rising from the dead. It is his resurrection that bore the testament that he was indeed the son of god and led to the spread of his message (James, 2003). Indeed there exist a number of similarities and differences between Jesus and Mohammad. Their messages have remained on the lips of millions of their followers and millions more have found peace in them.
The account of their lives as it exists in Qu’ran and the holy bible continues to inspire and help in propagating the ideals they stood for. A major difference however exists in the nature of their deaths and the various tribulations they faced. While Mohammad’s death may have been of no consequence to the direction of his message, the validity of the gospel was deeply anchored in the death and the resurrection of Jesus, without this Christianity would have had no foundation. References Gregory W. D. (2000) The historical Jesus quest: landmarks in the search for the Jesus of history.
Westminster John Knox Press, Mark A. P (1998). Jesus as a figure in history: how modern historians view the man from Galilee. Westminster John Knox Press. William E. P. (1996) Muhammad and Jesus: A Comparison of the Prophets and Their Teachings. Continuum International Publishing Group. James L. H. (2003) Jesus in history, thought, and culture: an encyclopedia. ABC- CLIO. Life of Mohammed (1856) L. M. D’Souza’s press. Robert H. S. (1931) The Historic Jesus in the New Testament. Student Christian Movement Press.