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This is a comparison of two Western Religions that have many cultural similarities yet vary immensely. Christianity and Islam, while both are Western developed religions, are very different in the approaches to their similar goals of creating an environment of peace and balance by worshipping their one God. Christianity is the largest religion in the world. Islam is the second largest religion in the world (after Christianity) and will soon be the second largest religion in America.
In an attempt to better understand and embrace the differences and similarities of the two religions, we will explore the scriptures, traditions, Deities, and Gender roles that each religion specifies in their traditions.
We will first start with the scriptures; both Christianity and Islam have holy scriptures that are guidelines to properly practice each religion. I will discuss how the scriptures were developed and the function they serve in each tradition. In Christianity, the only scripture is the Holy Bible, made up of the Old Testament and the New Testament.
The Old Testament is the same as the Jewish Tanakh recognized as scripture by early Christians. The New Testament is a collection of writings by early Christians, comprised of narratives, letters and apocalyptic writings. The Holy Bible is the written Word of God and relays how God the Creator reveals his undying love for his creation mankind. The Bible speaks of how God revealed himself and his plan for the redemption of fallen mankind because of sin and disobedience. The bible tells of God’s Divine plan to reconnect with mankind through the sacrifice and resurrection of his son Jesus the Christ.
The Bible is the laws and parables of how to live a holy life. It also tells of the Second Coming of the Jesus. It also records the promises found in the Old Testament that are often fulfilled in the New Testament. The Bible provides laws and guidelines for a happy life on earth; it gives prophecy on the end times, and helps its followers to reach heaven in the after-life. Christians must accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior orally and figuratively. However, the religion is broken down into to denominations that dictate the behavior that is appropriate as a practicing Christian.
Each denomination interprets the Holy Bible according to their beliefs. Islam means submission to the will of God. Therefore Muslims put primary emphasis on obeying God as prescribed in Islamic law. Muslims believe that the Quran, as well as the Torah and the Gospels, is based on a tablet written in Arabic that exists in heaven with God. They believe that the teachings of these scriptures, revealed at different times in history, originate from this source. The Quran, recited by Muhammad as it was revealed to him by the angels, and later recorded in Arabic, is thus believed to be the direct word of God.
All Muslims, regardless of their native language, memorize and recite the Quran in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed, whether they fully understand this language or not. As in Christianity, Islam has a rich diversity of how to practice Islam, there are five simple required observances prescribed in the Quran that all practicing Muslims accept and follow. These “Pillars of Islam” represent the core and common denominator that unites all Muslims and distinguishes Islam from other religions. The first pillar is called the Declaration of Faith. The second Pillar of Islam is Prayer (salat).
Muslims pray five times throughout the day. The third Pillar of Islam is called the Zakat, which means “purification. ” The fourth Pillar of Islam is the Fast of Ramadan. The fifth Pillar is the Pilgrimage or Hajj to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The religious goals of Christianity and Islam both address problems with human nature and how to resolve them. For Example in Islam, Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the month in which the first revelation of the Quran came to Muhammad. During this month-long fast, Muslims whose health permits must abstain from dawn to sunset from food, drink, and sexual activity.
In Islam the discipline of the Ramadan fast is intended to stimulate reflection on human frailty and dependence upon God, focus on spiritual goals and values, and identification with and response to the less fortunate. In Christianity, the primary belief is that salvation was made possible by the sacrificial death of Christ by crucifixion 2,000 years ago for the atonement of sin. The “atonement” is the acceptance of Christ, whereby God and the world are reconciled or made to be at one. Christians must spread the word of God through evangelism .
Christian theology and evangelism centers on the “good news” that Christ’s death and resurrection opened up the way for salvation. It is designed to spread the Love of God to the world through evangelism. Both Christianity and Islam are similar in that they are monotheistic, meaning they only have one God that they serve. In Christianity, the idea of the trinity is three in one. It represents God the father, God the son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit (Comforter). The belief that sin resulted in a separation from God, both in this life and the afterlife.
God is good, perfect, and just, and so sin by its nature prevents a relationship with God. Therefore sinners cannot enjoy the full benefits of knowing God in this life, such as peace, comfort and help in times of trouble. They also cannot spend eternity in God’s presence, meaning that their soul will suffer eternally in a place known as Hell. Jesus was sent to earth to restore the relationship between God and mankind. He was the sacrificial lamb that was sacrificed and resurrected to give the gift of life to his followers. After a physical death then the soul is reunited with the Creator, God the father, in heaven.
In Islam, they believe in one God, the creator, sustainer, ruler, and judge of the universe. A Muslim is one who bears witness, who testifies that “there is no god but God [Allah] and Muhammad is the messenger of God. ” Allah is the Arabic name for God. To become a Muslim, one need only make this simple proclamation. The first part of this proclamation affirms Islam’s absolute monotheism, the uncompromising belief in the oneness or unity of God, as well as the doctrine that association of anything else with God is idolatry and the one unforgivable sin.
The second part of the confession of faith asserts that Muhammad is not only a prophet but also a messenger of God. They believe that Muhammad was the final prophet, after Moses and Jesus. In Christianity, Jesus is the Son of God and part of the holy trinity. In Islam, he is regarded as only a prophet. There are specific views and assumed views of male and female roles in Christianity and Islam. The status of women in Muslim countries has long been looked to as evidence of Islam’s oppression of women in matters ranging from the freedom to dress as they please to legal rights in divorce.
The true picture of women in Islam is far more complex. Most Islamic societies have been patriarchal, and women have long been considered to be the culture-bearers within these societies. However, the Quran declares that men and women are equal in the eyes of God; man and woman were created to be equal parts of a pair (51:49). The Quran describes the relationship between men and women as one of “love and mercy” (30:21). Men and women are to be like “members of one another” (3:195), like each other’s garment (2:187).
Then it also states,” Men have responsibility for and priority over women, since God has given some of them advantages over others and because they should spend their wealth [for the support of women]. ” There are different interpretations of how that scripture should be interpreted. In the majority of Muslim countries, women have the right to public education, including at the college level. In many countries, they also have the right to work outside of the home, vote, and hold public office. Particularly notable in recent years have been reforms in marriage and divorce laws.
These are rights that previously were unheard of in many Muslim nations. The genders roles of Christianity are in theory are similar to those of Islam. For Example, in Ephesians 5:22-33 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.
However, many women are the head of household in America. These women choose the religious preference for their households. However, in modern Christianity, these roles were male preserves, but over the last century, an increasing number of denominations have begun ordaining women. The notion of a priesthood reserved for males are increasingly being sought after by females. However, there are still many sections of the network of Christian churches that do not allow ordained females as church leaders. Some examples are; Evangelical Lutheran Synod, Free Reformed Churches of North America, and Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
However, many others do allow women leadership such as; The Moravian Church, Salvation Army, United Reformed Church, and Baptist Churches to name a few. In conclusion, both Christianity and Islam have similar principles and conflicting principles. They are both monotheistic and both call for oral confession to be saved by God. They have scriptures that govern their behavior and beliefs. However, they differ in the one main idea concerning Jesus. Christians call him God and Muslims call him a prophet, but both agree that he was an influential man.
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