For many years, hundreds of wars have broken out in the name of religion. Many people were left homeless, many countries have lost their territories, and many lives were taken and cut short in the name of God and Allah. But what is it about these religions that make their followers risk their lives and future just to prove their religion’s superiority? Do Christianity and Islam really differ is so many ways? Or do they teach the same things albeit only in different languages and different names?
This paper intends to delve into the differences and similarities of these two religions—Islam and Christianity—in order to come up with an analysis of the beliefs behind their teachings. It also intends to compare and contrast the main doctrines of both religions by looking and quoting from the Scriptures—Koran and the Holy Bible. Every religion has its foundation built on a certain sacred Scripture. For the Christians, it is the Holy Bible; for the Muslim, the Koran. According to Christians, the Holy Bible is the inspired word of God. It is a book of history, a book of stories, a book of wisdom, and a book of prayer all rolled into one.
A verse from 2nd Timothy 3:16 describes the Bible as “inspired by God and is useful for teaching, refuting error, for correcting, and training in Christian life” (406). All Scripture, the entire 47 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament, is inspired by God; thus, affirming the fact of it being without error. The Bible is a Holy Scripture that is also recognized by the Muslims. However, they believe that some of the things that are inside the Bible have been corrupted through the centuries, much like any history books.
They see the Bible only as one of the four holy writings: the Pentateuch or the Torah of Moses, the Zabur or the Psalms of David, the Injil or the Gospel of Jesus, and lastly, the Koran, the most important of these four scriptures (Davis, n. p. ). For the Muslims, the Koran is without error and guarded from error by Allah. Unlike the Bible, which is written by biblical author inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Koran is said to be God’s final words that He spoke to angel Gabriel and which the latter gave to the prophet Mohammed over a 23-year period (Davis, n.p.).
The Muslims trust what is written on the Bible only if it agrees to what is written on the Koran. In spite of this, however, both the Bible and the Koran share many similarities: Both tell the lives of the prophets, the angels, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus; both narrate the story about the Judgment Day, the Resurrection, and Heaven and Hell; both encourage humans to submit to the will of God; and both show the greatness of one God, the creator of the entire universe. All religions glorify a Higher Being. For Christians, it is God.
For Muslims, it is Allah. According to the Christian belief, God is a Trinity of persons: God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. This is written in 1st Corinthians 13:13, “The grace of Christ Jesus the Lord, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (54). Many non-Christians become confused with this notion and accuse Christians of polytheism, worshipping not one but three Gods. However, Trinitarianism is monotheism, as the Trinity does not mean that there are three gods in one god, nor is there one person who took three forms.
The Muslims, on the other hand, rejected the idea of Trinity. For them, there is only one God named Allah and those who think otherwise are considered to be unbelievers (Surah 112:1). This is evident in Surah 5:73 of the Koran, which states that “Surely Allah is the third of the three; and there is no god but the one God, and if they desist not from what they say, a painful chastisement shall befall those among them who disbelieve. ” While the Muslims and the Christians differ on how they view God, they both believe that their Supreme Being is omnipotent and omniscient.
Both of them also believe that the Supreme Being that they worship, God or Allah, is the sole creator and sustainer of the universe. For the Christians, it is God who “began to create the heavens and the earth… God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. ” (Gen. 1:1, 3). God is everywhere, is all powerful, and knows all things; this is in accordance to Jeremiah 23:23-24, “Am I a God only when I am near —it is Yahweh who speaks — and not when I am far off? If a man hides in secret places do I not see him?
Says Yahweh — Do I not fill the heavens and the earth? ” (625). The Muslims also attributed the said characteristics to their Allah. For them, Allah also sees all things, is present everywhere, and is all-knowing and all-powerful as stated in Surah 2:115, “And Allah is the East and the West, therefore, whither you turn, thither is Allah’s purpose; surely Allah is Amplegiving, Knowing. ” Another persona that is present in both Islam and Christianity is Jesus Christ. These two religions have two very different, almost opposing views about who Jesus Christ really is.
The Christians believe that Jesus is the son of God, the second person in the Holy Trinity, “the Glory of the only Son coming from the Father” (John 1:14). He is the word who became flesh and as such, He is both God and man. The Muslims, on the other hand, sees Jesus only as a prophet and neither the son of God nor mankind’s savior. For them, “the Messiah, son of Marium, is but an apostle; apostles before him have indeed passed away” (Surah 5:75). They see Jesus only as a very great prophet but lower than Mohammed, Allah’s last and greatest prophet.
Jesus Christ’s crucifixion is something that the Muslims also refuse to accept. While the Christians maintain that Jesus “went to the cross burdened with our sins so that we might live an upright life,” the Muslims believe that it was Judas, whom God made to look like Jesus, who was crucified and not Jesus Christ. The Koran states this in Surah 4:157, “And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the apostle Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so, like Isa (Jesus), and most surely those who differ therein are only in doubt about it.
” For the Muslims, Jesus did not die on the cross to save people’s sins; thus, it is not right to worship Him like God just like what Christians do. Muslims believe that Jesus need not be crucified just so mankind can be saved; Salvation, for them, is only possible through sincere confession and repentance of sin. The notion of Salvation is something that both Muslims and Christians share. Both religions believe that people will be saved from eternal damnation as long as they have faith in their God. For the Christians, Salvation is a free gift of God to everyone who trusts in Christ and His sacrifice on the cross.
According to Ephesians 2:8-9, “By the grace of God you have been saved through faith. This has not come from you: it is God’s gift. This was not the result of your works, so you are not to feel proud” (368). Christians have the concept of “original sin”— a term used to describe human’s sinful nature as inherited from Adam and is passed on from one generation to the next. The Bible affirms this in Romans 5:12: “Now, sin entered the world through one man and through sin, death, and later on death spread to all humankind, because all sinned” (298).
These effects of original sin upon mankind are the things from which Christians need salvation from. For the Christians, there is no other way toward Salvation than through Jesus Christ whose blood becomes the sacrifice that turns away the wrath of God. This is in contrast to the beliefs of the Muslims. They do not believe in the concept original sin; for them, people do not have sinful natures. They only become so if they lose faith in Allah and start to rebel against Him.
Thus, in order for them to receive salvation, they must only trust that Allah exists, believe in the fundamental doctrines of Islam, and follow the commands that Allah gave in the Koran. These are all written in the Koran, “O you who believe! Turn to Allah a sincere turning; maybe your Lord will remove from you your evil and cause you to enter gardens beneath which rivers flow, on the day on which Allah will not abase the Prophet and those who believe with him; their light shall run on before them and on their right hands; they shall say: Our Lord!
Make perfect for us our light, and grant us protection, surely Thou hast power over all things. ” (Surah 66:8). For the Muslims, Salvation can be attained through sincere confession and repentance of sins. Those who were able to do these will be given the opportunity to be in Paradise on the Judgment Day. Both Christians and Muslims recognize the coming of the Judgment Day. Both believe that on that day, God/Allah will judge all people and decide which ones will go with Him to Heaven and which ones will suffer in Hell.
For the Christians, only those who believe in God and Jesus Christ, as well as those who have accepted Christ’s blood as the only way to be purified from all sin and impurity, can be worthy of a place with God in Heaven. God said in John 12:48, “He who rejects me, and does not receive my word, already has a judge; the very word I have spoken will condemn him on the last day” (215). This means that only those who have obeyed God’s will in the Bible and those who have accepted Him as savior will join Him in Heaven.
The others will go into “eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46). The followers of Islam, on the other hand, also agree that there is a Judgment Day except they believe that only the Muslims will be saved and will be with Allah in Heaven; the others, including the Christians, the Jews, and the followers of other religion will be condemned to Hell. In Surah 66:9, the Koran warned those who do not believe in Allah, “O Prophet! Strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and be hard against them; and their abode is hell; and evil is the resort.
” The “unbelievers and hypocrites” mentioned here pertain to those who do not follow in the path of Allah and who will, thus, be thrown into the fires of Hell. However, unlike the Christians, who maintain that the only way toward Salvation is the acceptance of the blood of Christ, the Muslims believe that if people act kindly upon one another, break away from sin, and genuinely ask for forgiveness from their past sins, they too will be rewarded with a place in Heaven.
The Koran states that “Allah has promised to those who believe and do good deeds [that] they shall have forgiveness and a mighty reward” (Surah 5:9). Both Christians and Muslims see Heaven as a place of ultimate bliss. The devotees of both Christianity and Islam strive to obey the doctrines and the teachings of their respective religions just so they can have eternal peace and happiness in Heaven and to avoid endless punishment in the fiery pits of Hell. But how do Muslims and Christians view Heaven and Hell? Are there any similarities and/or differences between their views?
For the Muslims, Heaven is a paradise of unimaginable bliss often pictured as a garden where the desires of faithful Muslims are met. This is depicted in Surah 3:198, “But as for those who are careful of their Lord, they shall have gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding in them; an entertainment from their Lord, and that which is with Allah is best for the righteous” and in Surah 88:8-16, “faces on that day shall be happy, well-pleased because of their striving, in a lofty garden, wherein you shall not hear vain talk.
Therein is a fountain flowing. Therein are thrones raised high, and drinking cups ready placed, and cushions set in a row, and carpets spread out. ” All of these things will meet those who are faithful to the teachings of Allah. Meanwhile, those who are not Muslim as well as those who lack faith and good deeds will be hurled to Hell, “so evil is the resting place. This is the hell which the guilty called a lie. Round about shall they go between it and hot, boiling water” (Surah 38:56, 55:43-44).