Christianity and Islam are two of the most significant religions since their creation. Islam means “submission” in Arabic, and a Muslim is one who submits to the will of God (Allah). Christians are called so because of Jesus’ title Christos, which is Greek for Messiah. Christianity and Islam are similar in a lot ways, but also have quite a few differences in beliefs, practices, and basic theology. They also give separate messages to outsiders as to what their religions stand for. Both religions are monotheistic with a holy text and they both strive to conquer evil.
Islam has a set of rules (5 Pillars of Islam) set forth to reach enlightenment while Christians repent, accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and then are forgiven for their sins. A lot of people in today’s world believe that Islam and Christianity are very similar with only a few subtle differences, but this paper will discuss some of the big difference regarding the belief in on God, the view on prophets and the view on the Day of Judgment. To begin, lets compare the Islamic view on the belief in one God.
The first and greatest teaching of Islam is proclaimed by the Shahada, which states, “La llaha illa-l-lah, Muhammandun rasulu-l-lah. ” (“There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the apostle of Allah”) (Robinson). After a person sincerely makes this confession than they become a real Muslim. Muslims believe that Allah is one, and has no partners, no equals. The Quran states, “And cry not unto any other god along with Allah. There is no god save Him. ” (Sura 28:88). This statement in the Quran makes a clear claim that Muslims believe that Allah is supreme, that he created and maintains the world.
In Islam it is also very clear that Allah has no son, no father, no relative and no associates. “The Muslim prophet Muhammad is reported to have written down 99 names to try and express the attributes of Allah. Some of these that Muhammad wrote down is that Allah is merciful, that he is all-powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient) and that he is eternal (no beginning and no end)” (Robinson). The Christian response to this claim by Muslims is that there is only one righteous and transcendent creator God.
In the Old Testament Moses states, “The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. ” (Deuteronomy 6:4). This passage makes it clear that God is there is only one God who wants us to love him totally with all our being. Once again in the New Testament Jesus Christ himself states, “29 The most important one, answered Jesus, is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord our God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 12: 29-30). The problem between Christians and Muslims is not the fact that there is only one God, but the view of the trinity.
Christians believe that there is God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit. These three persons are complete in unity of will, purpose, action and love, yet cannot be separated even though they have different functions. The Bible speaks of God, the Father, who as the co- Creator, blesses: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1: 3), initiates and sends “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. ” (John 17: 3).
And finally God sent the Holy Spirit, who is resident within a Christian, to guide, instruct and empower them. “16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17) It is important that God as “Father” not be viewed within a biological context. Christians share with Muslims the prohibition against conceiving of God in the form of an image.
God as “Father” refers, rather, to a relationship between God and man. Christians accept all the 99 names of God, which Muslims repeat in praise to God. Even the name Allah is affirmed by Christians as one of the names of God, the same Arabic name that the Prophet Abraham used in Hebrew as “El” or “Elohim. ” Secondly, lets compare the Islamic belief about the prophets to that of the Christian belief.
Islam makes a distinction between a messenger (rasul) who is sent with a Divine Scripture to guide and reform mankind, and a prophet (al nabbi) who simply carries information or proclaims Allah’s news. Therefore, though all messengers are prophets, not all prophets are messengers. The number of Allah’s prophecy is said to be 124,000, yet the Quran mentions only 25 prophets. Some of these prophets are Adam who is the first, Abraham, Jacob, Ishmael, Isaac, David, Solomon, John the Baptist, Jesus and also Muhammad, who is said to be the final and greatest prophet.
And verily, we have raised in every nation a Messenger, saying, “Serve Allah alone and shun false gods in any form. ” Then Allah guided some of the people. And error took hold of others. Do take lessons from history as you travel in the earth, and see the consequence of the deniers. ” (Sura 16:36) According to the Sura Allah raised up these prophets, among every nation, to provide mankind with firm and constructive guidance, so that they could walk the straight path of Allah, could live happily in this world, and could be prepared for life after death.
Allah promises to protect his prophets from serious sin, bad disease and death. Muslims use this belief to deny that Jesus, who they believe was just a prophet, did not die on the cross because as stated above prophets cannot be killed. The Christian response about prophets is that God appointed prophets and others to speak to mankind about his word, and his story of redemptive acts in history. Christians believe that God revealed the interpretation of his acts to the prophets who then passed it on to man by preaching, teaching and writing it down.
Even though “Muslims and Christians have quite a few people that both agree were prophets Muslims do not believe that Isaiah, Jonah, Daniel, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul and Jesus were prophets” (Robinson) Prophets within Christianity came from different classes of society, some rich, others poor, young and old; some scholars, and others with little education. Not all wrote books (Elijah, John the Baptist), but they all heard God’s word, either through angels, by means of visions, by God’s voice, or by receiving the message in their minds and hearts.
Also contrasting Islam we know that prophets were not sinless, but just normal believers whose sins were forgiven by God. The prophets most important message was that since there are none who could obey the law fully, they remained still in sin, and so deserved death. “Yet, those living with sin need not despair, because God had promised to take upon himself the guilt of their sins, by incarnating himself and dying on the cross, thus taking upon himself that penalty, and so freeing him to forgive them from those sins, which then brought them back into a personal relationship with him. (Rahim et al).
When a Christian tries to evaluate to see whether or not Muhammad was a prophet, they must try to see him in light of the total Biblical witness ending with Jesus and displaying these three criteria. One that he fully accepts the former Scriptures, two that he points to the central significance of Jesus as redeemer and three that his life and teachings exemplify suffering redemptive love. Based on these three criteria, which are shown through the life of Jesus, Muhammad is not at all a prophet.
Thirdly, lets view the Islamic view on the Day of Judgment (Death) and the Christian response to what they believe. “To begin we must first find out what a Muslim believes about sin. To a Muslim sin is a private matter, which is not binding from one generation to the next. This is so because Satan is the root of all sin and Allah being all merciful, forgives those who ask. There is only one sin that the Muslims believe is so bad that it is deemed unforgivable, that of “shirk,” which is the practice of associating anyone or anything with Allah.
Going by this logic the sin of Adam and Eve was not really their fault at all because Satan tricked them, and they asked for forgiveness. Furthermore, their sin was not hereditary/ passed down to their children. Also because the sin committed by Adam was not his fault and he repented, Allah made him earth’s first messenger. ” (Nazir-Ali 142-144) For the Muslim, salvation is attained not by faith, but by works, in observing the Five Pillars of Islamic practice, as well as avoiding the major and minor sins.
Tradition indicates that on the Judgment Day, once the person is buried, the two recording angels appear, and the dead person sits up to undergo an examination. If he says the “Shahada” (“There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the apostle of Allah”), he lies down peacefully and awaits his judgment. If he refuses the “Shahada,” he is severely beaten for as long as Allah pleases. Once the individual is awakened for judgment a scale is presented, which weighs the good and bad deeds of the person taken from their “book of destiny.
Ultimately Allah makes the decision as to whether someone should be received into paradise or not. “If Allah places the individual’s book in his right hand then that person is saved and crosses a razor sharp bridge to paradise, which holds a perfumed garden of material and sensual delights, surrounded by rivers and flowing fountains, populated with black-eyed virgins, who are there to serve them with all variety of fruits” (Nazir-Ali 145). On the other hand, a vivid hell (Gahenna) awaits those who fail the test.
This hell is described in the Quran as a place consisting of boiling water, gore and fire; it is a hell of extreme physical pain” (Nazir-Ali 145). Christians view of sin/death is drastically different that of Islam. A Christian believes that any sin is an abomination to God, because it is, in essence, a rejection of His character. Christians believe, as Muslims believe, that Satan does tempt us. Yet, Christians are responsible for their own sins, and not Satan. Christians believe that they have the choice to reject Satan’s tempting.
But, The Bible insists throughout, that the wages of sin is death, and since we are all guilty, therefore, we all deserve death. God, however, in His mercy, has not left us in that guilt, but has offered payment and forgiveness for those who receive it. He has sent His Son (Jesus Christ) to die in our place, to take upon himself our guilt. Therefore, those who believe in His redeeming death on the cross, and repent of their sins, are saved from eternal separation (John 3:16-17), while those who reject Him will be eternally condemned. Before His ascension into heaven, Christ promised to return a second time to judge the world.
When He returns, He will raise all the dead to life, and will separate those who believe from those who reject, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. Those rejecting Christ will live in eternal punishment, in total isolation from God because, in rejecting God’s Son, they have rejected God the Father and God the Holy Spirit as well, and no sin is greater than this. “22 Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. (1 John 2:22-23). Those who have truly believed in Christ the redeemer, will not fear Christ on Judgment Day, and will have eternal life.
This does not mean that they will go into a garden full of carnal pleasures, which, as we know in this life, separates us from God, but they will go into the presence of God Himself, to live forever with Him in love and in joy. For, as it says in The Bible, ” 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. ” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new! ” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true. ” 6
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21: 3-7). To summarize, even though Islam and Christianity both are monotheistic, both have a holy text and both strive to overcome death/evil there are big blatant differences. Hopefully the above paper achieved its’ aim in informing people of the differences regarding the belief in on God, the view on prophets and the view on the Day of Judgment. All in all those that believe that these religions are similar and basically the same thing are incorrect and should stop skipping over/ignoring the discrepancies between the religions.