The Main Disparities Between Islam And Christianity

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When talking about religion, everyone has their own view on it. Some people think of the religion they practice, or they think nothing because they don’t believe in anything. Religion is very important, and many people around the world follow a religion. There is a little more than 4,000 religions in the world, and if you were to look up what the largest religions of the world are, the top two religions would be Christianity and Islam, both with at least 1 billion followers. With Christianity and Islam being two of the biggest, most followed religions in the world, and you would think that they are either completely opposite, or very similar. They are in fact similar, but there is more to both religions than you may know. Both religions believe in God, but the characters described in the religions’ holy books play different roles. Both religions have a set of “rules”, but they are both different in many ways. The two religions have major differences, however those differences lead to similarities. Two books that were given, The Silk Roads: A New History of The World by Peter Frankopan, and Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan, both focus on the two religions. Both books help the reader understand the religions better by talking about where they originated, and how they developed going forward.

Before getting into major details about both religions, it is important to understand their origin, so then you can understand how they developed and spread to other areas of the world. One way religion was spread was through trade routes like the silk roads. The Silk Roads first starts out by explaining what the silk roads are exactly, and Frankopan explains it more into detail in his book. The silk roads were a trade route that connected Asia to Europe that was not only used to trade goods, but ideologies were also spread throughout the silk roads. The first chapter went into detail about what goods were traded along the silk roads, and then the author get into talking about what ideas were passed along the silk roads, and how religion was spread across the world because of the silk roads. As Frankopan states: “It was not only goods that flowed along the arteries that linked the Pacific, Central Asia, India, the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean in antiquity; so did ideas.”(The Silk Roads pg. 28).

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One similarity between Islam and Christianity is that they both originated in the middle east. Christianity was first seen in Palestine, and from there it exploded and spread to the Mediterranean and across Asia (The Silk Roads pg. 33). “The rise of Islam took place in a world that had seen hundred years of turmoil, dissent and catastrophe. In 541, a century before the Prophet Muhammad began to receive a series of divine revelations, it was news of a different threat that spread panic through the Mediterranean. It moved like lightning….” (The Silk Roads p. 62). This shows that even before the religion took off, there were many revelations, that sparked panic. Islam began with Muhammad, who lived in Arabian Penninsula region. Muhammad was a trader who was a member of the Banū Hāshim clan of the Quraysh tribe that was retreated to a cave that wasn’t far from the city of Mecca (The Silk Roads, p. 71). It is known that the religion originated in Mecca. Muhammad is said to be the chosen messanger by the Almighty, therefore he delivers messages from God to the Islamic people (The Silk Roads pg. 89).

Christianity began when Romans dominated Jerusalem in 63 B.C.E (Zealot, Ch 4). Jerusalem was known as God’s land, and we know this because it is said that God has given the land to the Jews. For years, there has been wars and battles over who ruled the land of Jerusalem. After Alexander the Great died in 323 BCE, the Hasmonaean brothers ruled God’s land. Eventually the brothers turned on eachother, and they both went to Rome to seek help, which was not a good idea. By 63 BCE Rome controlled Jerusalem, and now Jews had to follow their rules. Rome wanted Jews to follow their rule, but the Jews wanted to follow their religion, and more importantly, their God (Zealot, Ch. 5). In Jerusalem, it is believed that the Messiah, which is the chosen one by the Holy Spirit, was said to be a descendant of King David. However, some believed that Jesus was the Messiah. Zealot first talks about the historical Jesus who was known as Jesus of Nazareth who was a carpenter who, despite being born from the Virgin Mary, had 4 brothers. His brothers names were James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. There wasn’t much information about who Jesus’s father really was. There is not much to say about Jesus’s early life other than that he was a carpenter in the town of Galilee. The bulk of the information about Jesus’s childhood comes from the Gospel of Paul. Once Jesus is declared the Messiah by the Jews, then more information is documented about his life.

Christianity and Islam have many similarities and differences, however one main similarity is that both religions still have the same religious characters, and they both have a holy book. It is easier to understand the two religions if they are broken down. Islam means “to submit” and those who believe in Islam are refered to as Muslims. Muslims believe in God, and refer to Him as Allah, but they don’t necessarily believe in their own God. Muslims also believe that Muhammad is the prophet, sent by God. Muslims practice their religion through the Qur’an, which is their holy book that contains revelations of Allah to Muhammad. “Muhammad, he wrote, had come up with his ideas based on his reading of the old and new testaments- and on concersation with a christian monk.” (The Silk Roads pg. 87). The Qur’an is also said to correct the Bible. Islam is a strict religion, and with that they have to follow a set of “rules”. Their rules are referred to as the 5 pillars, and each pillar has its own meaning. The 5 pillars of Islam are: Shahada, Salah, Zakat, Hajj, and Sawm. Shahada is the declaration of faith, meaning you should only believe in Islam hence why the religion is monotheistic. Salah says that you must pray 5 times a day, Swam is when you fast for the month of Ramadan, Zakah is the sharing of wealth meaning to give to the poor, and Hajj is a pilgrimage to the Mecca. For Islam, Jesus is still seen as a prophet, however, He is not believed to be the son of God. The Qur’an teaches that there is no distinction between the prophets and the message brought by all of them, therefore the messages should be followed (The Silk Roads pg. 109).

Christianity is similar in the sense that it also follows a holy book, talks about Jesus, and has a set of rules. Christians view God, or Yahweh, as the only God. Also, christians believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Jesus would spread his teaching throughout Galilee, and he was known to heal others. Jesus had the power to pray over the sick and heal them, and some would think that He was a miracle worker (Zealot, pg.106). There are many different stories in the bible about how Jesus has healed the paralyzed, and helped them walk again. Jesus is also known to be able to defy gravity, and there are stories about him walking on water. So with this being said, it is clear that christians believe in the Bible. The Bible is seen as the holy book, that contains the word of the Lord, God. The Bible consists of the new and old testament which contain Gospels from Matthew Mark Luke and John, which gives followers different perspectives of Jesus’s life. It is easy to understand the Bible and what God is trying to say because there are many different versions. Even though there are different versions, they all still come together to get a central idea of what is being said. Christians believe that Jesus was born from the Virgin Mary, and that he is the Son of God. Jesus was accused of committing violence against the Romans, and had to appear in front of Pontius Pilate, who was a roman governor of Judea (Zealot, pg 147). But the crowd shouts all the louder for Jesus’s death” Crucify him! Crucify him!” (Mark 15:1-20). Pontius Pilate listened to the Romans, and decided Jesus was to be crucified. Jesus was hung on the cross with two other men that committed crimes. Jesus could have stopped it, but chose not to because he wanted to die on the cross for our sins. He was then placed in a tomb in which He rose from 3 days later (Resurrection) which made people believe that he is, indeed, Jesus Christ (Zealot, pg 169). After He rose, more and more people began to follow Christianity. Christians also follow the 10 commandments as their set of “rules” The 10 commandments are as followed: “1. You shall have no other gods before me, 2. Worship only God, 3. Do not take the name of the Lord in vain, 4. Remember the Sabbath day, 5.Honor your father and your mother, 6. Thou shall not murder, 7. Thou shall not hurt others with words or actions, 8. Thou shall not steal, 9. Always tell the truth, and 10. Do not be jealous of others. The 10 commandments are also found in Exodus 20:2-17. If you were to break one of the 10 commandments, it is seen as sin. However, when it comes to sinning, all sins are equal. God views all sin as sin.

While both religions have major differences, their differences connect to form similarities. Even though Islam and Christianity are both practiced differently, but contain similiar ideas. Islam is seen to be more strict than christianity because there are more restrictions, while christianity is still viewed as strict, but not as bad. Muhammad was the messanger of God while Jesus was the Son of God. It is important to study these religions and more to get an understanding of what people that you are surrounded by believe in. Zealot, and The Silk Roads: A New History of The World, both do a good job of conveying each religion and how they both originated and spread throughout the world

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