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Comparing and contrasting Christianity and Islam

Religious beliefs

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Name of the religion: Christianity Islam
Concept of deity: Most believe in the Trinity; three persons in a single Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God (Allah) is one and indivisible. They believe in a strict monotheism. "Allah" means God in Arabic.
Status of Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ): Generally considered the Son of God, worshiped as God; one person of the Trinity. Very highly respected as the second-last prophet; second only to Muhammad in importance.
Conception/birth of Yeshua: Conservatives: virgin conception.
Liberals: conventional birth.
Virgin conception.
Death of Yeshua: Authorized by Pontius Pilate and executed by Roman Army circa 30 CE by crucifixion. He was neither killed, nor suffered death. Muslims believe that he ascended alive into heaven. 1
Yeshua's location Ascended into Heaven Ascended into Heaven
Identity of "another helper" or "comforter" * Holy Spirit Muhammad
Second coming of Jesus Conservatives: expect in near future. Liberals: varied beliefs. Anticipate his second coming in the future.
Status of Adam: Disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. With Eve, is responsible for original sin that affects all of their descendents down to all persons alive today. As with Christianity, Adam is believed to have been tempted by Satan and disobeyed God. However, God forgave him for his sins. Muslims have no concept of original sin. Adam is considered a prophet.
Main holy book: Bible, consisting of Hebrew Scriptures and Christian Scriptures 2 Qur'an 3
Original languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek. Arabic.
Status of the holy book: Conservatives: the inerrant Word of God. Liberals: a historical document. God's word and final revelation, dictated by angel Gabriel to Muhammad. He passed it on in oral form. A slightly imperfect copy of a perfect copy in Paradise.
Additional guidance: Writings of the leaders of the early Church. For Roman Catholics: church tradition. The Hadith -- sayings and stories of Muhammad (pbuh), his companions and relatives.
Ethic of reciprocity  (Golden rule): "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." Matthew 7:12  "Not one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." Fourth Hadith of an-Nawawi 13
A baby's status at birth Various views. One common view is that a baby is born with a sin nature, separated from God. All babies are a born in a pure state of submission to Allah. However, as they mature they are often taught other beliefs.
Life after death: Either Heaven or Hell. Catholics believe in Purgatory as a third, temporary, state. Paradise or Hell.
Basis of determining who goes to Heaven or Paradise: There is no consensus in Christianity. Different faith groups hold Various diverse beliefs: e.g. some combination of: repentance, trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior, good works, church sacraments, baptism, avoiding the undefined unforgivable sin, etc. Once they reach puberty, his/her account of deeds is opened in Paradise. To attain paradise, at death, their good deeds (helping others, testifying to the truth of God, leading a virtuous life)... must outweigh their evil deeds.
Confessing sins: Roman Catholic: to God or Jesus, either directly or through a priest; Others: to God or Jesus To Allah
Probably the most misunderstood term: Immaculate Conception: Roman Catholics believe that the conception of the Virgin Mary, circa 20 BCE, was without sin. Many incorrectly relate it to Yeshua's' conception. Jihad: internal, personal struggle towards the attainment of a noble goal. Many incorrectly equate it to "holy war."

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  1. Most religious historians view Islam as having been founded in 622 CE. However, many if not most of the followers of Islam believe that:

    bullet Islam existed before Muhammad (pbuh) was born.

    bullet The origins of Islam date back to the creation of the world.

  2. The books included in the Bible differ among Christian faith groups. The Roman Catholic Church includes the Apocrypha; most other Christian denominations do not. Members of the approximately 100 faith groups in the LDS Restorationist movement, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) add other holy books, including the Book of Mormon. Christian Scientists consider Mary Baker Eddy's book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" to be a major resource.

  3. Muslims generally believe that the Qur'an is the literal word of God, as dictated to Muhammad over an interval of 23 years. The copy of the Qur'an in Paradise is the only book in the universethat is considered free of tahrif (error). There are four additional books:

    bullet The Suhuf-i-Ibrahim (Scrolls of Abraham/Ibrahim) which have been lost.

    bullet The Tawrat (the Pentateuch from the Hebrew Scriptures) which many Muslims believe were altered by ancient Hebrews.

    bullet The Zabur which many Muslims believe are the Psalms from the Hebrew Scriptures.

    bullet The Injil (the Gospels; the words of Jesus). Muslims believe that this consists of the entire Christian Scriptures (New Testament), or perhaps only the four canonical Gospels. They also have been distorted and corrupted over time. Other Muslims believe that the Injil is not a book, but a group of teachings.

Copyright 2001 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-AUG-4
Latest update: 2011-MAR-11
Author: B.A. Robinson
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