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Comparing and contrasting Christianity and Islam

Religious practices

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Name of the religion: Christianity Islam
Current interpretation of the Holy Book: Ranges from statements of the Pope in Roman Catholicism to resolutions at conventions among Protestants. Learned scholars in various countries. There is no single spokesperson or authoritative group.
Name of worship center: Church, cathedral. Mosque.
Main day of worship: Sunday; Saturday for some. Friday.
Church and state: Largely considered separate. Most predominately Christian countries are democracies Integrated. Most predominately Muslim countries are dictatorships.
Law Generally restricted to legal matters. Covers both moral and legal matters.
Legislation Prerogative of the people Prerogative of God
Use of statues of deity, saints, prophets, etc: Common in some denominations; absent or forbidden in others. Absolutely forbidden. Statues and pictures are considered a very serious form of idolatry.
Main holy days: Most Christians celebrate at least Christmas, Easter, and associated holy days. Ashura; Mawlid; lunar month of Ramadan; Eid al-Fitr; Eid al-Adha.
Status of women; sexism: Variable. Conservatives & liberals differ greatly in the allowed roles for women in the family, employment, and church. Strongly affected by cultural traditions. Women are severely oppressed in some countries.
Status of sexual minorities (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons, transsexuals: Variable; ranges from limitations on the right to marry and other rights to acceptance of same-sex marriage Variable; ranges from being driven underground into hiding, to execution.
Marriages forbidden: Inter-faith marriages, in the Eastern Orthodox church. Marriages between conservative Christians and others, within conservative Christianity. A Muslim woman may not be married (or remained married) to a non-Muslim man.
Racism: Promoted by the LDS church until 1978. Still supported by Christian Identity, KKK, and other Christian fringe groups. Officially rejected by almost all other denominations. Remains widespread in the U.S. May be increasing since the election of President Obama who is bi-racial. Officially rejected by all Islamic movements. 1
Reaction to apostasy (leaving the faith due to religious conversion): Prior to 1792, the end of the "burning times," execution was common. Today, with the separation of church and state, people are free to change or abandon their religion without government reaction. Traditionally, death to the apostate. This is still practiced by some predominately Muslim countries. More commonly, apostates are ocasionally murdered by friends, family, or a mob.
Historical treatment of Jewish people in Muslim countries (Prior to World War 1): Prolonged and widespread anti-Judaism, anti-semitism, oppression, and mass murder. Additional taxation, because Jews were not required to serve in the military, but otherwise general tolerance.
Recent treatment of Jewish people: Lessening of anti-semitism from historical levels, and gradual support of Israel, particularly since World War II. Massive opposition and physical attacks since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 and the occupation of Palestine.
Relations with state of Israel since 1948 Widespread support for Israel among religious conservatives. Criticism among some liberals concerning Israel's treatment of Muslims. Widespread rejection of Israel. Discrimination, suicide bombing, etc. practiced. An exception is Turkey, a Muslim country that is a secular state.
Basis of calendar: Gregorian solar calendar.  1 CE occurred about four to seven years after birth of Jesus. Many Muslims use Gregorian calendar. Religious events based on the Islamic lunar calendar. 1 AH occurred in 622 CE, the year of the Hegira when Muhammad traveled from Mecca to Medina.
Most misunderstood practice: The sacrifice of the Mass, a Roman Catholic ritual. Some Native Americans and others interpreted it as a form of ritual cannibalism. Female genital mutilation. This is often incorrectly considered to be a religious requirement of Islam. Actually it is cultural tradition common in some countries of Northern Africa. It is unknown in many Muslim countries.

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  1. One exception is the Nation of Islam which promotes a black supremacist ideology. For example, leader Louis Farrakhan stated that "White people are potential humans: they haven't evolved yet." (Philadelphia Inquirer, 2000-MAR-18). However, most Muslims do not consider the Nation of Islam to be part of Islam, because of its unique beliefs about God, humanity and the rest of the universe.
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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