Christianity v. Islam
Over the past two thousand years, two major world religions have emerged from what we now know as the Middle East: Christianity and Islam. These two religions, which both have their roots firmly in Judaism, vary in history, belief, and practice, but they also share a number of distinct similarities. As such, this paper will examine the histories, beliefs, and practices of Christianity and Islam by focusing on their major differences and similarities, and the way in which these are perceived and practiced within the Muslim Diasporas. It will be shown that while the beliefs and practices of different Muslim ...view middle of the document...
a. The Historical Development of the Christian Faith
Although Christianity was founded in Palestine in approximately 30 A.D., Christianity emerged as an influential religion during the reign of Constantine the Great (A.D. 306-337), who established Christianity as the Roman Empire’s official religion. The early church, or Apostolic Church, was established by the disciples and apostles of Jesus Christ, especially Peter and Paul, who taught that Jesus was the Messiah as promised in the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament). The Jews, however, vehemently denied this teaching, thus causing a deep schism between Christians and Jews from the very beginning.
Like the Jews, Christians believe in the God of the Hebrew Scriptures, thus canonizing them along with the New Testament as the very words of God – or as being “God-breathed” texts. The essential message of Christianity is that Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah, was God in the flesh, who chose to humble himself and sacrifice his life on the cross in order to save humanity from its sin. While essentially a message of peace, as seen by teachings such as loving your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:34-39), the religion’s history is filled with bloodshed and internal division. Christianity was responsible for the Crusades (1095-1291), the extermination of numerous witches, pagans, and practitioners of faiths such as Wicca (1450-1792), and it has been instrumental in causing wars and conflicts, such as that of the Republic of Ireland (1966-1998). In addition, internal division led to the emergence of the Protestant Reformation (1517-1648), thus causing a deep schism between Catholic and Protestant believers, with the latter subsequently splintering into the numerous different branches of Protestant churches that exist today. Nevertheless, Christianity remains the world’s major religion, with some 159 billion people identifying themselves as Christians, the vast majority of whom now practice a peaceful approach to their faith.
b. The Historical Development of the Muslim Faith
Islam was founded in 622 A.D., some six hundred years after the birth of Christ, by Muhammad, who was born in Mecca in 570 A.D. Muhammad, whose name means “highly praised,” taught that while Judaism and Christianity held truth, their versions of the truth had been distorted. As such, the Christian and Jewish Bibles are perceived as being holy, but filled with errors, while the Qur’an is seen as being God’s perfect word. Muhammad, like Judaism and Christianity, “taught that there was one God, but that Muhammad was the last and most important in a series of prophets and messengers … [and that] through his messengers God had sent various codes, or systems of laws for living, culminating in the Qur’an … the holy book of Islam” (Islamic Encyclopedia, 2011). These prophets and messengers include many of those found within Judaism and Christianity, including Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, whom Muslims...