A Comparison Of World Religions:
Islam

And ye shall know the truth, and the
truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)



Islam, or the worship of Allah, is the youngest, yet fastest growing religion in the world today, with over a billion followers world-wide. The differences between Islam and Christianity can be seen based simply on their common names. "Islam", in the Arabic language, means "surrender", "Christianity" means "to be like Christ".

One of the basic tenets of Islam is that the only way to have Peace is for all unbelievers to submit to the will of Allah, whether it is done at the point of the sword of of their own free will. The most basic tenet of Christianity is to follow the lead of Jesus, and to show compassion to those who believe differently, and to care for them as you would care for yourself, if not better. We are mandated to show love to others, whether we agree with them or not. Thus, the main difference between Islam and Christianity is that Islam believes in forcing unbelievers to convert or face slavery/death, whereas Christianity attempts to convince unbelievers to convert based upon the words of Jesus as the Son of God.

Who started this religion, and when?

Islam was started by Mohammed, some 600 years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Mohammed was born about 570 CE in the city of Mecca in Arabia. Although he was born to a prominent family, his father died just before he was born, and his mother died when he was six. Muhammad was then brought up by first his grandfather, then his uncle. He herded flocks, then later worked mostly as a merchant, and was married at age 25 to a woman some 10 to 15 years his senior. At age 40, discontented with life in Mecca, he retreated to a cave in the surrounding mountains for meditation and reflection. This was where he received his first revelation, in the form of a visit from the angel Gabriel. After receiving his first "revelation", Mohammed told his wife he thought he might be possessed by jinns, supernatural beings that could take on human or animal form and influence human affairs.

Mohammed was forced to flee for his life in 622 AD, but finally emerged triumphant in 630, entering Mecca with his forces and destroying every idol except the Black Stone, declaring it to be the most holy shrine of Islam. He strengthened his position as ruler and prophet, uniting the tribes of Arabia to conquor the world for Allah.

Muslims claim they do not regard Muhammad as the founder of the religion, but as the restorer of the original faith of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. They believe that both Judaism and Christianity distorted the messages of the prophets and corrupted the text of the religious documents shared by both Judaism and Christianity.

What do they say about God?

Muslims worship Allah, whom Mohammed called the 'one true god'. History shows, however, that 'Allah' was the name of the moon-god worshiped by pagans long before Mohammedís time. Specifically, among the 360 tribal gods worshiped by the Quraysh at Mecca, one was called 'Allah'. The meaning of this name is from two words: "Al" meaning "the", and "Ilah", meaning "god". Thus, the name Allah actually translates as "the god". This is important because at the time, long before Mohammed began Islam, there were 360 gods worshiped by the Quraysh. Allah was the chief among these. In fact, Mohammedís own father was named ĎAbdullahí, meaning "slave of Allah".

Mohammed hated the idolatry and immorality that abounded during his time, but created his religion based on many of the same pagan practices of the ancient worshipers of the moon-god Allah. He incorporated as well as basic theological elements of both Christianity and Judaism, according to his own often inaccurate understanding. He could neither read nor write, so his understanding of Holy Scriptures was largely a matter of his own theologically flawed ideas and interpretations. Even Muslim scholars, like Caesar Farah, writes that Mohammed "could not have had an educated knowledge of the sacred texts."

Who is Jesus Christ, and what did He do?

Muslims (or Mohammedans, or Islamists, as they are sometimes called) believe that Jesus was a teacher and prophet, although not nearly as great a prophet as Mohammed. In addition, the notion of the Christian Trinity is rejected. In Islamic society, Jesus is just a man and not the son of God, despite the fact that both God and Jesus himself verified that He was indeed the only begotten Son of God. They deny the deity of Jesus Christ, saying that anyone who believes God has "partners" is guilty of blasphemy. They deny that Jesus ever died on the cross, saying it was only made to appear that way to his followers (Surah 4:157)

What do they base their teachings on - the Holy Bible, and/or something else?

Mohammed gave the world the Qurían, or Koran, which he claimed replaced the Holy Bible. Muslims believe that Christians and Jews alike corrupted the Holy Scriptures, so the Quran is Godís final word to mankind. This work was passed down orally by Mohammed, who could neither read nor write. It was transcribed later by his followers, and includes his own thoughts and 'revelations', some of which are in direct opposition to the Holy Scriptures.

Besides the Qur'an, Mohammedís life and traditions are also upheld by Muslims, in a work called the "Hadith", which supplements the Qur'an. There is also the Shariah, a strict and comprehensive guide of life and conduct for the Muslim. Under Sharia, there are very strict penalties, up to and including death, for anyone who 'blasphemes' Allah or his prophet Mohammed by not believing in them.

It is important to remember, all this took place some 600 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, so the Holy Bible was already complete at that time, not to be changed or added to in any way.

What is sin, and how do they get forgiveness for it?

Muslims believe that each person is born with a clean heart. If they commit sins, they can be overcome by acts of the conscious will. While Protestants teach that people are declared righteous in God's sight for only one reason - their faith in Jesus Christ - Islam teaches a doctrine of works for salvation, believing that each person must take care of his or her own sins. If he doesnít make it, it is his own fault. (10:109)

The Muslim must earn salvation by following the "Five Pillars of the Faith", consisting of duties to be performed by every Muslim. These pillars include:

  • Statement of belief -They must repeat the phrase "There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is the prophet of Allah."
  • Prayer - Muslims must pray five times a day, kneeling and bowing in the direction of their holy city, Mecca.
  • Alms - Muslims are required by law to give one-fortieth of their profit, or 2.5%. This offering goes to widows, orphans,, the sick, and other unfortunates.
  • Ramadan - The ninth month of the Islamic lunar year is Ramadan, and is the highest of Muslim holy seasons. Muslims are required to fast for the entire month, but only from sunrise to sunset. Food and drink, as well as smoking and sexual pleasures, are forbidden, but only during daylight hours. During Ramadan, a Muslim must not commit any unworthy act, or his fasting is meaningless.
  • Pilgramage to Mecca - This is called the Hajj, and must be performed at least once during a Muslimís lifetime. If the journey is too difficult or too dangerous, a Muslim can send someone else in his place.

What happens when we die?

On the last day, the dead will be resurrected and will be judges by Allah. Each person will be sent to heaven or hell, according to their own works. Heaven is a place of sensual pleasure, while hell is for those who oppose Allah or his prophet Mohammed. If a person has lived right and followed the "Five Pillars", then perhaps Allah might find him acceptable, but there is no assurance of that. Muslims believe predestination, as well as fate, or kismet, determines their eternal destiny, regardless of their adherence to the pillars of their religion. They believe Allah has already determined what He will do, and no one can change that. This is the basis for the most common Islamic phrase, "If it be the will of Allah".

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References:
So What's The Difference? ©1967, 1979, & 2001 by Fritz Ridenour; Regal Books, Ventura, CA
http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/HolKora.html
http://www.helium.com/items/217450-the-differences-between-islam-and-christianity
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad
http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761553918/Muhammad.html
http://www.carm.org/islam/whatisislam.htm
http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/history/trade/prophetmohammed.htm
http://www.bible.ca/islam/islam-allah-pre-islamic-origin.htm

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