Questions about relations between Christianity and Islam continue to receive attention in the media and society at large. One of the questions that have been asked about Christians and Muslims is whether they worship the same God. The question has been a controversial one across the United States with a portion of Christians arguing that they worship the same God with the Muslims, while another portion claiming that the two religious communities do not worship the same God. The question addresses conflicting issues at the same time. An individual first needs to understand the similarities and differences between the beliefs of Christians and Muslims, noting the areas of agreements and disagreements to answer the question effectively. The two religions have some apparent similarities and differences in beliefs. For instance, both Christians and Muslims believe that there is only one God and He created the universe and everything that exist in it, including human beings and animals. Both religious communities also believe that God gave the humankind a special revelation. Although the two religions have similar beliefs, they have differences related to their teachings.
Overview of Islam
Islam emerged in the seventh century in present-day Saudi Arabia. The traditional account maintains that Islam was formed when God, through a series of revelations dictated by angel Gabriel, presented His will to Muhammad. Muslims contend that Angel Gabriel dictated God’s revelations to their greatest prophet, Muhammad, for a long period, approximately twenty years. The revelations were put into writing to make up the Qur’an after Muhammad’s death. Muslims later accepted Qur’an as the Word of God, and they decided to hold its teachings. The religion’s traditional account maintains that Qur’an is a definitive revelation from God, and Muhammad is the greatest prophet (Randall, 2020). After revelations to numerous prophets, God presented Himself to Muhammad as the last prophet, which is why Muslims believe he is the greatest of all the previous prophets.
Muhammad established a theoretical society in Medina, which later served as a model for the Islam religion and its followers. Muhammad moved to Medina after he was persecuted in Mecca. After Muhammad’s death, Muslims migrated into the neighboring regions, including the present day North Africa, Spain, and central Asia. Today, Muslims are found in many countries across the world. Muslims are approximated to be 1.7 billion, while their Christian counterparts are approximated to be 2.4 billion all over the world (Randall, 2020). According to Randall (2020), fifty percent of Muslims are argued to live in various countries across Africa and Asia. Some of those countries include Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Turkey.
Although Muhammad established one religion that is Islam, his legitimate successor created two significant divisions within the religion. The two divisions include the Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims. Randall (2020) argues that 85 percent of Muslims are Sunni, and 15 percent are from the Shi’ite division. The religion still experiences internal divisions, as various sections try to define what Islam is about in the 21st century. The divisions involve traditionalists and progressives. Traditionalists contend that Islam is not compatible with today’s modern and democratic society, while the progressives contend that the religion can be fully accommodated in the modern and democratic society. Despite the internal differences, Muslims are united in their belief that there is one God, Muhammad is the last God’s prophet, and Qur’an is the Word of God that He revealed to their greatest prophet (Randall, 2020). Muslims use the religion’s Five Pillars’ as symbols of unity. The pillars include the shahadah (declaration of faith); almsgiving (Zakah); the fast of Ramadhan (Sawm); pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj); ritual prayer (Salat).
Overview of Christianity
Christianity’s traditional account maintains that the religion is based on the life and Jesus Christ’s teachings. Christians contend that their religion is a monotheistic one, thus they believe that there is only one God. Christians contend that their religion was at first, part of Judaism and it begun in the 1st century in the Roman Province of Judea. The religion’s traditional account maintains that Christianity was spread by the apostles of Jesus and their followers around various regions. Some of the regions where the apostles spread the religion’s beliefs and customs include present-day Egypt, Europe, Ethiopia, and the Middle East. The religion attracted more people; thus, it began to separate from Judaism. The religion has evolved since it departed from the Jewish customs, and today it is one of the largest religions worldwide, with approximately 2.4 billion adherents (Rausch, 2018). Adherents are Jesus Christ’s followers who believe that his coming was prophesized in Hebrew, one of the books outlined in the Old Testament of the Bible.
Christianity has four major divisions across the world. These divisions within the religion include the Catholic Church that has approximately 1.3 billion followers; Protestantism that has approximately 920 million followers; Oriental Orthodoxy that has around 62 million followers; Eastern Orthodox Church that has about 230 million followers (Rausch, 2018). The religion is dominant in the West, with more than 70 percent of Christians occupying the region. Although Christianity first began in the West, its adherents have rapidly spread to other areas across the world. The number of Christians in Africa and Asia is rapidly growing. However, Christians tend to be persecuted in various countries in the Asian region.
Overview of the Similarities and Differences between the Religions’ Beliefs
Christians and Muslims believe that there is only one God, and He is the creator of everything in the universe. Traditional accounts of the two religions maintain that God gave a special revelation to humankind. The two religions differ in various aspects related to those similarities. The two religions disagree on the nature of God and what He expects from humankind (Larson, 2008). Christianity and Islam also differ about how God revealed Himself to humanity. Muslims believe that God revealed Himself to humanity through numerous prophets, including Muhammad. Contrarily, Christians believe that God revealed Himself progressively to humankind through the Old Testament and the New Testament, which comprise the Bible (Larson, 2008). Another aspect that Christians and Muslims disagree about is Jesus’ death. Christians argue that Jesus died on the cross, while Muslims believe that Jesus neither died nor was killed.
Similarities and Differences in Christianity’s and Islam’s Beliefs
Christianity and Islam are monotheistic religions that affirm that there is only one God. Christians and Muslims argue that God created the universe and everything that exists in it, including human beings, animals, plants, and others. Although Christians and Muslims agree on the various attributes about God, they disagree on some concepts, such as God’s nature and what He expects from humankind (Miner, Ghobary, Dowson, & Proctor, 2012). Muslims regard God as sovereign, merciful, and benevolent, but do not consider Him as loving. Contrarily, Christians view God as sovereign, merciful, benevolent, personal, and loving. This is well demonstrated in the Bible, particularly in the book of 1 John 4:8-9. The Bible declares that God is love; thus, He is a loving person. The Bible asserts that God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to the world to save the humankind from sins, and in that way, He did show His love to human beings. The Bible declares in Matthew 22:34-40 that human beings should, in turn, love God and take care of others. The Bible also asserts that human beings should love their enemies (Matthew 5:43-47). Qur’an, on the other hand, does not regard God as a loving person, and it does not force human beings to love God. Muslims believe that regarding God as a loving person compromises some of His attributes including being a sovereign.
Christians and Muslims believe that God revealed Himself to the humankind in a special manner. The two religious communities disagree over the nature of God’s revelation to human beings. Muslims believe that God revealed Himself to humanity through numerous prophets, including the Hebrew prophets and Jesus (Miner et al., 2012). They argue the Muhammad was the last prophet that God revealed Himself to; thus, they refer to him as the greatest prophet of all. Muslims insist that Muhammad was not the author of the Qur’an as Christians believe, instead he was the passive recipient of the revelations that God dictated to him through angel Gabriel (Sahner, 2018). Therefore, Muslims regard Qur’an as God’s final revelation to humankind and claim that the Bible was compromised by the human authors; thus, it is are not authoritative.
In contrast, Christians contend that God revealed Himself to humankind through the books contained in the Bible. The Bible comprises of the Old Testament and New Testament. They assert that although humans were the authors of the Bible, each book included in the scripture is a product of God (Smith, 2005). Christians believe that God superintended the process. Christians contend that what was written in the Bible by the human authors is what God had revealed to humankind. Thus, the teachings entailed in the Bible were not compromised as Muslims argue. Christians contend that the Old and New Testaments entail information how God precisely revealed Himself to the humankind, thus no books should be added after those that make the Bible. According to Christians, the last book in the New Testament was written five centuries before Muhammad established the Islam religion. Christians argue that the Bible is consistent with God’s revelations and its teachings are not corrupted although Muslims argue that the book is compromised.
Christians and Muslims also disagree on Jesus’s death. Christians contend that Jesus was crucified by the Jewish, and he died on the cross. His death was then followed by glorious resurrection. Christians believe that through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, human beings have forgiveness and redemption from sin and reconciliation with God. Contrarily, Muslims believe that Jesus neither died on the cross nor was he killed (Smith, 2005). That is demonstrated in Surah 4:155-159, whereby the Qur’an argues that although the Jews tried to kill Jesus, they did not kill or crucify him, but they thought they did. Muslims argue that Jesus was God’s anointed prophet that He would not allow His only Son to be killed by humankind. Muslims believe that there is no forgiveness and redemption from sins; rather, each person is responsible for his or her actions.
The Implication of the Similarities and Differences
Christians in the West are today part of the world that is becoming more interconnected on many levels. American society is itself becoming increasingly diverse as it comprises individuals associated with different religions. The similarities and differences between Christianity and Islam have already been noted, and the differences between the two religions are real and significant. Although both religious communities have differences in their teachings, Christians should recognize the importance of living peacefully with the Muslims in the American society. As disciples of Jesus Christ, they should love others, including the Muslims, and treat them the way they would want to be treated. Loving others involve seeking their well-being and promoting their good in society.
Questions about the relations between Christianity and Islam continue to get widespread attention as many people are becoming interested in understanding the beliefs of the two religions. The two religions have similar and different beliefs about various aspects. For instance, both Christians and Muslims argue that there is only God, who is the creator of the universe and everything in it. They disagree on the nature of God and what He expects from humankind. Muslims regard God as sovereign, benevolent, and merciful, but He is not loving as quoted in the Bible. Contrarily, Christians see God as loving because He sent His only Son to the world to save humankind from their sins. The differences between the two religions are real and significant. The two religions have interesting histories. Islam is argued to have been established by Muhammad, while Christianity is believed to have started by Jesus Christ and his disciples. However, Christians and Muslims should put the differences aside and develop strong and healthy relationships with others.
Larson, W. (2008). Jesus in Islam and Christianity: Discussing the Similarities and the Differences. Missiology: An International Review, 36(3), 327–341. https://doi.org/10.1177/009182960803600305
Miner, M., Ghobary, B., Dowson, M., & Proctor, M.-T. (2012). Spiritual attachment in Islam and Christianity: Similarities and differences. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 17(1), 79–93. https://doi.org/10.1080/13674676.2012.749452
Randall, V. (2020). Islam and Orientalism in the History and Conquests of the Saracens (1856). In History, Empire, and Islam. Manchester University Press. https://doi.org/10.7765/9781526135827.00011
Rausch, F. (2018). Catholic Christianity in Korean History. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Asian History. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190277727.013.311
Sahner, C. C. (2018). Converting from Islam to Christianity. Christian Martyrs under Islam, 80–117. https://doi.org/10.23943/princeton/9780691179100.003.0003
Smith, J. I. (2005). Islam and Christianity. Christianity: The Complete Guide. https://doi.org/10.5040/9781472972835.0143a