Critical Thinking Assignment (Part Two)
Part Two: Compare/Contrast Islam/Christianity
Origin: Christianity clearly dates back considerably further than Islam. Christianity is said to have first emerged in the mid-1st century C.E. and the origins of Islam as stated in part one of this assignment date back to A.D. 595.
Identity: When comparing Islam to Christianity one could, at first glance, say that the two faiths have a lot in common. And at a glance this assumption would be correct. Both are monotheistic religion that claims there is only one true God. However, to a Christian, and in contrast to Islam, that God is not named Allah, His name is rather YHVH/YHWH, often times transliterated as “Yahweh” as learned from our reading of the Old Testament last week. Another similarity is that both religions use books and stories that are found in the Bible. However, in the case of Islam, the content of these books have been altered by Muhammad to better suite his personal goals for the messages. Another place where Islam and Christianity seem similar is that in both there are human examples of what the followers of either religion should to strive to emulate in their own daily lives. In Islam that person would be the Prophet Muhammad whom was described in the Qur’an as “the most excellent example for all of humanity”.
And many historians have recognized Muhammad to be one of the most successful personalities in history. But for a Christian, that person is Jesus Christ, who wasn’t just a successful personality, but rather the living son of God. So like I stated earlier, there are similarities between the two religions “at first glance”. However, make no mistake, given even the slightest examination of their content one can clearly see that they are in fact very different in their messages and goals for the followers.
Meaning/Purpose: Like Islam Christians too have some fundamental beliefs that help guide and shape their daily actions and worldview. As a matter of fact, aside from the actual identities, Christians share all five of the basic
beliefs that the Islamist have. Christians too believe:
(1)That there is only one God (only His name is “Yahweh” and not “Allah”) (2)The existence of angels (Both religions have)
(3)The prophets (Both religions have)
(4)The holy books (Both religions have) Christians have the Bible and Islam has the Qur’an (5)The day of judgment (Both religions have)
However, even though the two followers share these beliefs, that doesn’t mean they have the same goals and purposes for life. For the devout Christian the primary purpose of life is pretty much straight forward, “Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made,” (Isaiah 43:7).” So the purpose of life for the Christian is to “glorify God”. And in Islam the primary purpose in life would “at first glance” seem to be the same thing. To a Muslim the purpose of life is “ibadah” or worship to the One True Almighty God on Terms and under His Conditions. However, there is one huge difference between the two that can be described in one word, and that word is “surrender”. The word for total surrender, submission, obedience, purity of heart and peace in the Arabic language is “Islam”. For Islam a person “has to” surrender or be obedient whereas for the Christian a person “wants to” believe and accept. I feel this is perhaps one of the largest differences in the two faiths.
Morality: Both Islam and Christianity have strong moral beliefs about what is right and wrong. Both share in the general belief that “man” is not perfect. However, where they differ greatly is as to why. For the Muslim it is a matter of mankind being “misguided” and therefore can be corrected or fixed by the actions of man. All they need to do is follow the rules and guidelines that are provided by Allah in the Qur’an and presto, man is fixed and 70 virgins will be waiting in paradise! According to Islam it is an inwardly act that can fix the problems that curse mankind. Whereas in stark contrast, the Christian believe the problems that curse man aren’t a matter of man simply being misguided but rather sin that is hereditary and stems from the original sin that was committed by Adam and Eve. The Christian believes that the problem with mankind is sin, and that the price of sin is death. Now here is where things get very different; the Christian believes that there is no cure for the problem of sin that plagues mankind. The only way that sin can be dealt with is by grace that is granted by God. There is nothing that man can do but accept God’s grace. It is this outwardly (God’s doings) worldview that guides the fundamental morality for the Christian.
Destiny: In both Islam and Christianity there is a heaven or “paradise” for Islam. And in both faiths there is a judgment day where a person will be judged by God for all of the good and/or bad that they do in their lifetime. However, unlike Islam, for the Christian this Day of Judgment will not be the determining factor as to whether or not they will spend their eternity in either heaven or hell. For the Christian there is no way into heaven other than through the blood of Jesus. The Christian believes that there is nothing that “they” can do that can get them into heaven; it has to be done for them. As I stated earlier, the price of sin is death. Therefore in order to have eternal life in heaven the debt of sin must first be paid. For the Christian this debt has been paid in advance (prior to death) by Jesus Christ. So, in order for the Christian to get into heaven he must first accept Jesus as his/her personal savior and believe that He was the living son of God and that He died on the cross to pay the debt of sin for them. In contrast in Islam the way into heaven is through his or her personal doing. For them it’s all about what they did or did not do in their life that determines if they get to go to heaven.