Islam and christianity compared

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--A. Ralph Johnson


-Highlighting, bolding and underlining of Koran quotations supplied for emphasis by A.R.J.

-Number in brackets [#] before Surahs is order they were given.

-References to the Koran are to the Noble Quran1

(Note: brackets indicate the translator’s commentary. Highlights and underlines are by A.R.J. for emphasis.)
The religion of Islam began with a young Arab caravan leader named Muhammad born about 570 A.D. into the ruling Koreish tribe in Mecca, a bustling city in Arabia on the caravan route near the Red Sea. His father, Abdullah, died before he was born and his mother died when he was six. He was then taken in by his grandfather, Abdul Mutalleb. His grandfather died two years later and he was reared by his paternal uncle, Abu Taleb. At age twenty-five he was employed by a wealthy widow named Khadija who was so impressed that she married him. This gave him freedom to meditate and pursue activities of his choosing.
The Arab tribes mostly believed in many gods, of whom Allah, the moon god, was considered the greatest. Mecca had a cubical structure called the Caaba, reputably built by Abraham, over which the Koreish held guardianship, in which the tribes kept many images and a black meteorite stone. In the area of Mecca, on his caravan travels, and through members of his wife’s family, Muhammad became acquainted with the teachings of Jews and Nestorian Christians who believed in one God and rejected the Trinity. He drew heavily upon this experience in developing his own religious perspective.
He spent much time in meditation in the wilderness three miles from Mecca. In the year 610 A.D., when Muhammad was about 40 years old, he claimed that the angel, Gabriel, appeared to him in a dream2 in a cave on Mount Hira. The angel commanded him to “read,”3 telling him he was a prophet of God. Fearing this was from an evil spirit, in a trembling and agitated state of mind, he returned to his wife, Khadija, and told her what had taken place. She consulted her cousin, Waraka bin Naufal, who assured Muhammad that he had received a heavenly visit just as had come to Moses, and he was to be a prophet of his people. He later received another vision telling him to “rise and warn.4 Thus, in 613 A.D. he began publicly preaching in Mecca that Allah was the only true God.
As his following increased, opposition grew. His uncle died, under whom he had received protection at Mecca.5 His wife also died, and in September, 622 A.D. he fled on his famed Hegira, to Yathrib, later called, “Medina,” where he and his followers were accepted.
While there, he raided camel caravans of the Koroishites from Mecca. 6 On one raid they learned of it in advance and sent a force of around 1,000 against him.7 However, with some 300 Muhammad gave them a resounding defeat. This was called, the Battle of Badr,8 which greatly enhanced his acceptance as a prophet.
The following year (625 A.D.) the Meccans, in retaliation, sent a force of around 3,000 against the Muslims in Medina. They inflicted a serious defeat at the battle of Uhud,9 in which Muhammad was wounded and many of his men slain. Muhammad scarcely escaped with his life.10
Two years later, in 627 A.D., the Koroishites mounted a full-scale attack on Medina with 10,000 troops. Muhammad had the Medinians dig a deep trench so as to render the assault with horsemen ineffective. After besieging the city for several weeks the Meccans finally gave up and went home.
In 630 A.D. Muhammad returned to Mecca with a large force and it submitted. He removed the idols in the Kaaba, and made it the center of Muslim worship. The black stone, however, was retained and remains to this day an object of veneration.
From that time, Muhammad sent armies to forcibly subjugate and incorporate the surrounding nations into Islam. He died in 632 A.D. at the age of 63.
After Muhammad’s death his successors pursued the Saracen conquests, spreading the Muslim religion throughout Arabia, Persia and on to India and China to the east. To the west it advanced through Palestine, Egypt, across North Africa, up through Spain and across the Pyrenees Mountains into France, where it was finally turned back in 732 AD by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours. From Syria, Muslim forces also slowly pushed their way up through Asia Minor. They were resisted for centuries by the Eastern Roman Byzantine Empire whose capital was Constantinople, situated on a peninsula that overlooked the Bosphorus and Dardanelle Straits, the waterway between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.
Islam was eventually embraced by the Seljuk Turks. In 1057 Togrul was commissioned by the Caliph at Baghdad as temporal lieutenant of the vicar of the prophet11 and they expanded their control over most of the Saracen Empire. In 1258 the Mongols conquered Baghdad and were soon absorbed into Islam. Finally, the Ottoman Turks rose to power and swept across the Bosphorus into Europe and conquered Greece. Constantinople fell in 1453 and was renamed Istanbul. Islam reached its zenith under Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent who died in 1566, after which the empire began to decline.
In 1492 they were driven from power in Spain. In eastern Europe, their conquest rolled on up to the doors of Hungary and Austria, where in 1683 it was finally defeated at the gates of Vienna by Sobieski and driven back across the Danube.
Expansion and colonization by England, Russia and France (especially Napoleon in Egypt), during the 17th --19th centuries, and fragmentation within, hastened it's decline. During World War I, it allied itself with Germany, and following it's defeat fell mostly under English and French domination in 1924. In World War II it again was allied with Germany and lost. It then became allied with the Soviet Union but when that fell apart they were left mostly a group of ineffectual states. However, with the discovery of oil their fortunes and influence around the world greatly resurged.
Islam is the second largest religion in the world, with Christianity almost twice as large. Its empire remains as a widespread group of volatile autocratic states warring within and against each other, and especially against non-Muslims. While at times over the centuries, Islam in many areas has been relatively tolerant, its policies of restriction, taxation and humiliation12 have generally suppressed Christianity in lands under Muslim control.
Today Islam is mostly divided into two sects, Sunnites (more liberal, comprising about 80% of Muslims) spread around the world, and Shiites, (generally more fundamentalist, about 10%) primarily centered in Iran. There are also other smaller sects and sub-sects.
Sunnites accept Abu Bakr (632-634) and Uthman (644-656) as caliphs (“successors”) following the death of Muhammad. Shiites believe that Ali (656-661), fourth caliph and son-in-law of Muhammad, was the rightful heir. Ali was assassinated in 661 AD, by Muawiyah, the founder of the Umayyad Dynasty, who took his place as Caliph. This ignited the fiery schism between Sunnites and Shiites that burns to this day.
Islam’s holy book is the Koran, containing 114 Surahs, or chapters, (about 10,000 words smaller than the New Testament) written in poetic style, claimed to be the words of God given to Muhammad in visions. These are not in chronological order and there are two different numbering systems for the verses, which sometimes creates confusion in locating citations. Longer Surah’s are mostly closer to the beginning.
Muhammad, is called “the prophet who can neither read nor write.”13 According to this, he wrote nothing. His followers memorized his teachings or recorded them on various types of materials. Muhammad died in 632 A.D. and for a while these records were somewhat disorganized with conflicting versions. During the battles following the death of Muhammad, after some of those who memorized portions of the Koran had been killed in the Battle of Yamama, concern arose that the teachings would be lost. During the caliphates of Abu Bakr and Uthman (644-656 A.D.), the records were collected and integrated into one book. Other versions of the Koran, along with the source materials, were then ordered destroyed.14
To interpret the Koran and to find guidance in their daily lives, Muslims also follow the practices and traditions (Sunnah) of the Prophet which include his sayings (Hadiths). (See at the end of this study.)
Muslims represent Islam as based on five pillars:

  1. Affirmation that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet

  2. Five daily ritual prayers (Salat) facing Mecca; (Surah 2:144, 149-150; 33:35)

  3. Fasting (Sawm) from dawn to sunset during the month of Ramadan; (Surah 2:183-187; 33:35)

  4. Making the pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca at least once in a lifetime if financially capable; (Surah 2:197-200; 22:26-29)

  5. Paying a tax (Zakat) of 2-1/2% on one's capital.

Muslims also hold to a body of religious law, developed early in Islamic history, called al-Shari'ah. This code is considered to be the embodiment of the complete will of God and it governs all areas of Muslim lives-- social, economic, political, moral, and spiritual. In Islamic law, there is no distinction between secular and religious. Muslims are expected to work to establish this as the law of any nation in which they gain dominance--and indeed, throughout the whole world. The ambition of many Muslims is to restore the Caliphate as a “United States of Islam.”
Historically, in nations that have come under Islamic law, Christians have been required to pay an oppressive tax (Jizya—protection money) and have been repressed and severely restricted in the practice of their religion. The alternatives have been paying tribute, conversion, or the sword.
Surah 9:29 [#113] Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allâh, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allâh and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islâm) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

Not only did the Christians and Jews have to pay a repressive tax, they had to be humiliated. History tells us what that means in practical terms:
"Thus, for Mahmud ibn 'Umar al-Zamakhshari (1075-1144), author of a standard commentary on the Qur'an, the meaning of these words is that 'the jizya shall be taken from them with belittlement and humiliation. He [the dhimmi, i.e., the non Muslim subject of the Muslim state] shall come in person, walking not riding. When he pays, he shall stand, while the tax collector sits. The collector shall seize him by the scruff of the neck, shake him, and say: 'Pay the jizya', and when he pays it he shall be slapped on the nape of his neck.' Other authorities add similar details - such as, for example, that the dhimmi must appear with bent back and bowed head, that the tax collector must treat him with disdain and even with violence, seizing his beard and slapping his cheeks, and the like. A piece of symbolism prescribed in many law books is the dhimmi's hand must be below, the tax collector's hand above, when the money changes hands. The purpose of all this is made clear by a fifteenth-century jurist of the rigorous Hanbalai school who, after prescribing these and similar acts of ritual humiliation to be performed in public 'so that all may enjoy the spectacle,' concludes: 'Perhaps in the end they will come to believe in God and His Prophet, and thus be delivered from this shameful yoke.' 15
Islam recognizes no other religion as valid.
Surah 3:85 [#89] If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (Submission to Allah), Never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (their selves in the hell fire).
Surah 98:6. [#100] Verily, those who disbelieve (in the religion of Islâm, the Qur'ân and Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) from among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and Al-Mushrikûn will abide in the Fire of Hell. They are the worst of creatures.
In general, Christians are prohibited from anything that might influence Muslims religiously.

-They are not allowed to teach, broadcast or invite Muslims to listen to their beliefs.

-They are forbidden to pray or read their sacred books, where it may be heard by Muslims.

-They are not allowed to publish or advertise religious books or periodicals for the public.

-They are not allowed to publicly display Christian emblems.

-They are not allowed to build new churches, and often are highly restricted in making repairs to old ones. Compounding this, Muslims have often demolished non-Muslim houses of worship or turned them into Mosques.

-In many Muslim controlled areas Christians have been given no protection, humiliated, discriminated against in the courts, their possessions seized or destroyed, subjected to violence, and killed.
Criticism of Islam, especially after taking the oath of a believer, is prohibited upon pain of death.
Surah 9:12. [#113] But if they violate their oaths after their covenant, and attack your religion with disapproval and criticism then fight (you) the leaders of disbelief (chiefs of Quraish - pagans of Makkah) - for surely their oaths are nothing to them - so that they may stop (evil actions).
Along with many other rules and customs, Muslims are bound to a code regulating food and cleanliness. This excludes certain kinds of food such as pork, carnivorous animals and birds, blood, animals not ritually slaughtered, and animals sacrificed in a name other than Allah. (Surah 5:3; 16:115). Intoxicants, such as alcoholic drinks and drugs are prohibited (Surah 2:219; 5:90-91). It requires various washings and separations from participation in religious activities during menstrual cycles etc. Gambling and Usury are also prohibited: (Surah 2:275).
General information:

Friday is the Muslim day of weekly special observance. (Surah 62:9)

Buildings for religious meeting and activities are called “Mosques.”

Ministers who lead the Mosques are called “Imams.”

Religious scholars are called, “Mullahs.”

Muslims circumcise their sons and some, even their daughters.

Their proclamations of legally binding interpretations of the Quran applied to a contemporary issue are called “fatwa’s.”
The Koran calls Christians and Jews “people of the Book” (5:68; 29:46-47).
Surah 5:68. [#112] Say (O Muhammad SAW) "O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! You have nothing (as regards guidance) till you act according to the Taurât (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel), and what has (now) been sent down to you from your Lord (the Qur'ân)." Verily, that which has been sent down to you (Muhammad SAW) from your Lord increases in many of them their obstinate rebellion and disbelief. So be not sorrowful over the people who disbelieve.
As “people of the Book,” Christians rely on what the Book –the Bible, says (Mark 14:49; John 10:35; 2Timothy 3:16-17; 2Peter 1:20). Thus, in this discussion, we compare the teachings of Islam with those of the Bible.16

Muslims believe in Moses and Jesus.

Surah 3:84 [#89] Say (O Muhammad SAW): "We believe in Allâh and in what has been sent down to us, and what was sent down to Ibrâhim (Abraham), Ismâ'il (Ishmael), Ishâque (Isaac), Ya'qûb (Jacob) and Al-Asbât [the twelve sons of Ya'qûb (Jacob)] and what was given to Mûsa (Moses), 'Iesa (Jesus) and the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between one another among them and to Him (Allâh) we have submitted (in Islâm)."
However, the Muslim view of Moses and Jesus differs greatly from the “Book” of Jews and Christians. Muslims regard Muhammad as the last and greatest prophet. Some will deny they regard Muhammad as superior but their passion about him is clearly shown when all around the world they will riot and burn down the embassies of countries where some newspaper prints an uncomplimentary cartoon of Muhammad. They don’t do this when Jesus is blasphemed.
While Muslims profess to accept the writings of Moses, the Psalms, and the Gospels, (Surah 21:105) in fact they consider these to be corrupted and unreliable.

Surah 3:78. [#89] There is among them a section who distort the Book with their tongues: (As they read) you would think it is a part of the Book, but it is no part of the Book; and they say, "That is from Allah," but it is not from Allah. It is they who tell a lie against Allah, and (well) they know it!

Surah 5:15. [#112] O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Now has come to you Our Messenger (Muhammad SAW) explaining to you much of that which you used to hide from the Scripture and passing over (i.e. leaving out without explaining) much. Indeed, there has come to you from Allâh a light (Prophet Muhammad SAW) and a plain Book (this Qur'ân). (See also Surah 5:14 -ARJ)
Muslims only accept what agrees with the Koran and Muslim teachings. They cite the Bible as authority only insofar as it can be construed as supporting their beliefs, or to be criticized. Their main argument is that the Bible cannot be relied upon since we do not have the original manuscripts.
However, neither do they have the original manuscripts of the Koran. Mohammad wrote nothing. His words were written down by others on various objects. There were no complete copies of the Koran prior to it being put together by Uthman years after the death of the prophet. Some things had even been lost and there was disagreement as to what should be included. When it was completed, the original source documents were destroyed.
The fact is that copies and portions of Christian scriptures have been found as early as the second century A.D., and we have much of it quoted in many other documents that go farther back than that. The variations between manuscripts are minor. The Old Testament copies go back as early as 150 BC. The claim that the content of the original documents has been greatly modified is a gross misrepresentation.
There are many differences between Christianity and Islam but two key issues place them poles apart—

  1. Who Jesus is.

  2. What Jesus did.

Islam teaches that Jesus was only a great prophet, just one of many.*
*See list of prophets in the Koran at the end of this study.
Surah 5:75. [#112] The Messiah ['Iesa (Jesus)], son of Maryam (Mary), was no more than a Messenger; many were the Messengers that passed away before him. His mother [Maryam (Mary)] was a Siddiqah [i.e. she believed in the words of Allâh and His Books (see Verse 66:12)]. They both used to eat food (as any other human being, while Allâh does not eat). Look how We make the Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) clear to them, yet look how they are deluded away (from the truth).
Surah 4:171: [#92] O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Do not exceed the limits in your religion, nor say of Allâh aught but the truth. The Messiah 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), was (no more than) a Messenger of Allâh and His Word, ("Be!" - and he was) which He bestowed on Maryam (Mary) and a spirit (Rûh) created by Him; so believe in Allâh and His Messengers. Say not: "Three (trinity)!" Cease! (it is) better for you. For Allâh is (the only) One Ilâh (God), Glory be to Him (Far Exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allâh is All­Sufficient as a Disposer of affairs.
The “Book” (Greek: “Biblos”> English: “Bible”) teaches that Jesus is “God” (John 1:1; Isaiah 9:6; John 20:28; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:6-8). He existed in the beginning as the “Word” (John 1:1). Through him all things were created (John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Hebrews 1:10). He is to be worshipped (Heb 1:6). He was in the form of God, but emptied himself (Philippians 2:6-7), and was made flesh (John 1:14). He was the “fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). He came as the Messiah (Greek: “Christ”—anointed one) as prophesied in the Old Testament Scriptures.
For further evidence that Jesus is part of the one Triune Godhead, see the article WHO IS JESUS—GOD OR “A GOD”? by A. Ralph Johnson

The “Book” of Christians contends that Jesus was crucified on the cross for the sins of the whole world, was raised from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of the Father until all things are subdued under his feet. (1Cor 15:1-26)

Muslims deny that Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead, or that his death provides forgiveness of sin.

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