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A Comparative Study of Christianity and Islam
--Collaborated by Lin Chuangsen, Lin Fan, Zheng Feng & Zheng Jia I. Introduction Christianity and Islam, along with Buddhism, are considered to be the world’s three largest religions. As a particular form of human experience with distinctive qualities and patterns, they play an important part in all human cultures. Christianity and Islam are closely related to each other, because they both revere Abraham and certain other patriarchs mentioned in the Bible as their spiritual ancestors. However, their similar points are not nearly guarantee that their followers can get along, owing to numerous differences between them. And it has been proved that most of the religiously motivated conflicts, mass crimes against humanity and genocides in the 20th century were between Muslims and Christians. Thus, it should be of great value to probe into the similarities and differences between these two religions. II. Similarities Firstly, the origination for both religions has a lot to do with the class conflict and oppression. They both came into being in response to people’s eagerness for peace and stabilization. Secondly, both religions profess monotheism, holding belief in a single God. Thirdly, they both have internal divisions, with various wings of unique beliefs and practices. Christianity has many more wings, such as Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, the Anglican, the Protestant and many others. As for Islam, there’re three main wings, namely Shi’ite (conservative), Sunni (moderate) and Sufi (mystical). Fourthly, they both believe in life after death, maintaining that people will go to either Heaven or Hell according to their deeds, good or evil. Fifthly, both religions show the same reaction to apostasy, practicing execution to apostates. Finally, both religions have substantial representation in all the populated continents. III. Differences 1. About the religions themselves 1) Meaning of the name. “Christianity” is a Greek word meaning Messiah, a believer in Christ. But the word “Islam”, in the Arabic language, means “surrender” or “submission”—submission to the will of God. 2) Name of a believer. A follower of Christianity is called a Christian while a follower of Islam is called a Muslim. 3) Date of founding. Christianity was founded by Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth at the middle period of the 1st century, much earlier than the founding of Islam which was created by Muhammad in the early 7th century. 4) Original home. Jerusalem had been the center of the Christian movement at least until its destruction by Roman armies in AD 70, and it was from this center that Christianity radiated to other cities and towns in Palestine and beyond. Islam, however, was originated in the Arabian Peninsula and gradually spread into Syria, Egypt, North Africa, and Spain to the west, and into Persia, India, and, by the end of the 10th century, beyond to the
In Christians’ eyes. According to some rough statistical calculation. 4) Status of Adam and Eve. man is born with such an original sin and it’s Jesus Christ who came to redeem humans from this original sin so that humankind can return to God at the end of time. all-knowing God. it has been noticed that numbers of Christians have remained quite steady for decades while Muslims keep increasing with a growth rate of about 0. all Muslims belong to one community. And it is estimated that Islam. who created the universe. About their beliefs 1) Concept of deity. a core set of beliefs continues to provide the basis for a shared identity and affinity among Muslims. the percentage of the world’s population Muslims take is up to 33% or so while Christianity occupies merely 20%. Adam and Eve fall from Paradise as a result of disobeying God’s prohibition. In contrast. Today about 1 billion Muslims are spread over 40 predominantly Muslim countries and 5 continents. 2. Despite the political and ethnic diversity of Muslim countries. Muslims. but an honor bestowed on them by God.Paper for the optional course Introduction to European Culture east. and all of humanity is cast out of Paradise as punishment. and even differences in religious practice. as well as the Islamic teaching that all Muslims are equal before God. What’s more. race. irrespective of their ethnic or national background. nationality. As for his death. Christians believed that Yeshua was executed by Roman Army and eventually ascended to Heaven while Muslims held that Yeshua was neither killed nor crucified nor suffered death but he just ascended alive into Paradise. and worship him as God. But Yeshua is very highly respected as the second-last prophet. is to become the most popular world religion in the near future.6% per year. It has been pointed out by most religion theorists that Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world. and their numbers are growing at a rate unmatched by that of any other religion in the world. rather than Christianity. Adam and Eve repented and were forgiven by God. Both Muslims and the Conservative Christians insist on Yeshua’s virgin birth while the liberal Christians maintain his normal birth. Most Christians believe in the Trinity—three persons in one Godhead. Christians generally consider Yeshua to be the Son of God. provides the basis for a collective sense of loyalty to God that transcends class. 2) Status of Yeshua. indivisible. the descent by Adam and Eve to earth from Paradise was not a fall. This rigorous monotheism. the Muslims maintain that Adam and Eve were free from all major sins and faults. however. Adam and his progeny were appointed as God's messengers and vice 2 . Thus. insist that there is only one all-powerful. 3) Birth and death of Yeshua. Consequently. They call it Allah. After their initial disobedience. Son and Holy Spirit. 5) Their development and percentage of the world’s population as followers. namely Father. part of the Trinity.
For Christianity. Statues are quite common in some denominations in Christian communities while statues are absolutely forbidden in Muslim communities. Christians hold that a baby is born with a sin nature. 3) The relation between church and state.Paper for the optional course Introduction to European Culture regents. The Holy book embraced by Christians is the Bible which the Conservatives consider to be the inerrant word of God while the Liberals look upon as a historical spiritual document. 3. 8) Treatment of Jewish people. On the contrary. 7) Confessing sins. church and state are largely considered to be separated from each other. however. marriages between conservative Christians and others are allowed. The case in Muslim countries is more or less the same as that in the Eastern Orthodox. 6) Status at birth. a baby is born in a pure state of submission to Islam. inter-faith marriages are practiced. separated from God. In the Eastern Orthodox church. The worship center for Christians is called church or cathedral while that for Muslims is called Mosque. church and state are invariably integrated. But recently. Conservative and Liberal Christians differ greatly in their attitudes towards women. Muslims’ Holy book is Qu’ran which is regarded as the timeless word of God. anti-semitism. due to strong influence by cultural traditions. 5) Holy book and its status and original languages. A Muslim woman may not be married to a non-Muslim man. Christians practiced prolonged and widespread anti-Judaism. 7) Marriage. “the like of which no human can produce”. About their practices 1) Name of worship center. as of Islam. oppression and mass murder to Jewish people while Muslims showed general tolerance to them apart from the additional taxation. And God needs to give him grace so that he may be saved. 2) Worship date. But within Conservative Christianity. Historically. changes in their attitudes have taken place. originally written in Arabic. their law covers both moral and legal matters and the legislation stresses the prerogative of God. their law is generally restricted to legal matters and the legislation lays strong emphasis on the prerogative of the people. women are always severely oppressed. Aramaic and Greek are all its original languages. 4) Law and legislation. Hebrew. But to Muslims. and were entrusted by God with the guardianship of the earth. And we can therefore discover that most Muslim countries are dictatorships. But in Muslim countries. To Christians. A Christian always confesses his sins to either God or a priest while a Muslim would do to Allah. 6) Status of women. 5) Use of statues. In Muslims’ view. The Christians practice their worship on Sundays while the Muslims do it on Fridays. we can find that most Christian countries are democracies. Christians have lessened their anti-semitism 3 . Thus.
as the world’s major religions. And this openness to new members may partly account for the faster growth of the Muslim community. Children born to Muslim parents are automatically considered Muslim. Muslims. have turned their tolerance into massive opposition. such a comparative study of the two religions must necessarily be somewhat simplistic and lacking in precision. 程裕祯《中国文化要略》，外语教学与研究出版社，1998 2. a non-Muslim can convert to Islam by declaring himself or herself to be a Muslim. 罗选民《英美社会与文化》，华中理工大学出版社，1997 3. And it must be pointed out that owing to our superficial knowledge on religion and the scarcity of relevant materials on hand. their reaction to apostasy and so on. their belief in monotheism and life after death. A person’s declaration of faith is sufficient evidence of conversion to Islam and need not be confirmed by others or by religious authorities. Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library 2003. such as the cause for their creation. IV. however. discrimination and physical attacks since the creation of the State of Israel and the occupation of Palestine. Islam is much more open to new members than Christianity. References: 1.Paper for the optional course Introduction to European Culture from historical levels and gradually showed support of Israel. 9) Openness to new members. their internal divisibility into various wings. _____________________________________________________________________ 英语双学位班：林创森（学号：000114154）林 帆（学号：000114155） 郑 峰（学号：000334548）郑 佳（学号：000334547） 4 . Relatively speaking. Christianity and Islam do have some features in common. © 1993-2002 Microsoft Corporation. which probably become the main origin of many current religious conflicts. Conclusion All in all. And at any time. But we should admit that a lot more differences regarding different aspects lie between the two religions. particularly since the Second World War.