Compare and contrast Islam with Christianity, including: Monotheism or Pluralism, Salvation, Afterlife, Heaven/Hell, Suffering and Justice, works, knowledge, Devotion, Reincarnation, and Nirvana. What parallels do you find with Christianity (if any)? What are major differences with Christianity?

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Islam and Christianity share a surprising number of traditions and beliefs and have common bonds that go back to their origins, over two thousand years ago. Nevertheless, there are some precepts of each religion which are not shared, and some teachings which are diametrically opposed.

Following is a comparison of some of the basic tenets of Christianity and Islam. It should be noted that there are some denominations of Christianity and some Islamic sects whose beliefs and teachings vary, sometimes considerably, from these basic tenets.

Origins of Christianity and Islam

Islam and Christianity share the same Abrahamic origins, in that both religions trace their origins to the Israelite prophet Abraham, and believe that their religion and religious traditions flow from Abraham and his descendants. Among Abraham's descendants are the major prophets and religious figures of the Islamic and Christian religions.

Both religions teach that God (Allah, in Arabic) appeared to Abraham in Mesopotamia, and commanded him to move his family to another region on the eastern Mediterranean coast between Mesopotamia and Egypt. This region is called the "Holy Land," and includes all or part of present-day Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, and Syria.

God made a covenant (agreement) with Abraham in which Abraham promised on behalf of his people to have faith in only Him, the one true God, and worship only Him. For His part, God would protect and multiply the children of Abraham, as long Abraham's descendants continued to believe in Him, and maintained the teachings of His faith.

Christians believe that Jesus Christ (c. 4 B.C. - 30 A.D.) founded Christianity.

Muslims (followers of Islam) believe that Muhammed (570-632 A.D.) was not so much a founder of Islam, but rather a prophet who was sent by Allah to restore and preserve the true monotheistic faith and the monotheistic teachings preached before him by Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets.

Scripture

The scripture (sacred writings) of Christianity are contained in the Bible, which encompasses the books of the Old Testament (the ancient Hebrew Bible of Judaism), and the New Testament, the books which describe the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, as well as the history of the early Christian Church.

Christians refer to the Bible as "the Word of God" (2 Timothy 3:16), composed of 66 books compiled from the writings of many authors over a period of 1,500 years, from approximately 1400 B.C. (the Old Testament) to 90 A.D.

The scripture of Islam is the Quran ("recitation," also written as Qur'an or Koran). Muslims believe that the Quran was revealed by Allah solely to Muhammad through the Angel Gabriel over a period of 23 years.

The Quran consists of 114 chapters called surahs, and over 6000 verses called ayat. The Quran is a continuation of earlier revelations from Allah, and contains and reaffirms spiritual messages contained in the Christian Bible.

The Concept of God

Christianity and Islam are monotheistic religions, and their followers believe that there is only one God, and that God is the Creator of all things.

Christians believe in a triune (three-part) God, known as the "Holy Trinity" - the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19).

Muslims don't believe in a triune God, but believe that God is wholly self-contained and strictly monotheistic (Quran 112:1).

Islam and Christianity teach that over the course of human history, God has appeared and spoken to individuals called "prophets," and He has given teachings to them called "revelations."

Christians believe in an all-loving God, who loves believers and non-believers alike. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Muslims believe that Allah loves only those who follow His teachings, but doesn't love non-Muslim non-believers (infidels).

Muslims also believe that what Christians call the Holy Spirit is the same as Angel Gabriel, who appeared to Muhammed and brought the Quran to him from Allah.

Jesus Christ, Prophet or Son of God

Christians believe that Jesus is the second person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God, "true God from true God" (Nicene Creed), who was born of the Virgin Mary.

Muslims believe that Isa (Jesus) was a prophet, sent by Allah and born of the Virgin Mary, but Muslims do not believe that Isa is God, or the Son of God (Quran 5:17).

Christians believe that Jesus was sent to earth by God to atone for all of the sins of mankind by his death, that "...For our sake he was crucified...he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again...and he ascended into heaven..." (Nicene Creed).

Muslims teach that Isa was sent by Allah to proclaim the Injil (gospel), which had been corrupted by mankind over time through additions and alterations.

Muslims don't believe that Isa was crucified (Quran 4:157), but they do believe that he was raised to Heaven by Allah (Quran 4:158).

Sin, Original or Simple Human Weakness

Christians believe that human beings have an inherently sinful nature, known generally as original sin, which they inherited from Adam. They believe that Jesus Christ atoned for original sin by his crucifixion and death (Romans 5:12-17).

In Islam, there is no concept of "original sin." All humans are born without sin, but commit sins because of their inherent human weakness.

Soul

Islam and Christianity share a belief in a person's soul as that person's essential, immortal, spiritual self, although various denominations of Christians and different Islamic sects disagree as to what the concept of a soul means, where the soul resides, and what happens to the soul when a person dies.

Salvation by the Grace of God or Good Works

Christianity teaches, generally, that salvation is realized by atonement for sin, by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9), although the Orthodox church, Protestantism, and Roman Catholicism differ in the way that salvation can be achieved.

In Islam, salvation is achieved through an individual's good works, which must outweigh that person's sins (Quran 23:101-103).

Hell, Temporary or Forever

For Christians, hell is a place of eternal punishment for those who have failed to atone in life for their mortal (most grievous) sins (Matthew 25:46). Once a person's soul is sent to hell, there is no further hope for redemption or any possibility of ever attaining heaven. Some Christian denominations maintained a belief in Purgatory, as a place where souls could atone for venial, or less serious sins, until they can be accepted into Heaven.

In Islam, hell (known as Jahannamis) a place of fire and terrible torment (Quran 25:65, 104:6-7).

In contrast to Christianity, however, hell has several levels, and it's possible for a soul to move up through those levels to attain heaven.

Reincarnation

Christianity and Islam reject the concept of reincarnation of human beings, and Islamic scriptures also reject any idea of reincarnation of Allah, as is taught by Christianity regarding Jesus being incarnated as the Son of God.

Christianity and Islam also teach a linear concept of life. Human beings have only one life. When a person dies, they're judged by God and either rewarded in heaven, or punished in hell.

The Final Days

For Muslims, there will be bodily resurrection and a final judgment. All Muslims will eventually go to heaven, although some must first be purged of their sins in hell. All non-Muslim non-believers are destined to go to hell for eternity.

For Christians, there will also be a bodily resurrection, a final judgement, and the determination of a person's final destination. If a person has atoned for their sins in their life, they'll go to heaven, body and soul. If they haven't atoned for their sins, they'll go to hell, for eternity.

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