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Solely in regards to their status among the followers of their respective religions, Muhammad and Jesus are not terribly different; both are the primary human figures to their faith, derive their authority directly from God, and serve as role models for their followers. They also state that their message is not for one people alone, but for all, and depict the Abrahamic God in a similar "fatherly" way; caring for humans, but ready to punish them for defiance.
Several of the differences include;
- Muhammad is not directly related to God. While it is said that Muhammad embodies Islam, he never claims to be divine or part of God. Islam emphasizes that God is "oneness" and cannot be subdivided into aspects in the way that Christianity observes a Father, Son and Spirit. The Shahadah, the Muslim statement of faith, specifically refers to Muhammad as a messenger or prophet. However, Jesus never directly stated anything to the effect of "I am the Son of God" either - rather he made allusions to it, or the apostles said it, and Jesus did not deny it. It may be argued that the (non)attribution of divinity was largely the work of the believers and not the prophets themselves.
- Muhammad is not prophesized to return from death, be resurrected, or in any other way "come back to life" in the way that Jesus is said to have done. However, Jesus is prophesized to return to Earth in Islam, but he is believed by Muslims to be a Muslim himself, and not the Christian "version" of Jesus. That is to say, Islam does not accept that Jesus is or was the Son of God, but he was a divinely chosen prophet. His "death" was in fact an illusion, and he never died; God "ascended" him into heaven.
- In modern times, it may be argued that Muhammad's status as a role model is followed to a greater degree of fastidiousness by Muslims than Jesus is by Christians. For example, the prevalence and political threat of Wahhabi Islam and Sharia law, which require particular behaviors and appearances, has no modern equivalent among Christian society. Many of these modeled behaviors are drawn directly from Muhammad.
- Modern interpretations of both figures are concerned with the contradictions between 21st century morals and philosophy and the integrity of religious tradition. Generally speaking, the message and interpretation of these figures go along a scale of "liberal" to "conservative", with Christianity arguably taking the liberal route, and Islam taking the conservative one. Furthermore, Muhammad is interpreted as a perfect figure who existed in the past, whereas Jesus is a perfect figure who continues to exist.
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