By Jafor Ahmed, Academia

Christianity and Islam are the two largest religions in the world. The followers of Christianity are known as Christians and the followers of Islam are known as Muslims. They are both from Abrahamic traditions. Muslims consider Christians as the People of the Book. Christianity and Islam have many points of contact. But there are some things upon which they disagree. The points of disagreement touch every important religious doctrine. To know the similarities and dissimilarities between Islam and Christianity we should know these religions at first.


         Islam is a monotheistic religion originating with the teachings of  prophet Muhammad .The word Islam means “submission”, or the total surrender of oneself to God An adherent of Islam is known as a Muslim meaning “one who submits to God”. Islam is a prophetic religion. It has its origin in the teachings of Prophet Mohammad who is taken by its followers as the messengers (Rasul) of God (Allah).Islam does not disbelieve in the authority of other prophets such as Abraham, Moses and Jesus. But Mohammad is taken as the last and the mightiest. His teachings are regarded as final and they are to be observed and followed by all. Islam is a Semitic religion. That is why it shares a common origin with Judaism and Christianity.

Mohammad was born in Arabia in the year 570 A.D. At that time the Arabia was a land of polytheism and many kinds of ritualism and idolatry were present there. Against these Mohammad preached a religion of strict monotheism and a life of rigorous discipline devoid of any ritualism and idolatry. Thus the religion of Mohammad came to Arabia in the form of a reformation of prevalent religious beliefs and practices. At the age of forty Mohammad received revelation from god through Gabriel. The voice that Mohammad heard in this revelation is reported to be the following

                             “O Mohammad; Thou art the apostle of God and I am Gabriel “

Then Gabriel asked Mohammad to recite the following:

                             “Recite: in the name of thy lord who created,

                             Created man from clots of bloods,

                             Recite! Thy lord is the most beneficent,

                             Who taught by the pen,

                             Taught that which they knew not unto men”

After receiving the divine revelation from God through Gabriel, in the ’hera’ cave he began to spread the message of god to everyone. There were very few as his followers at first but later it was huge. When Abu Bakr the first caliph joined the movement started by Mohammad, it was greatly strengthened. Then it spread swiftly by political patronage and military conquests. Islam is said to be the religion of the book. All the basic principles of Islam as a religion are contained in one book called Quran. Quran is said to be the word of God revealed to Mohammad through Gabriel. The word Quran comes from a root word which means recite. Quran in Islam is regarded as eternal, the uncreated eternal word of Allah. Mohammad got it through Gabriel and recited to his followers. Quran is supplemented by another less important Islamic text, the Hadith , which is comprised of the sayings (Ahadis) and practices of prophet Mohammad and his companions.


         Of all the Semitic religions, Christianity has proved to be the most influential and has dominated a large population of the world, specially the western world. It has its origin in the teachings of Jesus, a Jew by birth and reported to be born of a virgin mother, Mary. The religion seems to be essentially monotheistic, although the idea of trinity found in it sometimes raises doubts whether it is really and strictly to be regarded as a monotheism.

Although the Christians claim that their religion has directly come out of the revelations and insights of Jesus it can hardly be disputed that Christianity owes much for its origin to Judaism. Jesus himself was a Jew and he never thought of founding a new religion, while he was preaching his own religious ideas, he was only trying to cleanse Judaism of the rubbish which clustered around it in course of time.  Jesus only wanted to play the role of a reformer, but it is the accident of time that his teachings, which sometimes differed from the traditional Jewish beliefs and practices, gave birth to a new religion of which he was begun to be treated as a founder. He himself repeatedly asserted that he had come not to destroy (the old faith), but to fulfill the law.

The old testament of the bible is as much as sacred text for the Christians as for the Jews. Only the Christians have also a new testament incorporating specially the teachings of Jesus. The following two-sentence summary of the commandments as rendered by Jesus is nothing but a more or less repetition of the Jewish Torah:

                        “Thou shalt love the lord thy god with all the heart, and with all thy soul,

                                                               And with thy entire mind”

                                               “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”

it goes without saying  that Christianity originated in the teachings of Jesus, but it is to be clearly taken in mind that what at present constitutes the body of Christian beliefs and practices is not in its entirety the gift of Jesus alone. There have been a host of other saints, mystics and thinkers who have added much of it. According to many it is Paul, and not Jesus, who should be regarded as the real founder of Christianity. Although Christianity, without doubt originated in the teachings of Jesus, it took definite shape as a religion at the hands of St.Paul. St.Paul not only propagated the teachings of Jesus with full sense of devotion and honesty, but also added important ideas from his own side. And thus Christianity as it spread may be taken as Christianity of Jesus teachings combined with Paul’s. the treatment of the religion should be based here mainly on the teachings of Jesus himself ,although it should not be ignored that the beliefs and ideas of the important Christian saints who followed Jesus and made Christianity what really it is today by adding much of their own side by way of interpretation, explanation and ramification.

Christianity and Islam share much common ground. Both trace their roots to Abraham. Both believe in prophecy, Gods messengers, revelation scripture, the resurrection of dead, and the centrality of religious community. This last element is especially important. Both Christianity and Islam have a communitarian dimension: what ‘Church’ is to Christianity the ‘Ummah’ is to Islam. Despite these significant similarities, however, these two world religions have a number of significant dissimilarities as well.

To illustrate the similarities and dissimilarities between the two largest religions of the world, the followings are given:

Similarities between Islam and Christianity: 

  1. Monotheistic religion: Christianity and Islam both believe in the reality of only one supreme God. There is only one god who is the creator and the sustainer of the universe. Believe that God, who is the righteous judge, is also gracious and merciful. According to Christianity and Islam god is unlimited, infinite, omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. He is eternal and his existence is necessary.
  2. Sovereignty of God: It is clear from the above that according to Islam and Christianity god , as the supreme reality, is the lone creator of everything. He is not only the creator but also the sustainer and destroyer of everything. The world is entirely dependent on him. He is all- powerful, omnipotent.
  3. Believes in Prophets and Prophecy: Islam and Christianity both have Prophets and prophecy. Both believe God sent prophets such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Joseph, John the Baptist, Jesus etc. Muslims and Christians both consider the Old Testament and the New Testament as divine scriptures.
  4. Both believe in Angels: Islam and Christianity both believe in Angels. They also believe in a evil being Satan. Angels are always ready to carry out God’s orders. There is no distinction of sex amongst the angels, as they are all spiritual. Christians know Satan as the Devil and Muslims know Satan as Iblis. They also believe in Jinn.
  5. Judgment day: Christians and Muslims believe in a life after death comprising of the resurrection of the dead on the Day of Judgment and retribution of reward and punishment by god in the form of membership of heaven and hell according to one’s earthly deeds. Both of the religions eschatology is well defined and graphically described.
  6. Heaven and Hell: Heaven and Hell are regarded by Islam and Christianity as permanent adobes of the righteous and the evil doers respectively after their physical death. Hell is eternal damnation and heaven is the symbol of eternal peaceful life in constant followship with God.
  7. Birth of Jesus: Both religions believe in virgin birth. According to the Quran and the Bible Jesus was conceived by a miracle of God himself before Jesus’s mother Marry had had any sexual relationship. Muslim and Christians both believe that it was just a miracle done by the almighty God.
  8. Identity of Jesus: Islam and Christianity both consider Jesus as a prophet. Though there are many complexities about the identity of Jesus in Christianity they do believe that jesus was a prophet of God.
  9. Second coming of Jesus: Both religions have affirmed the second coming of Jesus. An anti-Christ will appear on earth before the Day of Judgment. Jesus Christ will return by descending from heaven and will kill the Anti-Christ.

Dissimilarities between Islam and Christianity: 

  1. Nature of God: Today, most Christians believe in the Trinity, meaning that God has 3 forms (Father, Son, Holy Ghost/ Spirit).  The concept of trinity was not adopted by Christianity until the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. Some of the early Christians were Unitarians. While in Islam, Trinity is totally rejected. Jesus is neither God, nor Son of God (in the literal sense). Jesus was a human prophet. Muslims worship only God, the one and only the creator of the universe. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and The word was god ...The word became flash and dwelt among us”  - John 1:1 and 14                                                                                                                                                                          'Isa (Jesus) was simply a created human being and a slave of Allah'   - An- Nisa 4:172
  2. Status of Bible: The holy scripture of Christians is the Holy Bible and the holy scripture of the Muslims is the Holy Quran. Muslims consider Christians as the People of the Book. To be a Muslim one must believe in the existence of the Holy Bible. From a Muslim standpoint, belief in the Injil (the original Gospel of Jesus) is an important part of Islamic theology, although Muslims view the current Gospels as corrupted. The Christians don’t believe that the Holy Quran is a holy or divine scripture.
  3. Sacred text: The sacred text of the Christians is the Holy Bible, a collection of 66 canonical books in two parts (the Old Testament and the New Testament), 39 in the old and 27 in the New Testament. The sacred texts of the Muslims are the Holy Quran and the Hadith (sayings and doings of Prophet Mohammad).
  4. Death of Jesus: The Christians believe that Jesus died by Crucifixion followed by resurrection. “We preach Christ crucified a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to Gentiles” ( 1 Corinthians 1:23). The Muslims believe that Jesus did not die, but ascended into heaven during crucifixion. “In reality he was not killed and crucified and those who said he was. crucified lied”(An- Nisa 4:157).
  5. Resurrection of Jesus: The Christians believe that Jesus was resurrected after 3 days of his crucifixions. The Muslims believe that he did not die, but ascended into heaven during crucifixion.
  6. Human nature: The concept of human nature in Christianity is; Originally God created men and women in God's image. Humankind inherited "original sin" from Adam, meaning he is in rebellion against God and enslaved to sin. Once a person is "born again," they receive a new nature from the Holy Spirit. The Islamic concept of human nature is; every human being is good and sin free by born. Man has equal ability to do good or evil. It’s all about the choices he makes.
  7. Day of worship: Worship should be a continual process in the lives of Christians. Sunday (The Lord's Day) is usually considered the Sabbath Day and set apart for church services, but some denominations celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday. The Muslims observes 5 obligatory prayer times a day; including the Friday prayer.
  8. Major sacred rituals: The Christian major sacred rituals are the sacraments including baptism and Holy Communion (Eucharist). In Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism, five more are added, viz: confirmation, marriage, penance, holy orders and anointing of the sick. Prayer is also an important part of the faith. Five important rituals (known as the pillars of Islam): Shahadah- a profession of faith; Salat-prayer five times daily; Zakat- alms giving; Sawm- fasting; Hajj- pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah.
  9. Means of salvation: The concept of means of salvation in Christianity differs depending on which sect or denomination is followed. Some believe that salvation is secured through prayer and faith alone in Jesus Christ, others that baptism or other ordinances are necessary. Salvation is a completely free gift from the Lord and comes by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ, but one must accept Jesus into their heart and be born again to receive salvation. The concept of means of salvation in Islam is: correct belief, good deeds and observe the five pillars regularly.


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