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Brigitte Jones

RELI 1304: Major World Religions (Online)

Professor Wadhams

December 27, 2007

Islam or Christianity

Religion expresses itself in different ways. Whether it is theoretical, sociological, or

practical; they all play a part in the unconditioned reality of God [called Allah in Islam] and the

conditioned everyday lives of individuals. Upon studying the course, I have learned a lot of

information about Islam, as well as, some interesting information about my personal religion,

Christianity. Although some information may not be completely pleasant in my eyes, it could be

to another individual. The following paper is a reflection of my thoughts.

Islam is a religion that prays in a mosque “[f]ive times a day – sunrise, noon, afternoon,

just after sunset, at dark- [where as] a crier, called the muezzin … summons the faithful to prayer

from the minaret …” (Ellwood, McGraw 388). The cry represents a bell which all the believers

respond to. That was interesting because it symbolizes a respect for Allah, “…‘The God’- the

one and only God” (Ellwood, McGraw 388). Also, I learned that Muslims believe God’s will for

humanity is expressed in the “Qur’an, the book revealed through the prophet Muhammad” by the

angel Gabriel (Ellwood, McGraw 388-389). The Qur’an’s purpose is “to proclaim the oneness

and sovereignty of God. It does not develop a philosophy or tell a story because those are not its

purposes” (Ellwood, McGraw 392). Since the belief is the absolute sovereignty of Allah over all

things, “[t]he fundamental faith of the Qur’an, then, is consistent monotheism” (Ellwood,
McGraw 393). Learning such new information about the Islam religion has helped me to better

understand that religion.

In comparison, I was surprised by the fact that the Qur’an served more than one purpose.

Not only was it the holy book in Islam, but it also reflected the laws. “Islam makes the Qur’an

not only a book of God’s self-revelation, but also a source of practical regulations covering such

matters as marriage, almsgiving, relations with non-Muslims, and punishment of criminal”

Ellwood, McGraw 395). That shows that the “Shari’ah [or law] is the Qur’an as it explicated and

expanded by recognized jurists who depend on the process of hadith, traditions based on extra-

Qur’anic sayings and examples in the life of Muhammad” (Ellwood, McGraw 396). It surprises

me that one can combine religion with law. I always thought theocracy was very contradicting

because how can an individual’s belief actually be enforced as a government law. Then again,

that is the Islam religion that is practiced.

On the contrary, I was surprised unpleasantly by the fact that worshippers must purify

themselves before every prayer. This meant that they must wash their hands and arms up to their

elbows, rinse their mouths and nostrils, and bath their feet all the way up to their ankles

(Ellwood, McGraw 401). They also had to meet other requirements, if possible. “One should

pray in a clean place free of defilement … [o]ne must be modestly dressed … one must articulate

in one’s mind the intention to say the right prayers … [and] one must pray facing in the direction

of Mecca” (Ellwood, McGraw 401). All of that must be accomplished just to worship God

(Allah in Islam). That seems ridiculous and time consuming in my own opinion; however, they

practice their religion in their own way. That is not my place to judge them because of how they

believe, yet I can express my thoughts.

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Personally, I strongly believe in Christianity. I believe the world is made by God and that

Jesus Christ is the connection between God and humanity. As well as, humans were created

individually by God. Christianity went through many changes during medieval period (Ellwood,

McGraw 317). “Theoretical expression became more and more solidified, particularly in regard

to an understanding of the incarnation- how God became human in Christ” (Ellwood, McGraw

317). There were four councils that tried to deal with the same issue - incarnation. There were

different doctrines that underwent theological work: Trinity, Original Sin, & Prevenient Grace.

Regardless, I live with a whole heart for Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. “For God so loved

the world that he gave his only begotten son and whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but

have eternal life” (Holy Bible, NIV: John 3:16).

Although the two religions, Islam and Christianity, are very different, they share similar

aspects. For example, the Qur’an is the most holy book in Islam just as the Bible is the most holy

book in Christianity. Both religions rely on a holy book to guide them. Theoretically, both

religions believe that the origin of the world was created by God (Ellwood, McGraw 377 & 440).

Also, “Christianity, especially in the Greek theologians and mystics, and Islam also went through

a stage in which the deepest emphasis was on understanding with mystically illumined insight

the eternal realities of God and God’s relation to humanity and the creation that underlay the

particulars of the revelation through Jesus or Muhammad” (Ellwood, McGraw 19). This shows

that both religions have tried to clarify the same topics in different manners. Also, “[w]e speak of

love of Christ and the Virgin Mary in the devotion of medieval Europe, [just as those speak] of

passionate Sufi mysticism in Islam” (Ellwood, McGraw 19). That information expresses that

both religions have emotion involved when it comes to worshiping their particular God. “The

founder-religions … have in common that they see in the life and words of the founder the
exemplification and perfect statement of the ideal human life and also in some way see him as

empowering his followers to live it … especially, view the founder’s religion as being

transnational and transcultural and have demonstrated this by spreading it across many

boundaries and seas through missionary activities, as well as, in the case of Christianity and

Islam, by conquest” (Ellwood, McGraw 18). Even though the religions are not the same, they

both are using similar tactics to spread their religion and beliefs. This allows the religion to be

expanded throughout the world.

Islam and Christianity are similar in some aspects but they also differ in many others. For

example, “Jesus has, to say the least, been far more highly regarded by Muslims than

Muhammad has been by Christians” (Ellwood, McGraw 394). Also, “[t]he Qur’an accepts the

virgin birth of Jesus and calls Mary one of the greatest among women, but it says Jesus was born

under a palm tree rather than in a stable. It mentions the Last Supper, but it denies that Jesus was

actually crucified” (Ellwood, McGraw 395). All of that contradicts what the Bible says and the

beliefs of Christianity. The contradictions make individuals think because how can you have two

doctrines say different things, but expect people to still believe. Which then ties back into how

strong of a believer is that person and can they be persuaded to change their mind. Keeping that

in mind, Muslims “consider the older Hebrew and Christian scriptures to be incomplete and

corrupted by human intervention” (Ellwood, McGraw 392). Many individuals can see that Islam

is different than Christianity.

Based on learning about Islam, it has strengthened my belief of Christianity. The reason

being is because I never thought there were so many different types of religion that were

expressed similarly to mine. I grew up knowing only of Christianity, which after taking this

course, I cherish only knowing that because if not, I think I would be confused on my beliefs.
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Learning about the many changes, cultures, and practices; I am glad that I never had to

experience the many contradictions that arose then. Knowing that many contradictions still are

present today, I try to avoid coming into contact with those. I understand that many individuals

still believe in different religions toady; however, I know deep within my heart that there is only

one true God. But I respect the fact that people believe and express themselves in their own,

individual way.
Works Cited

Ellwood, Robert S., and Barbara A. McGraw. Many Peoples, Many Faiths: Women and Men in

the World Religions. 8th ed. New Jersey: Pearson Education, 1992.