Published 16 Feb 2017
Christianity and Islam are currently the largest religion in the world. History of origin of both religions throws back into ancient times and now they have become not just religions but rather basis for so different cultures: European and Arabian. However, regardless the differences between these religions and cultures and despite the fact that Christianity is six centuries older than Islam both of them (and also Judaism) are closely related religions. Because they all revere Abraham and certain other patriarchs mentioned in the Bible as their spiritual ancestors, they are called Abrahamic religions. However, their many points of similarity cannot guarantee peaceful and quiet coexistence of their followers. Most of the serious religiously motivated conflicts, mass crimes against humanity and genocides in the 20th century have been between Muslims and Christians. As of end-2006, one of these conflicts, which is in Sudan, is still active, and there are others though inert only because of peacekeepers on the ground. Having in view the so-called “conflict of cultures” it is very important to gain understanding of common and different features of Christianity and Islam.
Comparison idea of God in Christianity and Islam
It is difficult to compare Christianity to any other religion, because there is such a wide range of beliefs and practices among various wings of Christianity: Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox churches, the Anglican Communion and the tens of thousands of Protestant faith groups. Some commentators have suggested that Christianity consists of a number of different religions which share little more than the Bible and the name of their religion. However, all wings of Christianity have certain common features derived from Bible. At the same time there are a number of Islamic religious denominations, each of which have significant theological and legal differences from each other but possess similar essential beliefs in the Islamic religion. The major schools of thought are Sunni and Shi’a. Some of the descriptions below will thus necessarily be somewhat simplistic and lacking in precision.
The fundamental concept in Islam is the Oneness of God or tawhid: monotheism which is absolute, not relative or pluralistic. The Oneness of God or Allah (“Allah” means God in Arabic) is the first pillar of Islam’s five pillars which is also called the Shahadah (The two testimonies). By declaring the Shahadah, a Muslim attests to the belief that there are no gods but God, and that Muhammad is God’s messenger. The Quran includes Surah which clearly states that Islam is monotheistic belief.
Surah [16:51] GOD has proclaimed: “Do not worship two gods; there is only one God. You shall reverence Me alone.”
There are also a lot of others Surahs which illustrate the significance of God for Muslims. For example,
Surah [16:22] Your God is one God. As for those who do not believe in the Hereafter, their hearts are denying, and they are arrogant.
Surah [16:23] Absolutely, GOD knows everything they conceal and everything they declare. He does not love those who are arrogant.
Considering Christianity one may observe more complicated situation. On the one hand the Bible proclaims Christianity as monotheistic belief: “I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.” Isaiah [45:5]. On the other hand, however, trinity is the central doctrine of Christianity, according to which God is three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost. There is only one God, but he exists as ‘three in one and one in three’. The basis for this doctrine in the Bible consists of threefold formulate like the Matthew [28:18]; [28:19], Peter [1:2], and Isaiah [6:3]. For example:
Matthew [28:18]: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Matthew [28:19]: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…
These passages in no way predicate a God who is eternally three in one, but they set the terms for later thinking toward that end. However, one has to recognize that the word “Trinity” is not present in the Bible. Its notion appears in the process of discussions among the early Christians on the essence of God. All such discussions certainly were held with references to the Bible. The nature of the Trinity is held to be a mystery that cannot be fully comprehended. Such complexity and ambiguousness in concept of God in Christianity became the reason that Muslims do not consider Christianity to be a pure monotheistic belief though they also do not think it is polytheists, calling the Christians “people of the Book.” By this they mean the importance for the Christians of doctrines, based on the Bible.
Comparing the significance of God for Islam and Christianity the following statements can be derived as conclusion. For Islam Quran clearly indicates who is God and what it is for the Muslims. Such unambiguity makes any disputes on this point senseless. Exactly this absolute determinacy of the Quran made Islam a religion which remains unchangeable with the lapse of time. The Quran is used to invoke God’s blessing, and verses from it are often recited at the beginning of public political and social meetings, at conferences, and sometimes at government or official functions. It was so many centuries ago and it remains so today.
On the other hand, for the Christians the notion of God is not so clear and distinct. The concept of Trinity was created only in the fourth century, and nevertheless it was transformed into dogma, it has remained one of the reasons for ardent disputes. Moreover, it served as an impetus for the development of European philosophic thought.
Gospel of Isaiah, Chicago: Moody Press, 1977