Early Muslims and Early Christians
|Muhammad’s Companions…||Jesus’ Disciples…|
|Lived as warriors.||Lived like harmless hippies.|
|Slew and persecuted religious minorities.||Were slain and persecuted
as a religious minority.
|Emphasis on Jihad (the way of Muhammad)“He who fights that Allah’s word should
be superior fights in Allah’s cause”
|Emphasis on Evangelism (the way of Jesus)“Go ye into all the world and preach
the gospel to every creature”
|Attacked and conquered the populations in
parts of 28 modern countries in just the first
three decades following Muhammad’s death.
|Did not resort to violence of any sort,
despite tremendous persecution.
|Declared holy war on the people of five
major world religions in just the first
100 years following Muhammad’s death.
|Went centuries without declaring ‘holy war’.|
|Plundered and lived off the wealth of others.||Gave away their possessions to those in need.
|Captured and enslaved non-Muslim people.||Considered themselves to be slaves of others.|
|Waged war to keep members from leaving
the religion. Put apostates to death.
|No record of aggression toward apostates.|
|Muhammad’s own family members quickly
fell into armed warfare against each other.
|Jesus’ disciples never resorted to violence
against one another (or anyone else).
|First 240 Years:
11 of the first 32 caliphs were
murdered by fellow Muslims.
|First 240 Years:
14 of the first 25 popes were martyred by
pagans (none by fellow Christians).
|Caliphs were polygamous and maintained harems of hundreds of captured sex slaves.||Popes were expected to be celibate.|
|Islamic mosques sustained by taxes forced from subjugated non-Muslims (the jizya).||Christian churches sustained
by voluntary tithes from Christians.
|Differences Between Islamic Teaching and Christianity|
|The Qur’an||The Bible|
|External sources (the Hadith and Sira) necessary for translating the Qur’an||Historical context contained
within the text of the Bible
|Must know Arabic in order to “fully understand” the Qur’an (according to Muslim apologists)||Universal. Can be translated into other languages without excessive commentary.|
|Chronological progression of the
Quran is from peace to violence.
|Chronological progression of the
Bible is from violence to peace.
|The words ‘torture’ and ‘punishment’ appear six
times more often in the Quran than in the New Testament.
|The word ‘love’ appears five times more often in the New Testament than in the Qur’an,|
|Contains not a single original moral value.||The ‘Sermon on the Mount’ and others.|
|Suffering is an excuse for violent revenge
and establishment of Islam by force“And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution [of Muslims] is worse than slaughter [of non-believers]…and fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah.”
|Suffering builds character“We also rejoice in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering
produces perseverance; perseverance,
character; and character, hope”
|Emphasis on this World“And Allah has made you heirs to their land
and their dwellings and their property”
|Emphasis on the Next“Mine is not a kingdom of this world”
(John 18:36, see also Luke 14:33)
|Kill, convert or subjugate Christians and Jews.
|Share one’s faith with gentleness and respect.
(1 Peter 3:15)
|Martyrs as Killers”Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain”(Qur’an 9:111)||Martyrs as Martyrs”As it is written, For thy sake we are
killed all the day long; we are
counted as sheep for the slaughter”(Romans 8:36)
|Killing Apostates”They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them”(Qur’an 4:89, also Bukhari 52:260, 83:37…)||Letting God Judge Apostates”For we know Him that has said,
‘Vengeance belongs unto me, I will
recompense,’ says the Lord. And again,
‘The Lord shall judge his people'”(Hebrews 10:25-30)
|Punishment“Let not compassion move you
from carrying out God’s law…”
|Mercy“Love is patient. Love is kind…
It keeps no record of wrongs”
(1 Corinthians 13:4-5)
|Charity and Non-BelieversMercy toward fellow Muslims – ruthlessness toward unbelievers. Muslims are warned not to befriend those outside the faith. They must even ensure that their charity tithe (zakat)
stays within their own identity group.
(Qur’an 48:29, 3:28, Sharia)
|Charity and Non-BelieversChristians are specifically told that even
those who hate them are entitled to
kindness and charity. They should be loved
and cared for as surely as any fellow believer.
|The Qur’an explicitly instructs
men to beat disobedient wives.
(Qur’an 4:34, Sahih Muslim 2127)
|“Husbands, love your wives and
do not be harsh with them.”
(No permission to beat women)
|Explicitly allows Muslim men to rape their female slaves, even those already married.
(Qur’an 4:24, 70:29-30, 23:5-6…)
|Tells masters and slaves to serve
each other as if serving God.
|Muhammad is the messenger
of Allah. And those who are with him
are ruthless to the unbelievers”
|“Do good to them that hate you”
|Allah wills those that stray and are lost
|God wants all people saved
(1 Timothy 2:4)
|Warns Against Questioning Faith.
|Welcomes Intellectual Challenge.
(1 Peter 3:15)
|Violence as Virtue“Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye
dislike it. But it is possible that ye
dislike a thing which is good for you, and
that ye love a thing which is bad for you.
But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.”
|Violence as Sin“Do not take revenge, my friends, but
leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written:
‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy
is hungry, feed him… ‘”
|Hell for unbelief.
Good deeds count for naught
|Hell for bad deeds and the
failure to do what is right
(Romans 2:6-8, Matthew 16:27, Matthew 25:41-45)
|Judging“Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites! Be harsh with them…”
|Judge Not“For when you pass judgment on another person, you condemn yourself…”
|Taking wealth from others“Allah promiseth you much
booty that ye will capture…”
|Working for and giving wealth to others“The thief must no longer steal but must
work hard and do what is good with his
own hands, so that he might have
something to give to the needy.”
|Calls down Allah’s curse on Christians
and those of other religions.
|Calls down God’s blessing on
those who curse Christians.
|Arrogance & Privilege“Ye are the best of peoples,
evolved for mankind”
|Humility & Servitude“If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.”
|“O you who believe! Do not take My
enemy and your enemy for friends:
Would you offer them love while they deny what has come to you of the truth?
|“Love your enemies…”
|Differences Between the Islamic and Christian-Based Worlds|
|Muslim Legacy||Christian Legacy|
|Countries that Muslims want to escape from.||Countries that Muslims want to escape to.|
|Madrasahs that indoctrinate Muslim
children with bigotry and terror.
|Mission schools that teach reading and
writing to Christians and Muslims alike.
|Suicide bombings for Allah||No suicide bombings for Jesus|
|International terror organizations.||International charities.|
|No formal charities for non-Muslims.||Leading provider of disaster relief to Muslims.|
|Murder of aid workers.||Supply of aid workers.|
|Christians in jail for apostasy or blasphemy.||Religious freedom.|
|Modern-day slavery in the name of Islam.||Abolition in the name of Christianity.|
|Muslim clerics who engage
in or condone terrorism.
|Christian clerics murdered each year by
terror groups rife with Muslim clerics.
|Daily religious violence against Hindus.||None.|
|Daily religious violence against Jews.||None.|
|Daily religious violence against Buddhists.||None.|
|Daily religious violence against Muslims.||None.|
|Ritual slitting of animals’ throats||Ending of animal sacrifice|
|Religion||Technology & Medicine|
|Censorship||Freedom of speech|
|Intolerance for criticism of Islam.||Tolerance for religious dissent.|
|Restricting other religions from preaching faith.||Allowing all religions the
same right to evangelize.
|Conversions allowed to Islam only.||Freedom of conscience.|
|Converts to Christianity beheaded.||No dead converts to Islam.|
|Most famous Muslim: Osama bin Laden.||Most famous Christian: The Pope.|
|Whether true or not, everything that secular critics say they do not like about Christianity, from women’s issues to slavery, is not only a tangible part of Islam, but usually magnified.While the Catholic church is demonized for not allowing female priests, the fundamentalists of Islam force women into burqas and blow up schools that educate girls. Even activists known for championing women’s rights in the Muslim world still rationalize keeping captured women as sex slaves, since it is explicitly permitted in the Qur’an. And, while Christians might object to extra-marital sex, only Islamic purists plant consenting adults in the ground and stone them to death.Theocracy (in the form of Sharia) really is the explicit goal of Islamic teaching, whereas Christianity leaves room for the separation of religion and government (Mark 12:17, John 18:36). Terrorism really is an expression of devotion to Allah – and not just criminal activity or warfare by disinterested parties with a nominal religious identification (i.e. “born a Catholic”).If threatening people with eternal damnation is considered distasteful, then Christianity has far less to be ashamed of than Islam, which not only mentions the terrible fate awaiting unbelievers in nearly every other chapter of the Quran, but also includes vivid descriptions of torture at the hands of a sociopath known as Allah.The two religions contrast sharply even in their positive aspects. The morality of the Qur’an is amateurish and frustratingly obscure for those who try to compare it to what is contained in the Bible. Most of Islam’s holiest book is devoted toward distinguishing and heaping abuse on unbelievers. There are no verses that promote universal love and brotherhood. The few verses that are sometimes held up as examples of tolerance and peace generally require separation from textual and historical context.
The difference between Christianity and Islam starts at the top:
Muslims are told that Muhammad – a slave-owner, sexual glutton, thief and killer – is the most “beautiful pattern of conduct” and “example” for mankind to follow (Qur’an 33:21), as well as the “exalted standard of character” (Qur’an 68:4).
Christians are told to emulate Jesus – a pacifist and servant – and “walk, even as he walked” (1 John 2:6). Unlike Muhammad, who ordered military assaults against Christians, for example, Jesus told his followers not to resort to violence and to pray for one’s enemies.
These two men could hardly have been more different in how they lived or in what they taught others. Why should we not then expect starkly contrasting legacies – from the conduct of their closest companions to the livability of modern-day countries influenced by the predominance of one founder’s teachings over the other?
Short Timeline of Christianity and Islam
Note: Dates are historical estimates.
Beliefs and Practices
Major branches of Christianity. Click to enlarge.
Beliefs and practices among Christians and Muslims vary greatly across the world and among certain demographics. Within Christianity, Catholics and Protestants often have very different beliefs, and Protestantism itself holds denominations as varied as evangelical fundamentalism and Unitarianism. In Islam, similarly large differences exist between Sunni, Shia, and Sufi Muslims and their beliefs. These differences have run so deep that Catholics and Protestants, Sunnis and Shiites, and Christians and Muslims have sometimes warred against each other over their beliefs.
Major branches of Islam. Click to enlarge.
A few major similarities exist between Christians and Muslims. Both belief systems are monotheistic, encourage or require the practice of daily prayer, and believe in the importance of many of the same figures, though their interpretation of them is often very different. Likewise, certain basic principles are generally supported within both faiths: the Ten Commandments for Christians and the Five or Seven Pillars of Islam for Muslims. Heaven and Hell, angels, demons, and spirits, are generally accepted by both religions, as is an apocalypse.
Similar to Judaism, Islam tends to have stricter guidelines or rules than Christianity does. In modern Christianity, most hardline rules are found in the Old Testament and more related to Judaism, and many of the rules found in the New Testament are downplayed. For example, Christians may or may not “keep the Sabbath holy” by resting, even though doing so is a commandment, and most freely eat whatever they want, including pork and foods not blessed by religious leaders, something that Muslims and Jews do not do under halal and kosher dietary restrictions.
Two of the biggest differences found among Christian sects/denominations when it comes to scripture have to do with how literally the Bible is interpreted, whether it is considered the inerrant word of God as passed down through various writers or seen as being “inspired” and metaphorical, and whether “good works” or “faith alone” is most important for entry into heaven. Some Christians believe the Bible should be at the foundation of all matters: politics, education, charity, etc. Others believe their faith is personal and private and that Christian scripture really only applies to Christians.
Muslims believe there have been many prophets and messengers sent by Allah throughout time, but that their messages have been corrupted by man. They believe Muhammad was the latest and final prophet and that the Qur’an is the only uncorrupted holy message in the world. The vast majority of Muslims believe the Qur’an is the inerrant word of Allah, as passed down through the Prophet Muhammad, and can and should be part of every aspect in life, even when it comes to matters such as banking, warfare, and politics. The governmental enforcement of Islamic beliefs and practices is known as Sharia law. In a 2012 Pew Research study on Muslim political beliefs, a majority of people in Pakistan, Jordan, and Egypt felt laws should strictly follow the Qur’an, while people in Tunisia, Turkey, and Lebanon were less inclined to want their governments to follow the Qur’an.
Christians and Muslims’ sociopolitical views often go hand-in-hand with how literally they interpret the Bible or Qur’an, with the most traditional and fundamentalist of both religions rejecting certain matters of gender equality, same-sex marriage, the theory of evolution, etc.
Belief in an imminent apocalypse that is soon to transpire varies by region among Christians and Muslims, but in many cases both groups do believe it will occur at some point in the future. There are many similarities between their versions of the apocalypse as well, having developed from similar or even the same texts.
Some Muslims believe as Christians do, that Jesus will be the one to return at the end of the world; the difference is that Muslims believe Jesus’ return is a sign, not the actual end, and that his purpose is to destroy Christian symbols and convert Christians to the true religion of Islam. Other Muslims, such as the Shia Twelvers, believe Jesus is a minor figure in the apocalypse, if even present, and that a figure known as the Mahdi—Islam’s 12th imam who has been hiding since the 9th century—will be the one who returns and helps cleanse the world of evil.
With over 2.1 billion followers, over half of which are Catholic, Christianity is the world’s largest religion. Islam, with over 1.5 billion followers, is the world’s second largest religion; Sunnis make up 80-90% of Islam’s adherents. Because the two religions are the largest in the world, one or the other is generally the dominant faith in nearly every country, with a few exceptions in Asia where Buddhism or no religion is dominant