The founding principles and early development of Christianity and Islam.

The founding principles of Christianity and Islam are extremely similar.  Both religions demanded that followers forgo the belief in many gods and instead adhere to the fact that there is only one God.  The early development of both religions also bares stark resemblance; however, the path to that led to their growth did have many differences.

 

Photo by John-Mark Smith

 

Christianity gained tremendous following after the crucifixion of Jesus.  The religion “offered an answer to a difficult question about divine justice.”1 The question was that if God was so just, how then did he allow evil and wickedness to prosper while the righteous suffered.  Christians believed that the world was controlled by evil powers and that someday God would end their reign by sending the Messiah.  Jesus was believed to be that Messiah by his followers and his crucifixion sparked the movement that led to growth of the religion.  The apostle Paul taught that the fundamental principle of Christianity is that “accepting Jesus as divine and his crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of humanity was the only way of becoming righteous in the eyes of God.”2 He also preached a deep adherence to ethical behavior “especially the rejection of sexual immorality and polytheism.”3 Muhammad heard a voice and had a vision that led him to follow the same God as the one that Christians worshipped.  Hunt and others discuss that he preached about the righteous path of men lying with the adherence to high moral standards and the worship of only one God.4 This notion is identical to the teachings of Paul.  The principles that Muhammad taught, that later became the Qur’an, included similar teachings of Paul and the Jewish Ten Commandments.  “Do not set up another god with God; be good to your parents; give to your relatives what is due, and those who are needy.”5

 

Photo by Samantha Sophia 

 

Both religions were based on similar moral behavior and worship of a single God.  The key difference in the religion of Islam was that it did not preach that Jesus was the Messiah and thus, righteousness was achieved through him.  In essence, the early teachings of Muhammad more closely reflected the religion of Judaism.  That was until Muhammad “broke with the Jews and instituted new practices to define Islam as a unique religion.”6 Some of the key practices include: the fast of Ramadan, the pilgrimage to Mecca, and formal worship at least three times a day.

Photo by Raul Petri

 

The growth of these religions both met harsh criticism from traditionalist in the respective regions.  Christians felt harsh oppression from Jews as well as Imperial Roman officials that “suspected Christians of being traitors”.7 While Muslims were met with discontent from the polytheistic Quraysh tribe.8 The Roman emperors “feared that Christians’ denial of the old gods and imperial cult would provoke divine retribution.”9 This fear led to the persecution of the Christian followers and the execution of many of its leaders.   Muhammad was able to convert several nomadic tribes that were known for their fighting skills and this allowed him to met his opposition with force as he led raids against them in the name of his faith.10

 

Photo by Aaron Burden

 

The Christian movement was fueled by martyrdom and unjustifiable persecution.  The Muslim movement was fueled by unification of the tribes and the “tradition of plundering the opposition”11 which was grafted into the duty of jihad.  Both religions gained considerable followers based on sound moral principles and an ease in lifestyle.  Both faiths provided a sense of unity among followers and eliminated constrictive rules of previous traditions. For example, Christian converts did not need to undergo the Jewish initiation rite of circumcision12 and Muslims were afforded the benefit of not paying special taxes levied upon the Christians and Jews.13

 

Photo by Rod Long

 

Both Christianity and Islam have remarkable similarities in the respective fundamental principles.  Each religion was able to overcome tremendous odds to flourish in the face of harsh criticism and oppression.  Each religion was propelled by this opposition; however, the manner in which growth was obtained is very different.  Christians relied on the success of martyrdom while Muslims relied more on forceful assimilation.  Regardless of how each ascended, they still remain the two largest populated religions today.

 

Photo by Kamil Szumotalski

 

Notes

  1. Lynn Hunt and others, The Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures, Vol I to 1740. (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009), 181.
  2. Ibid, 182.
  3. Ibid, 182.
  4. Ibid, 234.
  5. Ibid, 234
  6. Ibid, 235.
  7. Ibid, 182.
  8. Ibid, 234.
  9. Ibid, 182.
  10. Ibid, 235.
  11. Ibid, 235.
  12. Ibid, 182.
  13. Ibid, 237.
Catalina Magee

Founder / Owner of Trend Prive Magazine. Romanian-born American, "seasoned" in Italy, "cooked" in Germany and currently serving in Israel. NCIS Special Agent in Charge EA.

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