Christianity and Islam
Christianity and Islam share a historical and traditional connection, with some stark theological differences. The two faiths share a common origin in the Middle East, consider themselves to be monotheistic, and are Abrahamic religions.
Muslims have a range of views on Christianity, often considering Christians and Jews to be People of the Book or as heretics. Christian views on Islam are diverse and range from considering Islam a fellow Abrahamic religion worshipping the same God, to believing Islam to be heresy or an unrelated cult. Christianity and Islam both consider Jesus to have been sent by God. Christians generally consider Jesus to be the Son of God, while Muslims consider the Trinity to be a division of God's Oneness and a grave sin (shirk).
Christianity and Islam have different scriptures, with Islam using the Quran and Christianity the Bible. Both texts offer an account of the life and works of Jesus. Belief in Jesus is an important part of Islamic theology, and Muslims view the Christian Gospels as altered, while Christians consider Gospels to be authoritative and the Quran to be a later, fabricated or apocryphal work. Both religions believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, but the Biblical and Quranic accounts differ.
Historically, Christianity and Islam have both peacefully co-existed and engaged in extended periods of warfare. Western (secular and Christian) and Islamic histories offer differing accounts of both periods of tolerance and violence.
- 1 Abrahamic religions
- 2 Scriptures
- 3 Jesus
- 4 Muhammad
- 5 The Trinity
- 6 The Holy Spirit
- 7 Salvation
- 8 Early Christian writers on Islam and Muhammad
- 9 Nostra aetate
- 10 Islam and Protestantism
- 11 Artistic influences
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 Further reading
- 15 External links
Christianity, Islam and Judaism are often known as Abrahamic religions because of their common origin through Abraham. Christians and Muslims consider Ishmael (Ismā'īl), to be the "Father of the Arabs" and Isaac (Isḥāq) the "Father of the Hebrews". The story of Abraham and his sons is told in the Book of Genesis and the Qur'an but with certain differences, with Muslims emphasising Ishmael as the older son of Abraham, and Christians emphasising Isaac as the favourite son of Abraham.
Muslims commonly refer to Christians and Jews as "People of the Book", people who follow the same general teachings in relation to the worship of the One God (Tawhid) as known by Abraham. Christians differ in their opinions on the nearness of the relationship, with some considering the relationship close while others consider it distant compared to that between Christianity and Judaism, non-existent, or in opposition to God.
The Christian Bible is made up of the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament dates to centuries before the time of Christ. The New Testament dates from the time of Christ, or centuries thereafter. The central books of the Bible for Christians are the Gospels. Christians consider the Quran a non-divine later work.
The Quran dates from the early 7th Century, or decades thereafter. The Quran assumes familiarity with major narratives recounted in the Jewish and Christian scriptures. It summarizes some, dwells at length on others and differs in others. Muslims believe that Jesus was given the Injil (Greek evangel, or Gospel) from the Abrahamic God and that parts of these teachings were eventually lost or distorted (tahrif) to produce what is now the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament.
Islam and Christianity differ in their fundamental views in regard to the nature, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Most Christians are Trinitarian, and believe that Jesus is divine and one of three distinct persons of the one being of God. Christianity teaches that Jesus was condemned to death by the Sanhedrin and the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate, crucified and resurrected.
Islam teaches that Jesus (Isa) was one of the most important prophets of God and was a human being. Muslims do not believe that he was the Son of God, nor that he is divine or part of a triune God. In Islam, Jesus was a human prophet who, like all the other prophets, tried to bring the children of Israel to the worship of One God. Muslims believe the creation of Jesus was similar to the creation of Adam (Adem) (the first prophet of God), they were both created by God without human fathers. Muslims believe that Jesus was condemned to crucifixion and then miraculously saved from execution.
Muslims contend that Jesus argues against division of God's oneness (shirk), along with references in Exodus 20:2-5 and in the Quran. In contrast, most Christians argue that the New Testament, particularly the Gospel of John, contains or is centered on the Trinity and that Jesus made several implicit and explicit claims to be the Son of God, and divine in nature John 10:22-42.
Muslims believe that the Quran was verbally revealed by God to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel (Jibril), gradually over a period of approximately 23 years, beginning on 22 December 609 CE, when Muhammad was 40, and concluding in 632 CE, the year of his death. Muslims regard the Quran as the most important miracle of Muhammad, a proof of his prophethood, and the culmination of a series of divine messages that started with the messages revealed to Adam and ended with Muhammad. They consider the Quran to be the only revealed book that has been protected by God from distortion or corruption.
Muslims revere Muhammad as the embodiment of the perfect believer and take his actions and sayings as a model of ideal conduct. Unlike Jesus, who Christians believe was God's son, Muhammad was a mortal, albeit with extraordinary qualities. Today many Muslims believe that it is wrong to represent Muhammad, but this was not always the case. At various times and places pious Muslims represented Muhammad although they never worshiped these images.
Christians generally believe that Muhammad is not mentioned or alluded to in the Bible. As Jesus is considered the Son of God, a later revelation is either redundant or heretical. Many Christians, particularly theological conservatives, regard Muhammed as the False Prophet from the Book of Revelation.
The doctrine of the Trinity states that God is a single being who exists, simultaneously and eternally, as a communion of three distinct persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In Islam such plurality in God is a denial of monotheism (Shirk (Islam)), and foreign to the revelation found in Muslim scripture. The Qur'an asserts God's absolute oneness, thus ruling out the possibility of another being sharing his sovereignty or nature. Islam teaches Muslims that Jesus was a messenger of God and that he did not claim to be God's son.
The Holy Spirit
Christians and Muslims also have differing views on the Holy Spirit. Christians believe that the Holy Spirit is God (or a person therein), and the Paraclete referred to in the Gospel of John, who was manifested on the day of Pentecost. In Islam, however, the Holy Spirit is generally believed to be the angel Gabriel, and the reference to the Paraclete is a prophecy of the coming of Muhammad.
"Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send him unto you."
The Church's relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."— Catechism of the Catholic Church
Protestant theology mostly emphasises the necessity of faith in Jesus as a saviour in order for salvation. Muslims may receive salvation in theologies relating to Universal reconciliation, but will not according to most Protestant theologies based on justification through faith:
"The first and chief article is this: Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins and was raised again for our justification (Romans 3:24-25). He alone is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), and God has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6). All have sinned and are justified freely, without their own works and merits, by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in His blood (Romans 3:23-25). This is necessary to believe. This cannot be otherwise acquired or grasped by any work, law or merit. Therefore, it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us ... Nothing of this article can be yielded or surrendered, even though heaven and earth and everything else falls (Mark 13:31)."— Martin Luther.
Lo! Those who believe (in that which is revealed unto thee, Muhammad), and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabaeans – whoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day and doeth right – surely their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve.
The Qur'an also makes it clear that the Christians will be nearest in love to those who follow the Qur'an and praises Christians for being humble and wise:
"And thou wilt find the nearest of them in affection to those who believe (to be) those who say: Lo! We are Christians. That is because there are among them priests and monks, and because they are not proud. When they listen to that which hath been revealed unto the messengers, thou seest their eyes overflow with tears because of their recognition of the Truth. They say: Our Lord, we believe. Inscribe us as among the witnesses.
How should we not believe in Allah and that which hath come unto us of the Truth. And (how should we not) hope that our Lord will bring us in along with righteous folk?
Allah hath rewarded them for that their saying – Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide for ever. That is the reward of the good."
Early Christian writers on Islam and Muhammad
John of Damascus
In 746 John of Damascus (sometimes St. John of Damascus) wrote the Fount of Knowledge part two of which is entitled Heresies in Epitome: How They Began and Whence They Drew Their Origin. In this work St. John makes extensive reference to the Koran and, in St. Johns's opinion, its failure to live up to even the most basic scrutiny. The work is not exclusively concerned with the Ismaelites (a name for the Muslims as they claimed to have descended from Ismael) but all heresy. The Fount of Knowledge references several suras directly often with apparent incredulity.
From that time to the present a false prophet named Mohammed has appeared in their midst. This man, after having chanced upon the Old and New Testaments and likewise, it seems, having conversed with an Arian monk, devised his own heresy. Then, having insinuated himself into the good graces of the people by a show of seeming piety, he gave out that a certain book had been sent down to him from heaven. He had set down some ridiculous compositions in this book of his and he gave it to them as an object of veneration. ... There are many other extraordinary and quite ridiculous things in this book which he boasts was sent down to him from God. But when we ask: ‘And who is there to testify that God gave him the book? And which of the prophets foretold that such a prophet would rise up?’ – they are at a loss. And we remark that Moses received the Law on Mount Sinai, with God appearing in the sight of all the people in cloud, and fire, and darkness, and storm. And we say that all the Prophets from Moses on down foretold the coming of Christ and how Christ God (and incarnate Son of God) was to come and to be crucified and die and rise again, and how He was to be the judge of the living and dead. Then, when we say: ‘How is it that this prophet of yours did not come in the same way, with others bearing witness to him? And how is it that God did not in your presence present this man with the book to which you refer, even as He gave the Law to Moses, with the people looking on and the mountain smoking, so that you, too, might have certainty?’ – they answer that God does as He pleases. ‘This,’ we say, ‘We know, but we are asking how the book came down to your prophet.’ Then they reply that the book came down to him while he was asleep.
Theophanes the Confessor
Theophanes the Confessor (died c.822) wrote a series of chronicles (284 onwards and 602-813 AD) based initially on those of the better known George Syncellus. Theophanes reports about Muhammad thus:
At the beginning of his advent the misguided Jews thought he was the Messiah. ... But when they saw him eating camel meat, they realized that he was not the one they thought him to be, ... those wretched men taught him illicit things directed against us, Christians, and remained with him.
Whenever he came to Palestine he consorted with Jews and Christians and sought from them certain scriptural matters. He was also afflicted with epilepsy. When his wife became aware of this, she was greatly distressed, inasmuch as she, a noblewoman, had married a man such as he, who was not only poor, but also an epileptic. He tried deceitfully to placate her by saying, ‘I keep seeing a vision of a certain angel called Gabriel, and being unable to bear his sight, I faint and fall down.’
In the work A history of Christian-Muslim relations Hugh Goddard mentions both John of Damascus and Theophanes and goes on to consider the relevance of Nicetas[clarification needed] of Byzantium who formulated replies to letters on behalf of Emperor Michael III (842-867). Goddard sums up Nicetas' view:
In short, Muhammad was an ignorant charlatan who succeeded by imposture in seducing the ignorant barbarian Arabs into accepting a gross, blaspheming, idolatrous, demoniac religion, which is full of futile errors, intellectual enormities, doctrinal errors and moral aberrations.
Goddard further notes that in Nicetas we can see in his work a knowledge of the whole Koran including an extensive knowledge of suras 2-18. Nicetas account from behind the Byzantine frontier apparently set a strong precedent for later writing both in tone and points of argument.
The question of Islam was not on the agenda when Nostra aetate was first drafted, or even at the opening of the Second Vatican Council. However, as in the case of the question of Judaism, several events came together again to prompt a consideration of Islam. By the time of the Second Session of the Council in 1963 reservations began to be raised by bishops of the Middle East about the inclusion of this question. The position was taken that either the question will not be raised at all, or if it were raised, some mention of the Muslims should be made. Melkite patriarch Maximos IV was among those pushing for this latter position.
Early in 1964 Cardinal Bea notified Cardinal Cicognani, President of the Council's Coordinating Commission, that the Council fathers wanted the Council to say something about the great monotheistic religions, and in particular about Islam. The subject, however, was deemed to be outside the competence of Bea's Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity. Bea expressed willingness to "select some competent people and with them to draw up a draft" to be presented to the Coordinating Commission. At a meeting of the Coordinating Commission on 16–17 April Cicognani acknowledged that it would be necessary to speak of the Muslims.
The period between the first and second sessions saw the change of pontiff from Pope John XXIII to Pope Paul VI, who had been a member of the circle (the Badaliya) of the Islamologist Louis Massignon. Pope Paul VI chose to follow the path recommended by Maximos IV and he therefore established commissions to introduce what would become paragraphs on the Muslims in two different documents, one of them being Nostra aetate, paragraph three, the other being Lumen gentium, paragraph 16.
The text of the final draft bore traces of Massignon's influence. The reference to Mary, for example, resulted from the intervention of Monsignor Descuffi, the Latin archbishop of Smyrna with whom Massignon collaborated in reviving the cult of Mary at Smyrna. The commendation of Muslim prayer may reflect the influence of the Badaliya.
Islam and Protestantism
Islam and Protestantism entered into contact during the 16th century, at a time when Protestant movements in northern Europe coincided with the expansion of the Ottoman Empire in southern Europe. As both were in conflict with the Catholic Holy Roman Empire, numerous exchanges occurred, exploring religious similarities and the possibility of trade and military alliances. Relations became more conflictual in the early modern and modern periods, although recent attempts have been made at rapprochement. In terms of comparative religion, there are also interesting similarities, as well as differences, such as textual criticism and iconoclasm in both religious approaches.
Mormonism and Islam
Mormonism and Islam have been compared to one another ever since the earliest origins of the former in the nineteenth century, often by detractors of one religion or the other—or both. For instance, Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of Mormonism, was referred to as "the modern Mahomet" by the New York Herald, shortly after his murder in June 1844. This epithet repeated a comparison that had been made from Smith's earliest career, one that was not intended at the time to be complimentary. Comparison of the Mormon and Muslim prophets still occurs today, sometimes for derogatory or polemical reasons but also for more scholarly and neutral purposes. While Mormonism and Islam certainly have many similarities, there are also significant, fundamental differences between the two religions. Mormon–Muslim relations have historically been cordial; recent years have seen increasing dialogue between adherents of the two faiths, and cooperation in charitable endeavors, especially in the Middle and Far East.
Islamic art and culture have both influenced and been influenced by Christian art and culture. Some arts have received such influence strongly, particularly religious architecture in the Byzantine and medieval eras
- Chrislam, a syncretist religion
- Christian influences in Islam
- Christian philosophy
- Christianity and other religions
- Divisions of the world in Islam
- Islam and other religions
- Islamic philosophy
- Muhammad's views on Christians
- Persecution of Christians in the Muslim world
- Ratliff, "The monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai and the Christian communities of the Caliphate."
- Nigosian, S.A (2004). Islam : its history, teaching and practices ([New ed.]. ed.). Indiana Univ. Press. pp. 65–80. ISBN 0-253-21627-3.
- Wheeler, Brannon M. (2002). Prophets in the Quran: an introduction to the Quran and Muslim exegesis. Continuum. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-8264-4956-6.
- Exodus 20:2-5
- Quran 4:116
- Lambert, Gray (2013). The Leaders Are Coming!. WestBow Press. p. 287. ISBN 9781449760137.
- Roy H. Williams; Michael R. Drew (2012). Pendulum: How Past Generations Shape Our Present and Predict Our Future. Vanguard Press. p. 143. ISBN 9781593157067.
- Chronology of Prophetic Events, Fazlur Rehman Shaikh (2001) p. 50 Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd.
- Quran 17:105
- Nasr, Seyyed Hossein (2007). "Qurʾān". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
- name = LivRlgP338>Living Religions: An Encyclopaedia of the World's Faiths, Mary Pat Fisher, 1997, page 338, I.B. Tauris Publishers.
- Quran 17:106
- Peters, F.E. (2003). The Words and Will of God. Princeton University Press. pp. 12–13. ISBN 0-691-11461-7.
- Understanding the Qurán - Page xii, Ahmad Hussein Sakr - 2000
- "Mohammed and Mohammedanism, Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913".
- International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
- The Johannine Paraclete in the church fathers: a study in the history of exegesis
- Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Church and non-Christians #841]
- "The Smalcald Articles," in Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2005, 289, Part two, Article 1.
- Quran 2:62
- Quran 5:80–84
- St. John of Damascuss Critique of Islam
- St. John of Damascus’s Critique of Islam
- Theophanes in English, on Mohammed gives an excerpt with all pertinent text as translated by Cyril Mango
- The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor (Byzantine and Near Eastern History AD 284-813). Translated with introduction and commentary by Cyril Mango and Geoffrey Greatrex, Oxford 1997. An updated version of the roger-pearse.com citation.
- The Chronicle of Theophanes Anni mundi 6095-6305 (A.D. 602-813) a more popularised but less rigorously studied translation of Theophanes chronicles
- "A history of Christian-Muslim relations", p.56
- (History of Vatican II, pp. 142-43)
- (Robinson, p. 195)
- Lumen gentium, 16
- Thomas Marsh and Orson Hyde Affidavit, for example; see also PBS's American Prophet: Prologue and Todd J. Harris, A Comparison of Muhammad and Joseph Smith in the Prophetic Pattern, a thesis submitted for a Master of Arts degree at Brigham Young University in 2007, footnotes on pages 1 and 2.
- PBS's American Prophet: Prologue.
- Thomas Marsh and Orson Hyde Affidavit, also Todd J. Harris, A Comparison of Muhammad and Joseph Smith in the Prophetic Pattern, a thesis submitted for a Master of Arts degree at Brigham Young University in 2007, footnotes on pages 1 and 2.
- See, for example:Joseph Smith and Muhammad: The Similarities, and Eric Johnson,Joseph Smith and Muhammad, a book published by the "Mormonism Research Ministry" and offered for sale by the anti-Mormon "Utah Lighthouse Ministries".
- See, for instance, Todd J. Harris, A Comparison of Muhammad and Joseph Smith in the Prophetic Pattern, a thesis submitted for a Master of Arts degree at Brigham Young University in 2007.
- U.S. Muslims and Mormons share deepening ties
- World Muslim Congress: Mormons and Muslims; Mormon-Muslim Interfaith Ramadan Dinner.
- A world history of architecture Marian Moffett p.189
- Encountering the World of Islam Keith E. Swartley p.74
- Abdiyah Akbar Abdul-Haqq, Sharing Your [Christian] Faith with a Muslim, Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1980. ISBN 0-87123-553-6
- Giulio Basetti-Sani, The Koran in the Light of Christ: a Christian Interpretation of the Sacred Book of Islam, trans. by W. Russell-Carroll and Bede Dauphinee, Chicago, Ill.: Franciscan Herald Press, 1977. ISBN 0-8199-0713-8
- Roger Arnaldez, Jésus: Fils de Marie, prophète de l'Islam, coll. Jésus et Jésus-Christ, no 13, Paris: Desclée, 1980. ISBN 2-7189-0186-1
- Kenneth Cragg, The Call of the Minaret, Third ed., Oxford: Oneworld [sic] Publications, 2000, xv, 358 p. ISBN 1-85168-210-4
- Maria Jaoudi, Christian & Islamic Spirituality: Sharing a Journey, Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1992. iii, 103 p. ISBN 0-8091-3426-8
- Jane Dammen McAuliffe, Qur'anic Christians: an Analysis of Classical and Modern Exegesis, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. ISBN 0-521-36470-1
- Frithjof Schuon, Christianity/Islam: Essays on Esoteric Ecumenicism, in series, The Library of Traditional Wisdom, Bloomington, Ind.: World Wisdom Books, cop. 1985. vii, 270 p. N.B.: Trans. from French. ISBN 0-941532-05-4; the ISBN on the verso of the t.p. surely is erroneous.
- Mark D. Siljander and John David Mann, A Deadly Misunderstanding: a Congressman's Quest to Bridge the Muslim-Christian Divide, New York: Harper One, 2008. ISBN 978-0-06-143828-8.
- Robert Spencer, Not Peace But a Sword: The Great Chasm Between Christianity and Islam. Catholic Answers. March 25, 2013. ISBN 978-1938983283.
- Thomas, David, Muhammad in Medieval Christian-Muslim Relations (Medieval Islam), in Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God (2 vols.), Edited by C. Fitzpatrick and A. Walker, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2014, Vol. I, pp. 392–400. 1610691776
- Hasib Sabbagh: A Legacy of Understanding from the Dean Peter Krogh Foreign Affairs Digital Archives
- Slideshow with Audio Clips from the "Paths to the Heart" Conference on Sufism and the Christian East that took place in Columbia, South Carolina on October 18–20, 2001
- Jesus and Christianity A comprehensive essay on the Muslim view of Jesus and Christianity
- Christian Churches of God Articles/Papers on Islam
- The Christian Muslim Forum
- "I'm Right, You're Wrong, Go to Hell" – Religions and the meeting of civilization by Bernard Lewis
- Islam & Christianity (IRAN & GEORGIA) News Photos