Table of contents
- Chapter 1- Religious Importance
- Chapter 2- Features of Religion
- Chapter 3- Christianity
- Chapter 4- Islam
- Chapter 5. Comparative Analysis
Religion provides many benefits to humans, and also allows human beings to make sense of our existence. Religions around the world provide answers to the ways in which we were created, and the occurrences of events, and they also provide a moral and ethical code by which we live. Christianity and Islam, are both different religions, yet they stand for the same principles with the aim of making us better people and helping us through our lives. When analyzing religion it is extremely evident, how religion has shaped our world and allowed us to make sense of who we are.
The Dalai Lama believed, “that all religions aim at making people better human beings and that, despite philosophical differences, some of the fundamental, they all aim at helping humanity to find happiness.” Islam and Christianity both highlight the importance of faith in the higher being, Allah and God, and demonstrate their role in human existence. Over time religion has declined within Australia, and throughout the world, with the most popular religion becoming “no religion”. However, it is impossible to ignore the outstanding impacts that Christianity and Islam have had on humanity, and how they have allowed our world to flourish and grow. In their respective religions, Allah and God have provided people with salvation and forgiveness through hardship, and they have enabled believers to make sense of who we are and our purpose on the earth.
Chapter 1- Religious Importance
Within our society, Religion is extremely important, as in some cultures it sets guidelines, laws, and ethical and moral codes. Religion’s effect is “far-reaching, and has remained unmoved in the face of science and technology”(1). Many people today argue that society could not function without religion. Most of the laws, ethics, and morals we follow today, have their basis in religious teachings. Depending on the culture, religion can range from having a simple influence or complete control over society. Religion is proven to cause people to become more generous and less stressed about life. Religion also provides us with a form of unity and difference and allows some people to gain a purpose or happiness within their lives. Around 4.5 billion people today believe in a higher power(2). Religion offers people, existential meaning, and allows them to make sense of who they are.
Chapter 2- Features of Religion
There are many aspects of Religion, which each individually enable us to make sense of our existence. Sacred Texts and Writings, provide the believers with a moral and purpose, as well as providing them with direction and enlightening us on past traditions. Rituals and ceremonies are also other prevalent features of religion. They allow the celebration of achievement, an event, or just belief in the divine power or being. A ceremony or ritual requires a goal to be set and then met, or a new beginning within the spiritual world, providing meaning and purpose to many people’s lives. Each religion has its own sacred structure or institution, which instills worship or forgiveness. These sites provide a safe haven for many ‘lost’ people. Charities are organized in partnership with churches and Sacred Places, and many of these charities save people’s lives. As mentioned earlier, Religion provides human beings with a specific code of ethics, offering guidance in the way in which people should live. Religions like Christianity and Islam, consist of all of these features, each influencing their believers in different ways, allowing them to make sense of their existence. “They’re finding that religion may, in fact, be a byproduct of the way our brains work, growing from cognitive tendencies to seek an order from chaos, to anthropomorphize our environment and to the world around us was created for our use.”(3)
Chapter 3- Christianity
Christianity is a religion based on the person and teachings of Jesus Christ, and his beliefs and practices.(4) Christianity is the most popular belief system around the world, with around 33% of the population following its beliefs.(5) These people, all believe in and follow the moral and ethical code, which Christianity has set out for them to guide them through their life. By following this code, they have created a purpose in their lives. The main sacred text of Christianity is The Bible. The Bible is a group of sacred writings and texts all put together. Christians believe that The Bible transmits God’s ideas to human beings. This is one of their many connections with God.
Another connection that Christians have to God, is by visiting Churches. Religious structures and institutions like churches, provide Christians with Salvation, and a place for them to communicate with their divine power. “Church has been a sanctuary of thought, challenge, healing, and creativity.”(6) Not only has Christianity provided answers and meaning for those who follow it, but Christianity also provides help and care to those who need it most. The Salvation Army charity is based on the principles of The Bible. Its mission is to “preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”(7)
Recently, when the devastating natural disaster of a tropical cyclone hit far North Queensland, the Salvation Army responded quickly, helping to rescue homeless families and rebuild homes. Christianity provides hope, promise, and Salvation, to anyone in need, forming an inclusive and harmonious society, and providing many people with existential meaning.
Chapter 4- Islam
Islam is a natural way of life, that encourages one to give due attention to their relationship with God and His creation. By performing good deeds, souls can find true happiness and peace on Earth. The word Islam, fittingly, is derived from the word “salam” meaning peace. Like Christianity, Islam is a Semitic Monotheistic Religion, believing in one divine power or higher being. In Arabic, He is called Allah. “Islam encourages people to keep the soul healthy, through the remembrance, obedience, and worship of God.”(8)
In Islamic culture, the equivalent to the Christian Bible is the Qur’an. The Islamic followers believe that the Qur’an is a revelation from God. Throughout the Qur’an, many of the Ten Commandments are repeated, such as commands to “serve no other gods” (24:55), “refrain from making idols” (4:116), “not covet” (4:32), “not murder” (6:151), and “honor one’s father and mother.” (6:151)(9) This moral and ethical code, also aims at guiding Islamic people towards the preferred life. Within Islamic culture, Family and Kinship is extremely important. Family is the building block of their society.
There are 5 pillars of Islam. These are Faith, Prayer, Obligatory Charity, Fasting, and Pilgrimage. Each of these pillars stands for a certain significance within Islamic culture. By carrying out these pillars, the individual proves their devotion to their religion. It also proves to Allah, that Muslims are putting their faith first, and not just trying to fit it in around their lives. Similar to Christianity, Islamic beliefs, have sacred structures and institutions, like Mosques, which are more than just places of worship for many Muslims. Like Christianity, Islam provides salvation and existential meaning for its followers, who believe in Allah, and the Prophet Muhammad.
Chapter 5. Comparative Analysis
Both Christianity and Islam occurred centuries ago; however, a lot has been recovered giving insight into what religion was like before Jesus and Muhammad revolutionized religion. Before Christianity, Judaism was present, matter of fact Jesus was Jewish. In addition, Jesus’ motivation wasn’t to create a new religion but rather to improve the old one. Unlike Jesus, Muhammad wanted his people to see religion the way he did. Before Islam was established, the people of Mecca were polytheistic and this had a major impact on the business corporation back then. They would craft idols representing different Gods, so they could sell them for profit; Muhammad disapproved of this, therefore took action (Biography, 2014). Similar to this, Jesus disagreed with how Judaism operated and decided to create changes. Before the time of both religions, the atmosphere was severely toxic. For example, before Christianity, the church would attempt to tax money from everyday churchgoers. As stated before Islam also faced this problem, before both religions were civilized, they both appeared to have a high desire for monetary value (Nye. M, 2017).
The bible, states that God is above all and we should know and acknowledge that through worship and rituals. “The Lord our God is holy!” and “his righteous deeds have been revealed,” (Revelation 15:3-4). Jesus believed that we must keep our worship within truth, this means God recognizes that we could be saying something but be thinking something entirely different. Jesus believed if we studied God’s word and truly believed we would be able to worship him truthfully through his son, Jesus Christ. “Direct your worship towards the One through the Son. True worship is narrow in its direction,” (the traveling team, 2019) Jesus said that worshiping God is broad but to have a heart of worship, you can worship anywhere. Muhammad also stated that our worship of God was based on truth. Worshiping in hope of earning a reward from Allah through a God-consciousness, shows devotion. Having a pure heart of worship in Islam does not require you to enter a sacred space to worship, rather fulfilling a life purpose in Allah’s name is a daily pursuit of worship. Muslims do this by following the five pillars - the system that allows them to be humble and have gratitude towards Allah. Alternatively, Christianity has the beatitudes that Jesus bestowed upon his followers, the beatitudes teach us how to live a loving and caring life, much like Islam’s five pillars. Muhammad believed that the merit of someone's action depended on intention. He believes that Allah does not recognize physical deeds but rather how pure one’s heart is. Both Jesus and Mohammad say that worship is all about the pure intention of pleasing God.
Christianity and Islam both have their own ‘sacred texts’ - Christianity has the bible and Islam primarily focuses on the Quran. In the bible, it states that we must have sacred space and sacred time (Leviticus 23). Sacred space stems from the original tradition partaken by the Jews - Early Christians were forced to worship in synagogues, as time went on they were given protection under Roman Law, and churches were built following similar Roman architectural styles. Much like the Christians, the Muslims also have a sacred space, it's called a mosque; like a church, the Muslims use this for prayer as well as a community center. Both Christianity and Islam have sacred times where they dedicate time for themselves to focus on prayer and family - usually occurring every week on dedicated days, commonly referred to as, ‘Holy Day’ (a day of rest). In addition, both religions celebrate their versions of rites and ceremonies - Christians celebrating sacraments and Muslims celebrating traditions such as Hajj and Ramadan (Patheos, 2019). In Christianity the seven sacraments are checkpoints in a person's life that show their faith in God, each sacrament has its own ceremony and is considered sacred and pure. In Islam, they follow the five pillars, one of them being Hajj - a time in a Muslim's life when they are required to contribute a percentage of their earnings to a charity of their choice, this tradition is meant to highlight their faith in Allah. All of these rituals are directly extracted from the sacred texts of each religion, this was how the founder of each wanted their work to continue existing as.
Islam has two major holidays that they celebrate today; Eid al-Adha - the day Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son for Allah and Eid al-Fitr - the end of Ramadan (a holy month of fasting). In comparison, Christianity gave birth to the world’s two most popular holidays; Christmas - celebrating the birth of Jesus, and Easter - commemorating the resurrection of Jesus. Islam has a legal system known as Sharia Law, “this law is a faith-based code of conduct that directs Muslims how they should live in nearly every aspect of their life,” (History, 2018). Sharia Law is what every Muslim life by; everything from marriage guidelines to how they are supposed to dress. Sharia Law used to be known for its extreme punishments, but in today's time, they have been tamed as they were considered too extreme and most Muslims found them unethical. Referring to Christianity, around 1% - 3% of the church's funding actually goes towards helping the poor contradicting the way Jesus wanted us to live (Relevant Magazine, 2019). Although Christians don’t live their lives exactly as Jesus planned for them; they have the right heart, which is what God is looking for. On the other hand, Muslims are true believers in their founder’s hard work, and the majority follow the laws provided via the Quran. Muslims believe that Islam is the continuation of the true spirit of religion as revealed by God to the earlier prophets. Considering the religion isn’t as old as Christianity, it hasn't had the time for the worship and rituals to compensate for modern times. Today, Islam still follows the same rules that Muhammad created for them over 1,000 years ago. The reason Islam hasn't changed much over the years is most likely due to its very specific rules - without them or if they were too vague (like Christianities), it could give leeway in the rules; therefore changing Muhammad’s original design.
Christianity and Islam, are both extremely popular and powerful religions, which have both enabled their believers to find existential meaning. Whether through Prayer, Charity Work, Worship at Sacred Sites, or the reading of Sacred Texts, they both allow their followers, to have a purpose in their lives. Throughout time, humanity has been searching for meaning and purpose, yet it has always led them back to what is most important to them. For some, their family and friends, and for others it is happiness. However, Religion encompasses it all and has guided humanity in the right direction, providing each individual, with their meaning and purpose. “Religion brings to man an inner strength, spiritual light, and ineffable peace.”(10)
- Living Religion, Edition 4, Janet Morrissey, 2017, Pearson accessed - 20/03/2019 What is Christianity? CARM.org, https://carm.org/what-is-christianity - 25/03/2019
- Apa, https://www.apa.org/monitor/2010/12/believe- 25/03/2019
- Our Mission, The Salvation Army Australia, 2019, https://www.salvationarmy.org.au/about-us/news-and-stories- 26/03/2019
- The Bible and Islam, Crossway, 11 September 2018, Timothy C. Tennent, https://www.crossway.org/articles/the-bible-and-islam/ - 30/03/2019
- The Five Pillars of Islam, Why Islam?, 12 November 2014, https://www.whyislam.org/islamicteachings/the-five-pillars-of-islam/ - 30/03/2019
- Five Pillars of Islam, BBC, 9th August 2009, http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/practices/fivepillars.shtml- 29/03/2019
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- Bible Gateway. (2019). Bible Gateway passage: Revelation 15:3-4 - New International Version. [online] Available at: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation+15%3A3-4&version=NIV [Accessed 27 Oct. 2019].
- Bible Gateway. (2014). Bible Gateway passage: Revelation 15:3-4 - New International Version. [online] Available at: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation+15%3A3-4&version=NIV [Accessed 27 Oct. 2019].
- Biography. (2019). Muhammad. [online] Available at: https://www.biography.com/religious-figure/muhammad [Accessed 27 Oct. 2019].
- Facts about the Muslims & the Religion of Islam - Toll-free hotline 1-877-WHY-ISLAM. (2019). Worship in Islam. [online] Available at: https://www.whyislam.org/brochures/worship-in-islam/ [Accessed 27 Oct. 2019].
- HISTORY. (2018). Islam. [online] Available at: https://www.history.com/topics/religion/islam#section_11 [Accessed 27 Oct. 2019].
- This source talks about the worships and rituals practiced in Islam. This website contained a quote that perfectly described what Sharia Law is. This website is very well known and used in a fair amount of history reports/essays. The website presents reasonable evidence and therefore seems trustworthy.
- Medium. (2017). Money, power, and religion: exploring ‘belief’ and cultural imagination. [online] Available at: https://medium.com/religion-bites/do-you-believe-in-money-28d8d1cf9557 [Accessed 27 Oct. 2019].
- Patheos.com. (2019). Sacred Time. [online] Available at: https://www.patheos.com/library/christianity/ritual-worship-devotion-symbolism/sacred-time [Accessed 27 Oct. 2019].
- Patheos was able to give multiple worships and rituals, explaining them all in proper depth. This website allowed me to have more understanding of Christianity’s worships and rituals. The website seems trustworthy because the author clearly seems to be educated on the subject - in addition, most of this information was relayed through other sources, confirming its trustworthiness.
- Sprinkle, P. (2019). 4 Ways the Modern Church Looks Nothing Like the Early Church | RELEVANT Magazine. [online] RELEVANT Magazine. Available at: https://relevantmagazine.com/god/4-ways-modern-church-looks-nothing-early-church/ [Accessed 27 Oct. 2019].