Although Christians who follow the teachings of Jesus, and the Muslims who follow the teachings of Mohammed, may represent the same God, they are decidedly different when it comes to the way that they worship.
The birth and death of both Jesus and Mohammed has shaped the nature of each religion today. Their lives have brought millions of people together in the belief and faith in one true God but they still have different beliefs and practices. Christians are redeemed through God’s grace and Jesus Christ and the Muslims adhere to laws and rites.
Both the Christians who follow the teachings of Jesus and the Muslims who follow the teachings of Mohammed believe in the very same God. And both Jesus and Mohammed started from poor, quiet, ordinary beginnings. It is there however that the similarities end and the differences begin.
The life of Jesus began in the city of Bethlehem around four BC. He was born as the incarnate Son of God and divinely conceived to the virgin, Mary. Mary was wed to Joseph, a carpenter from Nazareth and that is the family in which he was raised. The life of Jesus is found in the New Testament of the Bible. He was born in Bethlehem where Mary and Joseph had traveled to comply with the census law of that time. They then fled to Egypt to avoid the law set by King Herod that all first born sons were to be killed. Most of his childhood is unknown except for a mention in the book of Luke about (2:21-24) and (2:41-51).
Jesus ministry began as a young man after his Baptism in the Jordan River. He and his twelve disciples traveled to the neighboring towns, teaching about God’s love and healing the sick and infirmed. He taught that no matter how bad someone had sinned, if his heart was sincere and he repented, God would forgive him. It was God’s grace that would save man rather that strict adherence to the law of that time.
As Jesus popularity grew so did the realization that he was the Son of God. His ministry and popularity caused concern with the priests and scribes. They were afraid that he would turn the people away from them and their laws so they conspired to kill Jesus. With the help of one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Jesus was arrested, tried and put to death by crucifixion.
According to the MSN Encarta encyclopedia, Mohammed’s life ran from about 570 to 632. He was born into a poor but respected family in Mecca and was orphaned by the time he was six years old. He was raised by his grandfather and then later by his uncle. He was a trader by profession and during one of his travels; he met and married Kahdija, a wealthy widow who was about 15 years older than himself. (2007, pg1)
Mohammed was praying for guidance in a cave one day when he was visited by the archangel Gabriel. Gabriel proclaimed him a prophet of God. Mohammed slowly began to accept his mission as a prophet and began to speak publicly about his revelation. These speeches were written down and are now what we know has the Koran.
The main teachings of Mohammed is that there is only one God, a last judgment and for social and economic justice. He also claimed that the Koran was the last revealed book and he himself was the last and final prophets and his teachings took the place of all earlier ones. His popularity and advocacy for social reform brought him power and leadership. It also brought enemies. This resulted in wars between Mecca and Medina. The people of Mecca finally submitted to Mohammed and were converted to Islam. Mohammed died suddenly and unexpectedly on June 8, 632 (MSN Encarta encyclopedia, 2007, pg.1).
The death of Jesus was a fulfillment of His own prophecy. It is believed that only through His own death, those who believed in Him, could be saved and live eternally with God in Heaven. He was the ultimate sacrificial lamb who made everything right with God. The laws of the Old Testament were no longer needed and only the belief and faith in Jesus as the Christ is necessary. If it weren’t for the death and resurrection of Jesus, his life would not have had the impact on Christianity that it has today. The followers of Christ Jesus were committed to carrying out His work and spreading His message to the world even if it meant their own imprisonment or even death.
Mohammed’s death had a similar result in the people wanting to continue to spread his message and teach the message of Islam. At first there was some confusion as to who should succeed him and carry out his leadership of the people. There couldn’t be another prophet since Mohammed had declared himself as the last, so a leader had to be chosen. The leadership of the Islamic religion also controls the political environment of the Islamic community.
The early Muslims recognized neither distinction between religion and state, nor between religious and secular authorities and organizations. Many Muslims even prefer to call Islam a way of life rather than a religion. Indeed, a strictly theocratic conception of order, in which Islam is not merely a religion but a complete system ordained by God for the socio-political as well as the moral and spiritual governance of mankind, had been an integral part of Mohammed’s message and practice. “While a history of Christianity will usually cover only matters relating to religion in a narrow sense, a history of Islam may discuss, for example, political developments, literary and artistic life, taxation and landholding, tribal and ethnic migrations, etc.” (MSN Encarta Encyclopedia, 2007, pg 1).
Jesus is worshipped today as the Son of God and deliverer of the people of God. It is through Him that they are saved and forgiven for our sins. As people of God, they want to please Him and become children of God. They worship him through prayer, faith, and works.
It is prayer in which the people of Islam also communicate to God. Their prayers also honor Mohammed in that they face Mecca, the holy city of Mohammed’s birth in supplication to God. Another way in which the people of Islam honor the father of their religion is with a pilgrimage to Mecca. This is the ritual to which the people make the visit to Mecca and perform a series of purification rituals and rites in honor of God.
Christians continue to meet in prayer and worship for God. They send out missionaries to spread the message of Jesus to people who wouldn’t get to hear the word otherwise. They print books of the Bible to pass out for everyone to read in all languages. They build schools and churches in order to teach others how God wants us to live.
The numbers of Muslims in the world has been spreading at an extraordinary rate. This is in part due to the population growth within the Muslim community as well as conversion of people as they learn more about the religion and its responsibilities.
Both Jesus and Mohammed represent the same God, and they both started from poor, quiet, ordinary beginnings. They both speak about Gods love for His people. They both teach that their way is the truth. Their lives have brought millions of people together in the belief and faith in one true God. It is here where the similarities end and the differences begin. The ways to worship are decidedly different. Where Christians are redeemed through God’s grace and Jesus Christ, the Muslims adhere to laws and rites.
Prayway (1997). An introduction to Islam. Retrieved May 24, 2007
from , Global Prayer Community Web site:
MSN Encarta Encyclopedia (2007). Islam. Retrieved May 25, 2007
from , Microsoft Web site: