THE WORLD'S TWO LARGEST RELIGIONS:
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are three closely related religions. Because they all revere Abraham and certain other
patriarchs mentioned in the Bible as their spiritual ancestors, they are called Abrahamic religions. (The Baha'i world
faith is sometimes also included in this grouping.) However, their many points of similarity are no guarantee that their followers
can get along. Most of the serious religiously motivated conflicts, mass crimes against humanity and genocides in the
20th century have been between Muslims and Christians. This has included genocides Bosnia Herzegovina, East Timor, and the
Sudan, as well as serious conflicts in Cyprus, Kosovo, Macedonia, and the Philippines. As of mid-2001, two of these
conflicts (Sudan and Philippines) are still active, and three others are inert only because of peacekeepers on the ground.
It is difficult to compare Christianity to any other religion, because there
is such a wide range of beliefs and practices among various wings of Christianity: Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox churches,
the Anglican communion and the tens of thousands of Protestant faith groups. Some commentators have suggested that Christianity
consists of a number of different religions which share little more than the Bible and the name of their religion. Protestant
Christianity is obviously divided into at least liberal and conservative wings---divisions which hold few beliefs in common.
Some of the descriptions below will thus necessarily be somewhat simplistic and lacking in precision.
About the religions themselves:
|Name of the religion:
|Meaning of the name:
||Believer in Christ (a Greek word meaning
||Submission to the will of God.|
|Name of a believer:
|Date of founding:
||circa 30 CE. 1
||622 CE. 2|
|Name of founder(s):
||Yeshua of Nazareth (aka Jesus Christ,
(pbuh) 3 & Paul.
||Muhammad (pbuh). 3|
|% of world's population as followers:
|Worldwide growth rate in numbers of members 4
|Growth rate: % of world's population:
||About 0.0%/year. Numbers have been steady
||Increase of about 0.6%/yr.|
|Estimated year when Islam will become the most popular
||2023 CE (if above numbers are
valid) to beyond 2200 CE (as estimated by many religious futurists)|
|% of U.S. population as followers:
2001 ARIS Study
2001 ARIS Study
estimates 0.5%; some Muslim groups estimate 6 million (2%).
||Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican,
Protestant, and others.
||Shi'ite, Sunni, Sufi. Sufi is a mystical
|Name of the religion:
|Concept of deity:
||Most believe in the Trinity; three persons
in one Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
||God (Allah) is one and indivisible. They
believe in a strict monotheism. "Allah" is God in Arabic.|
|Status of Yeshua (Jesus):
||Generally considered the Son of God,
worshiped as God; part of the Trinity.
||Very highly respected as the second-last
|Birth of Yeshua:
||Conservatives: virgin birth; liberals:
|Death of Yeshua:
||Executed by Roman Army circa 30 CE.
||Was neither killed nor crucified, nor
suffer death. He ascended alive into heaven. 2|
||Ascended into Heaven
||Ascended into Heaven|
|Second coming of Jesus
||Conservatives: expect in near future.
||Anticipate the second coming in the future.|
|Status of Adam:
||Disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden.
||Free from all major sins and faults.
Some regard him as a prophet.|
||Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek.
|Status of the holy book:
||Conservatives: the inerrant Word of God.
Liberals: a historical spiritual document.
||God's word and final revelation, dictated
by angel Gabriel.|
||Writings of the leaders of the early
Church. For Roman Catholics: church tradition.
||The Hadith -- sayings of Muhammad (pbuh).|
|Ethic of reciprocity (Golden rule):
all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." Matthew 7:12
one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." Fourth Hadith of an-Nawawi 13|
|A baby's status at birth
||Conservatives: A baby is born with a
sin nature, separated from God. God needs to give him grace so that he may be saved.
||All babies are a born in a pure state
of submission to Islam. However, as they mature they are often taught other beliefs.|
|Life after death:
||Either Heaven or Hell. Catholics believe in Purgatory.
||Heaven or Hell.|
|Basis of determining destination after death:
||There is no consensus in Christianity.
Different faith groups hold Various diverse beliefs: trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior, good works, church sacraments, baptism, avoiding certain actions.
||Once they reach puberty, his/her account
of deeds is opened in Paradise. To attain paradise, at death, their good deeds (helping others, testifying to the truth of
God, leading a virtuous life) must outweigh their evil deeds.|
||Roman Catholic: to a priest; Others:
to God or Jesus
|Probably the most misunderstood term:
||Immaculate Conception: Roman Catholics
believe that the conception of the Virgin Mary, circa 20 BCE, was without sin. Many incorrectly relate it to Jesus' conception.
||Jihad: internal, personal struggle
towards the attainment of a noble goal. Many incorrectly equate it to "holy war."|
|Name of the religion:
|Current interpretation of the Holy Book:
||Ranges from statements of the Pope in
Roman Catholicism to resolutions at conventions among Protestants.
||Learned scholars in various countries.
There is no single spokesperson or authoritative group.|
|Name of worship center:
||Sunday; Saturday for some.
|Church and state:
||Largely considered separate. Most Christian
countries are democracies
||Integrated. Most Muslim countries are
||Generally restricted to legal matters.
||Covers both moral and legal matters.|
||Prerogative of the people
||Prerogative of God|
|Use of statues:
||Common in some denominations
||Absolutely forbidden. Considered idolatry.|
|Main holy days:
||Most Christians celebrate Christmas,
Easter, and associated holy days.
||New Years, Ashura, Mawlid, lunar month
of Ramadan, Id al-Fitr, Id al-Adha.|
|Status of women:
||Variable. Conservatives & liberals
||Strongly affected by cultural traditions.
Severely oppressed in some countries.|
||Inter-faith marriages, in the Eastern
Orthodox church. Marriages between conservative Christians and others, within conservative Christianity.
||A Muslim woman may not be married (or
remained married) to a non-Muslim man.|
||Promoted by the Mormon church until 1978. Still supported by Christian Identity, KKK, and other Christian fringe groups. Officially rejected by almost all other denominations.
||Officially rejected by all Islamic movements.
|Reaction to apostasy (leaving the faith due to religious
||Prior to 1792, the end of the "burning times," execution was possible.
||Traditionally, death to the apostate.
Rarely practiced in the 21st century.|
|Historical treatment of Jewish people (Prior to World
||Prolonged and widespread anti-judeism,
anti-semetism, oppression and mass murder
Additional taxation, but otherwise general tolerance.
|Recent treatment of Jewish people:
||Lessening of anti-semitism from historical
levels, and gradual support of Israel, particularly since World War II.
||Massive opposition and physical attacks
since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 and the occupation of Palestine.|
|Relations with state of Israel since 1948
||Widespread support for Israel. Abandonment
of historical anti-semitism.
||Widespread rejection of Israel. Discrimination,
suicide bombing, etc. practiced.|
|Basis of calendar:
||Gregorian solar calendar. 1 CE
occurred about four to seven years after birth of Jesus.
||Islamic lunar calendar. 1 AH occurred
in 622 CE, the year of the Hegira when Muhammad traveled from Mecca to Medina.|
|Most misunderstood practice:
||The sacrifice of the Mass, a Roman Catholic
ritual. Some Native Americans and others interpreted it as a form of ritual cannibalism.
||Female Genital Mutilation. This is often considered
a religious requirement of Islam. Actually it is cultural tradition common in some countries of Northern Africa. It is unknown
in many Muslim countries.|
- The Christian church is normally considered to have begun at Pentecost, 50 days after Christians believe that Jesus was
executed. Unfortunately, the year of his death is unknown.
- Most religious historians view Islam as having been founded in 622 CE. However, many if not most of the followers of Islam
Muslims traditionally acknowledge respect for Muhammad, Jesus and other prophets (peace be upon them) by adding this phrase
or an abbreviation "(pbuh)" after their names.
Greg H. Parsons, Executive Director, "U.S. Center for World Mission," Pasadena, CA; quoted in Zondervan News Service,
One exception is the Nation of Islam which promotes a black supremacist ideology. For example, leader Louis Farrakhan
stated that "White people are potential humans…they haven’t evolved yet." (Philadelphia Inquirer, 2000-MAR-18).
However, most Muslims do not consider the Nation of Islam to be part of Islam, because of its unique beliefs about
God, humanity and the rest of the universe.
||Islam existed before Muhammad (pbuh) was
||The origins of Islam date back to the
creation of the world.|
Useful sources of information: