The conversation about the differences between Islam and Christianity has gone on for centuries. We’ve covered a lot of detail about many of the differences in other blog posts, but if you’re looking for a basic understanding then you’ve come to the right place.
We are going to look at the differences between Islam and Christianity in their:
- Books and sacred scripture
- The deity they worship
- Their beliefs about who Jesus is
- Their main beliefs on salvation
Books and sacred scripture
Islam- The Quran and the Hadith
The sacred text of Islam is called the Quran. It was supposedly given to Muhammad through a revelation from an angel during a period of 18 years. He shared it with his followers and within a few decades of his death it was compiled by one scribe who decided what was true and what was fake from all that was collected for Muhammad. The Quran contains 114 chapters and is written in classical old Arabic. Any translation of the Quran is called “The meaning of the Quran” and is not considered the truest version of the text; the only version of the Quran that is considered 100% true and accurate is the Arabic Quran.
Islam also refers to a collection of stories and sayings of Muhammad, his close followers, and his wives, called the Hadith. There are varying levels of accurateness in the Hadith, and Muslim scholars acknowledge that there are strong hadith, medium accuracy hadith, and weak hadith (fallible and possibly incorrect).
To learn more about Islam’s books and how to talk about them with your Muslim friend, check out these blog posts:
Christianity- The Bible
The Holy Bible is the book that Christians read and follow. It was written over a span of 1,500 years. The first section of the Bible is the Old Testament, the sacred writings and books of Judaism which were protected and replicated perfectly by Jewish priests for thousands of years.
The second section of the Bible is the New Testament, which consists of first-hand accounts of Jesus’ life on earth in the Gospels and letters to the early churches in the first century. There are at least 4,000 Greek manuscripts from before 1200 AD and even some full manuscripts from as early as 350 AD. In fact, there is more historical documentation for the reliability of the Gospels than there is for Napoleon’s battle at Waterloo (1815 AD), which no one calls into question!
The deity they worship
Muhammad claimed that the God of the Christians and Jews (Yahweh) sent an angel to him. However, Muhammad said Yahweh's name was going to be Allah– the same name of the pagan moon-god and the Arabic word for “the god.” The character of Allah can be revealed through the Quran, where we learn he is inconsistent and desires a master-slave relationship with his followers.
To learn more about Allah’s progressive (changing) nature, read The origin of Islam’s god, Allah.
Yahweh is the triune God who revealed Himself through the Bible as the Creator of the universe and of mankind. He called Abraham to follow Him and promised that through his offspring all the world will be blessed. He revealed Himself as "I Am Who I Am" to Moses and foretold through His prophets about the Messiah (His Word), who would come from Moses’ lineage, who would bring eternal hope and salvation to all humans who believe in Him. Yahwah’s character can be seen throughout the narrative of the Bible as unchanging. He is unconditionally loving, and He desires a Father/child relationship with us.
To learn more in-depth about the differences between Islam’s god and the true God of the Bible, read this blog post: Who is Allah compared to Yahweh?
To get help in introducing your Muslim friend to the true God, read Introducing your Muslim friend to God the Father.
Beliefs about who Jesus is
Islam- Jesus is a prophet
Islam teaches that Jesus (called Isa in the Quran) was a prophet of Allah, the last prophet to come before Muhammad. They believe He was a good person, sinless, and born of a virgin, but Islam says that Muhammad is more important and should be used as an example for how to live.
To read more about Islam’s beliefs about Jesus and how to share about Him with your Muslim friends, read these blog posts:
To learn more about Muhammad and Islam’s prophets, read these posts:
Christianity- Jesus is Lord
Jesus is the reason Christianity exists. We believe Jesus is the Son of God, the Word of God, and God in the flesh, who lived a perfect life so that He could be the perfect sacrifice and atonement for all of humanity’s sins. He became the sacrifice in our place and died on the cross and rose again from the grave so that we could have a relationship with God and spend eternity with Him in heaven. It is a well-supported historical fact that Jesus was a real person, and thousands of people saw Jesus alive after His resurrection.
Main beliefs on salvation
Islam- The Five Pillars
Islam is a works-based religion. In order be a good and faithful Muslim, one must complete the Five Pillars of Islam: prayer, fasting, confession of faith, pilgrimage, and charity. There are special rules and requirements that they must follow in order to fulfill the requirements of these deeds. But, a Muslim can do everything right and have more good deeds than bad at the end of their life, but their fate is ultimately determined by Allah and his feelings.
To learn more about works and what Muslims are required to do, check out these blogs posts:
Did you know Muslims have to do these 5 things? (In-depth review of the Five Pillars of Islam)
Christianity- Salvation through Jesus
The Bible is very clear that salvation only comes through Jesus. We believe that Jesus is our Lord and Savior and that the only way to be saved from our sins is through Him. There is no amount of good things we could do to save ourselves from our sins, instead we must believe in Jesus and what He did on the cross to redeem us. As a result of our belief our lives change completely and our good deeds become the results of our love and obedience to Him.
How to talk about these differences with your Muslim friend
Now that we’ve established very big and important differences between Islam and Christianity, the next step is using this knowledge to connect with your Muslim friend and share the love of Christ with them!
Notice we said connect and share Jesus’ love, not argue with your Muslim friend about who is right and who is wrong. Jesus did not come to win arguments, but instead He calls us to win hearts.
For each of these major differences, there are ways that you can talk to your Muslim friend and share God's love with them, instead of attacking their beliefs. Here are some suggestions:
Talking about the sacred books
Instead of attacking the Quran and questioning its authority, talk about how we can see God’s plan throughout the entire Bible of how He pursued a relationship with us.
Explaining that God is Love
If you are talking about God with your Muslim friend, do not talk poorly about Allah. Focus on sharing God's love and the Father's heart with them.
Sharing the True Jesus with your Muslim friend
Jesus is the cornerstone of our entire faith. We know how life-changing a relationship with Him is. Tell your Muslim friend how Jesus has personally changed you; don’t worry about debating with them.
Talking about how to be saved
If your Muslim friend asks you about what you believe about salvation, explain how sin entered this world, and that no amount of works can make us right before God. Then share the redemption story and how Jesus paid the price to make our standing right with God. John 3:16 is a good focus here.
If you are just beginning in your personal ministry to the Muslims in your city and in your life, you’ve come to the right spot. We are dedicated to helping you every step of the way. Here are a few more blog posts that are going to help– we know, we’ve already given you a lot of homework already! Save this post for later and slowly read through as topics arise in your conversations with your Muslim friends.