Islam versus Christianity in the Appearances of Raising a Functioning Civilization

Islam versus Christianity in the Appearances of Raising a Functioning Civilization

A Story by Jester

The final paper for my World History Honors class



Religion is apparent in every single civilization. There has never been a group of people to exist without religion. Humans need religion to get through the day and to find some reason to still survive. Every civilization, ancient or modern, advanced or primitive, has had a religion that they base their lives off of. Entire societies have fallen because of the religion that they have followed. Governments have been based off it, and they have fallen because of religion. It has sparked revolutions, and started and ended wars. It has enabled people to have the courage to stand up and speak their minds, despite the fact that they might get hurt. Religion has been cursed, blessed, and even ignored, but it has always been here. Never in the history of the world has there been a civilization that existed without religion.

            Religion has been in existence ever since man first looked at the stars and wondered what was keeping them from falling to the earth. And just as every mans outlook on life is different, so were the reasons he came up with to explain the happenings of the world. Each thought that his idea was best, and so they fought for their ideas. So this continued until almost all other religions were lost, and two stood above all the others. Islam and Christianity are now the two greatest religions in the world, each with a following of almost 2 a billion people or more. They have spread their influence far and wide, converting and crushing the religions in their way. However, are either one of these religions better than the other? They have both shaped countries, continents, and the world, but are they so different?

            Islam, the word itself, actually means “Submission,” and they follow the teaching of the holy book the Qur’an. And thus the religion heavily stresses the concept of submission and servitude towards god, Allah in the Arab tongue. While many think that Islam is confined to the Arabian countries, this is a complete untruth. Much of Asia, Africa, and even Eastern Europe have converted to the Muslim faith. And although some Muslims have in fact immigrated to largely Christian countries, many stay in their home countries. The concept of Jihad, or a holy war, is only tolerated by about 15% of the Islamic population (Shi’a), and even then, most of them do not like it. For most of the Shi’a, offensive Jihad, or war, can only be declared by a leader appointed by the divine, the last of whom existed almost a thousand years ago.

            The followers of the Islamic faith live their day to day lives by the Five Pillars of Islam, slightly like the ten commandments of the Christian faith. The first, Shahadah, is the basic statement that any who follow the five pillars are acknowledging that they will not follow any other god than Allah, and that they believe that Muhammad was the last true prophet. The next is Salah, which is the ritual pray that must be performed five times a day. The third is Zakat, the giving of alms to the poor and the needy, and every Muslim that can afford it is expected to give it. Sawm is the rule of fasting during the month of Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims were they may not eat from sun up to sun down. And the last is Hajj, the order to take at least one pilgrimage to Mecca in their life time.

            The only thing that I don’t find appealing about the Islamic belief is their mixing of religion and government. It is my belief that church and state should always be separated, especially in a time like this and a country like ours with a thousand different religions converging in one spot. In the Middle East women aren’t allowed out by themselves, and they have to cover up all the time. They’re whipped when they are raped, simply because this is what the religious law, or Sharia, depicts. I think that one of the only reasons the Middle East isn’t flourishing is because these religious laws that are holding them from advancement that they need to become part of the modern world.

            Christianity on the other hand, has flourished in much of the so called civilized world, gaining over two billion followers, making it the largest religion in the world. It’s centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus Christ, the son of god according to the bible, the Christian holy book. He was killed, thus ending BC (Before Christ) and bringing the world into AD (Anno Domini: literally “The year of our/the Lord.”), and was raised back to heaven, where many Christians believe he now judges the souls of the passed on.

            Christianity too has a set of rules that they live by, called the Ten Commandments. Supposedly these rules were given to Moses by God himself after he journeyed up Mount Sinai, also known as Mount Horeb in the bible. The “ten” may be a slightly untrue number, as the bible dictates more than Ten Commandments in some passages. Different sects of biblical religions (religions based on the bible) have different interpretations of the commandments, so there is some confusion as to how many there really are. The first commandment, detailed in the Jewish faith, is that “I am the Lord your God.” The second is that “You should have no other gods before me.” Note that it states before him, not saying that you can’t have other gods, regardless of recent translations that translate it as saying that you shall have no other gods. Also part of the Jewish second commandment in that “You shall not make yourself an idol.” There is a slight room for confusion here as there isn’t any indication of the meaning, does this mean that you shall not worship an image a god, a physical idol, or does it mean that you shall not be looked at like you are an idol? The third commandment is that “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of your God.” The fourth states that you must “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” The five commands that you “Honor your father and mother.” The sixth is very clear that “You shall not murder.” The seventh lets you know that “You shall not commit adultery.” These two are one of the few commandments that have a place in everyday life for people that are not expressly religious people. “You shall not steal” is another big one for everyday people. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” has a place in courts that people depend on. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house nor shall you covet your neighbor’s wife,” there you have it guys, every time you wish you had that awesome pool your neighbor has; you’ve just broken commandment number ten.

            Two religions that are very similar but very different at the same time. However, are any of the countries that these two influenced better than the others? For now all I can give you is a small piece of the huge answer to this question, perhaps if I had several months and some money to travel the world it would be a little better.

            It is my opinion, despite the fact that no country is truly greater than another, that Christianity has shaped countries a little bit better. If only because centuries ago church and state were separated, giving both a chance to grow. If the Islamic countries in the east would separate the two then I believe their countries would be much better off than they are now. But they continue to have a country where women are repressed, and where the religious teachers are holding them back from advancing. Both of these religions are unique, developed, popular, and have a crushing hold on the modern world. Two thirds of the world follows these two, showing that they have prospered through the centuries to become the religious powerhouses they are today. Christianity has become the largest religion in the world through centuries of war, and mountains of bodies from those that oppose them. But despite the facts, they still cannot wipe out the Islamic religion, which has grown and prospered through the centuries as a religion that has not pushed its way, but has traveled and grown. Two different and unique religions, one spread by fear and war, the other by travel and assimilation into a larger mass, both with billions of followers, both with iron grips on the world.

© 2008 Jester

Author's Note

This isn't meant to offend anyone, so don't hate me for putting this up here please. The final paper of our World history course, we had to pick something that we had studied in the class, give our opinion on it, and back it up with facts.

My Review

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Hey there! I am a historian and a scholar of Islam, so I figured I would review your work and hopefully give you a bit of an introduction to academic considerations of your topic. It's great that you are interested in taking on such an ambitions project, and overall I thought your piece showed a solid amount of research and reflection on your part. Do not take the criticisms hard, they are from someone who writes about Islam professionally, so of course they are going to be much harsher than your highschool work would normally expect. Learning from criticism is very important, and history critics can definitely be the most blood thirsty of the bunch.
The first paragraph does not seem to actually set out what the piece is about, it establishes a setting (like a fiction book would) rather than an objective(as proper non-fiction ought to). It goes on to neglect the decidedly anti-religious Communist movement (easily called a 'civilization' if anything could be) as well as the growing secular and even militant atheist movements in Europe.
The second paragraph contains a sentence that is in need of revision: 'each with a following of almost 2 a billion people or more.' Both the addition of 'a' as well as the use of 'almost... or more' need to be revised.
When referring to a definition or manner of speaking, for example the first word of the third paragraph, one should use citation marks.
'Much of Asia... HAS converted'
The statistic on jihad has no citation, or indeed basis in reality or theology. Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS and literally hundreds of other Sunni groups actively participate in jihad, and almost no Sunni scholars denounce the concept entirely. Furthermore, Shia views on Jihad vary as much as Sunni views do.
'slightly like' should be 'similar to'
'ritual prayER'
What you find appealing has no place in this sort of article.
'depicts' should be 'dictates.' And the whippings you refer to are because the religious/judicial authorities view it that way, as your article does not deal with the complexities of Sharia interpretation you should not interpret the Sharia yourself in your work, but simply reference other peoples interpretations. Furthermore, this phenomenon is restricted to certain areas of the Middle East, and a generalization should not be made. (Isreal, Lebanon, UAE, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey and most of the -stans are examples of exceptions. In fact the exceptions are more numerous than the rule)
The last sentence of the 5th paragraph needs revision.
Again, your work does not deal with theology, so it should be said that many (or most) Christians interpret Jesus as such, or interpret the Bible as describing him as such.
The relationship to the calendar is superfluous and confusing.
'Christianity too has a set of rules that they live by' needs to be revised as 'Christianity' is not a plural pronoun.
"According to______" instead of 'supposedly'
The 'Ten Commandments' refers to a specific set of commandments that do indeed number ten, even if there are other commandments to be followed, and if a sect does not uphold the existence of the Ten Commandments then they do not refer to their 15 (or however many they might have) as 'the Ten Commandments.'
Non-sequitur shift to Judaism is unexplained.
The piece devolves into theological ramblings that are quite off-point, ending with a sentence that is entirely out of tone. This rant is further evidenced by the single long paragraph in the middle of the text.
The first sentence of the second-to-last paragraph is a fragment and also non-sequitur.
'East' should be capitalized as it refers to a specific place, not direction.
'repressed' should be 'oppressed.'
The conclusion is a little off, as Islam has surely spilled as much blood as Christianity in its global expansion, and Christianity has had its share of spreading through politics and trade. Furthermore, the conclusion does not derive itself in any way from the contents of the essay.
Keep on keepin' on!

Posted 8 Years Ago

Tell it like it is, and slap anyone who gets 'offended'.

I really like the compare and contrast; personally, I think the main differences are how strongly the holy books are enforced (such as the fact that women are at a disadvantage with both religions, but it's usually more passive with Christianity, and things such as that), and that Islam is very much more a warlike religion (again, only to a certain degree more) than Christianity is.

If you don't get an 'A' (or whatever the highest grade is) on this, I'll bite your teacher for you.

Posted 15 Years Ago

Jewish religion actually has 613 commandments :D I personally don't care what religion anyone all really depends on how seriously/literally they take it. Also how much they try to push it on people. I personally don't like religion(in general) that much, because it seems to encourage a 'if I do bad things I'll be punished forever!' mentality, which is kind of sad. Can some people really only be good people because they fear retribution? But at the same time, some people would do all these horrible things(raping/killing/etc.) if they didn't fear retribution. But people need to believe they'll be taken care of somehow, that the bad guys will get punished and the good guys will be rewarded. (no real facts here; just human psychology)

Aaaand I'm rambling. I really liked your essay, I'm sure you'll get an awesome grade. The only issue I have is that the 'ten commandments' paragraph is kind of long, but I'm not sure if there's much you can do about that.

Posted 15 Years Ago

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Added on May 23, 2008



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