Religion takes different meanings to people all over the world. There are similarities and differences but for every religion that has been founded and developed, there is common observation that its teachings and practices have somehow given its followers some fulfillment and meaning to their lives.

Islam and Christianity are two of the major religions which have a large number of following. While similarities are seen in certain aspects, there are also differences that can be observed by ordinary people. Belief in the one God is a common point, yet this is still not clear to simple persons who have doubts or are perplexed as to how this came about. Was the preaching of the prophets truly convincing as to have caused the fast spread of these two religions? We are recipients of already existing doctrines and many accepted everything without arguments, for fear of being admonished, or just plainly not wanting to voice out their own views. Both religions may have its own claims of divine revelations, but how can this be proven? Perhaps some may think that the prophets may have erred somehow, or may have felt there were inadequacies in certain aspects. On the other hand though, these religions would not have flourished if there was no faith strong enough to weld its respective followers into large groups.

Nonetheless, some differences may easily be observed between Islam and Christianity. In Islam, we don’t see images, icons or the like in the mosques, its place of worship, for it forbids representation of human and animal figurines. In Christianity, Roman Catholic in particular has several images not only of God and Jesus, but various saints as well. This may be puzzling to Muslims and may ask perhaps why Christians venerate many others (saints) when it should only be the one God. There is indeed the danger that fanatics worship their choice saints without being aware of it, thus relegating God to second place? This is not improbable or impossible!

Another difference is when Muslims go to the mosque on Fridays, the men stand behind the prayer leader in rows, and the women stand behind the men. Christians are free to sit anywhere they choose in church, and men and women may be seated together. They face the priest or the pastor while the imam or prayer leader faces the direction toward Mecca (sacred city of Islam). The ceremonial washing of the face, hands and feet immediately before prayer is not done by Christians.

In Islam, Muslims must pray five times daily at a designated time since it is one of their chief duties, the others being almsgiving, fasting and pilgrimage. Christians pray anytime they wish to commune with God aside from the mass schedule on Sundays. Almsgiving is also practiced and encouraged in general, but has no specific required amount (except for some denomination requiring tithing), while Muslims have required alms and free will type. There is not much difference though in this aspect.

During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims are required to fast for a month with some exceptions (sick, nursing mothers). Christians especially catholics usually fast only during the holy week but it is not mandatory except Ash Wednesday (start of the Lenten season) and Good Friday. There is also abstinence particularly from eating pork on such days, while Muslims are forbidden from eating pork throughout life. It is truly sacrifice, and this shows the strong faith and discipline of Muslims in practicing their religion. The Koran (holy book) commands pilgrimage or Hajj to Mecca, and all able Muslims are required at least once to go on pilgrimage. This is not quite so with Christians.

While indeed there are differences between Islam and Christianity, these are not substantial. What matters most is both religions believe in the one God, both teach God is just and merciful, and both teach timeless virtues – faith in God, kindness, honesty, generosity and many others, all leading to a peaceful, purposeful life of its members.

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