Differentiating Between Religions Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Religious Studies

The world's spiritual traditions and religious practices have major groupings. However, in these groupings there is no uniformity of practice. Various religions have different culture and ways of practice. This practice began in the 18th century as developing civilized societies. Different cultures of the world have had an influence on the religious beliefs of the people. For example, Hinduism borrows from the Indian culture, Islam from Muslim culture and Taoism from particular cultures in china. Traditionally, scholars of religion recognized the fact that, different religious beliefs have the same philosophy of searching for the truth. It may argue that religion is an act of worship given to God irrespective of religion.

Overview of Christianity and Islam

Christianity as a religion teaches salvation from sin. The religion also teaches issues of eternal life, physical death as well as the resurrection of Jesus Christ the messiah. The religion began as a missionary religion to its current widespread all over the world. Christians use the bible as their religious book. The bible has two parts, one representing the old, and the other the New Testament (Voorst, 2006). The New Testament came into use after the death of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ's teachings, therefore, have tremendous effect on current church rituals, teachings, ethics, and the organization of different missions. Although different Christian denominations exist, the important thing that all such denominations share is the New Testament. Christians differ in terms of their language, organization, method of teaching and culture all over the world.

Islam as a religion confesses, "There is no God but God." The religions further proclaim Mohamed as the prophet of God. Believers of this religion perceive Muhammad as a prophet who came to spread Islam. The act of this religion teaches on obedience and submission to only one God. Muslims throughout history belief that angel Gabriel revealed to Muhammad the Qur'an for a period of 20 years (Voorst, 2006). Since the Qur'an is the word spoken by God through Prophet Muhammad, Muslims value the book as their authority. The book has significance in Islamic religious as well as lifestyles. In understanding, the Qur'an followers need to recite the book orally. The believer of Islam needs also to understand the religious revelation of the book.

Religious Books

In relation to the Christian religion, the Bible is the main aspect of worship. The bible contains different scriptures ordered according to new and old testaments. The old testament of the bible represents Hebrew Scriptures. Jewish cultural beliefs emphasize the bible as a covenant between men and God. The New Testament came as the result of Jesus Christ. With the coming of Jesus Christ God had acted in a new way to salvation (Voorst, 2006). Jesus came to fulfill promises made by God to the Jewish people. The coming of Christ fulfills promise made in the Old Testament about the new covenant. In Jeremiah 31:31, God makes a promise to Jewish people on making a new covenant. This is further illustrated in Corinthians 3:6-15 where Paul refer to believers as members on the "New covenant"

On the other hand, Islamic Religion refers to the Qur'an as their religious book. In comparison with the bible, the Qur'an's length is that of the New Testament. This book contains different chapters known as Surahs. The chapters' arrangement is from the longest to the shortest. It is typical for a beginner in Islam to go through long chapters before short ones. The Qur'an has had religious authority over Muslims for decades. All believers of Islam understand that the Qur'an speaks about their religious lifestyles through Muhammad (Voorst, 2006). However, there are divisions within Islam way of Worship. There are those Muslims of Shi'a and Sunni branches.

Historical Context

The bible in Christian teaching has a historical perspective. This view builds from creation. Christian's belief that God created the world. The book lays a historical perspective on Gods intentions. It also explains how man disobeyed God. The bible is, therefore, a representation of books of prophets from the old to the New Testament. The ultimate purity of Christians is to accept Jesus the messiah. Christians believe that Jesus came to the world to die for their sins. It is, therefore, through him that a person "will see the kingdom of God." Gospels of the New Testament dwell on the lifestyle of Jesus Christ and his deeds (Voorst, 2006). It provides an overview of Christ from birth to crucifixion. It speaks of Jesus performing different miracles, his arrest, trial, and death. Further the bible illustrate on Jesus resurrection and teachings.

The history of Islam, relates to the history of the Qur'an. The Quran represents Muhammad's reception of the voice of angel Gabriel. Muhammad at times heard the voice of the angel, but most of the time he received his revelations in sleep. The Quran represents the culture of Muslims through Muhammad's experiences. Before the recording of the Quran, oral transmission became the mode of transmission. Muhammad spoke to his followers as the angel had instructed him. His followers are required to memorize the words and speak to others. These individuals were perfect "reciters" and it is through their efforts that the Qur'an survived. As the years went, his followers wrote on pieces of paper, stones, and bones.

Ethics

In Christianity, there are various aspects in relation to ethical standards of a Christian. Christian as a religion proclaims the act of forgiveness. Jesus say according to the bible that "blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. The bible wishes Christians to be humble, righteous, forgiving, and merciful. The bible also wishes Christians to understand the importance of prayer and the church. The bible also has reference to different aspects of lifestyle of a Christian. It is through the bible that Christians get directions on marriage, children obedience to parents, parenting, being loyal to authority, love, and respect for one another.

The Qur'an just as the bible plays roles in the family and other aspects of the society. The Qur'an speaks of the oneness of God. The book assists in establishing conduct for believers. The book gives believers instructions on worshiping God. It states that any Muslim should not worship any other God, to treat people with humility and show kindness to parents (Voorst, 2006). The book also speaks on the danger of killing except for just cause. The Qur'an also sets ethical standards for women, and the family. Like Christians, Muslims are expected to follow commandments proclaimed by the Qur'an. Muslim believers, therefore, need to live in harmony with their neighbors, to love and to be in unity.

Religious Rituals

Christianity like other religions has its rituals. The religion has various important rituals for specific functions. Such rituals start from birth to death of a believer. Baptism is an important ritual for Christians. With respect to the Old Testament, one can understand the importance of baptism to Christians. Baptism for the early church up to now refers to the act of purification (Voorst, 2006). This process has the purpose of qualification, restoration, and purification of oneself. Other rights borrowed from the Jewish religion include circumcision, marriage and other rituals.

According to Voorst (2006), Rituals refer to ways of worship. Christians believe that worship brings them into close harmony with God. Although there are different Christians, almost all worship through talking about scriptures, reading scriptures, prayer and singing to God. Christian worship implies that followers meet in special buildings. Another important aspect for Christians is the Holy Communion. The Catholic Church believes in the real blood and body of Jesus Christ (Voorst, 2006). Protestants also understand the importance of communion; therefore, special dates have been set to celebrate the event. Other rituals include the use of symbols, offerings, and sacraments.

Islam as a religion has its important rituals. One of the most important rituals for a Muslim relates to the confession of faith. This aspect insists that an individual needs to confess that there is no other God other than one God. The faith also insists on prayer. During the birth of the Islamic faith, Muhammad and his followers prayed while facing Jerusalem. It was after relations soured with Jews of medina that they face Mecca. It, is therefore, an important aspect for Muslims to pray while facing Mecca. Offerings in the Muslim context bear the name Alms. According to their faith, giving of Alms is mandatory (Voorst, 2006). The other aspect relating to Islamic rituals is fasting. From a long time ago, Islamic followers have been practicing fasting.

The month of Ramadan is the most colorful for a Muslim. During this period, a Muslim needs to fast in order to render thanks to God and to magnify his name. Muslim rituals further allow followers to make pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. Lastly, it should be a ritual for one to visit a mosque on a regular basis. Mosques are sacred places of worship and Muslims need to be faithful while visiting.…

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