The Two Great Messengers of God, Jesus and Mohammed: Comparing the Importance and Differences of Jesus and Mohammed
In my paper I would like to say how two of the most influential people in all of religious history would have to have been either Jesus or Muhammad. From the moment they were born and extending far beyond their deaths they were both solely responsible for the founding and the continuation of their respective religions. The influences and religious experiences of these two people shaped the future of both religions. A look at the lives of these two men and the impacts of their deaths follows. A comparison of how both the men influenced their religions and also how they are both revered and worshiped in today's societies will happen as well. All of these things will try to explain how the preaching and messages these two men tried to convey to their followers are being followed today.
The Historical Life of Jesus
The historical life of Jesus is recorded in the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Also, aside from these Sacred Texts of the New Testament, the Roman apologist Josephus records some details of the life of John the Baptist and Jesus: "Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was Christ."
Josephus provides a kind of historical relief to the narrative provided by the four Evangelists. But it is to Matthew and Luke that we now turn for a fuller picture of the historical life of Jesus.
The Gospel of St. Matthew is a gospel account of the life and works and teachings of Jesus Christ, written to his countrymen in Palestine around 50 AD. Matthew was one of the twelve Apostles, and was a publican (tax-collector) before his conversion -- a much hated profession by the Jews. Matthew's gospel is like Mark's and Luke's in that it deals with Christ's ministry, His preaching, His journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, and His passion, death, and resurrection there. It differs in that it begins with the genealogy of Jesus and goes on to act as a means of encouragement for the Christian believers in Palestine as well as a mode of instruction for non-believers; showing how Jesus is the Messiah come to establish the Kingdom of Heaven: "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36).
St. Matthew shows how Christ fulfilled all the promises of the Old Testament prophecies and he makes reply to those who had followed John the Baptist into the desert and asked, "Art thou he who is to come, or shall we look for another?" (Matthew 11:3). Christ, therefore, showed to His contemporaries that He had a Divine Mission, and he could point to the virgin birth, the visit of the Magi, the Flight into Egypt, the slaughter of the Innocents, the preaching of John the Baptist, His own preaching of the beatitudes, many miracles that He performed such as the healing of the demoniac and the leper, and the answers to the skepticism of the Pharisees (who received the lengthy allocution of Our Lord, "Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!") (Matthew 23:29). Of course, the history of Jesus ends with His crucifixion, death, burial, under the hand of Pontius Pilot, Roman Procurator during the reign of Caesar Augustus. Christ then resurrected from the dead, taught His disciples again, and then ascended into Heaven.
The Historical Life of Mohammed
Islam was founded by Mohammad in the 7th century near Mecca. Muslims began to spread Islamic beliefs after Mohammad's death. The key beliefs of Islam were that there was one God -- Allah -- and that Mohammad was his final prophet. The heroes of Christianity were considered nothing more than prophets. The Koran -- the book given to Mohammad -- is considered the most sacred of all the revelations from God. Like Christianity, Islam believes in a final judgment after death -- but the two religions have dissimilar views of God. Christians accept Jesus as God, which has implications that Islamism denies because it does not accept Jesus as God.
Mohammed attempted to spread his ideas but he was largely persecuted by those in Mecca. People in Medina accepted his teachings so he left Mecca for Medina in 622 -- an act remembered by Muslims as "the flight." In Medina, Mohammad gathered an army and marched on Mecca and forced its surrender. After Mohammad's death, a caliph was appointed to be his successor. Thus the religion was able to spread, through war, conversion, and generation.
At roughly the same time the Carolingian empire was coming into being, and Charlemagne pulled together the empire of the West, becoming the Holy Roman Emperor in the year 800 AD (holy because he was crowned by the Roman Pontiff). As both Christendom and Islam grew, it was inevitable that they should come into contact. Byzantium served as the contact point.
The followers of Jesus were, first, the disciples whom he called. After performing various miracles, such as restoring Lazarus to life or changing the water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana, Jesus' following grew and grew. However, when he was arrested, many of His followers abandoned Him out of fear. After Jesus' resurrection and ascension, the disciples began spreading Jesus' message to both Jew and Gentile.
The Acts of the Apostles, traditionally believed to have been penned by St. Luke around 63 AD, is a written in the narrative genre. It relates the events that occurred from the time of Jesus' last instructions to the Apostles before Ascending into Heaven. Then it follows the missions of Sts. Peter and Paul and the founding and spreading of the Church. Some key events include miracles worked by Peter, the arrests of Peter and John, the martyrdom of St. Stephen, Saul's persecution of the Christians, Saul's conversion and baptism; Paul's missions, trials and tribulations, arrests, journeys and escapes.
While the Roman Empire was at its zenith during the time of Christ, the Empire was already being destabilized by a number of influences, such as the barbaric games in coliseums, wars on several fronts, political intrigues, and new religions. The early Christians had to contend with persecutions, and were thus driven virtually underground. They reenacted the Last Supper by celebrating the sacrament of the Mass underground in the catacombs, where they buried the bones of martyrs.
Mohammed's followers, on the other hand, were found mainly in Medina, which is why he left Mecca for Medina more than six full centuries after the time of Christ. Christianity, in other words, had already stretched far and wide before Mohammed began his religious rule. Once Mohammed rose to power in Medina, he gained many followers through subjugation and confrontation. He led an army and gave the people he challenged the opportunity to convert or perish. In this way, he gained many more followers than before.
However, the book that Mohammed wrote, called the Koran, was a kind of revision of the Old and New Testament -- but written for an Arabic audience. Allah was the God that Mohammed and his followers worshipped -- not Christ.
Christianity takes many cues from Scripture. Even if Tradition plays a significant part in the handing down of Christian teachings through the centuries, Christians have always had the Epistles and the Gospels to guide them: in fact, they were written for that exact purpose -- so that the followers of Christ might know how to conduct themselves: Concern yourself with what is necessary for attaining salvation, and prepare yourself for the next world, "and all else shall be added unto you" in this life, says the Bible. Jesus shows His desire to see us come to Him and through Him to the Father: he shows that we are to follow Him through the ways of life -- "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (John 14:6) -- and by doing so our own interior life is brought to perfection.
Jesus Christ tells us He is God in Scripture. In the Gospel of John alone there are several references to the divinity of Christ: "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12); "Truly I say to you, before Abraham was I am" (John 8:59); "The Father and I are one" (John 10:38); "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28). Scripture does not hide the fact that Jesus has authority. But an interesting corollary to Christ's authority is here: what authority does Scripture have over us?
It is no secret that Scripture was written by Christ's disciples -- but tradition tells us that it is the inspired word of God. Scripture itself has been handed down to us through the centuries by the…