Two of the world's largest religions are Christianity and Islam. Christianity and Islam both have millions of followers worldwide. These religions have their own doctrines or texts, practices, beliefs, and history but are they so different.This paper will trace the lives of the founding fathers, the affect their death had on each religion, and how these religions continue today.
A man named Jesus or the Jesus of Nazareth founded Christianity. Historically little is known about him, what is known is that he was born to Jewish parents Joseph and Mary in the town of Bethlehem, which was south of Jerusalem.As a child, he was a devout Jew, well respected for his ability to read and preach at the local synagogue. It is assumed that he worked as a carpenter trained by his father, though there is no historical record following his early life. (Religiousfacts, 2007) Around age 30, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the river of Jordan in preparation for the Kingdom of God.
The most commonly accepted interpretation of this event is "John's publicly announcing that the Messiah had arrived" (Fisher, M.2005) thus starting Jesus on his ministry.Jesus' ministry began with 12 local men who he chose to be his closest followers or disciples. With them, he spent the next three years traveling around the country preaching and teaching the people they met. Jesus' popularity rose, with large crowds gathering to listen to his teachings.
" Jesus' teachings were fundamentally Jewish but differed dramatically from Jewish laws of his day" (religiousfacts, 2007). Amazing Jesus seemed to be preaching of his own knowledge and authority (Religiousfacts, 2007)."Whereas Jewish prophets had always prefaced their messages with "thus saith the Lord," Jesus said things like, "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Religiousfacts, 2007). This form of preaching and/or teaching led to Jesus' popularity however, Jesus also gathered as many enemies or opponents as he did followers.
These enemies led to the early death of Jesus.After only three years of preaching and/or teaching Jesus was betrayed by one of his own disciples; arrested and brought to trial before the chief priest that accused him of setting himself up as King of Jews, to which Jesus responded "so you say" and nothing more. The chief priest lacked the authority to condemn Jesus to death so Jesus was taken to the Roman governor to impose this penalty. Jesus was first beaten and mocked, then forced to wear a crown of thorns because he had been called the King of Jews.Jesus was than nailed to a cross or publicly crucified ending his physical life (ReligiousTolerance.org, 2007).
Jesus' relatively short life and death at the hands of his opponents contrast that of the founder of Islam. The founder of Islam was the prophet Mohammad. Mohammad was born in a Mecca, Arabia a poor desert trading town on the caravan route. Orphaned at a young age Mohammad was raise by his uncle Abu Talib a local merchant. Mohammad grew up poor first working as a shepherd then as a merchant on his uncle's trade caravan.
Where working on the trade caravans Mohammad met his first wife Khadijah, who would become his biggest supporter later in life. Though Mohammad belonged to an important tribe in his community, he disliked the things that took place there gambling, drinking, fighting, and people treating each other badly; women, children, and the poor were treated especially badly. Mohammad removed himself from Mecca spending time in the near-by Mountains.This is when and where he began to receive revelations or messages for God (religiousfacts, 2007). Mohammad claimed to be visited by the Angel Gabriel and receive messages from God (Religioustolerance.
org, 2007). After struggling with what to do with these messages, he was urged by his friends and family to start revealing the revelations to the public as he claimed to be instructed to do. This started him on his mission to spread the revelations that had been revealed to him.These revelations include that there is only one God that it was evil to worship idols, that greed was wrong, that God would judge everyone when the time came and send them to Heaven or Hell, and above all followers should obey him before all others (Religioustolerance, 2007). Mohammad gained many followers but like Jesus, he also had opponents. The poor readily accepted Mohammad and his teaching but the rich did not.
This struggle with the rich caused Mohammad and many of his followers to flee from Mecca. Mohammad went to Medina where he was welcomed as a prophet of God and became leader.Mohammad used his messages from God to lead the city, forming laws, settling disputes and directing people on how to live their lives. However, Mohammad faced many battles during the course of his life ultimately becoming successful in conquering many of the cities in Arabia (religiousfacts, 2007).
After 23 years of preaching, teaching and leading the Arabian people Mohammad fell ill and died peacefully, unlike Jesus the founder of Christianity and his violent death at the hands of his opponents. The deaths of these exceptional leaders had a profound effect on the religions they started. After the death of Jesus, it is believed that he was resurrected or rose from the dead.Over the next few weeks different people claimed to have seen, Jesus and, this gave them reason to believe there was life after death and, they too could have an eternal life in heaven. Jesus' disciples are said to have secretly prayed for a sign from him and when they felt they had received it the rushed out to spread his word and seek followers openly for the first time since the death of Jesus (religiousfacts, 2007).
However, the disciples faced the same opposition as Jesus did. Over time, many Christian communities were formed on the principles of Jesus' teachings.The death of Mohammad caused a struggle amongst the followers of Islam, unlike the abrupt death of Jesus, Mohammad lived a long life, yet he did not leave clear instructions as to whom should follow in his place. This struggle caused the formation of two different groups of Islam followers, the Sunni who believe that the Muslim leadership should not stay in the family of Mohammad but go to the most able Muslim; using both the Qur'an and Mohammad's teachings as guides in their leadership.The other group formed from this struggle was the Shiites; the Shiites believe that Mohammad's family should succeed him (Religiousfacts, 2007).
Though these religions have evolved over time, their founders are still worshipped today and their messages are carried out in the many different practices of their religions. The followers of Christianity worship Jesus; they celebrate what they believe to be his birth date on December 25 and call it Christmas. The four Sundays before Christmas are called the Advent, which means "coming".During this time, Christians prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas; traditionally it was a time of fasting (religiousfacts, 2007). Of all the holidays used to honor or worship Jesus, Easter is the most important.
Easter happens in the spring and celebrates Jesus' resurrection, which happened three days after he was put to death by crucifixion. The 40 days before Easter are called Lent. Lent is a time of fasting and preparation that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends the week before Easter on what is called the "Holy week; the Holy week begins with Palm Sunday and includes Maundy Thursday, which marks Jesus' last supper, and Good Friday the day Jesus was crucified on the cross"(religiousfacts,2007).Islam contrasts greatly compared to Christianity when it comes to worshipping the founder of their religion. Followers of Islam believe that there is only one God.
This most devout belief stops them for worshipping Mohammad. However, they do give him the respected title of the last prophet of God. These religions have continued to carry out Jesus and Mohammad's messages though the continued practices of their respected religions. The population of followers in either of these religious only continues to rise.References Fisher, M.
(2005). Living Religions. Sixth Ed. Pearson Education, Inc. Religiousfacts.com (2007).
Retrieved November 14, 2007 from web site: http://www.religionfacts.com/ Religioustorelance.org (2007). Retrieved November 14, 2007 from web site: http://www.religioustolerance.org/index.htm