The word Islam means to surrender to the divine will. 1Its followers are referred to as Muslims, who often group themselves as either Shia or Sunni. 2This religion is the second-most widespread faith in the world, with over 1.5 billion followers. It is a monotheistic belief based on one deity, who in Arabic is called Allah. 3It is a transnational religion; however, it is predominant in the Middle East countries, such as Saudi, Iran, and Iraq. The final and the most important prophet is Muhammad, who is believed to have introduced Judeo-Christian monotheism to Arabs around 1300 years ago. Their most sacred text is the holy Qur’an, which they believe is the direct word of Allah as revealed to Muhammad through Gabriel (an angel). The Islamic faith is founded on the declaration of faith, prayer, almsgiving, fasting, and pilgrimage but differs from the Christianity concept of trinity and the death of Christ.
A Description of the Religion Based on the Use of Academic Research
The Islamic religious practices and teachings are grounded on the life and teachings of Muhammad. The religion is guided by the Quran, which is written in Arabic. 4It is categorized into 114 chapters (suras), with each chapter subdivided into verses. Muslims believe in the sovereignty, oneness, and supremacy of Allah. They consider him as transcendent and the creator of the entire universe. Islamic beliefs also revolve around angels, prophets, and evil spirits. Prophets (nabis) are regarded as Allah’s messengers in the world who communicate his will and teach about the importance of submitting to him to avert a looming judgment. 5The Islamic practices follow a strict lunar calendar, with no modification to coincide with the solar calendar.
The Muslims who live according to Allah’s teaching are rewarded by going to heaven, while those who defy his order of life are sent to hell.
The Islamic faith is grounded on several pillars and beliefs. 6One of the most critical elements is the Islamic profession of faith (shahada), centered on the confession that there is no other supreme being but Allah. The vow also extends to the recognition of Muhammad as Allah’s apostle. Thus, the first step in the Islamic faith is the declaration of Allah as the only true God and Muhammad as his prophet. Another component of Islam is prayer (Salat); all Muslims are mandated to perform the recommended ritual prayers five times every day. The prayers are conducted at sunrise, during noon, at mid-afternoon, at sunset, and an hour after sunset. The Islamic practices stipulate that prayers can be held at any place, provided one has a prayer rug; nonetheless, men are emboldened to pray at mosques. 7The sequence of the prayers is deeply structured and involves different postures, such as bowing.
Another instrumental pillar in the Islamic religion is almsgiving (zakat), centered on an individual’s social responsibility to the community. 8It involves giving the less fortunate people a set proportion of an individual’s wealth as a service to Allah. Fasting (sawm) is also regarded as a vital element in the Muslim faith. 9In Ramadan, Muslims are expected to go without food or water during the day for the entire month. They are only allowed to drink and eat after sunset and early in the morning before sunrise. People with chronic conditions and children are exempted from fasting. All Muslims celebrate the Eid-al-Fitr a day after Ramadan by exchanging presents, decorating their homes, and feasting together.
The final unifying factor among the Muslims is the pilgrimage (hajj), which necessitates all adherents to visit holy shrines and tombs for prayers.10All followers are required to visit Mecca at least one time in their lifetime. 11In addition to these core beliefs, Muslims are expected to live a righteous life characterized by honesty and regard for chastity and other people’s properties. Islamic practices restrict any pork-related food and the consumption of wine. Women are obligated to dress modestly by wearing robes covering their bodies and their heads with hijabs.
There are key similarities between Islam and Christian teachings and practices. In this regard, both faiths are monotheistic and believe in a supreme being who is sovereign, transcendent, and the world’s creator. These faiths also consider the existence of angels, prophets, evil spirits, heaven, and hell. For example, chapter 96 of the Quaran indicates that angel Gabriel spoke to Muhammud to reveal Allah’s message to his people. 12According to Christianity, angel Gabriel was sent by God to Nazareth to announce the birth of Jesus to Mary. 13Additionally, some prophets in the Quaran are similar to those mentioned in the Bible; they include Adam, Noah, and David. Christianity and Islam also believe in God’s judgment and the afterlife, encouraging their followers to abide by His will.
There are significant contradictions between these faiths, particularly surrounding the essence of God, Jesus, and the Holy trinity. 14Christians regard Jesus as God’s son who was sent to redeem humankind from sin, while Muslims view the concept of God’s fatherhood as blasphemous. 15The Islamic teachings also preach the oneness of God and reject the idea of the trinity, although Christians consider the existence of God in the form of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. 16Muslims also oppose the death of Christ on the cross; they perceive it as impossible for God to permit his messenger to be ridiculed and tortured to death. Alternatively, Christians view the death of Christ as God’s selfless act of saving His people from sin.
A Report of Worship Service Observed and the Research Discoveries
The Qur’an commands Muslims to pray five times daily but, the most significant prayer of the week is Al-Jumah, which means Friday in Arabic. Therefore, this is the day chosen by Allah for people to worship him. Based on the observations made in one of the mosques, believers must perform a ritual known as wudu to prepare before the prayer service begins. Shia Muslims perform various rites, such as washing their faces first, cleaning their arms, and using moisture or perfume to wipe their feet and head. If there is no water available, clean sand may be used. On the other hand, Sunni Muslims wash their hands first, followed by mouth, nose, face, arms, brow and hair, ears, and feet precisely three times in that order. After completing ritual cleansing, the worshippers leave their footwear at the doors and proceed inside the mosque.
While inside the mosque, men and women are required to perform their payers separately. Males often sit in the front and females at the back while others move to the open courtyard within the premise and sit facing the qiblah compass, which orients them towards Mecca. Afterward, the Imam reads a sermon depending on his understanding and sophistication of the audience. The next item in the program is the announcements of different events, such as funerals, Covid-19 vaccination campaigns, and political commentary. This activity is followed by the Imam leading the congregation in the rak’ahs of salat, which entails worshippers’ recitation from the holy text while performing different bodily movements in unison. These include standing while facing Mecca, which is an expression of direct contact with God. Muslims also bow, raise their hands to their ears, stand again, kneel and prostrate themselves on the floor during the prayer. These acts are vital because it is a way of showing absolute humility before Allah. Afterward, the congregants are required to say private prayers, also known as du’a.
Contrasting and Comparing Islam with Christianity
Both Islam and Christianity share a common belief that people communicate with God and build a relationship with Him through prayer. Salat incorporates specific actions and citations of words from the Qur’an, which symbolize and express the Muslims’ faith. During prayers, they praise Allah and seek guidance and forgiveness. In Islam, ibada is a term used to denote worship, so prayer is an act of ibada. Similarly, Christians, especially Catholics, pray, take sacraments, and worship as a sign of devotion to God. Priests lead the congregation by reading the Holy Bible, which is an act of communicating with God. 17The Bible defines prayers as bowing one’s knees and beseeching the Lord. However, one significant difference is the day of worshiping God. Catholics and most Protestants attend churches on Sundays, but Muslims go to the mosques on Fridays. 18While it is not mandatory, clapping, singing, and dancing are integral parts of church service. However, Muslims are not allowed to sing or play instruments in mosques in general.
How to Share Christ with a Follower of the Selected Religion
Despite the monotheistic nature of Christianity and Islam, both religions are surrounded by several misconceptions that set them apart. For example, over the years, Islam has been linked to terrorism, making Christians develop Islamophobia. 19Alternatively, Muslims have multiple fallacies about the Christian faith, particularly on the trinity and death of Jesus. In this case, the concept of the Holy Trinity is misconstrued as polytheism which Islam is against. Regarding the personality of Jesus, Muslims only believe that he was God’s prophet; such contrasts make talking to Muslims about Christ challenging. Therefore, to share information about Christ to the Muslims, Christians need to communicate the uniqueness and mystery of Christ using the Bible as reference material. Christians can achieve this by being friendly and genuine towards Muslims. Trust and open-mindedness may make the Islam adherents want to know more about Jesus.
Christians need to learn about Islamic practices and show regard to their beliefs and customs, particularly about Allah and Muhammad. This will create respect and increase their inquisitiveness about the Bible and Christ; Christians may then use the opportunity to tell Muslims about Jesus. Therefore, mutual understanding and respect for Islam may make Muslims desire to know more about Jesus. 20For instance, the Bible outlines the story of Cornelius, a God-fearing centurion who donated generously to the less fortunate and prayed earnestly to God. However, when he heard Simon Peter’s teachings about the birth, works, death, and resurrection of Jesus, he agreed to be baptized in the name of Christ, despite being a Gentile. Thus, Christians can share Christ with Muslims through clear explanations and open-ended communication.
In conclusion, Islam is the youngest and fast-growing monotheistic religion in the world. It involves the worship of Allah as the sole creator of the universe and recognition of Muhammad as God’s prophet. Islam is grounded on five pillars, which include pilgrimage (hajj), almsgiving (zakat), prayer (salat), fasting (sawm), and confession (shahada). Islam shares some unique similarities with Christianity, such as the belief in one God who is transcendent and the origin of life, prophets, angels, evil spirits, judgment day, and the return of a savior. There are also some key differences between these religions; in this case, Muslims oppose the concept of the Holy Trinity, Christ as God’s son, and the death of Christ. They regard the trinity as polytheism and believe that Jesus was a mere prophet but not God’s son. Regardless of the sharp contrasts between Islam and Christianity, Christians should establish good relations built on trust with Muslims to get an opportunity to extensively explain the role of Christ to Christians.
Bible, New International Version (NIV).
Corduan, Winfried. Neighboring Faiths: A Christian Introduction to World Religions. Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2012.
Ganiyev, Avazbek, and Sherzodjon Umaraliev. “The Role of Zakat in the Early Stages of the Islamic Civilisation”. EPRA International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research (IJMR) 6 no. 6 (2020): 441-444.
Gnanakan, Chris,” Sharing Christ with Muslims,” Kaltura Video, 24:49, n.d. Web.
Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV).
Netland, Harold, A. Christianity and Religious Diversity: Clarifying Christian Commitments in a Globalizing Age. Michigan: Baker Academic, 2019.
Sharkey, Heather J. A history of Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the Middle East. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2017.
The Qur’an. Translated by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, Oxford UP, 2005.
Varun, Soni, “Introduction to Islam Belief,” YouTube Video, 3:24, Posted by “Oprah Winfrey Network,” 2015. Web.
Wolff, Ariana (ed.). The Foundations of Islam and Islamic Thought (Britannica Guide to Islam). Manhattan: Rosen Education Service, 2017.
- Heather J., Sharkey, A history of Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the Middle East (United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2017), 29.
- Winfried, Corduan, Neighboring Faiths: A Christian Introduction to World Religions (Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 93.
- Soni, Varun, “Introduction to Islam Belief,” YouTube Video, 3:24, Posted by “Oprah Winfrey Network,” 2015.
- Corduan, “Neighboring Faiths,” 110.
- Corduan, 113.
- Ariana, Wolff (ed.). The Foundations of Islam and Islamic Thought (Manhattan: Rosen Education Service, 2017) 29.
- Corduan, 121.
- Avazbek, Ganiyev and Umaraliev Sherzodjon. “The Role of Zakat in the Early Stages of the Islamic Civilisation”. EPRA International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research (IJMR) 6 no. 6 (2020): 442.
- Corduan, 123.
- Wolff, “The Foundations of Islam.” 36.
- Corduan, 125.
- Luke 1:26-38 New International Version (NIV).
- The Qur’an 3:33–34; 4:163.
- Heather, Sharkey, J. A history of Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the Middle East (United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2017), 221.
- Harold, Netland, A. Christianity and Religious Diversity: Clarifying Christian Commitments in a Globalizing Age (Michigan: Baker Academic, 2019), 138.
- The Qur’an 4:157.
- Ephesians 3:14; Exodus 32:11 New International Version (NIV).
- Psalms 59:16; Psalms 98:1 New International Version (NIV).
- Chris, Gnanakan, “Sharing Christ with Muslims,” Kaltura Video, 24:49, n.d.
- Acts 10:24-48 New International Version (NIV).