Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, many Americans have detested the religion of Islam. Angst gave way to ignorance, unease, and abhorrence as millions of citizens, including conservative church-goers, began to see only with their fear. The love of Christ to all mankind was recurrently forgotten. Today, many Westerners hate Islam so much that it is seen as antithetical to Christianity, but this could not be further from the truth. In fact, both religions, though different regarding the identity of Jesus, are astoundingly similar concerning God's character, accentuated moral values, and even views on salvation. Hypocrisy is frequently responsible for major variances in practice, but the religions themselves mirror each other in a number of ways.
First and foremost, Yahweh of the Christians and Allah of the Muslims are the same God. In the Bible, Yahweh is the epitome of love (New International Version, 1 John 4.8), demonstrated countless times through fatherly action, patience, compassion, grace, mercy, and His concern for humanity in general. He is presented as the Creator (Gen. 1.1) and also as the One True God (Deut. 4.39). God's holiness and purity surpass human understanding, so much so that to see Him would mean death (Ezek. 1.28) Besides loving, He is described as just, forgiving, powerful, eternal, mysterious, and wise (Isaiah 40.28-31). Likewise, Allah in the Quran conveys all of these attributes. More focus is positioned on His identity as the only One to be Worshipped, as a "knowable but unknowable" Creator, and on His virtues of justice, love, forgiveness, and wisdom (Yaran 23). Sound familiar? Arguments against Islam claim that Yahweh and Allah are no more selfsame than Jesus and Vishnu, but this is disproven by the presence of the word "Allah" for "God" in the Bible when translated into Arabic (Van Dyke Arabic Bible, Gen. 1). It is undoubtedly significant that Christians and Muslims worship the same Master. Although perspectives on the Trinity and Jesus' status are disputed, both the Bible and the Quran support the irrefutable character of God. Acknowledgement of this similarity should at least promote respect between the members of these two faiths.
Secondly, both Christians and Muslims emphasize the same core values concerning human character. According to the Bible, a Christian should be faithful, humble, honest, pure, just, loving, forgiving, self-controlled, and sensible, among other things (Gal. 5.22-23). Christians are also called to be generous stewards, mindful of the poor and willing to help (2 Cor. 8.2-5). Muslims are called to practice the same virtues with just a bit more stress on justice, charity, mercy, humility, and modesty (Yaran 43). Contradictory to the false assumptions that all Muslim people are bent on violent zeal, the Quran actually commands them to despise meaningless violence and extremism (Yaran 87). Still further evidence of shared qualities is found in both Jesus' and Muhammed's declaration of the Golden Rule in different words: Jesus says, "Love your neighbor as yourself," and Muhammed says, "None of you is a believer if he does not like for his brother exactly what he likes for his own self" (Matt. 22.39; IsmaÌiÌl). Based on the texts, both Christians and Muslims should be exhibiting respect for each other, along with all the other previously mentioned qualities. If people of faith opened their holy books and lived according to their words, no abhorrence would exist between them. It is not the goal for Christianity and Islam to be exactly alike, but followers must notice how like-minded in virtue they are and, because of it, cease trying to disprove each other.
Ignorance is not justification for hatred. True believers belonging to Christianity and Islam should be able to recognize each other's humanity and operate respectfully on common ground. Scars left behind can heal. Peace is possible to obtain. What may seem separate and incompatible is truly congenial. If nothing else, Christians and Muslims should agree to disagree, laying aside fruitless pride and acknowledging the other as a faith in communion with God, no matter how different it may appear.
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