Islam and Christianity

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Christianity and Islam

The two most populous religious belief systems in the world today are Christianity and Islam; however they are in constant conflict with each other. The problems exhibited by each religion toward the other have their beginnings in Ancient times when Christianity had finally reached a large part of civilization, while Islam sprouted up almost overnight. There are many differences in the historical context as well as belief systems of both religions, which lead to their constant disputes. The statement, "Islam and Christianity have similar origins and spread in a similar fashion," is inaccurate, and the differences of origin and spread of these religions, as well as other factors, have lead to the clashing of the two most popular religions in the world. Christianity was the first of the two dominant religions to arrive and was brought about by the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth in Ancient Roman times. Judaism was the dominant religion at the time, but there was much bickering over how the Savior would come. Jesus of Nazareth replaced the common teachings of the 10 Commandments with the Golden Rule; treat others as you yourself would want to be treated. Jesus was crucified in 30 CE with a small but passionate following (Burton 552). Paul of Tarsus was one of Jesus' persecutors at the time, but eventually became a follower of the teachings of Jesus. He coined the term ‘Christianity' and was a vital part of the writings of the New Testament, where Jesus was the Messiah. Despite the passionate following that Christianity exhibited, there were major conflicts with Rome. Christianity was a culture shock to the Romans as their belief system included many gods of mythological creation, while Christianity was monotheistic. There were many misunderstandings between the two worlds, as emperors blamed all the misfortunes on the Christians (such as Nero blaming the Great Fire of 64 on them), giving the religion a bad public image and reducing its following to an underground cult. Christianity finally started to catch on with the people of Rome and in 312, more than 300 years after the birth of Jesus, the Roman emperor Constantine converted on his deathbed; Christianity had now become the official religion of the state, and all other pagan religions were banned by 395. The spread of Christianity was very slow as three centuries expired between its birth and its mainstream affect on civilization. Islam's appearance into society arose with the birth of the prophet Mohammed in 571. He was born in the city of Mecca, which at the time was very paganistic and was the home of the Kaba, where the paganistic paintings and idols were kept. Mohammed had a revelation from god, Allah, and began to teach that "there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet." Mohammed was kicked out of Mecca and made a flight to the neighboring city of Medina, where he gathered an extensive following. Then he led an attack on Medina, winning a battle at Abu-Bakr (a city between Mecca and Medina), and then rushed into the city of Medina. Mohammed then destroyed the Kaba and all of the pagan literature; thus Mecca became a sacred city in the development of Islam (Katsh 401). In contrast to the very slow spread of Christianity, the spread of Islam was extraordinarily rapid. All of the Middle East was touched by Islam before Mohammed's death in 632, and expansion continued to occur throughout the Mediterranean and parts of Europe. In 732, Islamic forces were turned away from spreading through all of Europe at the Battle of Tours in present-day Spain. The first two caliphs, or successors to Mohammed, were Abu Bakr and Omar. Abu Bakr brought central Asia under Islamic control, as well as being responsible for writing the Koran, the direct word of Allah (Katsh 402). Omar attacked the Byzantine and Persian empires with success, conquering the entire Middle East in fifteen years. The basic, important members of both...
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