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PHI 353- Religious Traditions

Aug 25, 2023

Critical Assignment:

Each student must write a research paper on one of the religious traditions that we cover in this course. This paper consists of one of the more significant learning opportunities in this class to enhance your writing, research, critical engagement with the world, and communication skills. A list of paper topics appears below. If you desire to write on a different religious tradition than the list below, discuss this tradition with me beforehand to ensure a well-structured successful project. If you have another religious tradition, seek approval before writing. (1 research paper @ 200 points: 200 Points Total )

Paper Goals: The goals of this assignment are:

1. To help you cultivate a deeper appreciation for the Christian tradition.

2. To introduce students to questions and a variety of religious traditions in the world.

3. To introduce students to standard reference and critical resources in the field of religious studies.

4. To develop critical research skills, form intellectual arguments, and hone writing skills.

5. To develop your ability to comprehend, evaluate, formulate, and present biblical and theological argumentation.

6. To increase your knowledge of a chosen topic to engage more meaningfully in the world in which we live.

Religious Traditions

Introduction

Practically every facet of human existence, as well as how individuals live their daily lives, is significantly influenced by religion. It affects every one of our attitudes, behaviors, convictions, laws, and overall reactions to the outer world. Religious practices, such as the way followers perform religious ceremonies, offer prayers, celebrate holidays, and so forth, are known as religious traditions (Zehra & Minton, 2020). All global religions may be split into two categories: monotheism, which is the belief in one God, and polytheism, which is the belief in many gods. The two most significant world religions—namely, Islam and Christianity—will be explored in this article. We shall compare and contrast these two monotheistic religions before comparing them to the Greek intellectual tradition.

Key features of Christianity

Christianity is supposed to have started approximately two thousand years ago after cutting ties with Judaism. Christians number over 2 billion globally, and their number has increased dramatically over time. Jesus Christ was followed by a large number of people who at first thought He was the son of the Jewish god. The Sacred Bible is revered to the utmost degree by Christians. The two major divisions of the Holy Bible are the Old and New Testaments (Cowling & Anderson, 2019).

The Old Testament is made up of Jewish sacred scriptures, whereas the New Testament is made up of the tales about Jesus that have been handed down through the ages. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the three persons that make up the triune God, according to Christian teaching. According to Christians, Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God who came to earth to rescue mankind from the death sentence that sin implies as its ultimate and permanent result. Because of faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection, sin is tolerated (Lattu, 2019). They assert that the only way to be free from sin is to put your faith in Jesus Christ and his atoning death on the cross.

Christians hold that there is life after death in addition to spending all of eternity with God in paradise. Christians frequently choose baptism as a way to signify their initiation into the church and commitment to the message of Jesus. The church is seen by Christians as the physical symbol of Christ and as the setting for their first acts of piety. Christians can show each other their appreciation and support by partaking in the Eucharist. When Jesus paid his people his last visit, He gave them instructions on how to continue the custom in his honor. Wine signifies the blood Jesus spilled on the cross while breaking bread or partaking in the sacrament symbolizes the body of Christ.

Christians commonly use prayer as a crucial practice and as a way to communicate with God. People should continuously pray and address God as their father, as Jesus instructed his disciples, to resist succumbing to temptation. Christians view prayer as the central aspect of their faith in light of these convictions. To indirectly interact with God, certain Christian organizations utilize intermediaries like martyrs and saints. For instance, Mary, the mother of Jesus, serves as the Catholic Church’s conduit to God.

Key features of Islamic tradition

With about 23.2% of all religions, Islam is the second most prevalent religion in the world. More than 600 years after Christianity, Islam initially emerged. It adopts both Jewish and Christian values. It is believed that the Prophet Muhammad Ali created Islam. He asserted that the Quran, the holy book of Islam, contained a message from God that he had personally received. Unlike the Jewish Torah and the Christian Holy Bible, which Muslims believe have undergone human influence, they hold that the Quran is the original, unmodified message of God.

According to Muslims, Allah is the one real God and the supreme deity. Both heaven and earth were made by Allah, the sole Being who has ever been. Allah is supremely powerful, all-knowing, and present everywhere. He is also able to complete everything. No matter who he is, Allah has neither a gender nor the ability to be seen or heard. Allah is a merciful and just God who pays everyone what they are entitled in recompense for their acts. The belief in prophets like Isa (Jesus), Adam, Musa (Moses), Ibrahim (Abraham), and Dawud is another crucial aspect of the Muslim faith (David). Muhammad, the last prophet, may Allah grant him peace.

Islam places the Qur’an above all other holy books and recognizes angels as actual entities. Muslims hold that on the Day of Judgment, everyone will account for their lives lived on earth, and then it will be decided whether they will spend eternity in paradise or hell. The foundation of Islam’s primary ceremonial practices is its five pillars: faith, prayer, almsgiving, and fasting.

Belief in the Supreme Being

The belief that there is a greater deity lies at the heart of both the Christian and Islamic religions. Both people hold to the monotheistic belief that there is only one all-powerful deity. God created and still sustains the cosmos and everything in it. According to Christian doctrine, God slept on the seventh day after creating the earth in six days. Although the Quran does not directly declare the sequence of creation, there are a few scattered passages that provide evidence to support this claim. The aspects claim that the seven Heavens and the moon were created by Allah in perfect harmony. The Imam said that we should think about how Allah created everything with intellect (Zehra & Minton, 2020). He continues by declaring that only Allah should be worshipped. Additionally, the speaker cites a verse from the Bible that bans worshipping idols and other deities. Both religions also agree that their God is an unchallengeable authority. He not only creates the planet but also destroys the universe. Both faiths hold that carrying out good activities would strengthen the spirit while carrying out bad deeds will weaken it. The Supreme Being decries the evil deeds, as described in their many works. Finally, they concur that the Supreme Being carries out his plan for the world and the cosmos through prophets and angels.

He sent prophets with specific missions, including Moses, John the Baptist, and Jesus. Even though they both acknowledge the existence of the Supreme Being, there are some significant differences between them. Christians refer to this concept as the “Trinity,” which holds that God is composed of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Christians view God as a single god, even though they worship him in all three ways. God the Father brought His Son, who is referred to as the Son, to earth to make up for the sins of sinners. Since Jesus is one of the three who make up the Trinity, he is also referred to as God. Even though God is one and manifests in three different ways, the preacher claims that we only worship one God because of their shared unity. The notion that God takes on three different forms was disproved by the imam. They consider Jesus to be a prophet on earth. They only worship one God, whom they consider to be the origin of all power and the creator of the cosmos. Muslims think that Jesus entered heaven while he was being crucified, whilst Christians think that he died on the cross and then went to heaven on the third day. The imam asserted that Jews and Christians had received incorrect revelations from the same God that they both worship.

Life and Death

All living creatures eventually pass away, but since individuals are conscious of their death, they are unique. They make assumptions about the likelihood of an afterlife or other lives in light of this. The idea that there is a hereafter has permeated many civilizations and worldviews. Religions have varying notions of what the afterlife is like (Cowling & Anderson, 2019). The afterlife is seen similarly in both religions. Both Christians and Muslims concur that there is a heaven and a hell. However, there are differences between the two religions’ views on what happens to the soul once it dies and is given to God on the day of judgment.

The idea that there is life after death is shared by both religions. When a person dies, their soul leaves the body. The manner a soul lived while on earth—whether it was lived righteously or not—determines its ultimate fate in both scenarios. One will join heaven if they conducted their lives by the principles of their chosen religion; if not, they will enter hell.

When someone passes away, their spirit immediately departs (Ahmed). The soul is aware of the end of the cosmos. When the dead are raised, everyone will appear before God for judgment. Everyone’s ultimate destiny on earth is death, according to the pastor and the imam.

Every religion has a different conception of what transpires after death when the spirit splits from the body. Islam holds that as a person’s condition starts to worsen, the angel of death appears. He takes the soul and deposits it in the Barzakh, a sacred location. Depending on the type of life the deceased led while they were living, the soul can be ejected in a variety of ways. The angels have a hard time removing the souls of individuals who have led awful lives. Rarely does one angel have the power to remove the soul (Lattu, 2019). Other angels help at this point by hitting the deceased’s back and face to release the spirit (Ahmed). On the other side, those with honorable ancestors have spirits that are free to leave the body and travel to their creator. The pure spirit is happy when family members are reunited in the afterlife. The survivor’s families enquire about their life (Stroumsa, 2021). When it finally confronts Allah, the angels return it to the body for questioning after escorting it from one heavenly realm to the next (Ahmed). In a nutshell, the soul undergoes a great deal of transformation before entering heaven. Unbelievers’ souls are stolen by angels with black faces, but heaven rejects them. The soul is commonly said to be waiting for judgment in the Barzakh. The garden and the fire are where the soul is located, according to the Barzakh. They will play one role depending on their actions while they are on Earth. When Allah decides to punish them, they are reattached to the body so that both parties may face the punishment (Ahmed).

Christians, on the other hand, believe that after death, a person’s soul instantly enters either paradise or hell, according to how they conducted their life on earth (Zukeran). The spirit and body instantaneously part ways after death (Lattu, 2019). Heaven or hell is the soul’s last resting place. However, the Bible is ambiguous on what happens to the soul as it awaits judgment. It just suggests that one immediately joins either heaven or hell (Zukeran). The preacher asserts that the righteous will inherit Heaven before his second coming since Jesus entered there to create a place for everyone.

Both faiths provide benefits and penalties. People who reject religious principles and nonbelievers are punished. The punishment is the same for both parties. Despite being exposed to unending flames, they will not perish. Instead, they will be tormented in agony forever. The preacher supported his claim by saying that anyone who rejects Christian doctrine will go to hell for all eternity. They won’t be converted to ashes by the fire; just their bodies will be destroyed. According to the Bible, death is “the penalty of sin.” In this metaphor, fire is used to represent death. Another verse in the Bible makes it quite clear that people who sin will taste eternal fire (Zukeran). Like this, Muslims who do not uphold their religion and are sinners will spend all of their time in an area of unending suffering (Stroumsa, 2021). The prize, however, is permanent life in paradise, where they won’t go through pain or have problems like those found on Earth. This life is one of tranquility and peace (Zukeran). According to the Muslim faith, everyone is granted a place in the garden where they can live happily ever after. In the same way, God has prepared a city to house those who adhere to his teachings. In both religions, the dead will rise again and be judged.

After they enter paradise, each faith’s afterlife will be distinct. The difference is between sensual and sexual pleasures. In paradise, Christians won’t be able to engage in sexual activity. Their lifestyles will emphasize the spiritual above the material. The Muslims will be permitted to cohabit with their partners and have children, though. Christians believe that there is no reproduction in heaven because there are no weddings.

Christianity and Islam- Compare and Contrast

The status of mankind is not a worry that both Christians and Muslims share. Muslims hold that although they are born without sin, humans nevertheless make mistakes due to human frailty. Christians believe that everyone has a wicked nature that they acquired from Adam at birth. Both religions provide people with a path out through moral teachings and actions. According to Christian doctrine, redemption results from grace when someone has trust in Jesus Christ. The Five Pillars of Faith are very significant in the eyes of Muslims, and each individual’s kindness must surpass his or her sin.

Through baptism, which is a voluntary action rather than something that occurs at birth, one joins the Christian community. Men and women of any age, ethnicity, or nationality are welcome. Christians often belong to a certain church or congregation. They also think that members ought to give the church a tithe of 10% of their income (Zehra & Minton, 2020). The term of the Muslim populace is ummah. The Islamic faith is practiced throughout the world. Muslims give alms to those in need and to a communal fund to support the well-being of everyone in the neighborhood. While some Christians adjust their morals to conform to prevalent secular views, the Islamic community does not modify its ethics to cohabit with secular society.

According to Christianity, Christ is in charge of history from the beginning of the cosmos and the creation of man until the end of the world. Only God will ultimately be able to vanquish all evil on earth. Muslims have the view that, despite God’s creation of a lovely earth, it won’t stay forever. God will judge whether a guy deserves to live in paradise by comparing his goodness against his evil. Muslims and Christians both participate in communal worship services where they express their love for God via sacramental rites and symbols. The three sacraments that Christians hold in the greatest respect are marriage, communion, and baptism. They may worship in churches, basilicas, cathedrals, or meeting places (Stroumsa, 2021). The most respected rituals in Islam are the Five Pillars of Faith. Islam is said to be founded on the five daily prayers of Salat, Hajj, Zakat, Sawm, and Shahadah as well as the journey to Mecca. It is customary to practice sawm, or everlasting fasting, throughout Ramadan (the confession of faith). Christian symbols include the cross, crucifix, dove, anchor, fish, Alpha and Omega, and the halo, to name a few. The Arabic words for Allah and the crescent are only two examples of Islamic symbols.

According to Islam and Christianity, everyone will either spend all of eternity in hell or heaven. Purgatory is seen as a brief afterlife by Catholics. According to Christian doctrine, people who have led moral lives and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior will spend all of eternity in bliss in paradise. Additionally, it teaches that individuals who have led immoral lives will spend all of eternity in hell (Sayem, 2018). Muslims hold that each person will be raised from the dead and make an appearance before God to answer for their actions. Muslims are respected by Christians as fellow monotheists, but Muhammad is not regarded as a genuine prophet of God. Muslims recognize Christians as “People of the Book,” yet they think that Christians have false ideas and that God’s word has only been partially revealed (Stroumsa, 2021). Muslims consider Jesus to be a genuine prophet, but not the Son of God. Even though they have numerous distinctions, Abrahamic religions have many traits of Christianity and Islam. Both of them acknowledge the existence of a single God, and they both hope to reach heaven or paradise by holding the proper beliefs and performing good actions.

Islam and Christianity share a variety of similarities, from their common moral and altruistic values to their shared ancestry in Judaism.  But many concepts and ways of life decisions clash with the two main world faiths.

Here are some examples of these:

First, even though both Christianity and Islam recognize that Jesus is a genuine person see Him very differently in terms of how He fits into each of their respective worldviews. According to Muslims, Jesus, Ibrahim, Musa Dawud, and other prophets do not possess the same prestige as Muhammad. Muhammad, the final prophet on the list, is the finest since he was the first. Christians, on the other hand, believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, who came to earth to atone for humankind’s sins and restore people to a right relationship with God via his death and resurrection on the cross (Cowling & Anderson, 2019). He takes on the position of God the Son in the Trinity by appearing as God on Earth.

The numerous sacred texts of Islam and Christianity assert that these two religions are significantly different from one another. For Muslims, the Qur’an is the sole authentic, undamaged revelation from God; the New Testament, or Injil, is the result of the revelation that Allah delivered to Jesus and is preserved therein. Muslims reject the written sections of the Bible because they think that Christians changed God’s original message, which Muhammad Ali defended in His teaching (Sayem, 2018). They also assert that they have resolved problems raised by the Christians in Injil. Christians, on the other hand, believe that the Holy Bible is the only book that accurately delivers God’s revelation and that it is the sole manual for how to live in this world. Christians hold that the Bible was authored by holy men under the guidance of God. Islam maintains that God spared His prophet from a horrible death and that Jesus was not slain. However, God raised Him to Himself. As the only means by which Christians may be rescued and returned to God’s favor, the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ serve as the center of the Christian faith.

Islam rejects the notion that Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and ascension atoned for humanity’s sins. They think that everyone will eventually be held accountable for their actions and brought to justice. Christians believed that since no one could atone for their transgressions, there was no way for anybody to avoid God’s judgment and wrath. The Bible claims that sin is what causes death. God was able to punish sinners by sending His son, Jesus Christ, to the cross as the sin-offering lamb and dying in their place.

Christian Tradition and The Greek Philosophical Tradition- A Contrast

It is well known that Platonic philosophy, which has its roots firmly planted in Greek culture, has had a tremendous impact on the fundamental Christian belief in God, especially the concept of the Trinity. The Greek philosopher Plato’s ethical system has been connected to the Christian understanding of God. Plato’s “concept of Good” and its relationship to the Christian God was further investigated by neo-Platonic philosophers who adopted and expanded his concepts (Cowling & Anderson, 2019). Since Stoicism and Orphism were both well-liked throughout the Roman era, when Christianity was expanding, they had a significant influence on Christianity’s theology. St. Augustine, for instance, called Plato’s ideas “the purest and luminous in all philosophy.”

Islam and the Greek Philosophical Tradition

The ancient Greek writings were a priceless source of information for Islam, just as they were for Christianity, and they helped to clarify the Islamic doctrinal tradition. This thought was more officially stated by Islamic scholars like al-Kandi, one of the first Arabic-speaking Islamic philosophers (Sayem, 2018). Al-Kandi adopted Aristotle’s metaphysical writings, which were produced in the same period as Arabic philosophy. Aristotle was a Greek philosopher. It is debatable if the Muslim tradition and culture have been impacted by the Arabic translation of Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Due to the countless conflicts that developed within Islamic culture during the Middle Ages, crucial dialogues that might shed light on the causes of religious diversity among individuals and foster better communication across other world civilizations are still being generated today.

Conclusion

The many and many ways that beliefs in the Supreme Being and life after death differ and overlap have been covered in this article. Christians believe in the Holy Trinity, which is made up of Deity the Father, Deity the Son, and Deity the Holy Spirit, as opposed to Muslims, who believe in just one deity, Allah. The primary distinction between the two religions is this. They both acknowledge that there is only one Supreme Being, though. Both religions’ adherents hold the idea of an afterlife. Islam holds that the soul waits in Barzakh for the Day of Judgment, which is how it differs from other religions (Zehra & Minton, 2020). Depending on how they conducted their life on earth, Christians either directly entered paradise or damnation. These details highlight the numerous parallels and divergences between the two religions, but it’s critical to remember that both adhere to the idea of a Supreme Being. Thus, individuals should pay more attention to their commonalities than differences.

References

Zehra, S., & Minton, E. (2020). Should businesses use religious cues in advertising? A comparison of consumer perceptions across Christianity and Islam. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 44(5), 393-406.

Cowling, M. M., & Anderson, J. R. (2019). The role of Christianity and Islam in explaining prejudice against asylum seekers: Evidence from Malaysia. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 29(2), 108-127.

Lattu, I. Y. (2019). Mutual transformation in the early histories of Christianity and Islam. Qudus International Journal of Islamic Studies, 7(1), 1-23.

Sayem, M. A. (2018). Religious Understanding of Nature and Influence of Geographical Environment on Shaping Religious Beliefs and Practices within Christianity and Islam. KARSA: Journal of Social and Islamic Culture, 26(2), 195-214.

Stroumsa, S. (2021). Jewish polemics against Islam and Christianity in the light of Judaeo-Arabic texts. In Muslims and Others in Early Islamic Society (pp. 201-210). Routledge.

 

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