Ishmael and Isaac

In a world where the majority-Christian West and the Islamic Middle East demonize and fear each other, it was shocking to learn just how similar the two religions truly are. From their earliest beginnings through similar events and down to the fundamentals of their teachings, Muslims and Christians share more than most people realize, proving that they are not mutually exclusive.

Islam and Christianity both trace their beginnings back to the son of Abraham, but neither’s claim disproves the claim of the other. Muslims claim to follow the elder son Ishmael, born of Sarah’s concubine Hagar, while Christians follow Isaac, son of Sarah (Genesis 16:3). When Sarah mistreated Hagar and Ishmael, Hagar declared that Ishmael would not receive his share of the inheritance and instead took him away from the abuse. Nevertheless, God through His angel promised “I will surely bless [Ishmael]; I will make Him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation” (Genesis 17:20). Despite Sarah’s feud with Hagar, and even though God’s covenant was with Isaac, Abraham still cared for Ishmael and God still blessed him. God knows that there is space in the world for all descendants of Abraham, proving the two religions they founded can live together. 

The main reason that Christians and Muslims find themselves in conflict in the modern world is because of the radical ideas of extremist Muslims, who believe they need to kill all of the “infidels”, or non-believers. They believe that they are commanded by God and by their Qur’an, because they believe they need to stop the spread of sin that is anything except for Islam. The provocations of the extremists is invigorated by memories of the Crusades and by extreme Christians. The Crusades were a series of wars for a variety of purposes, almost all of which were achieved through one course of action: fighting and killing Muslims. This radical approach is not shared by the majority of Muslims nor Christians, and if the good will of this majority can remain calm and win out, Islam and Christianity can coexist. 

The two religions also both believe in one omnipresent, omniscient God, who speaks to and directs His will using prophets throughout the holy scripture that each religion follows. More importantly, both religions believe in and follow the teachings of Jesus. Both Islam and Christianity place Jesus as a central figure in their religion, and both believe that He is virgin-born and living in Heaven, although there are disagreements on the path He took to arrive there. Only Muslims follow the Qur’an, but both believe in the Bible – while Christians hold it as the only true Word of God, Muslims also accept its teachings, particularly the Pentateuch, Psalms, and Gospels (Chart, Ravi). Both believe in angels, and both believe that in the end of time, there will be a physical resurrection and final judgment with an eternal destination for every individual. All of these are shocking to me; this last fact especially is personally the most surprising to me, and speaks the most about how Islam and Christianity are not mutually exclusive. If both religions believe in the same end of the world, then there is no reason that one of them has to destroy the other before the end of the world comes. 

Seth Viani, 563.

The Holy Bible


Comparison Chart, NSRK Ravi

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