Islam and Christianity
Being raised Catholic, a very specific narrative of right and wrong was impressed on me beginning at a very young age. At Sunday school or during religion class, I was very susceptible to accept everything that was taught at face value because nobody ever questioned it. The primary lesson being that Christianity is inherently good and that the Bible is the end all be all of the Church’s doctrines. As I grew older, however, I stopped going to Catholic school, moved to a much more progressive area of the country, and started hearing people criticize certain aspects of the Catholic Church for the first time in my life. I began to doubt the entire basis of my education as I met people who could counter my beliefs with quotes from the Bible, the very same book I was using to support my arguments and advocate in favor of Catholicism.
The other lesson that I was taught at a young age was that Islam and Christianity were incompatible and mutually exclusive. Due to the Catholic Church’s curriculum at my school, which doesn’t include much education in regards to other major world religions, I was never taught that both Islam and Christianity are Abrahamic religions that share the same god and believe that Jesus was a central figure or prophet that was very important to the formation of each. I was taught that the Christian god and Islamic god were completely different. I remember being told a joke in elementary school that reinforced this belief. The punchline of the joke was based on the incorrect but popular belief that “God” is different than “Allah”. While these similarities were surprising for me to learn, and I felt extremely uneducated and ignorant when I eventually did, the most significant similarity I have found between Islam and Christianity is the ease with which each religion cherry picks excerpts from their holy books to push their agenda.
Both Islam and Christianity have their central tenets in which they use as a guide for how they should live their lives in order to be seen as devout. The Christian Church places a lot of importance on the Ten Commandments that Moses received from God through the burning bush. Islam places a lot of importance on its five pillars, with the sixth “unofficial” pillar being Jihad. However, there are passages in both holy books that contradict each other. One of the most shocking quotes from the Bible that I read for the first time says, “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites … And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? … Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.” (Numbers 31:1-18) Moses, the very same person that brought God’s commandments to his people is also telling them that God allows the Commandments to be broken in certain cases. People became so good at twisting what is written in the Bible in their favor that in the 19th century American Christians were using the Bible to justify race based slavery. Christians are able to find lines in the Quran that call for holy war; Muslims can provide even more lines and suras that preach against violence and jihad; and the same is true with the Bible. As such, I do not believe that the two religions are mutually exclusive. I believe they share a lot more common ground both for better and for worse.
- Quin Ramos
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