As of 2017, the world’s largest group of believers, profess to be Christians (with an estimated number of 2.2 billion adherents).
Second on that list are those who profess to be Muslims (1.8 billion).
The beginnings of the Muslim faith trace back to a man by the name of Muhammad who lived from 570 – 632 A.D.
Muslims believe that God is One (as Christians and Jews also believe) and that He created the universe and exists beyond the universe. In Islam, He is known as Allah.
The five basic tenets of Islam are… 1) Allah is the one true God; 2) Allah has sent many prophets into the world (including Moses and Jesus), but Muhammad is the last and greatest; 3) The Koran is the supreme religious book (given to Muhammad by the angel Gabriel); 4) There are many angels between us and Allah (some good, some evil); and 5) Each person’s deeds will be weighed on a balance to determine who goes to heaven or hell.
Jesus or Muhammad?
Salvation. Muhammad offered his followers guidelines for how to work their way into Allah’s favor – but no real asurance as to the amount of work needed. In comparison, Jesus offers salvation as a gift to those who would willingly receive His work on their behalf. Jesus’ work paid the price for all our sins, and the result is that we no longer have to work our way into God’s favor. Jesus’ has done ALL the work necessary to please God!
Power. Stories of miracles done at the hand of Muhammad appeared centuries after his death – and none are from actual eyewitnesses of his works. Also missing is the inherent goodness and compassion that are so characteristic of Jesus’ miracles. Jesus seemed consumed with helping people and delivering them from the maladies so common in His day. Jesus came and brought the power of God to people who needed God’s power.
Claims. Muhammad never claimed to be God (Allah). Jesus’ claimed to be “God, with us” (and permitted others to make that connection as well). Muhammad saw this claim as an affront to Allah (on the grounds of polytheism). But Jesus’ claim brings a depth and power to all that He did while among us. Jesus came and showed us what God was really like (something that had become very distorted through the centuries) and showed us the Heart of God in all that He did for us (including dying in our place).
Islam is, fundamentally, a works-based faith. At its heart is a devotion to all that WE can do to gain divine attention and favor. The problem with all works-based religions is that everything depends on the follower to DO as much as possible to demonstrate just how much they deserve God’s favor. AND… one can never know if enough has ever been done!
In contrast, Christianity is based solely on all that Jesus DID for us in His sacrificial death and powerful resurrection. Favor with God is already won, because of what Jesus did. What is more, now that the issue of acceptance has been settled, devoted followers of Jesus become actual members of God’s Own family – legally adopted into His Household and privileged to share in everything that He owns.
Sadly, 1.8 billion Muslims (all over the world) are still trying to do enough to please their god – never having any assurance that their accomplishments will ever earn them an eternal reward.