Christian and Muslim Tolerance of other Religions and their Path to Heaven
Christianity and Islam are both monotheistic religions, with origins inn Judaism. They have some common elements, such as their belief in some prophet such as Abraham and Moses. However, they differ considerably in their belief and practices. Being the largest religion in the world in terms of population, the two religions often collide in meaning and interpretation of each other’s belief, and there is often misunderstanding between them. This misunderstanding is enhanced by past historical events such as crusades and the current happenings such as jihad and violence in the name of religion. People of other religions misunderstand both religions because they lack the necessary information, and because of the practices of some of their followers. Such beliefs determine the people’s perception towards religious tolerance of both faiths. Muslim and Christians share some similar beliefs concerning their lifestyles on earth. However, they differ considerably on their beliefs concerning how they will reach heaven.
The Muslim concept and definition of heaven is different from the Christian perspective and belief. Muslims believe in a heavenly paradise, where there are rivers flowing underneath rivers of honey, milk and wine where the believers swim and drink. The paradise has a garden with non forbidden fruits for the believers’ enjoyment, palaces of sapphire and diamonds, and virgins prepared for the bridegroom (Caner et al. 193). This perception is different from that of Christianity. Christians also believe in heaven, but it is lined with streets of gold. The angels and the saints spend their time ministering to God, and praising Him, all eternity. Human bodies will become immortal in heaven, and there will be no fleshly desire in heaven. This includes the need for sex, hunger, thirst, and pain.
Muslims believe in doing deeds of righteousness, as their guarantee to heaven. They believe that Allah is satisfied when His people do well and he rewards them because of their actions. The more good a person does, the higher are his chances of reaching heaven. Every act that a Muslim does has final consequences. Doing good from an Islam perspective involves doing charitable works. Muslim should do whatever they can to help the poor. This increases their balance of good deeds. They should not live a life of misery and shame, as this will mean that they will spend their eternity in hell. As one grows older, and his time on earth becomes shorter, he must increase in charitable acts and other good deeds. He must increase his giving, strive to live a better life, and work harder in life (Caner et al 149-150). Engaging in daily prayer, fasting, and going for pilgrimages are recommended practices of the Islam faith.
Muslims believe in Allah’s mercy and will. Even after doing good deeds, Muslims should pray for Allah’s mercy, which will enable them reach heaven. Allah does as he wills, and his mercy will send some people to heaven even if they do not deserve it. Muslims believe that those who do not live an honorable life in the way that pleases Allah will go to hell. However, they do not believe in the concept of an eternal hell. They believe that such people will only go to hell as a way of punishment for the bad they did while on earth. However, Allah’s mercy will guide them and he will remove a large number of them from hell after they have suffered for some time (Caner et al.150).
Christians believe in the eternal forgiveness and mercies of God. They also believe that each person will receive according to his deeds while on earth. The way that a Christian lives his life here on earth is important. God’s mercy is renewed everyday, and He forgets and removes the sins of those He has forgiven. However, this is not an assurance that they will reach heaven. Christians believe that one has to be born again so that he or she can reach heaven. Christians believe in prayer, praise, thanksgiving and making supplications to God. These practices enable the Christian to have the endurance and patience he needs to walk in obedience to the word of God. It is a challenge for Christians to live a holy and acceptable life as the Bible demands of them to do. Engaging in prayer renews a person’s mind and gives her or him strength.
Jesus provided his grace and love for those willing to make the journey with him. Salvation is necessary for those who are willing to go to heaven. It is through Jesus that all are saved. The concept of salvation means the forgiveness of sins through Jesus. The difference between the Christian and Jewish faith is the belief that Christians have in Jesus as the messiah. Christians believe that Jesus opened the way for them to access God in heaven, their father. The lessons they have concerning heaven are the teachings of Jesus while he was here on earth. Jesus taught that the only way that people can go to heaven is through him. He said that he was the way the truth and life, and no one went to the father without going through him (McFarland et al. 81). He came on the earth to prepare the people, and to free them from the bondage of law and religion. He guaranteed that the gentiles had the same opportunity of reaching heaven as the Jews did. Jesus taught the people to follow the narrow way, which is less pleasant and more limiting than the wide way. The wide way is full of pleasure, and it is easy to go through. Jesus also taught that people should be willing to carry their cross and follow Him. Therefore, going to heaven requires sacrifice on the part of those who want to follow Jesus (Day 74-75).
Religious tolerance involves acceptance and accommodation of other people’s beliefs, which are different from one’s own beliefs. It involves giving other people a chance to exercise their beliefs, and express their religions without fear. The concept of religious tolerance does not necessarily mean that all religions are equal, but it means that people have to acknowledge and understand the differences that define them in terms of religions. Many faiths have failed to do this. They believe that they have the right doctrine and they have all the answers to life’s questions. Followers of these religions spend their time converting others to their beliefs using whatever means they can. Most followers of the Islamic faith promote the religion as a peaceful religion. However, some of their practices speak contrary to their actions. The differences in interpretation of their religious texts, and the different sects within the Islamic faith are the main cause of this divergent view of beliefs. Muslims refer to non-Muslims as infidels. This includes Christians and Jews, and to a lesser extent people of other faiths.
Over the years, Muslims have sought to make the countries where they live in Islamic. They have harassed and persecuted people of other faiths, who they believe should not be there. In their quest of making the world Muslim, they have engaged in jihad, or holy war. Muslims who support the jihad cite the Quran, which gives them the express permission to do engage in war and eliminate the infidels. “If anyone desires a religion other than Islam…seize them and slay them wherever you find them” (Caner 187). Such Muslims believe that those who remain pious and fail to engage in holy war will not receive rewards. This perception of the Islamic faith among the Muslims has led to increased wars, bombings of different kinds, and increased persecutions, as the followers aim at fulfilling the words in their religious texts. The words in the Quran make the Muslims feel justified when committing such actions.
Many countries identify themselves as Islamic, especially in the Middle East and parts of Africa. Some Muslims in these countries persecute people of other religions and faiths for failing or refusing to convert to Islam. They do not allow people of other faiths to practice their religion. For instance, one would be hard pressed to find churches in areas such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. The people cannot allow this, and they do not support it. However, some countries with high Muslim populations are largely secular, and they allow some form of freedom for Christians or people of other religions. This is the case with countries such as Egypt and turkey. However, the Christians in these countries face harassment and persecution from the Islam fanatics of religion. They burn churches, and beat and kill Christians.
Christianity is a religion of love, especially as taught by Jesus. Jesus is the foundation of Christianity and while He was here on earth, He taught his followers to love their enemies and those who persecuted them (Neusner and Chilton 136). Principles such as patience, endurance, perseverance, compassion, and mercy are fundamental to the Christian religion. Christians are urged to preach and maintain peace wherever they go. Unfortunately, Christians are not exempt from claims of violence in the name of religion. Historical event illustrate how many people suffered under the hands of Christians. The church controlled all the aspects of life including political and social. This was especially the case in Europe. There was no religious freedom back then, and the main church during the time was the Roman Catholic Church. The reformations in t the church contributed to changing the Christians perceptions concerning their religion. More people began realizing the importance of living peacefully with each other. Unlike Islam, countries with high population of Christians do not claim to make the people in the country followers of the Christian faith.
Caner, M. Ergun et al. Unveiling Islam: An Insider’s Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2009. Print
Day, L. Mark. Precious Stones and Bedrock Truth. Xulon Press, 2010. Print
McFarland, Alex et al. 10 Questions Every Christian Must Answer: Thoughtful Responses to Strengthen Your Faith. B&H Publishing Group, 2011. Print
Neusner, Jacob and Bruce Chilton. Religious Tolerance in World Religions. West Conshohocken: Templeton Foundation Press, 2008. Print