Comparison of Jesus and Mohammed
Two influential spiritual leaders who were worlds apart, separated not only by time but their great followings after they have left—Jesus of Nazareth (who was actually born in Bethlehem) and Muhammed of Mecca, were two of the legends, history has not fully grasped or will never fully grasp. Their geographical locations were so near that further influence may be possible yet the path one trod was different from another. Apparently, their ideologies, teachings, lives and histories have made great impact on people many generations after them .They have influenced the world no leader thereafter had made. Unparalled in so many respects—Jesus and Mohammed, though cannot be compared, for they have leaned towards different belief, had been undeniably, the foremost leading icons in the entire history of mankind.
Between the two, Jesus had more profound humble beginnings. He was born around 8-4 B.C and died between 29-33 A.D. His birth was foretold by prophets in the book of Isaiah 6:14. In that verse it was prophesied that a virgin shall conceive, and he shall be the Counselor, Prince of Peace, the Mighty God. Jesus in simple terms, is the incarnate Son of God, the Ruler that Israel is waiting to save them from the Roman dominion. Further, Jesus came from royal lineage, his father Joseph came from the clan of David, the former King of Israel. When Israel was subdued by the Romans, the monarchial system of Israel was dissolved, replaced by the rulers from Rome.
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Jesus’ life and public ministry and death were chronicled in the New Testament, approximately written centuries after his death. The gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John concisely and harmoniously accounted the life of Jesus and his miracles. During his life, he devoted himself teaching, performing miracles, and showing benevolence to the people of Israel and from other adjacent countries. While his life and ministry was rather short, due to his untimely death, the sacrifice he made on the cross, became the amalgamating fact that Christians held to strengthen their faith in him. His death was tragic: he was publicly humiliated, scorned before he was nailed on the cross. But this tragedy never halted the followings of Jesus, after his death and until today, his teachings became the principal doctrines of Christianity.
Muhammad was believed to have been born sometime 570 A.D. in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Many believed that Muhammad is the founder of Islam, yet this fact is not absolutely accurate. Islam is solidly monotheistic religion, believing in one true God, Allah. Like Jesus, Muhammad’s family came from a religious and prestigious clan of Hashim part Qurash people. Early in his life, he used to trade with Christian and Jewish holy men who regarded him as the prophet as prophesied in their Scriptures. Indeed, Muhammad was a man of honesty and integrity who captured the trust and confidence of his trade partners in Syria.
Muhammad married Khadija, a rich widow, who was his former mistress. Khadija was impressed with Muhammad’s intelligence and skills, not to mention his positive traits as the manager of her businesses. Later, Khadija offered marriage to Muhammad. About when he was around 40 years old, Muhammad had his prophetic calling. Many traditions and stories spread about this experience. But it was clear enough that Muhammad’s life made a strong impact on the Arab nation. He was also became an efficient war leader who took victorious leads in the area of Medina. He became a widely accepted treaty-maker and arbitrator. These successes persuaded the pagans and many Jewish to accept Islam.
Unlike Jesus, the death of Muhammad was prestigious comparable to the death of a modern great leader. He was enshrined in the Arab communities as one of the most revered Islamic figure. Manny of the ceremonies he performed became the prominent rituals of Islam, two of them the Idl-Fitr and the hajj, among others.
Several great contrasts can be seen in the life of Jesus and Muhammad. One simple difference is the celibate life of Jesus who primarily, devoted his life in his ministry. While Muhammad married and even had several wives after his marriage to Khadija. But one great disparity is that Jesus was purely a religious leader, he introduced and taught to “love thy enemies (Matthew 5:44)” (. He never led the revolt of the Israel against the Roman Empire or against any kingdom the Jews were at war with. In one of his teachings, He was once asked by the Jews if they ought to pay Caesar the taxes due to Rome or just give their tithes to the temple of Solomon. Jesus wittingly answered, “What image do you see in the coin…give to Caesar what is of Caesar’s and to God, what belongs to God (Luke 20:24-26).” In his stichomythia tic responses to Jew agitators, he never compromised the civil peace, and never in his life, led any war or revolution in Israel during his time. On the other hand, Muhammad was not just a spiritual messenger of Allah, he was also a brilliant civil leader and war commander. He won so many battles in Syria, in several warring tribes there, before he introduced peace.
Muhammad personified the great, spiritual and civil leader the Arabs had imagined. His spiritual integrity and bravery in leading troops were the traits every man in his country (even those neighboring communities), dreamed of having of. He was a combination of strength and meekness. Not in the case of Jesus, who believed that Israel needed reformation of lives and not governmental change. Perhaps, the Jewish people were frustrated that the Messiah that they are waiting will lead them to overthrow the Romans. Yet, Jesus never lifted a finger against the Rome. For the Jews, a Messiah is a strong persuasive leader who will unite the whole Israel and the kingdom of Judea and form a strong Jewish nation. In the case of Muhammad, he made several agreements with other tribes and forged them to be one nation. Even if they never became part of the Arab Kingdom, certainly they became Islam. The religion had been the strongest unifying force Muhammad had used to explore and commence peace in his own region.
Overly simplified, Jesus was only a religious leader but Muhammad was both.
But what is striking with Jesus is that he is the only religious leader who had the account of resurrection, Muhammad was not believed to have resurrected from the dead. In the book of Acts, several hundred people witnessed His death, and several hundred more seen his new life, after his tragic death on the cross. This account made Christianity so different with all other world religions. Muhammad was said to be a prophet and a messenger, but Jesus was considered to be incarnated Deity. This made the biggest difference between the two leaders. However, the resurrection of Jesus was greatly contested and disproved by other people. Others believe that someone died for him, and he only re-appeared after three days to fulfill his own resurrection prophesy. Proving so much of the resurrection was false, never succeeded in the realm of historical accounts. Many Bible and Jewish scholars agreed that the account was factual than myth or legend. Latter, this belief while circulating among intellectuals and skeptics, it has never dissuaded the believers from their faith in Jesus and His promise of eternal life and forgiveness.
Comparatively, Islam believed that there is one God (much like the Jews and the Christians) and central to this belief is that, Muhammad is not God. He was the messenger, the divine messenger to reconcile and return the pagan and polytheistic belief of his people to the one true God yet he was never considered a deity in the Islam religion. On the contrary, Jesus, in the accounts of Christians, is much believed to be the Son of God, and God Himself as another persona of the Triune God that Christians believe. While Christian tenets espouse monotheism like Muslims are, Christianity did not stop there. God, while being One, has three persona: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. This central and fundamental Christian belief sprung after Jesus’ death, and was widely propagated by His apostles who witnessed, preached Jesus’ gospel throughout Israel, Asia Minor and parts of Europe.
The religious contexts of Muhammad and Jesus were also opposite. Muhammad’s influences ranged from religion to politics, from domestic life to culture and traditions of the Muslims. Jesus’ teachings were far more than dominance on religion, cultures were not really changed when one became a follower of Jesus. The Europeans retained their statuses, the emperors remained emperors and their lifestyles had remained almost the same, saved from certain aspects of morality, practice and belief. As Jesus preached, the concern of His preaching was not really cultural or civic, but individual change and personal regeneration. Muhammad made the same teachings yet the encompassing stretch of implications on the political, cultural and individual effects on Muslims had been conservatively preserved. Jesus’ disciples and believers were concerned about the moral aspect, and the life practice than the modes, manners and traditions. But, Christianity has several practices which was also instituted by Jesus himself. The taking of the communion, the water baptism are among of the many rituals and rites Christians practice.
The muslims were never named after Muhammad. They were never referred to as “Muhammedans or Muhammadans”, if so, this will counter their belief that Muhammad is not God, and will render their monotheistic belief contradictory. However, Christians named themselves after the titular description of Jesus that is Christ. This term was derived from the greek word, “christos or kristos” a translation from the Hebrew word “messiah”. The central teaching of Jesus to love God and service and benevolence to the poor and helping the oppressed and lowliest people draw a crowd. They were appalled by Jesus concern with the society’s outcast and unloved. He showed mercy and charity no person in his generation had seen. This made Jesus an authority in morality and integrity. Yet, Jewish leaders thought Him as blasphemer, when people regarded Him as the true Son of the Living God. This made them furious and connived to kill Jesus.
Muslims teach kindness, fairness and equality in all of their dealings. But a central belief in the “Five Pillars of Islam” is commanded for strict adherence. The primary concern of Islam is their obedience to the Islamic law. Christianity, on the other hand is obedience to God’s teachings. The two leaders taught a great deal and made impact which was now a vast empire. This may not be a political empire but religious dominion. The Muslims cannot be considered a weak force in the modern world, same as Christianity has held powers it progressed throughout the century.
Jesus and Muhammad may have similarities and differences. Their leadership styles, their faith, their personalities may not be congruent as it can be compared. But, the leadership and the integrity they have shown, the peculiarity of their moral and the ascendancy of their lifestyle have become the foundation of their followings up to this time. Truly, Jesus and Muhammad have become the greatest icons of mankind, and that no once seconded.
Yet, Jesus never taught to hate Muslims; he never taught that war is a means itself. He never divided any kingdom nor opposed any governmental rule. He simply taught the ways of life. Muhammad in many respects was similar. The difference is Muhammad wanted peace, but he uses war as a means. He tolerated much of amity and comity but has led civil strife to obtain the peace he aimed for his nation. Jesus never taught of any Christian form of “jihad”, though many Christian crusaders in the early century defied this truth.
Jesus and Muhammad were truly different from each other but surely they shall never resort to any strife but exercise maximum religious tolerance as opposed to bigotry and discrimination.
The Holy Bible. USA: Thomas Nelson Publishers Inc, 1973.
Berkey, Jonathan P. The Formation of Islam religion. Cambridge, Mass: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
___________. “Jesus Christ”. Encarta Encyclopedia. USA: 2006.