Those of us raised as Christians will have some idea of the core values to which we believe. The Godhead is paramount: One God: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This is the same critical introduction to each of our articles.
Mary was a virgin but gave birth to Jesus when the Holy Spirit came upon her. Jesus God the Son yet fully human lived without sin, was crucified and died on the Cross for our sin and was raised again the third day to life and this, the assurance of Salvation is for anyone who believes in Him.
The central focus of Christianity is love, repentance, forgiveness and compassion with a world view taught by Jesus and expounded in the New Testament that ultimately there will be a divine reckoning for those who reject this astonishing measure of Grace - the Cross.
The Quran and Hadith
Islam believes that the Quran directly came down from heaven - perfect, uncreated, unchangeable and impossible to be changed, immutable. The Quran was spoken by Gabriel to Muhammad and written and compiled after Muhammad had died.
It consists of 114 Surahs (chapters). It is written in Arabic and explains about Allah, heaven and hell, prayer, faith and good deeds, laws and stories from the Bible.
Ibn Taymiyah, one of the most influential scholars and thinkers in early Islam declared: "The Arabic language is from (Allah's) religion, and the knowledge of it is an obligation. For surely the understanding of the Quran and Hadith is an obligation, and these two are not understood except with the understanding of the Arabic language". (www.alharamain.org; http://126.96.36.199/issue35/quraan.htm)
The upshot of this is that vast numbers of Muslims particularly in non-Arabic countries such as Indonesia and Turkey, have never read the Quran and rely on their teachers to interpret it for them. Many have little interest in their own religion. Making money yes, providing for their families yes. Sex yes. They are irrelevant when the hotheads get control of the agenda.
The Quran is not written in any chronological order. Based on recognised Islamic sources, the Quran which existed in Muhammad's lifetime, is not the same as the one we have today.
There are a number of reasons that we know the Quran has been changed: some of the recognised memorisers died, the Quran assembled by Zayd bin Thabit did not include some of the original verses (depending on which surah), Uthman, the third Caliph, ordered that all editions of the Quran not in the Quraish dialect be burned.
It was written in easy to understand Arabic without pronunciation markings but it had to be edited because it was (as it were) impossible to read! Also the oldest Quran manuscripts that have been found do not coincide exactly with the current Quranic text.
Another issue is the doctrine of abrogation, which states that Allah replaces words in the Quran with new and better ones. Eg from Surah An-Naam (2):106 "Whatever a verse (revelation) do we abrogate or cause to be forgotten We bring a better one or similar to it. Know you not that Allah is able to do all things?"
By contrast, there are thousands of documents, both Jewish and secular, which together with increasing archeological evidence confirm the authenticity, accuracy and authority of the Bible. For example the Dead Sea Scrolls found affirm those same Old Testament books, what 700-800 years before Mohammad was born.
It has been suggested the Quran can only be understood in the context of the Hadith. The Hadith is part of the Sunnah which are the words and deeds of Muhammad recorded by his disciples. Of those generally accepted Hadith collections, a majority consider 100% valid, ie Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. A self appointed Imam might well have another view.
Muhammad believed the Bible was true and claimed the Quran was given to confirm the Bible. The Quran states quite clearly that the Law and the Gospel come from God and must be believed by all Muslims. This is mentioned more than 20 times, eg, Surah Ali'Imran (3):3-4 "It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step) in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind".
The Gospel (Injil in Arabic) is one of the Holy books of Islam. It's just that most Muslims are led to believe that the Christian Gospel has been corrupted or it is not authentic.
Today, Muslims claim that the book of the Jews (the Law or Torah – the Old Testament) and the book of the Christians (the Gospel or Injil – New Testament) have been changed. The evidence does not support this.
The problem arose when Muslims discovered that the Quran did not confirm the Bible. Therefore Muslims began to claim that the Bible had been changed or corrupted. Muslims are unable to answer who changed it and when? Or indeed how was it changed.
So again as in the second article, there are several critical irreconcilable differences between Christianity and Islam in their text interpretations and the veracity of either. In real time, it's a nonsense to suggest in any way the two are even similar.
Second today Thurs 11 February
NEXT - Five Pillars – Monday 15 February
Beliefs – Wednesday 17 February
Jihad and Salvation – Thursday 18 February
Response by followers of Jesus – Monday 22 February
Dhimmitude, Sharia Law, Persecution – Wednesday 24 February
Aira Chilcott B.Sc (Hons), M. Contemp Sci, Cert IV in Christian Ministry and Theology, Cert IV in Training and Evaluation, Grad Dip Ed.,began her working life at the John Curtin School of Medical Research, investigating characteristics of cancer cells. Turning to teaching in the Christian school system provided opportunities to learn theology, more science, mission trips and explore the outdoors through bushwalking and other exploits. Now retired, Aira is a panelist for Young Writers and volunteers at a nature park. Aira is married to Bill and they have three adult sons.
Aira Chilcott's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/aira-chilcott.html