Jesus and Muhammad

  1. Islamic perceptions of Heaven and Hell differ from those of Christianity and Judaism in that once you die, you will be judged; not just in your faith in God, but in the deeds you have accomplished in life. I believe all have a relatively similar vision of Heaven as paradise and Hell as a pit of fiery damnation, but in Islam there are different levels you can be assigned based on the amount of good or amount bad that you have committed. Our text also refers to the divine Koran existing in the seventh Heaven. Christians, on the other hand, believe that the gates of Heaven are achieved through belief in Christ and the repentance of sins.
  2. The Nativity was a fulfilled prophesized event, something which was familiar to Greek culture. Additionally, the immaculate conception could also be considered a familiar element, as Jesus would then be a child of a human and God. The Passion, a final sacrifice for all sin, was a new concept and an appealing one. Christ was the definitive hero, making the ultimate sacrifice for all others. Also, the idea that if one believed in Christ and simply asked for forgiveness would be shown mercy was much more favorable than giving sacrifices to finicky gods who may or may not look kindly on you.
  3. The emphasis on human repentance and divine mercy was an entirely new concept. This practice offered a much more personal relationship between man and God, as well as an equally dispersed one. It opened the religion to all people, not just the Hebrews, who had God’s favor and been considered his chosen people. In fact, it specifically targeted Gentiles, seeking out those who are lost (such as in the parable of the one lost lamb over the other 99). A God who favored all people equally, as well as one who looked mercifully on them, was very different than the gods seen in Gilgamesh or the Iliad. Gilgamesh and Achilles had been favored above others, even if their actions were less honorable. Instead, others were punished in their place, or were unaided and deceived.