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Islam vs Christianity – similarities and differences [Comparison]

Brought by Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) in the 7th century, Islam is considered the youngest of the 4 most prominent religions in the world. Surprisingly, it is the second religion with the largest number of adherents as Christianity is the first. This begs the question, what are the similarities and differences between the 2 biggest world religions?

Islam has 5 pillars:

Islam is built upon 5 pillars which Muslims call “Arkan al Islam”.

Arkan is plural of Rukn in Arabic which translates to corner in English. In this sense, they refer to pillars of Islam.

The Five Pillars of Islam

They are 5 essential obligations which each Muslim is required to fulfill. These pillars define the core of Islam and establish the Islamic life style. They are the following:

  • Shahada/profession of faith: it is the first pillar of Islam and the key to entering Islam. It is referred to as profession/declaration of faith (Also known as: Shahada) because Muslims proclaim that there is only one God and that Muhammad is His Messenger by saying La ilaha illa Allah Muhammadur rasoolu Allah”.
  • Salat/prayer: Being the second pillar, it is of paramount importance in establishing the direct contact between the believer and the one and only God (Allah (SWT)). Muslims are required to pray 5 times a day (prayer of Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha). These are the obligatory ones in addition to others. Allah Almighty says:“…establish regular prayers. Indeed, performing prayers is a duty on the believers at the appointed times” (Surah An-Nisa 4:103).
  • Zakat/almsgiving: Zakat in Arabic means purification and it refers to the act of giving money to the less fortunate. Those who are wealthy and financially stable donate 2.5% of their wealth to those who are in need as a form of compassion and brotherhood between Muslims. God says:“…pay alms-tax, and lend to Allah a good loan. Whatever good you send forth for yourselves, you will find it with Allah far better and more rewarding” (Surah Al-Muzzamil 73:20).
  • Sawm/ fasting: During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims practice fasting. Not only do they stop eating, drinking, and sexual activity during the day, but also all sort of ill doing or bad habit. Fasting raises awareness of the misfortune of the poor. Further, it can be a form of self-control to ones’ needs and wants. Almighty says: “The month of Ramaḍan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the crescent of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:185).
  • Hajj/pilgrimage: Pilgrimage to Mecca is more than just a pillar of Islam; it is an enriching spiritual experience. Muslims from all around the world gather together to perform the Prophet’s ritualistic sequence he did in his last pilgrimage. It is done during the last month of the Islamic calendar (Dhul Hijjah). Allah (SWT) says:“Pilgrimage to this House is an obligation by Allah upon whoever is able among the people” (Surah Ali’Imran 3:97).

Although obligatory, these pillars can be accommodated to a person’s physical, mental, and financial abilities. Women do not have to pray nor fast during their period. Old and ill people who cannot fast are also excused. Only those who are capable are required to give Zakat. These are good examples of how Allah (SWT) is merciful and considerate of His people. He says:

“Allah does not require of any soul more than what it can afford” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:286).

Christianity has 10 commandments:

Christians believe the Ten Commandments were inscribed by God himself upon two tablets of stone and then given to Moses on Mount Sinai. These 10 commandments form the basics of the Christian religion. Exodus 20:2–17 and Deuteronomy 5:–61 of the Bible contain the list of the Ten Commandments and they are as follows:

  • You shall have no other gods before Me.
  • You shall make no idols.
  • You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  • Keep the Sabbath day holy.
  • Honor your father and your mother.
  • You shall not murder.
  • You shall not commit adultery.
  • You shall not steal.
  • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  • You shall not covet.

These commandments dictate the law of Christianity and are crucial for Christians.

Similarities between Islam and Christianity:

As much as Islam and Christianity seem to have different principles and belief systems, they are actually quite similar on various aspects. These are the following:

  • Both religions are monotheistic: Both Muslims and Christians believe in the existence of only ONE God. Muslims believe in Allah (God in English) the creator of all things and that Prophet Muhammed was His messenger. Christians too believe in one God despite the belief in the Holy Trinity (one god in 3 persons).
  • Both religions are Abrahamic: in fact, Muslims and Christians regard Abraham (Prophet Ibrahim for Muslims) as a crucial figure in their religion as they believe they descend from him.
  • Both religions consider Jesus the Messiah.
  • Both believe Jesus is the son of Mary. 
  • Both believe in the existence of the after-life (heaven or hell).
  • Islam and Christianity are based upon a holy book (Quran for Muslims, the Bible for Christians).
  • Muslims as well as Christians acknowledge the presence of evil and demons.

Differences between Islam and Christianity:

From the previous similarity points, we can also find some differences like the names (Abraham vs Ibrahim) and their holy books (Quran vs Bible). More differences are the following:

  • Christians consider Jesus the Son of God whereas Muslims consider him a prophet of God, you can find more about this here: the concept of god vs Allah
  • Christians follow the guideline of Jesus while Muslims follow those of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh).
  • Muslims believe Allah (the one and only deity) sent prophets. Christians on the other hand believe in the Holy trinity.
  • Christians believe the Holy Spirit is also God. Muslims believe the Holy Spirit is Angel Gabriel (Angel Jibreel).
  • Christians believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus. In contrast, Muslims believe God raised Jesus unto Himself without being crucified and that Jesus will come back on earth before the Day of Judgment (the return of Jesus).
  • Islam has 5 pillars. Christianity on the other hand has 10 commandments.


As we have seen throughout this article, Islam and Christianity are not that similar yet they are not that different either. As a matter of fact, both religions have a set of principles (the 5 pillars and the 10 commandments) which are the essence of Islam and Christianity respectively. Though they focus on different topics, Islam’s pillars and Christianity’s commandments are similar in the way they both govern their adherents’ life style and conduct.

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