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The historical interaction between Christianity and Islam, in the field of comparative religion, connects fundamental ideas in Christianity with similar ones in Islam. Islam and Christianity share their origins in the Abrahamic tradition, as does Judaism. Islam accepts many aspects of Christianity as part of its faith - sometimes with differences in interpretation - but rejects other aspects.

Islamic Views on Jesus

Islam teaches that Jesus (Isa) was the second most important prophet (after Muhammad), but Muslims do not believe that he was the Son of God, that he is divine or part of a triune God. According to Muslims, Jesus was a human prophet who brought to mankind a closer relationship with God and each other. Muslims believe that Jesus was miraculously born of the Virgin Mary, but disagree on the nature of Jesus' paternity in relation to the conception. Muslims believe the creation of Jesus was like the creation of Adam, they were both created by God without human fathers, but neither are seen as being the "sons of God" in the literal sense.

Islam and Christianity differ in their fundamental views in regard to the crucifixion and resurrection. Christians believe that Jesus was condemned to death by the Sanhedrin and the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate, physically crucified and resurrected. Muslims believe that Jesus was condemned to crucifixion and then miraculously saved:

Qur'an 4:156

Other Christian terms are also present in Islam, although their meanings are not always the same. These include the Second Coming, Antichrist and The Beast.

As Abrahamic religions

Christianity, Islam and Judaism are known as Abrahamic religions because of their common origin through Abraham. Muslims consider Ishmael, the firstborn son of Abraham, to be the "Father of the Arabs" and Abraham's second son, Isaac, is called "Father of the Hebrews". The story of Abraham and his sons is told in the Book of Genesis.

Ishmael is considered to be the ancestor of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Muslims commonly refer to Christians and Jews as "People of the Book" (called dhimmi in post-classical period), people who follow the same general teachings in relation to the worship of the One God as known by Abraham.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the official doctrine document released by the Roman Catholic church, has this to say regarding Muslims:

"The Church's relationship with the Muslims: The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day (apocalypse)." (CCC 841).

Similarities between the Bible and the Quran

The Qur'an contains many references to people and events that are mentioned in the Bible; that Jesus was given the Injil (Greek evangel, or Gospel) from the Abrahamic God (Allah in Arabic). Traditionally, Muslims have believed that parts of these teachings were eventually lost or distorted to produce what is now the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament.

Christians, with exception, generally agree that the Pentateuch (Torah) is the original work of Moses but has been modified in translation, tranliteration or transcription to include more recent names of places and similar insubstantial alterations. Jesus relies on specifc statements in the Pentateuch and claims them as authored by Moses, which gives credence to the claim that Moses was at least the originator of the substance of the Pentateuch if indeed he did not write the currently accepted text word-for-word.

In stark contrast to the Muslim position Christians do not credit all the Psalms to David, indeed a common view is that only half of the psalms were created by David:

"While almost half of the psalms are credited to David, at least one was written 500 years after his birth. A number of poets and writers contributed, and about a third of the psalms are completely anonymous."

The Bible on Islam

The Bible was written hundreds of years before Muhammad was born. Some Muslims have claimed that the Paraclete (comforter, helper) referred to in the Gospel of John is a prophecy of the coming of Muhammad. Islam teaches that the Bible was originally the inspired word of God but that it became corrupted over the centuries.

Some Christians point to Bible verses such as the following when criticising Muhammad's claim to be a prophet:

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! (Galatians 1:8)

However, since "gospel" means "good news" and Muhammad did not preach a gospel but a code of religious law, this argument has been disproved by several Islamic scholars.

Early Christian writers

John of Damascus

In 746 John of Damascus (sometimes St. John of Damascus) wrote the Fount of Knowledge part two of which is entitled Heresies in Epitome: How They Began and Whence They Drew Their Origin[1]. In this work St.John makes extensive reference to Muhammad's Koran and, in St. Johns's opinion, its failure to live up to even the most basic scrutiny. The work is not exclusively concerned with the Ishamaelites (a name for the Muslims as they claimed to have descended from Ishmael) but all heresy. The Fount of Knowledge references several suras directly often with apparent incredulity.

"From that time to the present a false prophet named Mohammed has appeared in their midst. This man, after having chanced upon the Old and New Testaments and likewise, it seems, having conversed with an Arian monk, [101] devised his own heresy. Then, having insinuated himself into the good graces of the people by a show of seeming piety, he gave out that a certain book had been sent down to him from heaven. He had set down some ridiculous compositions in this book of his and he gave it to them as an object of veneration."

"There are many other extraordinary and quite ridiculous things in this book which he boasts was sent down to him from God. But when we ask: ‘And who is there to testify that God gave him the book? And which of the prophets foretold that such a prophet would rise up?’—they are at a loss. And we remark that Moses received the Law on Mount Sinai, with God appearing in the sight of all the people in cloud, and fire, and darkness, and storm. And we say that all the Prophets from Moses on down foretold the coming of Christ and how Christ God (and incarnate Son of God) was to come and to be crucified and die and rise again, and how He was to be the judge of the living and dead. Then, when we say: ‘How is it that this prophet of yours did not come in the same way, with others bearing witness to him? And how is it that God did not in your presence present this man with the book to which you refer, even as He gave the Law to Moses, with the people looking on and the mountain smoking, so that you, too, might have certainty?’—they answer that God does as He pleases. ‘This,’ we say, ‘We know, but we are asking how the book came down to your prophet.’ Then they reply that the book came down to him while he was asleep."

Theophanes The Confessor

Theophanes [The] Confessor (died c.822) wrote a series of chronicles (284 onwards and 602-813 AD)[2][3][4] based initially on those of the better known George Syncellus. Theophanes reports about Mouamed thus:

At the beginning of his advent the misguided Jews thought he was the Messiah [...] But when they saw him eating camel meat, they realized that he was not the one they thought him to be, [...] those wretched men taught him illicit things directed against us, Christians, and remained with him.

Whenever he came to Palestine he consorted with Jews and Christians and sought from them certain scriptural matters. He was also afflicted with epilepsy. When his wife became aware of this, she was greatly distressed, inasmuch as she, a noblewoman, had married a man such as he, who was not only poor, but also an epileptic. He tried deceitfully to placate her by saying, ‘I keep seeing a vision of a certain angel called Gabriel, and being unable to bear his sight, I faint and fall down.’


In the work "A history of Christian-Muslim relations"[5] Hugh Goddard mentions both John of Damascus and Theophanes and goes on to consider the relevance of Nicetas of Byzantium who formulated replies to letters on behalf of Emperor Michael III (842-867). Goddard sums up Nicetas view:

In short, Muhammad was an ignorant charlatan who succeeded by imposture in seducing the ignorant barbarian Arabs into accepting a gross, blaspheming, idolatrous, demoniac religion, which is full of futile errors, intellectual enormities, doctrinal errors and moral aberrations.

Goddard further notes that in spite of Nicetas obvious bile we can see in his work a knowledge of the whole Koran including an extensive knowledge of suras 2-18. Nicetas account from behind the Byzantine frontier apparently set a strong precedent for later writing both in tone and points of argument.

The Qur'an on Christianity

The following sura mention Christians and/or Christianity:

Qur'an 29:46

Qur'an 2:23

Qur'an 2:41

Qur'an 2:62

V.2:89 "And when there came to them (the Jews), a Book (this Qur'ân) from Allâh confirming what is with them [the Taurât (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)], although aforetime they had invoked Allâh (for coming of Muhammad محمّد) in order to gain victory over those who disbelieved, then when there came to them that which they had recognised[sic], they disbelieved in it. So let the Curse of Allâh be on disbelievers."

V.2:97 "Say (O Muhammad محمّد): 'Whoever is an enemy to Jibrael (Gabriel)(let him die in his fury), for indeed he has brought it (this Qur'ân) down to your heart by Allâh's Permission, confirming what came before it [i.e. the Taurât (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] and guidance and glad tidings for the believers.'"

V.2:105 "Neither those who disbelieve among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) nor Al-Mushrikûn (the idolaters, polytheists, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allâh, pagans, etc.) like that there should be sent down unto you any good from your Lord. But Allâh chooses for His Mercy whom He wills. And Allâh is the Owner of Great Bounty."

V.2:109 "Many of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) wish that if they could turn you away as disbelievers after you have believed, out of envy from their ownselves, even after the truth (that Muhammed محمّد is Allâh's Messenger) has become manifest unto them. But forgive and overlook, till Allâh brings His Command. Verily Allâh is Able to do all things."

V.2:111 "And they say, 'None shall enter Paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian.' These are their own desires. Say (O Muhammed محمّد), 'Produce your proof if you are truthful.'"

V.2:113 "The Jews said that the Christians follow nothing (i.e. are not on the right religion); and the Christians said that the Jews follow nothing(i.e. are not on the right religion); though they both recite the Scripture. Like unto their word, said (the pagans) who know not. Allâh will judge between them on the Day of the Resurrection about that wherein they have been differing."

V.2:116 "And they (Jews, Christians and pagans) say: Allâh has begotten a son (children or offspring). Glory be to Him (Exalted be He above all that they associate with Him). Nay, to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth, and all surrender with obedience (in worship) to Him."

V.2:120 "Never will the Jews nor the Christians be pleased with you (O Muhammad محمّد) till you follow their religion. Say: 'Verily, the Guidance of Allâh (i.e. Islamic Monotheism) that is the (only) Guidance. And if you (O Muhammad محمّد) were to follow their (Jews and Christians) desires after what you have received of Knowledge (i.e. the Qur'ân), then you would have against Allâh neither any Walî (protector or guardian) nor any helper."

V.2:135 "And they say, 'Be Jews or Christians, then you will be guided.' Say (to them O Muhammad محمّد), 'Nay (we follow) only the religion of Ibrâhîm (Abraham), Hanîfa [Islamic Monotheism, i.e. to worship none but Allâh (Alone)], and he was not of Al-Mushrikûn (those who worshiped others along with Allâh -- see V.2:105).'"

V.2:139 "Say (O Muhammad محمّد to the Jews and Christians), 'Dispute you with us about Allâh while He is our Lord and your Lord? And we are to be rewarded for our deeds and you for your deeds. And we are sincere to Him [in worship and obedience (i.e. we worship Him Alone and none else, and we obey His Orders)].'"

V.2:140 "Or say you that Ibrâhîm (Abraham), Ismâ'îl (Ishmael), Ishâq (Isaac), Ya'qûb (Jacob) and Al-Asbât [the offspring of the twelve sons of Ya'qûb (Jacob)] were Jews or Christians? Say, 'Do you know better or does Allâh (know better...that they all were Muslims)? And who is more unjust than he who conceals the testimony [i.e. to believe in Prophet Muhammad محمّد when he comes, as is written in their Books. (See Verse 7:157)] he has from Allâh? And Allâh is not unaware of what you do.'"

V.2:144 "Verily! We have seen the turning of your (Muhammad's محمّد) face towards the heaven. Surely, We shall turn you to a Qiblah (prayer direction) that shall please you, so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid-Al-Harâm (at Makkah). And wheresoever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction. Certainly, the people who were given the Scripture (i.e. Jews and the Christians) know well that, that (your turning towards the direction of the Ka'bah at Makkah in prayers) is the truth from their Lord. And Allâh is not unaware of what they do."

V.2:145 "And even if you were to bring to the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) all the Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) they would not follow your Qiblah (prayer direction), nor are you going to follow their Qiblah (prayer direction). And they will not follow each other's Qiblah (prayer direction). Verily, if you follow their desires after that which you have received of knowledge (from Allâh), then indeed you will be one of the Zâlimûn (polytheists, wrong-doers)."

V.2:253 "Those Messengers! We preferred some of them to others; to some of them Allâh spoke (directly); others He raised to degrees (of honour); and to 'Îsâ (Jesus), the son of Maryam (Mary), We gave clear proofs and evidences, and supported him with Rûh-ul-Qudus [Jibrael (Gabriel)]. If Allâh had willed, succeeding generations would not have fought against each other, after clear Verses of Allâh had come to them, but they differed -- some of them believed and others disbelieved. If Allâh had willed, they would not have fought against one another, but Allâh does what He likes."

" that a Book confirming their own has come to them from God, they deny it...they reply: 'We believe in what was revealed to us.' But they deny what has since been revealed, although it is truth...Say: 'Whoever is an enemy of Gabriel' (who has by God's grace revealed to you [Muhammad] the Koran as a guide...confirming previous scriptures)..will surely find that God is the enemy of the unbelievers.'...And now that an apostle has come to them from God confirming their own Scriptures, some of those to whom the Scriptures were given cast off the Book of God behind their backs...The unbelievers among the People of the Book, and the pagans, resent that any blessings should have been sent down to you from your Lord. " (Surah 2:88-, 98-, 103-)

"Believers, do not make friends with any but your own people...They desire nothing but your ruin....You believe in the entire Book...When they meet you they say: 'We, too, are believers.' But when alone, they bite their finger-tips with rage." (Surah 3:118, 119)

"To those that declare: 'God has commanded us to believe no apostle unless he brings down fire to consume an offering,' say: 'Other apostles before me [Muhammad] have come to you with veritable signs and worked the miracle you asked for...If they reject you [Muhammad], other apostles have been rejected before you..." (Surah 3:183-)

"The Jews and Christians say: 'We are the children of God and His loved ones.' Say: 'Why then does He punish you for your sins?" (Surah 5:18)

"The God will say: 'Jesus, son of Mary, did you ever say to mankind 'Worship me and my mother as gods besides God?' 'Glory to You, 'he will answer, 'how could I ever say that to which I have no right?" (Surah 5:114-)

Qur'an 9:5

Qur'an 9:28

Qur'an 17:111

"'How shall I bear a child,' she [Mary] answered, 'when I am a virgin...?' 'Such is the will of the Lord,' he replied. 'That is no difficult thing for Him...God forbid that He [God[ Himself should beget a son!...Those who say: 'The Lord of Mercy has begotten a son,' preach a monstrous falsehood..." (Surah 19:12-, 29-, 88)

Artistic influences

Islamic influences on Christian art show multi-faceted contributions of Islamic art and culture in the achievements of Christian art. Most Christian arts have received such influence, from religious architecture to religious painting.[6][7]

Early Muslim writers



Islam and Protestantism

Islam and Protestantism entered into contact during the 16th century, at a time when Protestant movements in northern Europe coincided with the expansion of the Ottoman Empire in southern Europe. As both were in conflict with the Catholic Holy Roman Empire, numerous exchanges occurred, exploring religious similarities and the possibility of trade and military alliances. Relations became more conflictual in the early modern and modern periods, although recent attempts have been made at rapprochement. In terms of comparative religion, there also interesting similarities such as textual criticism and iconoclasm, as well as differences, in both religious approaches.

Nostra Aetate

The question of Islam was not on the agenda when Nostra Aetate was first drafted, or even at the opening the Second Vatican Council. However, as in the case of the question of Judaism, several events again came together to prompt consideration of Islam.

By the time of the Second Session of the Council in 1963 reservations began to be raised by bishops of the Middle East about the inclusion of this question. The position was taken that either the question not be raised at all, or if it were raised then some mention of the Muslims be made. Melkite patriarch Maximos IV was among those pushing for this latter position.

Early in 1964 Cardinal Bea notified Cardinal Cicognani, President of the Council's Coordinating Commission, that the Council fathers wanted the Council to say something about the great monotheistic religions, and in particular about Islam. The subject, however, was deemed to be outside the competence of Bea's Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

Bea expressed willingness to "select some competent people and with them to draw up a draft" to be presented to the Coordinating Commission. At a meeting of the Coordinating Commission on 16-17 April Cicognani acknowledged that it would be necessary to speak of the Muslims." [8]

The period between the first and second sessions saw the change of pontifiate to Pope Paul VI, who had been a member of the circle (the Badaliya) of the Islamologist Louis Massignon. Pope Paul VI chose to follow the path recommended by Maximos IV and he therefore established commissions to introduce what would become paragraphs on the Muslims in two different documents, one of them being Nostra Aetate, paragraph three, the other being Lumen Gentium, paragraph 16.[9]

The text of the final draft bore traces of Massignon's influence. The reference to Mary, for example, resulted from the intervention of Mgr. Descuffi, the Latin archbishop of Smyrna with whom Massignon collaborated in reviving the cult of Mary at Smyrna. The commendation of Muslim prayer may reflect the influence of the Badaliya.[9]

In Lumen Gentium, the Second Vatican Council also declares that the plan of salvation also includes Muslims, due to their professed monotheism. [10]

See also

Islam specific:


  1. [1]
  2. [2] gives an excerpt with all pertinent text as translated by Cyril Mango
  3. The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor (Byzantine and Near Eastern History AD 284-813). Translated with introduction and commentary by Cyril Mango and Geoffrey Greatrex, Oxford 1997. An updated version of the citation.
  4. [3] a more populised but less rigirously studied translation of Theophanes chronicles
  5. "A history of Christian-Muslim relations", p.56
  6. A world history of architecture Marian Moffett p.189 [4]
  7. Encountering the World of Islam Keith E. Swartley p.74 [5]
  8. (History of Vatican II, pp. 142-43)
  9. 9.0 9.1 (Robinson, p. 195)
  10. Lumen Gentium, 16

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Christianity and Islam. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.