Everyone in the Muslim world views everyone in Western Civilization as a Christian. That is their world view.
Everyone in the Western world views everyone in the Middle East and/or Near East as a Muslim. (Muslim, or Moslem, means to be a follower of the Islam religion.) And that is the world view of all countries in Western Civilization.
It makes no difference as to whether or not it is true. That is the perception.
Aside from the continuing war on terrorism, there is a continuing rift, this conflict, with Islam, anyway. Even though one religion follows a prophet (Muhammad) and the other religion follows a messiah (Jesus), they both believe in the same God. Why can’t they just get along? So what is the major rift, for goodness sake, between these two religions?
The rift is simply this:
- Islam emphasizes “correct action, observance;”
- whereas, Christianity emphasizes “correct belief.”
The world in which Muhammad was involved was truly “a tough neighborhood” where violence was a natural state of affairs. It was beset with tribal raids (and even wars), and cycles of vengeance and vendettas. Tribal honor and family honor were central virtues: manliness, courage in battle, chivalry, and upholding tribal and family honor were major virtues.
There was no sense of moral purpose, or communal moral responsibility. There were all kinds of religious traditions, most pointed toward idolatry. God was not in the equation. Therefore, Muhammad set out to correct this situation, and turn people to God.
Through a series of visions from the Angel Gabriel during his life, he was commanded to “proclaim the name of God,” and the Qur’an (known as the Koran in English) evolved. This book is divine guidance and direction for mankind, and considers the original Arabic text to be the final revelation of God. It is taught and understood that Islam’s mission is to bring all people, the entire world, under the discipline of the Qur’an’s teachings, saving humankind from its sinfulness.
So, Islam emphasizes correct action, correct observance, and a summary explanation as to the teachings of the Qur’an can be found in the following:
- The creed.
- The Five Pillars of Islam.
- The Articles of Faith
- Shari ‘a law. (Remember that Shari ‘a law makes no distinction between sin and law. The primary source of Shari ‘a law is the Qur’an, and then the Sunnah and the Hadith.)
The world in which Jesus was thrust was that while the Hebrew people were God’s chosen people to “spread the word, bringing all the nations of the world to Him,” the religious leaders had turned the laws into a confusing mass of rules – would you believe some 613 rules! They were trying to correct the sinful nature of humankind. They lost sight of their purpose which was to turn people to God, and through the Holy Spirit, change the heart of the individual.
The Law itself, as well as a mass of rules, never makes us acceptable to God. Rules such as attendance in church or doing good works or worshiping in a certain manner or honoring special religious days or tithing to a church, are examples in current times. True belief and true faith transforms our thoughts as well as our conduct – we do the above examples in appreciation or gratefulness or to honor tradition and make Jesus known, not in anticipation or approval or expectation. Heartfelt obedience (a decision from the heart) is more important than legalistic observance (an intellectual decision).
As Jesus teaches, God doesn’t so much judge our actions, He judges our motives. Therefore, Jesus was sent into the world to mend that broken relationship between God and humankind, give humankind the New Covenant, and offer a path, through Jesus, for the forgiveness of sins and a way to Heaven.
So, Christianity emphasizes correct belief, and a summary explanation as to the teachings of the Bible can be found in the following:
- The Ten Commandments
- The New Covenant
- The creeds – particularly the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed
- The Sermon on the Mount
And that is the rift — the disagreement that disrupts good relations.