Christianity vs. Islam: What’s the Difference?

Christianity and Islam are two of the world’s largest religions, each with unique beliefs, practices, and traditions. Originating in the Middle East, they share some historical roots and monotheistic principles but differ in key areas like the nature of God, sacred texts, and religious practices.

The teachings of Jesus Christ guide Christians, while Muslims follow the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. Christians read the Bible. Muslims read the Quran. Learn more about the similarities and differences between these religions using the comparison charts below.

Muslim prayer
How many followers do Christianity and Islam have? See below

Comparing Christianity and Islam: At a Glance

Christianity believes in the Trinity and salvation through Jesus Christ, with the Bible as its sacred text. Islam emphasizes the oneness of God (Allah) and follows the Five Pillars, with the Quran as its scripture. Different practices and beliefs define each faith.

SizeAround 2.3 billion followersAround 1.9 billion followers
Date Started1st Century AD7th Century AD
FounderJesus ChristProphet Muhammad
Key BeliefsBelief in the Trinity, salvation through faith in Jesus ChristBelief in one God (Allah), the Five Pillars of Islam, Prophethood
Key PracticesPrayer, sacraments (e.g., baptism), church attendance, reading the BiblePrayer (Salat), almsgiving (Zakat), fasting (Sawm), pilgrimage (Hajj)
DivisionsCatholic, Orthodox, ProtestantSunni, Shia
Central LocationVatican City (for Catholicism)Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Sacred TextsThe BibleThe Quran

The Five Pillars of Islam are the core beliefs and practices of Muslims. They include Shahada (faith declaration), Salat (daily prayers), Zakat (charity), Sawm (fasting during Ramadan), and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). Together, they form the foundation of Islamic life, guiding moral conduct and spiritual devotion.

The doctrine of the Trinity in Christianity describes God as one being in three persons: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. These three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, sharing the same essence or substance, a core belief that shapes Christian understanding of God.

Christian crosses
Is the Bible or Quran larger? See below

Comparing the Bible and the Quran

Understanding the difference between the Bible and the Quran is essential, as they are the foundational texts of Christianity and Islam, respectively.

AspectThe BibleThe Quran
Language of OriginHebrew, Aramaic, GreekClassical Arabic
Time of CompilationVarious books written over centuriesCompiled within 23 years of Muhammad’s death
Number of Books/Chapters66 books (Protestant); 73 (Catholic)114 Surahs (chapters); about 1/3 the size of the Bible
AuthorsMultiple human authorsBelieved to be the literal word of God through the Angel Gabriel to Muhammad
Central ThemesCreation, covenant, salvation through Jesus ChristOneness of God, guidance for living, judgment day
Primary Language(s) TodayTranslated into many languagesArabic (translations available, but Arabic considered the sacred language)
InterpretationsVarious interpretations and translationsInterpretations may vary, but the Arabic text remains unchanged

Christian and Islamic Beliefs: Similarities and Differences

Understanding the differences between Christian and Muslim beliefs enables individuals to grasp the complexities of two major world religions, influencing culture, politics, law, and social norms.

This awareness helps people navigate diverse social environments, make informed decisions, and engage with global issues from a more nuanced perspective.

GodOne God, Triune (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)One God (Allah), without partners or equals
The UniverseCreated by God, guided by divine providenceCreated by Allah, operates under His will
Ultimate RealityGod is the ultimate reality; faith in Christ leads to truthAllah is the ultimate reality; truth is found in submission to His will
Human BeingsMade in God’s image, fallen but redeemable through ChristCreated by Allah with the ability to choose good or evil; moral responsibility
Problem with the WorldSin, a rebellion against God’s will, leading to spiritual separationDeviation from Allah’s path, failure to follow His guidance, leading to moral and spiritual corruption
Solution to the ProblemFaith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and living according to God’s commandmentsSubmission to Allah, following the Five Pillars, and living a moral life according to the teachings of the Quran
AfterlifeHeaven or Hell, based on faith in Christ and good worksParadise or Hell, based on faith and deeds, Allah’s mercy

Heaven in Christianity is often depicted as an eternal union with God, where believers enjoy God’s presence in the New Heavens and New Earth. Paradise in Islam is described as a lush garden with rivers of milk and honey, where believers are rewarded.

What is the central message of each faith? See below

Comparing the Lives of Jesus Christ and Muhammad

Understanding the differences between Jesus and Muhammad is crucial as they are central figures in Christianity and Islam. Their teachings and examples shape the beliefs and practices of billions of followers.

AspectJesus ChristMuhammad
Name“Jesus” means “God saves”; “Christ” means “Anointed One”“Muhammad” means “Praiseworthy”
Lifetimec. 4 BC – c. AD 30/36c. AD 570 – 632
HomeBorn in Bethlehem, lived in Galilee, JudeaBorn in Mecca, lived in Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia
FamilyMother: Mary; Father: Joseph (foster father)Father: Abdullah; Mother: Amina; Wives include Khadija
Central MessageLove, forgiveness, repentance, salvation through faith in Him; the Kingdom of GodOneness of God, submission to His will, moral living
RecordsThe New Testament of the Bible, primarily the GospelsThe Quran, with biographical details in Hadith and Sira

Understanding how Jesus and Muhammad died is vital, as their deaths have profound significance in Christianity and Islam.

Jesus’ crucifixion is central to Christian beliefs about salvation, while Muhammad’s death marks the completion of the revelation of Islam.

AspectJesus ChristMuhammad
Date of Deathc. AD 30/36June 8, 632 AD
Cause of DeathCrucifixionBelieved to be a fever from poisoning
Location of DeathJerusalemMedina, Saudi Arabia
Age at DeathApproximately 33 years oldApproximately 62 years old
Burial PlaceTomb near Golgotha (later resurrected according to Christian belief)Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, Medina

Understanding the aftermath of Jesus’ and Muhammad’s deaths is crucial for comprehending the historical and theological foundations of Christianity and Islam.

Their deaths marked significant turning points, influencing the development, spread, and shaping of these religions, which continue to impact millions of lives and the global cultural landscape.

AspectJesus Christ (Christianity)Muhammad (Islam)
Immediate AftermathResurrection, appearances to followersSuccession crisis, selection of the first Caliph
Impact on TeachingsSpread of Christianity by ApostlesCodification of Quran, expansion of Islamic rule
Succession of LeadershipApostles led early Christian communitiesFirst four Caliphs continued Muhammad’s work
Effect on FollowersPersecution and growth of the early churchRapid expansion of the Muslim community, conquests
Long-Term LegacyFormation of various Christian denominationsFormation of Sunni and Shia branches
Holy Bible
What have been the key events in each faith? See below

10 Important Events in Christian and Islamic History

Knowing about the major events in Christian and Islamic history is essential for understanding the cultural, political, and social development of civilizations influenced by these faiths.

It provides context to historical narratives and contemporary issues, helping in comprehending the complex interplay between religion and global affairs.

1. Birth of Jesus Christ (c. 4-6 BC)1. Birth of Muhammad (570 AD)
2. Crucifixion of Jesus (c. 30-36 AD)2. First revelation to Muhammad (610 AD)
3. Council of Nicaea (325 AD)3. Hijra, migration to Medina (622 AD)
4. Conversion of Emperor Constantine (312 AD)4. Muhammad’s Night Journey & Ascension (Isra and Mi’raj) (621 AD)
5. Formation of the New Testament Canon (c. 4th century)5. Death of Muhammad (632 AD)
6. Great Schism between East & West (1054)6. Umayyad Caliphate’s expansion (661-750 AD)
7. Crusades (1095-1291)7. Golden Age of Islam (8th-13th century)
8. Protestant Reformation (1517)8. Mongol sack of Baghdad (1258)
9. Council of Trent (1545-1563)9. Ottoman conquest of Constantinople (1453)
10. Vatican II Council (1962-1965)10. Foundation of the modern Saudi state (1932)

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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