Those of us raised as Christians will have some idea of the core values to which we believe. The Godhead is paramount: One God: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This is the same critical introduction to each of our articles.
Mary was a virgin but gave birth to Jesus when the Holy Spirit came upon her. Jesus God the Son yet fully human lived without sin, was crucified and died on the Cross for our sin and was raised again the third day to life and this, the assurance of Salvation is for anyone who believes in Him.
The central focus of Christianity is love, repentance, forgiveness and compassion with a world view taught by Jesus and expounded in the New Testament that ultimately there will be a divine reckoning for those who reject this astonishing measure of Grace - the Cross.
The five pillars of Islam are the five core principles which all Muslims follow. They are based on a Hadith (Chapter 3). The meaning of Islam is submission.
Islam demands complete and total submission to the laws of Allah. The Quran teaches that man was created to be a slave of Allah. The Bible teaches us that man was created to be a child of God. Romans chapter 8 verse 18 says we are "slaves of righteousness".
1. Shahadah: the testimony of faith. "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah".
To become a Muslim all one must do is say the Shahadah. It is on the Saudi Arabian flag as well as the ISIS flag.
Compare this with the Bible in Romans, Chapter 10 verse 9: "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved".
2. Salat: ritual prayers. Ritual washings must precede prayer, all prayers must be prayed facing Mecca, ritual movements including bowing til their foreheads touch the ground must be carried out, and they must be done five times a day in Arabic.
At these times Muslims do not pray their own prayers – the words of the prayer are written down and must be memorized. Prayer is not an expression of relationship with Allah – it is something that must be done as part of submission to Islam.
In Matthew Chapter 6, verses 5 – 13 Jesus describes prayer as being private and an expression of our daily dependence on God. It is a matter of the heart, not relying on washing the body or following rules.
It is also interesting that one of the Islamic compulsory prayers is "Show us the Straight Way, the way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath (the Jews) and who go not astray (the Christians)."
For the Christians, Jesus is the Straight Path (John Chapter 14, verse 6).
3. Zakat: almsgiving. This must be 2.5% of one's wealth in a year. It is for the poor and needy, zakat collectors, Islamic missionaries, slaves to be freed, those in debt, those on jihad and travelers.
It is considered a necessary act for salvation and neglecting it can result in damnation.
In the Bible, giving alms comes out of a relationship with the Father and is not a religious act or duty (see Matthew chapter 6, verses 3, 4).
4. Sawm: fasting. Muslims must fast in the month of Ramadan, abstaining from food, drink, smoking and sex during the daylight hours between sunrise and sunset. Every evening they break the fast in a special meal.
Muslims claim that through fasting all aspects of worship become integrated, and the sense of obedience and the will to observe is strengthened.
Again, Jesus teaches about fasting not as a religious ritual but an expression of our personal relationship with God (see Matthew Chapter 6, verses 16, 17).It is not something to be done in public or to draw attention to or out of obligation.
5. Hajj: pilgrimage. All Muslims must try to make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lives if able bodied and can afford it. This involves a number of compulsory rituals and dress codes.
In the Bible we see that we are all pilgrims on earth and we are looking for a city that is not built with the hands of man but whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews Chapter 11, verses 10-14). The new Jerusalem has not yet arrived.
These five pillars are the five essential deeds of every Muslim that express their total submission to Allah.
Christianity is an offering to God from one's own free will and love of Jesus, it is never of some chore or deed one must do to complete some sort of check list. Falling at the foot of the Cross inviting Jesus into your life provides the Holy Spirit an open door into the life of the believer and a whole new freedom.
In this sense Christ is utter freedom with a heart of the joy of the Lord. Islam is utter obligation, a heavy heart constantly needing to submit and being visual in performing actions, and never quite knowing whether you have submitted enough (done enough deeds to earn Allah's favour)!
Today the third
NEXT - Beliefs – Wednesday 17 February
Jihad and Salvation – Thursday 18 February
Response by followers of Jesus – Monday 22 February
Dhimmitude, Sharia Law, Persecution – Wednesday 24 February
Aira Chilcott B.Sc (Hons), M. Contemp Sci, Cert IV in Christian Ministry and Theology, Cert IV in Training and Evaluation, Grad Dip Ed.,began her working life at the John Curtin School of Medical Research, investigating characteristics of cancer cells. Turning to teaching in the Christian school system provided opportunities to learn theology, more science, mission trips and explore the outdoors through bushwalking and other exploits. Now retired, Aira is a panelist for Young Writers and volunteers at a nature park. Aira is married to Bill and they have three adult sons.
Aira Chilcott's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/aira-chilcott.html