The Islamic and Christian faith often are portrayed as exact opposites; however when one looks deeper into the specifics surrounding each doctrine it is apparent that this statement is not true and that in fact these two faiths have several similarities when speaking of offering forgiveness to others as well as receive forgiveness from God. Both religions have the central theme of faith being the most important aspect of their doctrine, whether it be the Quran for the Islamics or the Holy Bible for the Christians. Islamic and Christians alike believe that the act of loving one another as well as offering forgiveness to others and obtaining forgiveness from the ultimate spiritual entity is the way to obtain some type of eternal gift.
Though both faiths use the word God, often people believe that these doctrines speak of two different entities, this is not so. Specific to the Islamic faith is Allah, or God who Islamic followers believe can offer forgiveness to individuals as well as groups or that “his mercy over takes his punishment and anger.” (Athar, 2007) Christians mainly use the word God, however some sects use the word Jehova when speaking of God and believe that the eternal gift of everlasting life can be reached through an intense faith in the word of God and receiving forgiveness through the blood of Christ as well as offering forgiveness to our fellow man. (Stotesbery, 2002)
To ask for forgiveness means that a person has done something wrong, or as described in both the Quran and Holy Bible as committing sin against the father. Sin is something common between most all religious doctrines; this is what is said to persuade individuals to act in a fashion that is not considered acceptable. (Stotesbery, 2002) These acts of wrong doing is considered by both religions as being the root of all evil that takes place in the world today.
Both faiths have a similar story that details the first sin committed. In the Old Testament, it is written that the first sin took place in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were the first male and female created and upon their creation God had given them many directions as to what they could and couldn’t do. The serpent came into being and his tactics persuaded Eve to commit the first sin. God had told Adam and Eve that the “fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden” was forbidden and that they could not partake of its fruit. (Genesis 3:2 King James Version) The serpent persuaded Eve by stating that “God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5 King James Version) The Quran’s story of the beginning of sin is identical to the Christians, as it is the same story surrounding the fact that Adam and Even were forbidden to eat from the tree in the garden and Iblis, or Satan, made them “slip from the (garden), and get them out of the state (of felicity) in which they had been.” (Quran 1:14)
Iblis or Satan is identified as the Supreme Evil Being in both doctrines and is said to be the creator of all confusion and sin taking place in the world today. The root of all evil in both faiths is the doubt of Allah or God’s word that is written in the Holy Bible or the Quran. Both faiths also believe that because Satan’s approach to Eve was successful, as he persuaded an individual with no previous sin to go against God’s word that he mirrors his persuasion against the people in the world today. (Stotesbery, 2002)
The Islamic followers believe that through repentance, all sins are forgiven by Allah. In the Quran it states that – “Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men; – for Allah loves those who do good.” (Quran 1:14) Allah is believed to be a divine being that has the authority to remove the repercussions of all immoral actions taken by an individual or group. The Christians have the identical believe when speaking of their Holy Father, God or Jesus. The Holy Bible states that God can forgive the sins of his followers through repentance if it is asked with faith. (Stotesbery, 2002) In the book of Psalms it is written that God is always available to his following and ready to offer redemption to those who ask for it – “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that calls upon thee.” (Psalms 86:5 King James Version) Both faiths believe that forgiveness is universal and one need only call upon Allah or God and mercy and redemption will be offered immediately.
Often it is spoken that man is considered weak and that the creator did this purposely. God created man in his image, however man is of flesh and incapable of having his power. “My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh.” (Genesis 6:3 King James Version) The imperfections that exist in man through the eyes of the Christian doctrine can be corrected by simply obtaining forgiveness through the Father. The Christian faith often speaks of receiving forgiveness through Christ’s blood and that the only way to obtain this exaltation is through the father and his son Jesus Christ. Christians believe that God sent his son Jesus to the earth made of flesh so that he could die on the cross to forgive men for their sins. – “Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people; thou hast covered all their sin.” (Psalms 85:2 King James Version) The Islamic faith also believes that man is weak and filled with imperfection. They believe that Allah created “man with weakness” and that we should find ourselves aware of this simple fact and realize that Allah realizes this as well. (Athar, 2007)
The Islamic religion believes that Iblis, or Satan, has promised that he would “attack the children of Adam on their way to their journey toward God” (Athar, 2007) He promised that he would ” assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left: Nor wilt thou find, in most of them, gratitude (for thy mercies).” To Islam this means that Satan will disguise himself as “our friend, our opponent, and side distractions of the world.” (Athar 2007) Because of this we will disobey the written word because evil is presented as good. (Athar 2007) Satan’s persuasion causes us to commit sins that must be forgiven by Allah or God and the sins that require God’s forgiveness are the same in both religions. Both Christianity and Islamic doctrines speak against anger, jealousy, envy, killing your fellow man and speaking words that are untrue.
The Christians believe that forgiving others is simply the right action in all cases, in Pslams it is written that “the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.” Christians believe that offering forgiveness is not an action we not only do for the goodness of others, it helps us bring some type of “renewal of spirit and blessing that we get when we ask God to forgive us.” (Stotesbery, 2002) Islam believes that it is also necessary to base our relations with other human beings on forgiveness. Followers are taught that they can not expect to receive the forgiveness of Allah if they are unable to offer that same forgiveness to others. “Forgiving each other, even forgiving one’s enemies is on of the most important Islamic teachings.” (Friday Khutbah, 2000) In the Quran a believer is described as “those who avoid major sins and acts of indecencies and when they are angry they forgive.” (Quran 42:37)
The Islamic faith has identified many prophets who were thought to be forgiving, however Hadith the Prophet by some is identified to be the most forgiving. He is said to have always been ready to forgive his enemies and that when we went to Tai’if to preach the message of Allah, people rejected him by acting out against him violently by throwing stones and cursing him. The prophet left the city humiliated and physically wounded. This prophet is said to have illustrated the highest level of forgiveness in the Islamic religion. (Friday Khutbah, 2000)
A very similar story exists within the Christian religion that illustrates the highest level of forgiveness and that story centers on the Christian prophet Jesus Christ. It is said that Jesus was born of flesh so that he could bring God’s word to the world and then make the ultimate sacrifice for his people. Jesus carried the word of God throughout the world speaking of forgiveness, faith and delivering the word of God. (Purucker, 1998) Many people shunned him and acted out violently against him even though it is said that he illustrated the truth of his words through healing, walking on water and calming the sea. He was taken prisoner, beaten brutally and stoned until the Jewish population decided that he must pay for his lies. In the end Jesus is said to have made the ultimate sacrifice of giving his life so that the people of the world could receive God’s forgiveness. The Holy Bible states that he was nailed to a cross and crucified so that the people of the world could have their sins washed away. (Purucker, 1998)
The key to forgiveness in both religions is through asking Allah or God to personally exonerate you from your sins, as forgiveness can only be reached through their supremacy. The Quran states that Allah believes that all have “transgressed against their souls” and that Islamic followers should not despair because “God forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.'” (Quran 39:53) Christians have the same belief that people must ask God for forgiveness because our “spirit becomes tattered with sin and we suffer for it.” God holds the key to all acts of forgiveness and “when we do return his faithfulness we enjoy his rewards and protection.” (Stotesbery, 2002)
Though many people would differ in opinion as to the similarities between the Christian faith and the Islamic faith it is very apparent that this difference does not exist. Both faiths illustrate this forgiveness through a prophet who has made the ultimate sacrifice for his beliefs. As stated previously the Islamic doctrine and the Christian doctrine require the same obedience of their followers. In order to receive forgiveness followers must be able to forgive others as well as ask God or Allah.
Athar, S. (2007). Forgiveness in Islam. Islam for Today. Retrieved from http://www.islamfortoday.com/athar12.htm
Friday Khutbah. (2000, April 14). Forgiveness in Islam. Retrieved from http://www.islamawareness.net/Salvation/forgiveness.html
Holy Bible. (2001). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House.
Khan, M. Z. (1971). The Quran. Folkestone: Distributed by Bailey Bros and Swinfen Ltd.
Purucker, G. D. (1998). The Story of Jesus. New York, NY: Theosophical University Press.
Stotesbery, C. (2002). Psalms study: themes of Christian forgiveness and faith. Retrieved from http://coco.essortment.com/psalmsstudy_repw.htm