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The Lives and Influences of Jesus and Muhammad in Christianity and Islam

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The Lives and Influences of Jesus and Muhammad in Christianity and Islam (Respectively)
By
Olivia Fransis
University of Phoenix
HUM/130 – Religion of the World
Professor Jeffrey Pieper
July 1, 2012

Every religion has at least one individual that can be considered to embody what the religion is all about. In Islam this individual is the Prophet Muhammad and in Christianity it is Jesus Christ. The following paragraphs will chronicle each of their lives respectively and how they impacted the world in the past and present day. Muhammad was born in Makkah (Mecca) in the year 570 C.E. to a trader named Abdullah and his wife Amina. They were part of the Quraish tribe, which was very respected. Unfortunately Abulldah passed away before Muhammad was born and Amina died a few years later eventually making Muhammad an orphan at young age. He was raised by his uncle Abu Talib after the death of his grandfather left him with no one else to care for him. Muhammad worked as a merchant and a shepherd with his uncle, which led him to many encounters of people from many different faiths and backgrounds. At the age of 25, Muhammad married a woman that was fifteen years his senior named Khadija. They were happily married for 24 years, which is when Khadija passed away. Throughout the course of his marriage Muhammad did not marry anyone else even though polygamy was common in his time period. In his late 30s, Muhammad began traveling regularly to a cave on the outskirts of Mecca to seek solitude and contemplation and then one day when he was forty he returned from the cave and told his wife that he had been visited by the angel Gabriel. Gabriel came to him while he was in a trance-like state and told Muhammad that he had to proclaim the word of Allah, the one true God and even though Muhammad was reluctant he was eventually persuaded. Khadija eventually became his first convert and after more visits from angels Muhammad was sure that he was chosen to be a messenger of God and began to proclaim as he was told to. Muhammad was very careful to inform the masses of his role, which was solely as a messenger and not an angel, or someone that was directly connected to the mind of God. The first three years of Muhammad’s ministry only bore forty followers and they were scrutinized greatly in different ways, sometimes they were mocked but other times they were denied service or even stoned, beaten, and jailed for their beliefs which went against the Meccan way of life. This persecution of Muhammad’s followers continued to increase until he got word that in the nearby city of Yathrib he had gained followers and in addition to that the delegation from that city invited Muhammad to come and become their leader. In exchange for this the delegation pledged to worship Allah only, obey Muhammad and defend him and his followers to the death. Once Allah revealed his approval to Muhammad he began to make plans to make the move to Yathrib. However this wasn’t made easy because the leaders in Mecca heard about this planned escape and made an attempt to prevent it but with the help of Abu Bakr (Muhammad’s close friend) they were able to narrowly escape the Meccan search party and arrive in Yathrib safely. Muslims now celebrate this event as the Hijira and the city of Yathrib is now known as Medina. Muhammad proved himself to be a great statesman by bringing the city together when it was divided and word of his leadership spread throughout Arabia and this brought many people to the city to see the man who was able to create this miracle. After Muhammad established himself in Yathrib and succeeded in bringing the city together, the people of Yathrib began what became years of battles with the city of Mecca. The Muslims won their first battle in the year 624 and since their army was smaller than that of the Meccans they took the win as a sign that Allah was on their side. However the Muslims did not win the next one and Muhammad himself was injured in the battle but in the year 627 the Meccans attacked again and the Muslims came out the victors. In 630 Muhammad and his followers ended it once and for all by marching to Mecca and defeating them and taking the city back in the name of Allah in which led to a citywide conversion to Islam. By the time Muhammad died in 632 nearly all of Arabia was conquered in the name of Allah. One hundred years after his death Islam had spread continent-wide due to the strong leadership of his successors the caliphs of which his friend Abu-Bakr was the first. In Islam, Jesus was also recognized as a prophet of God as well but was seen as the Son of God in Christianity. Jesus Christ was born around the year 7-2 B.C. in Bethlehem, Judea and founded Christianity at a very young age. His mother was Mary, a virgin whom of which was betrothed to Joseph, a carpenter and his father. Jesus is believed to have been born through immaculate or divine conception giving meaning to the belief that he is the Son of God. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great who was threatened by his birth and tried to kill him by ordering the murder of any male child under the age of two in Bethlehem to be killed however Joseph was warned of this by an angel and fled to Egypt with Mary and Jesus. When Herod died they went back and settled in the town of Nazareth. There isn’t much recorded of Jesus’ early life but in the Gospel of Luke it recounts that a twelve year old Jesus went to Jerusalem with his parents and was separated from them but was found days later discussing affairs with elders of Jerusalem. It also says that he was a carpenter as a young man. The ministry of Jesus began when he was thirty years old when he was baptized by John The Baptist, who declared Jesus to be Son of God upon laying eyes on him. After being baptized he went into the desert for forty days to fast and meditate and this time is known as the Temptation of Christ because the Devil came to him three times to tempt him into breaking his fast. After his return, Jesus had several people who became his disciples during his visits to neighboring villages, one of which was Mary Magdalene. According to the Gospel of John, Jesus turned water into wine after Mary asked him for help when the host of a wedding they attended had run out of wine. The Synoptic Gospels recount Jesus’ travels through Judea and Galilee where he was using parables and miracles to show how prophecies were being fulfilled and that the kingdom of God was on the horizon. Word spread about his teachings and miracles, which led to more people following him. At one point Jesus took three of his disciples to a high mountain where they would pray alone and Jesus’ face and body began glowing like the sun and then the prophets Elijah and Moses appeared. A bright cloud appeared around them and a voice said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; Listen to him”. This event is known as transfiguration, a pivotal event in Christian theology supporting Jesus as the Son of God. After transfiguration, Jesus and his 12 disciples met for the Passover meal, and he gave them his final words of faith and he also foretold of his betrayal by one of the disciples and privately let Judas know it was he. At the end of the meal, Jesus instituted the Eucharist, which in the Christian religion signifies the covenant between God and humans. Then the time came when Jesus was arrested and was taken to the High court where he was mocked and beaten for claiming to be the Son of God. His crucifixion was then ordered by Pontius Pilate and he was nailed to a wooden cross, whipped relentlessly and a crown of thorns was placed on his head. Upon his death the shy blackened and an earthquake erupted, then a soldier stabbing his side with a spear confirmed his death. Three days after his death, his tomb was found empty. He had risen from the dead and appeared to Mary Magdalene and then to his mother. They both informed the disciples, who were in hiding, and later, Jesus appeared to them and told them not to be afraid and he beseeched his disciples to go into the world and preach the gospel to all humanity. After 40 days, Jesus led his disciples to Mount Olivet, east of Jerusalem. Jesus spoke his final words to them, saying they would receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Then Jesus was taken upward on a cloud and ascended into heaven. As the preceding paragraphs show, Jesus and Muhammad were the most influential figures of their respective religions and their proclaiming and leadership changed the world forever and continue to do so now. Neither religion has changed since their time ended in this world.

Citations:
Huda. (n.d.). Biography of the prophet muhammad's early life. Retrieved from http://islam.about.com/od/muhammad/tp/bio_muhammad.htm

Muhammad. (2012). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/396226/Muhammad

Jesus Christ. (2012). Biography.com. Retrieved 02:14, Jul 04, 2012 from http://www.biography.com/people/jesus-christ-9354382

Jesus Christ. (2012). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/303091/Jesus-Christ

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