Christianity and Islam are the world's two largest religions, with more than 2 billion and nearly 1.7 billion adherents respectively. Islam and Christianity share some commonalities, but are otherwise quite different. Jehovah's Witnesses is the fastest growing Christian denomination in the United States, and there are more than 7 million members worldwide. Jehovah's Witnesses, although a denomination of Christianity, sets itself quite apart from most others.
The Christian faith is an offshoot of Judaism. Jesus Christ was a Jew, as were most of his early followers. Jesus was executed by the Romans sometime during the third decade of the first century, and his disciples believed he was the biblical messiah. Spreading his message and story across the Greco-Roman world, the disciples founded a faith that ultimately crossed all cultural and national boundaries. Traveling the Palestinian countryside, Jesus performed numerous miracles and taught the need to love God and one another. He said forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven would be the reward for those who had faith in God and believed in his mission of salvation. Christianity divided into numerous sects, denominations and even cults. Doctrine and interpretation caused much of the division, while regional differences and specific religious leaders divided the faithful even further. Nearly all Christians share the belief in a holy trinity comprised of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. They also accept as a vital mission the "Great Commission" of Christ to evangelize his message to all people of the world.
During the latter part of the 19th century, a group of Christian men led by Charles Taze Russell formed a bible study group. They believed a truer meaning of Christianity was possible by comparing various scriptures of the Bible to achieve a greater understanding of the whole. There are several beliefs that separate Jehovah's Witnesses from mainstream Christianity: there is no Holy Trinity; the major Christian holidays of Christmas and Easter are pagan in origin and not celebrated; the soul is not immortal and Jesus was actually the archangel Michael.
Founded by the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century, five main tenants make up the Muslim faith: there is only one true God and Muhammad is his messenger; Muslims must pray five times daily; they must show charity toward the poor; fast during Ramadan and, at least once in their life, conduct a Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. The Islamic holy book is the Quran; Muslims worship in mosques and their Sabbath is Friday. For Muslims, the holiest period is the lunar month of Ramadan, when every day is of individual importance. Muslims believe Satan has duped Christians into their belief of Jesus as the son of God.
Comparing Islam, Christianity and Jehovah's Witnesses
Both Christians and Muslims believe in the same God and teach that people should follow God's law as laid down to Moses through the Ten Commandments. Muslims believe the Bible is holy scripture, Jesus was born miraculously of a virgin, Jesus was the Jewish messiah and he performed miracles. Both religions agree that humans have free will, and they share a belief in angels, Satan and an ultimate day of judgment. Their main division rests in Christianity's lack of belief in Muhammad as a prophet. Although Jehovah's Witnesses is a Christian denomination, it shares a major tenet with Islam: both deny the existence of a trinity and maintain that Jesus and God are not the same beings. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Jesus is Michael the Archangel, while Muslims believe Jesus was a human prophet of God. Muslims agree with Christians that Jesus will someday return as promised, but not as revealed in the Bible's Book of Revelations. Jehovah's Witnesses maintain that Jesus returned to earth invisibly in 1914, and his kingdom is in heaven, not on earth. While both Christians and Muslims believe in an immortal soul, Jehovah's Witnesses believe the soul does not exist after death.
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