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Article Info:
published: 3/5/05
updated: 2/27/14

Comparison Chart: Christianity and Islam

What's the Difference?


Christianity and Islam are the two largest religions in the world. Both share with Judaism a belief in one God who created the world and cares about the behavior and beliefs of human beings. To illustrate the similarities and differences between these religions, the following charts compares the origins, beliefs and practices of Christianity and Islam.

In recent centuries, mutual distrust between Christians and Muslims has continued to grow. On the other hand, some have pointed out that the conflict has more to do with political tensions and divergent cultural worldviews than with religion, and efforts have been made by both Christians and Muslims to find common ground and engage in respectful dialogue. (See Christianity, Islam, and Judaism comparison chart.)

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History & Stats
Date founded
c. 30 AD
622 CE
  See a Timeline of Christianity See a Timeline of Islam
Place founded
Arabian Peninsula
  See Christianity Facts See Islam Facts
Founders & early leaders
Jesus, Peter, Paul
  See Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul See The Prophet, Muhammad
Original languages
Aramaic and Greek
  See Christian history See Islamic history
Major location today
Europe, North and South America
Middle East, Southeast Asia
Adherents worldwide today
2 billion
1.3 billion
  See Religion statistics by adherents See Religion statistics by growth rate
Adherents in USA
159 million
1.1 million
  See Religion in the USA
Adherents in Canada
21 million
  See Religion in Canada
Major branches
Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant
Sunni, Shiite
  Compare Catholicism and Protestantism Compare Shia and Sunni
Adherents in UK
51 million
1.6 million
  See Religion in England
Current size rank
largest in the world
second largest in the world

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Religious Authority
Sacred text
Bible = Old Testament (Jewish Bible) + New Testament
Qur'an (Koran)
  See Christianity texts See Islam texts
Inspiration of sacred text
views vary: literal Word of God, inspired human accounts, or of human origin only
literal Word of God
Status of biblical prophets
true prophets
true prophets
  See the New Testament See The Quran
Status of Jewish Bible
noncanonical but useful as a (corrupted) inspired text
Status of Jewish Apocrypha
canonical (Catholic);
useful but noncanonical (Protestant)

Status of New Testament
noncanonical but useful as a (corrupted) inspired text
Summaries of doctrine
Apostle's Creed, Nicene Creed
Six Articles of Faith
  See Christian history See Islamic history
Religious law
canon law (Catholics)
Other written authority
church fathers, church councils, ecumenical creeds (all branches);
papal decrees, canon law (Catholics)

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Beliefs & Doctrine
Ultimate reality
one creator God
one creator God
Nature of God
Trinity - one substance, three persons
unity - one substance, one person
  See God in Christianity See Allah in Islam
Other spiritual beings
angels and demons
angels, demons, jinn
  See angels and demons in Christianity See The Five Pillars in Islam
Revered humans
saints, church fathers
prophets, imams (especially in Shia Islam)
Identity of Jesus
Son of God, God incarnate, savior of the world
true prophet of God, whose message has been corrupted
  See Christian beliefs See Islamic beliefs
Birth of Jesus
virgin birth
virgin birth
Death of Jesus
death by crucifixion
did not die, but ascended bodily into heaven (a disciple died in his place)
Resurrection of Jesus
denied, since he did not die
Second Coming of Jesus
Mode of divine revelation
through Prophets and Jesus (as God Himself), recorded in Bible
through Muhammad, recorded in Qur'an
Human nature
"original sin" inherited from Adam - tendency towards evil
equal ability to do good or evil
  See human nature in Christianity See human nature in Islam
Means of salvation
correct belief, faith, good deeds, sacraments (some Protestants emphasize faith alone)
correct belief, good deeds, Five Pillars
  See Christian symbols See Islamic symbols
God's role in salvation
predestination, various forms of grace
Good afterlife
eternal heaven
eternal paradise
  See the afterlife in Christianity See the afterlife in Islam
Bad afterlife
eternal hell, temporary purgatory (Catholicism)
eternal hell
View of the other religion
Islam is respected as a fellow monotheistic religion, but Muhammad is not seen as a true prophet
Christians are respected as "People of the Book," but they have mistaken beliefs and only partial revelation

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Rituals & Practices
House of worship
church, chapel, cathedral, basilica, meeting hall
Day of worship
  See Christian holidays See Islamic holidays
Religious leaders
priest, bishop, archbishop, patriarch, pope, pastor, minister, preacher, deacon
  See Christian practices See Islamic practices
Major sacred rituals
baptism, communion (Eucharist)
Five Pillars: prayer, pilgrimage, charity, fasting, confession of faith
Head covered during prayer?
generally no
Central religious holy days
Lent, Holy Week, Easter
Eid-al-Fitr, Eid-al-Adha, month of Ramadan
  See Easter in Christianity See Ramadan in Islam
Other holidays
Christmas, saints days
Mawlid, Ashura
Major symbols
cross, crucifix, dove, anchor, fish, alpha and omega, chi rho, halo
crescent, name of Allah in Arabic
  See Christian symbols See Islamic symbols

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Islam beliefs

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Islam history

Islam holidays

Islam overview

Islam sects and denominations

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