Orthodox Christianity and Islam share a common religious heritage. Both faiths, along with Judaism, root themselves in the lineage of Abraham. While neither faith is monolithic, Orthodox Christians and Muslims adhere to remarkably similar theological tenets such as the Ten Commandments, fasting and monotheism -- the belief in only one God. However, Muslims revere Jesus as a prophet only, while Orthodox Christians consider him the incarnation of God.
Though differences exist, Orthodox Christians and Muslims worship the same monotheistic God of Abraham. Both faiths believe in one supreme God as the source of all creation. Orthodox Christians and Muslims also consider this God beneficent and forgiving and believe he casts final judgment on their lives regarding salvation.
Orthodox Christians believe in the Trinity. According to Orthodox Christianity, God is, at once, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These three attributes represent different characteristics of God. Neither aspect of the Trinity is independent from one another and God remains indivisible according to Orthodox Christian thought.
Muslims disagree with the concept of the Trinity. Islam emphasizes the oneness of God. Believing in any supreme being other than God, in Islam, is judged a major sin.
Orthodox Christians and Muslims adhere to a similar moral outlook. Fairness and compassion are encouraged in both faiths. The ethics of the Ten Commandments govern the individual in Orthodox Christianity and Islam as well. For the most part, proper faith is contingent upon Muslims and Christians following the moral principles established in their respective beliefs. Such virtues are defined as worship. For example, tending to the needs of the poor is highly virtuous in both traditions. In the New Testament, Jesus states:
“...if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (I John 3:17)
Similarly, the Quran proclaims:
“Those who establish regular Prayer, and give regular Charity, and have (in their hearts) the assurance of the Hereafter” (Quran 31:4). (Reference 1, 8, 9)
While Orthodox Christianity and Islam differ to a large degree regarding the figure of Jesus and his role within each faith, he remains vital to both traditions. Orthodox Christians and Muslims believe his birth a miracle, that Mary conceived him as a virgin. The various miracles Jesus performed such as raising the dead and healing the sick exist in both traditions as well.
According to Reverend George Mastrantonis, Jesus is both fully human and fully divine in Orthodox Christianity. Salvation requires the belief in Christ as God and savior. His crucifixion and subsequent resurrection is the central, defining theme in Orthodox Christianity. Muslims consider Jesus one of God’s most revered prophets. In fact, the Quran, Islam’s holy text, mentions Jesus 93 times. However, Islam does not ascribe any divinity to Jesus.
Fasting is integral to Orthodox Christianity and Islam. Both faiths require the limiting of appetites during specific times of the year. Muslims and Orthodox Christians fast as an act of worship and to gain temperance and self-control over their carnal appetites. Fasting also reminds followers of both faiths to be conscious of those less fortunate than themselves.
For Orthodox Christians, Lent is the major time of fasting among four other prescribed periods. The other periods of fasting for Orthodox Christians are The Fast of The Apostles, The Christmas Fast and The Dormition Fast. Islam requires Muslims to fast from dawn till dusk during the sacred month of Ramadan. All Muslims must perform the fast during the prescribed period of Ramadan barring injury or illness. Muslims must abstain from all food and drink as well as smoking, alcohol and sexual relations. Fasting in Islam demands strict observance and complete abstinence from appetites and is less flexible than fasting in Orthodox Christianity.
- Orthodox Church of America: The Orthodox Faith
- Orthodox Church in America: Volume I - Doctrine: The Holy Trinity
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Supplement to Trinity: Judaic and Islamic Objections
- The University of Georgia: Islam and Islamic Studies Resources: Jesus: A Summary of the Points About Which Islam and Christianity Agree and Disagree
- Orthodox Church of America: Volume IV -- Spirituality Prayer, Fasting and Alms-Giving: Fasting
- Oxford Islamic Studies Online: Islam and Christendom
- Oxford Islamic Studies Online: Fasting
- Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America: The Fundamental Teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Church
- The World's Religions; Huston Smith
- Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America: THE GREAT LENT - A Week by Week Meaning; Rev. George Mastrantonis
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