The United States culture is made up of a populace that has diverse religious beliefs including Christianity, Islam and Hinduism among others. Since these people interact with one another on a daily basis, most people do not really understand what their religion is made up of. This paper will dwell on two religions that I am unfamiliar with their premises, that is, Catholicism and Islam.
The Roman Catholicism is believed to have been established between the first and the fifth century. This is the era in which Jesus Christ, the Son of God according the Christian beliefs was amongst the people encouraging them to change their ways and follow Him. He chose twelve disciples, whom after his death and resurrection, took over His ministry. The disciples in turn chose twelve apostles and in this way, the religion was able to spread through Europe. Peter who was one of the twelve disciples was the first Bishop in Rome and is actually considered to be the first pope of the Catholic Church. The Roman Catholics believe this because Jesus Christ told him that He would be the rock on which the Church would be built evidenced from the Holy Book, the Bible, in Matthew 16:18. Catholicism spread after the death of Jesus Christ through the disciples who spread His word.
Islam on the other hand was established in the seventh century in Saudi Arabia, Middle East. The religion is mainly based on the teachings of Prophet Muhammad who is said to be the messenger of Allah. Muslims believe that Allah is the creator of the world. This religion spread throughout Saudi Arabia where many people believed in the message proclaimed by the prophet. Muslims believe that the Quran is the one and true holy book from which they are able to acquire teachings to guide them in their everyday lives.
They also have the Sunna which comprises the teachings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad. This sacred text guides them on how to live a similarly holy life like the prophet.
Principles of each religion
Both religions are monotheistic in nature meaning that they believe in only one Supreme Being, God for the Catholics and Allah for Muslims. The main principles of the Catholic Church are centralized under the Ten Commandments given to Moses in the Old Testament. These are used as principles to guide one’s everyday living. Additionally, Jesus Christ added two more commandments that stated that one should love their God and one should love their neighbor as they love themselves. Catholics believe that one should attempt to live a holy life on earth so as to attain eternal life in Heaven. If one continues living in sin, it is believed that he or she is destined to die followed by a life of pain in Hell. Catholics must attend Mass on every Sunday which is a celebration that commemorates the Last Supper which was the last meal that Jesus had with His apostles. Catholics believe that the bread and wine consumed during Holy Mass is the body and blood of Jesus Christ (Patheos, 2017).
Islam is based on five pillars which are considered to be the fundamentals principles to be adopted by Muslims. These principles are: shahada which stands for practicing one’s faith, salaat meaning prayer, zakat which stands for charity, saum or fasting and hajj which means a pilgrimage to Mecca (Patheos, 2017). Muslims strictly abide by these principles which are key in attaining eternal life as well. For example, Muslims pray five times in a day which usually involves the recitation of verses available in the Quran. A Muslim is required to at least go for a pilgrimage in Mecca which should be primarily funded from their rightful earnings. One should not go for pilgrimage using funds acquired through debt or money that has not been rightfully earned. Muslims go to the mosque where they hold most of their prayers in the form of rakats.
The head of the Catholic Church who is also the head of the Vatican City is the Pope who is currently Pope Francis. The main role of Pope Francis is to maintain the best interests of the Catholic Church and to make it sustainable for years to come. He is able to achieve this by carrying out diplomatic, political and religious duties (Pappas, 2013). The Pope meets up with numerous political leaders leading to the fostering of relations between the Church and various nations. On his visits to various countries, he also addresses the people, Catholics and non-Catholics, encouraging them to continue praying, living a holy life and stretching a hand out to the needy. From a religious point of view, the Pope leads several mass services particularly during important holidays like Easter. He also holds regular meetings with bishops from all over the world and writes numerous epistles addressing contemporary issues.
In Islam, there is currently no universal leader equivalent to the Pope in the Catholic Church. This is because they believe in direct communication with Allah hence they do not believe in the existence of an intercessor. Muslims however believe in the existence of Caliphs who are considered to be the successors of Prophet Muhammad. The Caliphs are currently known as Imams who lead the congregation in prayer in a mosque. Imams are chosen within the community level and are considered to be people who are wise especially when it comes to matters of the Quran (Huda, 2017). He also delivers the khutba or the sermon when Muslims go to the Mosque on Fridays. The Imam can also be sought when one seeks spiritual advice, lead people in carrying out acts of charity and are considered to be sent by God to guide them on living a holy life (Huda, 2017).
Religious view on social and cultural norms
In relation to marriage and family life, Catholics believe that a man should only be married to one woman. Married people are not allowed to use contraceptives as it interferes with the divine system of having a child. Abortion is also forbidden in the Catholic Church as it is considered to be murder which goes against the Ten Commandments. Marriage should be between a man and a woman and same sex marriages are highly forbidden. Although Muslims also forbid the use of contraceptives, abortion and same sex marriage, they do allow polygamy where by a man can have upto four wives. Fornication is forbidden in both religions.
In finances, both religions encourage people to conduct their businesses with the aim of attaining profits which they can use to aid in charity activities. Catholics believe that out of every month’s earnings one should give up 10% in the form of tithe. Muslims on the other hand tithe 2.5% of their earnings in the form of Zakat. Muslims do not believe in charging interest for example of loans given out (Zia, 2013).
In relation to foodstuffs, Catholics do not place any restrictions on what one should not eat, however greed and gluttony are considered to be sin. Muslims on the other hand do not eat pork and carnivorous animals (Zia, 2013).
There are more similarities than there are differences between the two religions. The ways of living adopted by both religions in an attempt to live a holy life are particularly similar, for example giving alms. In a globalized world, both religions respect one another and try to combat issues like terrorism and racial discrimination.
Huda. (2017, March 07). Understanding the Role of Imam in Islam. Retrieved March 09, 2017, from https://www.thoughtco.com/role-of-the-imam-2004527
Pappas, S. (2013, March 13). What Does the Pope Do, Anyway? Retrieved March 09, 2017, from http://www.livescience.com/27623-what-does-the-pope-do.html
Patheos. (n.d.). Religion Library: Islam. Retrieved March 09, 2017, from http://www.patheos.com/Library/Islam
Patheos. (n.d.). Religion Library: Roman Catholicism. Retrieved March 09, 2017, from http://www.patheos.com/Library/Roman-Catholicism
Zia, N. (2013, December 27). The 70 Major Sins forbidden in Islam. Retrieved March 09, 2017, from http://navedz.com/the-70-major-sins-forbidden-in-islam/