Differences from Judaism and Christianity
Muslims recognize that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all teach that there is but One God. All faiths teach that we should follow God's guidance, do good deeds, and avoid evil. However, the faiths differ about some fundamental issues, including God's attributes, His prophets and books of revelation, and the concept of salvation.
The Story of Creation
Muslims believe that Allah created all that is in the heavens and on earth in perfect balance, order, and harmony. The Qur'anic description of creation is similar to the biblical one, with one fundamental difference. Whereas the Bible indicates that God created the world in six days and then “rested on the seventh day” (Genesis 2:2), the Qur'an states that “We created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in six days, nor did any sense of weariness touch Us” (Qur'an 50:38). This is a direct challenge to the idea that God, the Almighty, would have been in need of rest after fulfilling the creation.
Each of the six days of creation is described to be “like a thousand years of your reckoning” (Qur'an 22:47) or even “as fifty thousand years” (Qur'an 70:4). The word “day” connotes a long period of time — an era or period. This does not contradict the current scientific thought about the evolution of the earth.
Oneness of God
The most fundamental teaching of Islam is that there is but One Almighty God, who has no partner, no associate, and no incarnation. The Qur'an makes a challenge against Trinitarian Christian beliefs. The very first law of Moses and the basis of all monotheism is the belief that the “Lord our God, the Lord is One.” Muslims view the concept of the Trinity as a violation of that most basic precept.
While Christians would try to explain that the Triune God is in fact One, or that the three “persons” of God do not constitute three separate deities, Islam rejects these explanations. Muslims believe that Jesus himself claimed no divinity and that he worshiped Almighty God alone. The Qur'an sums it up in the chapter called Al-Ikhlas (Purity of Faith). “Say: ‘He is Allah, the One. Allah, the Eternal, Absolute. He begets not, nor is He begotten. And there is none like unto Him’” (Qur'an 112:1–4).
Salvation Based on Faith and Works
Another theological difference between Christians and Muslims surrounds the question of salvation. Muslims proclaim that God is Merciful but also Just, and every soul will be rewarded or punished based on tests during our lifetime. If a person has faith, believes in God, and does works of righteousness, it is in His Mercy to save that person from punishment. On the other hand, if a person is wicked, rejects faith, and harms everyone in his or her path, then it would not be just for God to give that person the same reward. Faith alone is not enough; one must follow up with good actions that are the embodiment of that faith. Likewise, good works mean nothing unless they are based on the foundation of a sincere faith in God.
One cannot understand the varying views of salvation without an understanding of the concept of original sin and separation from God in the two faiths. Muslims believe that when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, God forgave them their sins in His Mercy. There is no burden placed on all mankind that needs redemption; therefore, there is no need for a Savior. All people are born sinless.
There are thousands of mosques in North America, many of which hold regular open houses or introductory classes about Islam. Mosque leaders are often responsible for interfaith outreach on a local or national level, in addition to other duties toward the congregation such as daily prayers, special events, and holiday celebrations.