Religious History Interview: Christianity and Islam
Christianity and Islam are the two most common religions being practiced around the world. There are many similarities and differences between the two. Interviewing my neighbor Ali Mohammad Azizi about his religion, Islam, explained the similarities and differences of our religions. Islam is a religion that has been existing over thousands of years. Ali gave a lot of information about his religion practices. I also compare my religion Christianity to his Islam.
Ali started talking to me about his childhood. He has been born and raised in Iran. He became aware of God when he was about four years old. His parents whom were religious would take him to Mosque every week to pray. Ali whom was young at the time, would stay outside the Mosque and play with other children where his parents would join the ceremony. Going to the Mosque often made Ali think that it is ones duty to go to Mosque every week. As Ali grew older, his parents would take him inside to join the ceremony and teach him how to pray. When Ali was young, God was someone he had to worship. He did not actually know who God was, but started worshiping him since everybody else did. Ali would see his neighbors and parents praying a couple of times a day, on a certain hour. In the afternoons he would also hear the Azan, a prayer that’s being amplified from the Mosque and the whole neighborhood could hear it, from the Mosque that was close to his house. Hearing the Azan meant that Ali couldn’t play while his parents were praying. As he grew older and attended the ceremony himself he found a great joy in being able to pray and communicate with his God. However listening to the prayers, he didn’t understand a word, except the word” Allah” which means God in Arabic. Ali believes in one God, and his prophet Mohammad. Later as he grew older, he studied the Quran, the holy book for Muslims, and he also learned the language of Quran, which is Arabic. One of my questions during the interview from Ali was whether he has been initiated. He responded that Muslims don’t have initiation. In his religion circumcision is a must for boys and it means cleanness to them. I asked Ali about drug and alcohol usage in his religion. Ali gave me a smile, and explained that use of any kind of drug or alcohol is forbidden in his religion. According to his parents any person who uses alcohol or any kind of a drug would go to hell. I asked him if he has ever broken the rule and used any drug or drank any alcohol. Ali smiled at me and said that he has been drinking since he moved to the United States. That statement raised a very interesting question for me, and I asked whether he thinks he will go to hell. Ali looked up and with a shame that I could tell from his face told me that he hopes that’s not the case. Later he explained although he comes from a very religious family, he does not believe that drinking alcohol will take him to hell. I asked Ali about salvation in Islam. He responded that salvation does not mean a lot in Islam. He explained how the Muslims believe on the Last Day, God will judge everyone. Everyone will be brought back to life and God will reward or punish the dead according to what they have done. He believes God will send people who have been good to heaven. God will send the bad ones to hell as well. Ali also told me about the prayers, that now he only has time to pray once a day, where he were to follow his parent’s practice he would have to pray five times a day. Right now Ali prays in the mornings. He prays in the name of God, his prophet Muhammad asking for forgiveness for any sin and guidance throughout the day. He also mentioned that he used to pray three times a day in Iran. Before praying each day he has to clean himself with water through a special method called “Vozu”. When praying, Ali has to face Kaba, a holy place in Mecca. He believes all the Muslims face Kaba when praying, so he tries his best to face toward that direction when praying. As I was ending my conversation with Ali, I asked him about sex in Islam. He told me that sex in Islam is a complicated matter. Men can have more than one wife and according to Islam men can even get married for a couple of hours to have sex. He believes that is wrong. He thinks that men should only have one wife and be faithful to her at all times.
Interviewing Ali made me realize a lot of differences between my religion Christianity and his religion Islam. I was born in to an Armenian Christian family. My grandparents, especially grandmother were very religious. My grandmother’s father was a priest. I remember the first time I was introduced to the bible was when my grandmother gave me a little bible as a gift. Once a week my grandparents would take me to the church with them. In the church I would see my grandparents praying. I started to realize about God when I was 5 years old. I would ask my grandmother some questions about God and his existence. My grandmother explained to me, that if I do good things for people and help the poor and never lie, God would love me. My grandmother was also the one who taught me how to pray each night before going to bed. Since then I have prayed to my God every night before going to bed and asked him for the things that I wished for.
As I compare my religion Christianity with Ali’s, Islam; I see lot of differences between our religions. We each have different prophets. I as a Christian believe in Jesus as our prophet. We become Christians by being baptized. I have not prayed more than once a day in my life. Circumcision is not a must in my religion. That is left to the boys parents to decide whether to have it or not. I as a Christians believe in salvation and being saved. We believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for God to forgive our sins. In my family we go to the church only a couple of times a week. We attend religious ceremonies and go to the church only for Christmas and Easter. On one of our religious ceremonies which is Easter we drink wine as it were Jesus’ blood. Drug use is not welcomed in my religion either. Sex is a very straight forward matter in my religion. We have sex when we get married. Pre marital sex is unacceptable in our religion. Marriage is a long lasting relationship in Christianity.
In conclusion, interviewing Ali made me realize many differences we had in many aspects of our lives. Although Ali and I have been born in Iran, gone to the same school system and watch the same TV shows, it is our religious beliefs that make us two completely different people