Out of the world’s largest belief systems, none are as different from each other as Islam and Hinduism. Both have enormous numbers of followers and have substantial history. Yet, these religions convey drastically different messages about the creation and purpose of life. Understanding what distinguishes Islam and Hinduism is essential in ascertaining the differences in core beliefs and the views on the central problem of humanity.
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Islam is based on the belief that Allah is the sole creator whose teachings have been conveyed via his Prophet Muhammad. Islam’s sacred text is the Quran, which is believed to have been written by Muhammad, but it contains the precise wording of Allah. It implies that any alternative interpretation is sacrilegious and constitutes a violation. The goal of the Mulsims’ life is to follow the Five Pillars and regularly pray to Allah. They believe that a life of devotion is a pathway to salvation as opposed to suffering in Jahannam.
In its turn, Hinduism is not explicitly monotheistic, because they believe that there are gods aside from the creator Brahma, such as Vishnu, Shiva, Lakshmi, and others. There are numerous sacred texts, and the creation of this belief system cannot be traced to a particular person, practice, or event. Hindus believe that the goal of life is Dharma, which manifests in religious duties, moral responsibilities, and proper behavior.
The central problem of humanity is understood differently in both belief systems. Islam views life as a limited experience, which should be channeled into following Muhammad’s teachings. Subsequently, a Muslim should resist impulses and urges to reach eternal life with Allah. In contrast, Hindus believe in the continuous cycle of reincarnation known as Samsara. After death, a soul assumes a new physical body depending on the actions and behaviors during life. Therefore, the purpose of Hindus is to liberate themselves from Samsara and achieve Moksha, which is Hinduist salvation.
Altogether, both religions are similar because the ultimate goal is salvation. However, Muslims and Hindus have a drastically different understanding of salvation and the ways to achieve it. The continuous cycle of death and rebirths in Hinduism is opposed to a single life of devotion in Islam. As a result, both religions require their followers to uphold virtues, even though there is a discrepancy between what is considered virtuous in the Muslims’ and Hindus’ minds.