Why is there so much animosity between Christians and Muslims?

Though Christianity and Islam both claim to be religions of peace, there has been animosity between many Christians and Muslims. What are some of the reasons for these attitudes? Whether or not these reasons are valid and true, how should Christians view and treat Muslims?

Historically, Muslim-led nations and Western nations (which are often viewed as being "Christian nations") have been enemies in wars. Most notable are the violent Crusades of the Middle Ages. The crusades were attempts by claimed Christians in the 11th through 13th centuries AD to reclaim land in the Middle East that had been conquered by Muslims. Many people were forced to “convert” to Christianity or be put to death. The brutality and evil of the Crusades and events leading up to it has led to much animosity between Christians and Muslims.

Currently, some Muslims view Western nations ("Christian nations") as imperialistic and attempting to occupy and dominate historically Muslim lands. Many Muslims also dislike Western support of Israel. Additionally, many Muslims see Western culture as immoral. The values perpetuated in Western society threaten the value systems of Muslim cultures.

This divide can be seen in acts of terrorism led by Muslim extremists such as September 11, 2001. The attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania caused many Westerners to have concerns about Muslims. There are some Muslims who kill in the name of Allah, performing acts of terrorism in their furtherance of jihad. Such acts of terror result in fear, anger, and animosity. Not all Muslims are terrorists. Regardless of what specifically prompts an act of terrorism, God calls us to respond in truth and love.

Immigration is also an area of contention between Muslims and Westerners. For example, when many Muslims move to a particular area or city in Spain or Norway and refuse to assimilate, tensions rise. The presence of American military forces or U.N. peacekeepers in a Muslim country is also often seen as imperialism to Muslims.

Aside from these political reasons for animosity, religious disagreement brings contention. Both Muslims and Christians deeply value their religious beliefs and may take offense when they feel those beliefs are belittled or misunderstood. The main offense between Muslims and Christians is Jesus Christ (see 1 Peter 2:4–8). Muslims reject God the Father who sent His Son to die for sinners. Muslims honor Jesus as a prophet but not as God who came and died for our sins so we can be forgiven and reconciled to Him. Muslims depend on Islamic faith and works—submission to one Allah, belief in Muhammad’s revelation of Allah, obedience to the Qur’an and the Five Pillars—for entrance to paradise. Many Muslims believe that Christians worship three gods, deify a man, and have corrupted the Bible. This is not true. In interacting with Muslims, Christians must show love while also not compromising the truth about our Lord and Savior.

Christians are called to love all people regardless of their background. We must stand for truth, but do so in the love of Christ (1 Peter 3:13–17). The Bible calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 19:19), to share the truth of Christ's love with all people (Matthew 28:18–20), and even to love enemies and pray for them (Matthew 5:44). All people are created in God's image (Genesis 1:27). Christ came to provide salvation for all who believe (John 3:16–18; 2 Peter 3:8–10) and desires that His people love others without favoritism (James 2:1). The Muslim is not our enemy. "We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). Christians are called to be ambassadors of Christ and, as such, should always seek to be filled with both love and truth.

Related Truth:

What do Muslims believe? What is Islam?

Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

Should a Muslim read the Bible? Does the Qur'an reject the Bible?

Do Christians fast? Why don't they do it the same way Muslims do?

Why should a Muslim consider becoming a Christian?

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