Two of the largest religions in the world today didn’t just get this way overnight. Both these religions emerged throughout time and spread in various ways. Christianity existed several centuries prior to the birth of Islam, and by the time Muhammad founded Islam in the Middle East, Christianity had moved its center to Europe, where it had firmly established itself as the official religion. But Christianity originally sprouted in the Middle East after Christ’s resurrection in A. D. 30. During this early period, Christianity did not expand far beyond Jerusalem.
Islam was founded about 550 years later, around the beginning of the seventeenth century. In 610 A. D. Muhammad claimed that he received revelations from God that called him to preach a new religion called Islam. At first he began to do so secretly, but after three years he found the courage to proclaim his new faith publicly and gained a growing number of followers. Islam’s growth was limited during this time, and it did not spread far beyond Mecca. Eventually, Muhammad left Mecca and he fled to Medina. He gained many followers here as well. However, his monotheistic message was not well received by many in his polytheistic city.
As a result, the early Muslim converts faced persecution, just as the early Christians had. During the first two centuries, Christians did not force their religion on others but relied on missionaries and preaching. When Islamics attacked or occupied new territory, they gave its inhabitants three options: convert to Islam, pay a special tax, or die. Although the spread of both religions was initially sparked by persecution, they went about spreading their messages in very different ways. However, it is clear that the Islamic method of expansion did not match the loving approach of Christianity.