PEOPLE OF THE BOOK
If you ask the average American Christian these days about Islam, you'll get a pretty negative view. Terrorism, hacking heads off, women forced to wear shapeless bags etc will come up. And if you look at Islamic protests, you'll see a pretty negative view of Christianity, with signs like "Jesus is the slave of Allah."
The thing is, these two faiths have more in common and should be more brethren in facing a hostile and atheistic culture. Its not that they don't have real problems - there really are Islamic terrorists and there are Christian clinic bombers - its that the main faith of each religion as taught by their scriptures have a lot in common.
Both believe in an absolute authority who created heaven and earth, and who is the source of all life, law, and truth. Both believe in one God (although Christians believe this one God is three in persons, a trinity). Both believe that this one God hates evil and sin and is coming in judgment against the wickedness of mankind. Both believe we must repent and believe to be saved from this coming judgment. Both believe in hell, both honor and trust the Old and New Testaments, and both view Jesus Christ as the messiah and a prophet.
Islam and Christianity both call for charity, modesty, and virtue. Both Islam and Christianity are shocked and horrified by the culture that the west is steeped in, condemning immorality around them. Both would like to see a more modest, virtuous world characterized by honoring God and truth.
Both believe that Jesus Christ is coming again, soon. Both believe in angels and demons and other supernatural reality beyond that which we can understand with our senses and scientific measurement. In the fight against an increasingly antagonistic culture, we have a lot in common. When Islam condemns women behaving like sluts and men like scum, Christians have to agree. When Christianity condemns homosexual "marriage," Muslims have to agree.
There are a lot of differences in the two faiths as well, but when it comes to acting out your faith in the world, there are an awful lot of things in common. Islam tends to be more militant and Christianity more peaceful - at least in theory and according to doctrine - but the end result of each faith being dominant would be very similar: a God fearing world with a culture characterized by concern over what is right according to scripture and less by concern over what makes me happy and comfortable.
Christians do not want to conquer the world and submit the entire population to their faith, the Bible does not call for this in any remotest sense. But we'd all love to see the world saved and kneel in love and honor before God. Muslims are called to conquer the whole world and see it submit to Allah, but they do so for the same reason Christians want everyone to be saved: because they'd be better off.
See, its not that Islam is primarily driven by a need for power and domination, but by a fear and respect for Allah, a desire for the whole world to do what Allah says. Similarly, Christianity is not driven by a need to command behavior and dominate, but by a desire for everyone to do what is right, avoid evil, and love the Lord Jesus Christ. Its like wanting your son to stop using heroin or your dad to stop sleeping around on your mom: they might think its great, but its horrible and they'd be a lot better off not doing it any more.
That's why I have a problem with the hatred some Christians and some Muslims show toward each other. Yes, we have disagreements and clashes in ideology (and methods, sometimes). But in the end, we're more allies than enemies, and the hate has to stop. Muslims need to stop rioting and killing Christians. Christians need to stop calling for Mecca to be nuked. And we need to all pray that we better honor and follow God and His word than our own fears, hatreds, and anger.
*UPDATE: A final thought. Why did I write this? I am not trying to reach out to any Muslims, I doubt any even read my blog. I suppose I just find myself agreeing far too often with Muslim condemnation of the west's corruption, lack of modesty, oversexualization, and general slide into sin. When some Imam yells that women act like whores in the west, he's all too often right. When some angry Muslim holds up a sign that says the west is a pit of wickedness, its hard to argue he's completely off base.
I mean, when I see some Muslim strap a bomb onto himself and blow up a schoolbus, or some Christian shoots an abortion doctor I can't help but think that's an act of evil. But at the same time his condemnation of how the west acts isn't entirely without basis, either. President Obama got it right when he said America isn't a Christian nation. It just isn't. Christians have virtually no influence at all on culture or the country's policy any longer.
When someone like Pat Robertson says that 9/11 happened because of gay marriage and abortion (actually he didn't say that at all, he simply noted that any nation which has these two evils is due for some punishment), I can't agree... but I do agree that there's an awful lot wrong with the west, and that wrong is getting more bold and outrageous.