We have discussed about the religious practices of Arabs before the birth of Prophet Muhammad in our previous article when we looked at the beginning of Paganism in Arabia. In this page, we are going to discuss very briefly the history of Christianity.
After Allah (S) raised Prophet Isa (A), within 30-40 years, there were three major strands of Christianity. The first type is called Gnosticism – we don’t have followers of this group any more. The other two groups of Christians were Jewish Christians and Pauline Christians.
They believed, among other things, that they are Jews and they have to follow the laws of Musa (A). They believed that Isa (A) was sent to the Jews and he was the promised Messiah. This is what Muslims believe as well.
Paul – who never actually was a disciple, he claimed to be a disciple, he claimed that he saw Jesus in his vision – he was the one who began a whole new theology. His theology included – Jesus had an element of divinity, he is just not a man, he came to replace the law etc. Therefore, if you follow Jesus, you don’t have to follow the Shariah anymore. He began talking about the elements of the trinity etc.
For three hundred years, the Christians debated over what is the meaning of Christianity. They argued about Jesus – is he a Prophet or a God or a son of God?
Romans at that time were a pagan nation and they were the worst enemies of Christians. The emperor Nero used to burn Christians alive to light up his city. For about 2-3 hundred years, the Christians were martyred. This continued until a miracle happened – the emperor himself converted to Christianity. His name was Constantine, the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity.
Once the emperor himself converted, he sought all the Christians to come together to have a dialog and figure out what the Christianity was. Since Constantine was a pagan before, he brought in some of his concepts from there. That is where the concepts of 25th December, the concept of halos, trinity and son of God etc came. All these happened in 325 CE when he held a council which is known as the Council of Nicaea.
Therefore, in 325 CE, after Constantine held the council, he declared the Pauline Christianity as the official Christianity. They then began to do to all other Christians what the Romans did to them. So all the other Christians started leaving, there was a massive out-flux of original Christians to other lands, some went to Iran, some went to Abyssinia (Ethiopia).
Roman empire official banished Jewish Christianity, Pauline Christianity became the official religion and from that we now have the orthodox, the catholic and the protestants.
The content of this page was compiled from video lectures on the Seerah of the Prophet Muhamamd (PBUH) by Yasir Qadhi. The video can be found here.