Turkey is one of the famous Islamic regions in the world. It harbors the most of the largest mosques worldwide. Georgia is a state found in the south--eastern location of the United States. Georgia’s largest population consists of protestant Christians. Christians in Georgia can be generally grouped into various religious affiliations like the Presbyterians, Catholics, Methodists, Pentecostals and Baptists. (Schultz, 47). The two varying religious groups are bound by different religious cultures. Culture can be defined as a group or a society where the members have a common way of living and thinking. Religion is viewed as part of culture. Understanding the two religious cultures is important because it will enable humanity to appreciate and respect the varying natures of these two religions. The intent of this paper therefore is to compare the religious culture in Turkey to that of the southern U.SA (Georgia).
Architecture and Worship Buildings
Different designs have been used to represent Allah’s infinite power in Turkey. Influencing design and buildings such as Mosques, Palaces and Tombs represents the different architectural designs. In Allahs’ works, statutes representing human and animals are not allowed. This is because Muslims in Turkey believe that Allah’s work is incomparable. Beside its simplification, foliage is common in Islamic architecture. The interior building of a Mosque is enhanced with quotations from Koran which are in Arabic calligraphy. The architecture appreciates the use of grandiose forms which include towering, domes and large courtyards. These structures are meant to convey power. On the other hand in southern USA, the Georgian Christians’ architecture does not forbid the use of human and animals’ statues. For instance; In Georgia, the Catholic Church consider the statue of a human being to represent the mother of Jesus, their savior and Jesus himself. A cross is mostly put on top of the churches as a sign of identification of a worship center (Griffith, 34). The general outlook of a church does not follow a specified structural shape. The medieval religious culture in Georgia which was adversely inclined to orthodox Christianity however, encouraged the construction of various religious architecture like monasteries. An example of this was the Georgian Iveron Monastery. (Schultz, 53)
Islamic followers in Turkey acquire the teachings in Madrasahs which are viewed as Islamic education necessary for understanding the Islamic faith. Christians in Southern USA (Georgia) mostly of the catholic religious affiliation, on the other hand, undergo catechism teachings in the church before baptism and receiving of the holy sacraments. Georgian Christians worship in churches, offer prayers and honor the holy sacrament as part of their religious practices. They are basically guided by the Ten Commandments which they strive to obey in their daily lives. This is abit different with the Muslims in Turkey who operate by following the five pillars and the Islamic law. These include five times prayer a day, fasting during Aramathan, Hajj and Zakat among others. Additionally, there is a variation in the religious book used by the Georgian Christians and the Muslims in Turkey. Despite of the various denominations in Georgia U.SA, the Christians use the Holy Bible with both old and New Testament as the main religious reference. The Muslims in Turkey on the other hand, use the Koran and Hadith as the basic religious books. More so, the holidays observed by these two regions vary immensely. In Georgia, the Christians consider Sundays as the worship days. They also observe Good Fridays, Easter and Other holidays. Muslims in Turkey on the other hand worship on Fridays. They observe the month of Ramathan and Eid al Fitr as their holidays.
The role of the Imam in Turkey and Clergy in Georgia
In Shia Islam, Imams are individuals with special spiritual and political authority in the society. Early Mohammad was the first Imam in Islamic religion and was son in law to Mohammad. Caliph of Islam, who are the successors are believed to be appointed by God. It is said that Mohammad before death, designated his successors. The twelve Imams politically and spiritually succeeded Mohammed for the twelvers. The Muslim Imams at the Mosques in Turkey have the sole responsibility of preaching, leading prayers and giving sermons during the missionary activities and the Friday Services. Clergy refers to formal religious leadership and the word is mostly used in the Eastern Orthodox. In Georgia USA Christianity, the roles of clergy and specific names vary from one denomination to another. They include preacher, priest, pastors and other titles. The most commonly term used however is the priesthood. This refers to a body of priests, shamans or oracles with special religious authority. They are in charge of leading religious rituals and spreading the gospel and Christianity practices in Georgia. They are ordained and set for specific ministries in religious rites. Most names are given as per the achievement. For instance, Ambrosius was a Georgian religious scholar and symbol who served as catholic patriarch. He was late named as Saint Ambrosius the confessor (Goddard, 45).
There is a variation in religious beliefs between the Christians in Southern USA (Georgia) and the Muslims in Turkey. In Georgia, Christianity encompasses all churches as well as believers without churches. They study bible, observe the Sabbath, engage in prayer and follow Jesus teachings. They also seek forgiveness from God through faith. In Turkey on the other hand, the Muslims believe that Mohammad is God’s prophet and God revealed Himself through Mohammed. They don’t take Mohammad to be necessarily the founder of Islamic religion but the restorer of their faith (Hock 56,). Furthermore these two regions differ in their belief about God. While Christians in Georgia lay emphasis on the trinity; God the father, son and the Holy Spirit, the Muslims in Turkey believe in the existence of only one God. This is extended in their belief about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians in Georgia believe that through crucifixion, Jesus died and resurrected before ascending into heaven while Muslims believe that Jesus did not die and was taken to heaven by God and He will come back. Additionally, there is differing believe in these two regions regarding the concept of Angels. Christians in Georgia believe that angels are God’s massagers while Muslims in Turkey believe that angels were created by Allah and are invisible. They insist that Angels were created from light. The belief of marriage between the Christians of Georgia and the Muslims in Turkey is also different. Georgian religious community believes that each man should be united to one wife under the holy sacrament. On the contrary, Muslims in Turkey agree that a man can be married to more than one wife but with a maximum of four so long as the man provides fair treatment to all his wives.
There is however a similarity between the Georgian Christians and the Muslims in Turkey especially with regard to life after death. The Christians in Georgia believe that human beings die once and their souls wait judgment. Similarly, Muslims believes there is life after death and that there is eternal life. Additionally, they share a common belief concerning the second coming of Jesus. Both the Christians in Georgia and the Muslims in Turkey believe that there is the second coming of Jesus and nobody knows the time. The two religious groups believe in unison that there will be eternal life either in Heaven or in Hell.
The Role of Women in Religion
There is a varying contrast between the roles of Christian women in religion in southern USA (Georgia) Turkish Muslim women in their Islamic religion. In Georgia, women play an active role in churches. They are considered to be equal to men and are allowed to share roles in churches (Percy, 36). In Turkey, the Muslim women play a very dormant role in religious duties. All religious roles are usually left to the men in this community since women are considered to be inferior to men. Men are considered superior hence protectors and guiders of women in all aspects including religion.
There is a wide range of difference between the Georgian Christian religion and the Turkish Muslims. This is in areas of religious practices, religious beliefs, role of women and the duties of the religious leaders. These two regions however share some common beliefs and practices which have assisted them in appreciating and respecting the other’s views and religious culture.
Goddard, Hugh. The History of Christian-Muslim Relations. Chicago, Ill: New Amsterdam
Books, 2001. Print.
Griffith, Sidney H. The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque: Christians and Muslims in the World of Islam. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010. Internet resource.
Hock, Klaus. The Interface between Research and Dialogue: Christian Muslim Relations in Africa; Adjunct Proceedings of the 18th Quinquennial Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions. Münster: Lit-Verl, 2004. Print.
Percy, Martyn. Clergy: The Origin of Species. London: Continuum, 2006. Print.
Schultz, Jeffrey D, John G. West, and Iain S. MacLean. Encyclopedia of Religion in American
Politics. Phoenix, Ariz: Oryx Press, 1999. Internet resource.