Who are they?
Islam teaches that the Holy Prophet (Muhammad) is a historical personage. The personality of Jesus is shrouded in mystery.
The life of Muhammad is well-documented (571 - 632 A.D.) although much of our knowledge depends on traditional accounts and biographies (Ibn Ishaq).
Christians, and essentially all historians, agree that someone called "Jesus" was a preacher from Galilee who lived in the first century A.D. The Quran accepts his historicity, "The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah . . . So believe in Allah and His messengers" (4:An-Nisa:171).
Are there any witnesses?
More than eleven thousand persons have testified to the life and work of Muhammad. There is absolutely no contemporary evidence as to the life and work of Jesus.
Muhammad entered Mecca with 10,000 followers on January 11, 630 A.D., after his exile in Medinah. This is documented by contemporary sources. According to Bible's book of Acts, a contemporary source, 120 of the disciples of Jesus assembled immediately after his death (Acts 1:15).
The Apostle Paul, in his letters, claims to have seen Jesus (1Corinthians 9:1). The Bible documents that on at least eight separate occasions the Lord appeared to humans after his death (see our timeline of Jesus' ministry after his resurrection).
Is there a written testimony?
Muhammad gave a complete book to his followers which he declared was revealed to him by Allah and embodied in itself a perfect code of life. Jesus did not give a book of any description to his followers, and left the matter of religion entirely to their discretion.
The Koran depends entirely on Muhammad. For Jesus, a book already existed that bore witness to the truth. We call it the Old Testament. It was written by at least thirty people. The New Testament was written after the death of Jesus and comprises the writings of eight authors.
The Koran and the New Testament express opposite approaches to religion. The focus of Islam is on the "letter of the Law" versus true Christianity's focus on "the spirit of the Law."
Muhammad taught the fundamental principles of his religion in unambiguous language and in unequivocal terms. There is therefore no dispute over them or no controversy about them in the Muslim world during all these thirteen centuries. Jesus knew nothing about the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Logos, the Transubstantiation, the Atonement, or the elaborate rituals of the Roman Church, and so on.
There are different Muslim "denominations," for example Sufism, but generally there is intolerance for divergent viewpoints. But there are aspects of popular Islam today which Muhammad would probably disagree with, such as the celebration of his birthday, Mawlid, and his veneration in branches of Sufism.
Jesus did not know of developments within Christianity after his time but would certainly disagree with many of the teachings (Pagan holidays, rejection of God's Sabbath and laws, promotion of the Trinity, etc.) supported by the vast majority of Protestants, Catholics and others who say they represent him.
Who was a role model?
The Holy Prophet is a human being just like ourselves and as such he can command our allegiance and our love. Jesus is perfect man plus perfect god and as such his personality has become quite an enigma. We cannot feel drawn towards him as he is not one of us. He belongs to quite a different species and as such he cannot serve as a model for us.
Anyone can be a role model. But what sort of role model? Muhammad lived a life of aggressive evangelism. Jesus lived a life of quiet service and was "tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). We are to "walk as he walked."
Who is the most successful?
The Holy Prophet "is the most successful of all the religious personalities of the world" (Encyclopedia Britanica article on Muhammad). Jesus left his work unfinished owing to his sudden arrest and crucifixion (as believed and preached by the Christian Church).
Muhammad launched a highly successful international religion. Jesus calls his church "a little flock" (Luke 12:32). Christ continues his work to this very day, "And lo, I am with you always, even until the completion of the age" (Matthew 28:20).
Who mastered the world?
Muhammad wrought a mighty revolution and made Arabs master of the then civilized world. Jesus could not free his people, the Jews, from the yoke of the Romans.
The Arab empire was vast but where is it now? Jesus, unlike Muhammad, proclaimed a Kingdom that was not of this world (John 18:36). The beliefs taught by Christ ultimately conquered the Roman Empire. It should also be noted that, according to the CIA Factbook, more people in the world consider themselves Christian than being Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or any other religious affiliation (2010 estimate).