What is the difference between the Umma and the Ecclesia?



What is the difference between the Umma and the Ecclesia?

I hope it's the place to ask theology questions. If it's not and that another forum does exist, I'll delete my questions, but I didn't find a "theology" Stackexchange.

Important, because people always think about negativity here, I'm forced to explain and to justify:

This question is tagged "Comparative theolology" (it means it's a question only for those who studied a bit of compared theology, and can answer using comparative thology. As I need a very accurate answer, not a "I think", or "my dictionary says".

Yes, I dare to add that. Why? Because I have the right to limit the field of my question. I want to limit the field to "comparative theology" only.
And I want to prevent answer cutting and pasting dictionaries or encyclo's entries, and comparing the entries. It's a thing that I can do alone, but the university knowledge behind the fact to be able to analyze that, that is further than copying and pasting things from the Internet, I don't have it.

As said in the comment, if I ask a question about a river, the question can be answered according to several knowledge views, if I'm a microbiologist, I will provide a kind of answer, if I'm an economist, another one. If I ask my question asking only for economist's answer or from someone who studied a little the economic concepts (not cutting-pasting from dictionaries or wikipedia), it's my right, and it makes the expected answer clearer.


Posted 2019-11-01T10:33:37.843

Reputation: 147

Your preamble is unnecessary and condescending. Please remove it. – curiousdannii – 2019-11-01T11:47:27.920

It's absolutely not condescending, I want an answer from people who have a knowledge in compared theology, how is it condescending? Please explain. – Quidam – 2019-11-01T11:48:48.980

It is unnecessary and condescending because if you think you have to include it then you don't respect this site's community enough to think it can give solid reliable answers. This is not twitter where people post any random thought they have. And please do not accuse people of voting any particular way, it is quite rude. Votes are private and you do not know who has voted. – curiousdannii – 2019-11-01T11:50:41.983

If I ask a question about a river, and want the answer to be answered by someone who is specialized in a field, for instance, specialized in the economy of water places, the answer won't be the same if I ask the same question for someone who is specialized in microbiology. – Quidam – 2019-11-01T11:50:59.563

I want an answer considering a part of the knowledge called "comparative theology", that's all. Whoever is able to answer in this field, it's okay. – Quidam – 2019-11-01T11:52:15.350

If you are able to answer this answer with the "comparative theology" direction in mind, you are welcome to answer this question. It's only the field of the knowledge. THE TAG IS: COMPARATIVE THEOLOGY. That's all. – Quidam – 2019-11-01T11:53:45.970

@Quidam — I'm sorry, but curiousdannii is correct. The way this site works is you ask your question and people answer as they see fit. If you don't like their answer, downvote it. If you really need to set constraints, please be brief and polite: e.g., "I'd prefer not to see dictionary definitions, please; I'm looking for a deeper response." – Ted Wrigley – 2019-11-01T15:14:27.057

I'm polite, I don't want to see dictionary definitions. I don't "prefer to not see". I don't want. – Quidam – 2019-11-01T15:16:52.170

I edited my question since his comment, and he replied perfectly well, so there's no problem now. I have the right to tag my question "comparative theology" is I want. If you think it's not polite, you clearly didn't understand what I meant. – Quidam – 2019-11-01T15:18:06.403

Please be aware that most people on this site answer questions because they find them interesting, no other reason, and few people anywhere are interested in things that annoy them. You should be conscious of what annoys people — even if you think it is perfectly justified — otherwise you will shoot yourself in the foot. I know that the internet has a problematic relationship with civility, but on a site like this it pays to step up a bit. – Ted Wrigley – 2019-11-01T15:19:37.140

1Obvious point: since this silly little debate has gone on this long, you are not being as polite as you think you are being. QED, and I have nothing further to say on the issue. – Ted Wrigley – 2019-11-01T15:21:20.517



The two words have similar lexical meanings. Ummah, from أمة means "nation, people, community" while ecclesia, from ἐκκλησία, means "assembly". In Christianity it came to refer to the assembled people of God, or the church.

From the perspective of Christianity, the biggest difference is that while the ummah is a community of people, the ecclesia of God is a people united not just to each other but also to God. Union with Christ is a fundamental doctrine of Christianity, and says that the church, collectively and as individuals, is united to Christ. In this union with Christ the church participates in the perichoresis of the godhead. So Jesus prays in the "high priestly prayer" in John 17:20-23:

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

The New Testament contains many metaphors for this union, two of the most prominent of which are the Church as the Bride of Christ, and the Church as the Body of Christ. The marriage metaphor emphasises the highly relational and personal nature of the union, while the body metaphor emphasises the shared purpose and work of the union. This union is possible because humans are created in the image of God. The union is enacted by Christ himself because he is the one and only being who is both God and man.

In Islam people can still have a relationship with God, but there are several differences which make it stand out from Christianity. Firstly, God is said to be unknowable, and totally unlike anything created, including humans. Although there are some hadith which say God created Adam in his image this is not a major theme in Islam, with the possible exception of Sufism. In contrast to the unknowable God of Islam, Christianity says that while God cannot be fully comprehended by humans, he can be truly known and understood by man because he has gifted us with the capacity to do so and then revealed himself to us. The second major difference is that as the Islamic God is monotheistic, his relational aspects have only been demonstrated since creating the world, not an essential and eternal aspect of his being. In Christianity God has always been relating and loving even before creating the universe (and even if he had never decided to do so) because the three persons of the Trinity are in an eternal loving relationship with each other.


Posted 2019-11-01T10:33:37.843

Reputation: 1 487

I think the meaning of "nation" and even "community" is quite different from the meaning of "assembly" through. – Quidam – 2019-11-01T12:44:01.170

1@Quidam The way they were used was quite similar though. Hebrew has words for people and nation but I think ekklesia is used to describe how the nation of Israel assembles around the tabernacle at Mt Sinai. – curiousdannii – 2019-11-01T12:49:05.973

(I meant in the Greek Septuagint, though the Hebrew qahal has a very similar role as ekklesia.) – curiousdannii – 2019-11-01T13:06:35.870

I don't know why your answer has been downvoted. – Quidam – 2019-11-02T13:25:31.737


Ekklesia in Christianity means

  1. A particular body of faithful people,
  2. And the whole body of the faithful.
  3. More particularly it means to call together an assembly, congregation, council, or convocation.

Ummah in Islam has roughly the second meaning, it describes the whole body of muslims as a collectivity as opposed to them individually, or in groups.

The term Ekklesia derives from the Latin ecclesia, from Greek ekklesia, where the word is a compound of two segments: "ek", a preposition meaning "out of", and a verb, "kaleo", signifying "to call" - together, literally, "to call out". So we see to call together "assembly, congregation, council, or convocation."

The Vatican in the Catchesism of the Catholic Church describes it as:

The word "Church" (Latin ecclesia, from the Greek ek-ka-lein, to "call out of") means a convocation or an assembly. It designates the assemblies of the people, usually for a religious purpose. Ekklesia is used frequently in the Greek Old Testament for the assembly of the Chosen People before God, above all for their assembly on Mount Sinai where Israel received the Law and was established by God as his holy people. By calling itself "Church," the first community of Christian believers recognized itself as heir to that assembly. In the Church, God is "calling together" his people from all the ends of the earth. The equivalent Greek term Kyriake, from which the English word Church and the German Kirche are derived, means "what belongs to the Lord."

There will be other differences, but these will be expressly theological, being derived from the spiritual dimensions of the two religions.

Mozibur Ullah

Posted 2019-11-01T10:33:37.843

Reputation: 1

I'm interested in the theological differences. – Quidam – 2019-11-02T13:26:14.757

@Quidam: Well, in that case why not specifically ask about the theology? Ekklesia for example does not have the same meaning in Catholicism as it does in Protestantism... – Mozibur Ullah – 2019-11-02T13:27:38.487

It's comparative theology, so yes, any evolution of the concept is interesting, as long as it allows us to compare the 2 concepts. – Quidam – 2019-11-02T14:48:58.143

"comparative theology". = it's included in it. – Quidam – 2019-11-02T16:49:07.547