Today I went with a group from my "Current Trends in Islam" class to the Islamic Center of Southern California. For some reason, I've always been more impressed by the similarities between Christianity and Islam than the differences. Not so today! I must say, I was rather shocked by the sermon, which was exactly opposite in ethos from what is "normal" for me, as a Christian in the Reformed tradition.
The speaker talked about the Day of Judgement, and how there are seven things you can do to ensure that you will be saved. These included things like giving charitably such that the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing, or having a friendship which is based solely in the love of God, or (for men only) refusing to be seduced into committing adultery with a rich, beautiful woman. According to the speaker, if you just do one of these seven things at some point during your life, God will remember it in the Day of Judgement and you'll be saved.
And then there was another point in his sermon where he talked about how you should be proud of being a righteous person, you should be proud of not gossiping, not stealing, not doing drugs, etc. In fact, in the Day of Judgement, some people will be walking, some "riding" (we don't know upon what) and some will be dragged with their faces on the ground. And so when your friend says that if you don't do drugs, you sure are missing a lot, then remember that on the Day of Judgement you will be on your ride, and your friend will be missing a lot, with their face dragging on the ground.
If you suspect I am misrepresenting the speaker, you can listen to the sermon on the mosque's website.
Anyway, I've just never been so impressed as I was today by how very, very different the ethos of Islam is from the ethos of Reformed Christian faith. I still think it's a plausible notion that all religions are essentially similar in that they are all about placing absolute trust in God/Ultimate Reality/Truth (with a capital "T") or whatever. But it's an idea that needs some hefty qualifications ...