Judaism and Islam are two of the world’s oldest, and largest monotheistic religions. These religions share a variety of customs, beliefs, and even practices. But at the same time, there are enough differences to make the two religions and cultures oppose each other greatly. Even some similarities between the two have been the source of conflict for thousands of years.
Both the Jewish and Muslim faith believe in one God. Being monotheistic means just that, the belief in one God. This is the most obvious similarity between the two religions. In fact a Muslim is defined as anyone who says “There is no God but God, and Mohammed is the messenger of God.” and the basic creed of Judaism says “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one.”
Judaism and Islam both have Holy Books from which religious teachings are taken. The Muslim Holy Book is called the Quran, it is spelled in English in many different ways Koran, Kuran, this is because Arabic is hard to translate. The Quran is the word of God as reveled by the prophet Mohammed. The Jewish Holy Book is referred to as the Hebrew Bible. The first five books of the Hebrew Bible is called the Torah. This is the part of the bible lays out a system of moral and religious conduct. The Hebrew Bible was put together in the 1st century A.D. by rabbis and teachers of the Jewish text.
The Hebrew Bible and the Quran both set up a system of law for the followers of the Jewish and Muslim faiths. The Hebrew Bible, the book of the Jewish faith sets up more of a code of conduct, a system of moral and religious conduct that is called the halavhah. This addresses how families should be run, personal ethics and manners, social responsibilities, and what people of the Jewish faith should and should not eat. Dietary guidelines are very important in the Jewish religion, everything that is eaten must be Kosher, meaning it is prepared a certain way.
The Quran goes one step farther in setting boundaries for it’s believers. This book of the Muslim faith sets the rules for an Islamic state. Also there are strict rules on women, families, and daily life that are addressed in deep detail in the Quran. Polygamy is accepted in the Quran, a man may have no more that four wives. And women are actually supposed to be mostly equal to men, yet modest. Equality of women is not always practiced in some Middle Eastern and Islamic countries.
As with most religions Islam and Judaism have a variety of holidays. Some are to commemorate an event of the the past, some to celebrate a new year, or maybe the passing of a certain number of years. Ramadan, a holiday celebrated mostly by Sunni Muslims, happens during the ninth month of the Muslim year. This was the month when the Quran was reveled for the guidance of mankind. During this holy month Muslims fast and abstain from sex during the daylight hours. It is a very holy time and is taken very seriously. In the Jewish faith there is a similar holiday called Passover.
This holiday lasts for seven days and commerates the deliverance of Israel from slavery. Passover more specifically refers to the evening when the angel of death passed over the houses of all in Egypt killing the first born of each home that did not have lambs’s blood around the door. During this holiday Jews are permitted only to ear unleavened bread called matzo during the daylight hours, much like the Ramadan fasting. Jews also hold feasts during the first two nights of this holiday.
A house of worship is an important component of most religions in our world today. Islam has the Mosque, a place of prayer and teaching. Judaism has the Synagogue, also a place of prayer and teaching. In both these places people gather to perform the customs that are laid out in their religious scriptures.
Unlike some religions in the world today both Judaism and Islam require their believers to pray multiple times a day. Jews pray three times a day, once in the morning, once in the noontime and once in the evening. Though this practice is more of a personal choice than the strict guidelines of prayer set in the Muslim religion. In the Quran there are five pillars of the Muslim faith: The first is profession of faith which basically means a Muslims must constantly and openly profess their faith. The second is prayer, which happens five times a day.
The third is giving alms to the needy. The fourth is fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. And the fifth is the pilgrimage to Mecca. The second pillar of faith is the practice similar to the Jewish practice. Five times a day Muslims must pray facing the holy city of Mecca. This however is a very strict prayer, maybe a bit different from the Jewish tradition, but still the same basic concept.
Judaism is the oldest of the three major monotheistic religions. The religion began in the time of Abraham which would have been about 1900 B.C, over 3,000 years ago. In many ways this has made the Jewish religion and it’s followers very strong in their beliefs. Islam, on the other hand, was not founded until 570 A.D., some 2,000 years after the beginning of Judaism. Many Jewish believers will use this difference as an argument. They are the older of the two religions, and so they were the first people in the Holy Land (Israel/Palestine) and so they should be entitled to it and no one else.
However, Abraham had two sons, Issac the leader of the Hebrew people and Ishmael, the leader of the Arab people. Though not all Muslims are Arab, the majority of the Muslims in Israel are Arab. So Muslims will use this argument by saying that Ishmael was the first son of Abraham and God told Abraham that He would take care of his first born, so the Muslims have just as much right to the area as the Jews, no matter who was there first.
Though there are many similarities between Islam and Judaism, the few differences however large or small seem to greatly outweigh the amazing likenesses for the thousands of followers of both beliefs. These differences as well as the continuing argument over the promised land of Israel/Palestine continue today to escalate the war in the sacred area and drive a wedge even further between the two groups. The truly frightening part of all this is that Holy Wars are extremely hard to resolve. When two groups are fighting over land that was promised to them by a divine entity that’s existence can’t even be proven, there aren’t a whole lot of options for peace. All the world can do is educate themselves and try to accept the different religions and continue to look for some sort of compromise.