What beliefs and practices does Islam share with Judaism and Christianity? Specify what is distinctive about the Islamic form of those beliefs and practices.
The relationships between Islam, Judaism and Christianity in the later parts of the 20th century appear to have improved as well as worsened from different perspectives as compared to any other period in history. A noteworthy aspect of the current relationships is that Muslims are now engaged in dialogues with Christians and Jews. Islam is now the fastest growing religion in the world and Muslim leaders and clerics can be observed functioning together with ministers, priests and rabbis in several religious endeavors. However, the three religions continue to have major differences and are engaged in nationalist and territorial conflicts that have gradually been characterized with religious or sectarian differences. This paper makes an analysis of the beliefs and practices that Islam shares with Christianity and Judaism because the misunderstandings between the three religions can be resolved only in recognizing that they have the same roots and share several social and religious practices.
Islam is a monotheistic religion and is the second biggest in the world after Christianity. The religion has its origin in the Middle East and has several customs and beliefs that are the same as Christianity and Judaism. These three religions are commonly referred to as the Abrahamic religions; they believe in one God and trace their lineage from the Prophet Ibrahim, as evident in the Hebrew. Islam, Christianity and Judaism believe there is only one God who is the creator of all things that exist in the world and He is the one who takes care of every living being.
The three religions provide that God believes in justice and He has established fundamental rules in guiding people about how they can become virtuous and honorable in complying with His intentions. The three religions hold that God believes in mercy and that with His grace people get the power to become more like what is desired of them to become (Wells, 2011). Islam, along with Christianity and Judaism, holds that all human beings are Ibrahim’s children and are the most capable living beings on Earth.
Human beings were created with an element of mystery in being given immense potential to grow constantly, individually as well as a species. When people strive towards achieving good, righteous and loving qualities they transform into what God desired them to become. If such freedom is misused and others are harmed with one’s actions, it implies that such people are transgressing God’s will, which makes them evil. The three religions believe that it is possible for every individual to seek God’s help in achieving the capability to ward off evil influences. Eventually, the message in all three religions is to be devoted and obedient to God (Los Angeles Chinese Learning Center, 2012). In being monotheistic, the three religions are different from Buddhism and Hinduism. They share common beliefs about history being the arena of God’s activities and His encounters with human beings, Satan, angels, heavenly revelation and prophets. All three religions focus on the importance of Judgment Day, accountability, responsibility and perpetual rewards and punishments.
The three religions give immense importance to peace, which is evident from historical patterns of greeting one another, implying Peace Be Upon You, beginning with Assalamalaikim in Islam, with pax vobisum in Christianity and salom aleicham in Judaism. However, such greetings of peace have primarily pertained to greeting one another in a given community or society. All three religions believe that it is essential to engage in holy wars to espouse the cause of empires and to protect societies. The relationships between religion and politics is apparent in the present times also although in different ways, such as the circumstances that prevail in present day Israel, Palestine, Middle East and other parts of the world. All the three religions share the same ancestry and believe in scriptures that were delivered through heaven. They have similar religious practices and rites relative to charity and regular prayers, value of pilgrimage and common holy places. The three religions give the promise that appropriate behaviors will be rewarded and inappropriate behaviors will be punished in life as well as in the afterlife.
They balance and integrate many elements of piety, devotion, legalism and mysticism and appear to be suitable in co-existing mutually in reinforcing one another (Peters, 1990). Islam has similarity with Judaism in regard to the focus on practice instead of beliefs. The main basis of religious obedience in Islam and Judaism is religious law, while in Christianity the focus is on theology. Across history, the main differences between Islam and Judaism have pertained to disagreement of religious practices and religious law. The disputes between Islam and Christianity have pertained primarily to the divide amongst communities about theological belief systems, relative to the relationships between divine and human characteristics. Christianity and Judaism are given special consideration in Islam in view of the Islamic beliefs that God had conveyed His will through His Prophets, namely Ibrahim, Moses and Jesus. In this regard, the Quran specifically states that God revealed his will through Ibrahim, Ismail and their progeny, as well as through Moses and Jesus.
There is no difference amongst them and in what they say, which is why Muslims adhere to what was said by these Prophets (Newby, 1996). Islam and the Quran hold that Christians and Jews are Ibrahim’s children and relate to them as people of the book (Esposito, 2011). This is because the three religions originate from the same lineage of Ibrahim. Muslims trace their lineage from Ibrahim and his servant Hagar, while Christians and Jews trace their lineage from Ibrahim and his spouse Sarah. Muslims hold that God’s revelation in the form of the Torah was first delivered to the Jews by Prophet Moses and later to Christians by the Prophet Jesus. Muslims are in agreement about some biblical prophets such as Jesus and Moses and use their names as Isa and Musa respectively (Hipps et al, 2003). They also use the Virgin Mary’s name as Mariam and it is evident that her name appears more frequently in the Quran than in the New Testament.
Muslims do not refute the status of Virgin Mary and Jesus’ virgin birth but they hold that in due course, over the centuries, the original revelation as made to Jesus and Moses became despoiled. Muslims view the Old Testament as a mix of human manufacture and of God’s messages. They hold the same views about the New Testament and believe that doctrines referring to Jesus as the Son of God are erroneous without any truth. They do not believe that the death of Jesus represented the redemption and atonement for mankind’s sins. It is apparent that Islam, Christianity and Judaism have some common roots and share several common practices. This is because they are all having the same Abrahamic heritage. Islam, Christianity and Judaism are monotheistic religions as they believe in a single God in focusing on the unity and oneness of God.
The confirmation of one God in Christianity has been often debated because of its adherence to the Holy Trinity but this cannot be considered as a refutation of monotheism. It is only an acknowledgement of the ways in which God is viewed because in Christianity the Divine Being is God. Islam, Christianity and Judaism hold that God is the source and foundation of all that exists in the world and takes care of all His creations in ensuring their wellbeing. All the three religions confirm that people are governed and guided by basic rules that make them take the right path and become righteous in complying with God’s will.
1. Esposito, John L. (2011). What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam, Oxford University Press.
2. Hipps, Amelia., Kayanaugh, Dorothy., and Khaled Abou El Fadl. (2003). Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Mason Crest Publishers.
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