Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are all completely different religions from an outsider’s point of view. Yet, when you look at all three of them in depth, a person can find many of the same characteristics. From their origins to their life rituals, there are many differences and similarities between these three popular religions. Between the origins of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, there is much overlap. Judaism was started through the Patriarch and Matriarch of the faith, Abraham and Sarah. They bore a child together named Isaac, who Jewish people believe to be their ancestor.
Jewish people call themselves Children of Israel, signifying their descent from Jacob. Also, Abraham had another son with a different woman. This son, Ishmael, is believed to be the ancestor of Islam. The origin of Christianity was from Jesus Christ, who they believe rose from the dead and is the Son of God. His followers, otherwise known as disciples, spread the religion after his death in 30 CE throughout the Roman Empire. It soon became the official religion in the empire with Emperor Constantine’s decision. It has so far spread worldwide and is the largest religion in the world with almost 2. 2 billion followers.
The sacred writings of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have many similarities. Christianity and Judaism believe in the Old Testament, which in Judaist terms is the Tanakh. This consists of the Torah, the Neviim, and the Ketuvim. It tells of God making a covenant with people. They believe that Jesus is not the Son of God and that their saviour is still to come. Muslims follow the exact writings of the Qu’ran, which they believe their prophet Mohammed was told in a revelation from Allah. They also follow the Hadith and the Sunna, which are, in a way, different variations of Mohammad’s life and stories.
They regard parts of the Old Testament and the Gospels as inspired, and believe the Qur’an to be a more final and complete copy. The places of worship between Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are quite different. People of Jewish faith observe the Sabbath and conduct their services in Synagogue or the Temple, Christians worship in churches, chapels, and cathedrals, and Muslims worship in Mosques. People of Jewish faith and Muslims do not allow statues in their worship places, stating that it takes away their attention from God and Allah and that it ruins their monotheistic belief.
Roman Catholics do not worship statues or icons. In the Eastern Catholic churches, people viewed icons as a way to greater worship and they prayed to them for protection. In Judaism and Christianity, the Holy Land, being Israel, is considered a very sacred place due to the fact that Jesus was born there and lived there, and also because that was the land promised to Abraham. Rome is also considered a very sacred place to Christians because that is where the leader of their religion lives, otherwise known as the Pope.
This is similar to Medina and Mecca in Islam due to the fact that their house of God, the Kaaba, is located there and is believed to be placed right underneath Heaven. The role of women between Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, although men and women are equal in the eyes of God, are similar. Traditional Judaism gives different roles for men and women. For example, Orthodox men and women worship separately. This is in comparison to Muslims, where the Qur’an treats men and women as equals. This is close to Christianity, where everyone is equal under God. This allows women and men to be equal.
For example, both genders can attend worship at the same time in the same place. Unfortunately, women are oppressed in today’s Muslim society due to Sharia law, which they believe is the law of Allah. It often discriminates against women and strips them of their rights. For example, a women’s word does not count as much as a man’s. This is similar to Christianity where women can not become ordained priests and are not given equality within in the Church. Also, men and women worship separately in Islam, which shows similarities to Orthodox Judaism. The symbols of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are very much different.
The Star of David is named after King David, who had a shield with a star on it. It has seven spaces, including the separate points and the centre. This number seven is very important within the Jewish faith due to the six days of creation including the seventh day of rest. The menorah, another sacred Jewish symbol, also represents the seven days of creation. It is referred to as the “tree of life” because it has seven branches. The Mezuzah is also another sacred object. It contains the Shema written on a parchment. The most sacred ritual object in the Jewish faith is the Torah Scroll.
It is the centre of Jewish life because it is used to teach, and it has the Five Books of Moses inscribed in it. In comparison to Judaism, the symbols for Christianity are few. They regard bread as Jesus’ body, which they call the Eucharist. They also believe that wine is Jesus’ blood. They drink and eat these at masses in remembrance of the Last Supper and the sacrifice that Jesus gave to them to wash away their sins. They regard the cross as a symbol of the sacrifice as well. Ichthus, the symbol of a fish, is a symbol for Christianity. In Islam, the Tawhid is the concept of monotheism.
It holds God as one and unique. The crescent star is widely used as a symbol on Islamic flags. When babies are born in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, there are many rituals that they attend to. In Judaism, they believe in having the baby circumcised, which they call a Brit milah. Muslims also believe in having their sons circumcised. In Christianity, they believe in baptising the baby by a Priest to rid it of its original sin. In Islam, they believe in whispering the call to prayer in the baby’s right ear, making sure that it is the first sound they hear.
Also, there is a naming ceremony where close friends and family gather to decide on the child’s name. Each of these rituals is different, leading to diversity between religions. During a marriage in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, one must use different rituals to attend to the needs of their religion. In Judaism, the couple stands under a canopy where the Rabbi reads from the Torah. Also, the marriage becomes official when the partners give something of value to each other, such as rings. In Islam, many marriages are arranged and polygamy is allowed.
They see marriages as a way to gain political advantage and to tie one family to another. This is not the case with Christianity. When you marry under God in a church, they do not permit divorces unless the circumstances are dire. You exchange rings as a sign of the vow you have given to the other person. Also, you are a couple under God and are expected to baptise your children. When it comes to death in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, there are different ways to go about it. In Judaism, a shitting shiva takes place, where the family member mourns for a period of seven days.
In Islam, the family member is quickly wrapped and buried. They are then pointed towards Mecca, which holds the sacred Kaaba. They also believe that the last words on your lips should be the Shahada. In Christianity, they hold a mass where families and friends can go to mourn as one. If lucky, you are blessed by a Priest, which relieves you of your sins. This is called Anointing of the Sins and Last Rites. The beliefs of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are quite similar. They each have a different take on past events. Christians, Muslims, and Jewish people believe in monotheism, stating that there is only one divine God.
Muslims and Jewish people claim that Christians do not believe in one God, seeing as they think God exists in three different ways; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Christians call this the Trinity. In Judaism, they do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead, is the Son of God, or was born from the Virgin Mary. In Christianity, they believe in all of those points. In Islam, they believe that while Jesus was the Son of God and was born from the Virgin Mary, He did not die on the cross but was rather brought into heaven by God. People of Jewish faith think that Jesus was crucified due to this claim of being divine.
Choosing to disregard the claim that Jesus is the saviour, they believe that their saviour will come one day and will unite the world and bring peace to humanity. Muslims believe that the Kaaba, a sacred cube located in Mecca, is God’s house and is located directly underneath heaven. They trust that the point to life is to live in a way that pleases Allah to gain a spot in Paradise, which is their heaven in the afterlife. The meaning of life for Christians, though, is to seek divine salvation through the grace of God and to become one with Him.
People of Jewish faith believe life should be spent helping humanity and fellow neighbours. Christianity believes that every human has inherited “original sin” from Adam, meaning that people have a tendency towards evil. This is in comparison to Judaism and Islam who believe people are capable of both good and evil actions. In comparison to Christianity and Judaism, prayer rituals are taken very seriously in Islam. They believe in prayer five times a day: dawn, midday, afternoon, sunset, and evening, which is called the Salat.
This is similar to Orthodox Judaism in which they pray in formal worship services three times a day; morning, afternoon, evening. They pray the Shema, which is the most important prayer in Judaism. Before prayer, Muslims wash up to their legs up to their knees and their arms up to their elbows to cleanse themselves. This is a bit similar to Christianity, which uses blessed holy water to pray with before entering mass. This blesses one’s self, recalls the baptism, and forgives sins. Each Islamic prayer is directed towards Mecca where the Kaaba is located, which they believe is loca ted directly under heaven.
Women and men pray in parallel lines at separate times, and they pray on rugs to keep themselves clean. Also, there are certain guidelines that women and men need to follow in terms of what to wear to mosque. For example, a woman should not wear clothes that attract attention. In the European Christian Churches there are many dress codes one would need to follow. This is not the case in most Western Churches. The formalities have lessened and one can wear jeans to mass without causing uproar, which is much different from Islam. Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are similar religions when it comes to beliefs.
While they have diverse opinions and take place in countries all over the world, these well known religions are revered for their perseverance. All three are valid religions, which, through different takes on past events, have moulded into what they are today. For example, while Christianity and Islam choose to believe that Jesus will come again, Judaism chooses not to. This take on a past event has shaped Christianity and Judaism greatly. Also, Islam has a different view of women’s rights and placement in society in comparison to Judaism and Christianity.
I think that while Islam and Christianity are completely opposite when it comes to rituals and strictness, they are very much similar in terms of beliefs. Although Judaism and Islam originated from the same family tree and Judaism and Christianity coincide on many events, such as their origins, I believe that Judaism is the most different of the three due to its views about Jesus. Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are all completely different religions from an outsider’s point of view. Yet, when you look at all three of them in depth, a person can find many of the same characteristics.
Courtney from Study Moose
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