From the “beginning of time”, Judeo/Christian and Islamic religions have shared many of the same common themes throughout multiple aspects of their religious developments. However, this is not to say that they are all the same, although there are many similarities between these religions. To begin, recurring themes which were discovered in the basic principles of these religions such as their creation stories, end of world prophecies, concepts about the afterlife, and behaviors which humans are to demonstrate as to please their utmost higher power, “their God”, will be identified and discussed.
Following the previous discoveries, and a greater in depth review of them, differences will be also be brought to attention and discussed as well throughout this report. Judeo/Christian and Islamic religions all have a beginning and an end to their beliefs. Sacred stories are used to reveal the beginning of time, the end of time and everything else in between of these religions.
For the Jews, the Tanakh, or also known as the Torah, holds all their sacred stories while for the Christians it is the Holy Bible, which comes in different versions, although these versions all share the same stories and then there is the Koran or Quran for the Muslims. Each story which is told throughout all three of these religions make use of metaphors which relate directly to each of their specific needs.
Certain human, or human like characters are used in the stories to help demonstrate particular values and morals which are to be learned, and consequently either followed or refrained from doing certain things or sins, a moral code that all believers should live by. By use of the human like characters a more personable relation is given, thus allowing for the values and morals to be better understood by the followers of each of the religions. For the followers of these religions, knowing how they became, how they should act while living, how their lives are determined worthy or not, gives them a ense of wholeness, sense of belonging, peace of mind, a purpose of life and a general guideline to live by which is important to have in life itself. One similarity between Judaism, Islam and Christianity are that they are all monotheistic religions, meaning they all believe in one God. Although, they all believe in one God, he may be called different names. Christianity’s One God, who exists in three distinct persons (the trinity): Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Mathew 28:19). Islam’s one God (Arabic: Allah), who is not a trinity.
The Islamic view of God is called strict Monotheism (Quran 112:1). In Judaism, One God (known in English as “Yahweh’ or ‘Jehovah’) – “Hear Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one. ” (Deuteronomy 6:4). As for the specific similarities in the creation stories between the Judeo/Christian and Islamic religions, a major staple in all would be that they all share the same story which describes the creation of the Earth: Genesis, the sixth ‘day’ (or period) creation allegory. However there are some differences in the exact amount of time that it took to complete the creation of Earth.
Some parts of the Quran state that the process of creating Earth took six days, while other parts claim that the process took eight days, whereas the Christian Bible is set at six days, and the seventh day to rest. “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made” (Genesis 2:2). “And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. ” (Genesis 2:3).
The Quran and the bible both state that God (Allah) created the world, the cosmos, and made all the creatures on it, the trees, waters and the rest of the universe. Along with this finding, these three religions also all have sacred stories which involve characters named, Adam and Eve who live in a paradise called, “The Garden of Eden” where a supreme being, God, warns them to not eat the forbidden fruit, but they do so anyways, and are cast out of the garden. However, God (Allah) created Iblis (Satan) with free will and the spirit may choose to obey Him or not, similar to the case of Adam and Eve.
Iblis refused to bow before Adam, claiming that his fiery nature was superior to Adam’s flesh. God cast Iblis (Satan) out of his paradise, and Iblis vowed to tempt Adam and Eve’s generations to corruption and to disobey God. This is an example why Islam breaks somewhat with Judaism and Christianity in explaining why Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. In the Christian view, we see Satan as a rebelling angel. Islamic tradition identifies Satan with a being called Iblis, a spirit of fire. In Islamic, angels are made of light and never disobey God, as they do not have free will to do so.
The Jewish belief of “Satan” literally means “adversary” and in Jewish thought one of the things we struggle against every day is the “evil inclination,” also known as the yetzer hara. The yetzer hara is not a force or a being, but rather refers to mankind’s innate capacity for doing evil in the world. Using the term Satan to describe this impulse is not very common though. (The “good inclination” is called the yetzer hatov. ) Lastly, all three religions claim that a supreme power breathed life into man, and it immediately sprang to life, which was how human life began, beginning with Adam and then Eve.
Next, end of world prophecies are another aspect of these religions which share a couple commonalities. For example, in one recurring story, involves that there is a great war which is told of where Jesus returns to fight and overthrow the enemies (which include all judged to be sent to Hell for bad deeds, and in Islam, the competing religion: all Jews will be defeated, however in Judaism and Christianity, the Antichrist will be defeated), and establish their religion as supreme religion, and their God as the supreme king of the Earth. In Judaism, The Messiah will defeat the gentile nations, and restore the kingdom of Israel.
In Islam, Jesus will “kill all pigs and break all crosses”, confirming Islam as the only true religion. In Christianity, Jesus will come to rescue Israel, defeat the Antichrist, judge all nations, and rule over the final days of the Earth. Another example of a sacred story that was articulated in all three religions, and that is of noteworthy importance, was that of the final judgments. This story tells of how all people were judged solely on their good and bad deeds throughout their lifetime, and who lived by God’s word and who did not, who the believers are and who are not believers.
Those judged harshly will be sent to a lake of fire, Hell and those judged well will be sent to Heaven. One significant aspect about the end of the world prophecy stories is how extreme they appear. I believe they are told in this manner to help enforce the importance of how one behaves throughout their lives before the end of the world comes. In doing so, followers who choose to do more good deeds may live more peaceful lives, thus allowing their final judgments to be satisfying and not as fearful.
Following end of the world prophecies, ideas about the afterlife should be conferred about. While these religions all hold the same general idea about a paradise, and an eternal despair and agony state in the afterlife, they are still somewhat different in how one gets there and exactly what they are like. The Islamic religion also believes in a place where the dead may stay temporarily (purgatory). Purgatory is a place where the dead may be staying temporarily to ascend to Heaven if they accept God (or Allah), or to Hell if they do not repent and accept the “true God”.
Islam religion teaches that Hell is a temporary place of punishment for some, eternal for others. Sinning believers who end up in Hell will only stay temporarily, but will eventually be removed and admitted into Paradise (Heaven), and infidels (those who reject Allah) will remain in Hell eternally, unless they make amends for their sins, and accept God as their King. Whereas Judeo and Christian religions do not hold the same belief. They believe that if you are sent to Hell for your sins or for not accepting God, Hell is permanent and there is no leaving for Heaven.
While these differences are small, the similarities are of great importance because without a belief in a Heaven and Hell, people would not have as much meaning to their lives. They would have nothing to set their goals on, a code or standards to live by, because there would be no point if there was no afterlife. This would essentially lead to chaos in their world, in our world. Finally, each of the Judeo/Christian and Islamic religions hold certain behaviors that their followers are supposed to demonstrate in order to please their supreme being, including moral codes.
While all three religions have various different moral codes to live by, one very common code is that of ten different commandments. Jews and Christians follow what they both call The Ten Commandments for their moral code, while the Muslims follow very similar verses in the Quran. Both the verses in the Quran and The Ten Commandments in the Bible were given to followers by Moses. And although the verses are not labeled as The Ten Commandments, the message for each verse in the Quran that is presented is comparable to the message given in each commandment in the Bible.
By following these laws, followers are given discipline in their lives. Discipline is an important factor in becoming a well-rounded individual which consequently makes The Ten Commandments and the Quran’s versus vital to their followers. They include instructions to worship only God, to keep the Sabbath holy and prohibitions against idolatry, blasphemy, murder, theft, deception and adultery. There are also certain obligations to these three religions that followers demonstrate to please their supreme being.
Certain duties like prayer are necessary to maintain the faith. In the Islam religion, Salat (prayer) is something which the followers do five times a day to show their faith. While the Christian and Islamic religions also practice prayer, the Jews have a prayer book called The Siddur that they follow. Overall, this duty of prayer is significant in all three religions. It helps followers to be assured that they are able to connect with their supreme, higher power, God, being on a one on one basis and that they are keeping their faith alive.
After examining the similarities and some differences between the Judeo/Christian and Islamic religions, it has become evident that religion and spirituality play an important role in building the identity of a human group. Multiple facets which encompass this realization include structure, discipline and a sense of uniqueness, acceptance, belonging, trust and self-worth. By believing in a higher power and following the religion like one is supposed to, structure is built into the lives of its followers.
This happens simply by performing the duties and living by the moral codes which accompany a religion. From this, discipline also develops as part of the follower’s lives, assuming they are performing the actions on some sort of a schedule. Next, spirituality also plays a role in building a human group’s identity by giving its followers a sense of uniqueness through its various distinct rules and regulations. Even though many religions share common grounds, their differences are still quite vast. By being a part of a spiritual group, one also acquires a sense of belonging and acceptance.
This is important to the individual and the group itself because it helps to make the group cohesive and stronger, thus allowing for trust to be built and the group to advance together as one. Finally, a sense of self-worth is also attained from being part of a group since without the approval of others, self-worth can be difficult to achieve. And when all these qualities are put together, the group forms an alliance that is nearly impossible to break apart which is likely why these religions have been around for centuries and are still maintaining their position in society today.
While the Judeo/Christian and Islamic religions share many similarities, they are by no means the same. Their differences are broad, and their followers each uniquely different, but yet they all still believe in a higher power, in one God. Followers also all refer to sacred stories to give them answers, guidance and meaning about life, death and everything in between, including how they should behave and ways which they should practice to keep their faith alive.
These qualities all contribute to a greater cause of their particular religious group that gives them an overall sense of wholeness, values and meaning to their lives. Every human needs to have a sense of belonging and an understanding of their surroundings to be able to feel their self-worth and to continue their journey through life, in order to survive. Thus is why so many people believe to need or to want to be part of a religion, even for the folk that do not believe in a higher power or a God, they must believe in something, whether it is religion beliefs, cultural or geographical.
Courtney from Study Moose
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