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Christianity and Islam

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are known as the worlds three great Western religions, sharing fundamental similarities and differences in origin, belief systems and religious practices. Origins The three religions are founded by three different persons in three different times. The oldest religion is Judaism although its precise date cannot be exactly determined which may be around 1700-1900 B. C. Its two founding fathers were Abraham and Moses. God had revealed himself to Abraham in Palestine, promising him that he will be a father of a Jewish nation.

That is why the Jews called themselves the “chosen people” (Spiegelberg 446). Later in Jewish history, God laid down Jewish laws by giving Moses the Ten Commandments (Crofton 310). The next religion, Christianity, is founded thousands of years later by Jesus Christ in first century AD. Jesus was a Jew who lived in Palestine for 33 years who proclaimed himself as the Messiah and the fulfillment of a promised savior in the Old Testament (Perry 126). The third religion, Islam, was founded in 622 AD by Mohammed, an Arab who said he received a revelation from God while meditating in a cave in Mount Hira outside Mecca (Mitchell 1058).

From above statements, it is clear that both Judaism and Christianity had the same Jewish roots. But while it can be said that Islam does not originate from the Jews, it does however derived some of its teachings from Judaism and Christianity like in the concept of monotheism and he existence of prophets (Spiegelberg 410). Beliefs Both religions are monotheistic, that is they believed that there is only one God. Islam’s God is Allah and he is perceived to be immaterial and invisible whose power should be feared. Both Judaism and Christianity call their God Yahweh (or Jehovah).

The main difference with Christianity however is that God, although one, manifest himself in three forms, as God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and God the Holy Spirit. Islam opposed this idea because for them God cannot be divided in many parts and to do so would undermine his deity. The same thing can be said of Judaism who considers the manifestation of God in three forms (or persons) is in direct adaptation to a pagan belief of many gods (Spiegelberg 410-412,451 and 484-485). As in all religions, all three followed the teachings of a holy Book.

Both Christianity and Judaism believed in the Bible, although Judaism only strictly believed in the Old Testament (Crofton 310). The Christian Bible consisted of the Old Testament and the New Testament. The New Testament is an account of the life of Jesus and his doctrines (Perry 126). Judaism rejected the New Testament due to an obvious reason that they do not believed in Jesus. Islam, on the other hand, followed the teachings of the Q’uran. As mentioned earlier some Jewish prophets such as Abraham and Moses and even Jesus are mentioned in this book (Spiegelberg 410).

The main difference that can be said about Q’uran and the Bible is that the Q’uran is written by only one person, Mohammed, while the Bible is written by many authors from different walks of life in a span of thousands of years (Spiegelberg 410 and Crofton 312). That is why for some, it appears that the Q’uran contain less contradictions. Also Islam believed that the Q’uran is the actual words of God while the Bible on the other hand, just reports the words of God (Spiegelberg 410).

The religious controversy that may arise from the three religions is in how they regarded Jesus Christ. For Islam, Jesus is a Prophet, for Judaism He is a false prophet and for Christianity He is the Son of God or God who was born as a human and is the savior of the world. Both Islam and Christianity adhered to the belief that Jesus was born through a virgin birth but unlike Christianity which strongly affirms that Jesus died and was resurrected after three days, Islam believed Jesus did not die during crucifixion but ascended into heaven.

Judaism, on the other hand believed Jesus had a normal birth who died during crucifixion but like Islam it denied the resurrection (Spielgelberg 410 and 484). All three religions believed that there is a paradise or heaven prepared for those who obey God. In the same way, they believed in the existence of a place of punishment for the disobedient with the evil spirit or Satan. However, Islam’s Satan (named Iblis) is not the same as who the Christians or Jews perceived him to be. While in the two religion Satan is diabolical, in Islam Iblis is by no means evil.

What had actually made him evil was his refusal to obey God in worshipping Adam because according to him he loved God so much that he cannot make himself bow down before any other creature. This means that Iblis was not as evil as Satan. What concerns Islam more is man’s disbelief in God, for them that is what constitutes evil (Spiegelberg 419). Religious Practices To achieve the approval of God, the three religions follow some religious practices. To receive salvation, all three religions believed in doing good deeds.

Islam observes the Five Pillars of Faith which are: Profession of the Faith “There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his Prophet”, prayer five times a day, almsgiving, fasting in the month of Ramadan and pilgrimage to Mecca for a Muslim who can afford it. In Judaism salvation is achieved through observance of the law and belief in God, while in Christianity although good deeds are encouraged more emphasis is put on faith in Jesus Christ (Crofton 310-317). The religious practice of prayer in Judaism and Islam is the same in the sense that while praying they faced their sacred place (Mecca for Islam, Jerusalem for Judaism).

Christians on the other hand, do not pay attention to where they are facing as long as they pray from the heart (Crofton 310-317).

Bibliography

Crofton, Ian. The Guinness Compact Encyclopedia. London: Guinness Publishing Limited, 1994. Mitchell, James (ed. ). The Random House Encyclopedia. New York: Random House, Inc. , 1977. Perry, Marvin. A History of the World. New York: Houghton-Mifflin Company, 1988. Spiegelberg, Frederic. Living Religions of the World. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1956.

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