Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all share the same roots, and their followers are often referred to collectively as the “people of the Book.” They are all monotheistic faiths tracing a patriarchal ancestry to the personage of Abraham in the Hebrew bible. In fact, the Hebrew bible is referred to as the Old Testament in the Christian faith and remains a major sacred text in the Christian religion. In spite of their common roots and a few common beliefs, these three religions have diverged from one another in significant ways, leading to major social and political conflicts. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all believe in the Hebrew bible as a sacred text, and all three are monotheistic faiths, but their specific theologies, customs, and practices differ.
A fundamental feature of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is monotheism, one of the features shared in common between these three religions. The Tanakh, which is the Jewish Bible, contains more than passage referring to the absolute monotheism that characterizes the faith. One of the most important monotheistic passages in the Tanakh is contained in what is known as the Ten Commandments, in which God speaks, “You shall have no other gods before me,” (Exodus 20:3). The Tanakh is also part of the Christian scripture, which is why this passage is also relevant and meaningful for Christians. Muslims likewise consider the Tanakh to be a foundational text, albeit one that has been usurped by the teachings of Muhammad. Therefore, Muslims do not directly rely on the Tanakh, but had nevertheless become the foundation of Islam especially in terms of its monotheism. In Chapter 112, the Quran reads, “He is Allah, who is Oneâ€¦He neither begets nor is born, nor is there to Him any equivalent.”
Although all three of these religions are monotheistic, they diverse when it comes to the concept of the messiah. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all believe in the concept of a messiah or group of messiahs. The term is found about forty times in the Tanakh; whereas the Christian Bible is specifically about the personage deemed the Christian messiah: Jesus Christ (“The Messiah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam”). Whereas both Islam and Christianity believe that Jesus Christ was a Messiah, Judaism does not. Judaism does not view Jesus as a prophet or a messiah, whereas Islam accepts Jesus as a prophet (“The Messiah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam”). The nature of Christ as either a divine, semi-divine, or human figure, is a contentious one in Christianity. Many Christians believe that Jesus is literally the son of God and is therefore divine, whereas other Christians believe that such a concept might violate the core concept of monotheism. Although their theologies differ, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have similar cosmologies. All three of these religions believe in Heaven and Hell. Likewise, all three of these religions propose that the right beliefs in God will result in a good, heavenly afterlife (“Comparison of Islam, Judaism and Christianity”).
In fact, all three of these religions share in common a binary view of the world in which there is absolute good and absolute evil. Human beings are subject to evil, and must fight against evil through effort. The Tanakh, the Christian Bible, and the Quran all have passages that teach their followers to do good deeds and avoid evil ones. For example, “And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend,” (41:34). In this passage, it is also apparent that in Islam, the person is supposed to act ethically with good deeds even in the face of evil. This is a similar concept to what can be seen in Christianity, where followers of Christ are told to “turn the other cheek,” as in: “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also,” (Matthew 5:39). A similar passage can be found in: “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them,” (Luke 6:29). The Book of Psalms, which is part of the Tanakh, likewise has a passage that shows that Judaism also has a similar concept of turning away from evil and fighting evil with good: “Turn away from evil and do good; so shall you dwell forever,” (Psalm 37:27). Interestingly, what constitutes good vs. evil is not always clear. For example, Judaism has never used violence to proselytize and does not practice evangelism. Christianity and Islam both use proselytization and have engaged in violent crusades in their histories (“Comparison of Islam, Judaism and Christianity”).
These three religions differ in terms of their customs, rituals, and practices. Both Muslims and Jews have a collection of dietary laws and codes that are considered integral to the religion. Christianity, however, rejects dietary laws and codes. Jesus Christ was a Jewish prophet who proposed that the old Jewish laws, including circumcision and kosher eating, were irrelevant: “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ,” (John 1:17). Islam and Judaism retain similar dietary and ritual practices, with circumcision and the refraining from eating pork being the most notable. However, Islam differs from both Christianity and Judaism in its Five Pillars, which include the requisite that all Muslims must at some point in their lives make the pilgrimage (haj) to Mecca. Pilgrimage is a lofty goal for Christians and Jews, but not a religious law as it is in Islam.
Judaism is a root religion of Christianity and Islam, and naturally all three of these “religions of the Book” share many elements in common. They are all monotheistic religions with a belief in good and evil, as well as Heaven and Hell. However, the differences between these three religions are often more striking than the similarities and includes daily practices, theologies, and beliefs.
“Comparison of Islam, Judaism and Christianity.” http://www.religionfacts.com/islam/comparison_charts/islam_judaism_christianity.htm
“The Messiah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.” On Islam. Retrieved online: http://www.onislam.net/english/ask-about-islam/society-and-family/interfaith-issues/167565-the-messiah-in-judaism-christianity-and-islam.html
New Testament. NIV
Quran. Available online: quran.com
“Religion: Three Religions, One God.” Retrieved online: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/globalconnections/mideast/themes/religion/
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