Dear best friend, I hope you are doing okay. I remember that u had asked about the people of the book, you wanted to find out more about who they are. I am hereby writing this letter to tray and explain to you about them as well as the things they have in common and the differences. I have done some research and found out that the Islam religion and community as a whole holds certain beliefs, one of them being that God had earlier made Himself known to some previous prophets of both Christians and Jews for instance Abraham, Jesus and Moses. Muslims consequently recognize and acknowledge the teachings of Christian Gospels and the Jewish Torah. Even though they recognize the teachings of these religions and others like Sabians and Samaritans, Muslims still believe that these religions have with time diluted Gods faith by gradually straying away, they hold that Islam is the only perfection of the religious conviction which was revealed to Abraham. They however have a slightly higher position for these people of the book religions compared to the others who they refer to as unbelievers or pagans. Due to their belief about Muhammad being seal of the prophecy meaning that he is one of the last prophets from a succession of prophets that were sent by God to mankind, most Muslims dislike other prophets since they believe Muhammad was the last true prophet of God. An example of this intense attitude is Muslims abhorrence of the Bahais. Bahais believe in a 19th century prophet and Muslims this prophet is false. (Busse, 1998) Even though other religions are mentioned in Quran as part of the People of the book, it is the Judaism and Christianity religions which are often mentioned. The Quran in a number of occasions gives some privileges to the People of the Book over unbelievers. For instance, marrying from them or partaking in meals together with people of the people of the book is allowed (Al-Maidah, 5) because they are considered quite close to the proper faith than the unbelievers. Due to these similar histories of Abrahamic Religions, these religions have some common aspects which are shared between them as well as diverse views on some aspects.
Christianity, Islam and Judaism share a general conviction in (monotheism) that is oneness of God, consecrated history, divine revelation and prophets, existence of the devil or Satan and angels. The Islam and Judaism religions have some similarities since Islam was influenced by Judaism in terms of the formation and point of view, practice and jurisprudence. Due to this similarity and the impact of the philosophy and culture of Muslims on Jewish lifestyle in Islamic environment, there is a continued significant theological, political and physical overlap in the two religions over the past years. Both religions contain some monotheist traditions which were derived from the Middle Eastern culture unlike Christianity which although is monotheist, was derived from connections between the Hebrew and Greek cultures. There are also a lot of customs in Islam derived from various cultures in post-Biblical Jewish customs which are referred to asIsrailiyat and way of life as well as Hebrew Bible. In the Quran, the phrase children of Israel is used and Jews are acknowledged to be among them because of their link to Abraham and his lineage. This is also true for the Christians as they believe in the existence of Abraham. When it comes to the scriptures, the Islam Christianity and Judaism religions have some common factors as they all believe in revealed scripture; their holy books which are the Quran, Bible and the Torah also have injunctions and narratives of the same. Because of belief in a revealed scripture, they share some concepts like believing in judgment day. Both Islam and Judaism have certain religious laws which the followers are supposed to adhere to and they do not only focus on holy field but also secular ones, Sharia and Halakha originate from similar backgrounds and to some extend are intended to serve similar purposes. Islam and Judaism believe in unity of God as they both practice in their daily prayers salat and Shema Yisrael. Both also practice giving of alms as well as fasting. Another similar aspect is the diet laws whereby Muslims believe the halal is the allowed food while Jews have Kosher as their lawful food. Other aspects of shared practices among these three faiths include sexual activities, whereby they all hold similar beliefs on disapproval of engaging in sexual activities outside marriage, fornicating and homosexuality; they also have the same practice of circumcising the male children and have a strong adherence in studying of the laws in their religions. (Peters & Mazal, 1990)
Christianity as you know also puts a lot of importance on moral conscientiousness and answerability, Judgment Day, as well as eternal life and retribution. Christianity acknowledges Gods covenant and revelation to Jews although by tradition, Christianity considers itself superior to Judaism particularly after Jesus coming. Peace is fundamental to all the three faiths. This is evident historically since they all have comparable greetings peace be upon you for Christians, shalom Aleichem for Jews and salaam alaikum for the Muslims. They all have emphasis on a special bond with God through their different prophets; Muhammad, Moses and Jesus.(Esposito & peters, 2004)
Even though they have the above similarities, the three faiths also differ in some ways. The modes of worship for example for the Christians are different from that of the Muslims and Jews. Christians worship together in Churches where both men and women interact but for the other two faiths, men and women have separate spaces for worship and they are not allowed to interact during the worship to prevent distractions. Even though they all have scriptures from which they read Gods word, their scriptures are different and so are their holy books; The Quran, Bible and Torah differ in terms of some teachings and the books. Muslims consider the Gospels of Christians as altered or diluted an example is the Christians belief in the holy trinity which to Muslims is considered division of Gods oneness and they disagree with this view. While the Christians hold that all humans are born with sin from their ancestors, that is original sin, the Muslims and Jews have no concept of this, Muslims believe that nobody is born a sinner but they are led to sin by weakness and Jews hold that there is atonement of sin which one attains through asking for forgiveness from God. Their leaders also have different names; priests, bishops, ministers and pastors are leaders of the Christian churches, those of Muslim Mosques are referred to as Imams while Jewish religious leaders are called rabbis. (Ruggiero, 2006) For the Muslims one leaving the religion is not only discouraged but is punishable even by death, the other religions are not that strict about their members converting to other religions although it is not encouraged. While both the Jews and Christians believe in the crucifixion and the fact that Jesus was crucified, Muslims do not have this concept, in their teachings, he did not die consequently there is no resurrection because he never died. According to Armstrong, (1993) The Jews believe he died but not for the sins of his people like Christians but for his own sins. There is atonement of sin whereby Jesus died for the peoples sins and therefore they were clean because of his actions in Christianity. One is also able to ask for forgiveness from God for going against His Will, in Islam there is no atonement of sin but simply a genuine confession and penitence by the sinner. Christians have respect the Judaism and Muslim religions since they are monotheistic and believe in one God but as a result of the main differences particularly in terms of the salvation aspects, trinity, Jesus and resurrection, Christians do not acknowledge Muhammad as a prophet but they accept the Jews prophet Moses although they do not consider him as their main prophet. Muslims on the other hand, still regard Christians and Jews highly due to their belief in God but view the two as altered consequently; they hold that Islam is the only true religion. Jews see Jesus as a failed messiah, who makes them disagree with Christian concepts and Muslim as well as they only recognize Moses as a true prophet.
I hope through this letter, I have been able to help you understand this topic which you seemed to be fascinated by. In case you need more clarification just let me know. Give my regards to your family.
Armstrong, K. (1993). A history of God: The 4000-year quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. New York: A.A. Knopf.
Ruggiero, A. (2006). Judaism. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press.
Peters, F. E., & Esposito, J. L. (2004). The children of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, Islam. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.
Peters, F. E., & Mazal Holocaust Collection. (1990). Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: The classical texts and their interpretation. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.
Busse, H. (1998). Islam, Judaism and Christianity: The theological and historical affilliations. Princeton, N.J: Markus Wiener Publishers.
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