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Faith and the Future: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam Research Paper

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Updated: Feb 13th, 2019

Since September 11, 2000 there are only a few people in the civilized world who are ignorant of the power of religion to destroy and divide (Jelen & Wilcox, 2002). Even before 9/11 many are aware of the Holocaust, the destruction of six million Jews based on the idea that they are different. After World War II news headlines were on fire once again because of the intense hatred of the Palestinian Arabs against the Jews. If one will take a closer look at all these issues it is undeniable that religion plays a key role in these conflicts.

Thus, there is a clamor for unity and tolerance. Many are saying that if Jews, Muslims, and Christians can look beyond their minor differences then they will discover that they share so much in common and can use it as a starting point to talk peace rather than war. Unfortunately adherents of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam will tend to disagree. Nevertheless, there is a way for them to appreciate their shared heritage.

This discussion must begin with a little historical background. It has to be made clear that Judaism came first, followed by Christianity, and then Islam. Judaism was officially established when Moses rescued Israelites from Egypt, and brought them to the wilderness to introduce them to God and his laws. This happened hundreds of years before the coming of Jesus Christ. Islam on the other hand was established by the prophet Mohammed six hundred years after Jesus Christ started preaching in Judea.

Bone of Contention

Jews can afford to look down at everyone with contempt because of two reasons. First, they are oldest among the three. Second and most important reason is the fact that Christianity and Islam will never deny that they sprang from this root. Jesus came from the stock of David, from the tribe of Judah, one of the twelve tribes under Israel. Mohammed will be the first to point out that they came from Abraham, from Ishmael to be exact but it does not matter because Israel too considers Abraham as their father.

The Jews can therefore say that they are the foundation stone for Christianity and Islam and an open minded Christian and Muslim should never be able to refute this claim.

However, a careful study of Christianity will reveal that Jesus Christ and his apostles were all Jews and they have elevated Judaism to a level that makes it accessible to the whole world. Jews can gloat and say that they are the chosen people but this is not a wise decision to make because they will be threatened on all side and in fact since two thousand years ago, since the Jewish Diaspora, the Holocaust, the war in Palestine and numerous terror attacks on the nation of Israel, many are trying to eliminate them from the face of the earth.

It would be wise for them to consider what Christianity is saying about Judaism. According to Jesus Christ there is a much better way. The Jews were the first “fundamentalists” and they were fanatical in their assertion that there is only one God and that sin can be dealt with by using a ritual centered on the Temple and animal sacrifices. Aside from that sin must be abhorred and this is done by following strict rules such as circumcision, strict dietary laws, hygiene and even rules on farming. All of these can be seen in the Book of Leviticus.

Jesus said that God is good and God is love. As a result he had devised a way for people not to go into all these complicated and messy process for the attainment of atonement. In other words there is no need to slave through the rituals and the fanaticism over the Temple and Jerusalem itself. God has made a sacrifice, the death of Jesus on the cross is the payment for all sins and all humanity needs to do is to believe that indeed God as made a way.

The concept of morality is still present and again there is some sort of brilliance in the way it was laid out by Jesus Christ when he said that the commandments – which is the Mosaic Law from Judaism – can be summed up into two major commands: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40). The Prophet Mohammed if he is alive today will agree with Jesus, this is in accordance to what Muslim historians said surrounding the creation of Islam.

When Mohammed was about 40 years old he was seeking God and in one of his meditations, in 610 A.D. during the month of Ramadan he had an encounter with an angel named Gabriel the same angel that visited Abraham and the Mary the mother of Christ (Maqsood, 1995). In the very beginning he aligned himself with the Jews and the Christians.

Mohammed staggered home not sure of if what he has heard and experienced was from God. But his wife had a cousin named Waraqa ibn Nufal who just recently became a Christian and he produced a copy of the Gospels translated in Arabic and he assured Mohammed that he had a genuine encounter with God (Maqsood, 1995). This explains the similarity of the Q’uran and the Bible.

If not for radicalism and fundamentalism it is easier to bring together all the members of these three religions and consider the fact that they share so much common ground that there is no point for all the hate, war and explosions. Before the religious conflict spread throughout the world and zealots began killing in God’s name, the beginnings of these three religions can be considered as humble and without a trace of any desire to dominate the world.

Aside from looking at the religious doctrines from the Christian point of view another way to increase unity and respect among adherents is for the Jews to admit that in hundreds of years of the Jewish Diaspora when they were scattered all over the planet they were unable to perform what the Book of Leviticus asked them to perform.

After the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem they were unable to go there to celebrate their religious feasts and in spite of that they still came out strong as a people. Thus, they can live without a strict adherence to the rules and regulations of their religion. It is therefore possible for them to lower their guard a little bit and acknowledge that their God is also the God of all humanity.

Finally, the Muslims must not take pride in the fact that Mohammed was the last prophet. They must emphasize the fact that God has chosen Mohammed to reiterate what the prophets of the Bible had been saying all along. Pride is the main issue here. If the Jews, Christians, and Muslims will continue to thrive in their religious pride then they will become elitists when in fact there is nothing in their faith that says they are the only one. It is this level of open-mindedness that can save the world.

The shared heritage between these three religions is so obvious that one has to wonder why fanatics had succeeded in creating divisions and conflict among the believers. Instead of conflict there should be harmony because of the realization that indeed there is one source and one God. He is at the center of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Conclusion

There is so much common ground between all three religions. Peace and unity can be achieved if one can see it from this perspective: Judaism was the trailblazer introducing important concepts such monotheism and the fallacy of worshipping idols and gods in mortal flesh, and then Jesus comes along to provide a better explanation of God’s love for the human race and then Mohammed came in hundreds of years later to remind the world of the good news that God is good and we must obey his commands because it is for our good. It can be argued that the contrasts in their sacred histories are overrated and it is the work of fanatics who obviously does not know the heart of their message which is love and not war.

References

Aldridge, A. (2007). Religion in the Contemporary World: A Sociological Introduction. MA: Polity Press.

Forta, Arye. (1995). Judaism. UK: Heinemann Educational.

Jelen, T. & C. Wilcox. (2002). Religion and Politics in Comparative Perspective: The one, the few and the many. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Maqsood, R. (1995). Islam. UK: Henemann.

Nigosian, S. (2004). Islam: It’s History, Teachings, and Practices. Indiana: Indiana University Press.

Rausch, T. (2003). Who is Jesus?: An Introduction to Christology. Minnesota: Liturgical Press, Saint Benedict College.

Solomon, N. (1996). Judaism: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.

Wuthnow, R. (2005). America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity. New Jeresy: Princeton University Press.

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IvyPanda. "Faith and the Future: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam." February 13, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/faith-and-the-future-judaism-christianity-and-islam/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Faith and the Future: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam." February 13, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/faith-and-the-future-judaism-christianity-and-islam/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Faith and the Future: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam'. 13 February.

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