Islam, Judaism and Christianity
The analysis of the origins and key pillars of Christianity, Islam and Judaism illustrates the existence of synthesis among the three religions. Islam and Christianity derive most of their religious philosophies from the Jewish Bible and largely base their practices on ideas and traditions of the Jews. However, the theoretical underpinnings in Christianity exhibit greater disparity from Judaism in comparison to Islam, whose creed promotes the concept of an all-powerful God rather than the idea of the Holy Trinity, which describes God as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Christians maintain that the philosophy of the Holy Trinity does not conflict with the tenet of only one God, because he exists in three forms with a similar argument concerning the claim that Muslims worship Mohammed. Islam describes Mohammed as the last prophet of God who deserves reverence but not worship, because Allah is the only God. The concept of monotheism in Islam closely resembles the philosophies of Judaism and considers associating anything else with divinity other than Allah as a Great Sin. In this regard, Islam regards Jesus Christ, Isa, as one of the many prophets of God who, although deserving respect, does not possess the power and right to forgive sins. Similarly to Christianity and Judaism, Islam describes God as an all-knowing and powerful being, but conflicts with Christian philosophies regarding the responsibility of forgiving sins. Islam views the intention to assign the responsibility of forgiving sins to anything else other than God as an act of blasphemy.
Irrespective of this disparity, the three religions uphold the idea of a higher being that brought into existence heaven and earth. The founder of Islam, Mohammed, was familiar and conversant with the beliefs and practices of the Jewish population in Mecca. In this regard, the alignment between Islam and Judaism began to develop in the early stages of the foundation of Islam due to the influence from the local Jewish population. For example, Islam borrowed practices such fasting, circumcision and prohibition of pork eating from Judaism. Apart from the influence of the local Jewish traditions, Mohammed incorporated Judaism practices as a strategy meant to increase the acceptability of Islam among Jews and guarantee its expansion. Similarly to Islam, Christianity constitutes a significant percentage of Jewish traditions and beliefs due to the adoption of Abrahams traditions. Abraham is a central figure in the study of the convergence of Judaism, Islam and Christianity, because his sons, Isaac and Ishmael, became the ancestors of Jews and Muslims respectively.
The description of God in Judaism portrays a transcendent being without characteristics such as form and gender as evident in the creation. Jews believe that God created the universe in six days, and His relationship with humans suffered because of their disobedience forcing God to send them out of the Garden of Eden. Judaism describes the existence of a covenant between Jews and God, which requires absolute obedience in return for the fulfillment of human desires. Jews believe that the circumcision of their ancestor, Abraham, was a sign of a covenant with God and the beginning of a special relationship, which set them apart from other people. Jews view themselves as the chosen race, because no matter how many times they disobeyed the covenant and worshiped other gods, God would respond to their cries of mercy with great signs and miracles. Judaism describes Gods promise of a Messiah who would liberate Jews from oppression and suffering, and whom they are still waiting to come to date. The philosophical underpinnings of Christianity resemble Judaism in various ways, which include the description of God as transcendent being and all-loving father. Christianity describes two covenants between God and human beings with the first covenant being between God and Abraham, and the second covenant being the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which promised salvation for all human being (Claudia 73). Unlike Jews, Christians believe that Jesus Christ was the promised messiah who came not only because of Jews, but also for the salvation of any person who acknowledged him as the Son of God. Judaism, Islam and Christianity recognize the existence of Gods dwelling place on earth, which constitutes of the followers of Gods teachings referred to as either the abode of Islam, nation or church in Judaism and Christianity respectively. The three religions describe the social entity of Gods abode in the theological perspective to encompass all humans through adherence or conversion to the particular doctrine. However, Judaism distinguishes itself from Islam and Christianity in the sense that the religion does not recognize any other revelation apart from the Torah, which constitutes of the commandments presented to Moses at Mount Sinai and the teachings of the prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures. In this regard, the pillars of Judaism originate from teachings in the book of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and references to the Minor Prophets. On the other hand, both Christians and Muslims recognize other prophets apart beyond Moses and prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures with Jesus Christ and Mohammed as the most revered prophets in the two religions respectively. The three religions acknowledge that Abraham is the ancestor of all the other prophets, and thus rejecting Abraham would amount to rejecting all the other prophets.
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The traditions and practices described in the Five Pillars of Islam have a significant similarity with the religious practices of Judaism and Christianity. Profession of faith, prayer, paying of alms, fasting in Ramadan and the Hajj Pilgrimage describe a context for unity of local and international communities. Jews and Christians believe in the profession of faith through the Shema and Apostles Creed respectively which illustrate the commitment and acceptance of God in both religions. Similarly to Islam, prayers are an essential practice in Judaism and Christianity although Christians pray in the context of the Holy Trinity, while Jews direct all prayers to God. Despite the difference in prayer structuring, the three religions prove the importance of communicating with God. Islam, Judaism and Christianity have great congruency in their description of peoples social responsibility with the common idea that believers have an obligation to commit a particular portion of their possession to the well-being of the other people. According to the three religions, giving alms is an expression of Gods love for the people and care for the less fortunate, and can be in different forms. Despite the differences in periods of fasting, the concept of fasting has a similar purpose in Islam, Christianity and Judaism, and aims at elevating ones perception of God in prayers and a time to reflect on individuals way of life and suffering of other people. Pilgrimage among Christians, Jews and Muslims entails the search for spiritual significance in locations and sites associated with key religious figures. In this regard, Christian pilgrimage involves travelling to locations associated with the birth, life and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, Muslims acknowledge the pilgrimage to Mecca, which is necessary for at least once in the lifetime of a devoted and able-bodied Muslim. Jews used to pilgrimage at the Temple of Jerusalem where they offered sacrifices during festivals such as the Passover before the temples destruction, which led to the discontinuation of the practice and adoption of alternative forms of pilgrimage.