Comparison on World’s Religions - Religion Essay Example

Introduction

            Judaism, Christianity and Islam represent some of the world’s religions that have been there for a very long time.  A religion represents a set of beliefs or practices, which are based on supernatural and moral claims about reality or human nature.  The beliefs and practices are represented by prayers, rituals or religious laws - Comparison on World’s Religions introduction.  The personal religious practices usually relate to personal faith and experiences, and the ancestral or cultural traditions may also be included in the religion.  The followers of a given religion usually share a certain religious conviction.  In this paper, three religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam will be discussed. Their shown similarities and differences will be evaluated.

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Judaism, its beliefs, and practices

            Judaism is a monotheistic religion, whose principles and ethics are based on the Hebrew Bible, known as Tanakh.  It started some hundred of years ago and it forms some of the oldest religious traditions in the world. The central authority in this religion is vested in the religion’s sacred text as well as traditions, and the interpretation of the sacred texts and laws is done by Rabbis.  The religion is considered to have begun when God made a covenant with Abraham, and God’s law is believed to have been revealed to Moses when he received the commandments (written and Oral Torah).  The religious principles in Judaism support the existence of one God who is benevolent, omnipotent, omniscient, and transcendent and the one who created the universe.  The religion recognizes Abraham as a patriarch.

            The religious beliefs are encompassed in the principles of faith, which are referred to as “Maimonides’ thirteen principles of faith”.  The principles have certain core ideologies that assert that, the Creator is one and the guide of everything, He has no body or comparison, the Creator is the first and the last, the only one to be prayed to. The words of the prophets are considered true, as indicated by the principles.  In addition, the principles state that Moses’ prophecy was true and the Torah was the one given to Moses. The Creator is seen to know everyone’s deeds, rewards those who obey the commandments and punishes the transgressors. The religion displays perfect faith for the coming of Messiah and revival of the dead.

            When it comes to religious practices, Judaism has three branches.  The Orthodox branch consists of traditionalists.  In this branch, the traditional dietary and ceremonial laws of Judaism are observed.  Another branch, Conservative Judaism, has practices that emphasize on the historical and religious aspects of Judaism.  The doctrines integrate practices of the Orthodox and the Reform branches of the religion.  The third branch of Judaism, Reform Judaism, is considered the most liberal.  The religious practices in this branch are oriented towards the culture and race, and they show very little concern for the Judaism doctrinal and religious beliefs.

Similarity of Judaism to Islam

            Both Judaism and Islam are monotheistic, which means that both religions support the belief in a Superior being who is the Creator of all things. “These two religions believe that God is the origin and source of all that exists” (Smith, H, 2003). While Judaism refers to the Supernatural being as “Yahweh”, Islam refers to God as “Allah”.  Both religions have sacred texts upon which act as the foundation of their beliefs and practices.  The teachings of the two religions support the belief in the existence of other spiritual beings such as the angels and the demons, and the prophets are seen to be revered humans.

             A shared common belief of the need of God and human beings to communicate with each other can be seen in the religions, and the revelations that were made by God to the prophets are recorded in the Holy Scriptures (Quran and Torah).  The Holy Scriptures are recognized as a representation of God’s wish and therefore respect and honour for the sacred texts  regions is encouraged.  The Holy places of worship are established in both religions, with Islam referring to them as mosques, while Jews refer to them as synagogues.

            Both religions are referred to as Abraham religions/faiths because they recognize him as a person through whom Israel was born. The Muslims support the belief that the Jews were God’s chosen nation. “The Jews were favored and chosen by Allah, and they had a special responsibility” (Corrigan, J,. and Denny, F,. 1998). For instance in the Quran, the scriptures confirm this in Surah 2 Verse 40,

Children of Israel! Call to mind the (special) favors which I bestowed upon you, and fulfill   your covenant with me as I fulfill My Covenant with you, and fear none but me.

            Both religions deny the resurrection of Jesus, against the Christians belief in relation to Jesus. While Muslims believes that Jesus never died but ascended into heaven during crucifixion, the Jews through Judaism support this. The Judaism teachings deny that Jesus resurrected, but that he was a false prophet.

Islam, its beliefs, and practices

            Islam is also a monotheistic religion that has its teachings and beliefs based on Prophet Mohammed teachings. Prophet Mohammed was an Arab religious and political figure.  Those who adhere to this religion are referred to as Muslims; they comprise the second largest religious population in the world after Christianity.  To the Muslims, the Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed by God since he was God’s final prophet, “The Muslims believe that God revealed his final message to humanity through the Islamic prophet Muhammad” (www.religionfacts.com/islam/comparison-charts/islam-judaism-christianity.htm).

            The Quran represents both the words and the deeds of Mohammed which are very important in the Islam religion.  Prophet Mohammed is recognized as the one who restored the monotheistic faith of the prophets, Jesus, Moses and Abraham.  The Islamic religion considers both Jews and Christians to have altered God’s true revelations which were made to the prophets.  The Five pillars of Islam provide a basis for Muslims’ religious practices, and all aspects of a Muslim’s life and society are stipulated by the Islamic law also referred to as Sharia.  The Islam religion has two major denominations, the Sunni which comprises of 85% Muslims and the Shi’a which comprise 15% of the Muslim total population.  The religion is predominant in Africa, the Middle East, and some major parts of Asia.

             The Muslims faith revolves around Allah, Quran, Prophet Mohammed, the spiritual beings and the Sharia.  Islam tawhid shows the belief of Muslims in only one God, “Allah”, “The Muslims have a fundamental theological concept is tawhīd—the belief that there is only one God” (www.allaboutreligion.org/judaism-islam-christianity-comparison-faq.htm). The Muslims believe in the worship and adoration of one God, who they should not try to visualize.   Furthermore, they reject the belief that Allah had a son named Jesus. Jesus is recognized as being one of God’s prophet, but not the son of God.  The Islam religion believes in Quran as the literal word of God, and it’s considered as the central religious book of the Muslims.  Angels are viewed as messengers who worship God in perfect obedience, communicate God’s revelation to people, and can intercede on one’s behalf.  When the world ends, the Muslims believe it will be the day of resurrection and judgment (Qiyamah) which is preordained by Allah, and it remains unknown to man.  Judgment will either send one to hell or paradise (Jannah).

            Islam as a religion has its religious practices based on the “Five pillars of Islam”.  Both Shi’a and Sunni Muslims practices are summarized in the five pillars of faith.  The Shahadah is a basic creed where all Muslims testify to the worship of Allah as the only one to be worshipped, and it is repeated in prayers by the Muslims.  All Muslims expected to perform ritual prayers five times a day (Salah) when facing Kaaba in Mecca.  The prayers are made up of verses from the sacred text (Quran), a personal communication to God, and are recited in Arabic.  The Muslims are expected to give alms (Zakat). “This is the practice of giving based on accumulated wealth, and is obligatory for all Muslims who can afford it” (Corrigan, J,. and Denny, F,. 1998)…  All Muslims who have accumulated wealth should give a fixed portion to the needy as help, and also to promote Islam.  Fasting is done during the month of Ramadhan, and is referred to as sawn.  During this period, the Muslims do not eat or drink from dawn to dusk, which encourages one’s closeness to God as well as the repentance of sins.  The Hajj is the religious practice of taking a pilgrimage of Mecca during the Dhual-Hijjah (Islamic month).  The pilgrimage should be made at least once in a believer’s life if one can afford it.

Differences between Islam and Judaism

            Islam and Judaism vary in their religious beliefs and practices, one major way being in their main day of worship.  While the Muslims have their main day of worship as Friday, Judaism day of worship is Saturday.  Secondly, Judaism beliefs are based on the divined historical event whereby a revelation was experienced by an entire nation.  However, Islam beliefs are based on God’s revelations that were made to one person, Prophet Mohammed.  The number of spiritual beings differ .The Islamic beliefs recognize three spiritual beings (angels, demons and jinn) while Judaism recognizes only two spiritual beings (angels and demons).

            The two religions vary in their views about Jesus.  The Islam religion identifies Jesus as one of God’s true prophet, whose message was altered. On the other hand, Judaism regards Jesus as a false prophet who does not represent God’s revelation in the human kind.  The birth of Jesus is considered virgin birth by Islam after miraculous conception, but Judaism claims that it was a normal birth.  The issue of coming back of Jesus is different in the two religions, seen when the second coming of Jesus is affirmed by Islam, while Judaism denies it.

According to Islam, predestination is God’s role in one’s salvation, but God’s role in salvation as seen in Judaism is divine revelation and forgiveness.  Islam’s good afterlife is eternal paradise and bad afterlife, eternal hell. Judaism good afterlife is heaven or no afterlife, while bad afterlife is the eternal Gehenna, reincarnation, or no afterlife.

Similarities of Islam to Christianity

            Just like in Judaism, both Islam and Christianity are monotheistic.  Islam and Christianity hold the religion ultimate reality as existence of one God who is the Creator and Protector of all things. Both religious advocate for submission to the will of God. For instance, Muslims believe in true submission to God’s will. “The word Islam means “submission” or “the total surrender of oneself to God” (Earhart, B,. 1992). Believers hold the conviction that spiritual beings exist, such as the angels and the demons who act as servants of God and Satan respectively.  Abraham is seen as the father of the religious leaders through his off springs (Quran Surah 2 verse 124), and Israel is seen as having originated from Abraham.

            Both religions display a belief in miracles, through which God does his will for the well-being of man. God is known to care about the entire creation as well as the well-being of all. He is Just, and He  provides  guidance to us so that we may be good and righteous (www.allaboutreligion.org/judaism-islam-christianity-comparison-faq.htm).The Muslims and Christians believe that Jesus’ birth  was a virgin birth resulted from miraculous conception, and he had great power to perform miracles. While in Christianity he is the “Messiah”, Son of God, in Islam he is recognized as a prophet which gave him the power to perform miracles. An antichrist being referred to as Satan who also have servants and perpetrates evil is believed to exist.

            All believers in Islam and Christianity recognize the lifespan of this world as finite, and man lacks knowledge on when the world will end.  The second coming of Jesus is affirmed in both religions, and this will be the Day of Judgment when Satan and all his servants will be defeated.  In addition, this day will be marked by judgment on every individual so that one’s soul will either go to Heaven or Hell depending on his /her deeds.  The good afterlife in both religions is seen as eternal paradise or heaven, and the bad afterlife will be eternal hell.

            God’s role in salvation is recognized as predestination and the means of salvation in both is correct belief, faith, and good deeds.  Through prayers, man is able to communicate with God. And special times to have regular prayers have been recommended. Many believers from both religions use prayer aids.  For instance, the Christians (Catholics) use the rosary, while the Muslims use tasbih.  Both religions also oppose same-sex marriages and follow scriptural rules concerning marriage.  The Sacred texts act as a guide to their religious beliefs and practices.

Similarities between Judaism and Christianity

            Both Judaism and Christianity are monotheistic with the religions ultimate reality being the existence of one God who is the creator, referred to as “Yahweh”. The existence of spiritual beings (angels and demons) is recognized .While Islam believes in three spiritual beings (angels demons, and jinn), both Judaism and Christianity has the belief in only two spiritual beings (angels and demons). The angels are said to be God’s servants, while the demons are Satan’s servants.

            Jesus’ death is known to be through crucifixion, and the commandments are believed to have been revealed to Moses by God on Mount Sinai.  In addition, Abraham is seen as the father of Israel, whose descendants have become religious leaders and Moses is acknowledged as  the prophet of God .Through him, God affirmed His power, His goodness and concern for  human history. Another similarity is that, the moral foundations for human behavior in both religions are based on the commandments.   The Good afterlife is viewed to lead to heaven for those who lived according to God’s commandments and will. Bad afterlife also exists.

Christianity, its belief and practices

            Christianity is a monotheistic religion whose teachings and beliefs originate from Jesus of Nazareth teachings.  The teachings are presented in the New Testament, and Jesus is displayed to be the ‘Son of God’ or the Messiah.  He was born by the Virgin Mary after being conceived through the Holy Spirit, “The focus of a Christian’s life is a firm belief in Jesus as the Son of God and the “Messiah” or “Christ” (Smith, H, 2003). Jesus’ birth had been prophesied in the Old Testament, and he is seen as a great teacher of Christianity, a revealer of God’s will, a model of a virtuous life, and the savior of humanity.  His resurrection brought salvation from sin, and he is later believed to ascend into heaven and will return to judge both the living and the dead.

            Salvation in Christianity is referred as God’s gift to humans, or unmerited grace of God.  God who is the Creator exists in the form of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  The three persons are eternal, and the father is the one from whom both the son and spirit preceded.  The Son is the incarnate in Jesus Christ.  This belief is referred to as “belief in Trinity”, which forms a very essential doctrine of Christianity.  The actions of Jesus and the Holy Spirit reveal God’s presence, and the sacred text in Christianity is known as the Bible. The Christian Bible combines the teachings of the Jewish Bible and the New Testament. The Ten Commandments that were given by God to Moses dictate a Christian’s way of life.  Christianity has three major splits; Catholic, Orthodox and protestant.

            The Creeds are Christians’ doctrinal confession of their religious beliefs.  Christians also believe that the last Day of Judgment will result to one’s reward to go to heaven or hell depending on whether they had good or bad deeds.  Christian’s religious practices involve the observation of the Ten Commandments in one’s life, where Sunday is considered the Sabbath day when all Christians should go to worship, pray and give gratitude to God.  Christians use churches as the holy places of worshipping God, and the Sacraments are used to convey an inward, spiritual grace through Christ.

Differences of Christianity from both Islam and Judaism

            One distinct difference of Christianity from both Islam and Judaism is in the type of theism it holds (Earhart, B,. 1992).  Though all the three religions are monotheistic, Christianity has Trinitarian monotheism where God is said to exist in three persons/forms (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).  Islam and Judaism have strict monotheism where God only exists in one form, that of Creator only. Jesus is considered God’s Son, who was conceived through the Holy Spirit in Christianity. For Muslims, Jesus was conceived miraculously but was a prophet. Judaism sees Jesus’ birth as being normal, since he was only a false prophet.

            Christianity has a belief in the resurrection of Jesus after crucifixion.  While Islam claims that Jesus did not die but ascended into heaven during crucifixion, Judaism does not recognize Jesus as a true prophet or as the Son of God.  Christians believe Jesus is the son of God who died and resurrected for their salvation (www.allaboutreligion.org/judaism-islam-christianity-comparison-faq.htm).

            Christians believe that every human inherits the “original sin” from Adam, which gives all humans a tendency towards evil. This is not found in either Islam or Judaism.  Christians have sacraments which act as inward and spiritual grace through Christ.  However, both Islam and Judaism lack any belief in Sacraments.

Conclusion

            Christianity, Islam and Judaism are all show a very strong belief in one God, their sacred scriptures. The religious beliefs and practices in all the three religions compliment each other.  However, believers belonging to these three religions have criticized each other.  For instance, Islam respects Christians and Jews as religious people who lack correct beliefs, but only have partial revelation.  Jew sees both Islam and Judaism to be extensions of Judaism which have false interpretation.  Christians on the other hand regard Judaism as a true religion that has incomplete revelation while Islam is a false religion.

References

Comparison: Islam, Judaism and Christianity 17 Feb 2005

            www.religionfacts.com/islam/comparison-charts/islam-judaism-christianity.htm. Retrieved on July 17, 2008

Corrigan, J., and Denny, F., 1998.Readings in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Prentice Hall

Earhart, B., 1992.Religious Traditions of the World.HarperOne; 1st Edition

Judaism, Islam, Christianity.

            www.allaboutreligion.org/judaism-islam-christianity-comparison-faq.htm Retrieved on   July 17, 2008

Smith, 2003.The World Religions. HarperCollins e-books

 

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