Both Jewish and Muslim represent great contemporary religions which emerged in the Near East and were grounded in the power of divine words addressed against evil and death (Davies 118). According to the book Death, ritual and belief: the rhetoric of funerary rites Continuum “behind the beliefs of both Jewish and Muslim about death there lays the problem of death as timely or untimely as just or unjust as well as the desire to reconcile bodily decay with some inner sense of life as consisting in more than simple bodily existence” (118). An important aspect about this aspect in these two religions is the separation or distinction between the body and the soul after death.
Jewish is known to be one of the most ancient religions of the world with a history extending thousand years. Davies says that the beliefs of the Jewish faith have emerged and developed with time and circumstance as far as death is concerned (118). Death, ritual and belief: the rhetoric of funerary rites Continuum continues to indicate that “a firmer belief in an afterlife does not take shape until the time of the Maccabees which was the period of self sacrifice in war and was the one which placed a premium on a future life after death which followed after martyrdom in this world” (119).
On the other hand, Davies says that Muslim belief that after death there is the resurrection of the body which is by contrast very firmly established to the point that the practice of cremation is strongly opposed (122). He continues to say that Allah is the one who creates people from clay, sustains or keeps them, causes them to die and finally calls them from their graves. The book Death, ritual and belief: the rhetoric of funerary rites Continuum further says that “at death the body is washed b people of the same sex, is dressed in white and carried for prayer a the mosque prior to interment and he prayers are focused on the holiness and greatness of God with requests that the persons death God have mercy on the deceased” (122).
Like in the Muslim religion, in the ancient Jewish religion the major emphasis lied on the resurrection o the body and not upon an immortal soul. It should be noted that among medieval Jewish philosophers the doctrine of the resurrection was never abandoned and the emphasis was on the immortality of the soul (Davies 119). The book Death, ritual and belief: the rhetoric of funerary rites Continuum establishes that “some more conservative Jews do believe in the resurrection of the body while other traditional Jews continue practice burial and only relatively few adopt cremation” (119). Majority Jewish religious people approach death especially in terms of the mixed belief in resurrection and immortality of the soul.
The prayers after death in Muslim religion shows clearly how the Islamic rhetoric of death sets the single individual firmly into the total community of Islam’s past and present (Davies 122). Muslim’s belief that death is not usually the end but that much usually follows. Death, ritual and belief: the rhetoric of funerary rites Continuum also says that some “Muslim’s response to death is not grounded to hysteria, sobbing or expressions of grief but a calm languid letting go, a brief ritualized relinquishment of a relationship no longer possible” (123). In this context the overall rhetoric of death is set within the goal of an attitude of life which is sought as a general outlook one in which an afterlife is given an important place. In their religion, Muslims belief in life after death and this lies on the argument that there are three separate notions of life after death which are held concurrently by Muslims. The first is the idea of death, resurrection and reward or punishment in heaven, another one involves simple extinction at death and the third embraces the notion of reincarnation after death.
Solomon, Harries and Winter says that in both Jewish and Muslim religions the understandings in of the language of life after death can be rejected and regarded as a metaphor or symbol such metaphors can be treated very differently (319). The book Abraham's children: Jews, Christians, and Muslims in conversation says that death in these two religions may convey value judgments about normal life, hence highlighting and underlining the value and importance of the way we live now and for others death is a metaphor about the consummation of this life beyond space and time.
In addition, Irish, Lundquist and Nelsen commented that death is frequently discussed within the Muslim religion and thus some times a Muslim is taught more about life after death than about life itself (139). Death is thus considered as a natural part and process of life and is also considered as a return to God. According to Irish, Lundquist and Nelsen death for Muslim believer’s means to be rid of the ugliness of this world and to join the beauty of the afterworld while for non believer’s death means to return to the ugliness of the afterworld (139). In their further studies Irish, Lundquist and Nelsen indicated that Muslims believe that those who are afraid of death are those who panic when they are aware of entering the afterworld and the hell it probably holds for them (140).
In conclusion, unlike in the Muslim religion, in the Jews religion belief that a person is a fully person until the very last breath and that life is sacred. American Geriatrics Society (107) thus says that death is inevitable and therefore Jews should neither hasten death nor prolong the dying process. In addition American Geriatrics Society (107) continue to say that “beliefs regarding the afterlife vary widely among Jews from nothing exists beyond this life on earth to there is a definite existence for the soul after life” (107). In both cases American Geriatrics Society says that Jews believe one lives on through being remembered by others and others in bodily resurrections of the dead and for some in reincarnation. In both religions, there are some similarities on the view of death but the variations also exist depending on the believer’s perspective.