The world at large has very many religions and Judaism and Islam are just two examples. Most of the world religions seem to share some beliefs, for example belief in a supreme being who is in control of the world. Some of these religions even share a common origin for example Christianity and Judaism. However, considerable differences exist in the practice of the various religions and as thus a distinct line can be drawn separating them.
Judaism is the traditional religion of the Jews and it is more like a culture or a way of life for them. It is also one of the oldest religions in the world. Judaism is made up of the Jewish law called the Torah as well as customs and individual practices. It also perpetuates God as the ruler of everyone. Islam on the other hand is the religion perpetuated by the Quran. The Quran was given by their god who is referred to as Allah and it came in the hands of Allah’s most faithful prophet, Muhammad. The Islamic law in the Quran guides all aspects of a follower’s life. The followers of this religion are called Judaists.
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There are some characteristics that can be applied in the context of these two religions. These characteristics include but are not limited to eschatology, worship and Holy Scriptures. Eschatology refers to the beliefs in the final destiny of the world. This is a characteristic shared by many religions of the world Judaism and Islam included. Worship is also a common practice in both Islam and Judaism as is the Holy Scriptures.
The beliefs in eschatology could be seen to have some similarities and major differences. Both religions do believe in the end of the world and the coming of a time in which the fate of everyone will be decided. Eschatology in Islam is shown in the words of Prophet Muhammad regarding the Judgement day. He says that ten signs will appear some of which will be minor signs and the others major signs. Some of the minor signs include loss of honesty, emergence of great lies and great evil in rulers. The Major signs according to Muhammad are Smoke, appearance of Dajjal or the antichrist, sunrise in the west, three sinkings in the earth and the coming of a creature that will wound people. There will also be the appearance of the Gog and Amagog as well as the second return of Jesus Christ.
Islam believes in the rising of both the dead and the righteous at the end of time for judgement. The destiny of people will be either hell or heaven according to their deeds when they were alive. Everyone will go through death and then life in a grave and only those who die in Jihad will be exempted from life in the grave. According to the Muslim beliefs, when the Muslim Jesus returns, he will convert the world to Islam, break the cross, slain all Jews, become a Muslim himself, get married and then die after forty years. It is a must for every Muslim to believe in eschatology.
The Judaistic eschatology is depicted as a period of great suffering and tribulation. There will many events of turmoil that will disrupt the order of the world. However, the Jews believe that the temple that was in Jerusalem will be rebuilt and all their enemies defeated. The synagogues that were originally in Babylon and also the study halls will be rebuilt. This time will also involve the coming of the Jewish Messiah who is believed to be Jesus. This belief is similar to Islam’s second coming of Jesus. The Jewish Messiah will rule over Israel and restore their tribes. As in the Islam religion, Jews also believe in the resurrection of the dead. Another similar belief to that of Islam is the emergence of Gog and Magog. There will be a great battle fought by Magog called the Armageddon in which very many people will perish but God will save the lives of the Jews. After the final enemy is destroyed, the world will enjoy peace there will be holiness and spirituality. This is seen the final purpose of the creation and will come after the resurrection of the dead during the Messianic era. As opposed to Islam, Jewish eschatology places little emphasis on the fate of individuals in the end time. Also Jews do not believe in the existence of heaven and hell after death but in a paradise on earth in the seventh millennium where people will live happily for eternity.
Worship and belief in Holy Scriptures is also another characteristic that applies to both Judaism and Islam. Muslims are staunch believers in the worship of only Allah and this is demonstrated by the famous phrase, “none to be worshipped but Allah”. Worship is considered to be anything done or uttered to please Allah including rituals, social activities, contribution to the welfare of the society and beliefs. There is a holy place for worshipping Allah called a mosque where Muslims go on Friday to worship. One does not enter the mosque with shoes.
One of the characteristic rituals is ritual washing before prayer which is called Wudu. In this ritual, hands are washed three times up to the wrist, the mouth rinsed three times, the nostrils rinsed and the arms washed again three times up to the elbow. The head is rubbed, the ears cleaned with fingers, the back of the neck wiped and the feet washed up to the ankle. There is a ritual prayer conducted five times every day and one is supposed to be facing Mecca while praying. In most cases, women pray at home but when they attend the mosque, they sit separate from the men. Prayer can be done in the mosque or anywhere else. Before praying the Imam, a spiritual leader can talk about a Quranic text or a prophet to the worshippers. Prayer is conducted in movements called rakahs. It involves praying and reading or reciting the Quran which is a part of worship.
Worship in Judaism follows a similar context to that of Islam. A follower of this religion is supposed to pray three times a day. In these prayer times, Jews are supposed to pray as a congregation. Reading the Jewish Holy Scriptures called the Torah is an act of worship. The Jews have a day set aside for worshipping God called the Sabbath which is usually a Saturday as opposed to Friday in Muslim. Jews read the Torah on Sabbath and during festival days. The festival are an important part in Jewish worship and a year has five major festivals namely, the Passover, Sukkot, Shabuoth, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Jews worship in temples or synagogues and recitation of prayers is central in worship. Males should wear a head covering and everyone should be rightly dressed in a long sleeved garment. . Standing and bowing are major parts in worship in the congregation. Ritual washing, washing one’s hands with a cup was also practiced in the traditional Jewish culture. Other rituals conducted in Jewish worship include the kaparot, havdalah and mezuzot.
Islam worship originated from the meteorite worship of the black stone and the moon god worship practices among the pagans. Muslims believe that the black stone is a symbol of the earth’s creation and they touch and kiss that stone as an act of worship. Moon worship started in Arabia around 2000 B.C. and the moon god was called alilah later to be named Allah in the coming of Muhammad. The crescent is still a very important symbol in Islam worship. Judaism worship originated from the beliefs and practices of the Israelites in Canaan. God made a covenant with Abraham to make his descendants a sacred people. This was many years later by Moses receiving the God’s law at Mount Sinai when he was leading the Israelites out of slavery. The law gave directions on worshipping God and the Sabbath which is the basis of Jewish worship.
Contemporary expression of worship in both Judaism and Islam can be individual or corporate. It involves being a staunch follower of the respective beliefs and customs, practicing the Holy Scriptures and leaving a life that pleases the respective Supreme Being. Praying the required times as well as observing the various and respective rituals is all part of expression of worship.
Eschatology in Islam can be said to originate from the law which was brought by Prophet Muhammad. It is this law or writings that answer all the questions regarding eschatology. In respecting the coming of an end of life and the world, Muslims follow the Quran and try to please Allah in order to have a good eternity. Fighting of Jihads in some parts of the world also expresses eschatology as the martyrs of Jihad go to paradise directly.
Eschatology in the Jewish also originates from God’s law given to Moses. This is usually found in the book of Daniel and Deuteronomy and answers all the questions a follower may have regarding eternity. As in Islam, following all the laws of God destines one for a good eternity on paradise earth.
Even though Judaism and Islam are the most similar religions in the world, interactions between Jews and Muslims have historically been very violent. These two religions originated from Abraham and have always been against each other. The Muslim eschatology focuses on the destruction of the Jews while the Jewish Torah states that the two religions will always be against each other. Peaceful interactions are however noted in Israel where 10% of the population is Muslim. You will however rarely find Jews and Muslims worshipping together despite the fact that they worship the same G-D.
This interview was conducted on a young Jewish boy from the Reformed Jews in the United States. From his point of view, they are staunch believers in the Old Testament called the Torah. They believe that Jesus was not the Messiah and that another Messiah is going to come. They also believe in a paradise on earth at the end of time. There however does not exist a strong connection between their formal faith and the individual practice of faith.
This interview was conducted on a young Muslim lady. According to her point of view Allah is the only true God. Muslim is a noble religion and people should convert to it. The Quran is an important part of one’s life. Those who can should fight Jihads as it is a sure way of getting to paradise. Individual Muslims are very committed to their faith and they follow it to the letter.