World Religions

Beliefs and practices

Judaism

Jews believe in ethical monotheism; that is, one God. God is the controller of life and the human actions on earth. Judaism is governed by the Torah (Biblical books of Moses). Torah illustrates God’s will to the people and it guides their lives. Jews believe in the Hebrew Bible (Steinberg 51); they interact with God through prayers and worship in Synagogues. They have three holy festivals which include the Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot and several holy seasons. They have different denominations with significant variations in beliefs.

Islam

Muslims are rigorous monotheists; they believe in one God, Allah and his prophet, Mohammed. They believe in angels, as the messengers of God. They believe in books which are contained in one Holy book, the Quran (Nigosian 85). They believe in prophets such as Moses, Jesus and Abraham. Muslims believe in resurrection and judgment after death. The judgment day is called Qiyama. There are five basic pillars or acts of Islam that guide all Islam undertakings. These pillars include daily prayers, almsgiving, pilgrimage, the creed, and fasting. Muslims pray three times a day in a Mosque. They believe in Sharia law and Jihad. Family is the basic unit of Islam and polygamy is legal in Islamic religion.

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Christianity

Christians believe in one God and His son, Jesus. Christians also believe in holy trinity, that is, the three personalities of God- the Father, the son and the Holy Spirit. Bible is the word of God through which people get to understand His will. They also believe that through death and resurrection, Jesus saved the world. They believe in life after death where people will live eternally. They worship God in Church through prayers and songs of praise. The religion has several denominations (Price and Collins 21). They believe in prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah. They also believe in angels as messengers of God. Polygamy is strictly prohibited. They have holy festivals such as Christmas and Easter. To Christians, angels are messengers of God.

Formation

Judaism

Historians believe that Judaism was formed by the Israelites whom Moses led in exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land, Canaan. They believe that Abraham was the first Hebrew (Steinberg 57). The Israelites were the children of Jacob, son of Abraham. When Moses led these people from Egypt, God gave them the law or Torah on their way to Canaan.

Scholars refer it as the laws of Moses. On arrival to Canaan, these people built a temple for God to thank Him for taking them to the Promised Land, Canaan. In this temple, people kept Torah which formed the basis for Judaism. From then, people built temples to worship their God guided by Torah which led to the spread of Judaism.

Islam

Muhammad, a trader in Mecca City, began to receive revelations from God in form of Quran in 610 CE. As a result, he started to preach and convert the people of Mecca into Muslims. In order to avoid persecution by the Mecca authorities, Muhammad fled to Medina with most of his followers in 627 AD. He had preached for 12 years in Mecca and had garnered a good number of followers (Nigosian 87).

In Medina, Muhammad fought the Jews and those who opposed Islam. In 629 AD, he had acquired all the desert tribes around Medina. Muhammad died in 632 AD having spread Islam and conquered the Arabian Peninsula. He is indeed the father of Islam.

Christianity

The Apostles of Christ developed Christianity from the Jewish sects of 1st century. Before then, Jewish authorities persecuted those who glorified God. Christians’ end of persecution in 4th century by Constantine I and the subsequent “Theodosius’ enactment in 380 AD resulted into establishment and recognition of Christianity as a religion in the Roman Empire” (Price and Collins 26). Since then, Christianity has spread to all over the world.

Differences

The three major world religions viz. Islam, Judaism, and Christianity have different perception on marriage and family. Polygamy is illegal in Christianity, whereas it is legal in Judaism and Islam. Islam and Judaism emphasize on purity of women before marriage, whereas Christianity emphasizes on purity of both sexes before marriage.

The culture of architecture and eating habits varies among these religions. Christians have the Roman based architecture; Muslims the traditional Medina architecture and Judaism use the ancient Jewish architecture. Christianity and Judaism have denominations with varied teachings unlike Islam where the teaching is universal.

Christians believe in Holy trinity while Judaism and Islam believe in God as one. Muslims pray at designated times whereas Christians pray at volition. Jews pray at the synagogues led by prayer leaders; Muslims pray facing Mecca, as the origin of their religion while Christians believe in universality of God’s presence and therefore they do not face any specific direction when praying while Jews pray facing the sacred altar usually at the front of the synagogue.

Similarities

They all have holy places of worship; that is, Church, Mosque and Synagogue for Christians, Muslim and Jews respectively. They all believe in Monotheism. They have Holy books, the bible for Christians, Hebrew Bible and Torah for Jews and Quran for Muslims.

They believe in prophets; Jews believe in Moses, Abraham and their descendants as God’s messengers, Christians believe in Jeremiah and Isaiah while Muslims believe in Jesus and Muhammad as God’s prophets.

Prayer is the means of communication with God for all the religions. All the religions have Holy annual festivals and seasons; Christians have Easter and Christmas; Muslims have Ramadan and Hajji, while Jews have Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as holy seasons.

Works cited

Nigosian, Shah. Islam: Its History, Teaching, and Practices. Indiana University Press, 2004.

Price, Matthew, and Collins, Michael. The story of Christianity. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1999.

Steinberg, Milton. Basic Judaism. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1947.

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