Compare and Contrast essay: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism
Christianity most widely distributed of the world religions, having substantial representation in all the populated continents of the globe. Its total membership may exceed 1.7 billion people.
Islam, a major world religion, founded in Arabia and based on the teachings of Muhammad, who is called the Prophet. One who practices Islam is a Muslim. Muslims follow the Koran, the written revelation brought by Muhammad. The Muslim world population is estimated at more than 1 billion. Islam is the quickest growing religion.
Judaism is one of the world’s oldest religious traditions. Pre-modern Judaism constituted (and traditional Judaism today constitutes) an integrated cultural system of Jewish law, custom, and practice encompassing the totality of individual and communal existence. It is a system of sanctification in which all is to be subsumed under God’s rule. Judaism originated in the Middle East, but Jewish communities have existed at one time or another in almost all parts of the world, a result of both voluntary migrations and forced exile or expulsions.
The central element of Christianity is the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus of Nazareth, a Jewish rabbi, attracted a following of people who believed him to be a new prophet. Their recollections of Jesus’ words and deeds recall his days on earth and the miracle of his resurrection from the dead on the first Easter. These Jewish Christians began the first churches, in Jerusalem.
Much like Christianity Islam was based on the prophesies and teaching of person or prophet, Muhammad. In Mohammed’s time (570?-632), the Arabian Peninsula was inhabited by nomadic Bedouins and city-dwelling Arabs. Muhammad began his ministry at the age of 40, when, he claimed, the archangel Gabriel appeared to him in a vision. At first Muhammad confided his visions only to his family and close friends. After four years he began to preach openly in his native city of Mecca. Ridiculed by the Meccans, he went to Medina in 622. At his death in 632, Muhammad was the leader of an Arab state growing rapidly in power. The third duty of a Muslim is to pay zakat. This tax was originally levied by Muhammad ,and later by Muslim states, on the wealthy members of the community, primarily to help the poor. The fourth duty is the fast of the month of Ramadan. During the fasting month, one must refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual intercourse from dawn until sunset. The fifth duty is the pilgrimage to Mecca. Every adult Muslim who is physically and economically able to do so must make this pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime.
Unlike the other two major religions Judaism evolved form the Israelites who didn’t deny the existence of other gods for other nations, though they only worshipped one deity. Its deity was Yahweh, the god of the patriarchs, who was worshipped in a sacrificial cult centered in Jerusalem and later at sanctuaries in the north, where a rival Jewish kingdom was formed. Prophets who warned against the people’s reliance on these temple cults saw themselves vindicated when both the northern and southern kingdoms were destroyed by foreign conquerors. The exile of the Judeans to Babylonia in 586 BC was a major turning point in Israelite religion. The prior history of Israel now was reinterpreted in light of the events of 586, laying the foundation for the traditional biblical Pentateuch, prophetic canon, and historical books. A truly monotheistic religion, called Judaism, developed from these events. In 539 BC the Jews were permitted to return to Israel.
In Christian teaching, Jesus is the supreme preacher and exemplar of the moral life, but for most Christians that does not fully justify significance of his life and work. Christians teach that God is almighty in dominion over all that is in heaven and on earth, righteous judgment over good and evil. Baptism is the means of initiation into Christianity. Another fundamental component of the Christian faith and practice is its community. The community of faith in the church is the primary setting for Christian worship, although Christians of all traditions have placed a strong emphasis on private devotion and individual prayer.
Unlike Christianity Islam has two fundamental sources of doctrine and practice, which are the Koran and the Sunna. Muslims regard the Koran as the speech of God to Muhammad and they believe that God himself is the author. The Sunna is known through Hadith, the body of traditions based on the words and actions of the Prophet. Unlike the Koran, Hadith is not considered infallible.
The Islamic culture also believes that there are fundamental things for all Muslims to do so they go to heaven. According to Islam, God has four fundamental functions: creation, sustenance, guidance, and judgment. The Koran declares that “reforming the earth” is the ideal of human endeavor. The Koran insists that individuals transcend their pettiness and develop inner moral quality. Islam teaches that God sent prophets to teach both individuals and nations correct moral and spiritual behavior. Muslims believe that Muhammad was the final prophet and that the Koran is the final and most nearly perfect revelation of God, consummating and superseding all earlier revelations. Muslims also believe in a final judgment when individuals will be judged according to their deeds.
The Jewish culture has much in common with the other major religions. All forms of Judaism have been rooted in the Hebrew Bible. The various historical forms of Judaism have shared certain characteristic features. The most essential of these is a belief that a single, transcendent God created the universe and continues to govern it. The same God who created the world revealed himself to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. The content of that revelation is the Torah. A second major concept in Judaism is that of the covenant between God and the Jewish people. They would acknowledge God, agreeing to obey his laws; God, in turn, would acknowledge Israel as his particular people. Both natural and historical events that befall Israel are interpreted as emanating from God and as influenced by Israel’s religious behavior. In time, the problem was mitigated by the belief that virtue and obedience ultimately would be rewarded and sin punished by divine judgment after death, and that at the end of time God would send his Messiah to redeem the Jews and restore them to sovereignty in their land.
The Catholic Church experienced a split between the eastern and western parts of Europe. A major crisis emerged in the 700s over the use of images, or icons, in Christian churches. But eventually the icons were restored. During the 600s and 700s eastern centers were captured by the dynamic new faith of Islam, with only Constantinople remaining unconquered. Distinctive features of the Christian East contributed to its increasing alienation from the West, which finally produced the Great Schism, traditionally dated from 1054, when Rome and Constantinople exchanged excommunication’s. The separation of east and West has continued into modern times, despite repeated attempts at reconciliation. Some of the most dynamic developments took place in the western part of the Roman Empire, which witnessed the growth of the papacy and the migration of the Germanic peoples. The most powerful force remaining in Rome was its bishop, who became the leader of the Western church as waves of invading tribes swept into Europe and as the political power of Constantinople in the west declined. Finally in 800 an independent Western Empire was born when Pope Leo III crowned Frankish king Charlemagne emperor. Medieval Christianity in the West, unlike its eastern counterpart, developed into a single entity. Church and state clashed repeatedly over the delineation of their respective spheres of authority. Church and state did cooperate by closing ranks in organizing Crusades against the Muslim conquerors of Jerusalem. However, the Crusades did not permanently restore Christian rule to the Holy Land, and they did not unify the West either ecclesiastically or politically.
Islam’s major struggle was with their expansion to other cultures and geographic areas, which were already occupied by Christianity and Judaism. During the first centuries of Islam its law and theology, the basic orthodox Islamic disciplines, were developed. The 700s and 800s saw the emergence of the first major Islamic theological school, called the Mutazilites, who stressed reason and rigorous logical rationalists, they maintained that human reason is competent to distinguish between good and evil. By the 900s a reaction had set in, led by philosophers who maintained that moral truths are established by God and can be known only through revelation. In the 11th century, attacks on philosophy by orthodox Islamic thinkers, notably the theologian al Ghazali, had much to do with the eventual decline of rationalist philosophical speculation in the Islamic community. The Shiites are the only surviving major sectarian movement in Islam. They emerged out of a dispute over political succession to Muhammad. The Shiites believe in a series of 12 Imams, beginning with Ali. The 12th and last imam disappeared in 880, and the Shiites await his return, at which time they believe the world will be filled with justice.
Judaism also experienced some major struggles of it’s own too indifferent than that of Islam and Christianity. The Maccabean revolt of 165 to 142 BC brought about Jewish political independence from Syria. The earliest apocalyptic writings were composed during this period. This genre of cryptic revelations interpreted the wars of the time as part of a cosmic conflict between the forces of good and evil that would end with the ultimate victory of God’s legions. Messianic-apocalyptic fervor increased when Jewish political independence was brought to an end by Roman legions in the middle of the 1st century BC and climaxed in the outbreak of an unsuccessful revolt in AD 66 to 70. The Romans’ destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70 and their suppression of a second revolt in 132 to 135 discredited the priestly leadership. In this context the rabbinic movement emerged, emphasizing communal and spiritual life. The rabbis taught that through study, prayer, and observance the individual Jew could achieve salvation while waiting for the Messiah.
Despite all there differences expressed in the predeceasing sections of this essay Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are similar in many respects, such as they all believe in monotheism, they all believe in prophets and base their religion on the word these prophets brought from God himself, they all preach donation. They’ve experienced conflicts between each other, which still exist today. Jerusalem is a major religious city to all these religions.