How is Islam similar to Christianity and Judaism?

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The following article was excerpted from What Everyone Needs To Know About ISLAM by John L. Esposito (Answers to Frequently Asked Questions)

How is Islam similar to Christianity and Judaism?

Judaism Christianity, and Islam, in contrast to Hinduism and Buddhism, are all monotheistic faiths that worship the God of Adam, Abraham, and Moses-creator, sustainer, and lord of the universe. They share a common belief in the oneness of God (monotheism), sacred history (history as the theater of God’s activity and the encounter of God and humankind), prophets and divine revelation, angels, and Satan. All stress moral responsibility and accountability, Judgment Day, and eternal reward and punishment.

All three faiths emphasize their special covenant with God, for Judaism through Moses, Christianity through Jesus, and Islam through Muhammad. Christianity accepts God’s covenant with and revelation to the Jews but traditionally has seen itself as superseding Judaism with the coming of Jesus. Thus Christianity speaks of its new covenant and New Testament. So, too, Islam and Muslims recognize Judaism and Christianity: their biblical prophets (among them Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus) and their revelations (the Torah and the New Testament, or Message of Jesus). Muslim respect for all the biblical prophets is reflected in the custom of saying “Peace and blessings be upon him” after naming any of the prophets and in the common usage of the names Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Daoud (David), Sulayman (Solomon), and Issa (Jesus) for Muslims. In addition, Islam makes frequent reference to Jesus and to the Virgin Mary, who is cited more times in the Quran than in the New Testament.

However, Muslims believe that Islam supersedes Judaism and Christianity-that the Quran is the final and complete word of God and that Muhammad is the last of the prophets. In contrast to Christianity, which accepts much of the Hebrew Bible, Muslims believe that what is written in the Old and New Testaments is a corrupted version of the original revelation to Moses and Jesus. Moreover, Christianity’s development of “new” dogmas such as the belief that Jesus is the Son of God and the doctrines of redemption and atonement is seen as admixing God’s revelation with human fabrication.

Peace is central to all three faiths. This is reflected historically in their use of similar greetings meaning “peace be upon you”: shalom aleichem in Judaism, pax vobiscum in Christianity, and salaam alaikum in Islam. Often, however, the greeting of peace has been meant primarily for members of one’s own faith community.

Leaders of each religion, from Joshua and King David to Constantine and Richard the Lion-Hearted to Muhammad and Saladin, have engaged in holy wars to spread or defend their communities or empires. The joining of faith and politics continues to exist in modern times, though manifested in differing ways, as seen in Northern Ireland, South Africa, America, Israel, and the Middle East.

Islam is similar to Judaism in its emphasis on practice rather than belief, on law rather than dogma. The primary religious discipline in Judaism and Islam has been religious law; for Christianity it has been theology. Historically, in Judaism and Islam the major debates and disagreements have been among scholars of religious law over matters of religious practice, whereas in Christianity the early disputes and cleavages in the community were over theological beliefs: the nature of the Trinity or the relationship of Jesus’ human and divine natures.

How do Muslims view Judaism? Christianity?

Both Jews and Christians hold a special status within Islam because of the Muslim belief that God revealed His will through His prophets, including Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.

Say, We believe in God, and in what has been revealed to us, and in what has been sent down to Abraham and Ismail and Isaac and Jacob and their offspring, and what has been revealed to Moses and Jesus and to all the prophets of our Lord. We make no distinction between them and we submit to Him and obey. (Quran 3:84)

The Quran and Islam regard Jews and Christians as children of Abraham and refer to them as “People of the Book,” since all three monotheistic faiths descend from the same patrilineage of Abraham. Jews and Christians trace themselves back to Abraham and his wife Sarah; Muslims, to Abraham and his servant Hagar. Muslims believe that God sent his revelation (Torah) first to the Jews through the prophet Moses and then to Christians through the prophet Jesus. They recognize many of the biblical prophets, in particular Moses and Jesus, and those are common Muslim names. Another common Muslim name is Mary. In fact, the Virgin Mary’s name occurs more times in the Quran than in the New Testament; Muslims also believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. However, they believe that over time the original revelations to Moses and Jesus became corrupted. The Old Testament is seen as a mixture of God’s revelation and human fabrication. The same is true for the New Testament and what Muslims see as Christianity’s development of “new” and erroneous doctrines such as that Jesus is the Son of God and that Jesus’ death redeemed and atoned for humankind’s original sin.

John L. Esposito is University Professor, Professor of Religion & International Affairs and Founding Director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University. A former President of the Middle East Studies Association and Vice Chair of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, his most recent books include Unholy War: terror in the Name of Islam and What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam.



38 Comments

  1. John Esposito is the present day Lawrence of Arabia. His input needs

    to be shunned. How can a man write a book titled,

    “Islam – The Right Way”

    and refuse to follow it himself. His agenda is dangerous.

  2. The article is an informative digest. Islamicity should have paid attn to the

    use of the word servant in the article to describe the lineage of islam ie

    “Jews & Christian trace their lineage to Abraham and his WIFE Sarah, Islam

    to Abraham and his SERVANT Hagar” . Abraham married Hagar so she is his

    WIFE, the way the writer has written carries subtle negative connotations.

    Again it may give wrong understanding to people about Islam, about the

    lineage of Muhammad and Islam. It would have been better to say

    “Abraham and his second wife Hagar”

    Thank you

  3. good article. i am constantly interpreting islam to our sunday school class . anything to counter todays battles..i shall have article in my purse. must run or i would type longer.

  4. There is many proof that the only true religion is Islam by almighty Allah, but before that we are all humans and our big religion is humanity. We should all respect and care for each other wether someone is Hindu, Muslim,Judis,Christian,or Budhisam etc

  5. More than 25,000 prophets came to teach tawhid across the world. In my understanding Islam is as similar to Christianity as it is to Hinduism as it is to Judaism as it is to Taosim… elements of divine revelation may be traced in each of these ‘religions’; ISLAM is not a religion.

    The Muslim-Judeo-Christian discipline is a more politically-correct Orientalism for the 20th and 21st centuries. but still a parochial and divisive ideology for the historically Muslim communities.

    The obsession with the false and misleading Muslim-Judeo-Christian dialect is driven by neo-colonialist and economic values more than the search for Truth.

  6. Assalaam Alaykum. One of your readers asks “Do you guys truly

    believe that Christianity is a monotheistic religion?”

    YES! Our human mind can’t understand how God can be ONE yet 3

    persons. Is it so difficult to accept that we can’t fully comprehend

    God? Issa told His disciple “For a long time I have been with you

    all; yet you do not know me Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the

    Father…believe me when I say that I’m in the Father and the Father

    is in me” Jesus went on to say “Whoever loves me will obey my

    teaching. My Father will love him and my Father & I will come to him

    & live with him.” [John ch. 14]

    You believe Issa was born of the Virgin Mary. When the angel

    announced Issa’s birth to Mary she said “I am a virgin. How then can

    this be?” The angel answered “The Holy Spirit will come on you and

    God’s power will rest upon you. For this reason the holy child will

    be called the Son of God…He will be great & will be called the Son

    of the Most High God…his kingdom will never end”[Luke 1:31-35]

    Issa Himself said “For God loved the world so much that He gave His

    only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have

    eternal life.” [John 3:16]

    Historical evidence shows that the New Testament documents are

    reliable, accurately recording Issa’s words & actions. Let God not

    have sent His Son in vain…but believe & have LIFE!

  7. All the prophet of Allah are muslims. Jesus is not a christian nor Moses a jew. The only religion before Allah is Islam.

  8. Assalaam Alaykum. Do you guys truly believe that Christianity is a monotheistic religion? I don’t. To me Christianity is Triotheistic belief. Moreover Muslims do not believe in the “New Testament” but the Old Testament. The Two Books are fundamentally different. It is misleading to post such an article on this website.

  9. Salam

    Elizabeth NJ (Bayway Area)

    Hey

    You want to expose the Catholic Church as supporting fraud (my sister is a devout Catholic, but she attends church back in Poland and decided not to come back here — another world, another story, not relevant); a few words:

    My last name is Kolakowski.

    My mother’s last name is Kolakowska (in fact Zielinska).

    Another name Mr. Ed Baginski.

    The nuns in Bayway Ave. Area.

    Connect the dots — this is all you have to do;

    and it will expose the Catholic hypocracy.

    PS

    My sister was warned by my late father not to get involved before it all happened (call it waht you wish), but she got duped: she asked me to go to the church with her as an escort, in spite of that I am not Christian. I am, from certain perspective, not religious, and I do have my own, largley based on the approach of the peoples from the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, views.

    Salam

  10. Judaism Christianity, and Islam, in contrast to Hinduism and Buddhism, are all monotheistic faiths that worship the God of Adam, Abraham, and Moses-creator, sustainer, and lord of the universe. They share a common belief in the oneness of God (monotheism), sacred history (history as the theater of God’s activity and the encounter of God and humankind), prophets and divine revelation, angels, and Satan. All stress moral responsibility and accountability, Judgment Day, and eternal reward and punishment.

    All three faiths emphasize their special covenant with God, for Judaism through Moses, Christianity through Jesus, and Islam through Muhammad. Christianity accepts God’s covenant with and revelation to the Jews but traditionally has seen itself as superseding Judaism with the coming of Jesus. Thus Christianity speaks of its new covenant and New Testament. So, too, Islam and Muslims recognize Judaism and Christianity: their biblical prophets (among them Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus) and their revelations (the Torah and the New Testament, or Message of Jesus). Muslim respect for all the biblical prophets is reflected in the custom of saying “Peace and blessings be upon him” after naming any of the prophets and in the common usage of the names Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Daoud (David), Sulayman (Solomon), and Issa (Jesus) for Muslims. In addition, Islam makes frequent reference to Jesus and to the Virgin Mary, who is cited more times in the Quran than in the New Testament.

    However, Muslims believe that Islam supersedes Judaism and Christianity-that the Quran is the final and complete word of God and that Muhammad is the last of the prophets. In contrast to Christianity, which accepts much of the.

  11. for the life of me you guys love this john exposito Who is Christian tell muslims whe he thinks muslims should know about islam who is so dum to buy this guy book and pay to go to his lectures to tell muslims about islam.. IDEA to you muslims stop doing this He is a christian… hello !!! since he know so much ISLAM how come he is not MUSLIM ???? i am just Saying….

    Fazal

  12. Christianity, monotheistic? Really? What nonsense. I believe like another poster earlier that this article is misleading, maybe even intentionally.

    To John Douglas,

    I suppose you think those scum bush/sharon/cheney/blair/… are good, peace loving human beings, right? You continue on blissfully in your delusions, you will know the truth soon enough?

  13. Dear Sufi

    Arabic & Hebrew are sister languages.

    Most of the words are similar, like ALLAH.

    In Hebrew its ELA.

    In Arabic ISA in Hebrew yeshua.

    In Arabic MASEEH in Hebrew mishiyyia.

    Assalam alekum and shalom aleichem, meaning

    Peace, mersy & blessing on u.

    Regarding the similarities between religions.

    ALLAH says in Quran (3:64)

    Say: “O people of the Book! Come to common terms as between us and you: that we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not from among ourselves Lords and patrons other than Allah.” If then they turn back, say: ye! “Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (obedients, bowing to Allah’s will).”

    The differences we can talk abt later but first come to the common terms that we have to believe in one GOD that is ALLAH,

    Don’t associates partners with him.

    All the religious scripture (Torah,Injeel,vedas,puranas,zoroastrian Avesta,buddhist sutra and granth all say ‘believe in one GOD’

    God doesn’t have any image

    God has no gender

    I am using word GOD. But this word did not exist before 1800 AD.

    U can play mischief with the word GOD.

    If u add (‘s) to GOD, its become GOD’S.

    If u add (dess) to GOD, its become GODDESS

    And godmother, godfather, fake god etc etc.

    But you can’t play any mischief with word ALLAH.

    So dear friends please go back to your own scripture and read carefully what it says.

  14. Dear Sufi

    Arabic & Hebrew are sister languages.

    Most of the words are similar, like ALLAH.

    In Hebrew its ELA.

    In Arabic ISA in Hebrew yeshua.

    In Arabic MASEEH in Hebrew mishiyyia.

    Assalam alekum and shalom aleichem, meaning

    Peace, mersy & blessing on u.

    Regarding the similarities between religions.

    ALLAH says in Quran (3:64)

    Say: “O people of the Book! Come to common terms as between us and you: that we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not from among ourselves Lords and patrons other than Allah.” If then they turn back, say: ye! “Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (obedients, bowing to Allah’s will).”

    The differences we can talk abt later but first come to the common terms that we have to believe in one GOD that is ALLAH,

    Don’t associates partners with him.

    All the religious scripture (Torah,Injeel,vedas,puranas,zoroastrian Avesta,buddhist sutra and granth all say ‘believe in one GOD’

    God doesn’t have any image

    God has no gender

    I am using word GOD. But this word did not exist before 1800 AD.

    U can play mischief with the word GOD.

    If u add (‘s) to GOD, its become GOD’S.

    If u add (dess) to GOD, its become GODDESS

    And godmother, godfather, fake god etc etc.

    But you can’t play any mischief with word ALLAH.

    So dear friends please go back to your own scripture and read carefully what it says.

  15. I take a strong exception to the remark that Hager was servant of Propeht Abraham. Infact Hager was wife of propet Abraham and she gave birth to Ismael. It may be noted that Prophet Muhammad comes from the linage of Ismael.

  16. salam alaykum, in my personal opinion i think the writter did his best to bridge the gap between the religious circles, its fact that the original bible given to those prophets before muhammad was corropted by the christians scholars, using their own thinking to soot thier interest on any case they cannot cope with, and as a result they cause alot of blunders to the entire christian world. similarly no where on earth u can find d original bible now if not in the glorious quran but the christians are trained to perceive quran as a book of evil so many are runing away from it but unfortuate for them all their plans still backfired.so i think their is a lot to be don in this respect the xriaians need to move fom their dogmatism way of reasoning and embrase dialogue for that is the only way can understand better. thanks

  17. This article seems like it is aimed at trying to appease the other faiths, but the bottom line is there are no similarities because Christianity is a pagan religion and both Jews and Christians profess shirk on a regular basis.

  18. Salaam aliakum~

    shall i know that why in JUDAISM says” Shalom aliechem”?? is it same as we muslim say ” Salaam aliakum”?? do we IMITATE JUDAISM’S GREETING WORD???

  19. Hi how are you doing ? Am very well thanks God.

    I have some thing commitment for about this .

    You know what is the difference b/n them ?

    1. which one is the first ?

    2. Which one is beliving of God?

    3. There is Words of God He know the hole world there fore who is doing perfectly or actualy. sppose you must know before for about this .

    Then most of our world is he dont doing .But God is greater .He know about for us ,thus why when we doing some thing wrong he dont penish us .He gave us good ……… Sorry i will be write ….. So that there will be differece.

  20. Mr. Esposito is a Christian, may Allah guide him. Some of his statements in this article are incorrect and misleading.

    He wrote: “Islam and Muslims recognize Judaism and Christianity… and their revelations (the Torah and the New Testament, or Message of Jesus)”

    Muslim do not or should not recognize the so-called Torah of the Jews. Muslims should only believe that Allah did reveal to Moses the Torah which is NOT the modern book of the Jews by the same name. Furthermore, Muslims also believe that Allah revealed to Jesus the Injeel; the New Testament, however, is not the Injeel nor is the Gospel which is considered to be only the first four books of the New Testament. The modern Gospel is only an account of the life of Jesus witnessed by his disciples, it is not a revelation to Jesus.

    Mr. Esposito also wrote: “Muslims believe that what is written in the Old and New Testaments is a corrupted version of the original revelation to Moses and Jesus”

    Again, the New Testament is not a revelation to Jesus but only an account written by some of his disciples.

    Finally, Mr. Esposito exposes himself as the true Christian that he is with the following subtle yet misleading statement: “Jews and Christians trace themselves back to Abraham and his wife Sarah; Muslims, to Abraham and his servant Hagar.”

    This statement implies that Hagar was not married to Abraham but only his servant or concubine. It is in fact false, racist and misleading and has become the basis for the Christian/Jewish Zionist war that is besieging the Muslim world today. Muslims believe that Hagar was a legitimate wife of Abraham and his son Ismael was a legitimate heir to the covenant. Zionists however pretend that only the Jews are the legitimate heirs to the Holy Land and have propagated this false belief to the extend that they have changed their own scriptures and cursed Abraham as a adulturer and his son Ismael as a bastard.

    May Allah guide you right!

  21. Muslims have always accepted similarities between these three religions, not to impress them but in the light of existing scriptures, its time that Jews and Christians join hands towards the similarities and stop looking at Islam as an invading missionary movement…unbiased reading of the Quran and Bible concludes the like nature of the message of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (PBUT).

    Say: “O People of the Book! come to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but Allah. that we associate no partners with him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than Allah.” (3:64)

    Shalom Aleichem

    Pax Vobiscum

    Salaam Alaikum

  22. Quote: Both Jews and Christians hold a special status within Islam because of the Muslim belief that God revealed His will through His prophets, including Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.

    True to an extent. God said in the Quran:

    5:82 Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, “We are Christians”: because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant.

    End of story. Let’s stop being the “lambs” and apologists and pacifists. Allah’s words are ETERNAL!

    Syndbad

  23. A good article. One important aspect of Allah’s communication to humankind through the prophets is that in the Quran, Allah says that a prophet has been sent to every nation, some of whom are mentioned in the Quran; this important message is omitted in this article. So a person who is not a Muslim, Christian or Jew will feel that Islam and Allah is not meant for them.

    And for every Ummah (a community or a nation), there is a Messenger; when their Messenger comes, the matter will be judged between them with justice, and they will not be wronged. (Qur’n 10:47)

    And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): “Worship Allah (Alone), and avoid (or keep away from) Taghut (all false deities, etc. i.e., do not worship Taghut besides Allah).” Then of them were some whom Allah guided and of them were some upon whom the straying was justified. So travel through the land and see what was the end of those who denied (the truth). (Qur’n 16:36)

    Some of these Messengers are mentioned in the Qur’n by Allah and some of them are not as the Qur’n says:

    And, indeed We have sent Messengers before you (O Muhammad(P)); of some of them We have related to you their story and of some We have not related to you their story, and it was not given to any Messenger that he should bring a sign except by the Leave of Allah. So, when comes the Commandment of Allah, the matter will be decided with truth, and the followers of falsehood will then be lost. (Qur’n 40:78)

  24. Assalaamu Alaikum!I do not understand that how come Christianity and Judaism are monothiest as Christrians believe Jeses to be the son of God and Jews believe Moses as the son of God?

  25. To arachana. I am shocked that you accepted ISlam but you dont know the basic beliefs of hinduism. I really wonder whther you really need to convert if Hindusim has all the concepts about god you are talking about.

    In hindu books and scriptures the multiple gods they have , there is no evidence anywhere in history of thier existence at all whatsover. in any religions , or even from archelogical stand point, and secondly hindus say there is one god but they keep worhsipping different idols which represenet different gods , fire, water , earth, money, lakshmi, ganesh, shiva, brahma, rama, . and hindusim is apagan religon, which is based on racism, like judaism which is alo based on racial superiority, and also based on sex undoubtedly, even unitl this day. in india if you go to certain cities and villages if brahmin invites anon brahmin or person from another religion in his home and lets him have from his plate he has to undergo certain ritual cleansing, this is recent incident which happened in Westbengal. the panchayat was called for hindu brahmin priest for inviting amuslim boy to have dinner in his house and he had to undergo punishment, and if you notice the idols most of them naked on hindu temples and the shiva lingam which is the lower genital of shiva worshipped by hindus all over the world. Infertile women are supposed to sit on it .in certain rituals so as to become fertile. and many other things, for, eg. brahma married his own daughter . this is irrefutable . belief. that is why hindus dont have any consistency in their way of life. when muslim kings were in authority they owed allegaiance to them for sake of money and worldy riches, and when jews are in power with weapons of mass destruction they are faithful to them . Indian Israeli alliance. what about the massacres of innocent muslim by narender modi an orthodox hindu in gujarat. what kind of peace was that. Hindusim is alawless religion whose tecahings change from time to time even dayto da

  26. Islam is not similar to Christianity and Judaism.

    Only Islam declared that Muhammad(pbuh)is the last prophet (the seal of the prophets is Prophet Muhammad pbuh. Supreme creator takes no son as claimed by Christianity and Judaism.

  27. Biblical Christianity, which the ONLY true way to God will NOT compromise with Islam. Biblical Christianity will not stop being preached, and Biblical Christianity will continue to be spread

  28. I am shocked over the ignorance of this author over other religions.

    The author’s remarks are nothing short of blasphemy against hinduism and he should understand that just as you do not like anybody misrepresenting islam,you must not make wrong interpretations of another faith

    Hinduism is a strictly monotheistic religion and their scriptures have the same verses as our Surah Ikhlas.The culture of feeling God in every one of God’s creations is the essence of vegetarianism but it has been physically translated into idols by a few ignorant ones.

    I come from a very orthodox hindu family and my acceptance of Islam was never in conflict with the philosophy of Hinduism.

    Remember,our Holy Quran says that there were prophets sent to each people and tribe,not all of them are listed in the ‘people of the book’

    It is sheer ignorance and arrogance of the author to discredit hinduism of its core philosophy of one Supreme Being who is the creator,sustainer and evil destroyer.

    Hinduism is a religion which emphasizes more on love for God and all of God’s creations,strict moral code,it even lists the punishments in hell for every evil act.It describes this worldly existence as an illusion and Man’s struggle to escape from this illusion of a material world is by pure devotion to God.

    Every prayer ends with ‘Shanti,Shanti,Shanti’ which means ‘peace,peace,peace for this world’

  29. i do entirely believe in the things cited in this article, though, i see, it’s better to be accompanied with verses quoted from the Coran so that you can bring more light to the matter annd be convincingly especially for non moslim readers. A part from that, a moslim as i am, i do undoudtedly agree and accept the concept.

  30. Although these facts are known to almost every Muslim, they still surprise the non-Muslims when they hear them. Islam, in its doctrines, moral teachings and spirituality has so many things in common with Christianity and Judaism that in its early history it was considered as a heretic sect of Christianity and this is why we find so many anti-Islamic and anti-Muhammadan writings in the apologetics.

    Another important point is this; although Islam differs from Christianity in its emphasis on the shariah, it would be erroneous to say that it has the same vision about the law with Judaism. In Islam divine law is based on the natural law and is regarded as a guidance from the Merciful God whereas in Judaism it is seen mostly as the manifestation of the Divine will to test the people of Israel.

  31. I had a big sigh of relieve as i concluded reading this article for the simple reason that brother John Esposito did not at any point in the article concluded categorically that the three religions are SIMILAR! He left the judgement to the reader i guess.

    My opinion is that we the muslims are not similar to either of judaism or christianity. Two reasons i submit to butress my point:

    The Jews and the Christians disobey (or differ) with their prophets [Moses (AS) and Jesus (AS)]. And obedience to prophets is a cardinal point of any blief system. This fact is acnowledged by the jews and the christians themselves. And as God (believed by all three) cannot speak directly to man but through the prophets then jews and christians have deviated from a fundamental article of faith.

    Secondly, the jews belief that Uzair is the son of God just like the christians do belief Jesus (AS) is, (wal’iyyazu bil-Allah). This is obviously in negation of one principal attribute of Allah.

    So how can Islam be similar to these two?. The difference is very clear. Islam is the only religion that believe in true monotheism and the only religion acceptable in the sight of Allah who is the God of Moses (AS), Jesus (AS) and Muhammad (SAW), and as such the universal message for all mankind!

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