What are some similarities and differences in the holy Scriptures of Judaism, Christianity and Islam in: the beliefs, method of worship, human rights and marriage?

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Answered by: Amna, An Expert in the Islam - General Category
Since the dawn of man, people have had their own forms of religion. Be it simple ceremonial burial or complex blessing rituals, each person had their own way to explain the wonders of nature like, how did we come here and what our purpose here was.

Another thing that each individual person had was their own morals. Morals are what define a civilization. Labels like peaceful or barbaric are put on different civilizations because of their morals. The morality of each civilization defined their religious beliefs. There are so many different religions in the world that divide humanity from being united as one. Unfortunately however, it is not God that created these various religions and beliefs. We all believe in the same God; we just don’t agree to maintain the same set of morals and beliefs.



Islam is a monotheistic (believe in only one God) religion that was sent down to the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) in the form a holy scripture; the Quran. Likewise, Judaism and Christianity are also monotheistic religions in which the Torah was sent down to Moses (PBUH) and the Bible was sent down to Jesus (PBUH). “No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says: He is always convinced that it says what he means”

These holy scriptures formed different religions due to every individual trying to assess what these scriptures are trying to invoke. Even though every religion started with a leader that guided the community according to the scriptures of God, people fell astray and believe what their interpretation of the scripture is. What’s distressing is the fact that all these scriptures were sent down by one God and if we look at the original texts, they all disclose the same message.



Morals and Beliefs     

In Islam, the religion basically revolves around the five pillars of Islam and the six articles of faith. The five pillars being: the Shahada (creed), the five daily prayers, Zakaat (charity), fasting in the holy month of Ramadan, and Pilgrimage (Hajj- if you are able to).

The articles of faith being: 1) Believe in Allah, 2) Believe in His Angels, 3) Believe in His Books (the Torah that was sent down to Moses, Zabur that was sent down to David, Injil that was sent down to Jesus and the Quran that was sent down to the last prophet, Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon them all)), 4) Believe in all His Prophets (Messengers), 5) Believe in the day of Judgment and 6) Predestination (All our actions are provided by Allah but we are responsible for all our actions). These are the morals and the beliefs of Islam.

The fundamental beliefs of Christianity are: 1) Christians believe that there is only one God. 2) Christians believe in the Trinity (Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit which are suppose to be the essence of the God). 3) The Bible (the final revelation of God which consist of the Old Testaments and the New Testaments). 4) The death and resurrection of Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus died for the sins of His people and that He resurrected the following Sunday. 5) The return of Jesus Christ; The Bible proclaims that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead. Matthew (24:30) says , “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.” 6) And finally, Salvation and Punishment; Christians believe in the life after death. Those who believe in Jesus will be forgiven and saved, whereas, the unbelievers would face eternal punishment.

The basic beliefs of Judaism are: 1) God exists. 2) God is one and He is unique. 3) God is in corporeal. 4) God is Eternal. 5) Prayer is to be directed to God alone. 6) The teachings and words of the Prophets are true. 7) Moses was the greatest Prophet and His prophecies are true. 8) The Torah was bestowed upon Moses. 9) There will be no other Torah. 10) God knows the thoughts and deeds of mankind. 11) God will reward the good and punish the wicked. 12) The Messiah (Jews believe the Messiah will be a person, from the family of King David, who will lead the world to unity and peace) will come. 13) The dead will be resurrected.

Prayers and Methods of Worship

In all aspects, you cannot call yourself a true believe unless you practice your religion. “And assuredly We have sent among every people a messenger (with the command): worship God…” (Quran 16:36). In short, practicing religion is worshipping God and performing prayers that have been set upon you. In all three religions, worshipping does not include just performing prayers to God. Worshipping is whole heartedly loving, surrendering yourself to God and carrying on with your day recalling that everything you do is for God and therefore it should be done to please him.

In Islam, as one of the five pillars of faith, a Muslim is duty-bound to pray five times a day. These prayers do not have to be made within the walls of a Mosque. Wudu (ritual washing) must be performed prior to prayer (when water is not available, there are other acceptable practices). During the prayer recital there are also ritual movements (rak’ha) which should be performed. All prayer is performed in the direction of the Holy Kaaba.

Christian worship involves praising God in music and speech, readings from scripture, prayers of various sorts, a sermon, and various holy ceremonies (often called sacraments) such as the Eucharist. While worship is often thought of only as services in which Christians come together in a group, individual Christians can worship God on their own, and in any place. Recitation of prayers is the central characteristic of Jewish worship.

These prayers, often with instructions and commentary, are found in the siddur, the traditional Jewish prayer book. Observant Jews are expected to recite three prayers daily and more on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. While solitary prayer is valid, attending synagogue to pray with a minyan (quorum of 10 adult males) is considered ideal.

Human Rights

The Quran very clearly states:

"O believers, be you securers of justice, witness for God. Let not detestation for a people move you not to be equitable; be equitable - that is nearer to God-fearing." (5:8) In Islam, Muslims have been given every right to be treated equally. Some of the rights are as follows: 1) The security of life and property (no one can take one’s life but God). 2) The protection of Honor. 3) Sanctity and security of private life (our personal privacy should not be invaded). 4) Security of personal freedom (Islam has laid down the principle that no citizen can be imprisoned unless his guilt has been proven in an open court). 5) The right to protest against tyranny. 6) Freedom of expression (Islam gives the right of freedom of thought and expression to all citizens of the Islamic state on the condition that it should be used for the propagation of virtue and truth and not for spreading evil and wickedness.) 6) Freedom of association (the right to form parties under some rules and regulations). 7) Freedom of conscience and conviction. 8) Protection of religious sentiments (respect for religious views). 8) Protection from arbitrary imprisonment. 9) The right to basic necessities of life. 10) Equality over law (Islam gives its citizens the right to absolute and complete equality in the eyes of the law). 11) Rulers are not above the law. 12) Finally, the right to participate in the affairs of the state.

In Judaism, Jews follow these set of guidelines:

1) Human rights are an integral part of the faith and tradition of Judaism. The beliefs that man was created in the divine image, that the human family is one, and that every person is obliged to deal justly with every other person are basic sources of the Jewish commitment to human rights. 2) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons. However much nations may vary in their values, needs and priorities, the Declaration remains a universally applicable standard for the conduct of persons and nations. 3) Civil and political rights are interdependent with, and indivisible from economic, social and cultural rights. 4) To labor for the human rights of all peoples has been an integral part of commitment to Judaism throughout our long past. They shall remain faithful to it in the future.

Marriage

In Islam, marriage is considered both a social agreement and a legal contract. In modern times, the marriage contract is signed in the presence of an Islamic judge, imam, or trusted community elder who is familiar with Islamic law. The process of signing the contract is usually a private affair, involving only the immediate families of the bride and groom.

Negotiating and signing the contract is a requirement of marriage under Islamic law, and certain conditions must be upheld in order for it to be binding and recognized. 1) Consent – Both the groom and the bride must consent to the marriage, verbally and in writing. 2) Mahr – This word is often translated as “dowry” but is better expressed as “bridal gift.” The bride has a right to receive a gift from the groom which remains her own property as security in the marriage. 3) Witnesses – Two adult witnesses are required to verify the marriage contract. 4) Prenuptial Contract Conditions – Either the bride or the groom may submit contract conditions which, if agreed upon, become legally-binding conditions of marriage.

Most Christian denominations view marriage as a permanent and lifelong commitment between a man and woman. Christianity also views marriage as a holy sacrament and as a reflection of the relationship of Jesus Christ and the Church. The picture of marriage expands into something much broader, with the husband and wife relationship illustrating the relationship between Christ and the church. Husbands are urged to lay down their lives in sacrificial love and protection. And in this safe and cherished embrace of a loving husband, what wife would not be willing to submit to his leadership? In short, husbands sacrifice purely and the wife submits to the husband. They want their relationship to be like the relationship they have between Jesus and His worshippers.

Marriage is considered a natural and desirable state of adult life because it provides companionship and security. This depends, of course, upon a good match. Tradition acknowledges how difficult such a match is to find. In Jewish tradition, a marriage is termed Kiddushin which connotes that the husband and wife are sanctified to one another and enjoy an exclusive relationship. This relationship also has legal ramifications.

The actual marriage ceremony is originally kinyan, one of acquisition, modeled on the transfer of property in the ancient world. In the case of marriage, the woman accepts a ring, or some other token, from the man, and thereby accepts the terms of the marriage. A ketubah (marriage contract, which will be explained more fully below) is read during the ceremony. Witnesses are required not required for the signing of the ketubah but they are required for the kinyan ceremony.

Whether it comes down to marriage or human rights, worship or morals, the religions all have a lot of similarities. It’s because God is one and He sent down all these books. If changes exist, it’s because mankind made those changes which divided humankind into different religions.

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