The Common Word among the Three Major Faiths in the World: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

By Salama Abdelhady, Prof. of Energy Systems, Aswan University (with footnotes by a member of the MuslimAnswers team)

(Note: I was urged to publish this piece by the author. I do think that the piece has a number of oversights, slips, and oversimplifies some crucial matters of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and their interrelationship, and moreover the ending of this piece seems to be somewhat sudden, but I am nevertheless presenting this article while adding footnotes as appropriate)

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are the three great monotheistic religions, adopted by more than 70% of the world’s population[1]. The source of these religions is God who chose human messengers to call people to these religions. So, they are actually one religion[2] which has the same core or belief in one God, as the Creator of the living universe, and in the Day of Resurrection or the Day in which our deeds will be reckoned. They trace their commandments to two Holy Books sent or revealed from God, the Bible and the Quran[3], and to one grandfather of the messengers or carriers of these three religions from God to humanity, Abraham (peace and blessings be upon him). That is why they are called Abrahamic Monotheistic Religions – and these are sealed by Islam. Abraham was the father of two sons, Ismael, the elder son, and Isaac (peace and blessings be upon them). Isaac was grandfather of Moses (peace and blessings be upon him) the prophet of Judaism, and Jesus (peace and blessings be upon him) the prophet of Christianity. Ismael was the grandfather of Mohammad, the prophet of Islam (Allah bless him and grant him peace).

Each messenger was distinguished by a special miracle that convinced his followers that he was a messenger of God. These Miracles are recorded in the Bible and the Quran. However, the direct impact of the miracles of Moses and Jesus was restricted to the people in the time of these messengers only. That means we believe in them as their followers believed in them according to the miracles they saw during their times. Regarding Islam, Muhammad’s (Allah bless him and grant him peace) miracle is the Quran, a miraculous book which challenged mankind to produce even one Surah (Chapter) like it in the time of Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and up to now. The Quran, as the trustworthy Book from God has recorded the miracles of Moses and Jesus. In other words, being sure that the Quran is really revealed from God and that it is impossible for it to have been produced by human capabilities, we are sure the truth of Moses and Jesus as prophets from God[4].

To give one example of the difference between the Bible and the Quran, the start of the creation is described in the Bible. However, the Bible’s description of such a beginning gave rise to many conflicts that drove people to inconvenience. The same beginning is described in the Quran. If we compare both stories, we find that they were sent from the same source, God[5]. However, in the Bible the story was interpreted by people of low mentality that cannot adopt the words as originally sent while in the Quran the story is written by the same language (Arabic language) as revealed to Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace)[6]. The main difference is the logic of the Quran’s description. We find that the exit of Adam (peace and blessings be upon him) from Paradise was not a great sin as it is considered in Christianity. In the Quran, Adam received, after his disobedience[7], some words for repentance. Then God forgave him and sent him and his wife to Earth, the planet planned for their life and the life of their race up to the Day of Resurrection. So, we are not intrinsically tied to such an oversight and there isn’t a dogma of redemption[8]. Each man is responsible for his deeds.

The aim of this article is to call the followers of the three Abrahamic religions to think collectively as believers in the same God. We have to hold the main core of our religions and to disregard the illogical dogmas which lead to our fragmentation. We have to look at worshipping God and to live in peace if we really believe in God as stated in the Quran:

O ye who believe in God (Jews, Christians and Muslims)! Enter into peace whole-heartedly; and do not follow the footsteps of the devil. . Lo! he is an open enemy for you.[9] [10] (Quran 2:208)

According to Quran, if the followers of the three religions believe really in God and in the Day of Resurrection and perform good deeds, then they are promised the following by the Mercy of God:

Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.[11] (Quran 2:62)

The belief in God is very logical and who God is has been expressed simply and logically in one verse of Quran when Pharaoh asked Moses and Aaron (may God bless them and grant them peace) “Who is the Lord of you two?”, then Moses replied as follows:

“Our Lord is He who gave each thing its form and then guided [it].” (Quran 20:50)

We have such a unique system composed of a neatly created universe, a neatly created earth to settle life on it with neatly organized environmental conditions, and a neatly created people with such features that fit to the created Universe and Earth. Then, man is chosen to be the master of life on earth and told to be ready to worship His Creator. Hence, we should believe in the God who created such a Universe and people and who sent these successive religions with the same core. The common aim of these religions is to live in peace and mercy, to be fair to each other, to feel that we belong to the same God, sons of the same man, Adam, and to the same grand messenger, Abraham[12]. Why not to unite and attract more people to our belief to build a peaceful universe full of love and mercy? We should start to think collectively if we have really a true faith as believers in God. Such call is written in every part or Surah of the Bible and the Quran.

While Christians and Jews consider the Law, or Old Testament, as their common Book[13], we find that the Jews and the Christians had never thought collectively. Similarly, there were wars between Christians and Muslims, between sectors of the same religion for nothing except arrogance and ignorance. The Bible states that God chose Abraham to make his progeny into a great nation (Genesis 12: 2-3) and the Quran also states that Abraham was chosen as a nation (Surah 16:120). The Quran also calls all people and the followers of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) to be united with a common word in one nation according to the following verse of Quran:

(All) people are a single nation; so Allah raised prophets as bearers of good tidings and as warners, and He revealed with them the Book with truth, that it might judge between people in that in which they differed; and none but the very people who were given it differed about it after clear arguments had come to them, revolting among themselves; so Allah has guided by His will those who believe to the truth about which they differed and Allah guides whom He pleases to the right path[14]. (Quran 2:213)

Looking at Abraham, the grandfather of the three messengers, he is an exemplar of faith that undergirds the Bible and Quran, and who gained the pleasure of God through different hard tests. Abram was a reputed son of an idol maker who resisted worshipping any idol. He packed his tents and his family and left his ancestral homeland in upper Mesopotamia, along with its manifold deities, following his pure logic and faith that had discovered the falsity of the belief of his tribe.

A large number of subjects that tie the followers of the three religions are dealt with in the Bible and the Quran. Firstly, there are narrations referring to the Prophets Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Elias, Jonah, Job and Moses; the Kings of Israel; Saul, David, and Solomon- to name just some of the main personalities they share in common. There then follow more specific accounts of great events in the course of which the supernatural has intervened, e.g. the Creation of the Earth and Heavens, the Creation of Man, the Flood, and the Exodus. Finally, there is all that has to do with Jesus and His mother Mary (Allah bless her and grant her peace) as far as it concerns the New Testament.

When the subjects dealt with in the two Scriptures are viewed in the light of our modern knowledge from extra-Scriptural sources, whether scientific and logical sources, the Quran shows itself as the Last revealed Book from God[15]. The Quran is the only Holy Book which hasn’t suffered any interpolations or corruptions and is kept as it was originally revealed to Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) with its language, statements, and interpretations in hard copies and in the hearts of millions of Muslims over the world since the life of Muhammad up to now.

Looking at the Quran, the Last and Perfect word from God to all people, it is a miraculous text that points to the fact that it should have a Heavenly source and is marked as the continuous miracle of Islam for all peoples on the Earth in every time. It yields not only aesthetic contentment but provides also the whole philosophic and scientific truth of its origin from God. It is a valuable tool to the wise people who are searching a perfect life, to the scientist probing for clues concerning the existence of God[16], to a man seeking the road to obedience and to understanding the purpose of life, good and evil, love and hate, happiness and misery, success and failure, mercy and cruelty peace and war, and all of life’s concepts for the straight path as ordained by God for the whole of mankind, as well as to the theologian who regards the Quran as the ultimate unchallengeable recourse for all religious knowledge that builds a perfect life on the Earth as an approach to the happiness in an Eternal Life after Resurrection.

The Muslim jurist finds in the Quran the basic instructions guarding his life, the relation with His God in what are called “Acts of worship”: The basic laws and transactions governing all the relations between man, his family and society, and the laws explaining God’s Wisdom, Knowledge, Justice, Mercy and Fairness. Indeed no book, sacred or non-sacred, has served, and continues to serve, so utilitarian function to all generations and missions as the Quran. Quran is Allah’s sustainable gift to mankind through His Last Prophet: Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace). The Quran is a living book sent to be read, recited, understood, and obeyed. Quran surely submits a reasonable life to God’s followers.

God in Islam has Absolute Greatness as the Creator and Master of our living universe. He described Himself in the Quran by glorious attributes, and He rejects characterizing Him in any human form or depicting Him as favouring certain individuals or nations on the basis of wealth, power or race. Some illogical statements attached to God in the Bible are rejected in Islam. The concept that God rested on the seventh day of creation, that God wrestled with one of His soldiers[17], that God is an envious plotter against mankind, or that God is an incarnate in any human being are considered blasphemy from the Islamic point of view as stated in the Quran[18].

The followers of these three religions believe that these religions were sent from the Creator of the Universe to guide His human creatures, or people, to explore their mission on the earth. They have actually a common word or Commandment which is stated in the Holy Books of these religions by different verses but which have the same meaning as follows:

In the Quran the commandment is stated by the following verse:

Say; O People of the Scripture! Come to an equitable word between us and you: that we shall worship none but God (Allah), and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside Allah. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him). (Quran 3:64)

It is also stated in the Old Testament of the Bible by the following verse:

But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Joshua 22:5)

It is also stated in the New Testament of the Bible by the following verse:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”  “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. (Luke 21:28-29)

According to the Bible, the story of Isaac and Ishmael, sons of Abram and fathers of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is basically told as follows[19]:

Abraham and Sarah (originally known as Abram and Sarai, respectively) had both grown old and yet still had no child.  Desperate to “build a family”, Sarah urged Abraham to impregnate her slave Hagar, who was an Egyptian. After some tensions developed between Sarah and the now-pregnant Hagar, the latter fled from the abuse of her mistress and encountered an angel who prophesied that she would bear a son who would be named Ishmael.  And so it was that Hagar bore the eighty-six year old Abraham a son.

But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son. Though Abraham was distressed, God ordered him to do as Sarah had demanded, and told Abraham not to be distraught for He would make a nation out of “the son of the slave”.  Obeying God’s command, Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael into the desert of Beersheba, in Mecca, where their limited supplies quickly dwindled.  Faced with the prospect of death, Hagar placed Ishmael under a bush, unable to watch her son die of thirst.  However, both were saved when God intervened and provided water from a well called “Zamzam”, which is still watering the visitors of Kaba in the valley of Baca (Mekka). Ishmael lived and grew up to be an archer in the desert and Father of the Arabs. When he was 13 years old, the only son of Abram as Sara hadn’t yet a son up to that time, Abraham was faced by a hard test. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Ishmael his “only son, whom he loves”.  Abraham complied with the command, but just before sacrificing Ishmael, he was stopped by an angel.  Abraham had passed the test with flying colors and God promised him that. (Genesis).[20]

Now, one of the surahs of Quran joins Abraham’s (peace be upon him) facing his tribe by destroying their idols, the story of sacrificing his only son, Ishmael, and then the story of Abraham’s blessing by a second son from Sara as follows:

Verily among those who followed his Way was Abraham. Behold! he approached his Lord with a pure heart. When he said to his father and his people: What is it that you worship? “Is it a falsehood- gods other than Allah- that ye desire? Then how do you think the Lord of the worlds?”  Then he looked at the stars, looking up once, Then he said: Surely I am sick if I worship these idols. And they turned their backs and went away from him. Then he turned aside to their gods secretly and asked them: What! Do you not eat? What is the matter with you that you do not speak? Then did he turn upon them, striking (them) with the right hand. And (his people) came toward him, hastening. He said: What! do you worship what you hew out? “While Allah has created you and He created your handwork!” They said: Build for him a furnace, then cast him into the burning fire. Then they designed a snare for him, but We made them the undermost. He said (after being saved): “I will go to my Lord! He will surely guide me!  My Lord! Vouchsafe me of the righteous. My Lord! Grant me of the doers of good deeds. So, We gave him the good news of a boy, possessing forbearance. Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: “O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is thy view!” (The son) said: “O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou will find me, if Allah so wills one plasticizing Patience and Constancy!” So when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice), We (God) called out to him “O Abraham! You have indeed shown the truth of the vision (from God); surely thus do We reward the doers of good: Lo! that verily was a clear test (of you faith. And We ransomed him with a Feat sacrifice. And We perpetuated (praise) to him among the later generations. Peace be on Ibrahim. Surely he was one of Our believing servants. Then we gave him tidings of the (new) birth of Isaac, a prophet among the good ones. And We blessed him (Abraham) and Isaac. And of their seed are some who do good, and some who plainly wrong themselves. Again (of old) We bestowed Our favor on Moses and Aaron (as grandsons of Abram and Isaac). (Quran 037: 083-113)[21]

Of course, the logical sequence in the previous verses shows us the strong belief of Abraham, which made him challenge the belief of his father and family, while he was a young man and his strong faith in God so that he destroyed their idols. Similarly, we may discover the hardness of the test when Abraham was ordered to sacrifice Ishmael, his only son before Isaac’s birth, and how he directly obeyed God’s order. However, God rewarded him by a second son and rewarded him by proclaiming him the father of all prophets of the Nations of Judaism and Christianity, from Isaac, and the father of the prophet of the Muslims from Ishmael.

After Abraham’s death, God sent Isaac followed by the Grandsons of Isaac including Jacob (Israel), Moses, the Kings of Israel, Saul, David, Solomon, and Jesus. After Jesus, the Prophethood was transferred from the Grandsons of Isaac to a grandson of Ishmael, Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace), as the prophet of Islam. Such transfer was expressed in the Bible, Luke 20, according to historians by the following story as a tiding told by Jesus:

He went on to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant, but that one also they beat and treated shamefully and sent away empty-handed. He sent still a third, and they wounded him and threw him out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ “But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘This is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. “What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When the people heard this, they said, “God forbid!” Jesus looked directly at them and asked, “Then what is the meaning of that which is written: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’?  Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people. (Luke 20: 9-19).

This story shows that the race of messengers from Isaac was ended by Jesus who the sons of Israel tried to kill. Then the stone, Ishmael, which had been rejected by builders, Sara, and sent to Paran became the cornerstone: it is the last religion from God to the whole of humanity, Islam. Such irresistible religion was spread in the world within two decades after the end of mission of Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and became the cornerstone for overshadowing other beliefs in the world. [22]

The prophecy that the three religions belong to the same God and the same grandfather, but they were started in different places is found in the Bible in the following prophecy:

He said (Moses): “The Lord came from Sinai, and dawned over them from Seir; he shone forth from Mount Paran. He came with myriads of holy ones from the south, from his mountain slopes.” (Deuteronomy 33:2)

As can be understood, this prophecy stated that the Lord, or God, who came and spoke to Moses in Sinai in the start of the religion first sent to Israel’s sons. After that the Lord would come to Jesus at Seir, a mountain in Palestine where Jesus was sent. Then He will came in the Dawn of civilization by His words in the mouth of Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace), or the Paracletos according to Jesus’ Prophecy, so that it shines from the mountain of Paran up to the Day of Resurrection[23]. As known from the Bible, according to Genesis 21:21, Ishmael grew in the lands of Paran, or Mecca, and Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace), as the grandson of Ismael grew also in Paran. The Quran itself states that all these messages have the same core and the same Belief:

“Say ye: “We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Ismael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah (in Islam).”” (Quran 2:136)

Judaism, as the oldest religion of the three known monotheistic religions was founded by the message of Moses, the Torah or the Old Statement[24]. It dictates the same monotheistic call to one God, Aloha, and to the Day of Resurrection[25] similar to the calls of Islam and Christianity. The claim of considering Jews as Chosen people of God is violated by verses of Torah which stated that they will receive the same punishment as all people if they do not follow the Commandments of God:

And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee. (Deuteronomy 28:29)

As a Perfect and Fair God, He should not show a partial preference to one people group over all the others[26]. Such statement is emphasized in the Quran by stating that the followers of the three monotheistic religions should be equal as they are linked to the same origin as stated by the faith of the father of their Prophets or Messengers[27], Abraham:

And they say; Be Jews or Christians, then ye will be rightly guided. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Nay, but (we follow) the Religion of Abraham the Hanif (the true religion) as he joined no gods with Allah. (Quran 2:135)

However, the Quran also presented the on-going conflict between the Jews and the Christians, even while the Christians consider the Old Testament as an essential part of their Bible:

And the Jews say: The Christians do not follow anything (good) and the Christians say: The Jews do not follow anything (good) while they recite the (same) Book. Even thus say those who have no knowledge, like to what they say; so Allah shall judge between them on the day of resurrection in what they differ. (Quran 2:113)

No conflicts are found between the beliefs in Islam and Judaism as both have the same belief in One God and the Day of Resurrection without attributing a son to God as is claimed in Christianity. However, the Jews follow illogical statements such as claiming a human nature to God, even while God is not like anything we may imagine as stated in the Quran:[28]

No vision can grasp Him, but His grasp is over all vision: He is above all comprehension, yet is acquainted with all things. (Quran 6:103)

(He is) the Creator of the heavens and the earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves, and pairs among cattle: by this means does He multiply you: there is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the One that hears and sees (all things). To Him belong the Laws controlling the heavens and the earth: He enlarges and restricts the Sustenance to whom He will: for He knows full well all things. (Quran 42:11-12)

The message of Jesus, before the involvement of Paul, is the same as that of Moses and Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace)[29]. However, the true followers of Jesus considered his as a tiding of the message of Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as he was introducing the coming of the “Paraclete” (which is a Greek word “παράκλητο”) and it means a much-praised man or Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) in Arabic (محمد).

“When the Paraclete or Advocate comes, whom I will send you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me, and you also will testify, because you have been with me from the beginning”[30]. (John 15:26-27)

You may consider the theological conflicts and illegal dogmas added into Christianity made by Paul and other men of the ‘Church’ who inserted their own ideas. According to an article published in The Washington Times on the 7th of April 2006 entitled: “Judas stars as ‘anti-hero’ in Gospel”, by Julia Duin, it describes an ancient Egyptian manuscript as the “Gospel of Judas”. It was released on the 6th of April 2006 by National Geographic as one of the greatest archaeological finds of the past century.   The document remained a legend until a copy — in the ancient Coptic language, native to Egypt — was unearthed sometime in the 1970s near El Minya in Upper Egypt. Samples sent to the University of Arizona’s radiocarbon-dating lab a year prior showed the manuscript’s date as between 220 and 340. It is not known who wrote the document or when the original, probably written in Greek, was composed[31].

The article mentioned that near the end of such gospel, Jesus tells Judas he will “exceed” the rest of the disciples “for you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.”

Considering this sentence “THE MAN THAT CLOTHES ME”, it is in agreement with a very clear verse in the Quran which says that Jesus was not crucified but God made Another Man to Resemble Him. The Quranic verse reads:

And because of their saying (the Jews in boast) “We Killed Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah, but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but THE RESEMBLANCE OF JESUS WAS PUT OVER ANOTHER MAN, and they killed that man. Those who differ therein are full of Doubts. They have no certain knowledge (i.e. they follow nothing but conjecture). For surely, as Word of Allah, they killed him not[32]. (Quran 4:157)

Now, if we look to the underlined capital letters in the Quran and in this Gospel, we will find that both are the same. However, the history of such Gospel dates to the third century. That means it had been written at least three centuries before the revelation of the Quran in 600. The Quranic verse implies that “none of the followers of Jesus is sure if Jesus himself was crucified or not”. As the Quran and this Gospel assures us that “ANOTHER MAN CLOTHES OR RESEMBLES HIM”, the statement in this Gospel should put an end to the Crucifixion story which was unintelligible to many of the ancient Christians[33].

As this Gospel mentioned, Judas had a role, by the orders of Jesus which “exceeds” the rest of the disciples, since he will be the person who will take the resemblance of Jesus or he will be sacrificed as the man who clothes Jesus. So, Judas did not committed suicide soon after he betrayed Jesus (as mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew). Rather he disappeared because he was the man who took the resemblance of Jesus.

Thus, reviewing the basic principles of the three religions, we find that they were essentially the same and can be considered as one religion. All three religions enjoined that we should submit ourselves, as stated in Quran, to the will and guidance of God:

Say, we believe in Allah and that (Messages) which has been revealed to Abraham and Ismael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes and that (Words) which were given to Moses and Jesus and to other prophets (to Muhammad; the Koran), from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them (all religions). (Quran 2:136)[34]

 

 

Footones:

[1] Seems to be more like 53- 56 per cent of the world population as per estimates from the Adherents site and other related information. But the truth does remain that most people in the world are followers of one of these three faiths.

[2] The one religion is submission to God by means of the Messenger that God has commissioned at any given time and place to convey His Message. Due to (mostly external) circumstances, terms such as ‘Judaism’ or ‘Christianity’ have been applied to the messages brought by a number of the Messengers God had sent to certain peoples. However, the core of submission (to be in a state of Islam with respect to that Divine Message) remains the same across all times and places.

[3] Of course, this is in a very general sense, since the Muslim belief is that while the current Bible may contain some of what God revealed, not only were the contents changed, but even the acknowledged methodology of how almost all the books of the Bible were written is something that would not be strictly counted as revelation in Islam [i.e. an explicitly acknowledged human composition under the ‘inspiration of the Spirit of God’]

[4] The connection between the information given to us in the Quran concerning the previous Prophets and our belief in these Prophets may not have been clearly spelled out above. The truth is that we accept the existence of the previous Prophets and their miracles due to what the Quran has informed us thereof, since the followers of these previous Prophets are not alive anymore to inform us about the message and miracles of these Prophets, and the “Non-Quranic” transmission of such information down to our time is not counted as definitive proof.

[5] It might be correctly said that if there are truly inconvenient details in the Biblical story of Creation, then the source can only be guessed to be Divine at some unknown original point, but it would not be possible to ascertain the Divine from the non-Divine aspects of the Creation story based on textual analysis alone.

[6] It seems the problem is one interpretation, but beyond that it is also of the purity of the text itself. There should also be consideration for the turbulent early Jewish and Christian history, which did not allow for a well-established religious scholarship to standardize the text and the interpretation of the books of the Bible within a few years of the inception of these religions. Rather, the standardization was done after a long time, and by then the linguistic and ideological frameworks of the writers and interpreters would have been quite different from the milieu under which these books were originally written. In the case of Islam though, its early success in terms of large numbers of converts, and the establishment of mechanisms to transmit the religion in many of the newly-formed centers of Islam obviated these potential problems.

[7] It is better to present this as an oversight rather than ‘disobedience’. If possible this point will be expanded upon later on.

[8] The dogma of redemption in Christianity actually has many theological problems even before we consider the possibility of ‘vicarious sacrifice’. The most noteworthy problem is the supposition that there was an initial impress of God’s Image upon man, and a share of man with God’s Word. While some might try to look for justifications for such types of statements, the truth is that these are presented literally in Christian thought, for example, that this meant that man was originally supposed to be intrinsically eternal in his being, and to have a share of that which ‘the Word of God’ (i.e. Jesus Christ) possessed. These types of ideas are problematic for a Muslim to accept for many reasons, but we will not delve into Trinitarian doctrine in here or the role that ‘humanity’ as a species is meant to play in here (both ‘originally’ and ‘after the Redemption’), since this would distract us from our original discussion.

[9] I believe the translation used is mostly by Yusuf Ali, yet some critical phrases are being substituted at times, and I will mention these as necessary.

[10] This is not a Tafseer but simply a comment on what seems to be the intent of the original author:

Now, in here if we take the expression ‘those who believe’ to refer to People of the Book as well as Muslims (as indeed mentioned by a number of exegetes), then the command is not merely to be peaceful, but to submit one’s self to Allah. A perusal of translations of the Quran (such as at: http://corpus.quran.com/translation.jsp?chapter=2&verse=208) presents the critical word ‘سلم’ (Silm) as Islam or submission according to almost all of the translations.

But even supposing that it refers to peace only, the additional command is mentioned not to follow the footsteps of Satan, and this indicates again the principle of submission to Allah, not to arrogate one’s self in front of Allah. If we already know, as the author mentioned previously, that the Quran is a miracle and Muhammad (Allah Bless Him and Grant Him Peace) is indeed the Messenger of Allah, then following his guidance and teachings have been necessarily established as obligatory to follow for Jews, Christians, Muslims, and all people, thus this matter should not be a cause of confusion or debate (that is, one cannot say that the injunction is merely for Muslims and Jews, etc. to live in peace while paying no substantive attention to the coming of Muhammad (Allah Bless Him and Grant Him Peace)).

[11] I know the matter concerning this Verse has morphed into a ‘touchy issue’, but the same principle as mentioned in the above remark applies: The coming of Muhammad (Allah Bless Him and Grant Him Peace) establishes something indubitable for all people in terms of their obligations towards Allah the Exalted.

(Again, just thinking out aloud on certain things that will need to be developed more formally later on, there are many aspects that can be looked into concerning Jews, Christians, Sabians, etc., and their relationship with belief in Allah and the Last Day, and the reward they are to receive, but which does not impugn on the finality of the Muhammadan Message nor on the Mercy of Allah.

One obvious thing is that if there were Jews, Christians or others who were sincerely practicing upon the faith of a previous Messenger to the best of their knowledge and ability without having heard of the coming of Muhammad (Allah Bless Him and Grant Him Peace), then blame cannot be placed upon them for having failed to act on something that they did not know. This in fact seems to be a fairly straight-forward matter of bringing multiple texts together, and the truth is that controversy should not really be there.

If anything, some other matters also come up, as to whether if, a believer of the people of the Book prior to the coming of Muhammad (Allah Bless Him and Grant Him Peace), if his belief concerning Allah was totally corrupted or invalid, can be hopeful of Allah’s Mercy even in this state. This seems to be an important issue, since most Christians who disbelieve in Islam do so as a consequence of holding on to a doctrine derived from Trinitarian dogma, and that invalid dogma would be present before and after hearing of the Prophetic call. This may also very well be the case of Jews and members of other religions, their concept of God may also be thoroughly corrupted to the point of not accepting Islam based on these corrupted beliefs, and this is a consideration to look into as well).

[12] It seems to me that the two previous remarks apply in one way or the other to the potential intent of this sentence as well. But let me clear that belief in the binding nature of Islam does not contradict peace, fairness, and mercy towards others. We as Muslims should resist to fall into dichotomies pushed by other ideological groups, but rather we should strive to explain our beliefs and practices according to our own categories, both the technical categories and the ideological categories.

One more thing: For the rest of the article, I will try to limit the remarks aimed at explaining the primacy of Islam vis-a-vis Judaism, Christianity, or other religions (since I think the point has been clearly made, and the readers can refer to the relevant remarks), but I will comment on other pertinent matters as needed.

[13] As far as I know, it is incorrect to present the Torah, its translation as ‘the Law’, and the entire Old Testament as one and the same – there are differences that we do not need to get into.

[14] It seems that the translation of M.H. Shakir was used for this Verse, particularly due to his use of the word ‘are’ rather than ‘were’ for ‘كان’. There are serious issues with this translation that have been raised up, particularly concerning the deviations from mainstream Sunni understanding of the translator and the translation itself.

However, even if we take it that people ‘are’ a single nation, yet the Verse still clearly demonstrates the points of indubitable evidence brought forth by God’s Messengers and the rebelliousness of those who reject the clear evidence.

[15] Many of the traditional Muslim scholars are apprehensive of using ‘science’ in the broad sense as a category for judging either the Bible or the Quran, since among other things, one is bound by the methods and conceptual frameworks one takes up in order to examine issues. Besides, as shown many times by Muslim scholars, analysis by proper reasoning shows many of the problems the Bible and Judeo-Christian ideologies in their current form possess.

[16] Again, I would be cautious in here, since the scientist, properly speaking, would look for material clues for the explanations he wishes to present. Of course, the clues in the Quran can still be found by the scientist (and by everyone else), but the connection between this and science should be played down as far as I see.

[17] If I am not mistaken, this has been interpreted by some of the Biblical exegetes as being the ‘angel of God’

[18] The Islamic position would be absolutely against presenting Allah as ‘envious’ [in contrast with what may be understood from some of the stories of the Old Testament]. Concerning what certain non-Muslims bring up concerning the ‘مكر’ (Makr) of Allah, this in fact denotes a subtle plot which is good when the consequence is good [http://www.islamicstudies.info/quran/maarif/maarif.php?sura=3&verse=54]. (There is also the theological issue that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ as moral categories do not apply to Allah,, but there is no need to delve into this angle in here.)

[19] The below story makes an almost exclusive use of the Old Testament, except for a few pieces of information relevant to the Muslim narrative.

[20] I think it appropriate to mention that a number of the rude actions mentioned above (such as Ismail (peace be upon him) mocking his father’s wife and mocking Isaac (peace be upon him) are not at all compatible with the Islamic understanding of Prophethood and there is no way that Islam would accept these incidents as having occurred).

[21] We have presented this series of Verses as is, even though the translation seems to have been done by combining a number of already existing translations of these Verses.

[22] This story might indicate how the privileges of the Jewish people would be taken away; but of course, the Christian would object that this automatically means the operation of the ‘New Covenant’ of Jesus and its inclusion of all who would believe in him, either Jew or Gentile. We as Muslims would not take too much out of this story, and if the matter of the applicability of the ‘New Covenant’ does come up, then I feel it is best to discuss it by reference to the theological areas that are problematic (such as its connection with Trinitarian dogma, etc.)

[23] While the three places mentioned in this Verse might correspond to the locations indicated by the original author, there is the issue of the identity of the ‘Paraclete’, since of course the mainstream Christian view is that this is referring to the ‘Holy Spirit, and from what I understand, one of the additional views is that the author of the Gospel of John presents the ‘Paraclete’ as the post-Ascension presence of Jesus. (There is admittedly a lot of discussion that has been ongoing on this issue among the different sects of Christianity throughout the ages).

[24] Again, the identification of the ‘Torah’ as the ‘Old Testament’ in its entirety is a tenuous proposition at best.

[25] While we Muslims do believe that all the Prophets of God did call to the belief in the Day of Judgment, Paradise and Hellfire, there seems to have been a diverse set of views in Judeo-Christian history concerning the exact reality of the soul and body after death, pointing perhaps that these beliefs were not universally passed down from the Prophets of God down to later generations.

[26] This is a statement that our Sunni scholars would not accept, especially not the way it is phrased in here. Allah’s treating of all people equally – in the spiritual realm- is from His Mercy and Largess, but we would not say that He is “Fair” only if all people had been treated equally, since morality does not apply to Allah.

[27] Again, the issue is not equality in the modern humanist sense of the term, but rather that the ones who follow the Revelations and Messages of God are the ones who will receive from His Favor, while others will not receive these Favors due to their disobedience and turning away from God’s Orders.

[28] I would qualify this statement for a number of reasons:

Firstly, the Quran mentions that the Jews have posited sons for God. This can be corroborated by looking at the Old Testament and even modern Jewish teaching in this regard. We know that the signification may be more towards adoption of creatures as “Sons of God”, yet we Muslims hold this to be very troubling nonetheless.

Secondly, the Jewish concept of God has not always been clear and has varied considerably throughout the centuries. Suffice it to say that the popular view of the Divine as postulated by Maimonides is heavily influenced by Islamic theology, and was articulated many millenia after the initial appearance of Judaism itself.

[29] We do acknowledge the involvement of many factors that distorted the message of ‘Isa (peace be upon him). The character of Paul is many a times mentioned, yet it is not the only personality that contributed to the distortion and confusion of the original message of ‘Isa.

[30] Again, I am somewhat skeptical about overreliance on the Gospel of John in this regard, and about the probable Aramaic or Arabic rendering of the term Paraclete; from the passage above it would seem difficult to construct a thoroughly Islamic view of Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace).

[31] Accessed 31 December 2015 at: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2006/apr/7/20060407-120642-3758r/?page=all

[32] There are two issues with the translation presented in here: One, the phrase ‘The resemblance of Jesus was put over another man, and they killed that man’ is not part of the original Quranic text but is rather a Tafseer (exegesis) that is presented many times by our scholars, and is a separate discussion. Also the phrase ‘as Word of Allah’ is not part of the original Quranic text.

[33] Even though the discovery of the Gospel of Judas was interesting, yet we Muslims do not base our building blocks of knowledge on such random findings, even in a case like this, where the finding seems to confirm the Islamic position. Rather, we place much greater importance on the living scholarly tradition and build our position from this starting point. Our criticism of Christianity is based on theological and epistemological grounds – concerning the Crucifixion specifically, we do not accept its being mass transmitted [either through ‘secular’ or ‘religious’ literature], nor do we accept the underlying supposition that God the Son existed as a hypostasis of a Triune Deity who manifested in space-time (whatever the reason might be, redemption of humanity’s sins or otherwise)

[34] The signification in this last Verse is not to make artificial distinctions amongst the Prophets that Allah has sent; in terms of the ‘previous religions’ we do accept that there was a set of laws or a Shariah sent by Allah to different nations, yet these have been abrogated by the coming of the final Prophet and Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace).

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One thought on “The Common Word among the Three Major Faiths in the World: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

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