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Friday, February 10, 2012

Differences Between Judaism and Islam

Nadene Goldfoot
Judaism, with 4,000 years of history,  is the first form of monotheism founded by Abraham in the 2nd millenium BCE who is called "The Father of Judaism."  Islam is one of the forms of monotheism brought to the Arabs by Mohammed in the 7th Century CE.  It became a world religion through Arab conquests. Judaism did try at one time to convert people but soon dropped the idea.  One becomes Jewish by being born to a Jewish mother or by requesting a desire to become Jewish and going through conversion.  Today  Reform Jews may be Jewish by birth with only a father  who is Jewish. 

Mohammad thought that there was no real difference between Judaism and Islam, and mistakedly thought that Jews would quickly convert and accept him as their prophet.   He thought that all holy books were copies of one in heaven and that all revelations were one, just distorted by different people.  He was just there to correct things.  Judaism  is a living faith with a destiny to benefit not only Jews but the whole human race.  There is a variety of thought from strict Orthodoxy, guardians of the unabridged tradition to radical Reform.  They share the same belief in one G-d.  and in following the 10 Commandments. 

Islam's religion and its law are woven together, just like in Judaism.  Islam also has a written Law (Koran) which has been explained more in the Oral Law (Hadith).  Judaism also has the written law (Torah) and the Oral law (codified in Mishna and Talmud)
Originally, Mohammed's creation was similar to Jewish halakhah.  The Jews of Medina would not accept him or his Koran and mission, so he created laws to emphasize the differences between Islam and Judaism, which became quite harsh.

The Koran has plenty of biblical people from the Five Books of Moses in it that he accepted.  Mohammed has Abraham, who lived in the 2nd millennium BCE,  as the founder of monotheism, but also makes him the builder of the Ka'ba, which Judaism does not.  He includes Noah, Moses, David and Solomon as well as Jesus among prophets who were long before Mohammed's time.  Mohammed was born 570 CE and died 632 CE.  His interests in G-d started around the age of 40.  When he was young, he often traveled with Meccan trade caravans and met Jews and Christians to whom he would ask religious questions.  He came to believe that he also was a chosen prophet after his experience with an angel, Gabriel. 

He introduced a day of fast that is very similar to the Jewish Day of Atonement.  He chose Friday as the public day of prayer after the Jewish Shabbat which falls from Friday night to Saturday night.  Jews pray towards Jerusalem, and Muslims did likewise till he saw that Jews would not convert.  Then he changed some of the new rites and became very hostile towards the Jews.  Somehow he overcame his hostility and took Safia, a Jewish girl, as his wife. 

Tombs revered to Jews in Israel, like the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron are also revered by Muslims.  The Moslem tradition has the mosque on the Jewish Temple mount site in Jerusalem as the "farthest mosque" that Mohammed reached on his famous night journey; now regarded as a Holy Place.  When the Romans took Jerusalem in 70CE they razed the Temple and it served as a center of military activity, but later they built a Roman Temple over it.  Then when Islam came into being the mosque "of Omar" was built over the site.  We see much material borrowed from the Midrash of the Jews. 

Many religious laws are common to both Islam and Judaism, like not eating anything from pigs, not having images of G-d, fixed times for prayers.  One difference is that religious Jews pray 3 times a day and Muslims do it 5 times a day. 

Originally, Muslims regarded Jews and Christians as "people of the Book" who should enjoy religious freedom in Moslem countries in return for payment of a poll tax.  Sects of Islam such as Shi'a, predominently found in Iran, were more stern in their attitude towards Jews. (It's good that Queen Esther and the Jewish people lived in Persia way before Islam was created).   The clashes with Mohammed and the Jews of Arabia, who would not convert to this new religion, resulted in the Jews' expulsion and often times extermination of whole Jewish tribes. 

Jews created a Jewish Creed after the way they were treated in Arabia by Muslims.  The persecution of Jews by Moslems for religious reasons was rare and even discriminatory legislation was often unenforced, but today things have changed.  We see religious leaders of Islam putting a fatwa out saying that all Jews should be killed everywhere.  Qaradawi of Qatar, a major Muslim Brotherhood religious leader, is quite bloodthirsty about it.  Though he's an elderly man confined to a wheelchair, he wants to kill any Jew with his bare hands. 

Why do Muslims revere Abraham like the Jews do?  Ishmael was Abraham's first son by Abraham's wife's Egyptian handmaid, Hagar.  He was circumcised at age 13, whereas Jews are circumcised at age 8 days.  He and his mother had been asked to leave permanently at the request of Sarah, Abraham's wife as he was not treating her younger son, Isaac,  well at all.  Ishmael was removed to Paran, but did join Isaac when Abraham died, so they both buried him.

 Ishmael's daughter married Esau. Esau was the 1st twin born to Isaac, and according to tradition was a  a violent person to the point of being quite a villain.  His twin brother was Jacob.  Jacob received the birthright from their father and so got the blessing that was to be given to the first born.  Esau was so mad that Jacob tricked him into giving his birthright to him that he tried to kill him, causing Jacob to escape from his wrath and go to Haran.  He returned 20 years later with gifts for Esau, but it didn't heal Esau's feelings.  Jacob later is given the name, Israel.   Traditionally, Ishmael is the ancestor of the Arab people.  Thus was born the original hostilities between Arabs and Jews.  The birthright was an oral pronouncement from Isaac on his deathbed. 

Definitions: Muslim: noun, adjective, one who surrenders to G-d- Allah, an adherent of Islam
 Moslem: variation of Muslim
Islam  noun,  submission to the will of G-d, the religious faith of Muslims including belief in Allah as the sole deity and in Muhammad as his prophet; the civilization erected upon Islamic faith, the group of modern nations in which Islam is the dominanat religion. 

The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia page 667, Mohammed, "He held that all Holy Books were copies of a aheavenly model"...


Unknown said...

No. Your opinion is not valid. Jews and Muslims serve two different gods. Muslims serve one they call "God". Jews serve one they call "Lord God". This is not the same thing. Muslims do not believe in the Lord.

Nadene Goldfoot said...

Robert, I never said they both believed in the same G-d, only that they both believed in one (1) G-d. If Islam thought it was the same G-d as the Jews, they interpreted G-d's message completely different. Mohammed turned Muslims against Jews. I am sure that is not a message from G-d. As I showed, Islam did a lot of borrowing for their religion from Judaism. From Islam's behavior today, I would also agree that that they are not serving the same G-d that we Jews serve.

Unknown said...

Show me in quran where mohammad (sas) said all the books were copies of a book from heaven. We muslims dont believe that u have wrong information.

JessieV said...

Thanks Nadene. I knew that Islam was derived from Judaism but was surprised to find how difficult it is to find a clear-cut comparison/timeline.

Nadene Goldfoot said...

Tazwar, there are several different fighs in Islam; Shafi'i, Hanafi, Maliki, Jafari, Alevi, Hanbali, Zaidi as well as the Sunni and Shi'a sects. In there someplace, my reference encyclopedia found this information that Mohammed said that all the books were copies of a book from heaven. Wasn't he referring to the Torah and the Christian Bible? You'll have to check with your religious leader to find it.