By Arielle Robinson
“See now that I, I am He, and there is no God besides Me” (Deuteronomy 32:39). The belief in God is one of the most important aspects of humanity. The three main faiths of this world are Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Some may think these beliefs are all completely different, however, if they are broken down, a lot of their ways are very similar. These three religions all originated in the area known as the Arab World, and all believe in the same one God, or in Islam’s case, the same Allah. Each of the faiths study, with respects to the history and tradition of, the one earlier. Ranging from their original prophets, prayer and worship to holidays and fasting, all faiths practice similar aspects from their Holy book. Leaves you to think, why are there religious wars when we are not so different?
In religions, leaders play a huge position in the guidance of believers. Each religion traces its roots back to Abraham, considering him as a prophet by all three faiths. Abraham was appointed leader of all people in God’s faith: “Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, ‘As for me, behold, my covenant is with you, and you will be the father of a multitude of nations” (Genesis 17:3-6). Of course there is a difference in the part Abraham played to all, but he is generally seen as the father of their faith. Aside from Abraham, each faith takes on another prophet for their own beliefs. In Christianity, Jesus Christ is the messiah prophesized in the Hebrew Scriptures. “And the crowds replied, ‘this is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee’” (Mathew 21:11). Based on the New Testament, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a major significance to the Christian faith and it’s believed to be a testament to God’s love for his people. In Islam, Muslims view Muhammad as their major prophet, he was chosen for sharing his revelations that was received from Allah. “And mention, O Muhammad, when your Lord said to the angels, ‘Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority’” (Qur’an, Surah 2:3). While, in Judaism the Jews take on Moses as their prophet, “when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, here am I… Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:4-10). The people followed Moses, who led them out of slavery in Egypt. Each prophet managed their people into greater lives with the guidance and instruction of one God. All beliefs took on a prophet as leader, because God utilized them to prove his own existence, the messages may have been delivered or even received differently, resulting in different views but it was all the same message of there being a one and only God.
Each faith not only provides a personal relationship with God, they also carry traditions that set a structure to direct God’s followers in how to worship and communicate with God. In Christianity, Sunday is the day of rest and worship at a church where they read from the Holy Bible. Meanwhile Muslims, worship on the eve of Thursday and all day Friday at the Mosque where they read from the Qur’an, however, they’re sure to pray five times during the course of the day. In Judaism, worshippers go to the Synagogue to worship on their Sabbath, starting Friday evening and into all of Saturday, where they read from the Torah: “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words” (Isaiah 58:13). All traditions encourage their followers to seek advice and reference from their books of God’s holy word, and encourage, at least, a day of rest for prayer and worship. They all also believe in heaven and hell for the afterlife as well as, their angels and demons. With this said, certain things impacted believers differently, however, the impact itself created the traditions of the start of their follow of the one and only God.
Amongst their many traditions, all three faiths celebrate holidays, which is also a key role in religion because it’s a time to acknowledge remembrance; it’s a time of reflection, personal growth, gathering of communities and families. While the three traditions celebrate at different occasions, they all honor their religious history, as well as their fasting traditions. In Christianity, Christmas is a major holiday where they celebrate the eve and day, of the birth of Jesus Christ, “and the angel said unto them, fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (St Luke 2:10-11). Christians also undertake the event of Lent, where the people fast for forty days, originating from Jesus going without food for forty days: “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, if thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, it is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Mathew 4:1-4). This leads up to Palm Sunday, which is the celebration of remembering the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, it’s the beginning of the end of Jesus work on earth, starting Palm Sunday (John 12:1-12). This brings us into Holy week, which is the remembrance of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, following up to Easter, being the resurrection of Christ (Luke 24:1-7). For Muslims, Eid al-Adha is known as the Feast of Sacrifice, its celebration is for the patent end of the journey to Mecca (Qur’an: Surat Al-Baqarah 196). Another important holiday is Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of holy month of Ramadan, during which the Muslim will participate in a strict fasting from sunrise to sunset (Qur’an: Al-Baqarah 2:184). They too celebrate the birth and death of their prophet, Muhammad. In Judaism, Passover is the celebration of the migration of the Jews from Egypt (Exodus 12). Rosh Hashanah is known as the Jewish New Year (Leviticus 23:23-26) and as for Yom Kippur, it’s the Jewish Day of Atonement, where the Jewish fast for a 25-hour period (Leviticus 23:26–32). In Judaism, they also popularly celebrate Hanukkah, an eight-day memorial to a Jewish revolution against their genocide in Egypt. The revolt was led by a priestly family named Maccabee, later written in the book of Maccabee. All traditions, celebrate their holidays by giving to the poor, sharing food with friends and family, gift exchanges and prayer, again resorting back to the things our one God instilled in us since the appointment of prophets.
The differences amongst these faiths also broadcasts their similarities. They all believe in the holy word of the same God, given by the various prophets. Although many of their stories have their own views, they happen to align in some way shape or form, each deriving from the other. Leaders, holidays and the word of their God, all play a huge role for all three faiths, in keeping their faith structured and to continue to flourish. With Judaism being the oldest, Christianity has their foundations, while Islam traces some of their roots from both other religions, being that they are all related, they are certain to display resemblance. After all, said many years ago and still applying today, “All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name” (Psalm 86:9). As a believer in God, I can say all faiths, entail utilizing discipline for strength in our beliefs. In order to believe in the path of Christianity, I have to research all aspects of my faith. In learning that in all faiths stories aligned it creates a stronger mental, emotional and of course spiritual growth in who my God is. These faiths create a better understanding to what a believer chooses to follow and how it fits with their lives. If many worshippers acknowledge the many similarities more so than the differences, we would learn to create an integrated path with loving God, rather than create segregated path with religious wars.