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The Commonality of Two Competing Faiths

Updated on October 1, 2016

One Father two faiths

I sat one day with an Iraqi friend of mine while I was trying to learn Arabic. I was amazing to find out how many things both Judaism and Islam have in common. One of the strongest connections between the two faiths is the link to Avraham as the Jews call him or Ibrahim as they say in Arabic, here in the western world we refer to him as Abraham and he is the father of many nations, and many faiths. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all claim a deep connection to this man. In the case of the Jews and Arabs both can trace their lineage to Avraham. That is not to say that all Muslims are direct descendents of Avraham but the Arab people are direct descendents. There is a lot of people out there that think that all Arabs are Muslims and all Muslims are Arabs. This simple is not the fact. Arabs are a genetic race of people and Muslims are practitioners of a religion and seeks to gain converts.

The second strongest connection between Judaism and Islam is that of the language. Both religions stress the importance of language. To the Jew the Hebrew language is the language of the Almighty the very language of creation. So to the strict observer of the faith all prayers are said in Hebrew. In Islam, the language of the Quran is Arabic, and it is the language of the prophet that guides their faith. Therefore, the observant say their prayers in Arabic.

Another strong connection is circumcision. The story goes that the Almighty command Avraham to circumcise himself when he was an old man. Avraham was also commanded to circumcise all the males that were with him. At this point of time Ishmael one of the fathers of the Arabs and the oldest son of Avraham was circumcised at the age of 13 years old. At the time of the commandment the Almighty commanded that the newborns would be circumcised on the eighth day. This is a son between the Almighty and Avraham. In both faiths, Jews and Muslims are circumcised on the eighth day. Some sects of Islam that are mystical require that the boys be circumcised at the age of 13 because that was the age of Ishmael when he was circumcised. Both faiths require that men that convert to the faith have a circumcision. In Islam a testimony to this is sufficient however in Judaism it has to be done with witnesses. Also in Judaism if the man was already circumcised when he came to convert than he would have a pinprick and draw out some blood and say some prayers, this is referred to as a Brit Dam Tafas.

Another aspect of faith that is so strong is the dietary rules and regulations that they share. The Jewish system is called Kashrut, and is often referred to as keeping Kosher. The Muslim dietary system is called Hallal. There are a list of what animals are allowed to be consumed and those that are not allowed to be consumed. The list is pretty similar, however the Muslim list allows for the eating of Shrimp and the Jewish system does not. There has to be special supervision in the slaughtering of the animal, certain prayers said. In Judaism the blood of the animal has be completely drained and salted to draw out the blood.

Both religious are religious centered in Law. The true essence of a rabbi is one that is a religious Jewish Lawyer. The rabbi is mainly taught the laws of Prayer, then the Laws of Kashrut (Dietary), then the Laws of Sabbath, then the laws of several other topics. It is rare to find a Rabbi that knows the laws of all the different topics. They specialize in different aspects of the law. The law has its foundation on the Biblical Laws and then they are extended to the Rabbinical Laws and modern day rulings. Oftentimes people go to a Rabbi because they have questions about how to follow the law. Islam has a legal system as well. Their version of a religious legal system is called Sharia Law. The religious leader for Muslims is an Imam, and the Imam serves a similar purpose for the Muslims on interpretation of the law just like the Rabbi does for the Jewish people.

One example of law that is almost identical in both Judaism and Islam is that of the Ketubah (Jewish pronunciation). It is a religious document and legal document. This document is a marriage contract. It is signed by the groom before every wedding. It stipulates the responsibilities of the groom, and it is a declaration about the two that are getting married. I do not know about Islam, but in Judaism it serves as a protection to the wife. This is a contract that stipulates what the Jewish man would have to pay to the wife if he desired to get a divorce. This document is connected with the Dowry in some communities and in others it is connected with the Bride price. This document testifies if the girl is a virgin, divorcee, or a widow. In Judaism it also testifies if the bride or groom of the Levi tribe or the Cohen family.

These to faiths are not just about the legalities. The legalities only give a framework for the house. The spirit has to fill the house. This spirit is the thing that attracts the converts; it is what uplifts the desire of the one born into the faith. As such they are several spiritual and philosophical beliefs. This is where the differences start to manifest themselves between Judaism and Islam. What are the concepts that cannot be seen, the concepts that are not tangible, what lie beyond this world? How many worlds are there? What happens to the soul when it dies?

In both religions it is common to wash oneself before prayer. They both use prayer books and say prayers in a specific language. There is a set order to the prayers. Just as there are simple concepts like how to prayer there are deep mysteries and mysticism that they still have in common. One mystical idea is that of the seven heavens.

The seven heavens in Judaism are: 1) Vilon, 2) Raki'a, 3) Shehaqim, 4) Zebul, 5) Ma'on, 6) Machon, and 7) Araboth which is the seventh heaven which is HaShem's domain. Then Earth is an 8th domain.

The seven heavens in Islam are; 1) Firdaus (the highest), 2)‘Adn, 3) Na’iim, 4) Na’wam, 5) Darussalaam, 6) Daarul Muaqaamah, 7) Al-Muqqamul Amin, and then Khuldi (the lowest) domain. So in both that makes seven heavens and one earth.  

So the question is why is there some many problems between Judaism and Islam. Often they are referred to as cousins. The problems seem like there is a rivalry that only comes from two competing brothers. We should focus on the similarities and put aside the fighting. The fighting that takes place is nothing to do with religion. The conflicts that arise have to do with politics and history, and the ignorance of man.

It is written in Genesis that Avraham sent Ishmael and Hagar out of his presence. In Judaism we know that Avraham loved Ishmael. This was a test from HaShem (G-d) on Avraham. A lot of people stop the story there. However, one should continue to read Genesis. In Genesis 21:18 it says, "Arise, lift up the youth and grasp your hand upon him, for I will make a great nation of him." In other words, G-d has a specific blessing for the sons of Ishmael just as he does for the Jewish people. Remember the Almighty spoke to Avraham, the father of both nations. Genesis 25;9 says, "His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, facing Mamre. " This is the lesson it teaches me, if Isaac and Ishmael were reconciled in the book of Genesis, then why do their descendents continue to have problems with each other. Our fathers reconciled we should to. However, there is also a reality, this probably will not happen until the Messiah comes and sets the three great monotheistic religions as what he desires.


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      layla 7 years ago

      I like this articles because many people get confuse in those two culture, but you are right in one way or another they are so similar. And how you said in your article they link in the same father Abraham. But the important point that we see that they have the same purpose to connect to Hashem or Allah.

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      bernie1936 7 years ago

      Very interesting. I learned a lot from it.

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 7 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      There is a great commonality in most perennial wisdom (religion). The problem with spirituality is not God, Buddha, Allah, Messiah, Jesus or any other higher power. The problem with spirituality is man.