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Three Great Religions - One Common Ancestor

Updated on January 11, 2009
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Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

There is so much out there about Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Most of it is negative, harsh, and inflammatory, and most of it by people who do not understand the history of these three great religions. At times there is not much love among these religions, resulting in wars, terrorism, and propaganda. But what most people do not understand is that all three of these religions are related and have a common ancestry, which could be a reason for some of the animosity. Family feuds can be deadly.

Christianity, Judaism , and Islam can all be traced back to one man named Abraham and each one considers him their founder. Abraham (known as Abram originally) was in his nineties and still without a son. When He was seventy five the Lord (Jehovah) promised him that his descendants would be as numerous as the grains of sand and the stars in the sky, but the years were passing with nothing happening. But The age of 100 was approaching fast and confusion began to set in on just how this was going to happen. Abraham never doubted God’s word; He just questioned the methods. As time went on and no child appeared, not even a girl, his wife, Sarah, became impatient. She followed the tradition of their people (the Chaldeans – ancestors of the Iraqi’s – more relationships) and offered her Egyptian handmaiden, Hagar, as a surrogate. The results of that union was Hagar, the handmaiden, giving birth to a son she called Ishmael. Since Hagar was successful at conceiving, she began to laud it over Sarah and remind her of her failure as a woman. Nothing can cut deeper in a woman’s heart than reminding her that she cannot have a child. As a result, Sarah began to mistreat Hagar until the handmaiden ran away during her pregnancy. As she rested near a spring in the desert waiting on death, the Lord spoke to her. He commanded that she return to Sarah and submit to her no matter how bad she was treated. As a result, the Lord would give her so many descendants that they could not be counted. She trusted and returned to give birth to Ishmael.

Thirteen years went by and Sarah finally gave birth to a son, Isaac. Based on the scripture used by Christians and Jews, this was the chosen one through which the world would be blessed. According to the Islamic scriptures, Ishmael was the chosen one. (At this time, I will be quoting more from the Christian and Jewish histories until I am able to obtain an English copy of the Islamic scriptures.) As Isaac grew, tension between him and Ishmael increased. Sarah was greatly distressed to see this, and she begged Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. Abraham was greatly confused, but God told him to send them away and not to worry. He would take care of the boy. Ishmael would become a great nation and would not be forgotten. According to Jewish literature, Ishmael took the desert as his home, became an expert in archery, and married a woman from Egypt. He eventually had 12 sons of his own and many nations were born. Today we know Ishmael’s descendants as Muslims which number over 800 million. Though the organization of this religion did not occur until a few centuries later under the leader of a man named Mohammed. It was through Mohammed that the religious scriptures known as the Quran were put down and the foundations of the large religion established.

Isaac grew up and had two sons of his own, Esau and Jacob. They were twins that battled each other even before they were born. The conflicts did not subside as they grew older. In fact it intensified. Jacob and his mother followed the examples set before them with Abraham and Sarah and decided not to wait on God’s actions and decided to trick Isaac into passing on the family blessing to Jacob instead of Esau who was the first born. Needless to say, this caused resentment and hatred between the two brothers. It was so bad that Jacob left the country to live with far away relatives for a couple of decades until his brother’s anger abated. Esau became the ancestor of the Edomites and Jacob (Israel) had 12 sons who were the founders of the 12 tribes of Israel – the beginnings of the Jewish nation. Isaac became the father of Judaism and of the Edomites. These two nations would be in constant conflict with each other, as well as, with the descendants of Ishmael. The Jewish/Christian Bible is full of the accounts of the conflicts among these nations. It records victories and defeats. The conflicts of today are continued issues from centuries ago.

Centuries later when most of what we know as the Middle East was under Roman rule, a man named Jesus arrived on the scene in the small town of Bethlehem and turned the world on end. He was born from the Jewish tribe of Judah as a direct descendant of the most famous of Jewish kings, David, and proclaimed that He was the chosen one sent to redeem a fallen world. His ministry was only a short three years but it was a powerful one within the Jewish culture. But the Jewish leaders rejected His claims and through much manipulation of the political system and through the Roman judicial courts had Him killed. Just three days after His death, reports rolled in of His resurrection. Eyewitness accounts became numerous, and His devoted followers became bold in their teachings and more and more followers appeared in the surrounding countries. The Roman government at the time looked at this as just another sect of Judaism. Though as time went on and the problems between the Jews and the new sect increased, it became apparent that the two were not quite the same anymore. The new religion Christianity came into existence. Most people are unaware that in the beginning there was no separate religion from Judaism. The followers of Jesus still considered themselves Jews. They just believed that the promise of a savior had been fulfilled. The Jews saw them as heretics and tried to stamp out the effects. This caused much conflict that over the centuries continued and in some parts of the world still exists today. Though, as a whole, the Christian community and the Jewish community can co-exist peacefully in today’s world.

Many people I have spoken to seem to think that much of the problems in the Middle East is a relatively new issue, but the history books say otherwise. These issues have been around for centuries. Each group just seems to find new ways to express their feelings.

Abraham’s wife, Sarah, eventually died at the age of 127. A little known fact is that Abraham married again to a woman named Keturah. She bore him six more sons. Each one of these became the father of nations. From the verses it is also understood that he had other sons by various concubines. His descendants did become as numerous as the stars.

And just like siblings of today, so do these nations and religions have periods of unrest and fights. The scriptures are full of trouble between the various clans that continue to this day. You do not believe me? Check our newspapers.

Three great religions that number in the millions. All three related with a common founder. All three tied together through history and blood. All three from a dysfunctional family.

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