Reconciling Religions Essay, Research Paper
The main difference between the three great world religions of today, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, is the way each religion views the man known as Jesus of Nazareth. For many Jews, Jesus is a scholar, or perhaps a rabbi in the Jewish community, who overstepped his boundaries into self-proclaimed divinity; to some Jews, Jesus Christ did not exist at all. To Christians, he is the son of an all-loving and all-powerful god. Finally, for the people of the Islamic faith, Jesus is another prophet in the long line of prophets in the Jewish tradition. Despite this major difference, however, these three religions are very compatible, holding many of the same values and principles. It is these principles, and their belief in the same God, and not the belief about the divinity or status of one mortal man, that bind together the spirits of these people.
Judaism?s basic tenants, the Ten Commandments, are also held by the Christians of the world. Many of the Muslim laws, outlined in the Koran, mirror these commandments. The first of the commandments given to Moses states,
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and forth generation of those who reject me. (New Oxford Annotated Bible, Ex. 20:4-6)
is very similar to a passage in the Koran that states, ?Call the sinners, their wives, and the idols that they worshipped besides Allah, and lead them to the path of hell. Keep them there for questioning?? (Saint 106) Both laws state that any belief in a god other than Allah, known as Yahweh to the Jews and ?I am? to the Christians, is strictly forbidden and will be met with strict punishment.
Another example of one of the commandments being similar to a law in the Koran is as basic as the sixth commandment, ?Thou shalt not commit adultery.? (New Oxford Annotated Bible Ex. 20:14) Not only does the Koran condemn adultery, but gives the reason that adultery is ?foul and indecent.? (Saint 112)
A second piece of common ground is the belief that the three peoples will be protected by God for believing in Him. In the New Testament, Jesus of Nazareth asks of his Father before he is taken away by the Pharisees, ?And now I am no longer in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one.? (New Oxford Annotated Bible, Jn. 17:11) The words of Jesus are enough to comfort his both contemporary followers and those who follow him in the present day. In the Old Testament, the Psalms tell us that Yahweh has said, ?Those who love me, I will deliver; /I will protect those who know my name. /When they call to me, I will answer them; /I will be with them in trouble, /I will rescue them and honor them. /With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.? (91:14-16) Finally, in the Koran, Allah is said to have given his followers ?houses to dwell in and the skins of beasts for tents. He has ?furnished [ the Muslims] with garments to protect [them] from the heat, and with coats of armour to shield [them] in [their] wars. Thus He perfects His favours to [them], so that [they] may submit to Him.? (Saint 121)
A third and final example of the similarities between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism is the concept that life is holy. ?Evil are the ways of those who deny the life to come,? (120) states the Koran. Even an unborn child is considered life and it is abhorrent to disallow this life to exist. The sanctity of life in Judaism can be traced back to the book of Genesis. The god of Abraham says, ?For your own lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning: from every animal I will require it and from human beings, each one for the blood of another, I will require a reckoning for human life.? (New Oxford Annotated Bible, 9:5) Thus, the holiness of life is proclaimed to all the inhabitants of earth, not just those whom are made in Yahweh?s image but also the animals He created. Finally, in Christianity, Jesus Christ gives up his life so that the world?s sins may be forgiven. It is through this loss of holy life through which all sins are redeemed. Jesus says, ?I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.? (Jn. 14:6) Therefore, the sanctity of life in Christianity is so great that the only way to achieve eternal life is through the loss of life by the religion?s most holy figure.
It is through these similarities between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam that the members of each faith can reconcile having some belief in each of the related religions. The comparison of the faiths does not need to rest upon the shoulders of one mortal man. Jesus? divinity is negligible because each religion teaches the same moral code, the same concept of god and believes in the holiness of the basic human condition: life. As Kahlil Gibran, a Lebanese poet phrases in his poem ?The Voice of the Poet?, ?I love you when you bow down in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.?
New Oxford Annotated Bible, The. New York: Oxford University Press. 1994.
Saint Anselm College. Readings in the Humanities. Manchester: Copley Custom Publishing Group,