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2.4.1 Judaism and Islam

Both Judaism and Islam are pure monotheistic religions. The Jewish God is known as Elohim, Yahweh or YHWH and the God of Islam as Allah.

Judaism is the religion of the Jews. It is the expression of a religious and ethnic community, a way of life and basic beliefs, and values that appear in action, social order, and culture as well as in religious statements and concepts. Jews believe that God’s presence is experienced in human actions and history. Judaism maintains that the Jewish community was directly confronted by the divine; that the relationship sealed in the “covenant”) is permanent. God is viewed as the divine “Giver of Torah”, the Hebrew Scriptures, Judaism’s oral traditions (Mishna and Talmud), and interpretations of its authoritative texts (Midrash). Abraham the founder of Judaism but Isaac, Jacob and Moses are also viewed as Israel’s Fathers. The God of Israel is identified as the Creator of the world, who entered into a covenant with Abraham. God fulfilled his promises to Abraham through Moses. Further features of Judaism emerged with Moses, including the basic belief that it is the ability to make an ethical choice that defines mankind. All men are, therefore, in a covenant relationship with God. Sin is viewed as deliberate disobedience of the Law, or Torah, and the return to Torah is considered a deliberate choice.

Islam has no real founder. The Prophet Muhammad in Arabia promulgated it in the 7th century AD. The Arabic term Islam, literally “surrender,” describes the fundamental religious idea of Islam —that the believer, called a Muslim, accepts “surrender to the will of Allah (Arabic: God).”  It is a major world religion belonging to the Semitic family; Allah is viewed as the sole God—creator, sustainer, and restorer of the world. The will of Allah, to which man must submit, is made known through the sacred scriptures, the Qur’an (Koran), which Allah revealed to his messenger, Muhammad. In Islam Muhammad is considered the last of a series of prophets (including Adam, Noah, Jesus, and others), and his message cancels and replaces the “revelations” attributed to earlier prophets. Monotheism and a strict adherence to certain essential religious practices are imposed. The religion taught by Muhammad spread rapidly through the Middle East to Africa, Europe, the Indian subcontinent, the Malay Peninsula, and China. Although there are many sects within Islam, all Muslims are bound by a common faith and a sense of belonging to a single community.