August 28, 2007

A number of commonalities between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam exist

Abrahamic religion
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Abrahamic religion is a term of Islamic origin,[1][2] commonly used to designate the three prevalent monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam[1][2] – which claim Abraham (Hebrew: Avraham אַבְרָהָם ; Arabic: Ibrahim ابراهيم ) as a part of their sacred history. Other, smaller religions that identify with this tradition – such as the Baha'i Faith – are sometimes included.[3]
Abrahamic religions account for more than half[4] of the world's total population. Today, there are around 3.8 billion followers of various Abrahamic religions.[citation needed] Other comparable religious groupings include the Dharmic religions of India, and the Taoic religions of East Asia - both terms being parallels of the 'Abrahamic' category. Contents[show]
Origin of the expression
The expression originates from the Qur'an's repeated references to the 'religion of Abraham' (see Suras 2:130,135; 3:95; 6:123,161; 12:38; 16:123; 22:78). In the Qur'an this expression refers specifically to Islam, sometimes in contrast to Judaism and Christianity, as for example in Sura 2:135: "They say: "Become Jews or Christians if ye would be guided (To salvation)." Say thou: "Nay! (I would rather) the Religion of Abraham the True, and he joined not gods with Allah." In the Qur'an Abraham is declared to have been a Muslim, 'not a Jew nor a Christian' (Sura 3:67). However the expression 'Abrahamic religion' is generally used to imply that that all three faiths share a common heritage.
A number of commonalities between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam exist:
Monotheism. All three religions worship one God, although Jews and Muslims sometimes criticize the common Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity as polytheistic. Indeed, there exists among their followers a general understanding that they worship the same one God.
A prophetic tradition. All three religions recognize figures called "prophets," though their lists differ, as do their interpretations of the prophetic role.
Semitic origins. Judaism and Islam originated among Semitic peoples – namely the Jews and Arabs, respectively – while Christianity arose out of Judaism.
A basis in divine revelation rather than, for example, philosophical speculation or custom.
An ethical orientation. All three religions speak of a choice between good and evil, which is conflated with obedience or disobedience to God.
A linear concept of history, beginning with the Creation and the concept that God works through history.
Association with the desert, which some commentators believe has imbued these religions with a particular ethos.
Devotion to the traditions found in the Bible and the Qur'an, such as the stories of Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses.
It is the choice of Abraham as a common label that makes them Abrahamic. It stems from his reputation as the "Father of many" (which is the literal meaning of his name). Since he is claimed by Jewish tradition as the ancestor of the Israelites, and his son Ishmael (Isma'il) by Muslim tradition as the ancestor of the Arabs, and by Christians as a "father in faith" (see Romans 4) the phrase may be meant to suggest that all three religions come from one source.
For example, Zoroastrianism is monotheistic, prophetic, ethical, revelatory, oriented toward history, and associated with the desert, though it is Indo-Iranian rather than Semitic, and does not identify with the characters and events of the Bible and Qur'an so it is not Abrahamic although there is a strong likelihood of Zoroastrian influence on the Abrahamic religions. Meanwhile Sikhism is monotheistic, ethical, revelatory, and arguably prophetic, though its origins are Indic rather than Middle Eastern [citation needed].
Adam, Noah, and Moses are also common to all three religions. As for why we do not speak of an "Adamic," "Noachian," or "Mosaic" family, this may be for fear of confusion. Adam and Noah are said to be the ancestors of all humanity (though as named characters they are specific to the Biblical/Qur'anic tradition). Moses is closely associated with Judaism and, through Judaism, continuing into Christianity; Moses is regarded as a Prophet in Islam, but the term "Mosaic" may imply a genealogical lineage which the first Muslims -- being Arab -- did not share (e.g., descending from Ishmael). Thus, the scope suggested by the first two terms is larger than intended, while the third is too small.

All the Abrahamic religions are related to (or even derived from) Judaism as practiced in ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah prior to the Babylonian Exile, at the beginning of the 1st millennium BC.
Many believe that Judaism in Biblical Israel was renovated and reformed to some extent in the 6th century BC by Ezra and other priests returning to Israel from the exile.
Samaritanism separated from Judaism in the next few centuries.
The Noachide faith - see also Noahide Law - is also based upon the faith of Abraham as revealed in the Torah and Bible, yet Noachides are not necessarily descendants of Abraham, although a Noachide might be of Abrahamic lineage through any of the children of Abraham. Because there is no way of tracing this accurately, the Noachides are determined by their ancestral connection to Noah, who was Abraham's ancestor. It is taught that Noah, and his son, Shem, who was Abraham's grandfather and also taught Abraham's son Yitzhak (Isaac), was also monotheistic, but there is no evidence to show that they attempted to influence any one other than family members regarding the elements of their faith.
The Druze of northern Israel and southern Lebanon hold to Abrahamic faith of the Noachide covenant through their ancestor Yitro (Jethro), the father-in-law of Moshe (Moses) (Israel's greatest prophet).
Some Christian religions teach that Christianity began with Adam, but that its teachings were rejected and were temporarily replaced with what we now call Judaism, to be restored at the coming of the Messiah. Others believe that Christianity actually originated in Judea, at the end of the 1st century A.D., as a radically reformed branch of Judaism (see Early Christianity). Regardless, the Christianity of the common era spread to ancient Greece and Rome, and from there to most of Europe, Asia, the Americas, and many other parts of the world. Over the centuries, Christianity split into many separate churches and denominations. A major split in the 5th century separated various Oriental Churches from the Catholic church centered in Rome. Other major splits were the East-West Schism in the 11th century, separating the Roman Catholic Church from the Eastern Orthodox Churches; and the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, that gave birth to hundreds of independent Protestant denominations.
Islam originated in the 7th century, in the Arabian cities of Mecca and Medina. Although not a dissident branch of either Judaism or Christianity, Muslims believe it to be a continuation of and replacement for them. The Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, held itself to be the final word of God and its message was that of all the prophets. As an example of the similarities between the faiths, Muslims believe in a version of the story of Genesis and in the lineal descent of the Arabs from Abraham through Ishmael, who was conceived through Abraham's servant Hagar.

The significance of Abraham
For Jews he is primarily a revered ancestor or Patriarch (referred to as "Our Father Abraham") to whom God made several promises: that he would have numberless descendants, and that they would receive the land of Canaan (the "Promised Land"). Somewhat less divisively, according to Jewish tradition, Abraham was the first post-flood person to reject idolatry through rational analysis. (Shem and Eber carried on the Tradition from Noah), hence he symbolically appears as a fundamental figure for monotheistic religion.
For Christians, Abraham is a spiritual forebear rather than a direct ancestor.[5] For example, Christian iconography depicts him as an early witness to the Trinity in the form of three "angels" who visited him (the Hospitality of Abraham). In Christian belief, Abraham is a model of faith,[6] and his intention to obey God by offering up Isaac is seen as a foreshadowing of God's offering of his son, Jesus.[7] A longstanding tendency of Christian commentators is to interpret God's promises to Abraham, as applying to Christianity (the "True Israel") rather than Judaism (whose representatives rejected Christ). See also New Covenant.
In Islam, Ibrahim is considered one of a line of prophets beginning with Adam (Genesis 20:7 also calls him a "prophet"), as well as the "first Muslim" – i.e., the first monotheist in a world where monotheism was lost. He is often referred to as Ibrahim al-Hanif or Abraham the Monotheist. Islam holds that it was Ishmael (Isma'il) rather than Isaac whom Ibrahim was instructed to sacrifice.

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