Ethics in Judaism, Christianity & Islam
29 SEP 2017
Judaism, Christianity and Islam comprise the Abrahamic traditions. At root, monotheism, a belief in one God, serves as the foundation of these particular faiths. As such, they share remarkable similarities regarding their respective ethics and morality. Often, their moral tenets are indistinguishable from one another. These three traditions place great emphasis on justice, equality and compassion as guiding principles for their adherents.
All three faiths require charity and the proper, respectful treatment of those in need. In Judaism, feeding the poor is considered mitzvah, a good deed, which is considered an obligatory duty. In Christianity, Jesus’ example of helping those in need is evident throughout the four Gospels and provides an example for Christians to follow. In Islam, the zakat, or alms, tax requires Muslims to pay a portion of their wealth to those less fortunate than themselves.
2 Compassion and The Golden Rule
Acts of selflessness are in keeping with the tenets of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Compassion draws one closer to God, according to all three traditions. As such, the golden rule, found in all three faiths, exemplifies this belief. The Torah, in Leviticus 19:18, tells man to “ ... love your neighbor as yourself." The Gospel, in Matthew 7:12, advises that, “Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them." And in the sayings and teachings of Muhammad, the hadith advises that “Not one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”
The Abrahamic faiths place a strong emphasis on justice, as well. Fairness and equality are major themes in the sacred texts of all three religions. For example, while some view the maxim of an ‘eye for an eye’ as condoning violence in the Torah and Quran, the verse, in fact, curbs violence. According to noted scholar Huston Smith, rather than allowing for unmitigated retribution for any and all harm, it limits it to a recompense of equal value. Also, Christianity and Islam add that God favors forgiveness the most rather than seeking vengeance.
All three faiths adhere to strict monotheism, a belief in only one, supreme God. Monotheism serves an ethical purpose, as well. Ideally, this principle unifies belief to a singular entity. Accordingly, the Abrahamic traditions view all of creation to manifest from the same God. As a result, principles of compassion and justice extend to all living things based on this unifying principle.