The Characteristics of Judaism, Christianity & Islam

Rembrandt's famous depiction of Abraham.  Abraham is considered the patriarch of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
... Images

Collectively called the Abrahamic traditions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam comprise the major monotheistic religions of the world. Though history and current events suggests that enmity and antagonism often defines these faiths toward one another, in fact, these three faiths share an intimate connection with each other.

1 Children of Abraham

These three monotheistic traditions all trace their origins back to Abraham. Abraham stands as the central figure uniting these faiths. While Jews and Christians view their lineage through Isaac, Abraham’s second son, Muslims recognize Ishmael, his first son, as the proper heir of Abraham.

Unfortunately, this distinction of Isaac over Ishmael and vice versa remains a bone of contention throughout much of the history between these three faiths. Nonetheless, Abraham remains the central figure for all these traditions. As such, the figure of Abraham often serves as a bridge for interfaith dialogues between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

2 Monotheism

All three faiths abide by the principles of monotheism. Monotheism is the belief in one god that is the source of all reality and is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. Monotheism is a defining aspect of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. All three faiths believe in one God that spoke to Abraham as well as Moses and all the other various prophets of the the Old Testament.

3 Differences By Degrees

As contentious as these three faiths often seem toward one another, they differ, in most respects by degree rather than kind. For example, Jews and Muslims do not believe that Jesus is the son of God nor a manifestation of God on Earth, a fundamental belief in Christianity:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (New Testament, John 3:16).

Jews, in fact, deny Jesus any sanctity. Muslims, however, hold Jesus in high regard and consider him a prophet. Interestingly enough, Jesus is mentioned in the Quran more than Muhammad, the messenger of Islam.

As the younger tradition, many Jews and Christians do not recognize Islam as the proper heir to the Abrahamic faiths. Muslims, though, view Islam as a reiteration and correction of Judaism and Christianity.

4 Shared Values

While their exists theological dilemmas between these three faiths that are rooted in metaphysical quandaries, they do share, to an almost exacting degree, the same moral and ethical outlook. All three subscribe to The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have done to you. This maxim is reiterated time and again in all three faiths. As such, compassion, justice, and humility serve as the foundations of the proper religious life in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and, perhaps, toward a greater understanding of one another.

Jim Booth is a writer living in Los Angeles. He is currently pursuing graduate work in Philosophy and Religion. The study of faith, in all its various guises, has been a paramount pursuit for him. He has published work in 'The Seattle Review (2005),' 'Rattle (2003),' and 'Zouch (2011).'