When judging religions, you need to judge the teachings of the religion,
going to the source material, because that is the root, around which
all the different ways to adhere circle.
Which commandments and values are most important and most repeated
throughout the scripture? What are the marching orders that are in effect?
In both Judaism and Christianity,
it’s “hear o’ Israel, YHWH, our God, is one and only,
and you shall love YHWH from all your heart, soul and ability”,
and “love your neighbor as yourself”,
both of which come from two different books within Torah,
the Jewish scriptures.
Christianity tends to omit the “hear o’ Israel” part though.
In Islam, it’s “there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his
messenger”. These two phrases exist individually in Qur’an,
but nowhere in conjunction. Nevertheless, it is the ubiquitous
, the recitation of which marks oneself a Muslim.
In Judaism, the emphasis and weight is on following God’s commandments
and studying his word. These commandments provide the framework of every
person’s life, as well as the entire nation’s life, governing things
like what is food and what is not, how one should treat their neighbors
(with charity) and how one should treat idolatry (stay far away and
remove from midst).
In Christianity, the emphasis and weight is on salvation through God’s
grace as opposed to through one’s own works; in the life and teachings
of Jesus, and in a personal relationship with God, filled with everyday
bidirectional communication with God through his Holy Spirit.
In Islam, the emphasis and weight is on the unquestioning submission to
every little thing that Muhammad said and did, ranging from the five daily
prayers to how they should wipe their butt. While nominally Islam forbids shirk
— the practice of associating partners with Allah —
in practice Muhammad
is essentially considered identical to Allah, in that everything he said
and did is to be considered teaching directly from Allah.
Relationship with God
In both Judaism
and Christianity, God is considered metaphorically the father of everyone,
and we are to approach him like his children.
In Islam, Allah is the father of nobody, and the best relationship one
can have with Allah is like a slave and master.
Judaism focuses always in the present day, drawing from past experiences
such as the freedom from slavery in Egypt. Past good events are much
Christianity focuces heavily on the hereafter, with one of the highest
virtues being inviting other people into God’s kingdom and thereby
giving them eternal life.
Islam focuses on both the present and in the hereafter.
Judaism’s stance with unbelievers is that the Torah forbids taking an
idolator as a wife, or having idolators in the midst of their nation. This
is something that is not really enforced today, as the state of Israel is
religious Jews will not take for a wife one who is not religiously Jewish.
Foreign nations serving foreign idols are no concern; it
is God’s responsibility to judge their sins. Israel itself should only
take care to not let themselves be tempted into serving idols. Nations
that continue to live in sin and outside the covenant that makes one
part of Israel, will be judged by God sooner or later.
Christianity’s stance with unbelievers is that all mankind has sinned,
and everyone, no matter which nation, religion, skin color, or past deeds,
can be forgiven and taken as a child of God, if
they repent and turn
from their wicked ways. Then, God himself will guide the person towards
a new life here and in the hereafter. Those who do not repent and do
not turn, will be judged by God, and their fate is eternal separation
from God, the source of life, love and joy.
Islam concerns itself more with unbelievers than it does with Muslims
themselves. About 64% of Qur’an, 37% of Hadith and 81% of Sira
concerns the unbelievers, i.e. the kafir. Unbelievers living amidst
Muslims are traditionally given three options: Convert to Islam, or live
as a lower-class citizen who is barred from many of the freedoms that
Muslims enjoy, and who have to pay a religious tax that will be used
to advance Islam — or be killed. Muslims living amidst unbelievers
are advised to work towards increasing their numbers through means
that include subterfuge (if their numbers are small) or warfare (if
their numbers are large). Muhammad himself said that he has been made
victorious with terror.
Transgression and apostasy
In Judaism, those who commit apostasy, willingly disregarding God’s
laws, will be cast out from their nation or killed. This is not really
enforced today, as the state of Israel is largely secular.
Those who commit small sins are to repent, atone for their sins, and reimburse the
loss. God will also forgive sins through his mercy, but often a sacrifice
of some sort is required. Human sacrifice is absolutely forbidden.
In Christianity, those who commit apostasy, denouncing their faith
in Jesus, will be grieved over, and will become essentially as they
were before they become Christian, except that there is little hope in
convincing them again, especially if they aspostasized in adulthood. Those
who commit sins, either small or large, are to be chastised in person,
and then by their congregation elders. If the person repents,
God will always forgive, and the sin has already been paid for by Jesus,
but the person must attempt to reimburse if at all possible.
In Islam, those who commit apostasy, denouncing their Islamic faith,
are to be unconditionally killed. Those who commit smaller crimes, such
as “mischief in the land”, are to be imprisoned, or their hands and
feet cut off from opposite sides, or killed.
Since Islam also teaches that every person is innately born a Muslim,
interpretations vary what should be done with people who reject Islam
without ever testifying it in the first place. Some believe that
unbelievers are apostates for this reason.
Regardless, if they choose to testify the shahada again,
Allah is merciful and they can be a Muslim again.
In Judaism, critical study of the religious texts is a virtue. Jewish study
of the Torah often engages in arguments and debates regarding the content and
application of the text. Archaelogy and study of history is encouraged.
Likewise Christianity has a long history of critical and academic study
of the Biblical scriptures, and of the historicity of the events described within.
However, criticism of certain topics deemed central
to Christianity, such as the divinity of Jesus,
or whether Bible is God’s word to begin with,
can be labeled as heresy and blasphemy in some circles.
In some other circles, most of Bible is taken metaphorically and emphasis is put on the moral teachings,
such as turning the other cheek, charity, and mercy.
Many sects of Christianity maintain that faith without
evidence is a virtue.
In Islam, criticism of Qur’an and Muhammad’s life is absolutely forbidden.
The very word “Islam” means submission. Qur’an teaches that one who
resistance to Muhammad’s judgments is not a real Muslim.
In today’s world, any implications that the Qur’an might be wrong
about something or that Muhammad might have been an evil amoral person,
are labelled as “islamophobia” and aggressively shut down.
The closest that Islam approaches the concept of critical study
is the reliability grading of Hadith texts. Some texts are graded
“Ṣaḥīḥ”, reliable, which means their chain of narration is considered authentic.
Some are labeled “ḥasan” which basically means “good enough”,
and others are “ḍaʻīf” meaning weak. Nonetheless there are disagreements
between different schools of Islam regarding which texts are considered
authentic or relevant.
Judaism does not particularly focus on the afterlife. The general
understanding is that every person has a soul, which will return to God
after they die, but the focus is in the here and now, to commit good
so that God may bless the deeds of their hands,
and so that nations will marvel who is the mighty God that gives such
righteous judgments and laws that makes their people flourish and prosper.
However, the topic of afterlife is a subject of intense debate,
and a motivation for doing those good deeds.
Christianity focuses heavily on the afterlife, which is characterized
by eternal joy and happiness in unseparated relationship with God.
Christianity teaches that there will be ultimately a judgment from God,
and some people will get to live with God, the source of life, while the
vast majority of people will be cast out to death, or eternal suffering,
depending on interpretations. The only way to be absolutely sure that you
will get the good side of the deal is to believe in Jesus and to follow
him. Salvation does not depend on anyone’s merits, so that nobody could
boast, but simply on one’s heart’s attitude towards God. Blessed are
the meek. Many people report having their lives completely changed the
moment they decide to submit to Jesus and accept Him as their Lord, in a
manner that is consistent with biblical descriptions of the presence of
Holy Spirit encompassing a person; many also report no immediate changes.
Islam makes passing mentions of the afterlife, including the well-known
teaching that the first of the joys in the Paradise will be sex
with 70 virgins. In general, the Islamic afterlife, the Jannah,
is characterized with hedonistic pleasures and
closeness to Allah. However, Islam provides no certainty whatsoever of
getting there. Allah’s mood varies, he is a known trickster, and his
mercy is completely unpredictable. One can only ever hope
good deeds (as defined by Islamic teachings) outweigh their bad deeds,
but ultimately the decision is in Allah’s hands — inshallah.
Muhammad, the perfect model of every Muslim, said he can’t know for
sure at all whether he gets there.
The other two religions
In Judaism, while Muslims serve a singular God like Jews do, Muhammad himself
is considered a false prophet, because his teachings totally fail
to line up with Torah. In the days of Moses, Muhammad would have been stoned to death.
Christians are considered idolators
for having three gods (which is an inaccurate assessment)
or for having a God that has had a presence in our reality,
and (sometimes) law-breakers for breaking God’s commandments gleefully.
However, anyone can turn
into Judaism, get circumcised and begin obeying the commandments.
Before this can happen, you have to insistently show
that you are really serious about it.
In Christianity, the Jews have blindness on their eyes, that prevents
them from seeing Jesus as their Messiah and their Savior, and Christians
are to pray for their salvation.
Some sects believe that God has forsaken Jews as a punishment for killing Jesus.
Jews worship the same god as Christians,
but Muslims are no different from any other religion that serves idols;
they are pagans. However God can forgive anyone who repents and turns
from their wicked ways. According to Christianity, Muhammad is considered
a false prophet for the same reasons as in Judaism, but also an
Anti-Christ, for he denied the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
In Islam, there are multiple views. On one hand, the Qur’an commands
Jews and Christians to judge by the Torah and the Gospel respectively,
rather than by the Qur’an, and is perfectly happy at leaving it at
that. On the other hand, the Islam teaches that Jews and Christians
are pigs and apes respectively (and quite literally), and that in the
last days, the prophet Isa will return and help Muslims massacre all
of them. Additionally modern-day Muslims believe that the scriptures
of the Jews and Christians are somehow corrupted (a view supported by
none of the Islamic writings), and that unless they turn into Islam,
they are no different from any other idolator. According to Islam, Jews
and Christians were originally Muslims: Moses was a Muslim, Jesus was
a Muslim, and so on, and they all worshipped Allah.
P.S. Anyone who tries to refute my points by
referring to something Zakir Naik said, will be subject to
ridicule. Zakir Naik is a joke.