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PATHEOS LIBRARY OF

World Faiths & Religions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the relationship between Islam, Christianity and Judaism?

According to the Quran, there is only one religion: submission to God (in Arabic, Islam). Those who ‘submit' are muslims (literally, submitters). This is not only the religious belief that all humans are born knowing instinctively, it also the only religion that God's prophets have taught throughout history around the world. All religious traditions that deviate from this primordial faith, which received its final form in Muhammad's teachings, are deviations caused by humans' inability to resist their own weaknesses and sinful inclinations. From the Muslim perspective, then, Judaism and Christianity are two religions that were originally based on God's revelations to true prophets-in the case of Judaism the Torah of Moses, and in the case of Christianity the Gospel of Jesus. But the followers of Moses and Jesus corrupted their original teachings; in the case of Judaism, introducing beliefs such as seeing Jews as religiously exceptional and, in the case of Christianity, ascribing divinity to Jesus. The Quran spends a great deal of time urging Christians and Jews to abandon and correct these beliefs, drawing on Old Testament stories such as the fall of Adam and his spouse from Eden, the deliverance of the Jews from Egypt at the hands of Moses, and the saga of Joseph. The Quranic versions of these stories differ from those known in Judaism and Christianity, and the differences emphasize areas in which the Quran says that those earlier communities have erred. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, healed lepers and raised the dead from the grave. But in the Quran Jesus states that he is but a "word from God," a mortal man like any other. The Jews were brought forth from Pharaoh's persecution, faltered in Sinai, and were lead to the Promised Land. But in the Quran their standing with God depends solely on their piety and devotion to Him. In an important way, however, Christianity and Judaism are not just two religions of the world's many faiths. The Quran identifies them both with, and calls them both back to, the prophet for whom Muhammad is the ultimate heir, the figure whom the Quran promotes as the ultimate monotheist: Abraham. The notion of an Abrahamic legacy of pure monotheism, abandoned by Christians and Jews according to the Quran but restored by Muhammad, is a central theme in Islam.