What is more similar to Judaism? Christianity, or Islam?
Personally, I think it depends on how you look at it.
When it comes to laws, particularly dietary laws, Jews and Muslims have a ton more in common. Christians don’t follow any dietary laws. Though, if I am not mistaken, Eastern Orthodox still abstain from blood in their meat products. I also know Ethiopian Orthodox follow virtually the same laws as Jews, and some Coptic Orthodox abstain from pork. But that’s a topic for another time. Generally, Christians (particularly in the west) don’t have dietary laws, or at least laws we don’t see as obligatory. Jews and Muslims on the other hand have virtually the same dietary laws. Kosher and Halal are very similar with some modifications. Other than that, they are very similar.
Also when it comes to the nature of God, again Jews and Muslims have the same outlook. Whereas Christians believe in Trinitarian Monotheism, that God is one being but three persons; both Jews and Muslims are Unitarians, seeing God as one being and also one person. That is why Muslims, though they believe in Jesus, do not believe in his divinity.
Muslims and Jews also have stricter views of prayer. Muslims pray 5 times a day towards Mecca. Jews typically pray 3 times a day towards Jerusalem. Christianity doesn’t have a specific guideline on how many times to pray a day, though priest in the Latin Church have to pray the liturgy of the hours several times a day. Eastern Christians also generally face the east for prayer.
Those are the primary similarities between Islam and Judaism. But, there are also a lot of similarities between Christianity and Judaism that Islam does not acknowledge.
The most obvious is the Tanakh (Old Testament) story’s, which Jews and Christians have no difference over and we generally believe in the same things. True,Christians do have some extra books in their Old Testament (with the exception of Protestants) although, Jews don’t really deny the reality of most of those extra books they just don’t include it in their canon’s. For example, Catholic’s and Orthodox include 1 and 2 Maccabees which relates to the story of Hanukkah, something very important to Jews. Now, Muslims on the other hand, while generally believing the basics of the Hebrew biblical story’s, do have some modifications and additions. Both Jews and Christians believe it was Isaac Abraham was going to sacrifice, but Muslims believe it was actually Ishmael. There is also Solomon, who Jews and Christians acknowledge fell into idolatry, whereas Muslims believe he never did.
There are also concepts such as a Priesthood which both Jews and Christians share, but Islam has no concept of. Jews believe priest (Kohen) were descendants of Aaron, the brother of Moses. who would offer many different kinds of sacrifices in the Temple. Since the Temple has been destroyed, sacrifices can no longer be offered (though, Orthodox Jews believe that in the future age they will resume), priest however do still have some limited duties in the Jewish world, even today, particularly among the Orthodox, and to small extent among Conservative Jews. Christians also believe in a priesthood, believing that Jesus is our high priest in the order of Melchizedek and that all priest today act in the person of Christ. Even though Protestant generally don’t believe in a ministerial priesthood, they still believe in a universal priesthood, which is something foreign to Islam.
Jews and Christians also believe the duty of a priest is to offer sacrifices. Though Christians and modern Judaism today may have different views of the purpose of sacrifice, it is still seen as the highest way to worship God. As said before, Jews can’t offer sacrifice because there is no temple, but Orthodox Jews want to resume the practice again sometime in the future. Christian priest offer the sacrifice of Mass on Sunday, and in the Roman rite, everyday. It is seen as a true sacrifice, offered up to God, the very body and blood of Jesus Christ in the form of bread and wine, it is united to the sacrifice of the cross, and has been continually offered up throughout the ages. Muslims do practice animal sacrifice today, however they typically only offer them up on special occasions or during Hajj because they see it as a way of recalling what Abraham did. They view prayer as the ultimate form of worship, and while prayer is very important to both Judaism and Christianity for worship, the sacrifice is where the highest form of worship is.
Jews and Christians also share some similarity’s in the conversion process. Catechesis is about 6 months to a year and afterwards a person is baptized. For Jews, it is Mikveh, which converts have to preform (if they’re men, circumcision first, then Mikveh). Muslims on the other hand see conversion (or reversion from their perspective) as simply reciting the Shahada which takes 5 seconds to recite and it can be done by anybody anywhere.
When it comes to the Messiah, although Jews and Christians have very different views, we both generally acknowledge the ultimate power of the Messiah and that he will (or already is) king and that he will draw many to him. Muslims simply see the Messiah [Jesus] as the last prophet sent to the Israelite’s, and although he will play a bigger role in his second coming, he is not the “ultimate end” if you will. His arrival is not the ultimate fate of humanity, and that he too will be judged by God one day.
There are many more similarities between Christianity and Judaism, and Judaism and Islam, but these are the few I have put forth. Ultimately, depending on how you look at it, Christianity could be seen as more similar to Judaism, after all, it came of Judaism; but Islam can also seem more similar to Judaism than Christianity does. I think from the outside, Islam has more similarity’s to Judaism. But from the inside, Christianity has more similarity’s. What do you think? What is your opinion?