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Islam comes chronologically after Judaism, and then Christianity. Assuming that Islam considers Christianity to be sort of an update to Judaism (is that wrong?), and that Islam is the final, correctly updated version, why does Islam resemble Judaism so much more than it resembles Christianity?

For example, many aspects of Sharia are very similar to Halakha, down to extremely specific details. Both Judaism and Islam focus heavily on following God's command, while Christianity focuses much more on belief in God and in Jesus as the messiah. Also, Islam's version of monotheism is much closer to the Jewish version than to the Christian version.

So if Christianity is an intermediate step between Judaism and Islam, why does Islam seem to sort of "retreat" from the changes made in Christianity?

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    Because Christianity is about grace - forgiveness of sin - and not about practice. Both Judaism and Islam are far more orthopractic (concerned about right action) than orthodoix (concerned about right belief.). Note: This isn't an Islamic answer, however, so I'm purposely not calling this an answer, unless invited to do so. – Affable Geek May 13 '13 at 20:54
  • @AffableGeek, right. My question is exactly why that is the case. – Daniel May 13 '13 at 21:38
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    @Daniel, because Christianity and Judaism corrupted in different ways. Judaism has been corrupted by its own priests. Christianity is corrupted by extending its form with old Greek and Roman pagan belief. The first big corruption was made by Roman Emperor Constantine I in Council of Nicaea (AC 325). Especially after Renaissance, nearly every single human in the Western World found opportunity to spread his/her own interpretation about Christianity. – kalahari Mar 1 '15 at 0:12
  • @AffableGeek That's plainly wrong, the only sin that lands you in hell forever in islam is disbelief. Everything else is secondary. – G. Bach Dec 14 '16 at 21:28
  • You're correct in noting this apparent evolution of Islam from Christianity and Judaism. But note also that Buddhism evolved from Hinduism, Sikhism evolved from Hinduism and Islam etc. Even within Christianity we have Protestantism evolving from Catholicism, within Islam Shia Islam evolving from Sunni Islam – Larry Harson Nov 26 '17 at 19:58
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Allow me to re-align the question a little bit before answering. None of the religions is really an "update" as such. There is nothing lacking or imperfect in either Judaism or Christianity, or the message or scripture or Law of any of the Prophets (upon them all be peace and blessings). The only reason they are different is because

  1. They were meant for different groups of people at different times. Judaism was meant specifically for the Children of Israel between Moses (peace be upon him) and Jesus (peace be upon him). They had a different law for the time of Abraham (peace be upon him) and Jacob (peace be upon him). Christianity was also meant for the Children of Israel, between Jesus (peace be upon him) and Muhammad (peace be upon him). We know this because the preaching of all the Prophets and Messengers from the nation of the Children of Israel was directed at themselves - they were never directed to preach to other nations, even neighboring ones. Islam as brought by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is unique in that it is the final revelation, for all of mankind until the end of time. There were other Laws brought by different Prophets (Noah (peace be upon him) for example, and others too), that were meant for a specific nation at a specific time.
  2. Both Judaism and Christianity were corrupted by man. We believe Judaism was corrupted by the rabbis of the Children of Israel to suit their whims and desires. The Qur'an accuses them of literally changing the Word of God. The Christians, similarly, strayed from pure monotheism and instead made their prophet divine, in the process attributing a son to God (far above is He from such things).

The reason for any similarity (less or more) between Judaism and Christianity and Islam is because they are all from the same source. Theology-wise, they were revealed identically. There is no difference between (pure) Islam, (pure) Christianity, and (pure) Judaism when it comes to theology. The Law is slightly different from one to another, and we don't know fully why that is. We do know for example that the progressive harshness of Judaic law was because of the transgressions of the Children of Israel. There may be other reasons as well.

As for why modern Christianity looks so different from modern Islam and Judaism, it may be more instructive to look at a different question: how different is modern Christianity from Jesus-era Christianity? We don't believe that the trinity was originally part of Christianity, and we don't believe that the entirety of ceremonial law was abrogated with the coming of Jesus (peace be upon him). So we believe (and this is borne historically) that modern Christianity is very very different from early Christianity. Judaism also underwent changes, and Islam even less so. Islamic theology is preserved in the texts word for word.

With that background, to answer your final question - 1) there is no question of intermediate steps and 2) Islam does not retreat from the differences between modern Christianity and Judaism - the following may sound pretentious, but it's not me, it's God saying so - rather, Islam corrects them.

And Allah knows better.

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    So does this just mean that Christianity has strayed more from where it was originally than Judaism has? And therefore, since Judaism is closer to it's original form (which was correct and equivalent to Islam) than Christianity (which was also correct and equivalent to Islam) is, it appears closer in modern times to Islam than Christianity appears to Islam? Is that a correct understanding of what you have written? – Daniel May 8 '13 at 4:50
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    @Daniel that captures most of it. I wouldn't say either of them were "equivalent" - they are incomparable because they were meant for different people at different times. In their respective times, they were the revealed Law of their people. – Ansari May 8 '13 at 4:54
  • @Ansari In your answer, by claiming that "judaism" (Musa peace be upon him hadn't heard such a term in his lifetime) was specifically for Jews you are making a mistake: if it had been as such, Musa (peace be upon him) would not preach to Pharaoh and his people. – user36339 Mar 20 at 14:59
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salam(peace) i understand that this post is old but just to contribute in case you dont feel your question was full answered a muslim scholar from egypt (al azhar) once stated "strict rules were placed on Judaism in which Christianity came to lighten and relive and islam came to balance"... however to add to it.. christiaty along time ago around the medivela and renaissance times when it was most influential and powerful extremely resembled Judaism.. it also varied from sects however even some sects banned alacohol and pork, and wearing the headscarf was compulsory... a good example may be Calvin - a reformist (followers known as Calvin) who set up it Geneva and had basically resembled Saudi arabia however both are extreme examples of either religion... further it also depends what you consider to be the bible as for example the new testament does not forbid anything really.. as in in comparison to islam and judaism acohol is allowed (as well as pork but not a big deal)...premarital relationships.. basically there is nothing that really tells you what is forbidden and what is permissible... as in it doesn't say tatoos are forbbiden or permissible but the old testament has forbidden it

hope i answered your query

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Why is Islam like Judaism?

Because the basic beliefs are the same:

  1. Shema (Judaism), Tawheed (Islam) = One God
  2. Human beings are inherently good (no original sin)
  3. God forgives sin---no human/God sacrifice necessary

Aspects of law are also the same

  1. All are equal before the law
  2. Innocent until proven guilty

Religion is understood as a set of ethico-moral principles rather than a discourse on the nature of God (theology) and these ethico-moral principles are transferred from ideas into practice through "law".

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Muslims believe that Islam is the religion of all the Prophets (AS Adam - Muhammad SAW). You can read the Qur'an Surah Yunus: 72 and 85, Ali Imran: 52 and 67, Al Baqoroh: 128 and 133, Yusuf:101.

When Muslims pray like Jews, because it is basically the worship Muslims (taught by Muhammad SAW) is an improvement of the teachings of previous prophets.

And you should know that a Muslim will always try to not be like Jews, especially in matters of worship

Wallahu a'lam

  • I don't think this answers the question either. Maybe I'm misunderstanding? I know that Islam considers itself to be the religion of all of the prophets. I'm not asking about them. I'm asking why modern Islam seems so much more like Judaism than it does like Christianity even though Christianity came after Judaism and before Islam. – Daniel May 8 '13 at 4:00
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    Since there are no examples of worship that exemplified our prophet Muhammad SAW derived from Christianity .. – matzone May 8 '13 at 4:15
  • Islam "improved" Judaism? Then why don't Jews believe in Islam? If Islam was such an improvement, surely Jews would recognize it. – Curious1 Jun 9 '14 at 20:56
  • @Curious1 .. conform our belief that the Quran is a refinement of the previous books including his book that the Jewish, Torah. The Jews will never recognize Islam because they never want to acknowledge the Prophet Muhammad as a prophet just as the Prophet Muhammad did not come from the Jews and you should know that the Prophet Muhammad did the worship as the Prophet Ibrahim's worship .. – matzone Jun 10 '14 at 4:40
  • @matzone why are you surprised that Jews wouldn't recognize him? The Jewish nation began during the Exodus from Egypt, and surrounded by miracles. Millions of people witnesses the miracles brought through Moses. Why would they start following some lone illiterate guy in the desert who claims to be a prophet? – Curious1 Jun 15 '14 at 17:02
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Islam resembles Christianity much more in some aspects and Judaism in other aspects. A relation in the progression of Divine guidance (revelation) can be seen if the three Abrahamic faiths are put in a historical context. Whether we start with the Prophets of the pre-Abrahamic period or the Prophet Abraham (puh), all the three faiths agree on one point: polytheism/idolatry was an infestation that God sent his Prophets to clean up.

The history of Judaism can be summed up as an effort to convert mankind from polytheism to monotheism. We find a progression of mankind from polytheism to henotheism in the journey towards monotheism. Jews and Christians consider Abraham (puh) to be a henotheist rather than a monotheist. Even Moses (puh) is accused of henotheistic tendencies. Only in the post-exilic period does Judaism acquire an undisputed monotheistic character. Quran vindicates all the Prophets accused of henotheism, but we do find from Quran that even in Moses' time some of the Israelites still had affinity for polytheism. To sum it up the story of Judaism is a struggle towards monotheism. By the time of Christianity

  1. Judaism perfected monotheism.
  2. Judaism was specific to Bani-Israel.
  3. Judaism became religion of the Book (Torah/Law), Prophets were not as central to the religion as the Book.

Christianity inherited all these and the Christians of the Apostolic era were as monotheistic as modern day Muslims or Jews (in fact even more monotheistic than some Muslims). However, within a very short time span it was influenced by Hellenistic, Gnostic thoughts. Ironically, while at the same time monotheism had started to take neoplatonic direction, gentile Christianity actually globalized "monotheism." Jesus (puh) became so important that Christology to this day remains the dominant trait of Christianity. The Law was pushed back, abrogated rather. To sum up the story of Christianity is a globalization of faith in one God. By the time of Islam

  1. Christianity had globalized monotheism.
  2. Corrupted monotheism (the doctrine of Trinity was in full force, most Unitarians excommunicated).
  3. Reversing (3) of Judaism, the Book was pushed back and Christianity became religion of Christ (Prophet in Apostolic age).

Islam inherited all that. The most prominent aspect of Islam is restoring balance between the Book and the Prophet (Quran and the Sunnah) - neither shadows the other. Islam continues to proclaim Judaic monotheism for the whole globe in the Christian spirit. Christianity's antinomianism is corrected and due emphasis is put on "works" and this is closer to Judaism, but at the same time Sharia is simpler than Halakhah (take for instance the laws of Halal/Kosher food).

Of course, this is just considering some aspects.

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Have you considered the possibilities that Judaism maybe a failed attempt in realigning the dharmic beliefs of hinduism/bhudism/etc to a single monotheistic belief. It succeeded in unifing the Gods to one God, but failed in other aspects.

Then came Christianity trying to realign the other aspects to the eastern thoughts of dharmic beliefs but got it wrong by bringing the trinity concept in it.

Then came Islam fixed both problems of Trinity and other aspects such as concepts of life after death, etc; but then was hijacked by a mixture of both Judaic and Christian culture and became what it is now the Sunni/Shia sects.

Practices such as veiling, stoning, and confusion on the ideas of resurection and reincarnation and life after death, practices of spirituality and mysticism bashing and calling it heretic sorcery, etc.

wallahua3lam

ps i'll try to provide more details as more queries surfaces

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    I hadn't considered that. Where are you getting that idea from? This also doesn't really answer the question of why Islam is more like Judaism than it is like Christianity. – Daniel May 8 '13 at 0:27
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    @daniel the answer is suggesting that the motives are likely to be arbitrarily political, as it is for including the various books within the bible depending upon the religion: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Books_of_the_Bible – Larry Harson May 10 '13 at 1:39
  • Disagree. Islam acknowledges the Prohphet-hood of Moses (PBUH) and also the Jewish religion, though deeming it to be corrupted. The fundamental disagreement of Sunni/Shia is upon the succession of Prophet Muhammad (PUBH). I don't believe it is "hijacked by a mixture of both Juadic and Christian culture". Allah knows best. – user2350 Jun 4 '13 at 4:55

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