Judaism, Christianity and Islam are three names of three historically successive divine messages. We often notice that the moderate followers of those messages try to bridge the gap among those three messages by looking for commonalities between those three divine messages. Those moderate followers often manage to find many commonalities among those messages.
In fact, if commonalities are compared to differences among those messages, we will find out that commonalities are much more than differences and that any such differences are few in number so much so that they may be counted on one’s fingers.
For example, those three divine messages call for monotheism, enjoin good, and forbid evil. Therefore, a specialist does not find it difficult to have evidence from those messages for enjoining some good thing or forbidding another evil thing.
As a result, we observe that moderate followers of those messages repeat and expatiate upon the commonalities among those messages. However, one of them scarcely answers the following intuitive question: why are there differences among those messages in the first place? Actually, if those messages really call for the same God and the same teachings and come from the same source, why are there differences among them?
Since a person scarcely bothers himself with discussing or analyzing the differences among the three divine messages for everybody pays attention to the commonalities and similarities for the sake of moderation, approximation and rapprochement, I decided to take over and discuss the main differences among those three messages.
Let’s begin with Judaism! It calls for monotheism, enjoins good and forbids evil. However, why is it “Judaism”? In other words, why is it called Judaism? Who gave it this name?
It is very curious that the term “Judaism” as a name of a religion is not found in the Old Testament. Neither God nor Prophet Moses gave the message he conveyed the name “Judaism”. It was given this name for it was revealed to the Jews of the Children of Israel. Therefore, it was named after them though its creed, law and teachings are mostly shared with the other divine messages. The term “Judaism” was coined to stand for the message conveyed by Prophet Moses after many years, decades or even centuries had elapsed without hearing this term as a name of a religion.
Maybe, this term emerged only after the advent of Christianity and Islam to distinguish the message of Prophet Moses which preceded those two messages for Jews used to consider themselves the only true believers in this world and regard others as pagans, infidels and unbelievers. Accordingly, Jews did not give their message the name “Judaism”. Rather, this name was given by non-Jews so that the Jewish message could be distinguished from the other divine messages.
Now, we come to Christianity. Astonishingly, we also find out that the term “Christianity” as a name of a religion is not found in the gospels included in the New Testament. That is to say, in the New Testament, we do not notice that the message conveyed by Jesus is referred to as “Christianity”. Neither God nor Jesus used this term to refer to the message he delivered.
It is amazing that “Christianity” as a name of a religion is a recent term which is not found in any of the Holy Scriptures including the New Testament itself. The most common term standing for this divine message in Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime was “Nasraniyah”. However, nowadays, the followers of this message reject this term and prefer “Christianity” as a name of their message though this term is found nowhere in the Holy Scriptures and is not used historically.
What is more, there is no mention of the current Christian creed in the Bible. Where is the “Holy Trinity” that Christians worship in the Bible? Where is the doctrine of “Trinity” in the Bible? Is it logical that the Deity(s) is not explicitly mentioned in the holy book sent down by such Deity(s)? Is it rational that such a doctrine is not referred to explicitly in this book?
Furthermore, where did Jesus say “worship me” or where is any reference to the obligation to worship him or even his right to be worshiped? How can the New Testament be devoid of the current Christian doctrine of “Trinity”, “the Holy Trinity” to be worshiped, the obligation to worship Jesus and the description of such worship?
More astonishingly, the Bible does not make any mention of the following terms: “Bible”, “Old Testament” or “New Testament”! Where did those terms come from? How can we refer to the message of Moses as “Judaism” and that of Jesus as “Christianity” and as standalone religions though those terms are not found in the Bible itself?
It has become crystal clear now that many man-made things have been introduced into the divine messages preceding Islam. Now, the current Old Testament contains parts of the Torah and other interpolations. Likewise, the New Testament contains parts of the Gospel and other interpolations. False beliefs have been introduced into the Christian creed though they are not established in the New Testament which we have now.
Hence came differences, disparities, dissimilarities and discrepancies among the three divine messages. To tell the truth, those messages have the same creed and teachings and we can hardly find differences among them to the exclusion of some variations in laws due to the intended hardship or facilitation and the considerations of time and space.
As for Islam, the term “Islam” as the name of a religion is mentioned in the Qur’an more than once. We read:
Indeed, the religion in the sight of God is Islam (Aal `Imran 3:19),
And whoever desires other than Islam as religion – never will it be accepted from him, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers (Aal `Imran 3:85),
This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion (Al-Ma’idah 5:3)
The term “Islam” as a name of the divine message conveyed by Prophet Muhammad is free from any attribution compared to “Judaism” or “Christianity”. Islam has neither “ism” nor “ity”. That is to say, the name of this religion is not attributed to a certain race or ethnicity like Judaism. Also, it is not attributed to the name of the prophet who brought it, nor does it make a god of him to be worshiped along with god in contradiction to reason and commonsense, like Christianity.
“Islam” as an Arabic term denotes submission to the will of God, which is a lofty value shared by all truly divine messages. Islam is open to all mankind. Every human being on the face of the earth can submit to the will of God and embraces Islam without any restriction or condition like belonging to a certain ethnicity or the obligation to worship an equal human being. In this religion, an Arab is not deemed to be better than a non-Arab except through the fear of God and good works.
The holy book revealed in Islam is the Qur’an. This name is frequently repeated in the Qur’an. We read:
The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion (Al-Baqarah 2:185)
Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an? If it had been from [any] other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction (An-Nisaa’ 4:82)
In Islam, God is called “Allah”. He is the Only God and has no partner. The Qur’an confirmed that more than once. In the first verses of the Qur’an (in the Opening Chapter “Al-Fatihah”), we read:
In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. [All] praise is [due] to Allah, Lord of the worlds (Al-Fatihah 1:1-2)
We also read:
Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans [before Prophet Muhammad] – those [among them] who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness – will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve. (Al-Baqarah 2:62)
Allah commands people to worship Him alone in the Qur’an. He says:
And [recall] when We took the covenant from the Children of Israel, [enjoining upon them], “Do not worship except Allah; and to parents do good (Al-Baqarah 2:83)
The Qur’an quotes Jesus as saying:
[Jesus said], “And indeed, Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. That is a straight path.” (Aal `Imran 3:51)
We also read:
Say, “O People of the Scripture, come to a word that is equitable between us and you – that we will not worship except Allah and not associate anything with Him and not take one another as lords instead of Allah.” But if they turn away, then say, “Bear witness that we are Muslims [submitting to Him].” (Aal `Imran 3:64)
Allah indicated how to worship Him in the Qur’an. He made clear that His worship includes prayer to Him and His remembrance. In the Qur’an, we read:
Indeed, I am Allah. There is no deity except Me, so worship Me and establish prayer for My remembrance. (Ta-Ha 20:14)
Allah also explains that prayer to Him involves bowing down and prostration and His worship includes doing good deeds. We read:
O you who have believed, bow and prostrate and worship your Lord and do good – that you may succeed. (Al-Hajj 22:77)
Examples for that are uncountable in the Qur’an.
Dear readers, though “Islam” is the name of the message conveyed by Prophet Muhammad about fourteen centuries ago, its message is the same as the previous divine messages in terms of beliefs, teachings and most laws. In the Qur’an, God says:
Say, [O believers], “We have believed in Allah and what has been revealed to us and what has been revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Descendants and what was given to Moses and Jesus and what was given to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him.” (Al-Baqarah 2:136)
We do not go far when we say that the term “Islam” as a name of a religion was used to refer to the previous true divine messages and that the term “Muslim” both in the singular and the plural was also used to refer to the followers of the previous true divine messages. This is proven by the testimonials of the fair scholars of the previous divine messages and established by the Qur’an as well.
In the Qur’an, we read:
And [mention] when Abraham was raising the foundations of the House and [with him] Ishmael, [saying], “Our Lord, accept [this] from us. Indeed You are the Hearing, the Knowing. Our Lord, and make us Muslims [in submission] to You and from our descendants a Muslim nation [in submission] to You. And show us our rites and accept our repentance. Indeed, You are the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful. Our Lord, and send among them a messenger from themselves who will recite to them Your verses and teach them the Book and wisdom and purify them. Indeed, You are the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” And who would be averse to the religion of Abraham except one who makes a fool of himself. And We had chosen him in this world, and indeed he, in the Hereafter, will be among the righteous. When his Lord said to him, “Submit”, he said “I have submitted [in Islam] to the Lord of the worlds.” And Abraham instructed his sons [to do the same] and [so did] Jacob, [saying], “O my sons, indeed Allah has chosen for you this religion, so do not die except while you are Muslims.” Or were you witnesses when death approached Jacob, when he said to his sons, “What will you worship after me?” They said, “We will worship your God and the God of your fathers, Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac – one God. And we are Muslims [in submission] to Him.” (Al-Baqarah 2:127-133)
No wonder, the current message of Islam is the modern extension of the true religion of God every time and everywhere. There is no difference between the message of Islam and those of the previous divine messages save that its law involved such facilitation and simplification which were lacked by the previous laws.
Finally, God tells the truth when He says:
Indeed, the religion in the sight of God is Islam (Aal `Imran 3:19)
Islam as a message, creed and teachings is the only true religion of God every time and everywhere. Islam is the name of the only true religion of God according to all Holy Scriptures given the fact that God did not give “Judaism” or “Christianity” as names for His religion even in the Holy Scriptures of Judaism and Christianity themselves.
1- The Glorious Qur’an (Sahih International Translation)
2- Various video clips of Sheikh Ahmad Deedat