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Faith: Beliefs

The three religions are defined by core beliefs. They also follow various laws sent by God, though different sects may interpret them differently. Jews and Christians recognise the Ten Commandments among other laws. For Muslims, the Five Pillars of Islam are central.

 

Core beliefs of Judaism

  • There is only one God
  • The Jews regard themselves as God's chosen people
  • Belief in the Sabbath and the Torah, among others
  • Moses is is the major prophet

Core beliefs of Christianity

  • There is only one God
  • Jesus Christ was the Messiah, sent to save the world as prophesied in the Old Testament
  • God's character is threefold (the Trinity): Father (Creator), Son (Jesus), Holy Spirit (unseen guiding force)
  • Jesus Christ died to save the world, and rose from the dead (the Resurrection)

Core beliefs of Islam

  • There is only one God: Allah
  • Muhammad is the final prophet of God, and the Qur'an is God's truest revelation
  • Reverence for many of the prophets of Judaism and Christianity, particularly Moses and Jesus

 

The Ten Commandments

Moses received the Ten Commandments directly from God on Mount Sinai, written on two stone tablets. They assert the uniqueness of God, and forbid such things as theft, adultery, murder and lying. The Ten Commandments are equally important in Jewish and Christian traditions and appear in the Old Testament in Exodus and Deuteronomy.

Various Christian and Jewish traditions have different wordings for the Ten Commandments. They can be numbered differently. They appear in various forms in the Bible. This is a Christian version:

  • I am the Lord thy God: thou shalt not have strange Gods before me
  • Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
  • Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day
  • Honour thy father and thy mother
  • Thou shalt not kill
  • Thou shalt not commit adultery
  • Thou shalt not steal
  • Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour
  • Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife
  • Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's goods

The Qur'an does not list the Ten Commandments explicitly, but their substance appears in various places.

 

The Five Pillars of Islam

  • Declaring that there is only one God, Allah, and that Muhammad is his messenger
  • Praying five times a day
  • Giving to charity
  • Making a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once during life
  • Fasting during the month of Ramadan every year

 

Afterlife

The three religions believe that humans have an immortal soul, separate from the earthbound body.

Judaism refers to 'the world to come' after death, but this refers to the concept of a messianic age more than an afterlife. There is no detailed concept of what the afterlife may be, or of punishment versus reward.

For Christians and Muslims the afterlife in heaven or hell is a strong part of their faith. Some Islamic thinking allows some of those in hell a chance of redemption.

 

Last Judgement

Christians and Muslims believe in a Last Judgement: that an end of the world will come, when all humanity will be judged individually.

In Judaism it is thought of as a Messianic age, expressed more vaguely as a point of doom when wickedness will be punished and justice triumph.

Symbols of faith