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Faith: Prophets

A prophet is someone who transmits a message from God to the world. Abraham and Moses are central prophets in all three religions. Jesus is revered by Christians (who believe he was divine) and by Muslims. Muhammad was the final prophet of God according to Islamic thought.

 

Abraham

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the 'Abrahamic religions' because Abraham is central in all. He made an agreement (covenant) with God, who promised Abraham would become the father of a great nation in return for keeping God's laws.

Abraham left his homeland in Mesopotamia (Iraq) and travelled to the promised land of Canaan (Palestine). He became the ancestor of all Israelites (through his son Isaac) and all Arabs, including Muhammad (through his son Ishmael).

To test his obedience, God told Abraham to sacrifice his son. At the last minute God intervened and an angel appeared to prevent the sacrifice. God rewarded Abraham. Jews and Christians believe the son involved was Isaac (in Hebrew, Yitzhak); Muslims, that it was Ishmael (in Hebrew, Mosheh; in Arabic, Isma'il).

 

Moses

All three religions recognise that Moses (in Hebrew, Moshe; in Arabic, Musa) led the Israelites out of Egypt, where they had been slaves, into freedom in a new land; and that God dictated religious laws to him. For Jews, Moses is their major prophet. He led the Israelites out of Egypt (the Exodus) and during their 40 years' wandering in the wilderness.

 

Jesus

Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament. They call him Jesus Christ, from the Greek for 'Messiah'. They believe he performed miracles, was crucified and rose from the dead, and that he sacrificed himself to save the world. They believe he was the Son of God.

Muslims believe that Jesus (in Arabic, Isa) was one of the great prophets (and was a virgin birth) but do not believe he was divine.

Jews do not see Jesus as the Messiah, or as a prophet, and believe the true Messiah is still to come.

 

Muhammad

For Muslims, Muhammad is the last prophet of God. Over the final 23 years of his life, from the age of 40, he received revelations from God through the angel Gabriel (in Arabic, Jibril). These form the Qur'an, the basis of Islam.

Muslims do not see Islam as a 'new religion', but as a restoration of God's word as revealed to earlier prophets such as Abraham, which they believe had become corrupted or distorted by the succeeding generations.

Hebrew list of Former and Latter Prophets, Italy 14th century

Abraham about to sacrifice his son. Lire Abbey Psalter, France, 14th century

Moses. Octateuch, Ethiopia, 17th century

The Crucifixion. Melisende Bible, Jerusalem, 12th century

Isa and the Pharisee. Kulliyyat Shiraz, Persia, 16th century

Muhammad's name in Arabic calligraphy , 17th century