Connections Between the Jews & Islam

by Alison Lake

Muslim-Jewish relations began in seventh-century Arabia with the dawn of Islam and increase in community interactions between the two groups. Theologically, Judaism and Islam share a monotheistic theology that worships the God of Adam, Abraham and Moses, and they believe in prophets and divine revelation. Islam acknowledges Jewish divine scripture in the form of the Torah or Pentateuch of Moses (Tawrat), which is the written Torah and Law of Moses. Both religions believe they originate with the prophet Abraham and the law of Moses.

Torah

Jews and Muslims believe their people received divine revelation from God. The People of Israel and their holy book play a defining role in the Quran, which elevates the law of God as transmitted to Moses and Abraham. Abu Hurairah, a reputed narrator in Islamic literature dating from the time of Prophet Muhammad, wrote, "The people of the Scripture (Jews) used to recite the Torah in Hebrew and they used to explain it in Arabic to the Muslims. On that Allah's Apostle said, Do not believe the people of the Scripture or disbelieve them, but say: We believe in Allah and what is revealed to us."

Abraham

Both Jews and Muslims recognize Abraham as the father of their religions and the first monotheist. He was the first prophet during a polytheistic age to teach the idea of only one God. The Torah describes Abraham's life story in detail, and the Quran mentions "Ibrahim" 25 times. Muslims view him as their first prophet and patriarch, the father of Islam and the first Muslim in history. Jews also believe he was the first patriarch of the Jewish people. During each of their five daily prayers, Muslims mention Ibrahim's name, while Jews reflect on his life and their covenant with Yahweh (God) that was made through Abraham.

Moses

Jews believe Moses, as leader and lawgiver, is the most important prophet in their history and theology, and their transmitter of revelation. In comparison, Moses is a crucial prophet in the Islamic faith and is mentioned in the Quran by name more than any other individual regarding his role as Muhammad's predecessor. "Muhammad had a strong sense of the prophetic calling and of the line of prophets who had created the Judeo-Christian tradition," wrote F.E. Peters in his book "The Children of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, Islam."

Final Revelation

Jews and Muslims each follow a text they consider a divine and final revelation from God, one that embodies the tenets and laws of their individual faiths. Both the Quran and Torah originate with the laws of Abraham and Moses, and develop a monotheistic worldview with one God, a line of prophets, heaven, hell and the devil. Arguably, Jews believe the Torah is intended for the Jewish people, while the Quran purports to be a book for all humanity.

About the Author

Alison Lake has been a journalist and editor since 2001, working with numerous newspapers and magazines. She has served on the world news desk of the "Washington Post" and contributed to The Atlantic, Foreign Policy Online, Al Jazeera English and GlobalPost.

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