Islam or Judaism essay
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Islam and Judaism are two approaches that have a large influence on behavior of the world society. These approaches are dominant religions, widely spread all over the world. Moreover, they are considered as the way of life of some people (Solomon, 2009).
Islam is known as the youngest world faith among monotheistic religions. It is thought that Islam relates to the most widespread religion on the Earth. More than a billion people profess it. Muslim communities are carried out in abundantly in a hundred countries. In thirty-five states, Muslems make the majority of the population. In twenty-eight countries, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, etc., Islam is declared to be the state religion and reminds strong political phenomenon.
The founder of this Muslim religion is Mohammed, who started it in 612 CE. This religion underlines that Allah impersonates all power and he has omnipotence (Grayson, 2006). Therefore, Allah is their only God. The Word of God, which was provided through Archangel Gabriel to Muhammad, is Koran.
According to Ankerberg and Weldon (2002), Koran is thought by Moslems as “perfect and without error”. Koran means guide for a million of Arabian Muslims, as for Islamic people of other nationalities. It defines their everyday life, provides with unique legal system and gives inspiration with the directing rules and principles.
The Koran text was proclaimed by Prophet Muhammad to followers as has been granted revelations. In the beginning, his adherents remembered the Koran by heart. However, later it was allowed just to write it down. Generally, Koran differs from other sacred writings, because it carries out spiritual and material points to the same degree as historical facts.
Koran is divided into 114 surahs, or so-called chapters. Actually, surahs are subdivided into two large categories. Surahs of the first category were revealed to Prophet in Mecca and second group was founded in Medina. Barbara Brend (1991) states that these surahs are “visionary in tone, speaking of the beneficence of the one God, of the Judgment which awaits mankind, and of a man’s duties to his fellow men”. The first surahs involve dribble of verses, where one God, necessity of belief is claimed. According to a content of these surahs, people, who go to the bad, must be punished. Furthermore, it is thought that justice of Heaven should come, when all actions and beliefs of an individual would be estimated deservedly.
Muslims believe that Koran is impossible to translate. They think that language in which it was sent down revelation is inseparable from the Epistles. It does not matter, where Muslims are or what is their native language, they should learn the Arabic language. It gives them a possibility to read Scripture, and to be in prayer. Certainly, the Koran is accessible in many languages, but similar variants of its text are considered more likely as interpretation of some ideas, rather than translation of this book.
Muslims deemed that it is necessary to consider Muhammad’s behavior to understand Koran. Consequently, they tried to gather more Hadiths. Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood (1995), a researcher of Islam, explains that Hadiths mean “the recorded words, actions and instructions of the Prophet Muhammad”. These Hadiths provided researchers with historical data, different information about life, laws, and rules of Prophet and his adherents. Later this information was called as Sunnah of Prophet. Word-for-word Sunnah is ‘the path’, ‘the road’, or the way of the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.)’. Al-Buraey (1985), an author of Administrative development: an Islamic perspective, explains that Sunnah is practiced to “denote actions, deeds, and utterances” of Muhammad. Actually, Sunnah and Koran involving the canonical collections of Hadiths formed the basis of Shariah, and the sacred law of Islam.
Shariah is a system of Islamic law. It is not just a set of legal rules. Shariah does not separate the sphere of morality and law. Therefore, this phenomenon reminds the code of laws and rules of behavior of the Muslim for all occasions. Shariah was given to man by God once and for all. That is why it is perfect, eternal, and customary. Nobody has the right to authorize or prohibit something, because this right belongs only to Allah. Everything is permitted, except these things, which are unequivocally forbidden by Allah, a unique legislator.
Another important point of Shariah is that everything leading to forbidden things is also forbidden. In addition, it is necessary to avoid different doubtful and ambiguous things to be not engaged in illegal life and resist the temptation of forbidden things. Good intentions are not excuses for illegal acts. Moreover, forbidden things or acts are prohibited to all, regardless of gender, status, wealth. However, the taboo is considered acceptable in case of emergency, and under observance of strictly certain rules. For instance, the eating of pork is strictly forbidden. Nevertheless, if someone is deprived of any other food and he faces starvation, he or she is allowed to eat pork, but only in a minimal quantity sufficient to meet his or her immediate needs, without the greed and the desire for the forbidden.
According to Shariah, all actions are divided into five groups. The first is so called ‘fard’. The actions of this group are obligatory for all Muslims and those, who can perform them. For example, Muslims must pray five times per day. The next group is ‘mandub’. This group involves commendable actions, which are rewarded in the next life, but non-performance of them is not punishable. A good example of these actions is hospitality, additional prayers, and fasts. The next group is about permitted actions, or ‘jaiz’. These actions do not cause any approval, or prohibition. They reflect such actions as eating, marriage, or sleep. The fourth group involves disapproved actions, which are unacceptable, but also punishable in this and other world. Here we can talk about greed and extravagance, passion, cruelty, or marriage with an individual of other belief. The last group is about forbidden actions, or ‘haram’. “Haram” reflects actions and thoughts that lead people to punishment in both lives. However, provisions of the Koran and Sunnah are the criterion for classifying an action to a particular category of Shariah.
A lot of serious sins are directly prohibited by Koran. For instance, the vilest sin is betrayal of Allah. It can be considered, when Muslims pray to another God. The next serious sin due to Koran is intentional killing of man, especially adherents of Allah. Nevertheless, Koran states that murder is acceptable under some circumstances. For instance, married people are allowed to be killed in case of adultery. The next reason of legal murder among Muslims is punishment for killing of other people. Also murder is acceptable, when a Muslim chose ‘kufr’ or paganism, and denied his/her own faith (Maqsood, 1995).
Besides Koran and Sunnah, behavior and actions of Muslims are regulated by other sources. First of all, local customs regulate society relations. These customs were not included directly in the Islamic law during its formation, but basically they (customs) did not contradict its principles and norms. Also there are recognized legal practices among Arab people. Furthermore, there are adopted so called ‘adat’ customs. They remind customs of people conquered by the Arab conquests, or customs of the nation exposed to influence Islamic law at some time. Another source of regulation on Muslim territories is Fatwah, which means mufti`s solution to specific issues. In addition, in regulation system there are decrees and orders of the caliphs, which are called ‘firman’. Moreover, Islamic government makes a law, or kanuns.
Generally, to understand Islam it is necessary to consider the sources of regulation. Actually, it reflects behavior of people, and their customs. As it was mentioned above, there are a lot of sources of regulation of Muslims relations. However, an explanation of Islam is very simple. It is required to be fair, generous, to help poor people, to render good for good, and render evil for evil. Unrealistic moral precepts of Islam do not exist. Also an important point of Islam is warfare for faith, or jihad. It is clearly enough, as Muslim movement arose because of need to gather all Arab forces to unite and gain new lands. And another point that characterizes this religion is wide spreading of Islam all over the world.
In comparison with Islam, Judaism is older religion than the first one. It is the first monotheistic religion that was considered as revolution in cultural world development. Judaism is not just a religion of the Jewish people; it is a set of laws regulating not only the religious, ethical and ideological aspects of people’s life. It regulates almost all spheres of life of Judaism adherents (Solomon, 2009).
From the Jews’ point of view, Judaism means law itself. In Judaism there are determined 613 mitzvoth, which consist of 248 commandments and 365 prohibitions. They describe aspects of the life of all Jews, such as eating, hygiene, family relationships (Solomon, 2009). Moreover, they carry out a character of sacred obligations. All people must follow seven main obligations: prohibition of idolatry, blasphemy and bloodshed, prohibition of theft, ban corruption, prohibition of cruelty to animals, a court decree justice, and equality before the law.
All mitzvoth are involved in Torah, the main sacred book of Jews. The Torah, which was received by Jews on Mount Sinai, consists of the Written and Oral Torah. A written Torah is usually called the Pentateuch, or Book of Prophets. The Torah describes how the people of Israel entered into covenant with God. This book presents the basic meaning of Jewish laws, rights, and customs. These laws in their entirety, as well as their practical application were transmitted orally from generation to generation for centuries. Nearly fifteen hundred years after occurrence of Torah, the oral part was not taken down. They can be studied only in oral form, directly communicating with the teacher of the Torah. The Jewish sages with their inherent skills knew how to apply these laws to new situations in an ever-changing life.
According to the Torah, for the good and the evil a man is rewarded in this life. In the era of the Second Temple (1st century AD) there was spread the belief in retribution in the Hereafter. At the same time ‘joy of mitzvah’ occurs, which is about internal satisfaction from the performance of the commandments. Although the mitzvah does not aim to enjoy performing the commandments, true joy and holiness can be attained only through their implementation.
Among these rules there are provisions concerning even agriculture. For instance, it is allowed to sow the field with heterogeneous seeds, to pluck the fruits from the tree in the first three years of fruiting, to cultivate the land for more than six consecutive years. Other provisions apply to restore historic justice. For example, once in 50 years it is important to release the slaves to freedom and to return land to its original owner.
The set of rules, concerning practical instructions of the Torah, is called as Halakha. Halakha regulates religious life of Jews. Researchers consider it as the sphere of morality and ethics, civil legislation, and criminal law. Halakha is comprehensive in nature. Generally, Judaism is also comprehensive. It means that there is no sphere of life, which is not connected with religion. Any phenomenon of life is considered from the religious point of view. It involves customs, food, marriage, professional ethics, social behavior, and so on. According to the thought of Jews, they are honoured by spiritual values of Judaism. For Jews religion is their life. It defines hierarchy of material and spiritual values for them (Solomon, 2009).
If we compare Judaism with Islam, it is possible to admit that the first one does not have such an influence on the world as Islam. Nowadays Judaism as a state religion is presented just in Israel. The rabbis, leaders of religious communities, are engaged in government service, and responsible for registration of civil status, conduct educational activities, and cult activities in the army. The source of legal regulation is also an important fact. Islam has strong legal base. Koran has been regulating all the spheres of life until today. In Judaism, the sources of legal system do not continue to regulate society. The background of this religion has weakened.
The next significant point is that to some extent, for years Islam does not recognize Jewish people. The relation of the Koran full of contradictions to Jews and the Jewry explains relationship between the Prophet and modern Jews. It affected the legislation and the normalization of the political situation of Jews in Muslim countries. For a long period of time Caliph of Islam tried to turn his religion into the world faith and get free from Judaism. Therefore, Islam became a government regulation and the world Arabic power.