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What Distinguishes Judaism from Islam? Part 1

24 March, 2017
Q I come from a Jewish family. I am not convinced with Judaism and seriously, I am considering to convert to Islam. Muslims always say that what distinguishes Islam is the creed of tawheed or oneness. But, also Jews believe in one God. All my life, my parents worshiped one God. So, please tell me what distinguishes Islam here from Judaism. I was told that Islam owes more respect to God than Judaism does, how is that? Please explain.


Salam (Peace) Tina,

Shalom aleichem! (Assalamu Alaikum!)

Thank you very much for your question.

Please find part one of the answer to your question below. Find the second and final part at the link here.

It is very heartening to receive your question. First of all, it is a sincere inquiry from a member of the Jewish community, who – according to the Islamic belief – deserves special consideration as being ahlelkitab (people of the Book).

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In fact, Muslims do believe in Moses, the prophet of Judaism, who received the Torah (alTawrah in Arabic).

Actually, Muslims must believe, as a tenant of faith, in all the prophets revered by the Jews, including Abraham, Moses, David, and Solomon, among others.

For Muslims, they are all prophets of Islam; for all of them were chosen by Allah (Yahweh or Elohim) as His messengers to mankind, to lead them out of darkness into light.

All of them submitted to the One and Only God, Who is the Creator and Sustainer of the whole universe; hence they were all Muslims (those who submit peacefully to The One and Only God), and their religion was Islam (complete submission or unconditional obedience to The One and Only God).

To the Muslim, the first and the foremost article of faith is the belief in the One and Only God, and this belief is called; tawheed. Though the word literally means just oneness, it implies a variety of ideas from the Islamic point of view.

It means that Allah created the whole of existence and that He is the Lord and Master of everything that exists. So, existence is one; it cannot be therefore, under two or more sets of laws governing it, since the Owner and Ruler of it is just One. So, what we call nature also one.

Secondly, tawheed in Islam indicates that Allah is the Creator of all human beings and so, all are equal before Allah, irrespective of skin color, race, tribe, or clan. This, in other words is the brotherhood of Man or the oneness of mankind.

Thirdly, tawheed implies that the religion of God is one, since Allah has been sending His prophets from the beginning of mankind, to guide them along the right path. So, all prophets preached the same religion of God, which teaches humans to lead a life of complete obedience to His commandments.

In the Old Testament, we do see this emphasis on the Oneness of God. But the Jews have this feeling that they are “the chosen children of God” and so, they are superior to all other human beings. From this angle, they do not approve of the brotherhood and equality between mankind.

The key point of the Palestinian issue is closely related to this idea of the “uniqueness” of the children of Israel. In fact the Torah does speak of God’s gift of Palestine to the children of Abraham; but the Jews believe that since they are the “chosen” of God, the other children of Abraham have no right to the land!

Particularly, they argue that the children of the firstborn of Abraham have no right to this land, since the mother happened to be a slave.

Even in this modern age, when so much is heard about human equality, brotherhood, and human rights; the Jews and also the Evangelical Christians of America, hold fast to this obscurantist view.

They maintain that the Arabs, who are the children of Ishmael – the firstborn of Abraham – have no right to the land of their birth, as that land had been promised by Jehovah to the children of Abraham – by his second son.

We see here the difference between the Islamic belief in God and the Jewish creed.

Judaism as it is practiced now, insists on the birth of a person to determine his identity as a Jew. This is evident from Jewish writings, which explain who a Jew is:

It is important to note that being a Jew has nothing to do with what you believe or what you do. A person born to non-Jewish parents who believes everything that Jews believe and observes every law and custom of Judaism is still a non-Jew, even in the eyes of the most liberal reformists of Judaism, and a person born to a Jewish mother who is an atheist and never practices the Jewish religion is still a Jew, even in the eyes of the ultra-Orthodox. In this sense, Judaism is more like a nationality than like a religion, and being Jewish is like a citizenship. (Source)

The Jewishness of a person is determined by birth and not by belief and practice. For this reason, according to them, a Jew possesses a special position in the world, in the eyes of their Jehovah.

This is supposed to be the meaning of their having been chosen by God. Now, this is what we might call “racism”, though many Jews would call it “nationality”, rather than racism. Funnily they might accuse this analysis of being “anti-Semitic”.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Why Weren’t Previous Scriptures Preserved?

Common Grounds Between Moses and Muhammad

7 Questions the Jews Asked the Prophet

About Professor Shahul Hameed
Professor Shahul Hameed is an Islamic consultant. He also held the position of the President of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.