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Jews, Christians and Muslims: Cousins in Religion?

Jews, Christians and Muslims believe that the creation of humans began with Adam, who was the first human to receive guidance directly from the Creator.

The three Abrahamic religions therefore agree in rejecting the theory of evolution.

Islam does not refute the fact that there were human looking creatures like monkeys, apes, Neanderthals, … etc. before the creation of Adam, but it acknowledges that they were merely human-looking animals, possessing no intellect, nor were they receiving guidance from God nor were they judged for their actions. They existed and survived just like other animals did.

However, with the creation of Adam, God has made it clear that bestowing knowledge to humans began with Adam, in levels even higher than angels.

{And He thought Adam all the names of (everything), then He showed them to the angels and said “tell me the names of these if you are truthful.” They (the angels) said, “glory be to You, we have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Verily it is You, the All-Knower, the All-Wise.”} (Al Baqarah 2: 31-32)

Some scholars believe that here, the “names” includes the knowledge of many things taught to Adam by his Lord. This implies that from the creation of Adam and his wife, and through their progeny, they were granted knowledge and intellect no other creature possessed before them.

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Of course, with knowledge comes responsibility. The first responsibility was obedience to Allah’s commands, which Adam and his wife Eve failed to achieve due to Satan’s temptation. This resulted in their expulsion from Paradise.

God’s Guidance

From that time on, the ever merciful God guided them by sending successions of messengers to what was then, one community. But they differed over time after beeing given the knowledge.

{Mankind were one community, and Allah sent (unto them) prophets as bearers of good tidings and as warners, and revealed therewith the Scripture with the truth that it might judge between mankind concerning that wherein they differed. And only those unto whom (the Scripture) was given differed concerning it, after clear proofs had come unto them, through hatred one of another. And Allah by His Will guided those who believe unto the truth of that concerning which they differed. Allah guides whom He will unto a straight path.} (Al-Baqarah 2: 213)

One of the most critical issues for non-Muslims to consider is the understanding of the nature and succession of the message. If it was from other than one God, there would have been disharmony in the message.

{And We (*) sent no messenger before you but We inspired him, (saying): There is no God save Me (Allah), so worship Me.} (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21: 25)

Yet Allah expresses the stubborn nature of humans in rejection of guidance from their Lord:

{Then We sent Our Messengers in succession. Every time there came to a nation their Messenger, they denied him, so We made them follow one another (to destruction), and We made them as Ahadith (the true stories for mankind to learn a lesson from them). So away with a people who believe not!} (Al-Mu’minoun 23: 44)

To make it more clear and as a reminder, Allah mentions names of Prophets and their missions:

{Then We sent Musa (Moses) and his brother Harun (Aaron), with Our signs and manifest authority to Pharaoh and his chiefs, but they behaved insolently and they were people self-exalting} (Al-Ma’ida 5: 45)

Allah gave to some of His prophets (and messengers) scriptures and some were sent to confirm previous messages, but without scriptures (prophets).

{And indeed We gave Musa (Moses) the Scripture, that they may be guided.} (Al-Ma’ida 5: 49).

Many prophets were sent after Moses with the same message. Jesus was the last prophet sent to the Children of Israel with the same mission:

{And in their footsteps, We sent Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), confirming the Torah that had come before him, and We gave him the Injeel (Gospel), in which was guidance and light and confirmation of the Torah that had come before it, a guidance and an admonition for the pious} (Al-Ma’ida 5: 46)

He further explains the mission of Jesus as proclaiming Allah’s sovereignty and pure Monotheism:

{[…] and We gave Jesus, son of Mary, clear proofs (of Allah’s Sovereignty) and We supported him with the Holy Spirit[…]} (Al-Baqarah 2: 253)

Finally, and repeatedly Allah clarifies that for Him, the religion is ONE and God is ONE, but sadly enough humans have made religion a source of contention and enmity.

{And verily! This your religion is one religion, and I am your Lord, so keep your duty to Me. But they (men) have broken their religion among them into sects, each group rejoicing in what is with it (as its belief).} (Al-Mu’minoun 23: 52-53)

The verses above give clear indication that the adherents of Abrahamic religions meant to be one spiritual family with one God and one message of Monotheism.

Biological Cousins

How do we know they were also cousins from distance past?

The Bible and the Quran give the account of human generations and the prophets starting from Adam. Ten generations from Adam, we reach Prophet Noah. Further down the line is Abraham who was ten generations from Noah.

Abraham’s two sons were Ismail and Isaac. From the progenies of these two sons, two separate religious identities were formed—while still being related to each other.

From the line of Isaac arose children of Israel and their progeny, to whom many prophets were sent.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was from the family of Imran who was also from the line of Aaron, one of the tribes of the children of Israel.

Muhammad was from the line of Ismail, who was the brother of Isaac, son of Abraham whose progenies likewise were distance cousins of each other—thus the biological relationship is clear.

Geographical Relationship

It is also quite clear that ALL prophets of the old and new testament as well as Prophet Muhammad were from the close proximity of each other in the Middle East, with Palestine as a common sacred land for all. Thus geographical proximity of this large family was established centuries ago.

We may wonder why with all the closeness of kinship, geographical proximities and common spiritual bonds, the three religions have been showing enmity to each other for centuries and still without abate. Sadly, many of the Jewish-Christian population of the world are unaware of the real relationship of these Abrahamic religions with each other and instead of objective research, they incline to find ways to discredit Islam and its Prophet without knowledge.

If we worship the same God, why should we differ?

Muslims may be the only one of the followers of the three religions who believe not only in their own Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the Quran, but fully acknowledge and believe in all previous scriptures in their original forms and all their prophets.

{Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered.} (Al-Baqarah 2: 136)

Allah makes it clear here that the prophets of the past did not take a denomination upon themselves.

{Or say you that Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes were Jews or Christians? Say: Do you know best, or does Allah?…} (Al-Baqarah 2: 140)

Although Judaism and Christianity were named after a tribe or person, Islam is not named after a person or tribe. Islam means full submission to the Creator. For that reason, many prophets are referred to in the Quran as Muslims (which means: those who surrender themselves to God).

{Or were ye present when death came to Jacob, when he said unto his sons: What will ye worship after me? They said: We shall worship thy God, the God of thy fathers, Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac, One God, and unto Him we have surrendered.} (Al-Baqarah 2: 133)

A sincere seeker would spend the time to research and find out if the core of the messages sent to the Abrahamic prophets were similar or not. When one leaves out prejudice, one notices that they are all but one message in various forms and languages. As such, the wise seeker would not be among those who disbelieve in any of these messages and the messengers.

{There are those who disbelieve in Allah and His messengers, and seek to make distinction between Allah and His messengers, and say: We believe in some and disbelieve in others, and seek to choose a way in between;} (Al-Nisaa 4: 150)

Thus it is incumbent upon the believers to embrace all messages (uncorrupted by humans) sent by the Creator and accept the messages and the messengers as being all from Allah. This includes the message of Islam and Prophet Muhammad.

{O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and His messenger and the Scripture which He hath revealed unto His messenger, and the Scripture which He revealed aforetime. Whoso disbelieve in Allah and His angels and His scriptures and His messengers and the Last Day, he verily has wandered far astray.} (Al-Nisaa 4: 136)

First published on February 2016.

About Raya Shokatfard
Raya Shokatfard holds an MA in Journalism/Mass Communications and an M.A.D. in TV journalism. BA in Communication and BA in Islamic Studies. She has been Islamic propagator in the U.S and Egypt for many years and academic lecturer, writer, international presenter, consultant, foreign correspondent. She can be reached at: [email protected]