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Quick list of similarities between Jews and Muslims

  1. We worship the same G-d
  2. We are descendents of Abraham
  3. Our Males are circumcised according to Abrahamic law
  4. Both cultures are of Semitic origin
  5. Jerusalem is our Holy City
  6. We stress good works over faith.
  7. We share many advances in medicine; philosophy; law; literature and poetry.
  8. There are extremists and peacemakers on both sides.
  9. We are descendents of Abraham
  10. We worship the same G-d

Similarities over differences

Much has been written about the differences between Jews and Muslims: a lot less about the similarities between us.

Jews, Muslims and Christians have a lot more in common than we care to sometimes admit.

We share belief in the same one G-d.
The originator of our religions and cultures is the same person: Abraham.
Jews, Muslims and Christians - are regarded as Abrahamic religions.
We share one same holy place: The Temple Mount (the Rock) is where Abraham brought his son to sacrifice him. Adam was buried there. Solomon built a great temple there. Jesus prayed there. Mohammad ascended there. (Source: Bruce Feiler Abraham)

There are many common aspects between Islam and Judaism. As Islam developed it gradually became the major religion closest to Judaism. As opposed to Christianity which originated from interaction between ancient Greek and Hebrew cultures, Judaism is similar to Islam in its fundamental religious outlook, structure, jurisprudence and practice. (Source: http://rabbidavidrosen.net/)

There are many traditions within Islam originating from traditions within the Hebrew Bible or from post-biblical Jewish traditions. These practices are known collectively as the Isra'iliyat. (Source: http://post.queensu.ca/~jjl/islam.html

Arabs in Israel

20% of today's Israeli population is Muslim. The inhabitants live together with their Jewish counterparts peacefully. The majority of Muslim citizens of Israel are descendants of the 150,000 Palestinian Arabs who remained within the State of Israel after the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Many Arab citizens of Israel have continued to identify themselves as Palestinian and hold ties to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as to residents of occupied East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel in 1980. (Source: Question of Palestine: Jerusalem. United Nations. http://www.un.org/Depts/dpa/qpal/index.html)

Steps forward - Jews In Iran

Iran contains the most number of Jews among Muslim countries and Uzbekistan and Turkey have the next ranks. Iran's Jewish community is officially recognized as a religious minority group by the government, and they are allocated one seat in the Iranian Parliament. Maurice Motamed has been the Jewish MP since 2000, and was re-elected again in 2004. In 2000, former Jewish MP Manuchehr Eliasi estimated that at that time there were still 30-35,000 Jews in Iran, other sources put the figure as low as 20-25,000. (Source: Bahá'í Association http://www.uga.edu/bahai/News/021600.html)

Muslim Israeli Cabinet Minister

On January 28th, 2007 the Israeli government has voted to appoint its first-ever Muslim cabinet minister. The Labour Party's Galeb Magadla becomes minister without portfolio in the coalition government of Ehud Olmert, the prime minister. Magadla told Israeli Army Radio following the vote that the move would help Israel's Arab citizens identify more strongly with the Jewish state. He said: "The first step has been taken and this has given Israeli Arabs a feeling of belonging." (Source: aljazeera.net)

Holy scripture

Islam and Judaism share the idea of a revealed Scripture. Even though they differ over the precise text and its interpretations, the Hebrew Torah and the Muslim Qur'an share a lot of narrative as well as injunctions. From this, they share many other fundamental religious concepts such as the belief in a day of Divine Judgment as well as believing in the afterlife, Heaven and Hell.

Muslims commonly refer to Jews (and Christians) as fellow "People of the Book": people who follow the same general teachings in relation to the worship of the one God worshipped by Abraham.

As Islam developed it became, by far, the major religion closest to Judaism.

Religious law

Judaism and Islam are unique in having systems of religious law based on oral tradition which can over-ride the written laws and which does not distinguish between holy and secular spheres. In Islam the laws are called Sharia, In Judaism they are known as Halakha. Both Judaism and Islam consider the study the study of religious law to be a form of worship and an end in itself. (Source: Encyclopedia Judaica)

The most obvious common practice is the statement of the absolute unity of God which Muslims observe in their five times daily prayers (Salah), and Jews state at least twice (Shema Yisrael). The two Faiths also share the central practices of fasting and charity, as well as dietary laws and other aspects of ritual purity.

Judaism and Islam have strict dietary laws, with lawful food being called Kosher in Judaism and Halal in Islam. Both religions prohibit the consumption of pork. Halal restrictions can be seen as a subset of the Kashrut dietary laws, so many kosher foods are considered halal; especially in the case of meat, which Islam prescribes must be slaughtered in the name of God.

Both Judaism and Islam have a generally negative stance on homosexuality and on human sexuality outside of marriage. Both prescribe circumcision for males as a symbol of dedication to the religion. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_and_Judaism#_note-10)

Jewish Origins

Judaism's origins-along with those of the ancestral Abrahamic religion-are obscure. The only source generally agreed by all to be canonical that bears on that question is the Genesis book of the Hebrew Bible, which according to Rabbinic tradition was written by G-d and received by Moses after the Exodus from Egypt, sometime in the 2nd millennium BCE. According to Genesis, the principles of Judaism were revealed gradually to a line of patriarchs from Adam to Jacob (also called Israel); however the Judaic religion was only established when Moses received the Commandments on Mount Sinai, and with the organization of its priesthood and institution of its temple services.

All the Abrahamic religions are related to or even derived from Judaism as practiced in ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah prior to the Babylonian Exile, at the beginning of the 1st millennium BCE.

Beginning in 7th century CE

Islam originated in the 7th century, in the Arabian cities of Mecca and Medina. Although not a dissident branch of either Judaism or Christianity, Muslims believe it to be a continuation and replacement for them.

The historical interaction of Islam and Judaism started in the 7th century CE with the origin and spread of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula. Because Islam and Judaism share a common origin in the Middle East through Abraham, both are considered Abrahamic religions. There are many shared aspects between Judaism and Islam. Because of this, as well as through the influence of Muslim culture and philosophy on practitioners of Judaism within the Islamic world, there has been considerable and continued physical, theological, and political overlap between the two faiths in the subsequent 1,400 years.


Ancient Hebrew and Arab people are generally classified as Semitic peoples, a concept derived from Biblical accounts of the origins of the cultures known to the ancient Hebrews. Those closest to them in culture and language were generally deemed to be descended from their forefather Shem. Enemies were often said to be descendants of his cursed brother Ham. Due to the similarities between Hebrew and Arabic as Semitic languages, many Muslim and Jewish terms are similar including the words for peace: salam and shalom. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_and_Judaism#_note-6)


According to Islamic holy texts, Muhammad preached that the pagan Arabs should abandon polytheism and accept Abrahamic monotheism, the belief in the one God. The Qur'an states that Muhammad's teachings were the completion of revelations given to prophets throughout the ages. Islam has taken many traits from Judaism (as well as Christianity), such as common prophets who are revered in both faiths such as Moses and Abraham.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are known as "Abrahamic religions". The firstborn son of Abraham, Ishmael, Muslims consider Father of the Arabs. Abraham's second son Isaac is called Father of the Hebrews. In the Jewish tradition Abraham is called Avraham Avinu or "Abraham, our Father". For Muslims, he is a prophet of Islam and the ancestor of Muhammad through Ishmael.

Islam affirms that Moses (Musa) was given a revelation, the Torah, which Muslims call Tawrat in Arabic, and believed to be the word of God (Allah). However, they also believe that this original revelation was modified over time by certain scribes and preachers. According to Islamic belief, the present Jewish scriptures were no longer the original divine revelations given to Moses. Muslims believe the Qur'an is the final revelation from God and a completion of the previous revelations.

Middle Ages

Jews have often lived in predominantly Islamic nations. During the Middle Ages as the Islamic state expanded out of the Arabian Peninsula, large numbers of Jews came under Muslim rule. There was general improvement in the conditions of Jews as Islamic law commands that Jews should be judged by Jewish laws, and that synagogues are to be protected. In the Iberian Peninsula, under Muslim rule, Jews were able to make great advances in mathematics, astronomy, philosophy, chemistry and philology. (Source: Cowling (2005), p. 265)

Medieval Islamic civilization developed into its most productive period between the years 900 and 1200, and Jewish civilization in the Islamic world followed suit. During this period, some of the greatest works of Jewish philosophy, grammar, law, philology, and lexicography were written, in parallel with great advances in these fields in the Islamic world.

Jewish poetry in Hebrew found a renaissance during this period as well, and its meters, styles, and contents parallel those of its Muslim Arabic counterpart. Nowhere was this more pronounced than in Spain, where Jewish civilization flourished along with the flowering of the Islamic and secular sciences and culture throughout the region, known in Arabic as al-Andalus.

The relatively open society of al-Andalus was reversed and then ended by the coming of North African armies to help defend against the Spanish Christians, who were pushing the Muslims southward from their strongholds in the north. Jews were highly restricted under the Islamist Berber regimes and eventually began moving northward to newly conquered Christian areas where, for the time being, they were treated better. (Source: http://rabbidavidrosen.net/)

The Ottoman Empire had served as a refuge for Jews who had been expelled from Western Europe, especially after the fall of Muslim Spain in 1492. This was also the case for the Maghreb in North Africa, where a Jewish quarter (Mellah), was installed in most large Arabian cities. At the time Jews were driven out of Western Europe fleeing the Christian Inquisition, most notably the Alhambra decree. The Alhambra Decree was issued in 1492 by the Catholic Monarchs of Spain (Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon), following the final triumph over the Moors after the fall of Granada. The decree ordered the expulsion of all Jews from Spain and its territories and possessions by July 31, 1492 (Tisha B'Av).


The 12th century saw the apotheosis of pure philosophy. This supreme exaltation of philosophy was due, in great measure, to Ghazali (1058-1111) among the Arabs, and to Judah ha-Levi (1140) among the Jews. Like Ghazali, Judah ha-Levi took upon himself to free religion from the shackles of speculative philosophy, and to this end wrote the Kuzari, in which he sought to discredit all schools of philosophy alike.

The Jewish philosopher Maimonides endeavored to harmonize the philosophy of Aristotle with Judaism; and to this end he composed his immortal work, Dalalat al-airin (Guide for the Perplexed)-known better under its Hebrew title Moreh Nevuchim-which served for many centuries as the subject of discussion and comment by Jewish thinkers.

The Arab philosopher Ibn Roshd (Averroes), the contemporary and tutor of Maimonides, closes the philosophical era of the Arabs. The boldness of this great commentator of Aristotle aroused the full fury of the orthodox.

Driven from the Arabian schools, Arabic philosophy found a refuge with the Jews, to whom belongs the honor of having transmitted it to the Christian world. A series of eminent men-such as the Tibbons, Narboni, and Gersonides-joined in translating the Arabic philosophical works into Hebrew and commenting upon them. The works of Ibn Roshd especially became the subject of their study, due in great measure to Maimonides, who, in a letter addressed to his pupil Joseph ibn Aknin, spoke in the highest terms of Ibn Roshd's commentary.

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