Posted on 27 January 2011.
By Glenn Nakadate, A Pebble in Boulder City
Recently, I saw a “COEXIST” bumper sticker on a car in Boulder City and got to thinking about tolerance of other people’s beliefs.
The original coexist design was by Piotr Miodozeniec, a Polish graphic designer who entered it into a contest sponsored by an Israeli museum to promote religious tolerance.
The letter “C” was formed by the Islamic crescent symbol, the Star of David of Judaism depicted the “X” and the “T” represented the Christian cross.
Since then, the design has been modified to include symbols for Eastern religions, gender identity issues, and pagan/Wiccan beliefs.
This article is not meant as a primer on comparative religions since that would require volumes to discuss in detail, but more to illustrate the many similarities between Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Hopefully, this will lead to greater understanding and tolerance.
The religions discussed in this article are Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Their respective followers are called Jews, Christians and Muslims. They are all monotheistic religions, or a belief in one god. The founder of Judaism was Abraham about 4,000 years ago as described in the Old Testament.
Muslims also trace their origin to him. Christianity begins with Jesus but the roots go back to Abraham.
One of the most important commonalities is the belief in one God and that it is the same God.
The major difference among these religions is the emphasis on the messenger:
Moses for the Jews, Jesus for Christians, and Mohammed for Muslims.
The holy book for Judaism is the Torah that consists of the first five books of the Old Testament. Christianity’s holy bible consists of both the Old and New Testaments.
Muslim’s have the Koran. Westerners do not realize that prophets mentioned in the Koran include Abraham, Moses and Jesus. This illustrates the Koran’s lineage to both Judaism and Christianity by including references to the Torah and Bible. The Koran’s only woman specified by name is Mary, Jesus’ mother.
Each of these religions set aside one day during the week specifically devoted to public prayer: Friday for Muslims; Saturday is the Sabbath for Jews; and Sunday for Christians.
Fasting is also part of each religion to focus on meditation and prayer.
Christian fasting varies with each denomination. For example, Catholics during the Lenten season restrict their consumption on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday; Jews fast during Yom Kippur; and Muslims fast during daylight hours during the month of Ramadan.
All three of these religions originated in the Middle East and their holiest sites are located in Jerusalem.
Jews have the Wailing Wall, so called because their first and second temples built on Temple Mount were destroyed and only this Western Wall remains. Jews come here to pray and lament the destruction of their most holy temples. The center of Temple Mount is the Dome of the Rock where the second Jewish Temple was located and where Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son. Muslims constructed their mosque at this very location around 690 A.D. and it is their third most sacred site. It is reputed to be where Mohammed ascended to heaven to receive God’s commandments.
Close by is the Christian Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus was said to have been crucified.
Wikipedia says there are 2.1 billion Christians (#1 number of adherents), 1.5 billion Muslims (#2 number of members) and 12 million Jews (#12 on list of adherents).
Creating harmony between the three religions discussed is certainly challenging since schism even exists within each of these religions.
Christians are not only divided between Protestants and Catholics but have splintered into over 38,000 Christian denominations.
The main division among Jews is Orthodox and Reform, but with subdivisions in each of these.
Islam separated into Shia, or Shiites, and Sunni after Mohammed’s death and, as with the other religions, also has subdivisions. Those who followed Mohammed’s son were Sunnis and those that chose Mohammed’s daughter and son-in-law formed the Shia group.
I agree with the following quotes and hope readers do, too:
“Tolerance is the positive and cordial effort to understand another’s beliefs, practices, and habits without necessarily sharing or accepting them.”- Joshua Liebman.
“Every religious group, while perhaps a majority somewhere, is also inevitably a minority somewhere else. Thus, religious organizations should and do show tolerance toward members of other religious denominations.” – Russell M. Nelson
“The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.” – Ralph W. Sockman
Glenn Nakadate is a resident of Boulde City and can be reached at href=BCPebble@yahoo.com.