Both Judaism and Islam are Abrahamic religions that emerged on the coast of the eastern Mediterranean. To state the difference between Judaism and Islam, we need to go through many historical, ethical, and conceptual standpoints.
Major Abrahamic religions are divided based on faiths, practices, and many other factors. However, the emergence period of Judaism and Islam are not the same and were initially preached by different major Prophets, like Moses in Judaism and Muhammad in Islam.
Both religions have different kinds of prayer systems, and each religion has a particular central sacred scripture to follow. However, these Abrahamic religions are Monotheists, and they share many common concepts like Prophets, the messiah, archangels, etc.
Judaism is the first Abrahamic religion that emerged among the ancient Hebrews more than 3500 years ago. On the other hand, Islam is the world’s second-largest religion developed among the Arabs more than 1400 years ago. The followers of Judaism are known as Jews, and the followers of Islam are known as Muslims.
Table of Contents
|Ethnic religion||Judaism is an ethnic religion of the Israelite people.||Islam is not an ethnic religion.|
|God Name||Yahweh is the name of God of the Israelites.||Allah is the name of God in Islam.|
|The Archangel (Chief Angels)||In Judaism, there are four to ten angels known as the Archangels or the chief angels. Unlike Islam, angel Azrael was not mentioned as an Archangel in Judaism.||In Islam, Gabriel (or Jibril), Michael, Raphael, and Azrael are God’s chief angels.|
|The Holiest Scripture||The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh is the holiest scripture in Judaism.||The Quran is the holiest scripture in Islam.|
|Words of God||Torah is the Words of God in Judaism||The Quran is the Words of God in Islam|
|Secondary scriptures||Midrash, Talmud||Hadith|
|Most Important Prophet||Moses is the most important prophet in Judaism.||Muhammad is the most important prophet in Islam.|
|The Most Sacred City||The most sacred city in Judaism is Jerusalem.||Mecca is the most sacred city in Islam.|
|The Most Sacred place||The most sacred place in Judaism is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.||Masjid al-Haram in Mecca is the most sacred place in Islam.|
|Sacred language||Biblical Hebrew is the most sacred language in Judaism.||Classical Arabic is the most sacred language in Islam.|
|Muhammad||Judaism does not accept Muhammad as a prophet.||Islam teaches that Muhammad was the messenger of Allah, and the last prophet ever had come.|
|Jesus||Mainstream Judaism does not recognize Jesus as a messiah or a prophet of God.||Islam recognizes Jesus as a messiah, a prophet, and a messenger of Allah.|
|Ishmael and Isaac||According to Judaism, to fulfill God’s order, Abraham intended to sacrifice his son Isaac.||According to Islam, to fulfill God’s order, Abraham intended to sacrifice his son Ishmael.|
|Lilith||The demonic female character Lilith was mentioned in the Judaism scripture.||Lilith was not mentioned in Islamic scriptures.|
|Heaven||Judaism believes in a seven-layered heaven ‘Shamayim.’||Muslims believe in seven layers of sky ‘Sama’ and twelve heavens.|
|Major denominations||Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, etc.||Sunni, Kharijite Shia.|
|Prayer||Traditionally, Judaists pray three times a day.||Usually, Muslims pray five times a day.|
|Place of Worship||In Hebrew, Judaist places of worship are known as Synagogue.||In Classical Arabic, Islamic places of worship are known as Masjid, Masjid Jami, and Musalla.|
|Religious War||The religious war is mandatory for all Jewish men and women.||The religious war is mandatory for capable Muslim men.|
What is Judaism?
The ethnic religion of the Jewish people and the oldest monotheistic belief after Samaritanism is Judaism that developed among ancient Hebrews more than 3500 years ago on the east coast of the Mediterranean. Judaism is considered the first Abrahamic religion.
Who are the Jews?
Traditionally the Israelite people are known as the Jews. On the other hand, the non-Israelite adherents of Judaism are not known as true Jews. In modern times, a Jew may be a non-believer Israelite or a religious Israelite; but a religious Judaist Israelite is a true Jew.
Israelites believe that they are descendants of Israel, so they are known as the B’nai Israel or the children of Israel. According to Jewish mythology, Israel was another name of Jacob: son of Isaac, and Abraham and Sarah’s grandson.
The father of the Jews is Abraham. But Jews today do not belong to a homogeneous ethnicity.
The history of the early Israelite people dates back to the 13th century BCE in the Canaan region. These people mixed up with a nomadic Hebrew population and established three kingdoms:
- The United Monarchy of Israel: Existed roughly from 1047 BCE to 930 BCE.
- The Kingdom of Israel (Samaria): Existed roughly from 930 BCE to 722 or 721 BCE.
- The Kingdom of Judah: Existed roughly from 930 BCE to 587 or 586 BCE.
Judaism has evolved from a monolatry Canaanite cult, and contemporary monotheistic Judaism was formed between the 5th and 4th centuries BCE.
Denominations of Judaism
Judaism is divided into several branches distinguished from one another based on philosophical approaches, traditions, and practices. Some major branches of Judaism are Reform Judaism, Orthodox Judaism, Conservative Judaism, etc.
Orthodox Judaism has some subdivisions as well. Some of them are Modern Orthodox, Haredi Orthodox, Hasidic, Yeshivish, Open orthodox, etc.
Some other smaller denominations of Judaism are Reconstructionist Judaism, Jewish Renewal, Humanistic Judaism, etc.
Pillars of Judaism
There are no very particular pillars in Judaism, as in the sense of “5 basic principles of Islam.” However, every faith system has some fundamental beliefs and practices, or the principles on which a system stands. If we deem these fundamental faith principles as pillars, there are thirteen most essential elements that can be found in Judaism.
A medieval Sephardic Jewish philosopher named Maimonides sorted these thirteen principles of Judaism, on which most jews agree. These thirteen principles of Judaism consisted of certain beliefs like God’s existence, God’s Unity and eternity, God’s no-corporeality, Prophecy of Moses, forthcoming Messiah, and resurrection of the dead, etc.
Based on scriptures and the basic history, the foundations of Judaism are divided into four categories:
- Election(a special relationship with God)
- Covenant(A two-way promise between God and his chosen people)
- Land(or the promised land).
Judaism Holy book
The name of the holy book of the jews people is Tanakh (an acronym for Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuvim), also known as the Hebrew Bible or Hebrew scripture. Prophet Moses received the words of this holy scripture on the mountain of Sinai. The written language of Tanakh is ancient Hebrew.
The Christian Bible is basically divided into two major parts: the old testament and the new testament. The old testament shares the same teachings as the Tanakh. So, technically, Tanakhh is asserted as a holy scripture for Christians as well.
The first five books of Tanakh are combinedly known as the Torah, aka Pentateuch. Torah tells the story of creation, the exact history that is described in the Holy Bible (read our article on Torah vs. Bible)
The second major division in Tanakh is known as Nevi’im that has eight books. The word Nevi’im means Prophets. This part of Tanakh describes the teachings and history of the prophets. The third major division in Tanakh is known as Ketuvim. The word Ketuvim means Writings or Hagiographa. Ketuvim contains 11 books that describe the history of jews people and their covenant with God.
What is Messianic Judaism?
Messianic Judaism is a syncretic religion of Judaism and Christianity emerged in the 1960s CE. This movement accepts Jesus as a Jewish messiah, considers him as the son of God, believes in the Christian doctrine of Trinity, and follows both the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) and the Christian New Testament.
What is Islam?
The term Islam is derived from the Arabic word Salm meaning peace. In Arabic, the meaning of Islam is Submission. As a whole, the meaning of Islam indicates obedience to Allah’s will.
When we talk about Abrahamic religions, it primarily refers to three major beliefs that emerged in the middle-east. Islam is one of them that was primarily preached by Hazrat Muhammad: the last god sent prophet according to the Islamic faith. The central holy book of Islam is the Qur’an.
Islam was founded in Mecca (a city in Saudi Arabia) in the 7th century. The city of Mecca is considered the holiest place in Islam, where the Kaaba (most holy mosque for Muslims) is situated. Currently, there are 1.9 billion Muslims worldwide.
Who are Arabs?
The Arab people are a group of Semitic people divided into various tribes from northern and central parts of the Arabian Peninsula. In Classical Arabic, A’rāb means the nomadic Bedouin people.
Arabs believe they are descendants of Ishmael, another son of Abraham. At the primary stage, Islam was a religion that spread among Arabs.
Denominations of Islam
Islam is primarily divided into three sects: Sunni, Shia, and Kharijite. These major sects are divided into a few more denominations as well.
There are four primary schools of law in Sunni Islam: Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki, and Shafiʽi. Some popular Shia denominations are; Ismailism, Jafri, Zaidiyyah, Nizari, Alevi, etc.
Ibadiyya is also known as the third branch that was established around 1300 years ago. Ibadiyya (or Ibadi) is the major denomination in Kharijite.
Pillars of Islam
The central beliefs and practices of Islam are standing upon five pillars. In order to be a Muslim, one has to believe and follow these basic acts mentioned below:
- Shahada (The declaration of faith)- Shahada or Shahadah includes the belief that there is no other god except Allah, and Hazrat Muhammad is the messenger God.
- Salat(or salah, namaz, or prayer)- Praying to Allah facing the mecca five times a day is one of Islam’s fundamental principles.
- Zakat (alms)- To donate a fixed portion of one’s income to the insolvent community members.
- Sawm (or Roza, or Fasting)- During the month of Ramadan, fasting is one of the basic acts in Islam.
- Hajj (pilgrimage)- The Kaaba in Mecca city is the central pilgrim for Muslims. Visiting the Kaaba Sharif for solvent Muslims is one of the central practices in Islam.
Islam Holy book
The major Holy book of Islam is the Qur’an (or Koran). According to the Islamic faith, Allah appointed archangel Gabriel (Muslim call him Jibril) to take the words of the Quran to the prophet Muhammad.
Prophet Muhammad received Quran’s words from Jibril on the mount Hira between 609-632 CE. The Arabic word Quran means To recite.
The holy Quran is divided into 30 sections, and there are as a whole 114 chapters (known as surahs in Arabic).
However, scriptures like the Tawrat (or Torah, the holy scripture of Judaism), Injil(Gospels, received by Isa or Jesus), Zabur (Psalms, received by Dawud or David) are also considered as sacred scriptures in Islam.
The key differences between Judaism and Islam
- Judaism is an ethnic religion of the Israelite people. Islam is not an ethnic religion, though; there are arguments that at first, Islam was preached as an ethnic religion of the Arab people.
- The Followers of Judaism are known as Jews. On the other hand, Muslims are known as the followers of Islam.
- The major prophet in Judaism is Moses. The major Prophet in Islam is Muhammad.
- The sacred scripture of Jews Is The Tanakh. Conversely, The central Holy scripture of Islam is the Qur’an. Not to mention, Tawrat( or Torah) is considered a holy book in Islam too.
- Mainstream Judaism does not accept Jesus as a messiah or a prophet. Islam accepts Jesus as a messiah and a prophet.
- Judaism does not recognize Muhammad as a prophet. Islam preaches that Muhammad was the last messenger of Allah or the last prophet.
- In Judaism, the most sacred place is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Masjid al-Haram in Mecca is the most sacred place for Muslims.
Judaism vs Islam: Place of worship
The place of worship for Jews people is called a synagogue, and the place where Muslims gather for prayer is called the Masjid or the Mosque.
Orthodox Jews often use the term Yiddish to refer to a synagogue. Typically a Synagogue has an ark and an ornamented wall plaque known as Mizrah, directed towards Jerusalem. A Rabbi leads the congregation in a synagogue.
Typically, a mosque contains at least one minaret and a Mihrab (an ornamented wall plaque) that indicates the direction towards Qibla. Muslims pray to Allah facing the Mihrab. The person who leads the Namaz (or prayer) in a mosque is called an Imam.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs):
Who is God of Judaism?
Judaism is a monotheistic belief. The name of God in Judaism is YHWH. According to the Bible, the Hebrew name of God is Yahweh.
What is the traditional symbol of Judaism?
The Tradition symbol of Judaism is the Star of David.
What religion came first Judaism or Islam?
Judaism came first. Judaism was founded around 3500 years ago, while Islam was founded around 1400 years ago.
What is the oldest religion?
Hinduism is the oldest among all the world religions. According to scholars, Hinduism was founded more than 4000 years ago in the Indus valley. But according to traditional Hindu belief, Hinduism has always existed. That is why this religion is also known as Sanatana or eternal.
Is there a difference between a Jew and a Jewish person?
A Jew or a Jewish person is the person who follows Judaism. Terms like A Jew or a Jewish person indicates no difference.
Judaism does not accept Jesus and Muhammad as prophets. On the other hand, Islam is a latter-day Abrahamic religion that recognizes Jesus and Musa as messengers of God. Apart from certain points of contradictions, this article has tried to demonstrate the difference between Judaism and Islam from some primary, conceptual, and historical factors for the sake of readers’ understanding.
Craig is a full-time academic and research-based article writer from California. A trained content creator who started his career as a column writer for local magazines and newspapers. His works have been published on many renowned online platforms.