The origins of Judaism, Islam and Hinduism have particular specific similarities and differences in the way they interpret and allow work in respect to their beliefs and morality. How are they similar and how are they different?
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In searching around for some discussions of this topic, I found an extremely interesting article by Daniel Pipes, who argues that both Judaism and Islam stress the importance of works (more than faith) than does Christianity. I have always thought of Pipes as fairly hostile to Islam, so I was surprised to discover this article. Reading it was illuminating and made me rethink some of my assumptions about Pipes. As always, however, it is good to consult a range of sources on any issue as significant as this one.
Islam in particular stresses works as a sign of obedience to God. You might think of the pilgrimage to Mecca in those terms, and of course prayer five times a day. Muslims are also required (if able) to give alms to the poor, another work. Judaism also tends to place a great emphasis on orthopraxy, which basically means the correct practices in worshiping God and in living one's life.
I know that some texts of Hinduism stress the importance of doing work without thinking about the outcome, emphasizing instead a connection/engagement in the activity.
This is related to the idea of erasing the ego and identifying with the gestalt of the moment.
Christianity stresses the notion of doing good work, and Hinduism does this too, as a means of 1) finding humility by serving others and 2) enacting the highest values associated with each religion - compassion, mercy, and empathy.
The afterlife of Hinduism, that is re-incarnation, and the afterlife of Judaism and Islam are very different. If one does not achieve liberation in Hinduism, the works of their life (Karma) result in the caste of the next life. To do one's caste-approprate work with detachment and in effort to heal the imperfect or disjointed world seems to be the main component of Hinduism that will result in liberation or human salvation. Judaism and Islam in direct contrast, believe the Abrahamic cosmogany that when God created the earth, he deemed it perfect and man does not need to "fix" it. Then how does the two Abrahamic traditions make work a condition of human salvation?
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