What are the similarities and differences between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam? 

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Christianity, Judaism and Islam are what we commonly call the "Abrahamic Religions." 

The association with Abraham, and thus the biblical story of The Call of Abraham, influences all three of the above religions in terms of their beliefs about God and the origin of humanity. 

In short, the very first...

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Christianity, Judaism and Islam are what we commonly call the "Abrahamic Religions." 

The association with Abraham, and thus the biblical story of The Call of Abraham, influences all three of the above religions in terms of their beliefs about God and the origin of humanity. 

In short, the very first tale of Abraham--found in the first of three sections of the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Torah--is essentially about God's creation of the paradigmatic human being. In an effort to see if Abraham would (unlike Adam and Eve) follow his will unconditionally, God tested Abraham with a series of difficult tasks, all of which Abraham completed without argument. 

Abraham also heeded God's will when he was told to sacrifice his son, Isaac, to God. He prepared a ritualistic killing for the child and was stopped just before the actual killing when God intervened and told him that he needn't see anymore; he was pleased.

Christianity, Islam and Judaism all refer to this story when speaking both of the origin of humanity and the paradigmatic human being. All three religions believe, essentially, that Abraham is a pure and exemplary representation of a human formed in God's image, living without sin, and they trace their histories back to this text. 

Some more similarities/differences:

  • The Western Traditions are all monotheist, meaning they believe in only one God.
  • They each have prophets (human messengers of God) associated with their religions. 
  • Each has a version of Heaven/Paradise and Hell, though some Jews do not believe in any afterlife.
  • All believe that humans do have the tendency to do evil, though where Islam and Judaism believe that humans have equal impulses for both good and evil, Christianity believes we are all born good, but inherit evil from Adam (called "original sin").

An important similarity is their belief in Jesus Christ. However, their beliefs do change among the religions. For example:

  • Judaism believes Jesus had a normal birth, while Islam and Christianity believe in his virgin birth.
  • Christianity worships Jesus as a true prophet, and as an incarnation of God. Islam also believes Jesus was a true prophet, but does not consider the man divine or an incarnation of God. Judaism believes that Jesus was not God or the Messiah (savior), and that his sacrifice was not entirely necessary. 

There are also some technical differences, such as the names and designs of their houses of worship, the days which they consider sacred, the languages in which they practice their religion, etc. These are a given, considering these are different religions and not denominations (subsets) of one religion. 

Generally, though, it is each of the three religions' beliefs about God and Abraham that tie them together as similar religions. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team