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This argument relies too heavily on conjecture and generalizations

Reader comment on item: The Jewish-Muslim Connection: Traditional Ways of Life

Submitted by Riad Zand (Saudi Arabia), Mar 8, 2014 at 04:22

Thank you for posting this thoughtful essay. I do have what to me are some glaring misrepresentations concerning the relationship and depictions of these religions and how they are observed. For example, at one point you state, "Synagogue and mosque services are both informal, with a great deal of coming and going; the absence of a priest in charge means that each person can pray on his own, adding an element of chaos to the proceedings. "

I have been to Synagogues, mosques and churches, and I can say that out of the three, the Christian prayers are the most chaotic, of course depending on the demonination. Catholics strictly adhere to rules, whereas more open churches encourage a freer display of emotions--waving arms, crying, speaking over one another in prayer. In Islam, there is a strict order to how things are done, what is said and when, every motion of a man's body in concert with the next,standing in lines, heads towards the quibla, as the imam leads the prayer (in Saudi Arabia, for example, the religious leaders are called imams. It is in Iran they are called clerics). BTW, lumping Iran's shias in with sunnis is to misunderstand the differences. For one, when you mention the hadiths; these are only observed by the Sunnis, not the Shias.

Islam has a great deal of connection to Judaism and Christianity. Abraham and Moses are mentioned extensively in the Koran, as is Jesus, and the virgin Mary (the immaculate conception is recognized in the Koran). In fact, Islam isn't something separate from the other two. It brings all of the books together into one system of belief. And if you look at Judaism and Islam, they are both monotheistic in the truest sense, where Christians beleive that Christ was an incarnation of God, and the holy spirit another facet, so that God is divided into three parts, hence the trinity. This is not the monotheism that the Jewish and Islamic religions have in common.

Also, when you mention that the attention for Muslim deeds is on the deed itself and not the intention, you have not accurately represented Quran and hadiths. Intention is the most important component of anything in Islam. Even each prayer begins with a silent mindfulness of intention. As for social good, part of the purpose of fasting in Ramadan is to feel the pain of those who are starving. There are huge rewards in Islam for helping others, and in fact, a Muslim is obliged to help another in need, even a non-Muslim. .

Also, everything in Islam revolves around faith (not just works). As you mentioned, Muslims give credence to Allah about every three sentences. Nearly every statement ends with "inshallah," God willing. This is to express that nothing happens apart from the will of Allah. And as far as works are concerned, the New Testament states that faith without works is dead (I believe it was Paul who wrote this in Corinthians, although I didn't look up the specific verse). While Judaism has become less about faith and more about tradition (many Jews who observe the customs and religious holidays are in fact atheists), Islam and Christianity are more closely linked because of the faith dynamic. To state that Christianity provided the faith is a distortion.

It is also worth noting that the Arab countries make up only about 8% of Muslims worldwide. Much of Islam represented in places like Saudi Arabia is influenced by Wahhabism, a brand of Islam specific to that region which started a couple of centuries ago as a fundamentalist movement. Other Muslim countries have a very different cultural narrative reflected in their interpretations of Islam, as visible by the way women dress--with head scarves, not the niqab or hejab. This is true in regions like Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine, Tunisia, Indonesia...among many others

It seems to me that the writer of this essay has a Christian agenda, out to prove that Judaism and Islam are restricted from modern cultural development due to antiquated laws, where Christianity is just about faith, and therefore somehow more progressive and valuable. The idea that modern times are calling for Jews and Musims to abandon their laws in favor of faith, and therefore becoming more akin to Christianity, is another assumption. Kosher and halal foods are very common in many areas of the world, and Islam practiced almost ubiquitiously. .It has the largest growith rate among the three.

You are obviously a talented writer and have the ability to think critically. You just need to substantiate your claims, and perhaps reach your conclusion after your study, not before. I hope that you keep writing and thinking. You have the right intention!

Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Daniel Pipes replies:

Shi'a also accept the Hadiths.

Intention is indeed central to prayer but not to carrying out the Shari'a.

Arabic speakers constitute more like 25 percent of Muslims.

I do not have a Christian agenda but see Christian influence on the other two monotheisms, rather than the reverse.

Thank you for the encouragement.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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