This is not about the differences between the three major religions. It is about their commonality. Around one of about 100 million Americans, 29 percent to be exact, who when asked their affiliation with religion, the answer would be “none,” or “none of the above.” However, most have respect for those who are truly religious is unquestioned.
Those who choose to manipulate specific sections of the Bible, the Quran, or the Torah which somewhat agree with their personal beliefs and ambitions, but fail to address the overall spirit and intent of their most sacred documents. This article will focus will be on the position of women, and their relationships relating to men in their society. This is one of the most important and misunderstood issues in the 21st century.
First, many believe that all three share some basic principles, although they are addressed from different perspectives. Christianity, the Religion of Islam, and Judaism teach the importance of peace and love, disavowing anger, hatred, and violence. Only extremist/splinter groups choose to discount these basic concepts.
All three share some basic beliefs about a woman’s position within their faith, and their relationships to and with men.
When people talk about Christianity, they are discussing the New Testament. The Old Testament is filled with fables, some historical facts, and fairy tales. The New Testament is a record of the teachings of Jesus Christ divided into four Gospels, or Books, written by Christ’s disciples, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Matthew talks about how Jesus evaluated women.
For Christ, women have an intrinsic value equal to that of men. Jesus said, “. . . at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’” (Matt. 19:4; Gen. 1:27). Women are created in the image of God just as men are. Like men, they have self-awareness, personal freedom, a measure of self-determination, and personal responsibility for their actions.
He reveals, even more, when we read about His actions when involved in the direct discussion and the instructions of God the father.
First, Jesus talked directly to women. According to John, this was extremely unusual for the times. Even Jesus’ closest disciples were surprised at his comfortable relationship with women. Secondly, Jesus spoke to women in a manner that revealed his belief in their intrinsic value.
He spoke in a thoughtful and caring manner, according to Luke. Third, He taught women that they were responsible for their own sins, as recorded in specific instances reported by John and Luke. This was another example of the fact that He believed in the equality of women and men, regardless of the issue.
The laws of man have been more restrictive than the precepts in the Bible, Quran, or Tora.
In the Quran, the Prophet Muhammad stressed the value of women and instructed his followers about how they must be respected and cared for by men. This is the first similarity between Jesus and Muhammad.
It is important here to consider the fact that before the prophet Muhammad, born 570 A.D., pagans and Arabs often buried newborn female children in the desert sands. In parts of the old world, females had little or no value.
The Prophet’s concern for women is revealed in the Quran when he addressed men who oppress, or “ill-treat” women.
O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should you treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the dowry you have given them – except when they have become guilty of open lewdness. On the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take a dislike to them, it may be that you dislike something and Allah will bring about through it a great deal of good. (4:19)
You might notice that this is quite different from the manner in which Muslim extremists devalue women, considering them as less than equals.
The Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) said:
Women are the twin halves of men.
The Qur’an emphasizes the essential unity of men and women in a most beautiful simile.
A scholar of the Torah discusses misconceptions about women and Judaism.
The role of women in traditional Judaism has been grossly misrepresented and misunderstood. The position of women is not nearly as lowly as many modern people think; in fact, the position of women in Halakhah (Jewish Law) that dates back to the biblical period is in many ways better than the position of women under U.S. civil law as recently as a century ago.
Many of the important feminist leaders of the 20th century — Gloria Steinem, for example — are Jewish women, and some commentators have suggested that this is no coincidence: the respect accorded to women in Jewish tradition was a part of their ethnic culture.
Judaism is the oldest of all religions, and considered men and women as “one and the same.”
Both man and woman were created in the image of God. According to many Jewish scholars, “man” was created “male and female” (Genesis 1:27) with dual gender, and was later separated into male and female.
The truth is that in America, men in positions of power are responsible for the subjugation of women. These men include religious “leaders” known as “evangelicals,” who created the Christian Religious Right.
Muslim extremists created “sharia law.” It is disrespectful to women and ignores the instructions found in the Quran. Afghanistan is controlled by the Taliban. These power-crazy men cannot claim to be loyal followers of the Religion of Islam.
In Judaism, Zionists are considered extremists. It is admirable that Israel is a “Jewish State.” However, taking land from neighboring Palestinians is aggressive, and out of line with the basic premise of Judaism.
Men harboring an intense desire for power pervert religion.
In America, our politicians demonize all religions not founded on what they call “Christian beliefs.” This is not only moronic, this is a violation of the First Amendment. Every man and woman in America has the right to choose which faith most closely resembles their own beliefs or none at all.
Two issues that have divided our nation for years would not exist without the demands of Christian leaders: a woman’s right to make choices about her own mental and physical health, and same-sex marriage.
Hate crimes would not be a serious problem if intellect defeated baseless emotions. There is no basis for Islamophobia or anti-Semitism.
The New Testament of the Bible, the Quran, and the Torah teach the same basic principles: love, peace, compassion, understanding, forgiveness, and kindness in the name of God. None of them accept anger, hatred, or violence.
Finally, remember, the Crusades had nothing to do with serving God. The Holocaust was created by an evil, power-crazy man. God has never suggested that men should hate or harm other men. Small elements of mankind are evil and use their own version of “religious extremism” to justify their crimes against humanity.
Op-ed by James Turnage
The Hill: The fastest growing US religious affiliation? ‘None,’ poll says; by MONIQUE BEALS
Crossway: How Jesus Viewed and Valued Women; by James A. Borland
IIUM: Women in the Quran and the Sunnah; by Prof. Abdur Rahman I. Doi
Mechon-Mamre: The Role of Women
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First Inline Image by Wilfredor Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License
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Third Inline Image Courtesy of Rahel Jaskow’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License