Judaism and Islam are sister religions with many similarities.
…After years of studying Torah and Jewish law in yeshiva, including getting my rabbinic ordination, I began studying and researching Islam.
A fascinating world was revealed to me.
…Delving into Islam was an intense intellectual experience, but the most transformative part of my studies was realizing the similarity between Judaism and Islam. I discovered that the sources, sages, principles and details of Islam are astoundingly similar to those I learned in yeshiva – a reminder of human nature is ultimately the same the world over. This experience made me change my attitude toward Islam and its adherents.
The Islamic religion, as reflected in its beliefs and its written sources, is a continuation of Judaism. The father of the Jewish nation, Abraham, is the father of the Muslims. The Koran is full of Biblical stories and characters. The patriarchs, Moses and the Biblical prophets are prophets to Muslims as well.
The principles of faith are also very similar. At the center of both religions stands belief in one God and rejection of idol worship. Both religions have similar views of God’s presence, his care for his creations and the rewards and punishments he bestows on them. Belief that the world was created is a fundamental principle of both religions, as is the way the world will be redeemed with the coming of the Messiah.
Both also have a foundational holy text – the Torah and the Koran. And in both, the interpretations of that text have become sacred as well.
But the most significant point is the similarity of the holistic religious-legal worldview in both Judaism and Islam. Both religions seek to regulate every aspect of reality, from the most marginal details of daily life to the organization of the state and the world as a whole.
Both religions organize reality through total legalization. Almost all human behavior is addressed, in either positive or negative terms. And the believer’s world is framed by a long list of commandments and prohibitions which govern his private conduct, his conduct toward his God and his conduct toward those around him: family, neighbors, business partners, community, city and country.
In both religions, this legal code brings religious law into every corner of people’s lives and gives great power to religion and religious leaders, be they muftis, rabbis or imams. They are the authorized interpreters of the sacred texts; they are the final arbiters of the believer’s most personal questions; and they (in both religions’ ideal world) influence the conduct of believers and their countries.
Therefore, in both religions, a similar religious-legal conversation has developed. One finds the same considerations in making rulings, the same efforts to cope with problems like science and modernity, the same deliberations over the loss of believers to other ideologies. In both faiths, the religious arbiters’ goal is to keep power in their own hands to the extent possible.
…Yes, Islam has a potential for violence, and so does Judaism. But the similarity between the two religions can be a stable foundation for building a bridge between their adherents.
The Counterjewhad movement occasionally likes to mock Islam for the byzantine rules that govern almost every aspect of the believer’s life. They, of course, conceal the fact that Judaism is no different.
Beyond personal life, however, one of the most obvious facets of organised Jewish behaviour is the artful manipulation of rule-based systems. The Jews are happy to take advantage of existing rules, but when those are inadequate for their purposes they will also create and seek the imposition of new ones. The long and strange saga of the “Working Definition of Antisemitism” is a case in point, dreamt up by a professor at Tel Aviv university in the 90s, currently being used to suppress free speech at British universities and elsewhere.
Once the Jews have the rules they need in place, they will bombard the relevant rule-enforcement authority with endless complaints and quibbles. If the decision maker doesn’t make the decision they need, they’ll bombard the next higher-up with complaints about them; and so on, etc. In the end, someone somewhere usually gives the Jews what they want just to get peace and avoid making themselves a target.
It seems clear that this culture of crafting and manipulating arcane sets of rules derives from their religion, Rabbinic Judaism, the form of Judaism that eventually achieved ascendancy thanks to its marriage with Islam (link).