Religious Beliefs

Today\'s religious beliefs, governmental structures, laws and traditions of social behavior find their roots in the development of three main belief systems - Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Although other religious movements have developed throughout the years, these three belief systems have had the most impact on civilizations of the West. To better understand this impact, it is important to trace the development of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and review the relationships between them. While each belief system is unique, there are many similarities due to their common beginnings.
The philosophies and traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam most prominently begin with the founder of the Hebrews known as Abraham ca 1800 BCE Historically, these teachings were also subscribed by nomadic tribes, which settled in present day Palestine, near Mt. Sinai. The people of these tribes did not label themselves as Hebrews, and referred to God as the god of Abraham.
This came about as God promised Abraham a son, and in the course of the events doubting that is old wife could give him a son, he had Ishmael with his maid, Hagar, and then later God\'s prophecy would be fulfilled with the birth of Isaac, by his wife Sarha. Due to their belief system, the tribe proliferated the idea that Isaac and his descendants were chosen by God to carry forward Abraham\'s holy lineage. Isaac was the forefather of what was to become the 12 tribes of Israel, while Ishmael and his descendents were to constitute a different Semitic tribe and follow Arabic traditions.
The term Judaism came about after the establishment of the state of Israel when the tribes divided into two, the northern and Judas kingdoms, ca 922-587 BCE The customs and belief systems of these nomadic tribes to be later identified as Arab tribes were very similar to the Hebrews\'; however, the Arab tribes developed in some subtle ways. They remained nomadic, whereas the Hebrews tended to follow the teachings of the Holy Scriptures to the achievement of The Promised Land. As for the Arab nomadic tribes because of this development, a centralized governing agent who organized the religion did not develop as it did with the Hebrews.
In approximately ca 1290-1250 BCE, Moses further supplemented both traditions with a covenant between God and his believers. Moses married Zipphora, from a different Semitic tribe, (Ishmael descendants?) as they referred to God as the God of Abrahim; this would indicate the strong similarity of beliefs and customs between the Hebrew and Arab tribes at that time.
In approximately 600 CE, a somewhat modified revival of the beliefs and traditions of Abraham occurred, due to the persuasions of Mohammed. He disagreed with the commonly held belief that Isaac and his descendents were the chosen ones. He taught instead that Ishmael was the chosen one, and therefore, Ishmael’s descendants, the Arabs, carried forth Abraham\'s holy lineage. Mohammed redefined the Arabic religious tradition on this point into the tradition of Islam. Islamic belief centered on "submission to the will of Allah by fulfilling the five duties know as the Pillars of Islam".
Within the organized movement of Islam, ca 570-632 BCE, a written tradition, as well as a central controlling agent of the Arab tribes, developed through compilation of the Qur\'an. The Qur\'an, although in some ways similar to the teachings in the Hebrew Holy Scriptures, totally and distinctly separated the Islamic belief system as a new, and competing, tradition from that of Judaism.
Another offspring of Judaism was Christianity. The belief that a Messiah would appear amongst the Jews by the end of the millennium came to life with the crucifixion of Jesus in Jerusalem ca 29 B.C.E. Jesus was believed by many followers of Judaism to be the long-awaited Messiah, and served to divide Judaism once again. In contrast to Judaism, Christians believe that the appearance and teaching of Jesus represents a new covenant superseding the previous covenant between God and Moses. The Jews that chose to believe in this new covenant began the Christian movement.
A focused Christian movement began based on the documentation of his teachings by men who lived during the two to three generations following Jesus\' death. The written tradition was called the New Testament, and was considered an addition to the Hebrew Holy Scriptures.