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The World's 3 major religions

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The World's 3 major religions. To truly understand Judaism and Islam and many of the conflicts today between the two, you need to understand the birth of two ethnic groups … Jews and Arabs.

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The World's

3 major religions


To truly understand Judaism and Islam and many of the conflicts today between the two, you need to understand the birth of two ethnic groups … Jews and Arabs.


About 4000 years ago, in the city of Ur in Sumer there lived a man named Abraham. He believed that God spoke to him, telling him that his descendents would be God’s chosen people and that they would out number the stars. Abraham had two sons.

Ishmael’s descendents came to be known as the Arabs – being the descendents of Abraham’s oldest son, they believe they are God’s chosen people.

Isaac’s descendents came to be known as Jews (or Hebrews or Israelites) – they believe their bloodline is the true chosen of God.

abraham father of 2 ethnic groups
Abraham – Father of 2 Ethnic Groups


  • Married to Sarah
  • Had a son – Isaac
  • Descendents – Hebrews (later known as Jews or Israelites)
  • Hagar (Egyptian)
  • Had a son – Ishmael
  • Descendents - Arabs

Therefore, “bad blood” between the two groups since the time of Abraham!

the birth of judaism
The Birth of Judaism
  • Abraham – lived in the city of Ur in Sumer – more than 3000 years ago
  • God chose Abraham and his descendents to be His people
  • When Abraham was 100 years old, he had a son he named Isaac
  • Abraham and Isaac's descendents are the Jewish people
  • First monotheistic (belief in one God) religion!

Birth place of Abraham

What present-day country is this today?


Jerusalem is a holy city for the Jews.

During Biblical times, Jerusalem was a political and religious center of Jewish people. King David made it the capital city and later his son, King Solomon built the first Jewish temple here (900’s BC).


This temple was built, destroyed, and rebuilt many times over several hundred years as other people conquered Jerusalem. The temple was destroyed for the last time in 70 AD by the Romans. All that remains today is the Western Wall.


The Western Wall

When Rome burned the temple in 70 AD, they left the outer wall. This wall was not part of the original temple, but rather surrounded the temple. However, being the only remaining remnant of their most sacred temple, this wall soon became a very holy place to the Jewish people.


Jews come to this wall to pray. Because of the heartfelt prayers offered here, non-Jewish people refer to the wall as the Wailing Wall. However, the Jewish people refer to the wall as the Western Wall.


Holy book of the Jewish faith Torah

      • 1st 5 books of the Bible – written by Moses
  • Recounts the history of the Jewish people
  • Believed to be the law as given to Moses by God

The Birth of Christianity

Jesus was born to a Jewish family about 2030 years ago in the city of Bethlehem. At 30 years old, he began preaching and teaching about God. Soon his followers grew, as well as his enemies.


Three years later, his enemies crucified Him on the hill of Calvary in Jerusalem. Three days later He rose from the dead, appeared to His followers, and eventually went to heaven. His followers continued his work and began the religion of Christianity.

Therefore, Jerusalem is also very holy to Christians. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is believed to stand on the hill of Calvary.


Christianity began to spread by the preaching and teachings of Christians.


The Birth of Islam

Muhammad (an Arab) was born in Mecca in 570 AD. At age 40, he received revelations from God. He began preaching about these messages from God as well as against the corruption of society. He also gained many followers as well as enemies.


In 622 AD nobles of Mecca were threatening his life, so he fled Mecca to Medina. There he built an army and eight years later (630 AD), he returned to Mecca. He took the city of Mecca and destroyed the idols in the Kaaba. He proclaimed that only Allah (God) was to be worshipped and proclaimed Mecca a holy city.


The Qu’ran (Islam’s holy book) states that the Kaaba was built by Abraham and his son Ishmael. The Kaaba had been filled with over 300 idols, but when Muhammad took Mecca, he destroyed the idols and proclaimed that only Allah would be worshipped here.

The Kaaba


Muslims (followers of Islam) consider the Kaaba so sacred, they believe that at least once in their life they must make a pilgrimage (or Haj) to the Kaaba.


Another sacred place for Muslims

Dome of the Rock

Muslims believe that Muhammad rose to heaven from this site and the rock marks the site. Where is this rock and dome located?



During the 7th and 8th centuries, Islam spread by conversion and military conquest throughout the Middle East and North Africa. By 733, just 100 years after the death of Muhammad, an Islamic state stretched from the Indus Valley in the east to Spain in the west. (Caliphs – rulers of Islam)

place of worship1
Place of worship …

Mosque in Brunei


Blue Mosque in Turkey



What is the religion based on?


Where did the religion begin?


Abraham’s covenant with God

Where are the stories recorded?

Who is the founder?


Old Testament

Founders received revelation

Worship one God



Followers of Jesus


Jesus – the Son of God

Muhammad’s revelations

New Testament




What do they have in common?


Basic Beliefs

Jews believe the name of God is so holy that they do not spell out His name. Instead, they write G-d.

5 pillars of islam
5 pillars of Islam
  • There is only 1 God
  • Praying 5 times a day in the direction of Mecca
  • Giving to the poor and needy
  • Fasting during the month of Ramadan
  • Making a pilgrimage, or haj, to Mecca

Just when you thought you were through!

We have one more aspect to discuss!

When have you ever known of a people who get along 100%! Well, people of the same religion have differences too!

Let’s take a look!


Jews have differences of opinions…

  • Orthodox Jews believe in strict observance of the traditions and principles of Judaism.
  • Secular Jews do not follow all the laws and traditions as strictly.

Christians have differences of opinions…

  • Just to name a few, you have the …
  • Methodists
  • Baptists
  • Lutherans
  • Presbyterians
  • Episcopalians

Likewise, Muslims have their differences of opinions as well. This has caused a division among Muslims, dividing them into two separate groups…

  • Sunnis
  • Shi’ites

The major reason for this division came in the 7th century with the question of succession. The Shi’ites believed that Mohammad’s successor should be a direct descent of Mohammad while Sunnis believed that Mohammad’s successor should be selected by religious leaders. This sparked a civil war between the two groups, and the two groups continue to be divided on major issues today.



  • Successor should be direct descent of Mohammad
  • Leaders - Imams
  • 12 Imams – the last one is still in hiding and will return one day
  • Interpret the Qu’ran
  • Imams can reinterpret Qu’ran’s meaning
  • Extremely conservative
  • Most believe in jihad
  • Successor should be elected by leaders
  • Leaders - caliphs
  • Do not believe in “hiding” Imam
  • Take Qu’ran literally – not interpretations
  • Caliphs are guardians of Qu’ran
  • Very conservative
  • Some willing to practice jihad (holy war)
  • Believe in
  • One God
  • 5 Pillars
  • Qu’ran


words to know










Qu’ran (Koran)








Dome of the Rock

Western Wall

People and places to know…

Words to know…
essential questions to know
Essential Questions to know…
  • Why is Jerusalem so important to all 3 religions?
  • What is the origin of Judaism?
  • What is the origin of Christianity?
  • What is the origin of Islam?
  • Why did Muslims divide into two separate groups? What are these two groups? What are the similarities and differences of these two groups of Muslims?