Islam and Jewish culture held parallel and contrasting view of the world and its interaction. Both cultures revered monotheism and saw it as the preferred way (Liepert,18). They worship the same God though the translation or understanding of the holy texts differs. Muslim cultures regard themselves as the ones called to submit. They anticipate other communities to submit to the one true God and follow his outlines. Leading a life that pleased this god involved following the principle outlined in the hadiths and Quran, for example, the choice of food to eat and the type of life to lead. These are inscribed in the tenets of the Muslim faith, which included:
- Showing commitment to god by praying to him five times a day
- Revering the only one true god (monotheism)
- Helping the poor and the needy in the society
- Making the recommended visit to Mecca at least once in their lifetime
The Jewish culture had a liberal worldview especially to religious concepts, not as strict as their Islamic counterparts did. The Jewish culture considered religion as a set of principles and cultural concepts that guide the people. The one god to be worshipped (monotheism) delivered these principles. Though good was expected from their god, he was also capable to punish them whenever they erred or went against the preferred principles, for example, the Babylonian captivity of the Jews could be seen as a punishment from their god for failing to acknowledge him as the only one to be worshipped (Liepert,28).
Religious and cultural concepts determine the people’s perspective towards certain life aspects and the world as a whole, for example, the Jewish culture regarded marriage important and expected almost every person in the world to view it the same way. Celibacy was loathed as the deities and priests married.
What do these documents tell us about their relationship with the physical world or environment?
The Jewish culture adopted some concepts or religious principles from the neighbors they interacted with, for example, the Baal worshipping, though this was considered unacceptable as it went against their established belief of their god. The Jewish people were originally nomads and held land as a communal property, which was to be utilized and shared equally. After interacting with the surrounding environment/communities, they adopted agricultural skills that changed their perception about communal land ownership. The land possession was privatized. Also, their identity changed as they shifted to religious as their basis of their identity rather than the pre-existent tribal identity. Concerning their relationship with the physical world, the Jews adopted the architecture of the surrounding populations. The embracing of kingship leadership system with the advent of King Saul depicts this. The centralization of a religious spot was enhanced with the housing of the Ark of covenant in the Jerusalem temple like their neighbors, the Greeks, and Islamic counterparts (Burrell,35).
The Islamic culture is depicted to be trade-oriented as they were typically nomads. They depended on their agricultural neighbors for food and other products, which they exchanged with animal and animal products. Provided their strategic position or occupation of the desert lands, they provided guidance to the trade caravans for a fee which included the gifts and animal products. Others even acted as guards to offer security services to the transiting traders. The Islamic culture held the same monotheistic view about religious conviction and its practices. Though they traded with the various communities like the Mesopotamians and the Egyptians, they failed to adopt their religious concepts/perspective on polytheism; this shows their resilience to uphold their beliefs even when surrounded by dissimilar groups/communities.
What do these documents reveal about interpersonal relationships and inequality?
Interpersonal relationships between cultures hinted the cultures’ wellbeing and their interactions with surrounding cultures and how they impacted each other. The Islamic culture revered pacific relations among its followers and neighbors. This is depicted by the purpose and characteristics the shrines have. The shrines acted as neutral grounds for arbitration of warring parties or communities. The reverence of these shrines portrays the concern for healthy relations in the Islamic culture. Interpersonal relationships in both cultures are enhanced by the reverence of a single/communal worship place, for example, the Jerusalem temple and Mecca. This would build the religious relations among the followers as they converged for that one purpose (to worship their god).
Inequality is depicted in a positive perspective in both cultures. Inequality is depicted in accordance of religious might in the diverse cultures. Priests and prophets were conferred that religious respect. This provided a reliable basis to translate and interpret the various religious or cultural texts that were in accordance with their gods. In addition, the unequal power accordance made decision-making easier and reliable as their followers to be able to make good trusted those at the leadership helms decisions which promoted the communities and cultures. Inequality accorded some person(s) guardians of the cultural and religious concepts. They provided reliable basis for the culture’s principles and guidance.
Burrell, David B. Towards a Jewish-Christian-Muslim Theology. Wiley, 2013. Print.
Liepert, David. Muslim, Christian, and Jew: Finding a Path to Peace Our Faiths Can Share. Toronto: Faith of Life, 2010. Print.