Religion can be defined as a collection of cultural systems and belief system which are commonly held to be true by a specific group of people. Religion has existed since the beginning of the world. Currently there are more than a thousand religions all over the world. The major well-known religions include but are not limited to the following: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, cult movements and Buddhism. These various religions have different dogmas and ideologies that differentiate them from each other.
They have distinct values, beliefs and dogmas that are unique to the followers of the religion. These varied ideologies and dogmas largely determine the perception of the believers towards nonbelievers. These diverse ideologies always specify how people who belong to a particular religion view economic activities.
This essay critically evaluates the perception of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity towards nonbelievers, as well as the perception towards economic activities and the geographic distributions of these religions.
Judaism is a religion highly practiced in the Old Testament in the Bible. Judaism is seen as the mother of the Christianity religion today. Concerning strangers, Judaism did not allow strangers to partake in their holy celebrations. Strangers were considered unbelievers and unclean. If a stranger was to participate in the holy celebrations, he had to be circumcised first.
Slaves were allowed to take part in the celebrations as they were considered to be part of the Israelites after having been purchased by them. In addition, the religion required to love strangers as the believers also used to be strangers in Egypt. The main economic activities of Judaism followers were agriculture and farming. Judaism had a large following in Israel and parts of Egypt.
Christianity is seen as a religion that has emerged from Judaism. Christianity is believed to have originated during the time of Jesus and spread to every part of the world. Regarding strangers and nonbelievers, Christianity views them as potential converts. Christians see nonbelievers as people belonging to the sinful world. These sinners need to abandon their way of living and adopt the Christian way of life.
Christianity has a large following in most parts of Israel, Europe, America and Africa. The message for love is highly stressed by Christianity and Christians. According to Christianity, love is the greatest commandment since in the book of Mark 12: 28-31,
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with your entire mind, and with all your strength.' "The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12: 28-31).
Christians can engage in any economic activity that promotes Christian ideologies and does not promote satanic values.
Islam is the religion that has emerged after Judaism and Christianity. Islam ideologies state that Judaism and Christianity are the preludes to Islam. Islam considers Muhammad as the greatest prophet and teacher and that his doctrines must be followed. Muhammad taught that Muslims should fear neither strangers nor nonbelievers. They should only fear Muhammad. Nonbelievers will be punished on the day of Punishment. The religion also teaches that Muslims should not mingle and love strangers and nonbelievers. The main economic activity of the Muslims is doing business, and the religion has a high following in the Middle East and some parts of Western Africa.
All the three religions point to the fact that there is a common central point of deity, there is a supreme God, who is to be worshipped, and He is the sole owner of the universe.
There are also some differences that are evident in the three religions, which include:
- Christianity believes in converting nonbelievers as the main aim while Judaism and Islam do not give more considerations to the conversion of nonbelievers.
- Judaism and Christianity preach love for nonbelievers and strangers while Islam preaches hatred and enmity for them.
In conclusion, the above analysis suggests that all these religions believe in the existence of an all-powerful God who is to be worshiped. The only difference that arises in the three forms of religion is the perception towards strangers and economic activities.