The Main Religions in Isreal

Topics: Judaism, Religion, God Pages: 6 (2134 words) Published: November 1, 2006
The Main Religions in Israel
Israel is the home to many religions. Unlike most countries, they try to provide a home with equal civil rights to all citizens, no matter their ethnicity, religion or heritage. There are three major religions that exist in Israel. The main religion, which consists of 77% of Israel's population, is Judaism. This follows with 16% Islam and 2.1% Christian ("Wikamedia Foundation"1) With their similar backgrounds, the followers of these monotheistic faiths have come to view God with some attributes that are common throughout them all to some degree or another. In Judaism, the most ancient of these religions, the books of the Old Testament are a set of compositions describing God's actions in our world, both directly and indirectly. The Jewish name for their God is Yahweh. Jews believe that Yahweh has chosen them as his people and believe that they share a sacred covenant with him. By following the rules that have been passed down to them by God, they believe that they acquire a divine protection that is unique to them. In this we see that the Jewish concept of God is able to rationalize, favor, and protect man. Through the laws, the Torah, given to the Jews by God, we see that their God also has a sense of justice, which implies the ability to enforce the laws being handed down. In Judaism, the concept of God has led to several beliefs. The belief that Jews are the chosen people has led to the development of an inferiority complex on the part of the Jews when looking at other faiths. They tend believe that since these people are irreverent, they do not share God's favor and therefore are inferior." The concept of God being male has also led to the marginalization of women in Jewish society, taking much of their prestige that was enjoyed in other religions that stressed the female role in fertility and creation. The emulation of God's actions, such as resting on the Sabbath, has been a major practice among the Jews. The concept of justice as delivered to them by Yahweh has inspired in the Jewish population a sense of morality and social justice. This even led to the Jews creating one of the first welfare systems in their state of Israel that was greatly admired and copied by other ancient civilizations. Jews believe their God is a vengeful, jealous God, outraged by idolatry and worshipping of other Gods. The Old Testament is filled with stories of God punishing the Jews when they strayed from His path, using armies and natural disasters as means to destroy their state and scatter them into exile. Another belief is that God speaks through unique men who act as his prophets. There are numerous records of such men, and what is notable about each of their messages is directed from a personal level and perspective. In this way, prophets tend to have a very personal experience and interpretation of God, creating Him in their own image. Prophets gave social commentary based on their experiences, and described their point of view and concerns as Yahweh's. This has led to a belief that theology is a private matter among Jews, and no theological idea of God is enforced upon the Jewish population.(Tannenbaum 5) The second big religion in Israel is Islam. The Islam originated among nomadic Arabic tribes during a time of great economic and cultural upheaval. The prophet of Islam was Muhammad, a man deeply concerned with the changes in his culture and who believed that traditional values needed to be preserved in order to keep Arabic society intact. The God of Muhammad is known as al'Lah. Like Judaism and Christianity, Islam has also written work to correspond with their faith. This book is known as the Qu'ran, it is unique from the other two religions in that it is believed to be the actual words of God departed to Muhammad, rather than an interpretation of events or a collection of metaphors and laws to correspond with their beliefs. In Islam, al'Lah is able to speak directly through the prophets, and...
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