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Aren’t Moses’ and Mohammad’s Stories Similar?

Aren’t Moses’ and Mohammad’s Stories Similar?

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Question:

I understand that Islam and Christianity began with a “prophet” relaying a dream he had in which G‑d revealed Himself and made it known that he was chosen as G‑d’s messenger.

Didn’t G‑d give Moses the Torah while he was on top of Mount Sinai away from the rest of the Jews who were waiting down below? Isn’t this similar to the stories of Jesus and Mohammad, because no one was actually there to verify that anything was unequivocally given from G‑d to Moses?

How is Judaism different?

Answer:

Indeed, there is a great difference between Judaism and other religions. Although most of the Torah was given from G‑d to Moses, who later transmitted it to the people, there is one important difference. Moses did not have to convince the people that he was G‑d’s prophet, because they all heard G‑d speak to him when they stood at Mt. Sinai.

In the words of Maimonides:

The Jews did not believe in Moses, our teacher, because of the wonders that he performed. Whenever anyone’s belief is based on wonders, the commitment of his heart has shortcomings, because it is possible to perform a wonder through magic or sorcery.

All the wonders performed by Moses in the desert were not intended to serve as proof of his prophecy, but rather were performed for a purpose. It was necessary to drown the Egyptians, so he split the sea and sank them in it. We needed food, so he provided us with manna. We were thirsty, so he split the rock [providing us with water]. Korah’s band mutinied against him, so the earth swallowed them up. The same applies to the other wonders.

What is the source of our belief in him? The revelation at Mount Sinai. Our eyes saw, and not a stranger’s. Our ears heard, and not another’s. There was fire, thunder, and lightning. He entered the thick clouds; the Voice spoke to him and we heard, “Moses, Moses, go tell them the following...”

Thus, (Deuteronomy 5:4) relates: “Face to face, G‑d spoke to you,” and (Deuteronomy 5:3) states: “G‑d did not make this covenant with our fathers, [but with us, who are all here alive today].”

How is it known that the [revelation] at Mount Sinai alone is proof of the truth of Moses’ prophecy that leaves no shortcoming? (Exodus 19:9) states: “Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people will hear Me speaking to you, [so that] they will believe in you forever.” It appears that before this happened, they did not believe in him with a faith that would last forever, but rather with a faith that allowed for suspicions and doubts.1

Throughout Jewish exile there were many who were skeptical of various rabbinical teachings, such as the Sadducees and early Christians However, when it comes to the giving of the Torah on Sinai to the Jewish nation, there is one undisputed account, uncontested for millennia.

See Is there an independent source that can verify the events recounted in the Torah? from our selection on the Historical Proof of the Giving of the Torah.

Rabbi Shmary Brownstein
for The Judaism WebsiteChabad.org

Rabbi Shmary Brownstein is a member of the Chabad.org Ask the Rabbi team and is co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Davis with his wife Sorele.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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AJ David Jackson India November 3, 2014

Chrisitains believe Moses Christians believe in moses and all the stories of jews and infact bible contains the books of torah and we believe in torah, so if any jews thinks that we don't believe Moses or torah and stories of judaism, its wrong. We very much believe in it and we love israel and we believe jews are the god's chosen people Reply

Jeff G. Springfield, MO/USA August 19, 2012

Who's right? Of course the stories are similar. Judaism came first. Then Christianity, then Islam. These later 2 built upon our religious revelation at Sinai. But if your "truth" is dependent on a pre-extant religion, how true can it be? Islam at least had the good sense to write their own texts while Christianity being the lazy step-brother of Judaism just stole our text, edited it extensively then scribbled some nonsense and said "this is the new truth." Reply

Anonymous BOISE, IDAHO October 25, 2011

RELIGION FROM THE MOTHER OR THE FATHER Does the muslim religion teach that you are what your mother is or does it come from the father? This was one of the arguments the crazies had for Obama not to be president. I want it to be in writing as I want to see it even though I know for sure.

Being born of a jewish father & my mother being a "whatever" it makes me hope this will change...someday. so I can be considered a real jewish person. Reply

tariq iqbal lucknow, india August 1, 2011

love Rabbi your work is marvelous.I pray that your guidance shall always be with us. Reply

RochelS Brooklyn, NY June 27, 2011

Judaism vs-- The word of G-d, the Torah was not given to us based on deprecation of another people, it is solely a guide for this life and the next from G-d to the Jews. Both of the other two monotheistic religions claim to exist in correction of G-d word! Imagine this...I tried to. I studied, read, took courses to sort out the threads of same and different. A Jew can be so comfortable in his relationship to Hashem he doesnt see the forest for the trees. In this era of total acceptance of everything, everyone, every act, every belief, we forget as Jews we are wholly created for a specific purpose, and great responsibilities to speak the truth, even when it is painful to do so. Reply

Anonymous Olumpia, Washington via jnet.org June 23, 2011

Matan Torah Dear Rabbi,
I understood it differently, we (us Jews) received the Ten Commandments from God at Sinai and that there were a total of 3.5 million present. Now, how many were present at Jesus resurrection? Were there any witnesses when Mohammed got the Koran?
Please comment. Thanks Mike in Olympia Reply

Mr. Aaron Propp Missoula, MT/USA June 19, 2011

Every lie starts with a bit of truth. Christianity, mohammedism, and Torah-Judaism all believe that there will be a Day of Judgment and resurrection, the real difference is in how each person will be judged by G-d.
Both mohammad and the failed convert to Pharisee Judaism, Paul, are most similar to Balaam the wicked one and both religions have the same purpose as Balak's commission, curse Israel by "blessing" them. the call of mohammad is most similar to Balaam the wicked, when Moses said he wasn't good with words, when did G-d shake him violently? Reply

Montana JHB June 16, 2011

difference both Islam and Christianity stem from Judaism; it is so interesting because the blessings that Isaac gave to Jacob contains that the other nations will bless themselves by Jacob's offspring- which is being fulfilled today.

Furthermore, Judaism is the only religion where the entire nation witnesses the giving of the Torah; as opposed to one person being given a *book* without any witnesses.

Historically- Christianity came after Judaism, and in effect took some things from it. Islam came after both religions and took from both as well, we even see how leading biblical Jewish & Christians are seen as prophets in Islam. Reply

Naama June 16, 2011

Dear Chabad Your rabbis answers have become full of hyperlinks lately. I do not like that. It makes them hard to read, like Wikipedia. Please, oh, please get rid of them, at least some of them.

I love your work! Reply

Thomas Karp New Haven, Ct. June 16, 2011

The wrong and right of it. You've got part of this wrong, and part of it right:

Moshe DID have to convince our ancestors that he was G-d's prophet, and they DID NOT hear G-d speak to him when he stood at Mt. Sinai.

Rabbi Brownstein, they SAW IT; they did not hear it.

All they heard was silence, and that is why principally the Hebrew alphabet starts with a letter (aleph) which is silent.

Moshe received resistance to his 'prophecy' (written Torah makes that clear), and not just during the Korach rebellion incident.

You are right though that the mission of Moshe as compared (or should I say, opposed) to that of the Arabian prophet was fundamentally different in important ways:

The Arabian prophet performed no miracles. The one exception to that is that the Muslims claim that he ascended to jannah (Gan Eden) from the temple mount; though none of them claim to have seen it, and it is not in their bible.

The Arabian prophet never admitted to error, whereas Moshe was denied entry into Israel. Reply

Theophile Yucaipa, California June 16, 2011

Quran/Bible The thing that is the most strikingly not similar: The writings of Moses describe a Holy God who cares and has a love for His people. The Bible narrows coming to God down to one narrow way, against all others. The Quran describes God as cold and impersonal, forgiving and merciful, yet admits Christians who believe in the Hebrew scriptures, will also be in "heaven" with all good Muslims! This is the reason there is so much tension in Muslim/Christian society, the Quran itself points to Christ revealed in the Hebrew scripture, as God's "Word/Torah", in the flesh, not another god before God. btw... No disrespect intended for using a "o" referring to God, I believe that to be His title, like Creator, not His Name. Reply

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