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The Five Pillars of Judaism



Amani over at “americanmuslimconvert” are writing on the five pillars of Islam, introducing us for the first of them, the Shahâdah, the confirmation of believe in Allah and His messenger, Muhammad, being expressed in the statement “Lâ ilâha ilâllâh, w’Muhammadan Rasûlullah” – “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah!”

I found it interesting, and I’m thinking that I’m going to follow his posts on the subject, but doing it with a twist, which I hope he can forgive me for. I am going to read and reflect on his posts, but at the same time I will try to find a Jewish answer to the pillars, that is, find how and where the same things are being expressed in Judaism, if at all. I think that it could be pretty interesting to see how my studies of Islam can be reflected in my studies of my own religion, and as such learn about them both, as well as doing a comparative study at the same time as well.


Anyway, the first pillar of Islam is, as stated already, the Shahâdah, the declaration of faith, and the most obvious answer in Judaism is the Shma’ or Qriat Shma’, which is so called by the first name in the declaration, which goes “Shma’ Yisrael, A-onay Eloqenu, A-onay Ehad!”[1] It is found in Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:4, introducing the first part of the actual Shma’, which consists of three parts, found in Devarim 6:4-9, commanding the Jew to love God of all his heart, his soul, and his heart, as well as keep the commandments in mind, teach them to his children, always talk and ponder on them, whether sitting at home or walking on the street, when he lays down in the evening and gets up in the morning, that he shall bind them as signs on his arm and between his eyes, write them on his doorposts and the city gates (the visitor in Jerusalem will see that there are cylinders at the entrances to the old city, those are what we call ‘Mezuzot,’ the words of the Torah, fulfilling this commandment).

The second part, which can be found in Devarim 11:13-21, talks about the rewards and consequences of keeping or not keeping the commandments, which is solely connected to the Land of Israel, making sure of good seasons and good times, so far as the Jews stays observant, or bad times, or even being expelled from the land, as far as they don’t.

The third and last part, found in BaMidbar (Numbers) 15:37-41, commands the Jews to wear the Tzitzit, the fringes, which is a sign for reminding the Jews about the commandments, as well as commanding the Jews to remember the exodus from Egypt.


The first part of the Shahâdah is called “Tawhîd,” the Unity of Allah, and that is found expressed in the first part of the Shma’ as well, in stating that God is One (Ehad). We see this expressed other places as well, for example in Exodus 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before me,” so I would say that Muslims and Jews at least share the first part of the Shahâdah. The second part though is more tricky. On two levels even. First off, Jews don’t recognize Muhammad as their prophet. Most Jews probably don’t even acknowledge him as a prophet, while some would say that he most likely could have been a prophet, though only sent to the Arabs, not to the Jews, acknowledging the praiseworthy mission of spreading the Tawhîd. But it isn’t only in regard to the “lack” of acceptance of Muhammad, there isn’t an equal for Moshe Rabenu, A”S, to be found in the Torah, at least not expressed in statements like with the unity of God. There are many incidents though where his prophethood is stated and emphasized, making it rather clear that his prophethood is to be accepted. Only later does it become part of a list of clear doctrines to be accepted as part of Jewish faith, namely in Maimonides thirteen principles of faith, all being introduced with the statement “I believe with perfect faith that…” It is the seventh declaration, after declaring that all the words of the prophets were true, stating that the prophecy of Moshe Rabenu, A”S, is true and that he is the “father” of the prophets, meaning the greatest of all the prophets, both those before and after.

So in conclusion I would believe that it’s possible to say that Muslims and Jews share some foundational similar expressions on God’s Unity, as well as reverence for those they consider the greatest prophet respectively, though there are some difference, the Jews not have a single expression, as is the case with the Muslims. On the other hand the Jews have a – I would dare to say – much longer and more detailed expression of faith than that of the Muslims.

[1] Please forgive me for not spelling these two expressions of His Name, but I am, after all, still a religious Jew, respecting my God. I am sure that if you really do need to see the two expressions spelled out, then there are lots of places to see that, just make a search on “Shma.”


  1. Amani says:

    Hello friend. I found this piece interesting. There are similarities between Judaism and Islam. The important thing is to show respect to one another because we share at least one thing in common, a belief in God…and of course humanity 🙂 Amani

  2. talatgreen1 says:

    Your emphasis on Moshe Rabenu’s primacy as Prophet in Judaism brings to light for me the disparity between the Islamic tradition’s accounts of Musa’s shortcomings compared to Ibrahim’s perfection. Thank you for an interesting article.

    • qolyehudi says:

      Salâm Talat

      I wasn’t aware that Musa had shortcomings according to Islam. I thought all prophets were seen as being, at least somehow, perfect. But it definitely is an interesting note. Why is Musa seen as less perfect than Ibrahim?

      Thanks for the comment.

  3. faisal says:

    first of all i thank you for your great efforts . in my study of Islam as moslim i found that Islam and Judaism share the same faith i believe that Mohammed and what he brought is part of Judaism branch .
    the reason is that all the main point in islam are the same in judaisim such as the tawhid word no god but allh the Jerusalem and its hollowness and the resone Mohammed considered it holy is because of jews and Solomon son of dived where in Islam order moslims to keep the light of Jerusalem holy bait always on thats why you see the dom of the rock is golden and shining

    the problem though after mohammed passed away and after all the political problems that has happened moslims foucosed only on that period

    but if you read the quran carefully you will find all israel son and kinds and prophits should of been example in every way such as king david prayers mosas jesus all of them have been explained in what god gave them of wisdom and hollyness also the land of israel has been minsioned more than makkah in the quran and blessed even more

    i have alot to see but my time is limited

    • qolyehudi says:

      Salâm Faisal

      And thanks for your comment, appreciated.

      I saw your post with the Hadith on Facebook, and found it interesting. I might get back to you on that one, if it’s okay?

      Regarding the Quran and its view on the Jews, then it seems to have two approaches, and I haven’t quite figured them out yet. It seems like two emphasizes could have been made, based on it, a hostile and a positive, and – please correct me if I’m wrong – it seems to me that it was the hostile approach which became dominant. I wonder why that is, especially considering that Jews generally welcomed the Muslims during their conquest, and saw them as a relieve from tyrannic rulers, whether we are talking about Christians or Persians.

  4. Heshke says:

    Actually, the Prophet Muhammad (saw) was sent to all mankind, not just to the Arabs.

    Aside from a statement of tawheed, the Shahadah also is a statement of negation and affirmation. “There is no god worthy of worship except Allaah,” meaning that there are other “false” gods around that folks worship, but the only god who is “worthy” or Who has the right to be worshipped is Allaah. The second statement that “Muhammad (saw) is the Prophet of Allaah” affirms the prophethood of him. Christianity (in theory) and Judaism acknowledge tawheed but not the prophethood of Muhammad (saw).

    • qolyehudi says:

      Salâm Heshke, great to see you here:o)

      I’m sorry if I gave the impression that Islam only sees him as being sent to Arabs, that wasn’t my intention. I meant that Jews, who would accept him as being a prophet, saw him as sent to the Arabs only. By the way, regarding this, there could be reason to believe that he was only sent to the Arabs, at least initially. If we see what the Quran itself says about it being sent in Arabic, then one could get the impression that it was directed to the Arabs, not others. Of course that would demand from us to ignore later Islamic theology.

      Your second part is interesting, though – forgive me for saying – I think it is somehow obvious. The statement “Lâ ilâha ilâllâh” – No god except Allah – has its equal in Hebrew, “Lo eloah ela HaEl,” seems to say that there isn’t any gods, except this One God, not that there are others, though being false. Nevertheless, for a Muslim in then Mecca, seeing all the false gods being worshiped, his awareness probably would mirror your statement here, that the people around him indeed worshiped false gods, but that they are not worthy of this worship, because what can they do? They are but clay and tree. That is also reflected in Ibrahim’s mockings of the idols, as we see it described in the Islamic accounts.

  5. Maryummi says:

    Loved it! such an important work you are doing! this will help diminish ignorence on both sides when actually we share the same beliefes!

  6. Naveed Ahmed Khan says:

    We must have such dialogue to ease the tensions….Cheers on Tawheed…which is basically referring to oneness of God, and not precisely on unity of God. TC

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