(EDITOR'S NOTE: This column was previously published in the Flashlight, the Mansfield University student newspaper.)
First of all, I recognize this may be a bit of a controversial topic, but rest assured, I've looked at this topic with an open mind and I do NOT side with the majority of Americans' narrow-minded views on Islam.
But I've been delving into the core of the Islamic religion in these past few days and I've noticed something quite peculiar (and not just about Islam and Judaism, but also about religion in general).
Here are my views: it's an Arabian Judaism.
Let me explain: It's well-known the Qu'ran was written by Muhammad, or dictated to him by the angel Gabriel, well after the death of Jesus of Nazareth and the founding of the Christian religion.
The Jewish religion, obviously, was around for a longer period of time before the death of Jesus. The thing about Islam though is that it's arguably just as close to Judaism as Christianity is, as the two religions (Islam and Judaism that is) share a huge amount of stories, rules, laws and commandments.
I was flipping through the Qu'ran earlier today, as I own a copy for religious studies such as this, and noticed the story of Joseph. With a few minor details different, which can be explained by slight errors in oral translation, the stories from the Torah and the Qu'ran are an exact duplicate of each other.
This begs the question: isn't Islam a later version of Judaism, so to speak?
What I mean is that the Torah and the Qu'ran are eerily similar to each other in a huge amount of ways, save for a few differences. Still, the two holy books agree with each other on quite a few important or similar tenants including the notion that Jesus of Nazareth was merely a prophet of God-Allah and not the Messiah. That is the most important divergence between Islam-Judaism and Christianity: the idea of exactly who Jesus of Nazareth was and if he was merely a man or if he was indeed both divine and the Son of God.
Delving further into both the Torah and the Qu'ran the similarities are stark and extremely obvious, from the wording to the rules Allah gives Mohammad in the desert for the Muslims to follow.
Tales such as Joseph and Pharaoh or Noah and the Ark proves that both holy books stem from common ancestry. Indeed, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are often called the Abrahamic religions, as Islam traces its roots back to Abraham's illegitimate son Ishmael, as Christianity and Judaism stem from his legitimate son Isaac.
So what does this mean? It means that, at the end of all the in-fighting and hatred, the three religions are almost entirely at their core the same ideas, beliefs and values.
Many religious scholars even hypothesize that Islam and Judaism refer to the same deity in their holy books, if one believes in the idea that there is a central deity, such as the Jewish YHWH, the Christian God and the Islamic Allah.
To push the hypothesis further, one could say that all three religions refers to the same deity, with the central difference being, of course, each one claims to be the only true faith.
This may all be pure conjecture, and to be honest I'm no great religious scholar, but seeing the numerous similarities between the three great Middle Eastern religions, it begs the question: why can't they get along? They even share a basic moral-ethical code of conduct and behavior.
So if they all share the same foundation, why can't they recognize this? That's the real question I ask.
Every prophet from every religion preached to the masses to give up their animosity, to serve their god well and to treat others well - for the most part, that is. There are exceptions.
Every religion seems to observe some version of the Golden Rule.
Yet the followers of these religions fight so fiercely to defend their faith in religions they don't even fully accept or understand. Do to others what you would have done to you. A simple yet profound statement.
And surprisingly enough, one that all three Abrahamic religions adhere to.
Long is a student in Dan Mason's Crisis News Analysis class at Mansfield University. He is news editor of the Flashlight and a political science major.