As the Qur’an is the last of the four surviving Abrahamic scriptures (Torah, Psalms, Gospels and Qur’an), it often refers to events and personalities in the distant past. The Qur’an states that it is a perfect copy of a pre-historic book preserved on tablets in heaven (85:21-22).

As the Torah, Psalms and the Hebrew Prophets are the first of the four surviving Abrahamic books of revelation they often refers to future events leading to the Messianic Age of world wide peace and justice.

The Book of Exodus marks the transitions from the family narratives of Genesis to the national ethnic narratives of the rest of the Torah and the history books of Judges, Prophet Samuel and the post David and Solomon prophets.

The first chapter of Genesis starts out with God’s creation of material nature. But chapters two to three speak poetically about the nature of all human feelings of loneliness, desire, temptation, and morality.

With the introduction of Prophet Abraham the Hebrew, we see the beginnings of the three Abrahamic Religions; Judaism, Christianity and Islam. There are hundreds of millions of people today who have two, three or more self-identities. This was also true even 3,600 years ago; although to a much lesser extent than today.

For example, Prophet Abraham is called a Muslim in the Arabic Qur’an; and in the Hebrew Bible he is called a Hebrew [speaker] and a Babylonian immigrant who crossed the Jordan River.

The term ivri (the Hebrew) first appears in the Torah, when Prophet Abraham is called “the Hebrew: “And it was told to Abram the Hebrew” (Genesis 14:13) And Prophet Joseph uses the name as both a geographical and an socio-ethnic class term: “I was kidnapped from the land of the ivrim” (Genesis 40:15), and “The Egyptians could not eat with the ivrim, since that would be an abomination” (Gen. 43:32)

The three Abrahamic religions; Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, are closer to each other than each of them is to any non-Abrahamic religion. Yet each of the three religions is unique; and each relates to the other two in its own unique way.

There could be no Christians before the birth of Jesus; and although there have been many hanif Muslim monotheists, they could not be members of the Muslim Ummah prior to the revelation of the Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad (s). Judaism is unique as the Hebrew people actually proceeded the Jewish religion.

Thus the Qur’an 3.67 states: Abraham was not a Jew, nor a Christian; but he was one pure of faith and a muslim (who submitted to the one God with a sound heart). He was never of those who associate partners with God.”

Abraham could not be a Jew or a Christian, as both the Torah and Gospel were revealed centuries after Abraham. Historically, Judaism and Christianity are the names given to the religions revealed to Prophet Moses and Prophet Jesus respectively, for their own faithful followers.

The Christian community and the Muslim Ummah were formed by those individuals who became faithful believers in the Gospel or the Qur’an. But the Banu Israel-the Jewish People only received the Torah after many generations of oppression in Egypt, when the Jewish People escaped and stood at Mount Sinai and received the Torah from Prophets Moses and Aaron. This is why the history of the people of Israel makes up such a large place in the Hebrew Bible.

Indeed, the name “Israel” is mentioned 2,319 individual times in the Hebrew Bible as the historical experiences of the nation of Israel (the descendants of Jacob/Israel) is the central focus of most of the books in the Hebrew Scriptures; with the major exception of the Book of Job; which some rabbis thought was written by a non-Jewish saint or prophet.

The word Muslim is a religious identity term that refers to faithful monotheistic believers like Jews and Unitarian Christians. The word Hebrew is a linguistic, geographical and ethnic identity term like German the language, Germany the homeland and Germans the people. The word descendent is a biological inherited birth identity term like nobility or tribe.

Prophet Abraham’s grandson Prophet Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel, becomes the name the People of Israel, who in the book of Exodus, were delivered from Egyptian oppression. Prophet Jacob receives the name Israel that will become the name of the Jewish nation for the next 3,500 years and this is the name used by both the Christian New Testament and the Muslim Qur’an.

During the 12-13 centuries between Prophet Moses and Prophet Jesus the People of Israel were the only ongoing monotheistic community. Not every Jew was faithful to the teachings of the Torah, but enough were so that Judaism never died out; and the covenant between God and People of Israel remained an ongoing partnership.

Jews still believe that we can help fulfill the 2700 year old vision of Prophet Isaiah: “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt, and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel  will join a three-party alliance with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing upon the heart. The LORD of Hosts will bless them saying, “Blessed be Egypt My people, Assyria My handiwork, and Israel My inheritance.”…(Isaiah 19:23-5)

May the new year bring all of us closer to this wonderful prophetic vision.