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February 21st, 2013 by sydneydiamond

To the average person, Islam and Judaism seem like two religions that share many similarities. By only scratching the surface do they have similarities. Sure, they both have strict dietary laws, fasting, books of worship, prayer, and a system of laws. This is where, I find it gets interesting, Judaism and Islam may have characteristics that complement each other but when one actually delves into the meaning behind the concepts one will find that they are different. This introduces the idea of the narcissism of small differences; the closer you are to something the bigger the differences appear. This holds true to Islam and Judaism. From the outside they seem to have an abundance of similarities, but from the inside, the two are vastly different.

The ideas of kabbalah and Sufism hold true to the idea of narcissism of small things. From the outside they seem similar; both premised on the unity of God. Both are focused inwards to themselves with the objective of achieving the personal experience. As one delves deeper into these practices, the differences begin to appear. Sufism, is an Islamic practice that focuses on spiritual elevation and holiness. It can also be described as the way Muslims strive for personal engagement with God.  One of the characteristics is there is a leader, “Shaykh”, that people worship to. There is a foundation that is laid on how one chooses to focus on the veneration of saints.

Although there are some shared elements between Sufism and Kabbalah, when the core ideas are examined differences are unveiled. One of the main differences being that Kabbalah is the application of mystical knowledge in the Jewish faith. Through Kabbalah, Jews were provided with new symbolism, rituals, and customs.  Through this form of worship one becomes well versed in the multiple names of God and how those names can be manipulated through the application of mystical knowledge. From an inside prospective, the two are very different. Though they do focus on similar aspects of worship when they are examined from the inside, differences appear.


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