A Comparison of the Torah and the Koran: More Similarities than Differences
Belief in The Torah and the Koran in Modern Times
Though the Torah and the Koran were written thousands of years ago, they still hold meaning today for many people throughout the world. Many people still use the rules and ethical standards described in these holy books to guide their lives. Even though the Torah and the Koran are each the basis for different religions, the basic ethical standards that they describe are quite similar.
The Torah, The Old Testament, and the Ten Commandments
While there is some debate over the authorship and dating of the Torah, it is nonetheless the guiding post for several major religions. “The passages in the Bible that record the Ten Commandments are considered by many to be the ethical basis for most of Western thought” (Torah 633). The Torah consists of the first five books of the Old Testament of the Bible and is also known as the Pentateuch. Traditionally, they are believed to have been written by Moses (Torah 633). According to Chapter 20 of the Torah, the Ten Commandments were given to Moses directly by God (Torah 637).
The Ten Commandments are the basic rules for living, supposedly as set forth by God. As the story goes, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments atop Mount Sinai. The Ten Commandments are: to not have any god other than God, to not make idols, to not take God’s name in vain, to keep the sabbath (Torah 637), to honor your parents, to not commit murder, to not commit adultery, to not steal, to not bear false witness against your neighbor, and to not covet your neighbor’s house (Torah 638). These commandments still form the basis for ethical behavior today.
The Koran, and its Similarities to the Old Testament
Similarly, the Koran also sets ethical standards which are still followed today by those who follow the religion of Islam. It has some striking similarities with the Torah in terms of rules to be followed and what constitutes as ethical behavior. This list of ethical behaviors was supposedly given to the prophet Muhammad by God, much like God supposedly gave the Ten Commandments directly to Moses (Koran 686).
The rules set forth by the Koran are comparable to the Ten Commandments. The first of these rules is “[s]erve no other God besides God, lest you incur disgrace and ruin.” This is just like the first of the Ten Commandments. The Koran also says to “show kindness to your parents,” which is very much like the fifth commandment in the Torah. The Koran also states that “[y]ou shall not kill your children,” which is a more specific take on the sixth commandment, “thou shalt not commit murder.” On the same topic, the Koran then goes on to say that “[y]ou shall not kill any man whom God has forbidden you to kill, except for a just cause” (Koran 688). Like the seventh commandment, the Koran also says that “[y]ou shall not commit adultery” (Koran 688). The ethical standards of the Koran are similar to those of the Torah and can still be applied to life today.
Differences Between the Torah and the Koran
One thing that is slightly different in the Koran’s interpretation of what is right and wrong is the idea of murder. In the Torah, God simply says that murder is wrong, plain and simple. In the Koran, however, you are permitted to kill another man as long as you have a “just cause” (Koran 688). What is considered a “just cause” could vary tremendously from person to person, and anyone could justify killing anyone for any reason. The Koran leaves this rule too open for interpretation.
Both Holy Books Are Still Important Today
Despite the fact that they were written so long ago, the rules and ethical standards set forth by the Torah and the Koran are still followed today. Even though the religions seem different, their morals are still more or less the same. Even though times change, ethics remain the same and people can still use the same set of rules as the basis for how to live their lives.
Jacobus, Lee A. "The Koran: The Night Journey." A World of Ideas. 7th ed. Boston: Bedford/St.
Martins, 2006. 683-694.
Jacobus, Lee A. "The Torah: Moses and the Ten Commandments." A World of Ideas. 7th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2006. 633-46.
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© 2018 Jennifer Wilber