Core Teachings of the Abrahamic Traditions

"While at the centers, all of our traditions include the same universal teachings, history and culture conspired for each to have a particular emphasis.

"Oneness is the core teaching of Judaism. Where once this One was represented by a single heavenly being, the awareness of One has evolved to embrace an absolutely inclusive oneness. Everything is interconnected, and we are all a part of the One. This core teaching is expressed in the Sh'ma, the central tenet of Jewish faith: 'Listen, Israel, the Eternal One (Absolute Inclusive Being) is our God (the One Life awakening within each of us), the Eternal is One' (Deuteronomy 6:4; author's translation). These words infuse all of Jewish spiritual teaching; they constitute the essential core of Jewish tradition.

"Unconditional love is the core teaching of Christianity. Loving unconditionally means that there is nothing you can do to make me stop loving you. My love for you is not dependent on any condition. This is what Jesus meant when he said, 'But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you' (Matthew 5:44). It is also what he intended when he said toward the end of his ministry, 'This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you' (John 15:12).

"Compassion is the core teaching of Islam. All but one of the 114 chapters of the Qur'an begin with the words, 'Bismillah ir Rahman ir Rahim — In the name of God, boundlessly compassionate, infinitely merciful.' Compassion is the essence of God and defines God's message to humanity. The greatest provision for our journey of life is the understanding and practice of compassion for self and for others.

"Our core teachings provide a standard of measurement, a way of discerning the consistent and inconsistent verses and beliefs of each of our traditions.

Some Particulars Consistent with Our Core Teachings

"Each of our faiths has rituals, practices, and insights that support these core teachings. Here are examples from each of our traditions.

Judaism's Weekly Reminder of Meaning and Purpose

"Shabbat, the Sabbath, is a particular observance in Judaism that helps us walk the core teaching of Oneness into the world. Shabbat marked the completion and the fulfillment of the biblical story of creation and reminds us that creation has meaning and purpose.

"Each week of our lives is a week of creation, and Shabbat offers us the opportunity to conclude each week with blessing. It invites us to release the need for things to be any other than they are. It is a weekly reminder of a peaceful state of consciousness that can awaken at any time. In those precious moments, our perception of separateness and fragmentation dissolve, and we celebrate the wonder of the life we share. The consciousness of Shabbat brings with it reminders of the meaning and purpose of our lives and the preciousness of our connection to all that is.

Christianity's Awakening to Forgiveness and Renewal

"The resurrection of Jesus is a faith conviction from Christianity that awakens us to unconditional love. For many, this story is taken literally and nourishes a personal relationship to the messianic character of Jesus. But stopping at the literal meaning neglects the deeper meaning of the story. The literal particulars of the story, that Jesus came back to life on the first day of the week, serve to communicate that God can always make everything new. God always forgives us. God always gives us another chance. It is never too late. This is the power of unconditional love.

Islam's Spirituality of Mind and Heart

"Ilm (knowledge) is a great teaching of Islam, leading us to a deeper practice of compassion. Ilm, the second most frequently used word in the Qur'an after Allah (the Arabic word for God), points to a holistic way of understanding. It combines the functions of the mind and heart. The Prophet Muhammad teaches us to move from the knowledge of the tongue to the knowledge of the heart because 'the heart in no way falsified' what it sees (53:11). By expanding our heart knowledge, we move into that space where true compassion, empathy, and forgiveness are possible. In Islam, we identify ilm as a great blessing."