[edit] Origin of the expression

The expression originates from the Qur'an's repeated references to the 'religion of Abraham' (see Suras 2:130,135; 3:95; 6:123,161; 12:38; 16:123; 22:78). In the Qur'an this expression refers specifically to Islam, sometimes in contrast to Judaism and Christianity, as for example in Sura 2:135: "They say: "Become Jews or Christians if ye would be guided (To salvation)." Say thou: "Nay! (I would rather) the Religion of Abraham the True, and he joined not gods with Allah." In the Qur'an Abraham is declared to have been a Muslim, 'not a Jew nor a Christian' (Sura 3:67). However the expression 'Abrahamic religion' is generally used to imply that that all three faiths share a common heritage.

A number of commonalities between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam exist:

Not all of these criteria are necessarily connected with Abraham, or with one another. For example, Zoroastrianism is monotheistic, prophetic, ethical, revelatory, oriented toward history, and associated with the desert, though it is Indo-Iranian rather than Semitic, and does not identify with the characters and events of the Bible and Qur'an. The likelihood of Zoroastrian influence on the Abrahamic religions calls into question the appropriateness of the "Abrahamic" category as currently conceived. Meanwhile Sikhism is monotheistic, ethical, revelatory, and arguably prophetic, though its origins are Indic rather than Middle Eastern[citation needed].

The choice of Abraham as a common label may stem from his reputation as the "Father of many" (which is the literal meaning of his name). Since he is claimed by Jewish tradition as the ancestor of the Israelites, and his son Ishmael (Isma'il) by Muslim tradition as the ancestor of the Arabs, and by Christians as a "father in faith" (see Romans 4) the phrase may be meant to suggest that all three religions come from one source. By harking back to a time when the current religious divisions had not yet arisen, it may also have been intended to further the prospects of peace and/or reconciliation.

Adam, Noah, and Moses are also common to all three religions. As for why we do not speak of an "Adamic," "Noachian," or "Mosaic" family, this may be for fear of confusion. Adam and Noah are said to be the ancestors of all humanity (though as named characters they are specific to the Biblical/Qur'anic tradition). Moses is closely associated with Judaism and, through Judaism, continuing into Christianity; Moses is regarded as a Prophet in Islam, but the term "Mosaic" may imply a genealogical lineage which the first Muslims -- being Arab -- did not share (e.g., descending from Ishmael). Thus, the scope suggested by the first two terms is larger than intended, while the third is too small.

Abrahamic religions account for more than half[4] of the world's total religious adherents. Today, there are around 3.8 billion followers of various Abrahamic religions. Other, comparable religious groupings include the Dharmic religions of India, and the Taoic religions of East Asia - both terms being parallels of the 'Abrahamic' category.

[edit] Overview

All the Abrahamic religions are related to (or even derived from) Judaism as practiced in ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah prior to the Babylonian Exile, at the beginning of the 1st millennium BC.

[edit] The significance of Abraham