An Abrahamic religion (also referred to as desert monotheism) is a term sometimes used to refer to a religion derived from an ancient Semitic tradition attributed to Abraham, a great patriarch described in the Torah, the Bible, and the Qur'an. This group of largely monotheistic religions, in which many include Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, comprises about half of the world's religious adherents.
Muslims refer to adherents of most Abrahamic religions as fellow People of the Book, "the Book" symbolizing divine scripture, such as the Bible, Torah, and Qur'an. They see Abraham as one of the most important of the many prophets sent by God. Many Christians generally do not view themselves as part of an "Abrahamic religion," but view Abraham as an early figure of faith. Jews see Abraham as the founder of the people of Israel and the ancestor of their people.
Apart from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, a number of other religions in the Semitic tradition are generally, but not universally, considered Abrahamic. Other religions sometimes considered Abrahamic religions include the Bahá'í Faith, Druze, Mandaeanism, Sikhism, and the Rastafari movement. What constitutes an Abrahamic religion varies from each observer's point of view, as a universal classification system cannot be agreed on by everyone.
All the Abrahamic religions are derived to some extent from Judaism as practiced in ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah prior to the Babylonian Exile, at the beginning of the 1st millennium BCE. Many believe that Judaism in Biblical Israel was renovated and reformed to some extent in the 6th century BCE by Ezra and other priests returning to Israel from the exile. Samaritanism separated from Judaism in the next few centuries.
Christianity originated in Palestine, at the end of the 1st century, as a radically reformed branch of Judaism; it spread to ancient Greece and Rome, and from there to most of Europe, Asia, the Americas, and many other parts of the world. Over the centuries Christianity split into many separate churches and denominations. A major split in the 5th century separated various Oriental Churches from the Catholic church centered in Rome. Other major splits were the East-West Schism in the 11th century, which separated the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, which eventually gave birth to hundreds of independent Protestant denominations.
Islam originated in the 6th century, in the Arabian cities of Makkah and Madinah. Although not a dissident branch of either Judaism or Christianity, it explicitly claimed to be a continuation and replacement for them, and echoed many of their principles. According to Muslim belief, Islam was the final word of God and its message was that of all the prophets, and thus Islam had been around since the beginning. As an example of the similarities between the faiths, Muslims believe in a version of the story of Genesis and in the lineal descent of the Arabs from Abraham through Ishmael. Ishmael was conceived through Abraham's second wife Hagar.
- Wikipedia. (2005). Abrahamic religion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abrahamic_religion). Retrieved on July 15. 2005.