My granddaughter, Alisssa, posted a blog today and I wrote a response. I am so delighted to have a grandchild who shares my interest in religions and faith. Her post was both informative and insightful. You might want to read her post before reading my response:
Love your insights, Alissa, and thank you for doing the research you have. I agree that God looks at the heart as we do our individual rituals. We can do them thoughtlessly or with consciousness and love for God. All of the religions also have similar teachings about how to treat others.
One thing I would add about washing, having been steeped in Catholic ritual. There is a hardly-noticed ritual at every mass called “the washing of the hands” when the priest washes his hands in a bowl of water brought to him before the blessing of the bread. Catholics also have the practice of dipping their fingers in water as they enter a church to bless themselves. Both of these practices have to do with purification. Another is the washing of feet at the Holy Thursday mass. This ritual is a remembrance of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper. The meaning is that we are to serve one another. It is good to realize that, while a Christian ritual developed, Jesus was performing a Middle Eastern Jewish ritual when he did it the first time.
You speak with a respect we should all have and it is beautiful to note the commonalities. Very few people are aware of these. The three religions you named are called “religions of the book.” When I studied religion I learned how one followed the other: Christianity grew out of Judaism as one of its sects and only became independent when non-Jews started joining the communities. We should realize that Christians take on the Old Testament as part of their scripture even though it is really the scripture of Judaism. Mohammed tried to combine the two and created something new yet. It is believed that he was trying to achieve peace and tolerance between them.
In all three, there are followers who use their traditions and beliefs to divide rather than unite. But there are others, like yourself, who see and appreciate the unity we all share. This is the way of the peace-maker.